I keep thinking it would be nice to have a cocktail each weekend, try out a new recipe. It has taken me quite a long time to get round to it. I had some blackberries in the freezer, picked last autumn, so I made this.
1 level teaspoon of caster sugar
juice of half a lime
1 1/2 floz gin
1/2 floz creme de mure (blackberry liqueur)
Soda water (or any carbonated water e.g. from the sodastream, to avoid plastic)
In the bottom of a tall glass, mix the sugar and lime juice and add the blackberries
Fill the glass with ice, and add the gin and creme de mure.
Top up with soda water, and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.
I have some Tanqueray gin flavoured with lime, so I might try that next time.
I have been thinking about how I buy vegetables. I prioritise local and homegrown, but at this time of year, I buy a lot from the local shops, trying to stick to Scottish produce wherever I can.
I also like to buy the reduced vegetables, to avoid the shops having to throw these away, reducing food waste. So, here comes the first of a series of recipes inspired by ingredients rescued from the reduced section.
2 packs of fresh green beans
1 red onion, halved and sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can of chopped tomatoes
4 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper
Trim the beans and chop into 2 cm lengths
Heat the oil in a saucepan, and when it is hot, fry the garlic for 30 seconds.
Add the thinly sliced onion, and lower the heat a bit, cooking the onion until it is wilting. Do not let the onion start to turn brown. This should take around three minutes.
Add the tomatoes, beans, salt and pepper, and a cup of boiling water.
Bring the mixture to the boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
At the end, take off the lid and boil off any liquid, so that a thick tomato sauce coats the beans. Check the seasoning.
I served this with couscous, but rice would also be a really good option.
I’d never made beef burgers before – so now that we have this huge supply of mince from a local herd that was down-sizing, I thought I’d give it a go. Who knew – these are like making meatballs that I’ve made many times in many versions. I suppose you could make meatballs with the mixture too.
500g minced beef
1 red onion, finely chopped
a handful of panko breadcrumbs
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Add all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix them together well, using your hands to make a thick paste. If you don’t like the onion bits in your burgers, you can mix the mince and onion, and put it through a mincer, before adding the other ingredients.
Put the mixture in the fridge to chill until you need it.
Divide the mixture into rounds, about 15mm to 20mm thick. Any burgers that you don’t need can be frozen.
Fry the burgers in a little oil, around 5 to 6 minutes on each side.
Serve in a roll, with salad, cornichons, tomato ketchup, etcetera. Try lightly toasting the roll in the frying pan before putting the burger in.
Also known as polpettone. The mixture can also be used to make meatballs. Part of the knack of making this is to keep the mixture quite dry, and to chill the mixture after preparation. The flavour develops well if you give it time.
500g minced beef
3 tbsp grated parmesan
a pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper
4 tbsp white breadcrumbs (I used panko)
2 eggs, beaten
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated rind of half a lemon
Around 5 tbsp milk
1 large onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
In a large bowl, mid the meat with the parmesan, cinnamon, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, eggs, lemon juice and lemon rind. Add enough milk to make the mixture moist but not sloppy or sticky.
Kneed it well, shape it into a fat sausage shape, coat with more breadcrumbs, cover and chill in the fridge.
Heat the oven to 200C
Fry the onion in the butter until caramelised, and put it into the base of a tin, or other oven-safe dish of a suitable shape.
Put the mince mixture on top of the onions, and bake for around 35 minutes in a hot oven.
Slice and serve hot, with a tomato sauce, or cold, with a salad.
Fresh basil, if available, or use good quality green pesto sauce
1 pack of mozzarella cheese
50g grated parmesan
In a large bowl, mix the mince, breadcrumbs, oregano, cumin, chilli, rosemary and egg yolk. Season with 1 level teaspoon of salt and a good grating of black pepper. Get your hands right into the mixture and really knead it together so that it is smooth and consistent.
Shape into meatballs. I divided the mixture into 16 meatballs, but you could make these into 24 smaller meatballs. Put on a tray, and chill in the fridge until needed.
Put the fresh tomato sauce into the bottom of a large shallow casserole dish or other oven-safe dish.
Preheat a large flat-bottomed pan, and put in a good quantity of olive oil. Fry the meatballs quickly until they are browned all over. When they are done, put them into the tomato sauce.
Cover the meatballs in sauce, top the dish with the cheeses and pesto or basil.
Bake in a hot oven 200C for 20 minutes and serve with pasta. We got some posh tagliatelle from the co-op which worked well.
