Strawberry Sauce and Parfait

It’s a while since I’ve posted food things here. Some of my more experimental recipes get recorded elsewhere. I suppose this blog feels like it’s becoming focussed on fabric, fibre and sewing. I’ll mix it up today with some food.

It’s strawberry season here. I weakened and bought another three punnets a few days ago, so I had to decide on something to turn them into. I settled on a paired set of recipes where one uses the leavings of another, and happily consumes leftover ingredients I happened to have in the house.

 

Strawberry sauce

500g strawberries, washed hulled and halved
200g sugar
~3T lemon juice
the vanilla pod left over from a brewing adventure.
~1/2c white wine

Bring all slowly to a simmer, take off the heat. Mash the fruit until it’s pulpy. Put the lot through a sieve but don’t get too fussy about getting all the juice out. Put the pulp aside and chill it. Put the juice back in the pan and bring back to a simmer for 5min. Bottle into sterilised containers. This made ~400ml.

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Strawberry Parfait/Semifreddo

This is inspired by a Cassata recipe much loved by my family. It’s easy and tasty though one needs to be willing to eat uncooked eggs. I make lots of versions of this.

3 egg whites
small pinch salt
heaped half cup icing sugar
1 cup cream
3 egg yolks
the strawberry pulp from above

Beat egg whites with the salt to firm peaks, slowly beat in sugar. Put aside. Beat cream until firm. Beat in egg yolks. Mix in strawberry pulp. Fold together with the egg white mixture. Freeze.

One can stir it during the freezing so that it doesn’t set so hard, or just leave it and serve in slices.

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Tamarillo Kasundi

10 days ago, more random free fruit came into my life. In this case, 800g of home grown tamarillos that needed a good home. Now I am really not familiar with tamarillos. I think I’d only ever handled and tasted one once before, around 20yrs ago. I had a vague memory that they were a bit like tomatoes. So I thought I might make a chutney or something from them. A bit of reading confirmed the tomato similarity. In fact they are called “tree tomatoes” in some places. That made me smile.

Here is my lot, with their ends slit prior to being covered with boiling water and peeled.

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See, they do look tomatoes inside, though the outer flesh seems a bit starchier. Here are a few peeled and halved:

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Then yesterday, a friend was talking about the indian pickle “kasundi”, usually made from tomatoes. Add to this that there was a preserve I used to love that was sold as “Indian tomato pickle”. I’ve long thought that might have been a kasundi relative. So I started looked for recipes. I couldn’t find a straight tamarillo kasundi recipe, but this recipe suggests one can use tamarillos as a substitute for some of the tomatoes. I decided to use their recipe as a base, and bravely make it up with my 800g tamarillos plus white grapes and green apples to make up the other 700g. Well, one can substitute all over the place with chutney, so why not try?

So I’ve used:
800g tamarillo flesh (peeled, destalked and cut into eighths)
~500g white grapes, halved
~200g green apples, peeled, cored and chopped
hing powder instead of the garlic to make it allium free (3 good shakes from the jar)
20 of my tiny thai chillis
crushed ginger from a jar

Otherwise, I’ve followed the recipe attached above.

Below is the mixture after all was in the pot, before bringing to a simmer.

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Those apples refused to break down and needed to be mashed late in the cooking. The grape skins also didn’t break down as well as I’d hoped. Still, it smells amazing and if I make it again, it will most likely be from tomatoes, unless more tamarillos materialise.

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Blood Plum Fest

I said I wanted some plums to bulk out my teeny tiny crop of damsons. A friend of mine is in the process of selling her house and she offered me some of her last crop of mariposa plums. I offered to help her pick them. Ta da, a lovely time picking, chatting and meeting one of her other friends ensued and I got what turned out to be 9.4kg of plums to take home!

What few fruit my rather young damson tree offered up this year:
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and the mariposa haul on a very different scale:

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My first aim was to make another batch of the spicey plum sauce I like so much. It’s fabulous with sausages and coleslaw and I’m on my last bottle from the previous batch. It’s basically a ketchup type thing made from plums. The recipe I use is from Stephanie Alexander’s “Cooks companion”. Below is what I did, which is a slight change in method. However, her suggestion of stoning the plums first and using a bag for the stones is a much better plan. Passing the stewed fruit through a sieve gives a lovely texture but is a silly amount of work and my arm is hating me for it.

