Wholefood Cooking

Category: chutney

Peach Shrub + Poole China

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“What on earth is Jude talking about” ? I hear you ask… well a shrub is kinda like an old fashioned cordial, only it’s vinegar based (which preserves it). I love them, and last Christmas I started trying them out and feel pretty confident to tell you how I did it. It’s going to take about 2 weeks, so perfectly in time for Christmas. I just picked up those babies above the other day on my way home… seconds.

The Poole china…well, this year Christmas will be in my new home, with all the family coming. I’m setting the table (part of it will be a trestle table) and I thought to myself, I would love, love to use Mum’s glorious green Poole china. I warn you I may shed a tear as I write this, i’m a bit emotional at the moment… the stopping after a huge and massive year, and it doesn’t take much to get me crying. Mum is 96 and still lives at home, independently, still cooking but absolutely not as capable as she once was. She is at the pointy end of the stick in life, and wanting to move things out of the home to people. The Poole china was to go to me, and I asked mum the other day if I could use it for Christmas. Well, this week I packed it into boxes with mum watching and bought it home. “Check if there is anything else in the cupboard” she said, so i did, and there was – beautiful Kosta Boda glass bowls, stunning glass bowl… “take them too”. My mum has never had a lot, but what she had was beautiful – she has spectacular taste. And here was I packing them to leave her home forever, she was passing this onto me, preparing to know that this part of her life, and indeed her life was coming to it’s close. My mum has always been there for me, when i hated her, yelled at her, left her, she has loved and supported me no matter what. What value of a mother ? It’s everything. So that’s the Poole china. This Christmas, no matter where you mum is, give thanks to her for without our mums, who would we be?

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So recipe below… it’s super easy and I hope you enjoy it. I haven’t given you a finished photo of the shrub because mine is still in the making, but if you look around the internet you will see them – THIS pic is gorgeous and will give you the idea.  What I also do, when the shrub is finished is use the discarded peach (all sweet and vinegared up) to make peach chutney. Now, if you are looking for more Christmas ideas (like Marshmallow, Gingerbread House and goodness knows what, you can find them HERE. OR, you can just go to the blog and hit Christmas and have a look through.

May your days be merry and bright as we lead into this most special time of the year…

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Preserving the Harvest

LATE SUMMER NECTARINE OR PLUM CHUTNEY

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Preserving is one of the things I love to do most, chutney is by far the easiest and a perfect place to use ripe, bruised or seconds fruit and vegetables and any home pot will do – except copper. Whilst I love copper for jam making, chutney with it’s use of vinegar is too acidic.

In chutney, the preserving agent is sugar and vinegar.  I like to use Apple Cider Vinegar with Rapadura sugar as the sweetener as my general rule but could be tempted to another vinegar depending on the fruit (sherry, raspberry spring to mind). Sometimes I like the fruity tone and complexity that an apple juice concentrate provides, and given that chutney’s are used in small amounts, I’m okay with that use of fructose. BUT, and there is a but. Chutney made with a juice concentrate or Rapadura (a low sucrose content) will require a BOILING WATER BATH (we will talk more about that later) to ensure preservation. Made with brown sugar (even the beautiful semi refined Billingtons Muscovado’s) and thus with a higher sucrose content, they will be fine simply packed very, very hot into a clean, dry, sterile and warm jars.

But let’s talk actually making the chutney yes? Dead easy. I like my chutneys to have a bright fruity flavour but with depth and fullness of flavour. I rarely follow a recipe and would like to guide you along that same path. You will get a better result as every bit of fruit you use will be different – all cooking is in essence responding the the raw ingredients nature has grown for you. Fundamentally the fruit forms the base of the chutney (or vegetable), the liquid is that which comes from the fruit and the preserving agents sugar and vinegar. Sweetness and further depth of flavour is ensured with some dried fruit. This is then tempered with a bit of onion for flavour and depth (I’m a bit iffy on garlic) and most definitely ginger. Lots of ginger. Then nuanced with spices – I consider allspice an essential for chutney. This is a spice in it’s own right, and not similar to mixed spice. Then depending on what I’m making, I will choose the spices to suit. That’s it. oh, and chilli (but please be careful – I think people overdo chilli in a chutney and it overwhelms).

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I’m going to give you a guide line to make chutney, but if you’d like an actual recipe, you can find Pear Chutney here. 

  • I start by choosing a pot that will fit the amount of fruit I have – I am looking for the fruit to be approximately 2/3 up the side of the pot. Preferably one that is not to wide as this allows too much evaporation. Wash your fruit and chop – a size to suit you, but ensure that any bruised or damaged bits are discarded. But the wetter the fruit (berries, stone fruit etcetera) the bigger the pieces can be.
  • Add a small amount of onion – I do like purple onion for fruits, I think it gives depth with sweetness.You can see in the picture above it’s not overwhelmed with onion. Then chop up a whole lot of fresh ginger – I like nice biggish bits as you can see.
  • Add 1/2 – 1 cup of dried fruit – I like a raisin, as I think it has a deeper and more complex flavour, especially the muscats. But depending on the fruit, others might give a better end result – for example dates with oranges. Nope, you don’t have to chop them up.
  • Add your spices. Definitely allspice – the berries, or the ground – I would start with 1/2 teaspoon for 1 kg of fruit and go from there. Cinnamon quills are brilliant, start with one. For this nectarine chutney I chose to use Garam Masala as I love it’s play of peppery and spicy complexity, and added extra ground coriander just because I think ground coriander is beautiful with stone fruits.
  • Then add a good amount of apple cider vinegar – enough to give the dish enough liquid to start, with equal amount of sugar – whichever you are using, or apple juice concentrate (you can see the amount of liquid I start with above).
  • Then cover it with a lid and cook over a gentle heat until the juices have sweat out from the fruit – not too long, approx 15 – 20 minutes. Then assess if it needs more liquid – you need enough just about cover the fruit and saturate their cells. Go carefully adding more vinegar, and add in increments – you can always add more, but hard to take away. As you add vinegar, add sweetness to match. Then assess if it needs more sweetness, balancing the acidity or vice versa. Leave the lid off and continue to cook at a gentle simmer – blip, blip – too much boil and you will evaporate that liquid. After about 20 minutes, taste it to see again where the acid/sweetness flavour and liquid ratio is at. Adjust as needed, and also taste for spices and add as desired.
  • How to know that it’s cooked? You are looking to see that the fruit is saturated – it looks markedly different from fruit that is not cooked, or not saturated enough with the preserving mediums of vinegar and sugar. When it’s at that stage, you can then reduce it down to the consistency that you are after. A small chutney batch of approx 1 kg will take about 40 – 60 minutes.
  • I check, taste and adjust frequently when making chutney – for amount of liquid, acid/sweetness balance and spice.

Now you have your chutney. If you have made it with a generic brown sugar (NOT recommended as it is highly refined – thus not good for you –  and won’t add depth of flavour) or the semi refined Billingtons Muscovado (I like the Light Muscovado) you can simply funnel the very hot chutney into clean, dry, sterile and warm jars (make sure they are on wood/towels or thick paper so they don’t crack) and lid them. Leave to sit for at least 8 hours -you should hear them audibly ‘pop’ as the lid is pulled down during the vacuum formation, show a visible concave centre and then store them. The heat will give you enough of a vacuum.  But, if you’ve used a fruit juice concentrate or rapadura, that won’t stop the decay process. They will be fine in the fridge for some weeks but not in the pantry. So, you have to use a boiling water bath.

The boiling water bath is the tool (rather than the ingredient) that you use to preserve the chutney.