I need to add this recipe because it is used in so many other things. I’m just about to add some recipes for meatballs and this is a prerequisite.
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small chilli, finely chopped, or one dried chilli, crumbled
2 tsp dried oregano
3 tins of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 handful of basil, roughly chopped (I have made this without, when none in the shops)
salt and pepper
In a large pan, gently fry the garlic in the olive oil.
Add the chilli, oregano and tomatoes. Don’t break the tomatoes up if possible, leave them whole. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, checking every 10 minutes or so. If it is looking dry, add water.
Add the vinegar, and break up the tomatoes, stirring well. Add basil leaves, salt and pepper. A bit of very good olive oil can be added at this stage.
This makes a good quantity of tomato sauce, enough for one meatball recipe, and enough to serve six people.
This is a delicious tart, and a grand way of using the January supply of marmalade oranges. The juice is used to make a delicious orange curd that is baked in a pastry case. The recipe is from the Moro cookbook.
For the pastry shell:
140g plain flour
30g icing sugar
75g chilled butter, chopped small
1 egg yolk
For the curd filling:
140g caster sugar
170ml seville orange juice
170g unsalted butter, chopped small
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
grated zest from one orange
To make the pastry case, sift the flour and icing sugar together, and then rub the butter into the mixture to fine bread-crumb texture
Add the egg yolk and mix until the mixture comes together – it will be quite stiff and dry. You may need to add a teaspoon or two of milk or water. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
When you are ready, grate the pastry on a coarse grater, and press it evenly around the edges and base of a tart tin, to a thickness of around 3mm. Prick the base and rest the pastry case in the fridge for 30 minutes. Put the oven to 220C.
Bake the pastry shell in the top of the oven for 15 minutes – should be light brown. Remove and cool on a rack. Turn the oven up to 240C
Next, make the curd. Put all the curd ingredients into the top pan of a double boiler, and cook slowly, stirring until thick. The mixture will thicken quite suddenly, after about 15 minutes or more.
Spread the curd into the tart shell, and bake at 240C for 10 minutes until the surface starts to brown.
As soon as the tart is baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool before serving.
This is delicious served slightly warm, with something cool and creamy. Try beating 50/50 creme fraiche and mascarpone together.
I have several recipe books devoted to preserving, jams and other such domestic creativity. This particular recipe for marmalade works well for me and for Mr B, who has very particular standards.
The marmalade should set well, be a pleasing colour, with good distribution of peel. The shreds of peel should be fine and short, about the thickness of a penny and maximum one centimetre long.
1 kg seville/marmalade oranges
2 kg jam sugar
2.5 litres of water
Wash the oranges, and put them in a large covered pan and simmer for around an hour and a half.
Remove the oranges from the liquid, and allow to cool.
Put around 8 clean jam-jars on a sheet in the oven at around 90C to warm and sterilise.
The messy bit; cut the oranges in half, and remove the pips. Scoop out the pulp and add to the pan.
To get a good set, put the pips in a small pan with some of the liquor and bring to the boil, and then strain this back into the big pan.
Next, cut the rind of three or four of the oranges into fine shreds. I do this by cutting the rind into 1cm wide strips, and then running a table knife along the inside of the peel to remove as much of the pith as possible. Then I chop into fine shreds, only adding the best ones to the pan. How much you add is a personal choice.
Start to bring the mixture to the boil, and add the sugar, stirring all the while.
Keep boiling until setting point is reached – around 222 (jam) on the thermometer. Use the wrinkle test and the flake test as well. Pour the marmalade into the warm jars, and leave to set.
A word about the flake test – this is my favourite method of checking that the jam or marmalade will set. I dip a spoon into the boiling jam and hold it horizontally. As the jam drips off the edge of the spoon, it will start to set, and the drips will start to join together, to form gelatinous webs.
I bought a mixed pack of grapes, and ended up with about half a pound of black grapes with a strange texture. Instead of ignoring them until we could throw them away, I made jam. I made it this way
200g black grapes
200g jam sugar
Put the grapes in a saucepan with half the lemon juice and put onto a low heat, and simmer until the grapes are soft
Put the fruit through a sieve to remove the skins and pips
Return the fruit to the pan with the rest of the lemon juice and the sugar.
Bring to a simmer until setting point is reached. I use a combination of a jam thermometer and the flake test to check for the setting point. For the flake test, I lift the stirring spoon out of the jam and see if the drips run together and partially set along the edge of the spoon.
Pour into a warm clean jar (this made only 1 jar of jam)