Sunday, 28 August 2011

Green tomato ketchup

Over past two years I’ve become increasingly aware of a small child living in our house; a cheeky red haired girl who spoke very little until recently, but has begun to refer to me as “Da-da”. While not particularly forthcoming with rent, she has proved a welcome and enthusiastic companion in the garden - perhaps a little too so at times. Handfuls of green tomatoes are cast before me like jade marbles; I’ve learnt to dispel my horror at the premature harvest, and have whole heartedly embraced the concept of unripedom.

700g Green tomatoes
1 Green pepper
A small piece of root ginger, grated
2 Large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely sliced
A small handful of chopped carrot tops (optional)
100ml White wine vinegar
75g Light muscovado sugar
1Tsp Cumin seeds
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Groundnut oil
Salt and pepper

1 Finely chop the tomatoes and green pepper. Simmer the garlic, ginger, onion and cumin seeds in a shallow pan with some oil, then stir in the toms and pepper. Keep on the simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly.
2 Pour in the vinegar, then add the sugar, carrot tops, cayenne and some seasoning. Keep on the heat until everything has become soft and pulpy, then blitz in a food processor and squash through a sieve into a bowl. Pour the ketchup into sterilised bottles.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Blackberry cheesecake mini-pots

An orange sun slumped sulkily in the sky as I left the house, dipping quickly towards the horizon as I gathered a bowlful of blackberries in the fading light. In accordance to tradition I was consumed by mosquitos with great abandon; dessert was sorted though, which was ideal. Makes 4 - 6 pots, dependant on size of receptacles.

6 Hobnob biscuits, crushed

20g Melted unsalted butter

150g Blackberries

2Tbsp Caster sugar

A squeeze of orange juice

250g Mascarpone cheese

6Tbsp Double cream

4Tbsp Icing sugar

1 Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin, pour the crumbs into a bowl and stir in the the melted butter. Divide and squash the mixture into the bottom of each pot. Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

2 Heat the Blackberries, caster sugar and orange juice in a pan for a few minutes; until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have softened and released some of their juices.

3 Whisk the cream until it starts to thicken, then fold in the mascarpone and icing sugar.

4 Add a layer of blackberries to the bottom of each pot, then fill with the creamy cheesecake mix. Top with more blackberries and a drizzle of juice.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Feral fruit pastilles

I find these make for an ideal lure when tempting deer out of thickets.

2lb mixed wild fruit (I used a combination of wild cherry plums, blackberries, elderberries, Oregon grapes, rowan berries and 2 scrumped discovery apples)

Caster sugar (the amount you need may vary, in this instance I needed 1lb)

The juice of 1 orange

1 Put the fruit into a large pan. Squeeze in the orange juice and pop on a low heat; stirring with a wooden spoon as the berries start to soften. When the fruit has totally broken down (20 minutes or so), take off the heat and carefully squash the pulpy liquid through a sieve into a bowl.

2 Weigh the mixture in the bowl (subtract the weight of the bowl), then measure out an equal amount of sugar. Pour the hot liquid back into the pan with the sugar and bring to a quick bubble. Keep on the heat for a good 30 minutes (at least - it takes a while). You’ll know when it’s ready when you push a wooden spoon through the thick mixture, the bottom of the pan is revealed, but it’s slow running back into the furrow. Testing to see if a dollop sets firmly on a plate is a good backup.

3 Line a small baking tray with greaseproof paper, pour in the mixture and allow to set. Once firm, lift the slab onto a board, cut into small squares and roll in caster sugar.