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Blackberry Gin Liqueur
900g Blackberries, well checked over and washed
450g Granulated sugar
1 Cinnamon stick
- Combine the blackberries with the sugar and cook gently until the fruit has become very soft and pulpy. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Set a jelly bag/fine sieve/sieve lined with muslin over a jug and strain the berry mixture ensuring you allow plenty of time to release the maximum juice and goodness.
- Meanwhile sterilise your bottles. You can do this by boiling them, running them through a hot dish washer or by heating them in the oven for 20 minutes at 150 degrees, starting with a cold oven.
- Combine the blackberry syrup with your gin, mix well and decant into the sterilised bottles.
2 Bank Holiday Treats from Jamie Oliver
Dairy-free chocolate mousse
150 g dairy-free dark chocolate, plus extra for serving
2 large ripe avocados
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 x 160 g tin of coconut cream
- Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water. Break the chocolate into the bowl and allow it to melt, then set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, halve and stone the avocados, then scoop the flesh into a food processor, discarding the skins. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse for a few seconds. Scrape down the sides with a spatula, then pulse again to combine.
- Pour in the melted chocolate, then pulse a final time until creamy and smooth. Divide the mixture between six small bowls, then pop in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with an extra grating of chocolate and fresh fruit salad.
Rich Chocolate Tart
300 ml double cream
2 tsp caster sugar
A pinch of fine sea salt
50 g unsalted butter, softened
200 g 70% cocoa cook’s chocolate, broken into small pieces
50 ml whole milk
375 g ready-made shortcrust pastry
Sea salt flakes and creme fraīche or ice cream, to serve
You can make the pastry for this, if you like, but ready-made is easier.
- Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 23cm greased tart tin. Cover with baking paper, fill with dried beans and bake blind for 10-15 minutes, remove beans and bake again for 15 minutes until golden.
- Put the cream, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil. Remove as soon as the mixture boils up. Off the heat, add the butter and chocolate. Stir until blended.
- Take a couple of minutes for a breather, then stir in the milk. Keep stirring till shiny. Pour into the tart shell and leave at room temperature for 2 hours to set.
- Sprinkle salt flakes lightly all over, then serve with creme fraīche or ice cream.
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It’s Bacon Connoisseurs’ Week!
1 tsp sunflower oil
4 rashers of rindless smoked back bacon
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 free-range very fresh eggs (fridge cold)
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
good handful of watercress
drizzle of good-quality balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
- Brush a large non-stick frying pan with sunflower oil, using the tip of a pastry brush. Place the pan over a medium heat and add the bacon. Cook for two minutes until lightly browned, then turn and fry on the other side for another three minutes.
- While the bacon is cooking, half fill a medium non-stick saucepan with water, add the vinegar and bring to the boil. Turn the heat to low, so the water is only just bubbling.
- Crack the eggs into the water, one at a time, spacing them well apart. Cook for 2½ minutes.
- The eggs should rise to the surface within a minute. If the egg white sticks to the bottom of the pan, lift it gently with a wooden spoon. Alternatively, you can use a hob-top egg poacher, lightly greased with sunflower oil.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan with the bacon and season with plenty of black pepper. Cook the tomatoes for about a minute until just beginning to soften, turning them once.
- Put a small pile of watercress on each plate. Place some bacon and tomatoes on the plates and drizzle with a dash of balsamic vinegar.
- Take the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon and place them on top. Season with a little more pepper and tuck in right away while it’s all lovely and hot.
Nigel Slater’s Seville orange marmalade
12 Seville oranges
1.25kg unrefined golden granulated sugar
This is enough to fill about 5 or 6 normal jam jars.
Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit.
Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.
Make the juice up to 4 litres with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here. Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice. (Their pectin will help the marmalade to set.) Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.
The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel. (This time, mine took 45 minutes with the organic oranges, just over an hour with the others.)
Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil. Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan. Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don’t your preserve will be cloudy.) Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes. Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes. If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off. If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer. Test every 10 to 15 minutes. Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.
Ladle into the sterilized pots and seal immediately.
Sterilising jars: Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Wash the jars in hot, soapy water, then rinse well. Stand the jars on a baking sheet and put them in the oven to dry completely. If using Kilner jars, boil the rubber seals, as dry heat damages them.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Seville orange curd
An easy, tangy curd that’s as delicious spread on toast as it is spread thickly in the middle of a Victoria sandwich. Makes about three 240ml jars.
200ml Seville orange juice (i.e. from about 3 oranges), strained
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed navel orange
125g unsalted butter
400g granulated sugar
2 whole eggs plus 2 yolks, well beaten
Put the juice, zest, butter and sugar in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl over a pan of just-simmering water. As soon as the butter has melted, and the mixture is hot and glossy, pour in the beaten eggs through a sieve and whisk with a balloon whisk. Stir the mixture over a gentle heat until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 12-15 minutes – a sugar thermometer should read 82-84C. Pour immediately into warm, sterilized jars and seal. Use within three or four weeks, and keep in the fridge once opened.
Summer fresh Cucumber Soup
4-5 spring onions
100g potato, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
850ml vegetable stock
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon crème fraiche
Few snipped chives
- Chop the cucumber into chunks, no need to peel.
- Chop the potato and slice the spring onions, including the green part.
- Gently heat the olive oil and add all the vegetables, stirring them for a few minutes.
- Keep the heat low and put the lid on the pan and let them sweat for 10 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, season, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Use a stick blender to purée the soup.
- Serve with crème fraiche and chives.
This is equally good served hot or cold.
A Halloween special: Pumpkin Soup
1 small pumpkin (approx. 1.5kg cut into chunks, de-seeded but not peeled)
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium onion sliced
750 ml vegetable stock
200ml coconut milk
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 heaped teaspoons of curry powder
1-2 small red chillies, deseeded and chopped
A little olive oil
A sprinkle of coriander & croutons to serve (optional)
- In a large saucepan heat the olive oil gently, fry the onion, chilli and garlic until soft.
- Add the pumpkin and potatoes and sprinkle with the curry powder.
- Cook gently for a couple of minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and stock, cover and simmer gently until the pumpkin is cooked (about 20 mins).
- Allow the soup to cool a little and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Serve with croutons and sprinkle with coriander.
Some winter warmers…
Tagliatelle with kale, chickpeas and lemon
handful of kale
2 tbl olive oil
2 lemons (zest only)
½ lemon (juice only)
200g chickpeas (or lima or flava beans)
salt & pepper
100g grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Parmesan cheese
- Blanch kale in a deep saucepan of boiling water for one minute. Drain and chop finely.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide pan and stir-fry kale for a few minutes..
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and drop in the pasta and cook al dente.
- Drain the pasta and stir it into the kale with the lemon zest and juice, the chickpeas and half of the grated Parmesan. Season to taste.
- Serve the pasta in deep bowls with more cheese scattered over.
Conchiglie with sausage & cabbage, cream & mustard sauce
3 tbl olive oil
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
1/4 Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
6 fat local sausages, skinned and torn into chunks
handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped coarsely
dessert spoon of Dijon mustard
dessert spoon of grainy mustard
300ml of double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
460g pasta shells
- Heat the oil in a wide pan, stir in onions and cabbage. Cover and cook slowly until the onion is soft and golden (at least 10 minutes).
- Uncover and add sausage chunks. Cook, stirring occasionally until well-browned.
- Add cream and mustards, mixing well. Cook for a few minutes until the cream has reduced a little. Taste and season.
- Remove from the heat and stir in parsley.
- Cook and drain pasta. Add to the pan of sauce. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately.