Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tomato jam...

This year was our second proper attempt at growing our own tomatoes. I do think it's well worth all the effort you're putting into it. They do taste different, you know that they're free of any pesticides etc. not to mention that a tomato plant looks rather pretty in the garden - first flowering and then decorated with all those colorful balls full of flavor and that amazing scent!
This year was rather hard for growing your own in Ireland, not only tomatoes. The summer was cold, cloudy and with a lot of rain. As a result of this Irish summer all our fruit were rather late - raspberries, blueberries, blackcurrant and the same happened with the tomatoes.

Between quite bad summer and already very cold, frosty nights they didn't have a chance to fully ripen.... Still we had quite a lot on our two tomato plants, and I would hate wasting them. My initial thought was to make some kind of pickle, something sour, but then I remembered a green tomato jam that I have tasted in France 3 years ago... So the tomatoes were picked in the evening and left on the kitchen counter.... only for me to find them in the morning and have a rather big surprise as overnight they have turned from nice green to bright yellow! (the red ones on the photo are from the shop). Plan was made for the jam - so jam it is. I was worried that it might not work with all the colorful tomatoes, but... I'm happy to say that the jam is just beautiful - sweet, but not too sweet, and you can taste that freshness of tomatoes. It's great as an accompaniment to goats cheese, ham or on a sweet bun or scones. I'm actually happy that my tomatoes have changed colour overnight - the jam looks so pretty thanks to that! Golden yellow thick jam with small speckles of red, green and orange pieces of tomatoes, suspended in the middle, looking almost like jewels.

How to make it...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One pot chicken with rice and vegetables...

I'm all for one pot dishes, it's not only laziness in regards to cleaning up afterwards, but also I find something strangely comforting and warming in those type of dishes... Especially this time of the year. It's Autumn, middle of October and last two nights we already had some frost and very low temperatures outside. It is beautiful though - nights are cold but the sky is unbelievable! The days - chilly, but sunny and trees are already making their seasonal change :) Autumn IS my favourite time of the year, there's something magical, even mystical about it... What's your favourite season of the year?

Back to my dish. I had no clue what to make for dinner the other day. Opened the freezer to find some chicken pieces, already in some kind of weird marinade (I'm not a fan of buying ready marinated meats, but sometimes you just can't walk pass by them, as they're usually at a great price!). So, I was presented with a chicken, in a marinade that I had no idea about, some vegetables at home of plenty of pasta, rice and other grains in the cupboard... My one pot chicken dish was loosely inspired by the chicken biryani (had to check the ratio of stock to rice etc) and it turned out really well! Nice warming, hearty flavours and very filling.

one pot chicken with rice and vegetables

How to make it...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Pumpkin and milk chocolate soft cookies...

Yes, it's October, and yes - it's yet another recipe with pumpkin! But when else to embrace all that this amazing veg has to offer than in October?! October to me shouts: Autumn, pumpkin, rain, wind, orange leaves, wet socks... ;) But it also shouts: comfort one-pot food, warm blankets, lit fireplace, hot chocolate or tea and... baking with pumpkin puree filling the house with the scent of all those spices.

If I could I would use pumpkin puree all year round, but then, I guess it would loose some of that magic, charm and uniqueness that you're getting from that veg during October and November months.
Most of us would think about pumpkin pie or a soup, but personally I like baking with pumpkin puree like you would with carrot (for ex carrot cake). I've already made pumpkin bundt cake, scones, fritters and my favorite pumpkin bars! It was time for some cookies. Those cookies are quite unusual ones - they're soft rather than crunchy, little like a sponge. You really need to use chocolate chips  - being it milk, dark or even white chocolate, I'd say that without it they will be quite bland and the texture won't be right either.

pumpkin and chocolate soft cookies

The below recipe comes from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook "Life is sweet", but I've changed it slightly (less sugar in mine, less ground ginger and different chocolate used). Hope you'll try and make them! :)

How to make it...

Friday, October 02, 2015

Apple & blackberry pie...

Yes, I'm lucky enough to have blackberries growing in my back garden. You have to be quick though - before all the birds will get to them first! It is tricky to pick them up too... The very top ones are gone, eaten by the birds, bottom ones - I dare you to pick up, I have a big rabbits family living in my garden and it's also an occasional visit place for a for or hedgehog :) So... the only "good ones" are kind of in the middle of the bushes. Tricky to get to them, but so worth it!
Had a little help from my 3 year old - she was holding a box, while mummy would bend almost like a member of the Cirque du Soleil while trying to reach those black, juicy fruit ;)

Don't know about you, but for me blackberries always mean one thing - a pie! And they go so well with another "autumnal" fruit - apples.
I'm always all for full butter pastry, but... but having read and watched about pastry making I've decided to use lard too. I'm still not entirely convinced that it was a good move on my part. There's something very rich and comforting about all butter pastry, whereas butter + lard combination failed to give me that feeling... It was good, short pastry, but for me I think I'll stick to all butter for my sweet bakes. Maybe there's something wrong with me, or my taste buds, but all butter pastry is the way to go for me when it comes to sweet pies.
I'm left with more than 100 g of lard, so I think that savory pie will happen someday soon. Can't simply throw away all that fat, besides - it might just convert me when it comes to meat/vegetable pies and their pastry casings ;)

apple and blackberry pie

How to make it...