Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Waste not and you shall eat well.

As usual at the end of the growing season, the temperature is too low to kick over the ripening process in my tomatoes and I am left with a couple of buckets full of lovely firm unripe ones.
It makes no sense to waste them and a couple of years ago I found the perfect remedy.

2 quarts sliced, small to medium green tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 lemons, sliced thin and peeled (save the lemon peel).

4 cups sugar
A knob of butter (optional – see helpful hints)
Please review helpful hints at the end of the recipe before beginning.

Thinly slice the tomatoes (I use the 3mm setting on my mandolin).
Tomatoes sliced with a mandolin.
Slice the lemons thinly and then remove the peel. Discard any lemon seeds but save the fruit and as much of the juice as possible. (I slice the lemons over a bowl using a mandolin so that all the juice is saved in the bowl)
Lemon peels and fruit seperated.
Fine chop the lemon peels, including the white pith then combine the tomatoes, lemon peel and salt in a stainless steel jam kettle or a large enameled or non-stick saucepan.
Do not use an aluminum pan.
Tomatoes, Lemon Peel and Salt combined together.
Cover with water and boil briskly for 10 minutes.
And I mean briskly, this is very important.
Drain well.
Add lemon slices, juice and the sugar to the mixturen then stir over moderate heat until sugar melts. Add the knob of butter now if you are using it then bring to boiling, reduce heat, and simmer until thick - about 45 minutes.
Simmer slowly, stir occasionally.
Test and ensure that the marmalade is set (See methods below).
Skim off any tomato skins, tomato pulp or lemon seeds that have risen to the top.
Pack in sterile hot canning (Ball) jars leaving a half inch of space at the top.
I absolutely love my canning funnel.
Seal, submerse in boiling water and process for 10 minutes.
Cool upright and let stand for 24 hours before transferring to a cool dark cupboard or refrigerator.
Three for the pantry and three for gifts.
Helpful Hints
Note that the pith (white) of the lemon rinds is a natural source of pectin this will, in most cases, allow the marmalade to set up without adding pectin.
However if your marmalade does not set up add pectin very sparingly until the desired result is achieved.
When making jam or marmalade do not continually stir the jam/marmalade. Wait until it reaches setting point, stir for a minute (this will get rid of quite a lot of the scum), then remove the remainder. A knob of butter/margarine put in when making the jam/marmalade will not only safeguard the jam/marmalade from burning in a thin pan but will also help to prevent scum.

Now you can test the setting point when making marmalade or jam!
There are three methods for testing the “set”.
  1. Test with a sugar thermometer-jam sets at a temperature of 220 degrees F.
  2. Stir preserve thoroughly with a wooden spoon, turn the spoon round to cool the jam adhering to it, then hold the spoon horizontally. If jam has set it will form a firm drop or flake on the edge of the spoon.
  3. Put a little on a cold saucer and allow it to cool then tilt the saucer, if adequately set it should flow very slowly, wrinkle on the surface and feel firm.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family, fresh caught trout, wild mushrooms, free range eggs, courgettes, haggis and other delights.

Scotland, October 19, 2011

I finally got my suitcase packed and headed off to visit my darling daughter Kathy.
Like her dad she loves to garden and cook and has the advantage of getting free range eggs from her own chickens.
Now I know nothing of the art of chicken (other than Kathy and Petra seem to spend a great deal of time rounding them up and putting them to bed in the evening) but it appears that her brood is omnivorous and consumes the parts of birds and rodents that her cat Ripley leaves scattered about the garden, she swears that, given enough mouse heads in their diet, they produce double yolkers.
Not going to argue the toss on that one, suffice to say the eggs are delicious.

Since I missed a great deal of daughters’ life and see her infrequently we packed in as much in the way of activities and food that we possibly could.

Trout Fishing
Bloody airlines have placed so many restrictions on baggage that I was unable to take my rods without handing over vast wads of cash and so, having promised to teach Kathy the art of fly casting, we rented a rod and got down to the business of doing just that.
I managed to annoy a nice rainbow trout into taking my fly and so was able to teach Kathy my simple method for cleaning and cooking trout.

Rainbow Trout ready for Preperation
Once the trout was cleaned and scaled the cavity was liberally treated with butter, salt and pepper.
Placed a strip of bacon on top of the fish and wrapped the whole shooting match in greaseproof paper.
Into the oven at about 350 F for 15 minutes and that is it.

The Falls of Bruar.
A lovely walk up the Bruar Water on the river Tilt.
Not too strenuous for the old legs and the weather was what the Irish would call “a soft wee day”.
Fall colors abound in the firs, ash, beech and rowan that were planted by the Duke of Atholl at the request of Robert Burns.
The Lower Falls of Bruar
 On the hike back down Kathy picked some nice Mutton Foot Fungi (Pieds de Mouton), we supplemented these with Winter Chanterelles from the market at the House of Bruar.
The wild mushrooms met up with some dried Porcini and were married into a delightful Risotto which I cooked up for dinner.
Lunch at the House of Bruar was a very nice green pea soup with chunky freshly baked bread and the shop there stocked a goodly variety of meats and cheeses.
I was not the only one cooking, Kathy contributed a lovely Tomato Tarte Tatin made with tomatoes from her garden, a Smoked Haddock Pate and a very interesting sausage made with a mixture of pork, herbs and black pudding.
Tomato Tarte Tatin fresh from the oven
We ate out at The Blue Marlin in Dundee with Petra and the highlight of that repast was a Scallop and Haggis appetizer, a seemingly odd combination that worked exceeding well.
A lovely Piedmontese Barbera wine accompanied our meal.

Culinary delight for the last night in Scotland was my Penne Pasta Carbonara with Courgettes fresh picked from the garden.
Penne Rigata Rarbonara with Courgettes
This recipe is fast becoming a favorite amongst family and friends.