This is one of the most interesting techniques – we know it here in Australia as the Vacola system. In essence, what we are doing when we bottle, is to use heat and an enclosed system to destroy micro-organisms that cause food to spoil and create a vacuum in which remaining bacteria cannot grow. Food is packed into a bottle, a seal (originally rubber) is placed around the rim, then a lid is placed, using a clamping system to keep it closed. The Vacola system uses rubber rings with clamps placed on, the French have the rubber seals on the lids with the clamp attached to the lid. As the closed jar goes into water and is heated to a specific temperature (or in this case, boiling) air is forced out through the rubber, bacteria (and such) are killed, and when removed a vacuum seal occurs as the jar cools. When it’s fully cooled the clamps are removed – it is the vacuum seal that keeps air and bacteria out. Newer systems (mostly used in Europe and the U.S, but used now extensively here in Australia) have the lid and rubber formed into one – using a sealing compound around the edges. This is the creamy “paint” that you see on lids and specifically the fine, more darkly coloured ring closer to the edge. Many of the U.S systems (Ball etc) separate that lid into two: a top and screw section. Glass (only tempered) jars can be re used (if in pristine condition), but lids and rings must be new for each bottling. A special note must be made here that preserving, and especially bottling and the hot or boiling water bath,  is all about understanding acidity. Clostridium botulinum (extremely toxic) grows in the absence of air (a vacuum), low acidity and a moist environment. Fruits are generally high in acidity, vegetables and especially meats, low acidity. Here with chutney’s you’ve got plenty of acidity, but the process I am recommending is only relevant here for your chutney.

In regards to the pot the Fowlers Vacola is a commercial example of a hot or boiling water bath (just in case you are confused about the terms hot /or boiling water bath. In a hot water bath– the water comes 2/3rd up the sides of the jar, and takes a much longer time for preservation.In a boiling water bath – water is below, around and above the jar, and preservation is achieved in a much shorter time). The Fowlers Vacola preserving pot/system is not absolutely necessary – you can use any big (large) pot, AS LONG AS IT IS DEEP ENOUGH FOR THE WATER TO COVER THE TOPS OF THE JARS AND HAVE SPACE TO BOIL FREELY. ALLOW APPROX 12 CM  ABOVE THE JAR TOPS FOR BRISK BOILING.  Basically, the Fowlers Vacola system is a large pot – for a hot water bath it has a well-positioned thermometer, and for a boiling water bath, it has enough room.

With a stockpot, a few precautions must be taken to protect the jars from cracking. A wire rack must be placed on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from direct contact with the heat, and to ensure the movement of boiling water around the bottom of the jar. Some people wrap the jars in paper or cloth to prevent rattling, but I have never done this. The American system is different and brilliant – it has a basket that holds the jars and is so easy to use – it’s available on – line in Australia, coming as a kit (which is worth getting) and you can find it here. Once you get there, you will need to click onto Preserving Kits from the side index. I couldn’t get it to link straight up for you.

Now you are set with understanding the role of the boiling water bath, and your chutney is done, this is what you do next. Bring your pot of water nearly to the boil.

Remove the clean, dry jars and lids from the oven (they should be warm), keeping them on their trays, and ladle the hot chutney into the jars, using a funnel. Place the lids on the jars, then screw on. Make sure the water isn’t boiling as you lower the chutney into it. As a note:it’s important that you put warm chutney into warm jars, otherwise if the filled jar is too cold it will crack when it hits the nearly boiling water.

Using special tongs, lower the jars into the not far off boiling water (or if you have the American basket system, place in the basket). Boil for 12 minutes, starting that timing from when the water comes back to the boil. When done, using the same tongs, remove and place the jars on a towel or wooden surface. Let them sit until totally cool – at least 8 hours.

If you are using a screw top lid system, they should pop audibly as they cool – this is the sound of the lid being sucked down as the vacuum forms. If you are using a screw top lid system or the Vacola system there should be a concave dent in the middle of the lid (for Vacola this is visible when the clamps are taken off). If this has not occurred, store in the fridge and use soonish.

A Hearty Autumnal Ploughmans Lunch

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I’ve promised to post the recipes from the Trust Organic Festival last Saturday – it’s taken me a few days, but here I am. The crackers have way laid me – that is the crackers I’ve been working on for the Baking book, and I have been deep into cracker land. Here’s a peek at the Barley, Wheat and Rosemary Crackers – very crisp and very yummy. That’s salt you can see dusted on top of them.

