My mum LOVES sweet chilli sauce. I honestly think she’d have it on everything if she could. So I found this recipe for sweet chilli jam and knew I had to make it for her for Christmas. It’s got a bit of a kick to it but if you’re not keen on spicy then just don’t use so many chillies. I used a really big deep saute pan much wider than it is tall, which is a really useful pan to have around but any really large pan will do. If the pan is deep rather than wide the jam will take longer to reach setting point.
Makes about 4 small (~250ml) jars.
8 red peppers, chopped (I used 4 long sweet ones and 4 bell as the supermarket didn’t have 8) < would you look at that, didn’t know I could do that I meant 8 then)!
6 large red chillies, sliced
about 2 1/2″ root ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin cherry or plain chopped tomatoes
750g granulated sugar
250ml red wine vinegar
– Put the peppers, chillies, ginger and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped and pulpy. You may have to do this in two batches.
– Put this into your pan and add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar.
– Bring to the boil and then simmer at a rapid pace for about 45 minutes. Keep stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
– When there is a texture change and it goes very thick and sticky give it 5 minutes more while stirring.
– Put into sterilised jars while still hot and screw the lids on immediately.
While I’m feeling organised I thought I’d get this recipe up before I forget all about it. I found a hedge full of crab apples while out walking the dog a few weeks ago and although I didn’t know if they were edible I picked as many as I could get. Luckily they turned out to be very edible! I didn’t actually manage to get that many so I bulked them up with cooking apples that I couldn’t store as they were bruised windfalls. Then I had 2 quince laying about so I chucked those in too. It was a bad year for quince round these parts it would seem. So mixed apple jelly was born! It’s a beautiful colour and smells divine.
The best book on preserves ever is Let’s Preserve It by Beryl Wood. Alas it is out of print so I may have to “borrow” it from my mother at some point in the future. If I want to put something in a jar this book is my first port of call. It’s magic! This has been my first year of making jams, chutney and other things and I’m starting to get the hang of it now. I used to be terrified of boiling sugar but now I’m a dab hand! On the subject of sugar a lot of recipes I’ve googled say to use caster sugar. Don’t. Use granulated. It’s much cheaper, which is great when using in these quantities, and the size of the sugar crystals makes for better jams and other preserves.
Quantity varies according to how much apple you start with.
mixed apples: crab apples, cooking apples, eating apples, even quince
1 tbsp lemon juice
a knob of butter
– Chop up the apples into chunks, don’t bother to core or peel them.
– Put them in a very large pan and cover with water.
– Bring to the boil and simmer until soft and pulpy, about 30 minutes -1 hour.
– Line a seive with muslin and suspend over a large mixing bowl.
– Tip the apple mixture into the seive and cover with the corners of the muslin to keep flies off. DO NOT PRESS OR SQUEEZE or you will get cloudy jelly.
– Leave overnight to drip into the bowl.
– Measure how much liquid you have and add 1 lb sugar for every pint of liquid you have.*
– Put these together in a large pan and add the lemon juice.
– Bring to the boil and simmer at a good rolling boil for 10-15 minutes until setting point is reached.**
– Skim off the scum until you reach a good violent boil then add a knob of butter. This jelly does throw a lot of skum so you have to call it quits at some point of you’d be there forever!
– Decant into warm, sterilised jars and put the lids on while hot. This jelly sets fast so work quickly.
*I got a perfect 1 1/2 pints and so added 1 1/2 lbs. Usually I’m a metric girl but often jams just work better in imperial, imperial seems more fitting to me anyway.
** I am now a convert to the sugar thermometer. I didn’t want to be but it does make things a lot easier. Mine has all the necessary points marked on it and is made so you can’t touch the nib to the bottom of the pan and also has a very useful clip to attach it to the side of the pan.
To test the if the setting point has been reached hold up the spoon and see how the drips form. If they’re slow and large then test it. Keep a saucer in the freezer and place a small amount of the jam on this, leave it for a moment then push your finger across the saucer. If the jam wrinkles ahead of your finger it has reached setting point. The bubbles are also a good indicator, they should be big, about 1cm, not tiny little ones.
I love salt dough. There’s something so satisfyingly primary school about it but it’s not just for kids! It’s cheap, simple and fun. My sister and I made up a 3 cup batch of this and set to making Christmas decorations. We made a mixture of things: wreaths and candle holders, cut out decorations to hang on the tree and freestyle modeling decorations too, When we were kids we made all sorts of decorations and presents from it. Handy hint, if you want to make a sheep or hair then the garlic crusher is your best friend. We used acrylic paints to paint ours but you can use just about anything you like really. For best results varnish the salt dough afterwards. We didn’t because we like the rustic, homemade look and also because we’re impatient and couldnt’ be bothered to wait! And yes, those Daleks are on the tree (round the back though) because what is more festive then the Doctor Who Christmas Special?
Makes however much you want, just multiply up keeping the same ratios.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vegetable oil (don’t multiply this up, just add 1 tbsp unless you’re making a bucket load in which case add a few!)
– Mix together the salt and flour.
– Add the oil.
– Gradually add the water and mix.
– Once you have a smooth, kneadable dough you’re ready to go!
– Shape as you like and lay the finished product on baking paper.
– Bake in the oven on gas mark 1 for 5 hours or microwave for 3 minutes then test and do longer if the dough is still soft underneath.
– When cool paint as you wish and varnish if you like.
NB. YOU CANNOT EAT THIS RECIPE. IT IS COMPLETELY INEDIBLE!
