Monday, 26 February 2018

Boozy Blueberry Jam

Berries are full in abundance over the the Spring/Summer months, I make sure that I take full advantages, purchasing in bulks and creating a number of recipes that I can are resourceful and will last when the colder months sets in. What started off as a simple blueberry jam, quickly became something slightly luxurious with the addition of a good swig of dark Jamaican rum. The addition of the rum, is a wonderful kick and provides a subtle heat to this jam.  I now make this in bulk as soon as I can get my hands on blueberries.  As long as the jars are sterilised correctly, this should serve you a year.

You will need 3 x 250ml jam jars, funnel, a large saucepan and a side plate (or thermometer) .
500g blueberries
425g jam sugar
juice of ½ lemon
50ml dark Jamaican rum

Steriliseyour jam jars. Place a side plate in the freezer. In a large saucepan, add the berries, jam sugar and juice of lemon. Give everything a good stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar coats the blueberries. Turn the heat and bring the blueberries to a boil (not overflowing), turn the heat down and leave to simmer. After 20 minutes, remove the plate from the freezer and spoon a teaspoon of the jam on the plate. Leave for a few seconds and if when you touch it with your finger, if the surface of the jam has set, it is ready. If not, gently boil for a further 5 minutes and do the wrinkle test again. Remove the jam from the heat and pour the rum in the saucepan – it is likely to sizzle, but not to worry.
Place the funnel in the sterilised jars (take care not to touch the insides), you may need to hold the base of the jars with one hand and pour the jam in the funnel. Seal and leave to cool in a dark place.


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Easy Pea Soup

I've been making this soup for a good few months now and am fully converted to the fabulous use of the humble frozen pea. I love the convineance of soup: cheap, frugal and easy to make. I can assure you once you've made your own homemade soup, you will not resort to purchasing the shop brought kind. Fresh peas are in season at the moment, but as I want to eat this soup all year round, irrespective of the weather, frozen peas are my go to key ingredient. This soup is a variant on the classic Pea and Mint soup, but being always hungry and ask frugal, I also added a potato (extra carbs) and the courgette (always in the fridge) to add additional vitamins. If you don't have courgette, swap with green peppers or a handful of spinach/kale - whatever green vegetables you have at home.

Serves 4-6
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves
500g frozen peas
1 large courgette ends removed and sliced 
1 large potato, skin removed and diced
750ml hot vegetable stock
1tbsp lemon juice
3tbsp fresh mint

Pour the oil in a saucepan and cook the onions until they begin to start to brown, this should take 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, frozen peas,  courgette, potato and vegetable stock, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potato is soft. Add the lemon juice and mint to the soup mixture and pour into a blender, blitz until smooth. Pour the soup in bowls and serve.

*The soup can also be frozen. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Calaloo and Cheddar Tart

I love calalloo a leafy green leaf, similar to spinach, originating in West Africa and eaten throughout the Caribbean, it has such a robust flavour.  This tart is perfect for the Spring and Summer months and is incredibly light. I love serving this for picnics and al fresco dining alike. Serve with a leafy garden salad.

You will need: mixing bowl, dried beans and  9 inch flan tin
Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus cooling time.
Cooking Time: 45 minutes.

Fry light for greasing
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry or (1 shop brought ready rolled shortcrust pastry)
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 green birdseye chilli, thinly sliced
3 eggs
125 ml semi-skimmed milk
100g mature cheddar cheese
280 g tinned calaloo or (200g fresh spinach,  washed and finely chopped)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Lightly grease the flan tin with a couple of sprays of fry light. Lay the shortcrust pastry over a flan dish place a baking sheet with dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the orange pepper, spring onions and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the 3 eggs, milk and 50g of cheese, until everything is well mixed. Open the tin of calaloo (or spinach if using), place in a colander and rinse.

Remove the flan tin from the oven and remove the baking paper. Add the peppers, spring onions and calaloo in the tart case, try to smooth evenly. Add the egg-milk mixture over the flan tin and top with the remaining 50g cheese. Bake for around 30 minutes on the top shelf, or until golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.


Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Kenwood KMX754H - Wholemeal Loaf with Cheese, Chilli and Sunflower Seeds

I love eating bread, but not making bread. You see, bread is something that you need a lot of patience and to have some good kneading skills. I would say I’m an ok bread maker, however I’m much more at the beginner level than advance but always welcome a new opportunity to try a new method for baking bread. One thing I love about my new Kmix stand mixer is that it has a wonderful dough attachment which makes the task of kneading bread so simple and easy.
I decided on making a relatively simple loaf bread with seeds and cheese to test out whether my Kmix could knead smooth, elastic dough, resulting in a delicious loaf.

You will need a 2lb loaf tin
450g wholemeal flour
7g dried yeast
1 tsp salt
½ tsp granulated sugar
340ml lukewarm water
75g extra mature cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried chili flakes
50g sunflower seeds
oil for oiling the loaf tin.

Add the dry ingredients to the K Mixer first, 400g of the flour, yeast, salt and granulated sugar. Using the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients on setting 1 for 30 seconds. Slowly trickle the lukewarm water into the mixing bowl, continue to mix on setting 1 – pouring all the water at once may lead to the mixture becoming too wet to form a dough. Once the water has been added leave the dough to form, this will take between 4 -5 minutes on setting 1.  When the dough is almost formed but also sticky, add the remaining 50g of flour. Mix for a further 2 minutes, be careful not to over mix as over mixing the dough will fall apart. Once the dough has formed, remove the dough and place in a large mixing bowl, cover with oiled cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour.

When the dough has risen, knock back the bread Add the 50g cheese, dried chili flakes and 30g of the sunflower seeds to the dough, knead well to form a dough ball and then leave the dough to rise for a second time, for around 30 minutes. After the second rise, oil the loaf tin, knock back the dough and mould the dough into a sausage shape. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the remaining 25g extra mature cheddar cheese and 20g sunflower seeds. Bake on the top shelf for 30 – 35 minutes and the loaf sounds hollow when removed from the tip and tapped underneath.


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