Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Raspberry Jam

The summer really now feels like is exiting stage right and autumn is moving in. I have been out trying to tidy up the garden and enjoying the sun these last few days and managed to grab the few soft fruits remaining in the garden before they succumbed to the inevitable mould - we had some blackberries and a few canes of late summer fruiting raspberries along with a small basket of cooking apples.

Autumn raspberries are my favourite - to me they seem to have a darker colour and richer flavour than the earlier summer ones and to keep that taste going for as long as possible I made up a few jars of jam.

I like this recipe the quantities are easy to remember - equal weights of fruit to sugar!

Recipe (makes approx 3lbs)

1kg raspberries
1kg jam sugar (the one with pectin added)
a lemon

A collection of jam jars - sterilised with boiling water and allowed to air dry

Mash up the fruit until you have a thick pulp - I used a potato masher but a wooden will do the job just as well.

Pour the pulp into a pan and add the juice from the lemon. Cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes just to help release all the juices.

Now I'm making a smooth clear jam so I want to remove the pips - if you don't mind them getting stuck in your teeth then ignore this next step.

So for a smooth jam - pass the warmed pulp through a sieve and work it through with a wooden spatula the get as much juice as possible but no pips!

Pour the juice back into the pan and add the sugar. Bring to the boil and then boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Check for setting point by placing a small blob on a cool plate - if it wrinkles and feels thick like jam when its pushed your done. If not keep boiling and check every few minutes until ready.

Once your happy you have jam you can bottle it up. Remove any scum from the surface with a strainer and then pour into the sterilised jars and seal. The jam will keep for at least a year but store in the fridge once opened.

Have a great day
Love Lizx

Friday, 15 September 2017

Mum's Mediterranean Rice

My Mum makes the best 'all in one' rice dish I have ever tasted (and I'm not just saying that because it's my Mum and I have to!!) It's rich, spicy, bursting in flavours and is the perfect dish for an al fresco weekend meal -one to share with family - especially on an early autumn weekend in the sunshine.

It was a surprise visit on our part - a quick phone call just before we arrived and Mum obviously invited us to eat with them. When we arrive she was in full swing in the kitchen with numerous bowls over every surface, each one loaded with prepared ingredients - from olives, to peppers, onion, tomatoes and herbs. The smell was amazing!

So having arrive just as cooking was about to commence, I had my camera, Dad and Andrew were off to sort out a stuck horse trailer (that's another story for another time!) so what else could I do but turn Mum's meal prep into a photo shoot and share the awesomeness (am I allowed to use that word seeing as I'm over the age of 8 year?) of this dish with you.

Recipe - Serves 4 (well)

4 Skinless chicken breast
8 floz whole grain rice (measured in a jug)
50g Kalamata olives - stoned and ripped in half
2 large peppers (yellow or orange)
2 onions
50g sun dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic - large and fat
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herds - mix of thyme, parsley, rosemary and oregano
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rich tomato paste
half teaspoon paprika - hot
3 or 4 fresh bay leaves - or 2 dried
275ml chicken stock
170ml dry white wine
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Before you can start to cook it's important to get everything prepared first. So....... cut each chicken breast into 4 large chunks. Peel the onions and cut into wedges (leave the root unbroken so the wedges stay whole) cut the peppers into long thick strips and peel and finely chop the garlic.

Measure out your rice, chop the herbs and cut up the sun dried tomatoes into strips it they are rather on the large size.

So once all that is done your ready to cook. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas 4

Set a large casserole pot over a medium to high heat and add half the olive oil. Once hot add the chicken and fry to seal on all sides. Remove from the pan and add the rest of the oil. Now add your peppers and onions. Cook for about four to five minutes - allowing them to catch on the edges. Next add the sun dried tomatoes and the garlic - move it all around to distribute the flavours and then add the rice. Stir the pan to get the rice coated in the oils and then add the tomato paste, the paprika and the chopped herbs.

Pour in the wine, along with the stock, give the pan a good shake and allow to come to the boil. Add a little salt and pepper, then place the chicken back into the pan, sprinkle the olives on the top and tuck in the bay leaves.

Pop the lid on and place in the oven for approx 60 - 80 minutes (check the rice after about 50 minutes it maybe ready it really depends on the variety of wild rice)

Whilst its cooking it gives you time to tidy up the kitchen and enjoy the garden with a glass of wine in hand.

Once cooked serve on it's own or with a green salad and maybe some diced feta. This is a very amenable dish and will sit quite happily in the oven (on a lower heat) until your ready to serve.

This was the best way to spend a late summer/early autumn - an informal late lunch, enjoyed out side with good wine, good food and excellent company.

Thanks Mum! - oh and in case you were wondering they did sort out the stuck horse trailer!!

Have a great weekend - here's the printable recipe
Love Lizx