I’ve been going through a bit of a preserve phase as of late. In the last week I’ve not only made my own Lime Pickle (it blows your socks off it’s that hot) but have also made a batch of Seville Marmalade. I had some on toast for my breakfast today and no word of a lie it’s fucking amazing. I’m never buying shop bought ever again. I’m now demanding that friends and family save me all of their old jam jars as I can see this new past time consuming me big style. I decided against buying brand new jars as it’s much more environmentally friendly if I can just scrounge ones otherwise destined to recycling/landfill.
Traditional Seville Orange Marmalade
1kg of Seville Oranges
2kg of Granulated Sugar (You can also use the type with added Pectin if you like)
4 pints of water
You’ll also need
1 huge heavy based saucepan
Sterilised jam jars (this recipe makes around 6-8 jars)
First add the water to the pan, then cut the lemon and oranges in half and squeeze the juice out of them. Add the juice to the water and place the pips and any bits of pith (the white spongey bits) into the square of muslin (laid over a cereal bowl).
Cut the orange peel into thin shreds (this is quite time consuming and will hurt your arms after a while). Add any further pips or pith that you come across to the muslin. (The pith contains a lot of pectin which helps the marmalade set therefore is essential. Also don’t worry about any pith and skin that clings to the shreds as this will dissolve). Add all of the shredded orange peel to the pan.
Tie up your muslin so that it forms a little bag and tie this to the handle of the pan so that the bag is suspended in the water. Bring this concoction up to simmering point and simmer gently, uncovered, for about 2 hours until the peel is completely soft (test a piece carefully by pressing it between your finger and thumb). Stick 2 saucers in the freezer.
Once the 2 hours is up, remove the muslin bag and leave to cool back in the cereal bowl (or hang it from a cupboard door handle with the bowl underneath as I did). Pour the sugar into the pan and stir it over a low heat until all of the crystals have dissolved. Increase the heat to very high and squeeze the muslin bag of pips over the pan to extract all of the sticky, jelly-like substance that contains the pectin. As you squeeze you’ll see it ooze out (as gross as it sounds it’s like squeezing a huge massive zit). If you like you can do this by placing the bag between two saucers but I found using my hands worked the best (be careful not to burn yourself). Stir your pectin jelly into the pan (a balloon whisk is pretty good).
As soon as the mixture reaches a really fast boil, start timing. After 15 minutes spoon a little of the marmalade onto one of the cold saucers from the freezer, and let it cool. If the marmalade has reached setting point you’ll be able to push the mixture with your finger and it’ll go wrinkly. If it doesn’t then continue to boil the marmalade and give it the same test at about 10-minute intervals until it does. This normally happens around 220-222°F/105°C. If you have a jam thermometer then use it but make sure you stick it in the pan at the beginning. My thermometer cost about £6 from a Bargain Books store.
Once your marmalade has reached setting point, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to settle for about 20 minutes. In the meantime you can sterilise your jam jars.
Sterilising your jars is really easy. Make sure all of your jars and lids are washed and dried and then place them in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes. All thats left to do now is to pour the marmalade, with the aid of a funnel or a ladle, into the jars and seal them whilst still hot. Label when cold and store in a dry, cool, dark place until time to slather onto toast.
This song always pops in my head whenever I’ve indulged in making preserves. Weird really since I don’t really like reggae.
I spent Saturday baking my now infamous “Boozy Christmas Cake”. After 4 hours of sitting in the oven and infusing my kitchen with delicious smells, it is now living in a Tupperware box and being fed shots of booze whenever it’s feeling a bit thirsty. It’ll probably continue to live like this until a week before Christmas when I’ll get some marzipan, apricot jam and icing to finish it off. I’m actually really proud of myself and my cake so far.
I decided earlier this year that this Christmas I would be making my own Christmas Cake. This came about after I’d heard the legend of a Christmas Cake recipe that listed a whole bottle of Jack Daniels in it’s ingredients (I bloody love JD). Apparently the recipe is/was by Nigella Lawson but I’ve scoured all of her books and all over the internet and I can’t find any mention of it. Reluctantly I’ve gave up on the idea of a JD Christmas Cake but I did find this recipe by Delia Smith that I’m using instead. I started the pre-soaking stage yesterday and I do believe that once this cake is actually done and dusted, one slice will be guaranteed to give you a hangover the next day. So far the mixture smells like mulled wine. The only changes I’ve made to the recipe is that I added in some dates, sultanas and mixed spice to it (I already had them in and thought they should belong in this epic cake), I also wasn’t able to get my hands on any cherry brandy either so I’m substituting that with some Celtic Spirit Black Mountain (it’s apple and blackcurrant brandy). It’s really yummy and reminds me of Ribena and jam.
Once again both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos has passed us by. I spent my weekend of the dead in corpse paint, laying dying spirits to rest, spending time carving pumpkins, eating junk and watching stereotypical films such as “Nightmare Before Christmas” and the original “House on The Haunted Hill”. I was also intending on making some sugar skulls but unfortunately time and weather dictated otherwise (the skulls don’t set in humid conditions). Other photos can be found here.
I made this the other day and is probably the best cake I’ve ever made that involves nuts (I don’t normally like nutty cakes). It’s really easy to make and everyone who’s had some has loved it.
* 225g self-raising flour
* ½ tsp ground cinnamon
* 175g softened butter
* 100g light muscovado sugar
* 3 tbsp clear honey
* 2 eggs , beaten
* 2 medium, ripe bananas
* 100g stoned dates
* 50g pack walnut pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas 3/fan oven 140C. Line the base and long sides of a 900g/2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper, buttering the tin and paper.
2. Tip the flour, cinnamon, butter, sugar, 2 tablespoons of the honey and the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Mash the bananas and chop the dates (kitchen scissors are easiest for this) and add to the bowl. Beat the mixture for 2-3 minutes, using a wooden spoon.
3. Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top. Scatter the walnut pieces over. Bake for 1 hour, then lightly press the top – it will feel firm if cooked. If not, bake for a further 10 minutes.
4. Cool for 15 minutes, then lift out of the tin using the paper. When cold, drizzle the remaining honey over. Cut into thick slices.
It should be noted that I didn’t have any cinnamon (for once) so I substituted it with some nutmeg and some mixed spice which seemed to have done the job. I also added a splash of Morgan Spiced Rum to the mix (It would have been rude not too. ;P) and some pecan nuts to the top of the cake. All in all this was a winner and will definitley be getting made again at some point.
My kitchen for once is rammed full of food and until a huge dent has been made with what is already in I’m pretty much refusing to go grocery shopping. This means that until then a little bit of invention is in order and in fairness I think so far we’ve done a pretty good job.
This week’s MFM is pretty much Indian based. We had a look on YouTube and ended up with Bombay Potato (purely because I managed to grab a huge bag of potatoes for 5p earlier in the week) and an Egg Curry with some boiled rice. The Bombay Potato went down a storm and I definitely think I’ll make it again, the Egg Curry however I’m not too sure. The other half complained it was too gritty as a result of the amount of spices we put in, we also added more chili than what the recipe asked for which made it far too hot (and we both love chili). On top of this we also missed the tamarind out due to not having any (we just used extra water instead). If it gets made again I think it could be better if we use tamarind, failing that a tin of coconut milk or chopped tomatoes would have improved it also. Nevertheless we still ate it and have frozen the leftovers for later (more likely for when one of us is dying of cold). There was easily enough for at least 4 people.
My friend Ashleigh gave me this recipe ages ago that seemed super easy and cheap to make and I’ve finally gotten round to making it. Good news for the Vegans out there as this is suitable for them too.
Chickpea Stew With Dumplings
Serves: 6 to 8
1 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil.
1 large onion, chopped.
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced.
1 large green bell pepper, chopped.
2 tins of chickpeas, drained and rinsed.
2 tins of chopped tomatoes.
1 teaspoon ground cumin.
1 teaspoon dried oregano.
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme.
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley.
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Hot cooked rice, optional.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and green pepper and continue to sauté until all are golden.
Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, thyme, and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Stir in the parsley and season sparingly with salt and generously with pepper. Adjust the consistency if more water is needed, but let the stew remain thick.
Serve the in bowls on its own or over a small amount of hot cooked rice, if desired.
It seems a really versatile dish in my opinion. I added some sliced courgettes and some real tomatoes that were starting to look a bit worse for wear in the bottom of my fridge. I also added some dried chilli flakes, some vegetable stock powder (I personally like Marigold Swiss Vegan Bouillon Powder) and some bulgar wheat (I didn’t bother with the rice) which did mean that I had to add more than the amount of water stated above. Once this was simmering away nicely I then made the dumplings as instructed below.
1 cup plain flour.
2 tsp. baking powder.
1/2 tsp. salt.
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or dried herbs).
1/2 cup soy milk.
2 tbsp. vegetable oil.
Sift all of the dry ingredients together (just for the record I added some garlic granules, pepper, and some mixed herbs. Mix milk (I had none in so I just made mine with water instead as I couldn’t be bothered to go to the corner shop) with oil and add to dry ingredients (just stir until moistened). Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto stew.
Cover and cook for 15 minutes (Do NOT lift the lid!). Serve and eat. A bit of Aromat does wonders with this dish too (I’m addicted to the stuff).
It’s a proper stodge/comforting meal. It was easy to make, cheap as chips as I had everything in already and I have a sneaky feeling I’m going to be living on it for days now unless I freeze some of it.
There hasn’t been one of these blog entries in a while and the simple explanation is purely because I’m no longer vegetarian. Yes I do feel guilty for not sticking with it (I really did try) and lecturing won’t make me feel any better either (I despise militant veggie lecturers / PETA morons – I always have done). I will probably go back to vegetarianism at some point as it seems to be the dietary trend that I’ve subconsciously followed since I was 12 or 13 (where I’ll be veggie for anything between 4-6 years then I’ll start eating meat again for a year or so and then switch back for another 4-6 years). It still works out that I’ve been veggie for over a third of my life (I’m 31) and that still, in my opinion has to count for something.
Anyway moving on. My boyfriend and I made this relatively simple and delicious pasta dish recently. Super easy, super tasty and relatively cheap as chips to make. I was tempted to say that this would be a nice summer dish but our British summer seems to have ended, as usual, prematurely (booooo).
Fusilli Mediterranean Style
Ingredients for 4 persons:
320 grams of fusilli pasta.
200 grams of buffalo mozzarella (we just used normal mozzarella).
30 pachino tomatoes (we substituted these with cherry tomatoes).
2 cloves of garlic.
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
A handful of minced fresh parsley.
A handful of capers.
Some red pepper (we think the chef used crushed chilli flakes in the video so this is what we used).
At the beginning of May I went on a week long adventure which saw me in Leeds, London, Glasgow and of course my hometown of Sunderland.
The trip to Leeds was purely for Deathfest which was a rather enjoyable day out. Discovered a band there called Volition who I rather dig and also got to see Negura Bunget” post Sol andHupogrammos”. Negura Bunget are still excellent, still atmospheric but there is a certain magic lacking since their departure. The new Negura Bunget album came out the other month and I’m patiently waiting for this limited edition box set to arrive from Transylvania. I’m a sucker for fancy packaging.
I went to London for a few days to essentially catch up with some friends and to finally see Hole, who I’ve been a huge fan of since I was about 15 years old. Lots of good food (I love Bodeans), lots of singing and lots of shiny new hair courtesy of Angel Emma (I got some camouflage coloured extensions put in amongst my normal hair). As you can see from the photo’s I’m not a veggie any more either. I may explain why in a later post.
L to R: Me having a snout on Emma’s patio, The warning sign in the Crobar and Gumbo inBodean’s, Soho.
L to R: Pulled & Burnt End Pork at Bodeans (Needless to say I couldn’t move afterwards and I didn’t finish it all – boooooo), Ms Courtney Love @ Brixton Academy and my first ever Krispy Kreme doughnut.
Later on in the same week I went up to Glasgow to see KISS with a friend and was blown away. Best gig of my life hahahahahha. Paul Stanley is the man. Check out the goofy video too (I never said I could sing either).
It was my 31st birthday yesterday and as a treat my rents said they would take me anywhere I wanted for a meal. I chose the cool retro American Diner on the A19, near to where I live. Their milkshakes are amazing.