Apple & Rosemary Jelly

Sweet moment

A couple of Sundays back. he and I went to Blackheath farmers market and came back with one purple cauliflower (more about this later), a bag of Kent apples and few other bits, all sweetly tucked up in a red string bag. I always thought farmers' market in London would be a bit of a rip-off but this one does not seem to be.
Now pay attention: The rules for all farmers' market are that producers must be local -within 50 miles- and sell their own produce. The person behind the stall must be directly involved with production, allowing the customers to ask questions about how goods are produced.
Of course when the fun of choosing and buying is gone, we were left with these strange goods and no idea how to use them, one can eat so many apples but a big bag, calls for a big idea. Last time I made jelly it was quite a performance involving a kitchen cupboard door handle, a long piece of string, his mum, millions of crab apples and bad maths from my part.

This time round, I had learnt my lessons, I borrowed a jelly bag, if you ever see one in a shop, do invest, it makes life so much easier. It made for a lovely evening, gently simmering apples, filling up the basement with the sweet smell of autumn followed a fun picture session.

So now is the right time of the year to forage for apples which are plentiful. The following recipe is rather versatile, it can be used in cooking or on your breakfast "tartine". Be aware Rosemary has a strong flavour so a little goes a long way.

Ingredients for Apple and Rosemary Jelly

2.5 kg cooking apples
Juice of 2 lemons - I must say I forget that and it worked well without-
1 large fresh rosemary sprigs


Wash the apples and cut off any bruised bits.
Cut the apples into thick chunks without peeling or coring.
Put in a pan with the lemon juice and enough cold water to cover.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the apples are very soft and the liquid is reduced by a third.
Strain the apple mixture through a jelly cloth overnight.
Do not squeeze the apples through as this will make a cloudy jelly.
Measure the strained liquid and for every 450ml of liquid add 450g sugar.
Put the apple liquid, sugar and rosemary into a large pan.
Stir until the sugar has dissolved and then boil rapidly for 10 minutes or until setting point is reached.
To test if the setting point has been reached spoon a little of the jelly onto a chilled sauce, then push the surface of the jelly. If the surface wrinkles it has reached setting point. Strain if you don't fancy seeing rosemary if your jelly pot
Pot the jelly in warm, clean, sterilised jars, cover with waxed discs until the jelly cools, then cover and seal.

Courgette (Zucchini) & Cheddar Quick Bread - Revisited-

I must thank you all. Let me explain: I went to a party yesterday, each guest bought a dish, the host had worked hard to make sure that the garden was nicely prepared for our arrival.
-But what should I bring was my question?
-Oh one of your delicious recipe, was the answer.
But which? that's when I had a brain wave and decided to access Google Analytics to see which of Pebble Soup's recipe was your favorite.
I crossed my fingers, hoping that it was not a winter casserole and the result was:

Courgette and Cheese Loaf

Cuts into 10 slices
Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes

I amended the oven temperature that should get rid of the sogginess

75g butter
200g courgette coarsely grated
2 tsp fine sea salt
225g self-raising white flour, sifted
3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
4 tbsp milk
1/4tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder or 1/2 tbsp mustard mixed with the mild
125g strong Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190°C, 375°F).
Line a loaf tin with baking paper, leaving 5cm above the rim.
Melt the butter and leave it to cool
In a large bowl, combine the sifted flour, salt, cayenne powder mustard .
Add the grated cheese.
Lightly beat together the eggs and milk , then pour into the flour mix and stir with a knife to create a dense sticky batter.
Add the courgette shreds.
Turn into the lined loaf tin
Bake for 20 minutes, then raise heat to Gas Mark 6 (200°C, 400°F) and bake for 20 minutes more until the top is golden and/or the top spring lightly when pressed.
Leave the loaf in the turned off oven for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack before turning out.

Aubergine Purée

According to a recent survey, aubergines have bumped off sprouts from the children list of most hated vegetables, so this might not be to manlings taste but it is absolutely delicious. I made an aubergine purée when Helen came to dinner on Thursday and as she has promised to leave a comment, there is only one thing for me to do...

The original recipe is for ravioles on a bed of spinach topped with smoked salmon however, in our case the original recipe became: very battered ravioles cunningly smuggled back from France in his bag and looking poorly after their flight, now lying down on a bed of aubergine purée and tucked in under a sliced of smoked salmon.

But let's concentrate on the delicious Aubergine Purée for which you will need :

•2 medium aubergines
•3 tbs of Tahiti and the equivalent in cream or Greek yogurt
•2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
•1/2 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
•Squeeze of lemon juice
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Roast the aubergines on a baking sheet until tender - about 20-30 minutes. Cool.

2.Peel and squeeze out any juices. Put in a food processor and whiz together with the fresh coriander, garlic, lemon juice, Tahiti and yogurt and a little seasoning.

3. Add a little more yogurt or Tahiti if it looks too thick, put back into a saucepan and heat it up before serving.

This, on its own is great, but to get the restaurant experience, top with cooked ravioles which really are tiny raviolis and cover with a slice of smoke salmon.

Bon appetit.

A Perfect Parfait

French Liver pâté, Belgium pâté, OK, at the end of the day it might all be called pâté, but if you don't want to be repeatedly stricken on the head by a baguette dexterously misused by an enraged French person never, ever call "foie gras" a pâté, for example.
So what is a Parfait, that I can tell you: it is a pâté passed through a sieve to make it silky smooth and that is what I prepared for Phil when she passed through London on her way back home.

