August, 2010

Aug 10

We’re jamming


I’ve been jamming and pickling like crazy of late – the summer fruit season is drawing, along with the summer itself, to a close and stocking up is the order of the day. I’m not one for new fangled jams – crosses with herbs, spices, roots, with rhubarb and ginger, strawberry and rose. I like the classics – a good plum jam is unbeatable and needs no dressing up. The same goes for damsons – but they require some patience for fishing out the stones.

My fridge is chocker with gooseberry chutney, pickled damsons, pickled cherries, blackberry conserve, greengage jam, mixed berry jam and the last spoonfuls of my mum’s delicious three fruit marmalade from earlier in the year. Fine – I’m a hoarder – but the blackcurrant vodka sitting on the shelf brewing nicely has got dinner party written all over it.

I prefer jams a little runnier, like the greengage jam below. Less sugar means a tarter jam – my preference. If you like it thicker or sweeter add more sugar. Buy a sugar thermometer to get your timing right – or use the old saucer in the freezer trick, detailed in the recipe.

Click here to read my recipe for greengage jam

Aug 10

Perfect pork chops and a fennel slaw



Coleslaw crops up on the table in my house in some form or another at least once a week – more often twice. It appears year round – made with hardy, winter root vegetables it makes a great accompaniment to charcuterie (as served as Daniel Boulud’s fantastic Knightsbridge joint) while in summer it suits the barbecue to a tee. Or a c.I love the variations – from a slightly tricked out version of the classic cabbage and carrot tarted up with a half buttermilk half mayo crossover to the recipe I’ve given here – finely sliced fennel and cucumber, tossed with yogurt and cider vinegar.

Go crazy at home – throw in nuts, seeds (poppy seeds look great) or dried berries like sour cherries, cranberries or sultanas. Use mayo, yogurt, creme fraiche, sour cream or buttermilk.

This recipe makes a fantastic accompaniment to pork chops – the mustard, fennel and cider vinegar are all good friends to mingle with meat.

Click here for my recipe for pork chops with fennel slaw.

Aug 10

Daily bread


My mother swears by a commitment to bread – a daily ritual, practice and hard work are the things that lead to a perfect loaf. Me, I’m all about shortcuts when it comes to baking bread. And it appears I’m not alone – Dan Lepard, baker extraordinaire, shared his fantastic recipe with me recently for a simple white loaf via one of the wonders of our modern age, Twitter – although it must be said he didn’t do it in less than 140 characters!

His bread method (which works for a variety of flours) is straightforward, easy and, the best bit, hardly requires any work. If you haven’t turned your hand to baking before, I’d urge you to head out, grab some good quality bread flour and get baking – I’ve been making a loaf every day and scoffing it toasted with loads of butter and homemade mixed berry jam.

Click here for the recipe for Dan Lepard’s simple white loaf

Aug 10

Lucky leftovers


Sharing a flat has its fair share of ups and downs – after all, none of us are perfect. One thing I continually enjoy though is the ongoing surprises you find hiding in the fridge that can turn a bowl of leftover mash into a meal of the highest order.

Actually – the mash was my doing, I always make far too much than is necessary as it’s a brilliant all-rounder you can turn into any number of things – topping off shepherd’s or cottage pie, mixed into fishcakes, fried with corned beef and an egg to serve as hash or just shaped into cakes, dipped in beaten egg and flour and fried till crisp. An ideal breakfast or a perfectly wonderful weeknight supper served with a couple of rashers of crisp, smokey bacon and a wobbly poached egg.

Today’s lucky finds were: the end of a chunk of gruyere, a little leftover broccoli, an inch of salami and the potato – mixed together, shaped into cakes and fried they made a lunch I’d be pleased to find on any pub menu, served with a splodge of brown sauce.

Aug 10

Knee jerk reaction


Isn’t it the way? As soon as we have any glimmer of sunshine out comes the barbie, the bangers, the
burgers and the buns. There aren’t many food stuffs I’d rate higher than the barbecued sausage – that crunchy char on the outside, the smoky flavour imparted by the coals and the rich, juicy interior
(perfectly cooked, we hope!).

I do get a bit fed up of the other usual standbys though which is why when I cooked for a group of
friends recently I opted to go for something a little different.

My friend Helen has been working on her recipe for jerk marinade for a while now and I’ve followed her endeavours on her cracking blog waiting till she was really pleased with it. It was the perfect thing to cook for the barbecue – beautiful organic chicken wings in a sweet, fiery, tangy marinade that turned the wings deliciously chewy with just the right amount of spice.

It’s so good, in fact, that I’ve got a load of pork ribs cooking in the oven as I write and the smells are tantalising me away from the keyboard. Thankfully, Helen was more than happy to let me share her recipe here – so get cooking!

Click here for Helen Graves’ jerk chicken

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