Category Archives: Jams, Preserves, Chutneys & Relish

Jams and Preserves – Fig and Pear Paste

I live next door to a church.

It’s not an obvious building, it doesn’t have stained glass windows, or a cemetery or bells but on a Sunday morning it does have a congregation singing and a few cars parked out the front.

For the rest of the week, it sits squat and quiet in a suburban street, with all but the roofline hidden from our view behind a seven foot fence.

And across this fence that separates our back yards, rests a large fig tree. Continue reading Jams and Preserves – Fig and Pear Paste

Barbecue Peach Sauce

Oh my goodness me, this is good.

Not surprisingly the recipe comes from peach country in the southern states of the US. To combine it in barbecued food is heavenly. You can add this as a side to grilled chicken or  even flat mushrooms, but its best when brushed over pork, marinaded for a few hours, then baked or barbecued. Think chops, american-style spare ribs or pork scotch fillets. Continue reading Barbecue Peach Sauce

Day 5 – Quinoa-Crusted Lamb with Tomato Kasundi

While lamb continues to be out of most budgets, it does make a splendid special occasion meal and is always popular. I came across the idea of cooking it in a quinoa crust but my first attempt failed – the quinoa stuck to the fry pan and burnt. It hardly seemed worthy of the effort.

It was another couple of months before I tried it again, this time baking the lamb rather than pan frying it, with the quinoa simply coating the top of the lamb. A tomato kasundi, smoky, spicy and perfect for the richness of lamb, was a brilliant addition. Success!

Continue reading Day 5 – Quinoa-Crusted Lamb with Tomato Kasundi

Preserves and Jams – Cumquats in Ginger and Brandy Syrup

Related to the orange family and originally from China cumquats are, like little grenades, the original fruit sours. To eat one raw, skin, sour fruit and all, is a folly. No wonder they’re not that popular here. We don’t see fruit shops with prominent displays of them as they have in Asia for example.

Which is our great loss, because properly prepared these little jewelled orbs become the carrier of all that goes well with oranges – brandy, sugar, sweet spices like clove and star anise, caramel and chocolate all handle the big flavours beautifully.

Continue reading Preserves and Jams – Cumquats in Ginger and Brandy Syrup

Jams and Preserves – Pear and Ginger Jam

When I think of childhood, I think of a colder climate. Not that the cold weather meant a colder emotional climate – mine was a happy childhood – but it did bring with it different activities with each change of season.

My family lived hundreds of miles away in the warmest part of the country, removed from the daily events of my grandparents and aunties and cousins who even by that short distance had a completely different climate to navigate. Certain foods grew better in our part of the world. My father tended strawberries and hot-housed tomatoes and in the autumn, took us mushroom foraging. My cousins, used to crisper mornings and sudden snowfalls, climbed in an ancient and large pear tree in the back of their sprawling garden.

It capably shouldered a sturdy and well-made tree house, a ladder secured to its trunk, a swing hanging from a lower branch. Throughout the autumn months children negotiated the ripened and sludgy fruit that fell overnight and muddied the ground below. Their mum, my aunty, would gather the fruit and return to her kitchen and bottle, stew and freeze as much of it as possible in two enormous chest freezers lining a wall in the utility room. She studded her year with such seasonal activities: This week would be the week for preserving the pear harvest. Next week will see the last of the runner beans from the well-tended and enormous vegetable patch blanched and frozen. And so her year went on.

Continue reading Jams and Preserves – Pear and Ginger Jam

Jams and Preserves – Lynley’s Apricot Jam

It’s the peak of the stonefruit season when any excursion to a market will give you boxes of peaches, nectarines and apricots for very little money. All of this fruit can be turned into canned or preserved treasure for the cooler months ahead, but for now, let’s turn our attention to apricots.

I adore apricot jam and as this year’s apricot season is such a splendid one, it’s worth investigating making some of your own. This year apricots are fat, juicy, heady with fragrance and abundant (which makes them good value at the checkout). Not every season is as good, but if you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at jam making, this is your best chance in years for optimal fruit.

It is the pectin in fruit that makes jam set, and some fruits have more pectin than others. Apricots are a fairly low-pectin fruit, meaning you need to boost things a little or you will end up with runny jam no matter how long you cook it. Continue reading Jams and Preserves – Lynley’s Apricot Jam

Chutneys and Relish – Eggplant and Chilli Pickle

A couple of eggplants found their way into my hands earlier last week and with them a motley collection of homegrown chillies. They were the longer, largish milder variety rather than tiny bird’s-eye chilli but even so, they were quite small and shrivelled, a testament not to neglect by a lazy gardener, but simply because they weren’t enjoying the Melbourne winter. And really, who can blame them? Melbourne winters shrivel more than just chillies as any local will gleefully tell you.

So – to the eggplants. When I’m thinking of a core ingredient my brain tumbles through a six degrees of separation of recipe ideas  – it’s only a matter of a few small steps to link any recipe of any cuisine  anywhere in the world to an entirely different and non-aligned menu item. There wasn’t enough eggplant to make a parmigiana or lasagne so I started thinking I could throw them, with the chillies, into a curry. Which is how I decided that instead of curries why do restaurants always serve the same boring chutneys and raitas and man I could snarf a good curry right about now, so why shouldn’t I just make pickles?

Readers, meet the inner workings of my brain. Continue reading Chutneys and Relish – Eggplant and Chilli Pickle

Chutneys and Relish – Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Mango Chutney

There is mango pickle, that hot and spicy condiment that we all love to have on the side of our favourite curry and then there is mango chutney, a sweet, mildly spiced savoury jam that you dollop on sandwiches.

I went looking for green, or unripened, mangoes to make a pickle with (it’s a chunkier version and the fruit doesn’t break down so easily) but sadly it’s either the wrong time of year or I was looking in the wrong place. It’s the top of the season for ripe mangoes however, so it came down to mango chutney. I bought the hardest ones I could find with golden orange flesh, but the consistency of unripened pears. They were perfect for this recipe.

You can add this to cheese, chicken, ham, beef and lamb, in sandwiches, with barbecued fish or chicken or on a plate of salad and sliced meat. Continue reading Chutneys and Relish – Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Mango Chutney

Breakfast – Mango Butter

This recipe does not have butter in it at all, but it’s so incredibly good, it would be a crime not to include it in your repertoire of breakfast staples whenever you get the chance. As the first mangoes of the year come into the shops, buy two or three and make yourself a jar of this thick syrupy jam.

Once made you can use it on top of pancakes with banana and blueberries, in muffins and cupcakes, spooned over ice cream, spread on fat slabs of ricotta-topped toasted sourdough, or added with plain yoghurt over granola or bircher muesli. Too easy.

Continue reading Breakfast – Mango Butter

Chutneys and Relish – Cheryl’s Bread and Butter Pickles

Photo by Dvorkygirl, attributed under license from Wikimedia Creative Commons

Over the last year I have received dozens and dozens of suggestions for recipes and I have dutifully stored them all away hoping to recreate them on these pages and pass them on to you.

Over the next week, some of the very best reader recipes will be featured, beginning with this, a recipe for bread and butter pickles, all the way from Cheryl in South Africa.

This is the pickle to have with shaved ham and cheese in a sandwich, on your next burger or with some silverside. The longer you leave it, the more lip-smacking and tangy it becomes.

Continue reading Chutneys and Relish – Cheryl’s Bread and Butter Pickles