Tag Archives: side

Chili Tomato Marmalade

17 Nov

With Cheddar SconesI am completely utterly besotted with my Cheddar Cheese Scones. Who knew that something so quick and easy could taste so very very good. I stored them, wrapped in wax paper, in a ziploc plastic bag, and today they were fresh, moist and tender. I toasted one for breakfast, and started dreaming up things that would be delicious with this gorgeous cheesy rich bread…. and suddenly, Im not sure from where, chili tomato marmalade popped into my head.

Now let me be honest here. Ive never made marmalade before. I have made apple butter and simple jams, so I decided to basically apply those principles – fruit (tomato and lemon), a bit of water, sugar and low low steady heat. I also wanted to scent my marmalade – because as much as I love the scones, their richness was calling out for something tart and sweet and hot and wild to augment and accent them. Chili and ginger and all spice seemed like a good mix… and oh they were!

In jam making, youre supposed to add equal amounts of sugar to fruit. So for example, I had six cups worth of chopped tomatoes, which called for six cups of sugar. But I just couldnt do it. Since I was venturing into uncharted territory, I decided to halve the amount of sugar used (plus a bit for the lemon rind). I made up for it by cooking the mixture long and slow and low … and it worked. With patience, and a little stirring (not much, I promise), I created a stunningly pretty and decadent tasting chili tomato marmalade.

You could use this marmalade in so many ways. It would be sublime in a grilled cheese sandwich, as a condiment in a cheese platter, as a replacement for cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. Its spicy notes are very seasonal and fresh – and its jewel like colour is festive and happy.

Easy to make, in one evening, this marmalade is something you must try for yourself. Its wonderful!

Makes approximately 3 cups marmalade

  • 5 lemons
  • 1/2 cup + 3 cups light brown sugar
  • Approximately 1.4 kg / 3 lb / 6 cups chopped tomatoes – I got a good mix – beef, Holland, Roma, etc.
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

First, prepare the lemons. Wash them well, and cut off the peel – leaving as much of the pith on the lemon as possible. Chop the peel roughly, and place in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Juice 2 of the lemons, and add the juice (should be about 1/2 cup as well) to the mix. Bring to the boil over high heat, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes to soften the peel up.

Skin the remaining lemons of their pith, and chop the flesh up roughly. Set aside.

Put a kettle onto the boil, and prepare the tomatoes for skinning by marking crosses at stem and bottom with a sharp knife. Place all the prepared tomatoes in a large bowl, and when the kettle comes to the boil, cover the tomatoes with boiling water until they are all completely covered. Count to 30, drain the tomatoes, and refresh them under cold water. You should have encouraged a lot of the tomato skin to start to peel off from the flesh. Use a sharp knife to peel the tomatoes (it should be relatively easy), and chop them roughly.

Do not seed the tomatoes – keep the seeds for the marmalade. Tomato seeds have a lot of pectin in them, and will help the marmalade gel.

You should have about 6 cups of chopped tomatoes. Take the lemon peel off the heat, and add the tomatoes directly to the saucepan, along with the chopped lemon that you set aside. Add the all spice, ginger, red chili, mustard seed, salt and balsamic vinegar and stir well to combine. Add the remaining 3 cups of light brown sugar, and place the saucepan back onto the stovetop at medium heat, and bring the entire mixture to the boil, stirring as you do so.

Once the mixture has come to the boil, turn the heat right down to the lowest you can accommodate, and simmer the marmalade, stirring occasionally until thickened to your liking.

I cannot tell you how long it will take for this mixture to morph into marmalade because different tomatoes will gel at different speeds. What I can tell you is this. It took my marmalade about 2 hours, on very low heat, to set up to my liking. The tomatoes will shed a whole load of water, and the entire mixture will seem very loose and thin – like a very light soup. Keep simmering, and watch as the mixture reduces, thickens and darkens in colour. I started out with pale tomatoes, but the cooking process created a ruby red marmalade.

Err on the side of caution. Burnt marmalade is irretrievable, and it does set up and thicken further once taken off the heat. I took mine off when it was thick enough to stand on a spoon, but not thick enough for marmalade. It set up very well as it cooled, and is now very sticky and scrummy and thick. If your marmalade does not set up as you like, put it back onto the heat for half an hour at a time.