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The photo up the top and below – that’s my glorious Mexican Rose vine, which seems to be undaunted by the hideously hot weather that this summer has bestowed upon us. It remains unashamed of who she is, climbs freely, and is deliciously pink. And below – that is the ceiling of my front verandah – who would not want a ceiling like that ? I certainly do want it, love it – the flowers are like pink jewels, dripping down. I will cut this back to nothing (and I mean nothing – short sticks really) in about 2 months time, and it will without fail, come to life to take over the front verandah again next summer. I am a very lucky woman. But for another photo of beautiful flowers, check out this and this. Heidi Swanson is a most gifted photographer and I wish her camera and eye could catch my Mexican Rose – I’m sure it would do it better justice than mine!

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But, to the Ploughmans Lunch. Gosh I love them, my favourite way to eat – a bit of this and a bit of that. There’s going to be a few recipes – but that will make up for all the times I don’t give you any at all and I did promise to post them, but alas I didn’t take a photo – it was a mad, bad (in the sense that is was fabulous) day.  I made two versions – a meat based, and vegetarian/vegan based. The Waldorf Salad was a mix of fresh Gala apples and the inside celery greens and stems – both very finely chopped, mixed with greens available on the day. Tossed with some home made mayonnaise flavoured with just a touch of sweet curry spices, and nice and lemony. Oh, and a few roasted new season walnuts! I also served the Vegetarian Plate with a good slab of cheese – preferably goats, but on the day, we used the Over the Moon Organic Feta, but can I tell you the Lentil and Walnut Pate with Goats Cheese is a winner combination….

Meat Based:

1.     Slow Braised Shoulder Pork (Spencers Brook Farm)

2.     Waldorf Salad

3.     Apple Jelly

4.     Apple Chutney

5.     Yallingup Wood Fired Bread – grilled

Vegetarian:

1.     Lentil and Walnut Pate (Mt Zero, Victoria)

2.     Waldorf Salad

3.     Apple Jelly

4.     Apple Chutney

5.     Yallingup Wood Fired Bread – grilled


LENTIL & WALNUT PATE

Dairy free –  gluten free – vegan 

Serves  approx 12 – 16

A simple and delicious pate, which can be served as is, or left to set so it is easy to slice. Can be frozen and keeps for approx 3 – 4 days when refrigerated.

            2/3 cup green lentils – sorted and rinsed well

            1 bay leaf

            2 cups walnuts

            1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

            1 medium purple onion – finely diced

            3/4 tablespoon dried basil

            3 teaspoons  minced garlic

            3 teaspoons mirin

            1/4 -1/2 teaspoon umeboshi paste or salt

            1 tablespoon shiro miso

           

Pre – Heat your oven to 180c or 165c if fan forced.

Place lentils in pot and cover with water to reach approx 2 cm above lentils. Bring to the boil, lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender, approx 30 – 45 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside.

Roast the walnuts until just aromatic – approx 10mins. Walnuts burn easily – when they are lightly browned they can be overdone.

Very gently sauté the onions, basil and garlic in oil, over a low heat approx 10 – 15 minutes until soft. You are cooking, not frying the onions.

Combine all ingredients together in food processor. Check for taste, adding more mirin, salt or miso as needed. Serve as is for a soft dip, or place into desired dish and refrigerate until cold to slice.

·      Shiro Miso helps bind and give body to this vegetarian pate. I prefer to use Spiral brand.

·      Mirin  balances the astringency of the lentils beautifully, and again I prefer Spiral brand

A QUICK AND SIMPLE APPLE CHUTNEY:

Gluten free / Vegan

3 – 4 medium apples – peeled, any bruised spots discarded, cut into small dice

½ cup approx raisins or sultana’s

½ medium onion, finely chopped

½ cup apple juice

½ cup approx rapadura sugar

2 – 3 teaspoons approx, fresh ginger, cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon good garam masala

½ stick cinnamon

1 cup approx apple cider vinegar

Add ingredients to a 24cm pot and gently simmer, stirring often. After approx 15 mins, check and adjust the sugar and vinegar for flavour, adding more of each as needed to get the flavour I wanted – sharp, and not too sweet.  You can add more spice as desired. 

