I hope you like jamming too.
I love making jam. There is nothing so basic, so earthy and so wholesome. When anyone asks me what animal I would be (I wish more people would ask me this question) I always say a squirrel, because I am a natural hoarder: of ornaments, of food, of everything. (I once went through a phase of keeping all onion skins to one day make a huge collage of beautiful shining gold and purple skins – needless to say Dad put pay to that plan swifter than you can set fire to a stash of onion skins). Nevertheless hoarding, or storing for some future eventuality is one of life’s most instinctive and most satisfying activities. This is partly why making preserves appeals to me so much: locking in the sunshine, the ripe flavour of fruit at its best to enjoy all year round. Jars of potted summer flavour can now sit patiently in your larder, waiting for the next time you break open a warm scone, or slice the crust from a fresh loaf.
The aforementioned fruit farm near me (http://www.boyces-manstree.co.uk/) supplied me with my jam fruit. This year’s haul included Strawberries and Tayberries. Tayberries are a cross-breed between raspberries and blackberries, and are absolutely delicious. They make wonderful jam. And strawberry jam is always a treat. Two perfect summer jams.
Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam
1.5 kg strawberries
juice 2 lemons
1.2 kg preserving sugar
Strawberry jam is always a fairly soft set: strawberries are very low in pectin, hence the preserving sugar which has added pectin.
Hull the strawberries and halve them. Put them in a preserving pan. Pour over the sugar and squeeze over the lemon juice. Leave to marinade overnight. In the morning, bring the mixture to the boil and boil vigorously for at least ten minutes. Check for setting point – either with a jam thermometer or the cold-plate test. This involves placing a plate in the fridge for a few minutes, then when you think your jam may be done drop a little onto the cold plate and leave for 30 seconds. Push gently with your finger and if the mixture wrinkles under your moving finger the jam is ready. Pot in sterilised jars and seal.
Strawberry and Lavender Jam
A twist on the original: very good sandwiched in a Victoria Sponge, or on Ricotta Pancakes (recipe to follow)
Recipe as above: stir in 1 tsp lavender flowers (any good deli/Waitrose sell these for baking) just before potting the jam.
1.5 kg tayberries
1.3kg granulated sugar
Put the whole lot in the preserving pan and boil vigorously until setting point is reached. Pot in the usual manner.
England meets Italy and wins – for a change.
300g gooseberries, topped and tailed
100g sugar (vary according to how ripe the fruit is)
More of an assembly job than a recipe, but a delicious pudding or breakfast. Poach the gooseberries with the sugar in a pan until they burst and release all their juices (no water is necessary). Taste and adjust the seasoning (add more sugar if necessary). Allow to cool then serve with fresh ricotta, drizzled with honey. Some toasted hazelnuts wouldn’t go amiss.
A Word on Gooseberries
Gooseberries are one of England’s greatest culinary offerings, and like so many indigenous fruits they really come into their own when cooked. A poached gooseberry has an entirely different, more complex and subtle flavour than a raw one: they yield syrupy pink juices that taste somehow green and tart, a perfect match for the richness of a buttery sponge/crumble topping, or the scented flavour of elderflower. Whether whipped into a fool, nestling under a pie crust or set in a seed-flecked jelly, gooseberries have much to offer the culinary explorer. For some reason, however, they are hugely unpopular. Perhaps this is due to their unsightliness: for the humble and hirsute gooseberry is not blessed in beauty. In fact, as not even the Oxford English Dictionary appears to know where they get their name from I would hazard that some Medieval joker thought they resembled a plucked goose’s bottom and the name stuck. But that’s probably why I’m a chef, and not an etymologist.
There are some who might claim that Roast Chicken is a winter dish: they are wrong. Convert such naysayers with this delicious take on roast chicken: a dish for all seasons.
With a few sprightly accompaniments, a different sauce from the traditional heavy ‘gravy’, a particularly good bird and a crisp white wine, this is summer supper at its best.
Try and get a nice free-range bird: the flavour and texture are truly much better, and they don’t have alarmingly over-sized breasts.
Roast Chicken with Anchovy, Rosemary and Lemon Butter
1 chicken (free range)
20g unsalted butter
salt and pepper
1/2 tin of anchovies
2 cloves garlic
zest 1/2 lemon
100g good unsalted butter
1 sprig rosemary
squeeze lemon juice
Braised Baby Carrots with Honey and Thyme
1 bunch young carrots with stalks
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp honey (thyme honey if you can find it)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Chives and chive flowers
salt and pepper
Take the chicken out of the fridge two hours before you want to start cooking it and let it reach room temperature. Rub the butter all over it (inside and under too) and season with plenty of sea salt and black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180.
Put the chicken in a roasting dish, breast side down and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, baste it with its juices then turn over, breast side facing up. Roast for another 45 mins. Skewer the inside leg to see if the chicken is done: the juices should run clear (not pink). Remove from the tray and rest on a dish under tin foil for 15 mins.
At this point, make the sauce. Pour off he chicken fat and juices from the pan and put in small saucepan. Slice the garlic and fry this in the chicken juice over a low heat. Add the chopped rosemary and the anchovies and allow to melt. Slowly add in the butter, bit by bit, stirring after each addition so that the sauce homogenizes. Finish with the lemon zest, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Pour some over the chicken just before serving and serve the remainder in a jug alongside.