I could make puff pastry from scratch the proper way… but I haven’t yet found a dish where I think it’s actually worth it! This is a perfectly acceptable ‘rough’ puff pastry. I saw Nigella’s recipe for making puff pastry in a food processor and started off with that but then went by way of this ancient tome “Farmhouse Cookery” we have because it was much more helpful in the method. I did use the food processor to do the first bit but frankly5 minutes and a knife would have the same effect. Yes, it would technically take longer but once you factor in getting the food processor out, set up, used and washed up you’re probably more than even. But I’m washing up phobic so I always choose the method with the least amount!
250g strong plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
250g butter, cut into 1/2 cm slices
1 tsp lemon juice
5-6 tbsp chilled water
– Mix together the flour and salt.
– Add the butter and either pulse 3-4 times or cut the butter into the flour repeatedly. Chunks of butter will still be visible.
– Add the lemon juice and enough water to bring the dough together.
– Get in there with your hand to bring the dough together in a ball.
– Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
– Unwrap the dough and roll out on a floured worksurface into a large rectangle 3 times longer than it is wide.
– Fold into thirds (bring the right third over onto the centre third then the left side over on top of that), turn 90* and roll out again.
– Fold into thirds again, turn another 90* and roll out again.
– Repeat another 3-4 times. The dough will become harder and harder to roll out as you go and the buttery chunks will disappear.
– Fold the dough again and rewrap in clingfilm and chill for another 30 minutes.
– Unwrap and roll out the dough to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface.
Tonight we had enchiladas for dinner. I was all prepped and organised, I’d made the sauce and done all of my prep as I had to go out and would only get back in time to eat. Then I got the tortilla wraps out. Disaster! They’d gone off. I knew that mum had made flour tortillas once before so it had to be doable and set off to google a quick recipe for tortillas. I found two that looked good (love recipes with pictures!) and since they were both the same recipe with very different ratios I sort of took a stab at somewhere in the middle and made it up as I went a long. With hindsight I’d use double the fat if I make these again and cook them for no more than 20 seconds each side. As it was these tortillas were very stiff, when I tried to make an enchilada with one it cracked into six pieces. No worries though, dinner became Layered Enchiladas! But first here is the basic recipe for tortillas.
Makes 6 dinner plate sized ones, probably 8 smaller
250g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder
50g lard or butter(I used 25g lard*)
100ml warm water plus extra as needed
– Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium sized bowl.
– Rub in the lard or butter using your fingers.
– Add the water and mix well. Add water 1 tbsp at a time mixing between additions until a soft dough has formed.
– Turn out onto a lightly floured worksurface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth.
– Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.
– Turn out and lightly knead for a minute.
– Divide into equal portions.
– Cover any balls of dough you are not working with.
– Heat a dry frying pan on the hob.
– Roll out the ball of dough until paper thin. Aim for a circle but tidy up the shape by stretching the dough out into shape with your hands. This requires elbow grease. When I say paper I mean it!
– Pick up and carefully place flat in the very hot frying pan.
– Cook for 20-30 seconds each side. Just scare it with the frying pan, don’t leave it or it will dry out too much.
– Place the cooked tortillas under a tea towel in a warm place.
– Repeat for each ball.
*Lard has a bad reputation but can actually be better for you than than butter. I think it has less saturated fat and less cholesterol but I’m not certain just how much better it is. Either way it doesn’t deserve the bad rep. it has.
I love me some frothy milk. I like it for my hot chocolate, for my latte, for… well, nope, just those things really. But frothy milk makes them so much better than ordinary milk! I used to have an Aerolatte
, which was great, love that thing, however it currently resides in a box somewhere in the garage with the rest of my kitchen. I also have a fancy coffee maker with a steam wand out there too. However, currently I have neither of these things. I have been frothy milk-less!
However, salvation has arrived! Here is a simple how to for making frothy milk with a jam jar and a microwave. Sorted!
(My mother has asked that I point out that Friday is kitchen cleaning day and it has been a hell of a week so any mess you see is the result of bad timing for me to do a quick photo shoot before doing my chores! I would like to point out the irony of the fancy coffee maker sitting in the back of the shots. Hasn’t been used in years, I think the instructions were written in Martian!)
Half fill a clean jam jar with milk. Put the lid on.
Shake the jar for about 30 seconds.
The bubbly milk should have doubled in volume.
Remove the lid and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute (depends how hot you want your milk).
Remove from the microwave.
(I have to put in here that your milk will probably be a bit more bubbly than mine, mine had to sit for a bit here as there was a fight over the work surface while mum made a bacon sandwich!)
Put your coffee or hot chocolate in the mug. If making hot chocolate I like to mix the powder with a bit of milk first then give it 30 seconds in the microwave.
Pour the milk into the mug holding back the foam with a spoon.
Spoon the foam on to the top. Enjoy!
I thought it would be as well to have this recipe here separately just as a reference if you are looking to make plain pancakes. Fill these with whatever you like, I’m very fond of mapel syrup and squirty cream myself or just good old fashioned lemon juice and sugar. Anything goes with pancakes!
125g plain flour
pinch of salt
– Sift the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
– Add the egg and milk and beat until smooth and the consistency of single cream, you may have to add a bit more milk to achieve this.
– Leave to stand for at least 5 minutes, preferably 20.
– Heat a non stick frying pan with a little bit of butter greasing it.
– Add a small amount of the batter to the pan and swirl around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated.
– Leave for about 1 minutes until the edges are cooked and curling then flip over and cook the other side.
– Put on a warm plate covered with a teatowel then repeat until you have no more batter.