St. John Chutney

There is nothing finer, after having a good stock up your sleeve, than having a reserve of chutney.

Two updates in a month?  My goodness, the insanity!  Oh, that’s depressing now that I think about it. Let’s get to it before I start the inevitable downward spiral into self loathing.

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This recipe started last Saturday during the Manchester Derby.  While my allegiance is strongly elsewhere, any chance I can see the Scum beaten can’t be missed and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t entertaining. Back to the recipe, the chutney started off with me peeling and coring a couple pounds of apples…

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… followed by chopping the apple slices up into smaller chunks.

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Next I worked on chopping up a few pounds of Roma tomatoes. It seems like I’m making ketchup again, doesn’t it?

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Here’s where things took a new direction.  I peeled and minced roughly a half pound of fresh ginger…

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… and peeled a bunch of shallots. These were large shallots too, roughly half the size of a tennis ball. I have no idea where our markets are getting these monstrosities, but this is Texas. That might explain a few things.

At this point I threw all of the previous mentioned items into a stainless steel pot along with the following:

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1. Almost two pounds of brown sugar

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2. A bunch of raisins and dates.

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3. A cheesecloth bag full of black peppercorns, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, allspice, mace, bay leaves, celery seeds, cloves, fennel seeds, mustard seeds and whole chilies.

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All of the ingredients were places in the stainless steel pot, along with a fair amount of malt vinegar, and placed on a low heat for about an hour.

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Mr. Henderson warns against going too far and ending up with a “brown, jammy consistency” but the shallots I’d used were not fully softened because of their size. So I kept things going.  Eventually the shallots had softened, but I was fairly close to that jammy consistency that I’d been warned against.  If you make this recipe yourself, try finding smaller shallots that will soften quickly without compromising the integrity of the other ingredients.

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Quickly I moved the chutney into sterile jars and sealed as much of it as possible away for later use, per Mr. Henderson’s instructions.

Flavor wise, this chunky chutney is delightful with its fruity sweet/sour/savory nature all mixed together with a wallop of spice combination.  I love blathering on and on about flavors and such, it’s just tough to describe other than… it’s chutney.  A very fine, delicious chutney that you’ll have to try and make yourself if you’d like to understand where I’m coming from. Wow.

If you do decide to give this a go, you should try pairing it with grilled meats or as a side dish to various Indian dishes.  I even like to take a little, puree it and add it to mayo for sandwiches.

One down, thirty to go.

Tomato Ketchup

You will need a stainless-steel pan, large enough for all the ingredients. Tie the peppercorns, allspice, and cloves in cheesecloth.  This ketchup will improve with age.

Sometimes it seems as though the site has grown an attitude. “Won’t update me, eh?  Well guess what you jerk, I won’t let you update at all! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!”

For the past week I’ve been trying to nail down a php error that has been giving me blank pages while trying to login, edit pages or simply refreshing pages.  Only last night was  I able to whip things into shape, so I’m going to go ahead and get something up while I have a chance.  Even worse is the fact that I’d announced on my Facebook page that I planned on updating days ago only to be made a liar by my own website.  That’ll teach me to open my fat mouth.

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Regardless, I’m here and I’m writing about the process for making ketchup.  That’s all that really matters. I’d like to take a minute to point out how looney it might seem to be making ketchup when grabbing a cheap bottle at the store takes only a fraction of time with fairly consistent results. I say “looney” because that what I literally—yes, literally and not figuratively—was called by more than one person when they asked what recipe I was working on next.

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Aside from a large stainless-steel pan I also needed a lot of tomatoes, a bunch of apples, an amount of sugar capable of giving someone type two diabetes, and more than enough malt vinegar for 173 orders of fish and chips.  Not pictured was half a dozen onions because I forgot to pick them up and had to go back to the store shortly afterwards. Sigh.

