Sunday, May 23, 2010

Chilli Jam

Well, given the volume of baking I have been doing lately I thought it necessary to make something savoury.  Although sadly that doesn't mean without sugar! This chilli jam recipe has been a favourite of mine for quite some time, it is sweet and tangy and has a heat that is ridiculously addictive.  It is utterly delicious with cheese or sausages and is absolutely worth the effort when tomatoes and chillis are plentiful and cheap. It does require a bit of watching as it can catch on the bottom of the pot quite quickly so make sure when you start this you are going to be able to give it your attention! Cooking times to get it to the right consistency also vary, I like it cooked down until it is really thick so it is more of a spooning consistency than pouring, but of course that is my personal preference.  So I tend to cook it for a little longer than the recipe advises.  This is a Peter Gordon recipe, from one of his first cookbooks I think, it has certainly stood the test of time!

Peter Gordon's Tomato and Chilli Jam


500g very ripe tomatoes, washed
4 red chillies
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6cm piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
30mls Asian fish sauce
300g demerara sugar
100mls red wine vinegar

Mix half the tomatoes with the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce  to a fine purée in a blender.
Cut the remaining tomatoes into tiny dice and set aside.
Place the puree, sugar and vinegar in a deep saucepan and slowly bring to a boil, stirring continually. 

When it reaches a boil turn it down to a gentle simmer and add the remaining diced tomatoes. Skim off any foam and cook gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring often to release the solids that settle on the bottom of the pan.
Be sure to scrape the sides down during cooking so the jam does not burn at the edges. 
When the jam is on setting point (has become very syrupy and very thick), pour into warmed sterilised jars and allow to cool. Cover and keep in a cool place; it will keep for several months. Makes 4 medium jars.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cupcakes (again!)

I have difficulty making anything that surpasses the good looks of a cupcake.  They really are just so pleasing to the eye - making them both irresistable to make and eat.  The trouble with cupcakes though is they can be overly dry and the icing overly sickly.  So I am always on the lookout for a moist cupcake recipe as well as an icing that works with it.  This recipe has a very unusual method but is easy and moist and yummy.  I was alerted to it by Gail at The Claytons Blog who posted about them. The Claytons Blog has four regular contributors, so the posts are varied and prolific which makes it a really great blog to visit! These cupcakes were also raved about by my fellow foodie friends on Violets Pantry, so I decided they were a must try.  My good friend had a birthday so I found some pretty toppers and tinted the icing a nice lime green (as it is a favourite colour of hers).  I used the icing recipe that goes with the cupcake recipe and was indeed impressed with it.  I whipped it up (as advised by Gail) for a good 10 minutes in the cake mixer and it was light, fluffy and gorgeous.  I added cream cheese to it for some depth and tang, a nice addition.  I also added lemon zest to the cupcake recipe and made them extra moist by topping them with lemon syrup as soon as they came out of the oven.
Vanilla Cupcakes

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
40g unsalted butter at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 medium egg
¼ tsp vanilla extract -
1 quantity vanilla icing (see below)
hundreds and thousands or other edible sprinkles, to decorate

Have ready a 12-18-hole cupcake tray (depending on whether you’re going for big, US-sized cakes or standard UK  ones), lined with paper cases. Preheat the oven to 170C/140 fan/325F/gas 3. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat on slow until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated (scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula). Continue mixing for a couple more minutes until the mixture is smooth. Do not overmix. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched (smaller cupcakes will need 3-5 minutes less baking time.
 A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out on to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Icing

250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter at room temperature
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to slow.
Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture 2 tbsp at a time. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high. Continue beating until the icing is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer it is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes.