Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Gooseberry Chutney

I'm not the world's biggest fan of gooseberries but, determined to make use of the fruit from our rather large gooseberry bush this year, I picked a pound and a half of them on Sunday and made chutney. I'm going to leave it for a few months to mature and I reckon it will then be wonderful with hard cheeses and maybe pâtés or terrines in the late Autumn (preferably in front of a roaring woodburner).

Anyway, here's the recipe (makes 5 small-medium jars):

1.5lbs / 700g gooseberries, topped, tailed and chopped in half
1/2lb /225g sugar
1/2lb / 225g shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 pint / 275ml vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1/2 pint / 275ml water
pinch of salt
tiny pinch of chilli powder
2 tsps ground ginger

Place the chopped gooseberries and shallots in a saucepan with the water and simmer until they are softened. Add the rest of the ingredients and leave to bubble gently on a very low heat until you achieve a sticky, thick consistency - this will take about an hour. The mixture will be a dark pinky/brown colour. When the chutney is ready, pour it into sterilised jars (fresh out of the dishwasher is the best way).

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Cucumber Glut

We're much divided in our house about the merits of cucumber. The six-year-old and I can't get enough of it whilst the husband and the nine-year-old would rather drink vinegar than go anywhere near the stuff. So the fact that, in my first year of growing cucumbers, we have a glut of the things has met with mixed reactions.

The variety I have grown is Marketmore, a short, slighty bumpy cucumber which has done very well in tubs. The two of us have been enjoying it in salads and with smoked salmon but I wanted to try something a bit more adventurous so I've been on the hunt for recipes. This week I shall be doing sweet cucumber pickle and, if I can get some fresh mackerel (none to be found locally yesterday afternoon - all sold out in the morning), I'm going to try this from Valentine Warner:

Mackerel and gooseberry sauce is perfect at this time of year - both are in season - and, as I have just picked 1.5lbs of gooseberries from the garden, I might go for that instead. An aromatic white might match well, perhaps an Alsace Pinot Gris or Riesling.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Borrowed Broad Beans........

The broad beans in the veg patch have been attacked by a mass of green insects and, consequently, we have only managed four pods so far from about 20 plants - very disappointing as I had such high hopes. Never fear, the mother-in-law has been to the rescue, sending up supplies from her (always prolific) plants in West Somerset, which is a relief as I always think that supermarket broad beans taste as if they've been sitting around for ages.

Broad beans with chorizo is one of my favourite combinations and tonight I blanched the beans, fried some chorizo and chopped spring onions for a minute or two in some olive oil and put the whole lot in a salad bowl with some fresh thyme and a little lemon juice.

With it, grilled garlic and lemon-marinated chicken breasts and a few new potatoes (also provided by the mother-in-law) tossed in extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and paprika.

Our wine this evening was a red Saumur 2007 from Cabernet Franc - a light-bodied wine from the Loire that benefits from a light chilling on a hot day and worked wonderfully with the paprika/chorizo flavours which were prominent in the dish. A heavier style of rosé would work too - Grenache-based from Southern France or Spain (Lirac, Tavel, Navarra spring to mind).

By the way, it's not all doom and gloom in the garden. Yesterday I made courgette fritters using our very own courgettes - delicious. The cucumbers are going crazy as are the tomatoes, sweetcorn and aubergines.