Thursday, July 26, 2007

Living the Past, Preserving the Future

Use foil containers to freeze ready-meals, but first line them with cling-film or layering tissue, allowing an overlap. fill the containers, fold over the surplus film then place on the lid. Write the name of the contents on the lid in one corner. Freeze. Once frozen, removed the contents (now well wrapped in film/tissue) and place in a bag with others of the same kind. Put a note in the bag to remind you of the contents. The original foil container should be as clean as a whistle and can be used again - many times. When wishing to heat remove the wrapping and put the meal in an ovenproof dish or in a microwave dish according to how you wish to reheat.

Pickled Plums:
1 lb (500g) sugar
rind of one small lemon, pith removed
2 whole cloves
small pieces of root ginger
half a pint (300ml) malt vinegar
2 lb (1kg) plums
Put all the ingredients,except the plums, into a large saucepan. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved then bring to the boil. Remove from heat, leave to get cold then strain. Return to the pan and bring back to the boil. Meanwhile, prick the plums all over, place in a deep bowl and then pour the bot vinegar over them. Cover and leave to stand 5 days. Strain off the liquid, bring it back to the boil and pour it back over the fruit. Cover and leave to stand a further 5 days. Strain once more, bring the vinegar back to the boil. Pack the plums into hot, sterilized jars and pour the boiling vinegar over. Seal immediately with airtight and vinegar-proof lids.

Plum Jam:
3 llb (1.5kg) plums
15 fl.oz (450ml) water
3 lb (1.5kg) sugar
knob of butter
Place the plums and water into a pan and simmer for about half an hour or until the plums are really soft and the contents of the pan well reduced. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar. When this has dissolved, add the knob of butter, return to the heat and boil rapidly for 10 - 15 minutes or until setting point has been reached. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon take out the stones and remove any scum which might be on the surface. Pot up in the usual way.

Plum and Apple Jam:
2 lb (1kg) plums, halved and stoned
2 lb (1kg) apples, peeled cored and sliced
1 1/2 pints (900ml) water
3 lb (1.5kg) sugar
knob of butter
Put both fruits in a pan with the water and simmer for about an hour until the fruit is tender and the contents of the pan reduced by half. Remove from the heat, add the sugar and the butter, and when the sugar has dissolved return to the heat and boil for 10 - 15 minutes. When stetting point is reached, remove from the heat, spoon off any scum and pot up in the usual way.

Plum Chutney:
(you could use ready-made pickling vinegar instead of using the vinegar and spices.)
2 tblsp pickling spice
2 lb (1kg) plums, halved, stoned and chopped
8 oz (250g) tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 1/2 pints (900ml) malt vinegar
1 lb (500g) onions, chopped
1 lb (500g) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 lb (500g) carrots, thimly peeled and diced
4oz (100g) sultanas
1 lb (500g) demerara sugar
1 level tblsp salt
Tie the pickling spice in a piece of muslin. Place this and all the other ingredients into a pan , bring to the simmer and cook , stirring from time to time, for about two and a half hours until thick. Remove the bag of spice, and spoon the chutney into pre-heated jars and cover immediately with air-tight and vinegar-proof lids. Excellent served with cold meats esp. pork, sausages and ham.

If you wish to make your own pickling (spiced) vinegar - here is the recipe:
Spiced Vinegar:
2 pints (1.2ltrs) vinegar
2 tblsp blade mace
1 tblsp allspice
1 tblsp whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick (approx 7"/18cm)
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Put all the ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil, simmer for 30 seconds then remove from heat, pour into a bowl, cover and leave to marinate for two hours. Strain through muslin, pour into clean bottles and seal with air-tight vinegar-proof lids.
Note: you could substitute 1 - 2 oz (25-50g) of pickling spice instead of using above spices. Some brands of pickling spice might contain chillies, thus the end result will be spicier. Read the pack before buying, in any case, they are usually noticable and can be taken out.

And for something completely different, a recipe which is best eaten the day of making but can be made up to a day before serving, perfect for eating on a summer's day (if we ever get one), either indoors, or outdoors - perhaps supper on the patio, and great to take on a picnic.
Smoked Haddock and Watercress Roulade:
7 oz (200g) cooked smoked haddock (weight after skinning and flaking)
5 tblsp Greek yogurt
5 tblsp mayonnaise
5 large eggs, separated
1 oz (25g) grated Parmesan cheese
1 oz (24g) grated Gruyere cheese
7 oz (200g) watercress (after trimming)
1 oz (25g) parsley (after trimming)
salt, nutmeg and black pepper
Firstly, prepare the baking (swiss roll) tin (9" x 13"/ 23cm x 33cm) by lining with baking parchment. Blend together the yogurt and mayo., season with pepper and fold in the flaked, cooked haddock.
Blanch the watercress and parsley for one minute in boiling water. Drain, pat dry in a clean towel and put into a food processor with the egg yolks and blitz until the herbs are green flecks. Spoon into a bowl and add the greated cheeses, and season to taste with a pinch each of salt, nutmeg and pepper. Whisk the egg whites until peaked and fold them gently into the cheese mixture. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it evenly, and bake for 12 - 15 mins at 200C, 400F, gas 6 until puffy and firm to the touch.
Turn out onto a sheet of baking parchment and peel away the paper. Trim the edges (scissors are probably better than using a knife). Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then spreak the haddock filling over and roll up as you would when making a Swiss Roll. Slide onto a plate, seam side down, cover lightly with foil or cling-film and chill until ready to serve.
Variation: This souffle/omelette type of roulade base can carry a wide variety of flavours. Try substituting baby spinach and/or rocket leaves as alternative to the cress and parsley, or choose different herbs. The filling could be finely chopped smoked salmon (or flaked canned salmon) folded into cream cheese which has been whipped into the yogurt or mayo (you don't need both if using cream cheese) with the addition of finely chopped cucumber. Season well whatever.