Posts tagged ‘fruit’

November 22, 2012

Lemon and Rosemary Tartlets – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Rosemary is both a handsome shrub for the garden and a delicious flavouring in the kitchen. Rosmarinus officinalis, as it is named botanically is an evergreen shrub that grows to about 1.2 metres (4ft) and produces bright blue flowers in late Spring. Although it was killed by the hard winter a couple of years ago, it survive most Irish winters without harm. It is ideal fro pot cultivation and when growing it in the garden give it a postion with a good sunny aspect and a soil that is well drained.

The foilage when crushed releases its aromatic oils and the gastronomic mind sends rapid messages to the taste buds, the mouth starts watering. The mind usually summons up images of slow roasted lamb, pork steak or a pasta dish. One of my favourite ways of cooking freshly dug potatoes is to scrub the skins thoroughly and cut the tubers into thin lengthwise slices of about 2cm thick. Toss the sliced potatoes in some oil, olive or rapeseed oil, and then roll them in freshly chopped rosemary. Sprinkle with salt and cook in the oven for about 40 minutes at about 200 degrees Celcius. Serve with anything savoury, they are a delicious meal by themselves, make a garlic and yogurt dip, and prepare to stuff yourself, you wont be able to stop eating them.

Rosmarinus officinalis var. prostratus is a low growing rosemary with a spreading growth habit

But rosemary as an ingredient in a dessert is less usual, and when Hanna proposed baking lemon and rosemary tartlets I immediately said yes. The rosemary adds an aromatic flavour to the sweet lemon filling. This is a combination of flavours that works so well. The soft texture of the lemon filling melts on the tongue while the molars crush the pastry, rosemary sneaks up to surprise you while you are transported to taste bud heaven…

Lemon and Rosemary Tartlets Recipe (makes 9 tartlets)

Ingredients:

Pastry

  • 11/3 cup of  Spelt flours (1:2 whole grain : white)
  • 2 tbsp Muscavado Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Finely chopped rosemary
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup of cold butter
  • 1-2 tbsp cold water

Filling

  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius
  2. Lightly butter tart pan
  3. Mix/crumble the pastry mixture together, only add the water at the end
  4. Press the pastry into the forms in the tray and bake for 15 minutess. Let cool before filling
  5. Mix the yogurt and sugar well
  6. Add the eggs one by one and the lemon juice and zest
  7. Mix well and put into the pastry
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes
  9. Allow to cool before serving

September 5, 2012

A Saturday Night with Black Sabbath Making Rose Hip Jam…

by Ciaran Burke

Two pots of rose hip jam

Its coming to that time of year again, blackberries are ripe, elder berries are ripening and the rose hips are nearly there. I “look forward” to some Saturday nights making jam. During the summer I made some rose hip jam from fruits that were in the freezer, it is a delicious jam but it does take a bit of work.  From my old blog here is the story of a Saturday night spent making rose hip jam in the company of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. I have added my revised rose hip jam recipe using sugar and apples to add pectin.

The knife cuts through the red flesh, the head is severed, then, thop, brop, brop… bouncing in the bucket. I pick up the next one, cut and chop, thop, brop, brop…

It is Saturday night, the guitars, the bass, the drums, they blast from the speakers. Ozzy Osbourne’s tortured cries accompany, “Am I Going Insane?”… Cut and chop, top and tail, thop, brop, brop… Perhaps I will go mad! I am preparing a bucket full of rose hips, our bounty from the hedgerow, getting ready to make rose hip jam.

Rosa rugosa – hips

Rose hips, the fruit of the rose are easy to pick, once you get started its hard to stop. Wild dog rose, Rosa canina is ideal, and Rosa rugosa hips are also good. The bucket fills quickly, as you add more and more. Then you get home. Now you have to top and tail them. Remove the stalk from the base, and discard the leafy calyx from the top.

Rose hips- a long night ahead!

I start with enthusiasm, what better way to spend a Saturday night? Black Sabbath are playing loudly as I pick through the harvest, topping and tailing. Soon the sound of the falling rose hips is dulled as they land on a layer of prepared hips, no longer do I hear the hollow thop, brop, brop of topped and tailed hips bouncing in an empty bucket. I  work away, Ozzy sings “Tomorrow’s Dream”, rose hip jam on my bread for breakfast.

A busy Saturday night topping and tailing rose hips!