Enjoy this morning noon and night, with those you love. Hopefully on a gorgeous Cheddar Scone!

 

Quick Palak Paneer

28 Aug

Iin America! went to Whole Foods today, and was again overwhelmed by the bounty that was there. But I knew I had a load of things to do today, so it was a quick trip (my Mum was also with me … that slows and speeds things up in a strange way). It was an in and out shop – and I was thinking of what to make for dinner. There was a huge bunch of gorgeous baby spinach. And there was ready made paneer (a bland Indian cheese that cooks well, and soaks up all the flavour of what ever dish you put it in). And that was it. Tacos for the young-uns (well, the adults had some too), and palak paneer for the adults. It took less than 20 minutes, and it was delicious.

It was also a palak paneer that was cobbled together with what I could find at the shops. I didnt really have access to the kind of spice cupboard that I would have back home. This palak paneer you can make just about anywhere in the world! And the great thing about this dish is that you can make it vegan. Use a firm tofu, ready spiced and baked if possible, and slice it and add. It has the same creaminess as the paneer, and adds similar protein. Use coconut cream (not milk) in place of the cream or milk, and you have a delectable vegan feast.

Just imagine a gorgeous green mass, with a turmeric yellow sauce, and creamy chunks of cheese. It was satisfying and healthy, and oh so easy. Just remember to taste and adjust for seasoning. You put in so much spinach that you might well need to add more salt and pepper at the end.

Serves 4 – 6, with rice

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 large onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Knob of fresh ginger (about the size of your pinkie), grated
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Large bunch of fresh baby spinach (about 4 – 6 cups, chopped) or 1 bag frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup milk, half and half, cream, or coconut milk
  • 1 packet paneer (about 1 cup chopped) Note: if you cannot find paneer, substitute with Mexican queso blanco, or firm ricotta, sliced and pan fried. Or, if you want to be vegan, add firm tofu, preferably one that has been baked and flavoured.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sesame oil until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic and ginger, and stir to combine. Let the onions soften a bit, and then add the spices and salt and pepper. Let saute for at least 5 minutes or so, on medium low heat. You want the spices to become fragrant, and cook a little. This will impact hugely on the end taste of the dish. Just make sure they dont burn!

Add the spinach all at once. Raise heat to high, and wilt the spinach completely, mixing it in well with the onions and spices. Add the water, and let cook down, and taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the milk or cream, and let reduce a little. Adjust for seasoning again, and add the paneer. Cook for at least 5 minutes on a medium low fire. You want the paneer incorporated into the gravy, and you want it to taste of spices and spinach.

You can make this ahead at least a few hours. Reheat on low for a few minutes, and serve with rice and some chutney.

Roast Butternut Salad

26 Aug

I am exhausted tonight so this will be a short post! So it goes in a house with baby and multiple generations! I loved this salad. Perfect as a side dish – or if you want, add a few shavings of parmesan, or some salty feta, or a couple dollops of creamy sweet ricotta – or if you are vegan, a few chickpeas – for the protein, and you have lunch! Best served cold, the butternut is oven roasted ahead of time and refrigerated. So when it comes time to serving, its really a matter of putting it all together and devouring.

I love the golden orange happiness of butternut, and I adore how easy it is to cook. Its forgiving, and its natural sweetness automatically caramelises in a hot oven, so you dont really need to add anything in the way of herbs or spices – the vegetable flavours itself beautifully. This is a meal I crave over and over again. I love juxtaposition in my food – the spicy, slightly bitter bite of arugula, and the sweet creamy richness of the butternut are wonderful partners. They compliment and play off each other and make me very happy.

Serves 8 Р10 as a side  or 4 with left overs for lunch or dinner

  • 1 medium / large butternut, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 – 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 – 3 cups (I used about 1 packet) arugula / rocket or other bitter green salad leaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Toppings: sprouts, cheese (parmesan, feta or ricotta are my favourites, but go wild – try it with blue cheese if you want!), toasted walnuts or pine nuts, avocado

The night before (or morning before) you intend to serve the salad, prepare the butternut.

Preheat your oven to 190 C.

