Tag Archives: autumn flavours

Sort of borscht

12 Oct

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love beetroots. I never used to, but as a child my only experience of beetroot was from a jar full of vinegar. Whenever I see fresh beetroot in my local farmshop or farmer’s market I buy it. And then it often sits in my fridge till the following weekend for me to do something with it (what could I do with a beetroot quickly on a weekday evening after a long day at work and the train journey home)?

So there was a bunch of beetroot in my fridge this morning, wasn’t there? Three large beetroot. They could have become a tart, or another jar of spiced beetroot relish. Or that salad with dill and shallots and oranges.

Or borscht.

I don’t know if it really was borscht or not, I just made it up.

Valley Borscht

  • A bunch of beetroot
  • a large onion
  • a couple of sticks of celery
  • a knob of butter
  • caraway seeds
  • a chicken stock cube, or some chicken stock if you have some kicking about (use veg stock if you’re vegetarian, obviously!)
  • a bay leaf
  1. Chop the onion and celery finely (ish) but don’t fret about it if it’s not all teeny wee chunkies
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy based pan and add the onion and celery; sweat them gently
  3. Peel the beetroot and grate it coarsely (if you don’t have a food processor then you might prefer to just cut it into wee chunks)
  4. Pop about 1 TBsp of caraway seeds into a pestle and mortar and smoosh them up a bit. They might have been even better if I’d quickly toasted them first
  5. When the onion and celery is looking slightly translucent add the caraway seeds and stir
  6. Then add the beetroot and stir again
  7. Add the bay leaf
  8. Cook it for a wee minute and then add the stock cube and hot water from the kettle. I added enough water to cover the beetroot plus an extra centimetre
  9. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes
  10. Remove the bay leaf
  11. Use a handheld blender and zizz it all up (or pour it into a liquidiser and liquidise it that way)
  12. Ladle into bowls and add a swirl of cream, or a couple of basil leaves, or a swoosh of basil oil or some chopped dill sprinkled over it

Perfect lunch with a chunky slice of homemade bread (preferably sourdough).

And now I’ve made the borscht, I have a perfect quick supper for later this week. Perhaps with a poached egg on toast. Imagine that dark yellow yolk on a plate next to a bowl of dark beetroot soup. Lush.

 

That cinnamon apple jelly

29 Sep
Cinnamon apple jelly

Cinnamon apple jelly

You like cinnamon right? And you can imagine having hot buttered toast spread with a deliciously sweet and cinnamony apply jelly right? Well what are you waiting for? Go get some apples, preferably cooking apples, which for me means Bramleys, but any tart apple which cooks down into mush will do.

This recipe is easy peasy, and none of the stages require very much time, but overall it will take at least 24 hours from start to glorious finish.

  • About 3lb apples, cut into bits – no need to core or peel
  • thinly pared rind of 1 lemon
  • about 2″ fresh ginger, squished with the side of a big knife
  • about 8″ cinnamon stick, roughly broken up
  • about 1lb sugar – but see exact requirements later
  1. Put the apples and 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. If your jeely pan has no lid, then put it to one side and find an alternative big pan, as you really need a lid for this stage.
  2. Add the lemon rind, ginger and cinnamon and bring to the boil, then cover the pan and simmer gently for about an hour, or until the apples are broken down into a smushy pulp.
  3. Set up your jeely bag. You do have a jeely bag don’t you? if not, off you go to your nearest jeely bag shop and get one. Or use some cheesecloth and a Heath Robinson contraption using broom handles and the backs of chairs. ┬áMy nearest jeely bag shop is a wonderful old fashioned ironmongers in Lanark; it’s the sort of place where the two Ronnie’s might sell four candles.
  4. OK, now you’ve set up your jeely bag, spoon the apple-y mixture into it. Don’t press it down, just spoon it in (over a big bowl) and let it drip. And let it drip some more. And then just leave it for at least 8 hours, but preferably longer. Overnight is good.
Making apple jelly

Making apple jelly

  1. Measure how much apple-y juice you have made and then pour it into another large saucepan. In fact it may be the same large saucepan which you have washed while the bag was drip drip dripping.
  2. For every cup of juice, you need to add almost 8oz granulated sugar. I know this isn’t very scientific, but there you go, it’s the recipe I have and it works for me. And you know what? I suspect you’ll be ok with a teeny wee bit extra sugar, or a wee bit too little.
  3. Put a side plate in the fridge, or freezer now. It’ll become clear later why you’ve done this.
  4. Anyway, add the sugar into the pot, and slowly heat it up, stirring occasionally.
  5. Increase the heat and cook at a full pelt of a boil for about 10 minutes. Watch it ALL THE TIME. Don’t be persuaded to go and see if you can get that blasted printer to work. Your apple jelly will boil over as soon as you have distracted yourself with something else. Trust me, I know this to be a fact.
  6. After 10-ish minutes test for a set – I do this by dripping a small amount of jelly onto that cold plate, and then waiting 20 seconds. Then I push the jelly with my finger and see if it has wrinkles at the edges, or if it is still just liquid-y. You want the wrinkles. If there are no wrinkles keep boiling and test again in a wee minute. Keep boiling and testing till you have wrinkles. Well, not you, your jelly…
  7. Remove the scum from the surface with a holy willie. I’ve been through this before in a previous recipe. A holy willie is what you might call a slotted spoon. Anyway, use an implement to remove the fluffy scum – pop it in a wee bowl and use it on the next piece of toast you make. You’ll thank me for that tip.
  8. Allow the jelly to cool in the pot for an instant or two and then ladle it into hot sterilised jars. If you’re being fancy, pop a piece of cinnamon stick in each jar before you pour in the hot jelly – it’ll look artisanal, or at least as though you tried.
  9. Seal your jars and label them up

If you make them look pretty they are particularly nice Christmas gifts. You know, for the sort of people who appreciate a jar of something sweet, and think that Christmas is too commercial. Anyone else doesn’t deserve it, not unless you really love them.

Only give as gifts to people you really love

Only give as gifts to people you really love

 

Thanks to Thane Prince and her ‘Jellies, Jams and Chutneys’ book for this recipe.

 

 

 

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