The bucket of unprepared hips is still quite full, and Sabbath are nearly finished one album. I am beginning to think that I am going to get to hear their whole back catalogue. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” has me singing “Rosehips Bloody Rosehips” as I dip into the never emptying  bucket.  But I continue with my toil, my three containers in front of me; the harvesting bucket, the compost bucket and plastic bowl of prepared hips. Black Sabbath keep blasting out the tunes, I keep cutting. It is good to hear the old tunes again, air guitar with a sharp knife is not a good idea though

Eventually there is hope, a slight glimpse of white plastic, the bottom of the bucket. Briefly glimpsed before a hip rolls to replace its vacated companion. “Never Say Die”, ah yes, ah song for every occasion, the band plays on. With renewed vigor, I keep chopping, topping, tailing and the bucket is empty at last.

Rose hips topped and tailed

Next I wash some old jars, weigh out 1.2Kg of hips, bag the rest and put them in the freezer.  I place the fruit in a big sauce pan add some water and cook them. Its getting late, but I have lots of Black Sabbath albums. As I move to the next phase of the jam making operation, I change to the second era of Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, “Turn Up The Night”. After about an hour the fruits have softened.  I have to press them through a sieve to remove the seeds, a thick pulp of rich red results, it is hard work. Then I skin a few apples and chop them in the food processor. The pulp goes back into a saucepan with two 400ml bottles of apple juice concentrate  and chopped apple. The mixture bubbles like a witches brew, Dio sings of circles and rings, dragons and kings, as I stir the jam. The temperature rises, the jam starts to thicken and after a while of continuous stirring it is time to fill the jars.

Rose hips in the saucepan

This is always the messiest part. The boiling jam is transferred with a spoon into jars that have been heated in the oven to sterilize them. I usually manage to spill some, but only minor scalding results. Soon the jars are filled, I scrape the cooling and setting jam from the edges of the pot. I lick the sweet sticky fruit from the spoon.   It is late, it has been a long night of toil, but this is the best moment, it is hot, it is sweet and it is delicious as Dio sings… “ Heaven and Hell”. Well, it was hard work, for two and a half jars of jam. Not quite hell, but rose hip jam is close to heaven.

ROSE HIP JAM RECIPE

Since I fist made rose hip jam I have revised the recipe using sugar instead of apple juice concentrate. This jam wont be set like a jelly, instead it will be like a thick delicious sauce. It still involves topping and tailing!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500 g rose hips chopped
  • 500ml water
  • 200ml boiled water
  • 3 apples, cored and chopped, don’t peel them
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1.5 cups of sugar

METHOD

  1. Boil the rose hips in 500ml of water until they are soft.
  2. In a separate pot boil the chopped apples in a little water until soft and mushy.
  3. Push the pulp of the rose hips through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Put the seeds back into the pot and pour in 200ml of boiling water, cook for a few minutes and sieve again, add to the rose hip pulp.
  5. Next, put the apple pulp through the sieve and mix into the rose hip pulp.
  6. Heat the pulp, add the sugar slowly, stirring to make sure it is dissolved. Add the lemon juice. Turn up the heat and boil the jam.
  7. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes until the jam has thickened.
  8. Put the mixture into sterilized jam jars.
  9. Fasten lids and allow to cool.
November 8, 2011

Sea buckthorn berries make good jam!

by Ciaran Burke

Top Fruit, Soft Fruit and Strange Fruit

I was getting ready to do a talk to the North Mayo Garden Club today, and as I was going through my presentation I remembered that I had a few pots of delicious apple and sea buckthorn jam left. Sea buckthorn berries are a super health food; one small berry can have a Vitamin C content equal to that of six oranges, packed with atioxidants and a number of omega oils, it is a wonder fruit. It is also a wondeful tasting berry. Eaten straight from the bush it may be a bit sharp for many peoples’ tastes, but blended with juices or as an ingredient in cooking it is delicious, unique and colourful.

Sea Buckthorn berries - Hippophae rhamnoides

The first of our bushes that we planted gave us a good crop this year, or to be more specific the female plant cropped well. We originally planted two varieties, Rudolph, a male to pollinate, and Raisa a female to fruit, both purchased in Finland while on holidays three years ago. Last year we had a few berries but this year we have lots in the freezer and enough to make jam. We have since planted five more female varieties, we are sure Rudolph will be up to the job, and are looking forward to great crops in the coming years.

To make the flavour of this year’s berries go further, I  mixed the berries with apple to make jam. It turned out great, it is one of my favourite jams, sea buckthorns are one of my favourite berries. Below is the recipe that I used for the jam. I am going to take  a jar with me to my talk tonight so that people can have a taste of sea buckthorn, for most it will probably be their first time. Perhaps some gardeners might be inspired to grow these great plants.

Apple and Sea Buckthorn Jam

Jar of home made Apple and Sea buckthorn Jam

900ml of sea buckthorn berries

3 litres of peeled and chopped desert apples

1 Kg of sugar

300 ml of water

1. Cook the berries, water and apples over a low heat for about fifteen minutes or until the apple is soft.

2. Slowly add the sugar, stirring well to ensure the fruit dissolves.

3. Turn heat up and cook the jam for about fifteen or twenty minutes.

4. Spoon the jam into sterilized glass jars and tighten lids immediately. (Wash used jam jars with soapy water, then dry off and place in cold oven an heat to 100 degrees celcius).

North Mayo Garden Club, talk tonight Tuesday 8th of November- Top Fruit, Soft Fruit and Strange Fruit- a talk by Ciaran Burke. Venue Merry Monk, Killala Road, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland. 8 pm.

Talk will also be given to Claregalway  GIY on Wednesday 23rd November at Arches Hotel, Claregalway, Co. Galway at 8 pm.

July 29, 2011

GOING WILD ABOUT WILD BLUE BERRY JAM IN FINLAND

by Ciaran Burke

BLUE BERRY, BILBERRY,FROACHAN, VACCINIUM MYRTILLLUS- FRUIT

I have been in Finland for the last couple of weeks with my wife Hanna, a native of this beautiful tree filled land. Finland is the most forested country in the EU. Approximately 74% of the country is covered in forest. One gets the impression that even the biggest towns and cities are living areas carved from the forests, trees are never far away. The green gold of Finland provides an important source of income, but the forests are more than resources to be harvested and sold.

Driving through the country, large pines and birches tower either side of the road. The roads are like veins and arteries carrying civilization, through a forested body; it is in this arboreal body in which the Finnish soul resides.

In European folklores, the woods are scary places; big bad wolves attack innocent girls on their way to visit their grand mothers. In Finland however the forests are considered a place of beauty, where most people spend their summer holidays, surrounded by the beauty. In summer as you drive along one of the arterial routes of civilization, you are sure to see people walking to the forests with empty buckets in search for berries or coming from the woods with baskets of mushrooms. Gathering food from the forest floor is a national pass time, or in some cases an obsession.

The two most numerous berry types are lingon berry and wild blueberry, bilberry, or froachan as we call it in Ireland. Both are species of Vaccinium, the former, V. vitis-idea and the latter V. myrtillus. Finns may love their forests, but they are intensely proud of their berries too. Ask them and most will tell you that the Finnish blueberries are the best. Families often have their own preferred places for picking; this information is not shared with others.

Last week we were in Hanko, the southern most tip of Finland. Here the forest is chiefly composed of tall pines. We got a report that the blue berries were plentiful, we went for a walk to see. As often happens in this wooded land, a short stroll became a berry picking expedition. The hot and high afternoon sun filtered through the open pines to dapple light patterns on the sandy forest floor. Mosses and lichens made a soft bed for heathers and blueberries to grow in the shade. We picked a litre of berries and returned home.

WILD BLUE BERRIES PILED ON THE MARKET STALL

Early the next morning we visited the market in Hanko. Here in a car park in the town, adjacent to a filling station, wild blue berries were piled high on a table. The berry sellers were Asian women, Burmese refugees. They pick them in the woods and sell the in the market, their produce marked clearly that they are Suomi, Finnish. Farmers sold vegetables, there were stalls for locally caught fish too. The vegetables stalls sold potatoes measured in kappa’s. A kappa is a wooden box, a 5 litre box is a full kappa, a 2 litre is half. These are traditional measurements used for selling potatoes, converted to metric measurements, the boxes complete with official stamps. Most fruits and vegetables are sold by volume and not by weight at the Finnish markets. French beans, green and yellow are measured in litre and half litre measuring cups.

POTATOES IN FULL AND HALF KAPPA'S

FRANCH BEANS ON THE MARKET STALL

We purchased an additional litre of blue berries and potatoes and vegetables for dinner; then we cycled home to make some jam.

