Tag Archives: spread

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!

 

Apple Butter

17 Oct

Today, we went to a farm and picked our own pumpkins for Halloween! It was an amazing outing – Z got to see her first live goats, pigs and cow, and we took a hayride. It was really fun, and such a pleasure to be outside on a sunny, but cold autumn day! One of the best parts for me was wandering through the farmstall, checking out all the produce. They have an apple orchard, so you can pick your own apples, or else just take home huge bags of picked apples. All kinds of squash and pumpkins, lovely ripe tomatoes, kale, fresh baked breads… and they had apple butter!

Oh, do I love this stuff. Apple butter is completely vegan – a kind of cooked down version of apple sauce. Its very thick, rich, dark caramelised brown. It tastes, as Julia said, like Christmas – apples and spices and everything nice! Its a wonderful substitute for fats (vegetable oil or butter) in baked goods – and its phenomenal on all kinds of breakfast dishes – from oatmeal to yogurt to waffles to plain old toast. Grilled cheese sandwiches (especially brie) reach heights unimagined with a slather of apple butter. Honestly, try some!

This recipe for apple butter takes a while. Its an afternoon of cooking when you find yourself at home, and its cold outside or rainy, and you have a surfeit of apples. I always try and make this with at least two different kinds of apples, just to give it depth of flavour. And choose your spices yourself – I give you what I use, but feel free to mix it up, add, subtract or whatever tastes good to you! For depth of flavour, I also use different sugars and honey. And remember, this is totally a guide recipe – if your apples are incredibly sweet, you wont need as much sugar. But do note that the sugar is used to create the caramelised effect in the butter, and also to encourage thickening. Dont use too little or it wont set properly.

Cook this apple butter with a view to caning or freezing it. You will have loads, and its wonderful to have in the fridge when you just want something warm, spicy, indulgent and yet relatively healthy. Enjoy!

Makes about 6 cups

  • 10 – 12 large apples, mixed variety (about 4 lbs/ 2 kgs)
  • 1 cup apple cider (or apple juice – purest you can find plus 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups of sugar – half light brown sugar, half white sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 – 2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp each nutmeg, allspice and ginger (according to your preference)
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Juice and grated peel of 1 lemon

Peel, core and chop the apples fine. Put in a large pot (I usually use my oval enamel Le Creuset). Add the apple cider, and over medium high heat bring the apples and liquid to the boil. Once everything is bubbling, bring the heat down to medium low, and simmer until the apples are soft and tender, about half an hour.

Once the apples are very soft, use an immersion blender (or food processor or even a potato masher) to puree the apples. You now have a version of apple sauce!

Taste. Add the sugar, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, salt and lemon and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings, remembering that a long slow cooking will caramelise everything and make all the flavours much more intense.

You have a choice now. You can bake the apple sauce in the oven (set quite low – about 125 C / 250 F) for about 3 – 4 hours, stirring every half an hour or so. Or you can cook it over low heat on the stove top, stirring often for up to 2 hours. I prefer this way because I love the scent and the warmth of the apple butter filling the house, and I believe that constant stirring makes for a smoother butter.

Either way, by the end of the cooking time, you will have a very thick, very caramelised dark brown butter, scented with spice and tasting of the essence of apple. Enjoy the fruits of your labour, and give some to friends so they can taste your love too!

Raspberry Curd

21 Jul

Pure Raspberry TasteThese last few weeks, I seem to be inspired by my conversations with people online. Articles, notes, photographs, comments … all these things make me think of different foods and ideas. And of course, eating – Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio last night was a veritable treasure trove of inspiration, and reading about other people’s favourite meals makes me think of different connections and ideas. I was chatting with my dear friend, Floating Lemons, and she mentioned that she was hoping for raspberries picked from her garden. I dreamed of raspberries that night! They are such a perfectly gorgeous fruit – and most of the time, they need no adornment. Well, may be a little cream, but thats totally optional. At the same time, I was reading Tamasin Day-Lewis’ cookbook, Kitchen Classics, and in it, she had a raspberry curd tart…

It looked so dramatic and so gorgeous, but what really intrigued me was the raspberry curd. When I first encountered lemon curd, I could not imagine the alchemy needed to produce this tart sweet creamy fondant. It was like lemon candy, but softer; jam, but creamier; pudding, but clearer. Fruit curd was always one of those things that terrified me – I was sure I would try and cook it and it would turn into an almighty mess, coating me and my kitchen with drippy gloopy failure. Well, I stand here before you to tell you that fruit curd is unspeakably easy to make. It does take effort, dont get me wrong, but the benefit outweighs the pain. Home made fruit curd trumps anything you can get in the markets – especially if you are vigilant and use all organic ingredients.

