Catastrophic Carrot Chutney

Let me start by saying that, despite the title, this is one of the nicest chutneys I have made so far. It’s zesty and tangy, has a lovely rich colour and packs a real punch with a mature cheddar.

I’m never making it again.

You see every time I make this something goes horribly wrong. Not with the chutney, it’s one of the few things I will remake to the exact recipe, just with the surrounding circumstances.

For example ; The first time I made this delicious chutney I rather overdid the quantity and even after giving some jars away to my friends/guinea pigs there were still quite a few leftover. So I decided, in my infinite wisdom, to pack up a few jars (along with some excess jam)  and take them as gifts on our imminent visit to the UK. What could possibly go wrong?

As we were traveling by Eurostar suitcase weight was not an issue so I tightly packed in the many jars amongst my belongings and off we trundled. All went well until we reached the Victoria line underground interchange.

At rush hour.

On a Friday.

By this time I had a very tired small person on one hand, her luggage, my handbag, a VERY heavy suitcase and a dead arm. A very kind gentleman offered to take my suitcase onto the tube and found a tiny corner amid the sea of humanity to wedge it in.

With his foot.
Of course his foot connected with one of the jars. The one I squeezed in at the last minute because there was a tiny space left. The one that wasn’t wrapped in a plastic bag.

By the time we left the tube there was a rather pungent aroma emanating from my case and a small orangey brown puddle on the train floor.  We fought our way through Waterloo station leaving a sticky trail behind us and located the train heading out to Richmond. By the end of the half hour journey we, rather unsurprisingly, had the carriage to ourselves.

At my friends flat it was time to assess the damage. Rather wisely I elected to leave the case in the downstairs hall while I picked out the broken glass and sticky pickle from my belongings. Even the clothes that hadn’t come into direct contact with the chutney needed washing due to the smell. When we left a few days later I’m embarrassed to say the hall still carried a heady lingering aroma.

(Almost two years later there is still a vague whiff every time the suitcase gets unzipped – which is not very often as it has been relegated to shed and used for ‘storage’).

Rather ironically when we got back one of my friends here was desperately disappointed when I told her there was none left as her husband had finished the whole jar in the 10 days we had been gone. She has been dropping hints ever since that he would really like some more.

Last week I found myself with a surplus of carrots so thought I’d be kind and make a jar or two for Mr.W.

So what went wrong this time?  (I hear you ask) Read on to find out why this is the last time.

Carrot Chutney

300g brown Sugar

150g Sultanas

1 Orange (zest and juice)

1 Lemon (zest and juice)

3tsp mixed Peppercorns

2tsp wholegrain Mustard

2tsp clear Honey

1tsp mixed Spice

2 cloves of Garlic (minced)

500ml Red wine vinegar

250ml White vinegar

250ml Tarragon vinegar (if you cant get tarragon vinegar then just use 500ml of white vinegar and add 1/2 tsp of tarragon)

600g Carrots

2 Onions

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan combine all the ingredients except the carrots and onions and bring to the biol stirring to ensure the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

While your vinegar mix is heating, grate the carrots and onions.

When the vinegar mixture is boiling add the vegetables and boil for 5 minutes stirring at all times

Now turn down the heat until you get a gentle simmer and leave it bubbling away for around 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When the liquid has reduced by around a 1/3 and is sticky on your spoon it’s time to take it off the heat and ladle into sterilised jars .

Top Tip – If you are using jars with metal lids make sure you cover the pickle with a wax disc or some greaseproof paper as the acid in the vinegar can react with the metal and cause it to rust.

This amount of ingredients should give you a enough to fill 4 regular jars or two large ones.

Unless of course you are an idiot.

Don’t worry Mr. W – the only remaining jar has your name on it!

A Bientôt

Chocolate , Chocolate, Chocolate and Beetroot cake

Yes you read that right beetroot. But more of that later….

As regular readers and friends will already know Small Person has very recently reached the grand old age of 8. As is tradition here on her ‘actual’ birthday it is custom to bring in a cake for the school to share ( this is not as daunting as it sounds as in the whole school  there is a grand total of 20 people). When I picked her up on Tuesday afternoon the teacher confirmed that there would indeed be a cake on Friday, I told her yes of course there would be, then she leaned over to me and asked me if it was at all possible that I could make the same cake as I had made last year as she had really enjoyed it. I was, of course, thrilled that she had enjoyed it so much and whilst I reassured her I would do my best I was also a little concerned as I knew for a fact that I made up the recipe for it and didn’t write it down.

I knew vaguely what it was and that involved lots of chocolate and grated pumpkin, ( we were give a 17 kg pumpkin last year by a friend and I was desperate to find things to do with it ), but other than that I was at a bit of a loss. In any case as we had not received a massive pumpkin gift this year I resolved to go to the supermarket on Thursday and purchase a pumpkin to use for the cake.