BLUE BERRY JAM INGREDIENTS

In a saucepan I cooked the berries with a small amount of water until the fruit had become soft, a wonderful fruity fragrance filled the kitchen. After about ten minutes of slowly cooking the fruit I gradually added 500g of sugar, made from Finnish grown sugar beet, unlike Ireland they saved their sugar beet industry from EU eradication. When all the sugar was added and dissolved, I turned up the heat and the jam boiled hard. I continued cooking the jam, stirring occasionally until the jam was not running off the wooden spoon.

ADDING SUGAR TO THE JAM

The messiest part of jam making is always when I fill the jars. The jars were heated in the oven so as to sterilize them; they were first washed, then dried and placed in a cold oven. I heat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius and the jars remain in the oven until I am ready to fill them.

POTS OF BLUE BERRY JAM

Later when the filled jars had cooled and the jam was set, we ate Finnish oven pancake over which we spooned this delicious wild blue berry jam. We ate it with home made buns, on bread, and spooned straight from the jar. There is nothing quite like home made jam, wild blue berry jam made with berries from the woodland, delicious!

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April 18, 2011

Autumn Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce

by Ciaran Burke

It all started with a trip to a nursery. We went to purchase named female cultivars of our favourite berry plant, sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides. The nursery is Fruit and Nut, part of the Sustainability Institute in Westport, Co. Mayo.

We had selected three different cultivars, we already have a female plant and one male plant in our garden. We also had picked out a Jostaberry, a hybrid between a blackcurrant and a Gooseberry and two cultivars of Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas. We were chatting with Andy, the mind and the energy behind the nursery, sharing our enthusiasm for berry growing and the concept of woodland gardens when he asked us where we lived. As I described how to get to our garden he stopped me, and asked in disbelief if we knew his friends, they lived very close to us. Apparently they also shared a common interest in woodland gardening, we did not know them yet. he gave us their contact details and directions to their house, he was sure that they would want to meet us.

On our way home we decided to call in and meet our neighbours, people that lived so close to us with a common interest in gardening and woodland gardening in particular, yet we had not ever met them. We drove up their lane and parked outside their house. They were surprised to see a caller, we introduced ourselves, explained what had happened at the nursery. They asked us in. Cy and Cleo invited us to a “pudding evening” the following Thursday. “Pudding” is a term that English people use to mean dessert, not literally a pudding. We could make and bring anything as long it went along with the theme of Italian or Chocolate. We accepted.

What to make was the question. I decided to make an autumn pudding, from the freezer I could use elderberries, blackberries and sloes, all picked from the hedgerows in our locality last autumn. I had a cooking apple there too, and Hanna had been baking lots of spelt bread. We had all the ingredients, but to fit in with the theme of the evening gathering I would have to make an amendment; cover the finished autumn pudding with white chocolate! The tanginess of the fruit and dark colour of the pudding would both contrast with the sweet white chocolate, Green & Blacks would be perfect, not only organic but also they have a generous amount of vanilla pod in their white chocolate.

We made the pie the night before. Cooked up the fruit, sweeten with honey and fruit juice concentrate. took the crust off a number of slices of the homemade spelt bread and soaked them shortly in some apple juice. In a bowl we poured the cooked fruit and then pressed in the bread torn into pieces. Covered it and placed it in the fridge overnight. The following morning we made the white chocolate sauce.

One bar of chocolate was finely chopped. In a saucepan we melted a knob of butter, added 200ml of cream and heated to near boiling. This we then poured over the chopped chocolate and after letting it sit for a couple of minutes we stirred the mixture to fully melt in the chocolate pieces. After allowing to cool a bit, we spooned the chocolate sauce over the pudding. It looked fantastic, the creamy sauces dripping over the dark pudding, collecting in a pool around the base.With strong resolve we resisted having a taste and returned the dessert to the fridge.

We had a lovely evening with our new friends, and met more of theirs. Everyone had brought a dessert “pudding”. We tasted each others creations, sipped elderflower champagne, drank coffee and chatter. A lovely evening, four desserts and good company, does not get much better than that!

Autumn pudding with white chocolate sauce

Autumn Pudding Recipe

This recipe I had originally included on my other blog LINK

Ingredients:

  • half cup of Stoned sloes
  • half cup of elder berries
  • 1 cup of blackberries
  • half cup of apples, peeled and cored
  • 150 ml of apple juice concentrate or 7 heaped teaspoons of honey
  • whole grain spelt bread, crust removed and cut into pieces

After the fruit has been cooked for about ten minutes transfer to a bowl and press the bread pieces into the mixture until the fruit is pulp is absorbed. Cover the bowl with a plate and place in the refrigerator over night.

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