Spiced plum sauce

1.5kg plums (except I scaled the whole thing up for 2kg of plums)
1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp whole allspice
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger (I cheated and used the stuff that comes in a jar)
3 cups cider vinegar
4 tiny hot chillis, seeded and chopped

Bring all to boil until plums collapse.
Pass through a sieve to remove stones and spices.
Boil uncovered until it thickens. Note it thickens further on cooling. (aiming for a bit thicker than regular tomato sauce).
Bottle in sterilised vessels.
Wait at least a month before using.

4 bottles of lovely dark plum sauce:

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Erbowle is a medieval plum pudding thing. It is basically plums stewed in wine, passed through a sieve, sweetened with honey and flavoured with salt and spices (I used cinnamon, pepper, clove, nutmeg) all to taste. I made it on my recent trip while helping in the kitchen. It occurred to me a little later that I could make it, bottle it and preserve/”can” it by boiling in a water bath. So, I did, though I left out the rice flour thickening for fear it would catch in the water bath boil. Hopefully that separation will stir back in after opening.

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This is a plum chutney I have made before. I made double the recipe and used half again as much sugar, for some crazy reason. Why? Silly me. Next time I’ll try to stick to recipe. It caught a bit towards the end of cooking. I really hope I didn’t burn it. I couldn’t taste burn, but there are so many other strong flavours. Fingers crossed.

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I also made jam. I tend to think that plums need a bit of help in the flavour department to make a nice jam. I’ve used this this rather excellent spicy recipe before and it was lovely in a rather savoury kind of way, so I cooked it again. It makes a very dark jam because of the wine I suppose.

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All the above recipes were done in 2kg batches. The remaining plums I stewed up with a little wine and sugar and froze in batches to eat with my breakfast. Yum.

Sadly, my arm now hates me. Boo. I have a huge list of things I want to do and all.

Peach Chilli Chutney

Long time no post! I’ve been away but now I’m back and there is a backlog of posts to get through. I had three lots of free fruit arrive in my life this week. I’ve been working hard and having fun preserving them.

A friend of mine is an enthusiastic picker of neglected fruit trees. Someone he knows had peach trees with spare fruit, he kindly sent a big bag of them to me. They took a few days to get to me so there was a lot of heavily bruised fruit. The ~4.5 kg of peaches yielded half a kilo of good eating fruit plus 2kg of usable peach flesh.  Processing fruit takes time. It took me an hour to get from bag-o-fruit to that 2kg of chopped flesh ready for cooking.

I used a tweaked and multiplied version of this recipe. I made a slightly different version of it last year and it turned out brilliantly, aromatic and lively. Really nice either with curry or cheese sandwiches. That first batch has all been eaten, so I was glad for the chance to make more.

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2kg peeled and diced peaches (prepared weight)
10 tiny red chillis, deseeded and chopped
2.5 heaped dessert spoon chopped ginger
2.5T cumin seed
seeds from 40 green cardamom pods
500g brown sugar
650ml cider vinegar

Put all of that into a wide pan, bring to boil. Cook uncovered on medium heat until it thickens. Bottle.

When I say tiny chillis, I mean tiny. These are from a plant in my garden. I’m a bit astonished at how small they are. I’ve used them as if they each have the heat of a more regular sized Thai chilli.

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Apricot Jam 2017

The annual harvest from my friend’s apricot tree happened yesterday. There was much less fruit this year. It wasn’t netted, which is unusual but there seemed to be only modest attack by birds and bats, with no fruit at the top of the tree and very little fallen. We ate a very few (yum). Yield was only 4kg, including decent windfalls and usable sections from partially pecked fruit. There were a few under ripes left on the tree which I mean to collect in a few days. My theory is that perhaps the upper blossom was lost in high winds or storm? That happens in commercial orchards. For comparison, last year we got 15.5kg fruit off the same tree, and that was not a good year because we left it too late.

I decided that jam would take priority. So I’ve cooked 3kg up this morning. 1kg of gleaned and over ripe fruit has been packed into the freezer for later.

Recipe
3kg apricots, destoned and cut in 8ths
{kernels from 1kg
{pits from 1 lemon
{zest of one lemon
above tied in cloth
juice of two lemons
2.5kg sugar
very low heat until liquid
rest 1hr

bring to boil
remove stone bag
boil ~30min, stirring to avoid sticking.

This made 13 jars of apricot jam.