Making fruit curd is, for me, a deep and intense meditation on the fruit. It is extremely relaxing because you really need to focus only on the ingredients in front of you, and how they come together to create something so different, yet so essentially the same as their individual parts. Butter, eggs, egg yolks, fine sugar and fruit. Thats it. Whisk it constantly over a low, slow heat and watch magic happen – literally. It will come together and thicken, and deepen in flavour, but it wont over cook as long as you keep the heat low and slow. You will come away with a thick jammy (but not jam) mix, that literally trembles when you serve it so delicate it is, that is the esesnce of the ripe fresh fruit.

I have made loads of different curds, but this one feels very exotic in a way. May be someone in Europe would feel the same about a pineapple curd, but the deep fuchsia colour and the bright raspberry taste make this unique and special to me.

I have made this two ways – in a tart a la Tamasin Day-Lewis, and rippled into a warm rice pudding. The first is rather dramatic and stark, but pretty sensational. The second is comforting and yet sophisticated all at the same time. However, dont be constrained. Use it as a spread for breakfast, stir it into yogurt, or eat it by the spoonful for the sheer joy of it. Its a wonderful present too. People are astonished that you can make it, but they are also so pleased with something so out of the ordinary.

This recipe makes about 3 1/2 cups of finished raspberry curd. If you want to keep it or give it away, please follow jam bottling protocols. I used all mine up, so there wasnt much to save but there was a whole lot to savour 😉 I will give the recipes for the tart and the rice pudding separately.

  • 450 g / 1 lb fresh raspberries (about 1 1/2 cups after sieving)
  • 2 eggs + 3 egg yolks (I use organic for this)
  • 1 cup superfine brown sugar (see below)
  • 1 cup / 8 tbsp butter

I use an immersion blender in two places in this recipe. It makes things very easy, and it also enables you to liquidise and refine in your cooking bowls, rather than have to transfer from a blender or food processor. It simplifies things, but if you dont have one, use a blender or processor and adjust accordingly.

In a bowl, using an immersion blender, liquidise the raspberries. They should be pretty much a thick bright pinky red puree – no berry or flesh left whole.

Over the top of another bowl, place a sieve. I use a nylon sieve that sits on top of the bowl – this is very useful for jobs like this because it will take a lot of liquid all at once. Pour out the raspberries into the sieve, and using a spatula or wooden spoon, coax the juice and flesh through the sieve into the second bowl. This can take a while, and I usually like to do it slowly and thoughtfully. Its part of the process 😉

Once the sieve holds nothing more than tons of raspberry seeds, lift it off the bowl, and using your spatula, scrape the thick juices that cling to the bottom of the sieve. Measure off your pureed fruit and you should get about 1 1/2 – 2 cups. Set aside.

Whisk your eggs, egg yolks and sugar together.  I use light brown organic sugar in this recipe, but I was concerned about its fineness. I used the immersion blender to pulverise the sugar so that it was super-fine (not quite powder, but no large granules either). If you have super-fine sugar, skip this bit but its quite fun! If you do grind it fine, then just add the sugar to the eggs and whisk well. You want a light yellow thick ribbony mixture.

Prepare a bain marie (water bath) on your stove top. I have already written about how I dont use double boilers. A medium sized saucepan, filled about 1/3rd with boiling water, and a large metal bowl set atop, do it for me. If you have a double boiler, go for it! Basically, you never want the mixture to boil. You want to keep it at a very low heat for at least 15 – 20 minutes.

In your metal bowl, set over the saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the egg mixture and the raspberry puree. And now, just keep whisking. It may take you 10 minutes or longer (it usually takes me about 20 minutes of constant whisking) but eventually, this very syrupy thin concoction of butter, eggs, sugar and fruit will start to thicken. For me, this process is all about faith! And bravery to be honest. First time I made it, I was scared I was going to scramble the eggs, but if you keep the temperature very low (the water does not have to be at a boil – a simmer will do), and keep whisking whisking whisking, it will turn out beautifully.

You are looking for a soft whipped cream consistency, so that as you whisk, you see the tracks of your whisk in the curd. When it gets to this point, and it may take a while, your curd is done. Take it off the heat, pour and scrape it into a clean, cool bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let it sit and cool, and solidify, for at least an hour or more and then refrigerate. It will deepen in colour and become thicker, so that it stands up on a spoon.

Bottle, or use in desserts, spread on toast or scones, and delight in the taste of summer.