Friday, 30 July 2010

Raspberry parade - jam(ish)

One of the first things I thought of making with my raspberries was jam, and I'd actually just copied down a recipe for raspberry and rose jam from Grandma S's latest copy of the BBC Good Food Magazine. I didn't really want to make too much as we don't get through it very quickly but I had so many berries that I ended up making enough to go with a 1kg bag of jam sugar - about 1.4kg or so. I made it when jam-making expert Cai came round for dinner last Sunday, and must have severely tested my hostessing credentials by hopping up and down at intervals through dinner with a chilled saucer for her to assess how close it was to setting. The trouble was that it started to get close and then it gave up completely and went really runny again. I don't know why this happened - did I heat it too quickly? too slowly? did I annoy it by not offering it dinner? Whatever the reason, I now have eight jars of very runny, and rather overly sweet jam. Cai and Lauren kindly took two jars away with them and I'm considering making it a compulsory leaving gift for anyone else who comes round.

One of the reasons I'd wanted to make this jam was because of the rose flavouring, but when I got my bottle out I remembered that I'd bought rose syrup not rose water. I didn't want to add too much more in the way of sugar, so I used less than the recipe called for, which is rather a shame as the flavour wasn't very noticeable. So, not the best use of the berries, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to strain off some of the liquid and use it in baking - in Cai's chocolate nutella cake, for instance, or a Bakewell slice. Perhaps it's not so bad after all :)

Raspberry and rose jam (from Good Food Magazine, August 2010)
This is the full quantity - I made two thirds
1.8 kg raspberries
1.5 kg jam sugar
2-3 Tbsp rose water

Night before: layer berries and sugar together in a very large bowl, then cover and leave at room temperature.
Next day: give it a stir and set aside until you're ready. Put a small saucer in the freezer
Tip berries, juices and any undissolved sugar into a large wide based pan, and stir in the rosewater. Start over a low heat until the sugar has all dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat and spoon a little on to the saucer. When it's cool, push with your finger. If it wrinkles it's at the setting points. If not, return to the heat and boil in 2-3 minute stages until it reaches the wrinkle stage.
Skim off any scum and leave for 15 minus, then pour into sterilised jars. Keeps in a cool dark place for at least 6 months. Refrigerate once opened

Makes 8 jars

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Raspberry revels - berry salad

This was an early foray in using up my giant glut of raspberries, and was inspired by the amazing salads the Norse Goddess made for us while we were in Vancouver. She used a variety of ingredients in her salads, but they all had three elements which made them stand out:

1. Interesting leaves
2. Some gorgeously sweet fruit - mango was a highlight
3. a tasty dressing - we all liked the maple and mustard dressing from Veganomicon, which I haven't made before.

I've been making lots of versions on this theme since we got back, but this week (obviously) I tried it with raspberries. I wasn't altogether convinced in advance, but actually it was pretty good. The berries are sweet but also a bit tart, which was nice. I'd made a variation on the maple dressing, subbing flaxseed oil, and putting a garlic clove into the jar as well. It sits in the fridge and we just get it out and shake it up every time we fancy a bit of magic salad. I made another version a few days later which had diced raw courgette, cucumber and radish, some cherry tomatoes, some quinoa and leaves, plus the berries. I took it to work in a box and it wasn't pretty by the time I ate it, but it tasted good :)

Monday, 26 July 2010

Raving raspberry mad

We had a lovely weekend just now. We went up to Leeds on Thursday evening for The Scientist and Munchkin Gramps' traditional excursion to Headingley for international cricket. Yes, Munchkin Gramps has five children and three sons-in-law (one more properly an outlaw, which I just like saying), and only one of them likes cricket. I was invited one year but I evidently wasn't attentive enough as the invitation was mysteriously absent the following summer. It was probably for everyone's benefit - I like cricket, but in small doses only. I was glad I wasn't there this year as they came back with terrible sunburn on account of expecting gloom and rain. Meanwhile I spent half the day working, and half with Grandma S and Junior Sis and Bro. We had a nice lunch and went for a lovely walk along the canal, before reconvening for a fish'n'chip supper with the men. Well, fish'n'chips for five, and one sulk from the veggie as the chips are fried in dripping. What do you expect from Yorkshire?

The next day Yorkshire delivered more fine weather, and Grandma S, Junior Sis and Junior Bro indulged me in my perpetual love of pick-your-own fruit farms. The strawberries were over, but there were lots of raspberries, and after a discussion on how many we could collectively get through (they are going on holiday next week), I confidently asserted that it was not possible to have too much fruit, and that I would deal with all the excess. Back at home, three HUGE baskets in front of me on the counter, I started to doubt my words. They were so beautiful though - plump and fragrant, and just falling off the canes into our hands. An hour of washing and triaging (jam versus baking and eating) later, I was feeling a bit less enthusiastic and rather anxious about what to do with them all, but I made my own bed, and now I must lie in all my berries (well, that would get rid of a few).

Raspberry pictures and raspberry styling courtesy of Junior Bro :)

I promised to document my berry adventures for Grandma S, so here is my first foray: raspberry coulis. Simple, yes, but we weren't up for a big dessert after a hot day. Fresh berries are best fresh, and so I made the coulis to accompany a sort of make-your-own Eton mess when Cai and Lauren came round for inauthentic veggie paella last night: meringue nests, raspberries, Greek yogurt and double cream, plus the coulis.

The coulis is really easy to make, though somewhat time-consuming to sieve. Place a cup of berries in a pan with a little water and sugar, and heat briefly, just enough to warm the berries and melt the sugar. Blend in a blender, and then sieve to remove the pips. Add sugar to taste, and chill. I've kept the post-sieving pips and mush to stir into yogurt, though I suspect I'll be picking seeds out of my teeth all day. Hmm, note to self: don't eat for breakfast before a day of meetings tomorrow.

Raspberry count after coulis and Eton mess: three baking sheets' worth frozen, and one giant bowl in the fridge.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Holiday highlights

We're back from a wonderful two and a half weeks away. We were mainly in Vancouver and the Rockies, with a few days in Boston on the way back, so I could go shopping for baking chocolate. Oh no, I remember the line now: so The Scientist could give a paper at a prestigious international conference. Here are some highlights:

First time I've ever seen tofu scramble on the menu in a cafe. It was much nicer than I expected!

Lots of time spent in coffee shops (this one, Agro cafe, Granville Island)

World famous Japadog stand (in several Vancouver locations). I won't show you the picture of The Scientist stuffing his face with his terimayo dog. It's exactly the same as the photo I have of him stuffing his face with a wurst in Munich, but it had seaweed on it. He said it was amazing. They do veggie dogs too, but I wasn't hungry.

Cherries. I ate a LOT of cherries. They were just sooooo good. I envy you your West Coast fresh produce, Vancouverites

We didn't see a bear. I don't mind. I was scared

View down the high street in Banff. Beats traffic and Primark, doesn't it?

Saw a lot of waterfalls and took a lot of photos. I'm a bit obsessed with how beautiful waterfalls are. I liked it that I managed to get the rainbow in this one

Athabasca Glacier. Beautiful. Used to be much bigger. This makes me more depressed than almost anything else except the polar bears.

And perhaps the best bit: spending time with the glorious Norse God and Goddess - the reason we made the trip over there (and worth every mile :) )

Travel's great. But it's great to come home, too.
That's my giant crochet granny square under the pook, made after a workshop run by the lovely Roisin. I turned it into a star for a bit of variety.