bloody brilliant piccalilli

img_20161107_222829-1So named by family friend Eric, who is renowned for his taciturnity. However, he got very animated about this piccalilli, and declared it to be bloody brilliant. High praise indeed, from a man of few words.

  • 1kg mixed vegetables, washed and peeled as necessary. Essentials are cauliflower (white or romanesco), green beans, and shallots or small silverskin onions. The rest can be made up of sweetcorn, fresh peas, red peppers, courgettes, carrots, green tomatoes. The  more colourful the mixture, the better.
  • 50g fine salt
  • 30g cornflour
  • 10g ground turmeric
  • 10g English mustard powder
  • 15g yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 600ml cider vinegar
  • 200g granulated sugar

The most time consuming part of making piccalilli is cutting up the vegetables. You need to make sure that the pieces are quite small and of an even size. Once you’ve got your kilo of chopped veg, put them in a large bowl and sprinkle over the salt.  Mix it in well and leave the bowl, covered in a cloth, overnight. This will help to ensure that the vegetable pieces stay crunchy.  The next day, rinse the veg in ice-cold water to get rid of the salt, and drain as much of the water off as you can.  The veg need to be quite dry or the resulting sauce will be watery. Put the cornflour, turmeric, and all the other spices in a big jug and mix them to a smooth-ish paste with some of the vinegar.  The rest of the vinegar goes into a large saucepan to be heated up with the sugar, until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring the vinegar and sugar mixture to the boil, then pour some of it over the spice paste and mix it well, then pour the spice paste and vinegar mixture back into the pan and bring to the boil again.  Keep stirring it until it thickens. This should take about five minutes.  Take the pan off the heat, and then you’re ready to mix in the drained vegetables.  Stir all the vegetables around until they are all coated with the spicy sauce, then pack them into sterilised jars, making sure there are no air pockets.  Seal the jars with wax paper discs to cover, and acid-proof screw-on lids.  This piccalilli can be eaten straight away but improves after about 4  weeks maturing in a dark cupboard.  It’s excellent with cheese, cured meats, pork pies, roast beef, sandwiches, anything that benefits from a mustardy, crunchy hit. I have been known to eat it from the jar with a spoon.  It’s also vegan, containing no animal products (but it tasts so good WITH animal products…!).

Bob’s fruity brown sauce

Digital CameraMy brother-in-law asked for some of this sauce for his birthday so I’ve renamed it in his honour.  I’ve made several versions of this in the past few years and have a “bung it in” attitude to the spices and dried fruits, which has led to some interesting variations in colour and heat.  This latest batch is a bit pink, and a tad more heavy on the chili than previously, because you can never guess how hot a chili is until it’s in there… This makes the equivalent of about 4 x1lb jamjars.

  • 500g fresh rhubarb (I’ve also used tinned rhubarb occasionally – in which case drain it well, and cut down a bit on the demerara sugar)
  • 250g red onions
  • 1 long red chili, deseeded
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200g cooking apple, peeled and grated
  • 20g (about 2cm) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 heaped teaspons ground ginger
  • 1 dessertspoon paprika
  • 75g sultanas
  • 50g dried cherries or dried cranberries or dried dates
  • 200ml red wine vinegar
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 dessertspoon salt
  • 500g demerara sugar

Trim and chop the rhubarb finely.  Peel and chop the onions into small dice.  Deseed the chili and chop that finely too, making sure you protect your hands with rubber gloves to avoid any chili juice being inadvertently rubbed in your eye (or worse…). Peel and grate the apple, and do the same with the fresh ginger. The ginger needs to be grated very finely so that it’s a mush because it’s very fibrous, and the texture of the finished sauce won’t be smooth if there are clumps of ginger in there.  Put all of the ingredients in a large, heavy bottomed pan and put on to simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.  Give it a stir occasionally.

The texture of the sauce when it’s cooked will be like runny chutney.  Take off the heat, leave to cool for a bit then put in a food processor (usually in two or three batches) and process until smooth.  Put into warmed sterilised jars or bottles and make sure you use vinegar-proof lids to seal.

The picture shows the latest batch – I think the cranberries and the particularly dark red onions I used have given it a rather nice pink tinge!  The bottles were from an online store which supplies all kinds of empty jars and bottles for home preservers – Wares of Knutsford.  You can visit their shop too – very nice people!