Monday, February 14, 2011

Plum jam

So on Tuesday night my Mum rang me and asked if I was home, and not fifteen minutes later turned up with 3kgs of plums.  She explained that she'd already turned at least that many into chutney, and by the way did I have any jars she could have.  I explained that with the arrival of 3kgs of plums, I would be needing all my jars, and we reached an accord:  I would take the plums, and give her nothing.  Sometimes it's good to have daughter privelages.

Incidentally, it should be said that these plums were gorgeous.  Juicy, silky and deep crimson.

Ingredients (shown for 1kg of plums - adapt for your quantities)
  •  1kg blood plums 
  • 500 ml water
  • 3 cups caster sugar
  • juice of one large lemon
Quarter the plums, remove the stones and put in your largest saucepan.  Add the water and place on a high heat and bring to the boil.  Then lower the heat, and simmer for an hour.

While the plums are stewing, sterilise your jars in very hot water and dry thoroughly.

Add the sugar and lemon juice to the plums and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a fast boil, and cook uncovered for 20 - 40 minutes or until the jam is set.  To test if it's set, put a bit of jam on a plate in the freezer for 2 minutes, then run your finger through it and make sure it's as jelly-like as you want it.

Ladle into your jars while the jam is still hot and seal the lids.  They should suction themselves on as the jam cools.  If you're the kind of person who is highly domesticated and possibly a goddess, then remove the labels of your jars and put little gingham caps on them.  If, however, you are like me and ladling jam at 11pm when you have a 5am flight to Canberra the following morning because you are nothing if not a committed career woman/poor judge of time, just wipe the stickiness from the sides and go to bed.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Banana bread with cashew and chocolate chunks

I live with a man who hates bananas.  Loathes them.  So when we got a bunch of bananas in our weekly fruit and vegie box, they sat on the bench and steadily, reliably went brown.  I ignored them right up until the point that my man wanted to throw them out, at which point I declared resolutely: "I SHALL MAKE BANANA BREAD."

But the truth is, while I like banana bread, it doesn't really excite me.  Cashew nuts and dark chocolate - they excite me.  My path was clear...

Ingredients (adapted from
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 over-ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g butter, melted and cooled
  • big handful of cashew nuts
  • 100g or so of cooking chocolate

 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  Then line a loaf tin with baking paper.

 Mix the flours, sugar and cinnamon.  Whisk together the butter and eggs.  Mash the banana.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the butter and egg mixture.  Stir through, then add the mashed bananas and mix again.

Finely chop the cashes and roughly hew the chocolate.  Then add these to the mix and stir through as well.

Tip the whole lot into your lined tin and bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.  Take to work - because it's not welcome at home - and feel virtuous and noble because you didn't waste three bananas, with only a modicum of effort.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Three onion and taleggio tart

I love this tart.  You don't have to be hugely into onions to love this tart.  Like my friend Ange says: "If onions were cocoa, then this tart would be chocolate".  Essentially, this tart is onions as good as they can get.  And it has creamy, stinky taleggio cheese in it. Need I say more?

  • Two medium to large leeks, finely chopped (just the white stalks, not the green leafy bits)
  • One large spanish onion, finely chopped
  • Five or six spring onions, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • One egg, beaten
  • about 200g of taleggio cheese, cut into smallish chunks
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.  Take you're shortcrust pastry and tip it into your greased pie tin.  Press it down with your fingers and palms to form a thin yet solid crust.  Keep pushing from the middle out until it goes all the way to the edges.  Then put the case in the oven for 10 minutes and remove while you prepare your tart ingredients.

Put a big ole slug of olive oil in a hot non-stick pan.  Add the leeks and stir for about 5 minutes on a medium heat until softened.  Then cover, and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the leeks are not burning.

Once the leeks are softened to almost a mush, add the rest of the onions and stir vigorously, and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  Then remove from the heat, add the egg, salt and pepper and mix through.  Then add the taleggio and mix until evenly dispersed.

Fill your pastry case with the onion mixture and place in the oven for 20 minutes.  Then remove the pie, and sprinkle the grated parmesan evenly over the surface, and return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes.  Remove, slice and serve!