Christmas preparations continue apace. Today we made cranberry relish, almost as easy as going to the shop and buying a jar.
- 350g fresh cranberries
- Juice and zest of one orange
- 75g sugar
- half a cinnamon stick
- half a teaspoon of finely grated fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons of Mirto di Sardegna (black myrtle liqueur from Italy)
Mirto di Sardegna is pretty rare but we happened to have some that we brought back from Italy as a holiday souvenir. You can substitute port, crème de cassis, or even sloe gin – anything that’s got a dark fruity alcoholic tang. If you don’t fancy adding alcohol, then add more orange juice or a splash of water.
Put all the ingredients in a pan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until all the berries have burst. Take off the heat and stir in the alcohol. It keeps well in the fridge for up to a week, in a covered bowl. It can also be frozen – make sure to defrost it thoroughly for 24 hours before using.
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon “lazy” garlic puree
- 1 tablespoon “lazy” ginger puree
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar and shake it all about until the honey is dissolved. We like this so much we normally make double or triple quantities and leave the jar in the fridge as a ready-made salad dressing. It’s great on any kind of robust or peppery salad leaves. Originally it was for coleslaw, from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe for Asian coleslaw – our take on it is below.
- Half a small head of red cabbage
- 2 large carrots, cleaned
- 6 radishes
- a bunch of spring onions
- half a lime
- bunch of coriander leaves
Chop the spring onions finely, and grate the cabbage, carrots and radishes on a coarse setting. You may have more success in cutting the cabbage finely with a really sharp knife as it does need to be a bit crunchy. Mix all the veg together in a bowl and squeeze over the juice of half a lime. Leave to relax for a bit then pour over the dressing above when you’re ready to serve, and garnish with a good handful of chopped coriander leaves. Or if you can’t stand coriander (there are some people who swear it tastes of soap…), just leave it out.
The salad dressing is vegetarian, and if you use maple or agave syrup instead of honey it is vegan.
My 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!
We have a small patch of wild garlic growing in our bombsite of a garden. At this time of year the leaves are fresh and tender and make an excellent pesto.
- 150g wild garlic leaves, washed
- 150g hard cheese (cheddar, parmesan, or a mixture)
- 150g nuts (I used a mixture of walnuts, pine nuts and almonds that all needed using up)
- 100ml olive oil
- big pinch of salt
- black pepper
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until it’s all amalgamated, but stop before it reaches a completely smooth paste – it’s nicer if there are still recognisable bits of nuts and cheese.
This will keep in the fridge for about a week with a bit of extra olive oil drizzled over the top in a sealed container, or you can freeze it in an ice cube tray. Use it as you would any type of pesto – stir it into cooked pasta, or with sauteed mushrooms, or use it as a topping for pizza, or swirl it into vegetable soup.