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Once I’d picked up the onions my lovely wife and I started on prep for making ketchup. While I began roughly chopping the Roma tomatoes…

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… my wife peeled and cored all of the apples we needed.

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Fifteen minutes later we’d chopped the onions, apples and tomatoes roughly. I love it when the recipe calls for a rough chop. My OCD gets set aside and I just get the job done rather than stressing over exact cuts.

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Everything—and I mean everything, vinegar, spices and sugar—went into the only stainless-steel pot I had that was large enough to hold it all. I can’t imagine how big a pan would have to be to hold all of these ingredients.  Because I had run out of cheesecloth on a previous recipe all of the spices were free to roam carelessly through the other ingredients in the pot.  It wasn’t ideal to say the least but I knew everything would work out down the line.  You’ll see.

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After two hours of simmering the apples, onions and tomatoes had softened to the point of disintegration. Everything in the pot went through a sieve to ensure that there was a constant texture to end product and by doing so it also happened to remove all of the spices that should have been wrapped in cheesecloth.  Given the chance I highly recommend using the spice bag method but if you’re making a bunch of ketchup with no cheesecloth you’re not completely out of luck.

There is something that I should mention that’s not in the book:  There was an excessive amount of liquid that needed to be removed from the apple-onion-tomato slurry before it could be called ketchup.  As I ran the mixture through a sieve over 2.5 liters or a little above a half gallon of water was leftover. I kept it all just incase I would have needed it to thin out the ketchup, but that was’t the case in the end.  If anything, I could have removed more moisture to improve the texture of the ketchup.

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The ketchup was boiled one more time to remove the rest of the excess moisture and to improve the texture.  I poured everything into my second largest plastic food container to let the condiment “find its feet” over the next few days as Mr. Henderson suggests.

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Soon thereafter my wife and I invited some friends over for an evening of fish and chips, drinks, and Cards Against Humanity.  While the ketchup wasn’t the star of the show by any stretch of the imagination, it didn’t stand out like a sore thumb, either.  The flavor was ever so slightly sweeter but with a spicier undertone than normal ketchup that made it much more interesting than anything you could find in a plastic bottle one could purchase at your local megamart.  Otherwise it was ketchup.  Hand-made, delicious ketchup.  I can’t wait to can it and hand it out to my friends and family.  Aside from the looney comments I know they’ll appreciate the effort that went into this condiment.

One down, thirty one to go.

More about pickled gherkins

When I first posted about pickling gherkins I never expected it to be the biggest draw of the website.  I get more visits from people googling “pickled gherkins” than pretty much anything else on the site.  People have even been so kind as to post regional recipes for making gherkins and pickles, and I’d be a fool not to highlight them with their own entry.

If you’d like to share your version of pickled gherkins, feel free to post it in the comments and I’ll gladly add it with proper credit.

Pickled Gherkins

Tish posted this recipe yesterday, and it inspired me to share it properly.  Her version differs from the one taught to Mr. Henderson’s wife from her Kiwi friend.

 

In New Zealand we just use white vinegar, always have. I don’t know where she got that recipe from, but it isn’t here. I’ve never even seen that acid stuff you mentioned as being part of a Kiwi recipe.
The recipe I’ve had for the past 20 years and use is:

750mls white vinegar
small tbsp pickling spice (in mesh bag)
4 cups sugar
2 tsp salt

Boil all together with pickling spice in a bag.

Cover the gherkins (I use sliced and chopped cucumbers too) with boiling water, leave to cool and drain x 4.

Pack the gherkins into jars, cover with boiled vinegar solution, cap and store in the dark.

Mixture can be reboiled after 4 days if desired but it’s optional.

Thank you very much Tish!

Pickled Gherkins

And while George Freuden’s recipe isn’t for a pickled gherkin, it’s too wonderful not to share.

I come from Hungary, one of the homes of Dill Cucumber. Note, not pickled as it has nought to do with vinegar. The ingredients I use are simply gherkins, lots of garlic, dill and cooking salt in hot water. Then, one of the main ingredients : SUNSHINE. Put the jars out into the sun and the gherkins will be ready to eat in 3-4 days

 

And thank you George!

