22 April 2011

River Cottage Onion Marmalade

This recipe comes from the Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2. Not written by the man himself  but by Pam Corbin known as 'Pam the Jam'. I love these handbooks and recently bought myself No 3 which is bread which I haven't even attempted making but will do at some point... honestly. Anyway, I'm never happier really than when making some sort of jam, pickle or chutney and having made this marmalade for Joe's family's Christmas hamper I was desperate to make some for me! Luckily it made a big kilner jar for our fridge and two jam jars for my parents and godparents so I looked like I was living in some sort of bubble of domesticity when in fact I had made it rather frantically that morning, left Joe to bottle it and run to get my hair done reeking of onion (the flat still has a slight whiff about it... that is one of the side affects.

Before discovering this recipe I made Rachel Allen's red onion jam from her book Bake, and I do really love this still so think I shall alternate between the two depending on my mood. This one is really great with cheese but you can use it on anything and makes for a yummy gift. I advise making it on a sunny day though as even the dog smelt oniony afterwards so you need windows open.

Onion Marmalade

Makes 5 x 225g jars

100ml Olive oil
2kg onions, peeled and finely sliced
200g demerara sugar
150g redcurrant jelly
300ml cider vinegar
50ml balsamic vinegar
1 rounded tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

You'll need a big pan - the bigger the better. We used 14 onions in the end which is a lot once sliced. You need to have jars - whatever kind you like but they need vinegar proof lids. They'll need to be sterilised and warm though.

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over and medium heat and add the onions. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-40 minutes until the onions are collapsed and beginning to colour.

Joe can chop 14 onions without crying. I can take the peel off one...

2. Add the sugar and the redcurrant jelly. Increase the heat and continue to cook, stirring more frequently for about 30 minutes until the mixture turns a dark, nutty brown and most of the moisture has been driven off.

3. Take off the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before adding the vinegars (if you add vinegar to a red hot pan it will evaporate).

4. Return to the heat and cook rapidly for another 10 minutes or so, until the mixture becomes gooey and a spoon drawn across the bottom of the pan leaves a clear track on the base for a couple of seconds.

5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Spoon into warm, sterilised jars and seal with vinegar proof lids. Use within 12 months.


The finished marmalade

15 April 2011

Red Onion and Feta Quiche

I'm pretty obsessed with feta. Everyone says they tire of Greek food quickly but for me it's like heaven. Tomatoes and feta... I don't really need anything else. So any opportunity to find new things to do with feta is very welcome and this quiche was yummy with a tomato salad and some chutney.

Red Onion and Feta Quiche

Serves 3 (or 2 hungry gardeners)

For the pastry:
170g plain flour
85g butter (cold)
3tbsp cold water

For the filling:
1 red onion
150g feta cheese
150ml milk
2 eggs
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. You will need a loose bottomed quiche tin buttered and ready to go.

1. Put the pastry ingredients in the magimix and blitz together until it forms a ball. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Cover in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

2. Toss the onion slices in olive oil and lay on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for about 10 mins until they are beginning to turn golden. When they are done you can leave to cool

3. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to fit your quiche tin. Then bake the pastry blind (lining the case with greaseproof paper and using baking beans or something to weigh the paper down) for about 15 mins.
Baking balls

4. Put the onions in the pastry case, crumble the feta over (you can cut it into cubes if you want to be neater).

5. Whisk together the eggs, milk and some salt and pepper. Pour this over the onions and cheese and bake for 35 minutes until set and lightly browned.

6. Serve with whatever you like - but tomato salad was just yummy.
I meant to take a photo of a slice of it which was more appetizing... but I ate it all

10 April 2011

Rachel Allen's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

For mothers day my sister and I hosted a lunch for my parents at my flat - we ordered in sushi (from Feng Sushi) and went for a walk in Ravenscourt Park. It was actually pretty nice weather and having assumed it would not be I had persuaded my mother to bring wellies so we strode about the park in the sun feeling like we had got lost on a countryside ramble. We had also decided to do cream tea for when we returned and my penchant for over feeding reared it's ugly head and so I made Rachel Allen's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies. Now I don't like white chocolate so I didn't try one but I think these went even quicker than brownies... a few were eaten at tea and then Joe took them to work the next day. I don't think they made it to lunch time - always a good sign I think. Highly recommended if you want too cook something easy, yummy and not brownies! This recipe is taken from Bake - a book I'm more and more in love with every time I use it.

Rachel Allen's Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

Makes 12 squares

125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g butter, softened
150g crunchy peanut butter
175g soft light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g white chocolate, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and line and grease a 20x20cm square cake tin. I softened my butter for 10 seconds in the microwave but if you're clever you can just take it out of the fridge a bit before you want to cook. I used a milky bar for the white chocolate - it was impossible to find an alternative within a 1 mile radius of my flat!

1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together until very soft. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour, baking powder and the chopped chocolate and mix to form a dough.

3. Place the dough in the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25-30 mins or until golden brown and almost firm in the centre.

4. Allow to cool in the tin, before removing and cutting into squares*.

Finished Blondies in their tin
*As with brownies I actually find it easier and less messy to cut these in the tin and then using a small spatula to ease them out.

4 April 2011

Ina Garten's Mexican Chicken Soup

Now I'm not going to lie - this didn't really set my world on fire but I'm not really into Mexican food. However, Joe loved it so much I thought he was going to explode before he stopped eating it. It's pretty fun to eat too and filling for a soup although once you see what goes into it that's not surprising.This is from her book Barefoot Contessa at Home.

You need a big pot for this. Big.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Serves 6

2 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2.84 litres chicken stock (2 1/2 quarts)
800g chopped tomatoes in puree
2-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
6 fresh white tortillas

To Serve:
sliced avocado
sour cream
Cheddar cheese, grated
Tortilla chips

Pre-heat the oven to 175C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

1. Place chicken breasts, skin side up on a baking sheet. Rub with olive oil, sprinkles with salt and pepper and roast for 35-40 mins until cooked. When the chicken is cool enough to be handled, remove the skin and bones and shred the meat. Cover and set aside.
Chicken breasts - mine didn't have bones

2. Heat 3 tbsps of olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until the onions start to brown.
Husband chopping onions to prevent weeping (note bowl of bribary peanuts)

3. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapenos, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tsp pepper. Cut the tortilla's in half then cut them cross-ways into 1/2 inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to the boil. then lower the heat and simmer for 25 mins.
Tortilla strips

5. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste.
Shredding chicken into soup

6. Serve the soup hot, topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated cheddar and some tortilla chips.
Ready to eat
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