Differences from last year
-using my lump hammer as a tiny anvil for the kernel extraction process. This worked much better than just hammering the stones on wood as I’ve done in the past. One of the few kitchen jobs where safety glasses are well advised to be worn.
-less lemon pits, because I didn’t have any more. I had to boil it for longer to get a set which is likely related. I think I might have managed a better set than last year though? hard to tell until it’s fully cooled.
-The order of operation was a bit different prior to the boil. There was enough juice released before the rest to fluidise the mix but the sugar wasn’t all dissolved. Think I’ll go for just enough heat to dissolve the sugar next year and see if we avoid the foam discussed below.
-The strangest thing was that a remarkably stable foam appeared prior to boil being achieved. I’ve never had this before. I ended up needing to ladle the foam off to stop the pot overflowing.

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A couple of hours later and there is still foam left. It looks like the foam one gets on the top of good fresh squeezed orange juice and the taste is reminiscent of that too. I’m considering popping out for some cream, mixing it up and freezing the result as an experiment?

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And the jam of course. Labels have been printed but won’t be applied until the jars are properly cool.

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Sweet Chilli Sauce

This post is as much for my reference as anything. I have made this before but years ago and I can’t find any notes. So I’m starting again to find a preferred recipe. I used this recipe as a base, but of course without the garlic. If you don’t have a problem with garlic, you probably wouldn’t want to bother making this, unless perhaps you have a glut of home grown chillis? I love sweet chilli sauce but haven’t found a commercial brand without garlic, so I make my own.

I did 1/3 quantity because that matched the chillis I had. I took all the frozen red chilli I had in left in the freezer, they had been there a long time anyway. Plus I bought three of the milder long ones, two of which I froze overnight to make deseeding easier. Below is a pic of them all on an aluminium tray to defrost.

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150g red chilli (three large, rest bird’s eye)
1 cup vinegar (I used cider)1 cup white sugar.

(put gloves on) Deseed all but one large chilli. Don’t need to be too fussy because some seeds are expected anyway. Roughly chop them all and combine with about a quarter of the vinegar in a tall bamix jar. Blitz until chopped but not fully pureed.

Put this chilli mix into a small saucepan with the sugar and the rest of the vinegar. Heat slowly to dissolve the sugar, then (with the exhaust fan on high, really) bring to the boil, reduce to simmer for about 30min or until thickened. Bottle. I chose a tall narrow jar this time after spending too much time trying to scrape the very last bits out of the bottle of the previous batch.

I wonder how hot this is? It looks pretty strong. I reckon I could try it with a higher ratio of sauce to chilli next time, some of the other recipes use only a few chillis for the same sugar quantity.

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Stove top pork belly

This is my invention, but I doubt it is terribly different to other recipes out there except that it has no alliums. I don’t eat alliums, they are mean to me. So I often need to amend or invent to come up with dishes that avoid them. I fed this to a friend a few weeks ago. She liked it and I promised to write up the recipe.

Marinade
2T light soy sauce
1T honey
1T minced ginger
1/2t sesame oil
1 small red chilli, deseeded and chopped(or 1T sweet chilli sauce*)
About a cup white wine
Mix all above. I sometimes heat it just a little to get the honey to dissolve.

1kg pork belly, sliced into thick strips

Pack the meat into the marinade, I usually leave it 24hrs or more before cooking, in the fridge of course. Using the pot you will cook in for all stages** make this even easier.I aim to use a pot that allows the meat to be packed in a single layer with little extra space, because there isn’t a lot of marinade and it’s also the cooking liquid.

Put the pot on the stove, covered, and bring slowly to a simmer. Simmer about 2-3hrs or until the meat is falling apart. It can be eaten then, or if you want to reduce the fat content, chill overnight and lift off the solidified fat before reheating and serving. You can either serve the meat slices whole (if they are still hanging together) or chop the lot up before serving. I often use kitchen scissors for this.

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I usually serve it with steamed Chinese veg and either rice or noodles. As an alternative, strain off the liquid and reduce to a syrup before serving. I could wish it was prettier dish. It’s not, but it is unctuous and tasty and comforting. Also easy.

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You can use other cuts of pork, but the result won’t be as tender.
It works with chicken too, but reduce the cooking time to 1hr. I’ve only used dark chicken pieces and wings for this.

* I have to make my own sweet chilli, because all the commercial ones have garlic in. I’m nearly out though and it’s a challenge to make. When I get around to another batch I might write it up.

**mix the marinade + marinade the meat + cook.