Peel, seed and roughly chop 1 medium to large butternut. Put in a bowl, and pour over 2 tbsp olive oil. Using your hands, mix well, ensuring that all the butternut is coated.

Arrange the butternut on a jelly roll pan or other large shallow baking pan, in a single layer. Salt and pepper well. Arrange the garlic cloves amongst the butternut.

Roast for about 45 minutes, or until you see the butternut beginning to caramelise. I usually try and flip the butternut over half way through the cooking time as well, so that both sides get a bit of browning.

Take out of the oven and let cool to room temperature. Return to bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, take the butternut out of the fridge.

Fish the garlic cloves out of the butternut mixture. They should be very soft. Pop them into a small bowl or cup and mash the garlic with a fork. Whisk in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Find a lovely large flat serving platter or plate. Strew the baby arugula over the plate in one beautiful bright green layer.

Tumble the butternut over, and pour about half the dressing over. Reserve the rest to serve on the side if you wish.

Sprinkle one or two toppings of your choice over all, and serve.

Perfect for a hot summer’s day!

Lemon Broccolini

25 Aug

Tart Bright Beautiful and Green!This is another dish from my sister’s feast – the perfect side dish as far as I am concerned. Bright, green, beautiful, and amazingly tasty. Plus, it tastes best if served cold, so you can make it up to one day ahead (though not more) and it will be gorgeous on the day. I love broccoli and broccolini (which is just the baby version)… there is no taste quite like it. I hate it when its boiled to death though, because I think it tastes of *green* and too much cooking just decimates its pure flavour.

You can use broccoli in place of broccolini here, but if you can find it, do use the baby version. Its so delicate, very sweet, and incredibly tasty. It needs very little prep too – the stalks are tender, and all you need to do is just trim the edges and slice them into 2 – 3 inch chunks. I like broccoli with anything – in a soup with some aged cheddar cheese, in a gratin (with more cheese), tossed with butter… but I think this is my absolute favourite. The lemon just enhances that very bright clear flavour – and its surprising because we usually expect the broccoli to be heavy and rich. Toasted almonds add creaminess and a nutty richness to this dish – they are a wonderful balance to the lemon and broccoli.

Two days after our birthday feast, I used the left over broccolini and almonds as the base for a cold vegetable soup (whizzed up with the help of the adored immersion blender!) – it was superb – and the almonds added texture and great depth of flavour.

You can double, triple, or even halve this recipe. Its great to take on a picnic, and wonderful to serve to hoardes of people. Its a tasty addition to a feast, and a perfect side dish for dinner or lunch.

Serves 8

  • 3/4 cup sliced almonds (I liked this to be very almondy – but use less if you like)
  • 2 – 3 cups broccolini or broccoli
  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a dry, non stick pan, over medium high heat, toast the sliced almonds. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to keep the almonds moving in the pan – they can burn in the blink of an eye! Once they are toasted, set aside to cool.

Prepare a bowl with water and ice, if possible. If not, have cold water standing by.

Also, prepare the lemon dressing. In a large-ish bowl, add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, olive oil, the grated peel of a lemon, and all its juice. Organic lemons have a huge depth of flavour that cannot be matched, and are so worth it in this recipe! Whisk together well. The lemon juice and olive oil will emulsify, and you will have a creamy looking very lemony dressing. Set aside.

Fill a large pot with water, and add 1 tsp salt. Bring to the boil.

While the water is coming to the boil, trim your broccolini or broccoli spears. For broccolini, just trim the ends, and slice into manageable chunks… I usually just cut them in half. For broccoli, divide the head into florets, and trim the woody bits off the stalk, and cut into bite sized chunks. Wash briefly in cold water.

As soon as the water has come to the boil, put all the broccolini in. Watch carefully – you may only need a minute or two. Broccoli might take longer, but you want a crisp tender vegetable, with a little bit of crunch left. Do not over boil. You will lose all the freshness!

As soon as the broccolini is snap tender, drain, and pour the bowl of ice water or the cold water over. The broccolini will still be a little warm – this is okay. Shake to drain off as much of the water as possible, and immediately dunk the broccolini into the lemon dressing. Add the almonds, and mix thoroughly. Taste for salt and pepper.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Serve cold or at room temperature.