Jam On It

01/09/2009

The summer fruit season is pretty much done and dusted, but you can hang on to it by making your own strawberry jam. It’s a piece of piss with just three ingredients, and it’s reet tasty.

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Ingredients

500g English strawberries

75g vanilla sugar

Juice of half a lemon

Method

Hull the strawberries (remove the leafy top and pale fruit) with the tip of a sharp knife and then wash. Dry off with a tea towel and place in a large pan. Add the vanilla sugar (vanilla sugar is easy to make – every time you scrape out a vanilla pod, put the remains in a jam jar with caster sugar – after a week or so the sugar will take on a lovely vanilla smell and taste) and lemon juice and stir.

Before you put the pan on the heat, get a saucer and place it in the fridge. I’ll explain why in a minute. Next, put the pan on a high heat and bring up to the boil while stirring. Before long the fruit will start to give up its juices, and the mixture will begin to resemble jam. You need to simmer the jam for about 10 minutes to bring it to setting point. A scum will probably develop on the surface of the mixture; skim this off every few minutes.

After 10 minutes take the pan off the heat, and dribble some of the mixture onto your cold saucer. Place the saucer back in the fridge. After a couple of minutes, take it out again and perform the ‘wrinkle’ test by running your finger through the mixture. If it wrinkles, the jam is at setting point and ready to store, if your finger slides through return to the heat for a few minutes and repeat the test.

If the jam is at setting point, put the mixture in a sterilised jar. You can sterilise jars by pouring in boiling water to the top or placing in the oven for a few minutes at 100ÂșC.

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Leave the jam to cool and then eat or refrigerate. It should keep for 3 – 4 weeks.

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Turkish Slaw

11/08/2009

My girlfriend and I visited Istanbul earlier this year. It’s a pretty crazy place. Chaotic and a bit ramshackle, but very interesting. One of the things we were blown away by was the food. We had a few memorable meals, but again it was the local places that specialised in certain dishes that came out on top. If you ever go, I can heartily recommend the Sultanahmet Koftecisi near the Blue Mosque. Amazing.

Another discovery that we made whilst there was a spice called Maras Biberi. It’s on the table of most restaurants and seems to be a kind of pepper substitute. It’s a blend of chili, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, ground up and dried. We bought some at the Egyptian Souk to bring back with us; it’s not that easy to get in London, but I have found it in local Turkish supermarkets.

We’re pretty much addicted to the stuff, and it goes into quite a lot of what we eat, including this recipe which is a remix of a healthy coleslaw.

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Ingredients

Vegetables:

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 a head of spring / pointy cabbage, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, grated

For the dressing:

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

3 tablespoons no fat Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon hummus

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Maras Biberi

Juice of half a lemon

50 ml olive oil

Handful of chopped leafy green herbs (mint / basil / tarragon / coriander etc)

Method

Grate the carrots and finely chop the cabbage and onions and place in a large bowl. Mix the dressing in a sepperate bowl by chopping up the garlic and herbs and then adding the rest of the indgredients. Mix well until blended. Add the dressing to the vegetables in the bowl and mix well. Serve with grilled meats (lamb or chicken) or to keep it veggie some griddled Haloumi cheese. Afiyet olsun.