Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tomato Jam

Yes really, jam! They are a fruit, really, though most often used in a savoury fashion that it's easy to forget they may have other possibilities. I love them raw and cooked at this time of year, and the lovely summer we're (still?) having has produced a juicy well flavoured crop, piled in abundance in all the shops and street markets round me. I had a few too many last week so made a big pot of this lovely jam, originally from a recipe by Jose Pizarro. I made and bottled a couple of kilos but you can make a small quantity for a single jar - which I did last year - and it still tastes just great. It's a bit like a marmalade rather than a very sweet jam.

Tomato Jam

Makes approximately 300ml

1kg ripe, well flavoured tomatoes
125g caster sugar
125g demerara sugar
1 small cinnamon stick
peel of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1/2 orange - tie the two lots of peel together with string to make it easy to remove

Use a sharp knife to make a cross in the skin on the base of each tomato.

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, add the tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the pan and plunge them into iced water. Remove the stems and the skins - they will slip off really easily. Chop the tomatoes into 4 or 5 rough slices, making sure to catch the juice as you do.

Place the tomatoes and juice in a  saucepan and leave to reduce over a low heat for 20 - 30 minutes till most of the water has evaporated. Now add the sugars, cinnamon and peels and give everything a good stir. Don't break up the cinnamon.

Slowly cook the tomatoes for at about an hour - longer if you're making a bigger batch - stirring regularly. The end result should be a sticky, firm jam that is a shiny brown red colour.

When cooked remove the cinnamon stick and the citrus peel and pour into a warm sterilised jar.

Keeps well in the fridge.

This is gorgeous slathered on hot toast for breakfast, as a side with cheeses or cold roast pork or ham. And on twitter Joanne from suggested having with grilled cheese on toast - definitely on my list of weekend treats to try.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

My weekly veg bag

Have been getting a veg bag each week for a couple of months now and have settled well into using it as the starting point  for the week. This week I got a lovely shiny black aubergine, some courgettes, broad  beans - the man loves broad beans, a mix of little tomatoes, a big bag of chard and a bag of really tasty mixed salad leaves. The weather continues to be balmy - I am loving that - and we have cleaned up our baby Weber to make bbq treats.

Tonight, Thursday, we are out. Going to the Cinema Museum to see Charlie Ward then on for dinner at Pizarro.

I have some really special smoked salmon in the fridge so Friday night treat will be that with a big green salad, some sourdough bread on the side and grapes and cheese after. Simple but brilliant and next to no cleaning up. Actually it was forecast to rain Saturday so we decided to bbq Friday night instead - made up the lamb skewers and some gorgeous salads, plenty of mess and plenty of pleasure.

Saturday I think lamb skewers on the barbie to go with aubergine and walnuts, courgette and broad beans with basil oil and a roasted sweet potato salad with pumpkin seeds - all easy to prep in advance and plenty to have leftovers Sunday night. So then of course it didn't rain Saturday - and we had plenty of salads leftover and sausages in the freezer - had to be bbq again!

We had a delightful walk up the river Sunday morning after underestimating just how busy the boats to Greenwich would be with tourists and finished up near Blackfriars and this incredibly brilliant recreation of a dazzle ship.

The smoked salmon on toast with salad and a fried egg was a thoroughly brilliant Sunday supper after a fine lunch with lots of garlic and chillies and dumplings and noodles at the Baozoi Inn.

Monday I'd like chilli salt crusted tofu with wilted greens We're starting on the 5:2 diet this week as we're both getting fat and need to do something about it. Breakfast will be vegetable juice and black coffee and lunch will be a mug of miso soup. The second day will be Thursday. Made kuku instead to use up the dill and the spinach with the last of the sweet potatoes and some cucumber.

I made a passionfruit buttermilk cake that I have been hankering after for a while but had been unable to get passionfruit. Was as gorgeous as I'd hoped.

Tuesday I'm thinking roasted red onion and green beans - have onions in the fruit bowl and beans growing in the garden - to go with barbecued sausages and potato salad - proper old school summer dinner! Was the broccoli soup with some homemade soda bread after crackers with rillette.

Wednesday I am out to lunch with friends so the simplest kind of dinner is to defrost a tub a broccoli, ginger and white bean soup from the freezer and serve with some nice bread with cheese and olives before, perhaps. The man had a whinge on, wanting steak on the barbecue so rump it is with the red onion salad and a green salad from the garden with cucumber and radish leaves - for some reason I fail miserably growing radish but the tops thrive...
The man was, of course, right!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Kuku -ye Sabzi

Kuku -ye Sabzi is a Persian dish I've been making on and off for a while. You start with leafy greens, fresh herbs and eggs. The first time I made it I was expecting a variation on a frittata or herby omelette. I was astounded to discover just how wrong I was!

The dish does require the use of 4 or 5 eggs but are there simply as a binding agent - they do a lovely job of holding everything together. The predominate flavour and texture comes from the use of  large quantities of fresh herbs finely chopped with spinach or chard, and generous amounts of spring onion. It has an incredibly bold flavour, the antithesis of the gentle egginess of an omelette.

It has much in its favour - quick, easy, cheap, healthy, good hot or cold, great next day for lunch or as a central dish for a picnic. The only downside is that it's not hugely attractive to look at... but you will seduced at the first mouthful!

Kuku -ye Sabzi

This is how I made it from memory of a piece I read in the Guardian years ago - and can no longer find - but vary it to suit - you can add turmeric or walnuts or even a little flour if you want it to set more

1 bunch spinach or other leafy green
1 large bunch dill
1 bunch coriander or parsley
1 bunch spring onions
4 -5 eggs
Salt and pepper
Olive oil to cook

Wash the spinach, discard any thick stalks then shred the leaves and put them into a large bowl.. Finely chop the dill and coriander, discarding the stalks and add it to the spinach. Slice the spring onions into thin rings, green and white parts, and add to the bowl. In a small bowl beat the eggs till lightly frothy and pour them over the chopped greens, season well and mix everything together well.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan over a lowish heat then carefully tip the mixture into the pan. Even it out with a spatula then cover with a lid. Leave to cook for 6 or 7 minutes, then gently lift the edges to check that the base is set.

To cook the top I like to tip the kuku out onto a plate by holding a plate over the pan and quickly flipping it upside down then slide the kuku back into the pan, uncooked side down, and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes. It works well so long as the base is set. But if that seems an adventure too far simply finish it off under the grill.

Onc cooked, slide it onto a plate and leave to cool a bit or entirely.

This was the first day for the 2 element of 5:2 so I served it with some roasted sweet potato salad and sliced cucumber for a richly flavoured - but lightweight - supper. A dollop of yoghurt would not go astray if you like a creamy element.