- Ryan

Tarter Sauce

I realize this is old hat, but there are so many strange versions of this classic sauce served that I feel it is justified for me to add my recipe to the fray.

Okay, I never hand out recipes from the book because I don’t want to take money away from Mr. Henderson and the time an effort he put into authoring such an amazing cookbook.  But for you smart folks out there, it shouldn’t be hard to figure this one out if you were so inclined.  As a matter of fact, I challenge you to try making this amazing tarter sauce at home.  That way maybe a few of you out there will then realize that living without such an amazing book in your home library is a damn shame.

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First, you need some homemade mayo…

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… a few capers…

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… a bit of chopped gherkin…

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… some chopped tarragon…

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… chopped curly parsley…

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… hard boiled eggs that–all together now–you roughly chop…

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… and then you mix it all together. Easy, right?

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And here is is served with a lovely piece of fried cod.

After finishing making this tarter sauce, I realized that I didn’t have anything to serve it with. I figured I’d just give it a taste and add it into the mayonnaise post as a simple extra bit of information. BZZZT. The first spoonful made me realize that despite its simplicity, this chunky, flavorful version of tarter sauce demanded its own post. The next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. How could something so simple be so good? That’s because it’s unlike any other pedestrian version out there. Let’s be honest: when I say tarter sauce to you, the first thing that comes to mind is the stuff you can find at Micky D’s, right? Anemic bits of pickle and onion mixed together in a boring mayo. Not with this stuff. It’s chunky, rich and delicious beyond belief. I ended up stopping on the way home to pick up three pounds of cod and some good brown ale to make the beer battered fish you see above.

You know how you can order biscuits and gravy? Well, if you got this tarter sauce with fish and chips, they’d be forced to change the name to fish with tarter sauce and chips. Yeah, I’m not kidding. It’s really that good.

One down, forty five to go.

Mayonnaise

You can use a food processor, or a mortar and pestle, or a bowl and a wooden spoon.  Some use vegetable oil rather than olive oil for a gentler result.  I do not.  Your mayonnaise should have that bitter olive taste.  Some thin with water; I feel this should be avoided.

Confession time: I’ve had terrible, terrible luck making mayo at home. I could never seem to get the proper emulsion going, with the end result always being a broken mess. But this time I was determined. Mr. Henderson has guided me gently through his book. He’d see me through this recipe as well.

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Into my food processor went three egg yolks (one is hidden by the blade), a little dijon mustard and a pinch of salt.

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The yolks were whizzed for a little bit to get things started.

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And here’s the needed olive oil. Slowly, and I mean really slowly, I drizzled the oil into the running processor.

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Look! I’ve got the beginnings of a mayonnaise! Flush with confidence, I started adding the olive oil in greater amounts…

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… which promptly broke the mayonnaise.

I’m not going to lie, I said some things that no one should probably ever hear. Gordon Ramsey would have blushed. Sailors started signing up for lessons.

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But I refused to be beaten. Mostly because I’d really planned on posting this week. That and we were out of olive oil.  To quote Tim Gunn, I needed to “make it work”.  Grabbing three more egg yolks, another emulsion was started via my arm, a whisk and a metal bowl.  Over the next ten minutes, about half of the broken mayo was added to the bowl, which resulted in a slightly-and I mean slightly-thick sauce.

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The leftover broken mayo was evacuated from the food processor, and the new cohesive mayo went in. Scared to screw up yet again, I slowly  combined the two until finally…

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… I HAD MAYO!

It was perfectly thick–extra rich with a great mouth feel. The bite of olive oil was a little jarring at first and yet, it grew on me quickly.

The best part? I’ve overcome my mayonnaise gremlins. What a grand feeling that is to say the least.

One down, forty six to go.