Friday, June 15, 2007

Be your own Manufacturer

Returning to the olden days, just about everyone tried to stock up their larders with homemade preserves and tracklements. But we can and should still do this for there is nothing better than the flavour of home-made. So here are one or two suggestions:

Hot Scottish Mustard:
2 tsp dry mustard
3 tsp salt
4 tsp caster sugar
4 tsp melted butter
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
the juice of 1 raw onion, or the whole onion finely grated
Mix all the ingredients together making sure there are no lumps (a food processor will do that for you). Add sufficient vinegar to make the consistency of ready-made mustard and pot into small jars with well fitting lids. The recipe states it will keep for up to a year, but hot enough to blow your head off, so be warned.

Crunchy Pickled Shallots:
Peel the shallots (or you could use pickling onions) taking care to remove the membrane under the papery skins so that the onions are white and shiny. Put into dry jars as soon as peeled and cover with cold pickling vinegar. Use vinegar proof lids and they will be ready to eat in two weeks.
Tip: small onions are easy to peel if very hot water is poured over them, then left for five minutes or so. Remove and the peel can then be easily removed. Also make sweeter and less crunchy pickled onions by dissolving a spoon of sugar (to taste) in hot vinegar before covering the onions.

Rillettes du Porc:
Easy to prepare and, if potted up into several small containers, each sealed with the fat, it will keep for some time in the fridge. Once the seal is broken it should be eaten with a day or two.
1 lb (1kg) belly pork
1 lb (500g) pork fat
1 clove garlic
fresh herbs
black pepper
Remove the skin and bones from the pork (your butcher should do this for you). Rub the meat well with salt and leave to stand overnight. Then cut it into very small pieces - the recipes suggests about the size of a match. Pack the meat into an earthenware casserole mixed with the fat which has also been cut into small pieces. Crush then shove the clove of garlic into the centre with a bunch of fresh herbs (sage, thyme etc).
Grind some black pepper over and then add about 5fl oz (150ml) water. Cover and cook in a low oven 140C, 276F, gas 1 for about 4 hours. Don't be put off by the appearance of the meat.
Season well (rillettes require to be well seasoned) and tip the meat/fat into a sieve with a large bowl under.
Leave to drain for about 1/2 hour turning the meat once or twice.
When fully drained, using two forks, pull the meat apart to shred it as finely as possible. Then pack well into small jars and pour over the saved fat (leave any meat dregs behind), filling the jars right to the top so that the meat is covered and will be airtight when the fat has set. Cover with foil lids and store in the fridge.

Mayonnaise made in a blender: keeps for up to four days in the fridge.
1 very fresh egg
4 fl oz light olive oil (or half olive and half sunflower oil)
juice of 1 lemon (or 1 tblsp wine vinegar)
sea salt
ground black pepper
Break the egg into a blender and turn on and off rapidly just to break the egg.
Add the oil in a very thin stream as slowly as possible and keep blending until the mixutre thickens, then add the lemon juice (or vinegar). Pour into a bowl, season to taste, cover and keep chilled.
Variations: to use as a dressing for vegetables, thin down to the consistency of cream with a little vegetable stock.
Or stir in a little Scottish mustard (see above recipe) to make Mustard Mayonnaise.

Mint Jelly:
To a pint of apple juice allow a pound of sugar. Put the juice in a saucepan with a bunch of mint and boil until the liquid is well flavoured with the mint. Remove the herbs, add the sugar and boil unti the jelly sets. Add a drop of green colouring and a little finely chopped mint then pot up into small clean jars. Cover and store in a dark place.
Variations: Use rosemary instead of mint to serve with lamb. Sage flavoured to serve with pork.