Scrub the carrots well. Put them in a wide shallow pan with the butter, honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Pour over enough water just to cover. Braise on a medium heat for 30 mins, until the water has evaporated. Serve warm with chopped chives and chive flowers.
Meanwhile, scrub 1 kg new potatoes and boil in salted water until soft. Drain and serve with butter and chopped parsley.
There is nothing as refreshing or as simple as homemade lemonade on a hot summer’s day. A few drops of rose water makes it that little bit more Middle Eastern and exotic. The raspberries are there because I find there aren’t enough drinks with things that you can eat in them (why only Pimms?!).
For 4-6 dainty glasses
Juice 4 lemons (good and juicy ones)
6 teaspoons of sugar (adjust to suit your own taste)
few drops of rose water
handful of raspberries
2 pints cold water
Juice the lemons and strain through a sieve. Stir the sugar and the juice well in a jug. Pour in the water, add add the ice and rose water. Mix well. Serve in chilled glasses and try to avoid smacking your lips audibly.
There are certain smells, tastes and sounds which, to me, herald the height of the British summer: the sound of larks in a cloudless sky above shimmering-hot fields; the scented taste of the first ripe strawberries mellowed with a sweet, yellow Jersey Cream; the faintly acrid, smokey flavour of barbecued meat. This supper incorporates all of the best things about summer: vegetables delicately cooked to bring out their sweetness; sharp salads; salty, rich grilled fish. And the best, and simplest summer pudding of them all.
In Devon, we are lucky enough to live near one of the only surviving Pick your Own farms left in the country. Each summer my family make a ceremonial trip to this farm, and pick and eat our (not insubstantial) weight in fruit. Neither the exorbitant price of the fruit, nor the farmer’s glares at our crimson-smudged faces, can sour the taste of our warm and fragrant cache.
Barbecued Whole Salmon
1 Salmon, gutted
Salt and Pepper
Oil the salmon well, and season with salt and pepper all over. Cook on a hot barbecue for about 15 mins each side, trying to turn as little as possible. (if unsure whether it is done or not, prod the cavity and if it feels firm to the touch then it is cooked.)
3 egg yolks
225g unsalted butter
slat and pepper
6 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp water
Juice half a lemon
Reduce the vinegar and water in a small pan to half it’s volume. Cut the butter into small cubes and bring to room temp.Put this reduction and the yolks into a pudding basin over a bain-marie of just simmering water. Add in a cube of butter at a time, whisking all the while, and when it has melted, add another. Continue, whisking each time to melt the butter before incorporating the next nugget. When the butter is finished you should have a sauce of mayonnaise like consistency, if not then turn up the heat and keep whisking until you do. Remove from the heat and stir in the seasoning to taste, and the lemon juice. Serve warm.
New Potatoes with Herb Butter
1 kg new potatoes
50 g butter
handful chopped parsley
handful chopped chives
Boil the potatoes in salted water with some sprigs of mint until soft (20 mins). Drain, remove the mint, and dollop on the butter and chopped herbs. Serve warm.
Slow Cooked Courgettes with Mint and Almonds
6 small courgettes
4 cloves garlic
100 ml olive oil
30 g butter
salt and pepper
3 sprigs mint
50g flaked almonds
Slice the courgettes finely. Slice the garlic and fry it in the oil until golden. Add the butter and the courgettes and fry on a medium heat for about 30 mins, stirring regularly, until the courgettes are soft and golden. Toast the flaked almonds under a medium grill until golden. Add in the chopped mint the the courgettes, season them well and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle over the almonds and serve warm.
Tomato Salad with Basil and Ricotta
1 kg tomatoes
50 ml red wine vinegar
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
8 basil leaves
8 tsp fresh ricotta
Slice tomatoes, arrange prettily, dollop on ricotta and tear over basil. Mix dressing and pour over.
Strawberries and Cream.
Jersey Cream and the best strawberries
Hull the strawberries and halve them. Bring to room temp if cold. Sprinkle over 1 Tbsp fine sugar ad a squeeze of lemon juice, to enhance flavour and encourage the juices. Serve with the best cold cream.
A glut of overripe tomatoes.
If you are lucky enough to experience a glut of your own growing – or just have a load of overripe tomatoes winking their blue-fluffed eyes at you from some fetid corner, then rather than making chutney (my larder groans with last year’s offering) I recommend a really good tomato sauce.
A good tomato sauce is a wonderful thing: made properly (and SLOWLY) the tomatoes yield all their umami-rich flavours – sour, sweet and salty all at once. The perfect thing to toss through pasta, dollop into stews, pour over grilled aubergines/courgettes, or serve warm alongside whole baked ricotta.
1 kg overripe tomatoes
6 cloves garlic
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
The olive oil is a key component in contributing to the rich flavour of the finished sauce – so don’t be stingy!
Slice the garlic very thinly, then pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed pan (a Le Creuset is best). Fry the garlic in the oil until just turning golden. If you wish to add herbs, then Bay, Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme are all good options, but I like mine pure and simple – that way you can use it as a base for whatever you like. Throw in the tomatoes (roughly chopped) along with a good pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground pepper. Put the lid on the pot and simmer gently for up to 4 hours. The longer and slower, the better. The final sauce should be deliciously rich and tangy. Pour into a clean jar. Keeps in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen.