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Archive for the ‘Pickles & Preserves’ Category

Apple, Maple & Cinnamon Peanut Butter

In Pickles & Preserves on December 19, 2012 at 6:54 am

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Yes, this is as delicious as it sounds. I can’t take credit for the idea as I saw it on pinterest. I was drawn to idea of creating a spread using a slow cooker. My mum’s slow cooker is a bit of a weird one (apparently, you need a spanner to be able to change to dial from high to low) but eventually I managed to get my apples cooked enough to be turned into apple butter. I used this and this recipe as a reference. It’s dead simple; make the apple butter and then blend in with the peanut butter, maple syrup and cinnamon.

I decided to make this along with the jam because I thought it would make great Christmas presents. I’m also looking forward to stirring it through my porridge in the mornings!

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Boysenberry Jam

In Pickles & Preserves on December 19, 2012 at 6:29 am

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I went away on a family holiday recently, the last day of which happened to be my birthday! Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, my birthday meal was fried takeaways (granted, it was battered scallops and chips, so one can’t complain too much) but the best part about it was a dessert. Granted, there was a gap in between dinner and the dessert, but one can’t be too picky! After dropping my brother off in Hamilton, we stopped at a roadside shop which was advertising berries for sale as well as ice cream. Well, the ice cream was the best dessert I have been privy to in a long time, so was well worth the wait. I chose the boysenberry flavour and bought just under 2 kg of boysenberries to match. I guess after that, jam was just inevitable!

I hadn’t received any brainwaves about interesting things to mix the boysenberries with so I went for a classic and simple 3 ingredient jam. My mum reckoned I could have bulked it out with some apple, but I still managed to get a good 8 jars of jam with just the berries!

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To make the jam:

I began with washing the berries (they were already destemmed and without leaves) and boiled them in a large pot on the stovetop (yup, without any water – the berries disintegrate quickly). Once the berries disintegrated to form something of a liquid, I began adding sugar. I used a roughly 1:3 sugar ratio, but you could adjust the sweetness to suit your own taste. I was trying not to make the jam too sweet, but I guess sweetness is kind of unavoidable with berries, isn’t it? I added the sugar slowly, stirring whilst adding so it dissolved quickly. After boiling rapidly for about 20-40 mins, the jam was syrupy and ready to set. I took the jam off the stove and added the juice of 3 large lemons to ensure it set. After cooling for a little bit, I simply poured it into my pre-sterilized jars and sealed them. I was left with 8 jars of jam (of varying sizes) as back up christmas presents. Of course, I will keep one for myself! I think this particular jam will be lovely swirled through some greek yoghurt or over vanilla ice cream. It might also be nice with ricotta or mascarpone and other fruit…or even on a sweet/savoury bruschetta with a soft goat cheese. Mmmmm…the possibilites are endless….

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Gingered Rhubarb Jam & DIY Vanilla Extract

In Pickles & Preserves on December 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

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One of the things I will miss most about my old flat is my garden – a labour of love for about 3 years. Before leaving I harvested it bare, taking with me scores of leeks, a big bag of kale, artichokes and a couple of kohlrabi. My new place – my grandmother’s house – does have a veggie garden (albeit smaller) though it has been badly neglected for some years. I don’t think the soil has been turned in about thirty years! All that was left in it were some gigantic rhubarb plants and some freshly planted parsley. Because the garden wasn’t very big, I decided to dig out the whole thing – a feat which was a much harder than I had imagined! The rhubarb plants were not only huge, but their roots were monstrously strong. However, eventually the garden fork and I triumphed, leaving me with an empty veggie bed and a big pile of rhubarb. And naturally, I did what I always do when presented with an abundance of fruit – I made jam.

It didn’t take long to find a recipe online that caught my eye and peaked my curiousity. It uses very little liquid and a lot of sugar. Interestingly, no liquid apart from a little bit of lemon juice though with the way it works the sugar becomes liquid once heated, leaving you with a very sweet syrupy jam. The sweetness is balanced with a real gingery kick – which I think it definitely needs.

I also tried my hand at making my own vanilla extract. I’ve seen many pins on pinterest about homemade vanilla extract; it looked so easy and so pretty, I couldn’t help but give it a go myself. Even better, when giving the kitchen a spring clean, I unearthed some cute little bottles which  were just perfect – the number even matched the number of vanilla beans I had!

All you need to do is find some little bottles or small jar, fill with one or two vanilla beans and top up with vodka, about a 1:3 ratio. I’ve seen others do it with bourbon (MMMMM, must try that too one day) but I thought I’d play it safe and do it with vodka. I can’t wait to try them in a few months time! I’m guessing the colour will only get richer as time goes on…

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I promise in the next few upcoming posts I will be including some recipes with my own adaptations. Thank you so much to everyone who has liked posts or are following this blog already; I’m touched that there has been interest so quickly!

Beautiful Bell Peppers & Bell pepper relish…oh, and some pumpkin butter for good measure!

In Pickles & Preserves on June 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

I’m back…ish. Despite my best intentions…my plans of serious dedication to cooking post exams just haven’t quite materialized yet. I’ve been bad about photographing things and just spent 5 days not cooking and living off canned junk whilst staying at my parents house. No idea why. I have been both busy….and lazy.

Anyway, I have big plans for tomorrow (and someone joining me for dinner, which helps get me motivated) but I wanted to preview that by sharing some relish I made from a lovely gift from my grandparents – half a kg of handpicked beautiful bell peppers. Aren’t they beautiful? I’m not sure exactly where they came from, but I think my grandparents may have picked them from a friend’s property. My granny was kind enough to send a relish recipe along with the peppers, and I was somewhat intrigued by the approach – which required blending most of the ingredients before cooking them!

Sadly, I have since lost the recipe but I did end up changing it quite a bit anyway. This is my vague recollection of it:

500g bell peppers

2 green chillis, seeds discarded and finely chopped

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 cup – 1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup white wine vinegar (or was it two cups?)

lemon juice (of 1-2 lemons)

Sorry, my memory is really failing me on this one. But basically you begin with the most time consuming part – which is quartering all the bell peppers, discarding the seeds and removing any membrane. Put the peppers in a blender along with the chopped chillies, onion and garlic. Pulse, then add sugar and water. Transfer to pot and add vinegar, bring to boil and reduce until thickened. I can’t remember how much vinegar was used, but I’m sure you can just use your common sense. Even after reducing, it was something in between a sauce and a relish, but delicious and zingy nevertheless. I added a little lemon juice at the end to help make it set. Once reduced, transfer to sterilized jars and seal.

I was hesitant about posting this before I had something to serve it on (I’m planning on making bread this evening or tomorrow) but while it doesn’t look like much at the moment, it is nothing but deliciousness! Pumpkin butter, who would have thought? Oh, and please note that no butter is actually involved in the recipe. I more or less used this recipe as a reference, adjusting the quantities a bit – and sadly, I had run out of nutmeg so this batch of pumpkin butter is nutmeg free. Oh well, there’s always a next time. Hopefully I’ll be posting about what I make for dinner tomorrow, as well as photographing this being served with something!