Continue to simmer for 50 mins or until the apple has cooked, the mix has reduced and thickened. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

* Rapadura Sugar is a whole cane sugar, where the cane juice is filtered, and the water is evaporated off at low temperature. It is rich in minerals and vitamins and considered one of the most nourishing of sweeteners. It gives the chutney the most luscious, not too sweet and rich flavour.

FRUIT JELLIES –  traditional and vegetarian

Gluten free 

You can make it with either gelatine  – which provides great nutrition, or with Agar sea vegetable, which provides a wealth of minerals. Gelatine will give a smoother textured jelly, but takes a long time to set, whereas agar will set as it cools, but has a coarser texture. I will only use a very high quality and pure gelatine – Bernard Jensen is the brand and you can get it here. When the jelly has set, turn it out and slice as desired.

Agar based jelly:

Agar dissolves best in high pectin and low acid juices. Simple juices such as Apple, Apricot, Pear, with some Strawberry or Guava are all good choices. Avoid high citrus, grape and pineapple juices. I’ve included fruits in this jelly, but you can easily leave them out, and have a simple jelled fruit juice.

Kitchen Notes:

Adding Kudzu to the jelly: will give an agar jelly a smoother texture.

Mix 1 ½ teaspoons kudzu with 1 tablespoon juice. Once the agar has dissolved, whisk this into the pot and allow to come to the boil, stirring constantly.

2 cups freshly pressed apple juice – any scum removed

1 teaspoon agar powder

Place juice into a saucepan and whisk in the agar powder. Gently bring to the boil and cook at a gentle simmer for 8 mins from the time it first came to the boil. Stir frequently with a whisk or spoon to prevent the agar from sinking to the bottom. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Pour the jelly into dish of choice. Cool slightly and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until set.

Gelatine Based Jelly:

Kitchen Notes:

You’ll need 1½ teaspoons of gelatine to set 1 cup of jelly to a wobbly consistency, which is great for young toddlers. For a firmer set jelly, increase the gelatine to 2 teaspoons per cup.

2 cups freshly pressed apple juice – any scum removed

3 teaspoons gelatine

Place juice into a saucepan and bring to a boil and immediately turn off. Add the gelatine to the hot liquid and stir through until it dissolves.

Pour the jelly into dish of choice. Cool slightly and refrigerate for 5 – 8 hours, or until set.

Pork Along the Lines of Cath Claringbold’s Pulled Pork:

Cath made an amazing pulled pork terrine for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival – this is my rough version, using the Spencers Brook Pork, shoulder neck/collar butt. I didn’t have any chicken stock, so cheated and used water, with a chicken carcass in the pot and made the stock as it cooked! 

1 pork neck/shoulder collar butt – approx 1 kg 

1 tablespoon  good quality Garam Masala (a nice fragrant one)

good sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

60 gm olive oil

2 brown onions, cut into large dice

3 cloves garlic

good splosh white wine

500 ml chicken stock

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh sage

5 gm fennel seed

Pre heat oven to 120c. If fan forced, this may need to be approx 110c

Rub the garam masala, salt and pepper over the meat. If possible, leave this to marinate overnight (if doing this, don’t use the salt, rub that on the next day).  Heat the oil in a large cast iron casserole dish, add the pork should and cook over a medium heat, turning the meat to lightly brown all sides evenly.

Remove the pork to a plate.

Lower the heat and add the onion and cook gently until browned, then add the onion and cook gently until browned then add the garlic cloves and soften them slightly (if you haven’t got chicken stock and are using a carcass, add this now so it browns with the onion.)

Add the white wine and half of the chicken stock, thyme, sage and fennel. Place the pork shoulder back in the pot, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven. Leave to cook gently, basting occasionally and gradually adding the remaining wine and chicken stock throughout a 5 – 7  hour cooking period. If like me, you don’t have chicken stock, simply use water.

When the pork is ready it should pull away from the bone. 

Lift the pork shoulder carefully out of the pot and set aside to cool a little.  Leave the pork until it is cool enough to handle and then pull the meat apart into small strips. Cut off any dry outside pieces there may be.  

Place the stock and chicken carcass back on the stove and reduce over a high heat until thick and delicious – pour this over the meat.