Potato and Jerusalem Artichoke Dauphinoise

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A friend from work had grown some Jerusalem artichokes in his allotment and kindly gave me a few to do something with. I’ve never used them before but thought that they would go great in a dauphinoise. They really add a nutty, earthy flavour and a great crunch.

Ingredients:
3 Big potatoes
A good handful of Jerusalem artichokes
150ml Double cream
2 Cloves of garlic
Lots of Salt and pepper

Equipment:
All you need is a medium oven proof dish for this.

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Peel the veg and slice them as thin as you can. Slice the garlic too and start to assemble the layers. Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees Celsius while you do this. Mix the potato with the artichoke and layer it in the dish. Season each layer with salt and peeper and the garlic. After that fill the dish with the double cream until it’s almost full. Put in the oven and bake for at least 35-40mins.

When it comes out it should be crispy on top and hot and creamy on the inside. You can add some cheese if you like and return to the oven to make it all gooey. Goes really well with a roast!

Sticky Fruit Chutney

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This is another simple recipe, but it does take time, patience and a lot of stirring! What you will have is a wonderfully dark, tasty chutney that could go with cold meats, cheese or anything you fancy. I also think that it gets better with age. I used a Nigel Slater recipe for this.

Ingredients:
250g Soft brown sugar
1kg Figs
150ml Malt vinegar
150ml Cider vinegar
250g Chopped onions
250g Sultanas
1tsp Salt
1tsp All spice
Half tsp Cracked black pepper corns
1tsp Coriander seeds

Equipment:
Another big pan job and this will make 6x125ml jars.

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Sterilise your jars. Same as the chilli jam with this recipe, wash them in hot soapy water and dry them off in a moderate oven.

Warm the sugar in a bowl in the oven turned down low. Roughly chop the figs and put them in the big pan.

Add the vinegars, onions, sultanas, salt, allspice, peppercorns and coriander seeds. Bring to the boil.

Simmer for 30mins until the fruit and onions are soft. Stir in the sugar and bring to the boil very slowly. The turn the heat down low and let it bubble gently. Cook for 10-15mins, stirring occasionally.

Add to the jars after that.

Chilli Jam

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This is a really quick and simple recipe. A friend got me onto Nigella and her Christmas book when I told her I was making presents for everyone. There are very few stages and the end result is sweet and tangy.

Ingredients:
150g Fresh Chilli peppers
150g Red peppers
1kg Jam Sugar (sugar with pectin in it)
600ml Cider Vinegar

Equipment
All you need really is a pan big enough to hold the jam. This recipe is kind on the washing up!
You will also need sterilised jars, about 5 X125ml.

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The easiest way to sterilise your jars is to clean them in hot soapy water and put them in a moderate oven to dry. Make sure you remove the lids before putting them in the oven.

Remove all the seeds and stalks from the chilli and red peppers and roughly chop.

Blitz the chillies in a food processor then add the red peppers and blitz them too.

Put the cider vinegar into a large pan on a low heat and add the jam sugar. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar with minimal stirring. This will take a while. I must admit that I did stir it now and again and it didn’t seem to harm the end result. Upping the temperature now and again did help speed the process. What I think you’re trying to avoid here is the sugar crystallising in the vinegar.

Once that is done add the chillies and bring to the boil for 10mins. Leave to cool until the chilli is jelly like and sticky. This will take at least 30mins and will go through stages until thicker in consistency. Ladle into the jars while it is still wobbly. I used wax discs to seal them properly before putting the lids on.

The end result is sweet and warming and lovely with cold meats and cheese in this festive season 🙂

Millionaire’s Shortbread

You have to watch the Caramel and be patient! Watch for the colour change

You have to watch the Caramel and be patient! Watch for the colour change

This was my first attempt at both shortbread and caramel! But I found if you take your time (maybe have a helper) there are stages where you can get everything right. I was fascinated by this when I heard that the condensed milk makes the caramel. I’ve seen TV Cook Rachel Allen do it and it always looked great! I got this recipe from Gizzi Erskine the Sunday Times cook.

Ingredients:

225g Plain Flour

85g Caster Sugar

315g Unsalted Butter

1 tin of 397g of condensed milk (the sweetened one)

4tbsp Golden Syrup

1tbsp Sea Salt

200g of quality plain Chocolate

Equipment:

For this you need a square brownie tin 23cm (I had a bigger rectangular tin so for the next batch I am going to double the quantities.

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Line the tin with grease proof paper (I leave tabs on two of the sides so it’s easy to pull out after baking) and preheat the oven to 170 degree celsius.

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl and add 200g of the butter. Rub the ingredients together until the mixture will hold when pushed together. Push the mixture into the tin until it’s level and prick with a fork. Bake for five mins then lower the oven 20 degrees and bake for 30mins until golden and no longer spongy. Have faith and if it takes longer don’t worry, just make sure the shortbread is done. Leave to cool and get to work on the caramel.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat, then add the golden syrup and the condensed milk. Whisk until completely incorporated. Bring to a simmer then cook for 10mins stirring constantly. You have to watch it otherwise it will catch and burn. The colour will darken slightly and thicken. Pour over the cooled shortbread and sprinkle the sea salt evenly over the top.

Gizzi melts the chocolate in the microwave but you could melt it over boiling water if you like. I found doing it in the microwave was brilliant! Quick and less washing up. Break up the chocolate and microwave for one minute 45 seconds. Leave to cool for five minutes and then pour over the caramel evenly and leave to cool for an hour in the fridge.

Take out of the fridge and cut up into either 16 squares or 21 bars.

I was really please with how this turned out for me and it’s a brilliant recipe to try caramel for the first time.

Let me know how you get on! 🙂

Christmas Pudding Vodka

Letting the fruit soak for days really makes the flavour great.

Letting the fruit soak for days really makes the flavour great.

This is a really simple recipe for some festive booze! It takes three days and little effort. I got this from the Hairy Bikers.

Ingredients:

300g mixed Dried Fruit

75g Caster Sugar

2 Cinnamon Sticks

2tsp Ground Mixed Spice

6 Cloves

half a Nutmeg, finely grated

Zest of a Lemon and an Orange

75cl of Vodka

Equipment:

All you need is a bowl big enough and some muslin cloth to strain it through.

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Mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl. Add the vodka and cover with cling film tightly and put in the fridge (or in a really cold room like our kitchen!)

Stir once everyday for three days and you’ll see the fruit swell and the vodka turn a golden brown colour.

Now the Hairy Bikers just strain the fruit and make a 500ml bottle, but I decided to blitz the fruit roughly so I could get as much flavoured vodka as I could out of the fruit.

Strain it through the cloth and a sieve a couple of times to make a smooth vodka.

Store it in sterilised bottles. Put in the freezer until you need them.

NB: I did it with larger quantities and only increased the quantities by about 50%. As long as the vodka has the time to be infused with the ingredients it will work.

(To sterilise the bottles wash in warm soapy water and leave in a moderate oven until all the water has evaporated.)

And enjoy! This drink is really Christmassy, either drink neat with ice or add lemonade. Try with cola and ginger beer too.

Merry Christmas!