It is simple to create a Parfait, the advantage being that you will not get the grainy texture you might get sometimes with other pâtés, so it is more palatable, And if you like your pâté smooth, the best bet is to go for a French or Belgium pâtés.

The recipe I used is adapted from Stéphane Reynaud’s "Terrines". Reynaud comes for the
Ardèche where you get some really fantastic little restaurants, if you have not been yet, jump on the next train, 100% good time guaranteed. But back to Mr Reynaud whose grandfather was a butcher and who seems to spend his time between his restaurant near Paris and writing books about pork, pâtés and associated subjects.

Chicken Liver Parfait
serves 4
500g (I lb) chicken livers
5 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped
200g (7 oz) unsalted butter
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
5 juniper berries
pinch of ground cinnamon
100ml (2/5 cup) port
1 tbsp walnut oil

Heat the walnut oil in a pan on a medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until golden. Add the chicken livers, bacon and juniper berries and sear the livers until coloured on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the port, making sure you scrape the tasty bits stuck to the pan and cook down until thick and syrupy. Pour into a food processor or blender and add the liver mixture, 150g of the butter, cinnamon and salt. Blitz until smooth.

Spoon the parfait into 4 terrine dishes, pressing down to fill the dishes well. Chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

To finish, melt the remaining butter then pour on the terrines to cover. Return to the fridge to harden the butter layer. This step is not essential and is really more for presentation than anything – we normally skip it (especially when it’s just the two of us eating), after all the parfait itself has plenty enough butter!

Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving to allow the parfait to come to room temperature.

Albannach - A Well Kept Secret in the Center of London

I am sure you know the feeling, you are visiting London, on your own or with friends, you end up in Trafalgar Square or Covent garden, everybody is starving and all that is on offer is fast food tagged with horrendous prices. Well no more. I was invited to review a restaurant which will put a smile on your face and you will wish to keep the address secret but you are not able to, because this is a "best place": Albannach 66 Trafalgar square, yes your eyes are not deceiving you, Trafalgar square.

On Sunday, we had a booking for 13.00, which left plenty of time to visit the portrait gallery and its exhibition. On arrival the front of the house was absolutely charming, we were lead to a table by the window and we gazed at the tourists while the waiter bought us drinks and the menu.

Now not only the decor is sleek, the service courteous but the Albannach new brunch & lunch menu is perfectly targeted. Here I should say that the restaurant is Scottish, the clue is in the kilt worn by the bar waiter, but back to the food....smoked salmon £8.50 and Macsween Haggis £16.50 figure in good place along with traditional dishes such as full English breakfast (the way it is supposed to be) £10.50 and traditional Sunday roast (with all the trimmings) £15.50.

I went for the chicken salad and he chose a three eggs omelette with mushroom, we did not go wild but sometimes it is easier to compare what you already know. My salad was nicely seasoned the chicken BQ for extra flavour and the croutons crunchy. His omelette looked and tasted good, though I am not sure about the oil on the top.

Albannach is also running whisky courses, the staff is highly knowledgeable. All in all really recommended. I will definitely be back for haggis in the winter.
Square Meal

Oatcakes with Cheddar with Baxters' Chutney

He promised me a summer of fireworks and cocktails and he was as good as his words..

However when presented with a lovely liquid concoction, lovingly prepared, a little effort towards the nibbles is in order.

Now for a bit of background; some time ago, I was invited to a Baxters Afternoon Tea Party as I was busy that afternoon, I passed the invitation on to Sarah of Maison Cupcake who has written a super post about it. Consequently I was sent Baxters new range of conserves and chutneys.

If you are like me, always on the look out for something new, you might want to read on and as I did not think it right to do all the tasting I got some help from neighbours, friends who enthusiastically volunteered to help out and taste these new products. Here are the conclusions we arrived to.

  • Baxters Baby Beetroots is rather acidic and got the thumb down.
  • Their Rhubarb and Ginger conserve was very much appreciated but the ginger is a bit too powerful, a friend suggested that it should be called Ginger & Rhubarb,
  • The winner is without a shadow of doubt their Strawberry conserve, if you happen to see it on the supermarket shelve, you can get it in all confidence
  • as for the chutneys: Tomato Chutney with Red Pepper is sweet and not very sharp and Cranberry & Caramelised Red Onion Is fine.

But of course it is all a matter of taste. Baxters is a good solid brand which undeniably has put a lot of research in their new products. To promote them the firm has enrolled the services of Tom Kitchin and here is the recipe which made the lovely nibbles for the equally lovely cocktails.and now for the recipe:
Oatcakes with Cheddar, Rocket and Baxters Cranberry & Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

Makes 12 oatcakes
Per oatcake
132 kcal
5.8g fat
2.8g saturates
6.1g sugar
1.1g salt

12 rough oatcakes
Handful of rocket salad
100g strong cheddar, thinly sliced
6 slices of Parma ham, halved
12tbsp Baxters Cranberry & Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

1. Top each oatcake with a layer of rocket salad. Then add a layer of cheddar cheese and a piece of Parma ham.
2. Top each with a spoonful of Baxters Cranberry & Caramelised Red Onion Chutney.



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