Monday, 30 December 2013

Cranberry-Orange Relish

Although it was a staple of our holiday table, when I was a child, I didn't much care for Cranberry-Orange Relish, preferring partridgeberry jelly (aka low-bush cranberry, lingonsylt, preiselbeeren). 

As an adult though, I've come to love the tart contrast with roast turkey and game. It was always a production to make - my mother would get out our old-fashioned food-grinder that was screwed on to the table top, and the whole family would join in the hard work.  

Just after I moved to the UK, Delia introduced cranberries over here, but everyone seemed to make jelly, which I find bland. Luckily, with cranberries now available in the shops, I was able to reinvent the family relish, despite not having the food-grinder. 

It turns out that any sort of food-processor works just fine. For years, we used our immersion blender, but we now have a mini food-processor.  The recipe is very simple - one bag cranberries (fresh or frozen) - pick over and take out any that are brown or very wrinkled. The proportions are rough, so don't worry too much about the size of bag.  One average sized orange, washed and roughly chopped (peel, pith and all).  In small batches, blend the cranberries and orange together until well chopped, but not pureed.  

Then add 1 cup (200 gr) granulated or caster sugar (in volume terms, this is about 1 part sugar to two parts cranberries).  Mix well, and let sit to macerate, then refrigerate. 

Ideally, this is made a few days before it it needed to let the flavours blend, but at a pinch, even just a couple of hours will do. 

Sour Cherry Stollen

Another Dan Lepard classic here. I've not changed much, except that I soak the cherries in aquavit or sacred gin (which is flavoured with botanicals, not juniper), and then use that to libate the loaf when it comes out of the oven. 
100g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of an orange
½ tsp each ground cardamom, cinnamon and cloves
½ tsp salt
1 medium egg
150g quark cheese
325g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
150g sour cherries
200g marzipan
Rum (or other booze), melted butter and icing sugar

Beat the butter, sugar, zest, spices and salt until smooth, then beat in the egg and quark. Add the flour, baking powder, almonds and cherries, and mix to a soft, even dough. On a floured worktop, pat out to an oval roughly 20cm long x 15cm deep. Roll the marzipan 18cm long, and lay in the centre of the dough. Fold the dough in half and seal with water. Place on a tray lined with nonstick baking paper, and bake at 190C (170C fan-assisted)/375F/gas mark 5 for 40 minutes, until just golden and baked when a skewer is poked in. As soon as it's out, brush first with rum and then lots of melted butter. Once cold, brush with more butter, and dredge heavily with icing sugar. Wrap well and leave to mature for a week

Christmas pudding

This is my version of a Dan Lepard recipe that appeared in the newspaper the week after my daughter was born - Stir up Sunday as it is called in England. We'd never made a christmas pudding before, but it has now become family tradition.  It's ideally suited to being at home with a baby because you just add all the ingredients gradually to a big bowl, then steam for ages - as long as you don't need to go out, you're fine.  Nowadays I usually steam it in a slow cooker overnight, but above is a picture of last year's pudding on the stove top.

200g raisins
150g candied fruit peel 
50 g dried or candied cherries
75g beef suet
200g dark brown muscovado sugar
100g treacle
125g brown bread crumbs
50g plain white flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp grated nutmeg 
2 eggs, beaten
50g grated carrot (about one medium carrot) 
Zest and juice of an orange
125ml dark ale

After mixing all the ingredients together, simply spoon into a buttered pudding basin, cover with parchment and foil, tie string around (or just use a plastic basin with lid), and steam for 4 hours, or over night in a slow cooker. The original recipe called for the wrong size bowl, and we've never figure out what size it is supposed to be.  We usually make either two large puddings or 3 small ones. 

Never having made a pudding before, the whole pudding basin, foil and string thing is definitely the worst bit for me - and worrying that I've done something wring and it will go mouldy. But every year it turns out just fine.  A very forgiving cooking style.

Dad's Oat Pancakes

My Dad took up baking after he retired. This is probably his best recipe - no idea where he found it. But we make it a lot (and can never find the recipe, which is why I'm posting it here).

It can be halved (use 2 eggs), or freeze leftover pancakes between small sheets of grease proof paper / baking parchment, and toast to reheat.  The oats gives them more substance than most recipes and keeps them moist for re-heating.

This is the recipe pretty much as he gave it to me (caps and all). One of these days I'll try to get the ingredients translated into weights for the UK cooks. Update! The ever-amazing Alli Coyle suggests the following weights/metric volume for you to try (slightly adjusted by me).  Thanks Alli!


1 1/2 CUPS porridge OATS 150g
2 CUPS MILK 500ml
1/4 CUP OIL 60ml
Mix oats and milk in a small bowl; set aside for about 5 minutes.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Blend well.
Add eggs and oil to oats. Beat well.
Combine all and beat well,
Pour by 1/4 cupfuls on to heated griddle, cook and turn after bubbles have formed. (Make sure griddle is hot before starting.)
Makes about 18 pancakes.