Thursday, 27 September 2012

Autumn fruitfulness!

Hello all!
What a summer!  I am exhausted but very pleased with myself.  I have managed to finish my BOOK!  Just have to find a publisher or publish it myself (a job for next week).  And I managed to volunteer for the Olympics and do a two week stint at the Rowing and Canoe Sprint Village in Egham, looking at all those very pert, muscular frames - fantastic!  It was quite an experience and now I have a beautiful Olympic relay baton and a signed letter from Seb and David Cameron.  I also was privileged enough to be given a ticket for one of the rehearsals for the Opening Ceremony too - brilliant!
You can imagine, therefore, that cookery has taken a bit of a back seat lately, and I'm glad to be getting inspired again this Autumn.  I have been collecting lots of hedgerow abundance and making pots of Hedgerow Jam with sloes, blackberries, apples and elderberries.  The mix is different every time and produces a wonderfully rich, purple jam.  I have also found time to make Damson Jam and my favourite Tomato Ketchup.  Check out Jocasta Innes' The Country Kitchen for all things preserved!
Tonight was Pizza night.  My son can't eat yeast at the moment, so I looked up a recipe for pizza scone dough, which was very successful.  It reminded me of the fabulous cheesy scones that I used to get in the Refectory at college.
Happy jamming and get those woollies out!

Hedgerow Jam
Tip your hedgerow fruits and a cored and quartered cooking apple into a preserving or large pan and just cover with water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes until all the fruit is soft.  Put some clean jam jars on a baking tray in the oven set at 100C, gas mark 1/2.  Place the lids in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to sterilize.   Place a sieve over a large bowl (weigh the bowl beforehand) and gradually sieve the pulp, pressing it with a wooden spoon.  Then weigh the pulp and return it to the large pan, with the same weight of sugar.  Turn up the heat to medium, stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a rolling boil.  Boil for about 15 minutes then start to test it for the setting point.  Take a cold plate and tip a teaspoon of jam on it.  Leave it to cool, then push it with your finger.  The jam is ready when the surface of the jam wrinkles.  Pour into the hot jars, cover with wax discs and put the lids on tightly.  Label and keep in a cool, dry place.  Ideal for Christmas presents!

Tomato Ketchup
5kg ripe tomatoes
450g sugar
600ml white vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp each ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne

Cut the tomatoes in quarters and cook in a large saucepan or preserving pan until soft.  No water required.  Sieve them and simmer the pulp in a large pan with all the remaining ingredients until thickened - it will thicken more when cool.  This takes a good 2 hours in my experience.  While the ketchup is cooking, put your jars and bottles into a 100C/gas mk 1/2 oven to sterilize.  Pour boiling water over the lids.
When ready, pour the ketchup at once into the jars and put the lids resting on the tops.  Place back in the oven and leave for 30 minutes to prevent any fermentation later.
Screw on the lids tightly and label    

Tomato Sauce (make double to freeze for another day)
A 400g tin tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
a handful of basil leaves

500g strong white flour
10g fresh or fast-acting yeast
10g salt
1 knob butter
300ml warm water
Jar of quality tomato sauce (or make your own!)
2 balls mozzarella
Basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas Mk 8 or .

Put all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.

 Meanwhile, mix the dough ingredients together in a bowl until a dough is formed.  Knead by pushing and folding the dough for about 4 minutes, until it is springy and smooth.  Leave to rise in the bowl for up to 2 hours (you can use it immediately but the taste is better if you leave it to prove).  Tip on to a floured worktop and cut into 4 pieces (5 if you want dough-balls too).  Use a rolling pin to roll one of the pieces into the required shape and place on an oiled baking tray. Repeat with the other pieces. Spread each pizza with enough tomato sauce to cover but not too thick.  Top with thin slices of mozzarella, a little oil and some seasoning.  Cut the 5th piece up into small pieces for the dough-balls and place around your pizzas.  Bake for about 10 minutes until the mozzarella is bubbling and the crusts golden brown. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and EAT!

Non-yeast Pizza
 200g self-raising flour
60g butter, cubed
60g cheese, grated
pinch of salt and pepper
100ml milk
Tomato pasta sauce
1 ball mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mk 6.  Rub the butter into the flour, add the cheese and seasonings and stir.  Pour in the milk and mix to a soft dough.  Tip on to a floured board and press gently into a round about 1cm thick.  Spread tomato sauce to the edges and top with mozzarella cheese.  Drizzle a little olive oil across the top and and bake for about 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is cooked. 
For scones, just press the dough gently into a round 3cm thick and use a 5cm cutter to cut rounds.  Brush with some milk and bake for about 15 minutes until just golden around the edges.