Of course you know that when i got there, there was not a pumpkin to be seen. So what was I to do. I could just make a normal chocolate cake, that’s what I could do.

Yeah right.

As I was gathering my ingredients my eyes strayed to the vegetable shelf and  came to rest on a vacuum pack of natural beetroot and my my mind decide that this would be a great idea…… And I’m happy to say that despite Hubby’s “I’ve married a mad person” look, it was.

The Beetroot gives a very subtle flavour in the the midst of the chocolate kick and helps to keep the cake super moist.

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate and Beetroot cake

75g unsalted Butter (softened)

100g Sugar

1 medium Egg (beaten)

225g Flour

50g Cocoa powder

3tsp Baking powder

1 Banana

50g Natural (un-pickled) Beetroot

100ml Crémé fraîche

75g Dark chocolate (roughly chopped)

 

Begin by creaming together the softened butter and sugar and beat till pale and fluffy.

Gradually beat in the egg adding a tsp of flour with each addition to avoid curdling.

Sieve the remaining flour cocoa powder and baking powder into the bowl and fold in gently using a metal spoon.

In a separate bowl mash the banana, grate the beetroot and mix well with the crémé fraîche .

Add the ‘wet’ ingredients to the ‘dry’ bowl and beat together.

Finally add the roughly chopped chocolate and give it one last stir before pouring the mixture into a greased and lined baking tin.

Cover the top of the cake with baking paper, pressing lightly on the surface ( this should ensure a nice flat top), and place in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the baking paper after 25 minutes of baking.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cook completely.

Now, these quantities will give you one large square cake, but as I was showing off a bit I made double the quantity so I could sandwich them together with chocolate ganache and smother it in yet more chocolate before plonking a solid dark chocolate birthday star on top and round it of with some white chocolate butter cream swirls! Well it was her birthday.

As I knew there was absolutely zero chance of Hubby and I getting a sniff of the cake, i used a tiny bit of the mixture to make a cupcake size tester (well you HAVE to try these things….) and it was simply delicious and extremely indulgent. 🙂

 

I’m very happy to report that when I went to pick up Small Person from school there was not a single crumb left and lots of children with chocolaty smiles. Thats all you can ask for really.

A Bientôt

 

 

Epic Jelly ….. Epic Fail

I was in two minds whether to post this one or not as it didn’t turn out quite as planned, but then I thought “What the heck, why not” because someone might like it and it does look so pretty….

epic jelly
As I mentioned in my last post we have been celebrating (for what seems like forever) the birthday of the smallest person in the house and HillyWillys kitchen has been under a cloud of flour, chocolate, icing sugar and jelly. Lots of jelly. ( For my U.S friends that would of course be jello )

I had seen this recipe posted on line a few months ago and stored it in my ‘oooh that looks fun’ file and decided that small ones birthday party would be the perfect time to try it out. The fridge was re-shuffled, many plastic tubs were unearthed and I began…

Stained Glass Window Jelly
4 packets of assorted (brightly coloured) Jelly

1 small tin of condensed milk

3 6g packets of Gelatin powder

Make up your 4 different flavours of jelly and set overnight.

Jelly

Sprinkle the gelatin powder into a small amount of cold water and stir to a smooth paste, set aside for 5 minutes then stir again. At this point add 500ml of boiling water and mix until there are no clumps or lumps. Now add the tin of condensed milk and mix well. Set aside and allow to cool.

mix the coloured cubes

When your coloured jellies are well set turn out and cut into cubes and gently mix the  cubes in a large container. Take the cooled gelatin mixture and pour slowly into the container of jelly cubes. Return the large container to the fridge and set for a minimum of 3 hours, preferably overnight.

When your jelly is completely set. turn out. slice and serve.

stained glass Jelly

Now the title of the post will tell you that something went wrong, well 2 things went wrong in actual fact.

The first thing was that I had entirely failed to take into consideration that jelly isn’t a common dessert over here and whilst French cuisine is highly regarded around the world they are not exactly renowned for their acceptance of any food that is a bit different to their usual fare.  To put it mildly the children at the party looked terrified when I unveiled my masterpiece and were extremely reluctant to try it.

The second, and most important, thing was that the taste just doesn’t live up to the look.
Perhaps i used the wrong combination of jelly flavours, but it was just too much of a confusing taste to be considered lovely. The condensed milk/gelatin mixture is fantastic for the colour, but it makes the whole thing so sweet that my teeth were singing at the first spoonful. Perhaps (if I ever make it again) I would use single cream or evaporated milk instead to take an edge off the super-sweetness.

I would also recommend that if you attempt this one, only to use half of the jelly in each pack as there was rather a lot of it to dispose of.

So not my finest moment, but not everything always turns out quite how we would like, so its time to dust myself off and get back in the kitchen.

Thankfully the main event of the birthday cake was a triumph so the jelly incident was quickly forgotten, and I shall be putting up the recipe for that in a few days 🙂

A Bientot

Cuppa time

So there really should be a recipe here by now shouldn’t there. Well there isn’t ….. Yet.
My kitchen has been going full steam for the last few days and there will be one or two making an appearance, including a very interesting chocolate cake with a secret ingredient ( that will rock my big brothers world). But I’m afraid you will have to wait another day or two.

You see it’s small persons birthday today ( and seemingly for the past few and next few days too ) so whilst I’ve been cooking up a storm of birthday treats and cakes I haven’t really had that much spare time to document them, only to enjoy them 🙂

So rest assured there will be much much more from HillyWillys in the next few days, but for now I have a film to watch and some trifle to eat. Mmmmm trifle.

A Bientôt.

Avocado and Pistachio nut Loaf

I do like a nice loaf. And (if I do say so myself) this is a rather nice loaf.

I made a version of this a little while ago, but it was lacking  …. something. I had no idea what that something was, so I left it and moved on to sweeter things for a while. When I was shelling some pistachios for a recent recipe it suddenly occurred to me that these could be the very thing my old loaf needed.

The problem with pistachios is that they take so long to shell,  I just couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm for a while. You may notice that in the recipe below I’ve been rather vague about the amount of pistachios used as I got a little bored at around the 30g mark and decided that was enough, but in all honesty a few more wouldn’t have gone a miss.

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Avocado and  pistachio nut loaf

200g Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1/2tsp Salt
100g Sugar
100g Butter
1 medium Egg
1 ripe Avocado
100ml Creme Fraiche
Zest of 1 Lemon
3cm piece of Root Ginger
30-50g shelled Pistachio nuts

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Cream together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
Fold in the flour, baking power and salt and stir well.

In another bowl mash the avocado until smooth, add the zest of one lemon and grate in the piece of ginger. Stir in the creme fraiche and beaten egg.

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Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir well until fully combined.

Shell pistachios and place in a plastic bag and roll hard several times with a rolling pin and crush into small pieces.

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Tip the bag of crushed nuts into the batter and combine.

Tip the whole mixture into a greased and lined loaf tip and cover loosely with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the baking paper cover after the first 35 minutes.

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During the last 15 minutes of baking time test the loaf with a wooden skewer, when the skewer comes our clean, then you are ready to take the tin out of the oven and rest it for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes take the loaf out of the tin and allow to cool completely ( if you can ).

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I thought about adding a glaze or crust to this loaf, but in the end I’m really glad I didn’t as it simply doesn’t need any embellishment.

This is a lovely loaf to enjoy the next day when the cake has become more dense (and a lot easier to slice). Either on it’s own or spread with a little butter.
It’s not exactly sweet, but it’s not exactly savoury either, somewhere in-between, but it’s  very good with a feet-up cuppa, and lasts up to a week if stored wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight container.

Enjoy 🙂

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A Bientôt

Pain au Pud

I’ve been mulling this recipe over for a long time and imagining how yummy it would be, but as of a few days ago I’ve never made it. There is a very good reason for this. The reason is that the recipe requires 3 slightly stale pain au chocolate, and they have never existed in our house. Of course one or two* pain au chocolat have crossed the threshold but they have never survived long enough to become even a tiny bit stale, a lifespan of less than 5 minutes is more usual.

Now as it happened I was looking after the small person of a friend for an afternoon last week and when she came to pick him up she brought, as a thank you, an enormous box of pain au chocolat for us to consume during our collection time coffee. Now with the best will in the world ( in addition to the fact I’d spent most of the afternoon feeding the children on freshly made biscuits and cakes ) there was not much of a dent in box when she left. And so it transpired that even after a few days there were a few pastries left lingering in the cupboard. It was time.
.
*probably a few more than that.

Pain au chocolat pudding

3 pain au chocolat
200 ml milk
3 eggs
75g vanilla sugar

Slice the pain au chocolat thinly (1/2cm slices) and arrange in an ovenproof dish.

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Put milk into a bowl ( probably a slightly larger one than I used…) and whisk in 3 eggs. Stir in the sugar till well mixed.

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Pour over the slices of pain au chocolat and allow to soak until the slices are soggy.
With traditional bread and butter pudding you have to soak the slices for a little longer, but as the pastry is a lot less dense than bread the soaking time is significantly shorter. About the same time as it should take to pre- heat your oven to 175 degrees should be perfect.

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Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the ‘custard’ begins to set then remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes then make a cut right down the centre of the pudding. I know this sounds a little peculiar, but trust me on this. It will made your pudding rise beautifully, and stay risen!

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Return your pudding to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, until it is well risen and the ‘custard’ is set.

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Rest for a few minutes before cutting, then serve warm with a big dollop of double cream or creme fraiche. If by any chance there is any left over, it also tastes great cold.

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