Plum and Cherry relish

I’m a huge fan of plums and have been gathering plum recipes for a bit, especially as the Plum fairs in Newburgh are in full swing. http://www.newburghorchards.org.uk/

A client brought a bag of plums around the other day and I had foolishly neglected them, so I used what I could and looked around my many plum recipes for one that would suit ripe plums. I found Plum and Cherry relish in one of my favourite books. It was a book that I found in Bargain books many years ago , but the writing is clear and concise, the pictures are great and it gives a wide variety of preserving recipes and offers variations on a theme.

IMG_4360 ISBN 1-84477-016-8

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What more could you want? Other than the ingredients they ask for…. bodge meister comes to the fore again.

I scaled up the recipes a bit – it does work for small batches great, as I had more plums than they suggested.

So 580 gm of plums, halved, stoned and roughly chopped

and an equal amount of cherries (first bodge – no fresh cherries so I used dried sour cherries that I use with the chocolates ) and as they were dried I used a bit less = 500gm.  I didn’t chop the cherries as I wanted them whole and the relish to end up chunky (which it did), but if you like a smoother relish, then chop them up if you’re using the dried fruit .Set aside the fruit.

IMG_4356 they are indeed tart, and they are apparently Montmorency cherries

3 shallots are meant to be used but I didn’t have them either – so used I red onion and 1 small white onion, chopped and fried until lightly softened. ( 5mins or so)

I didn’t use the olive oil suggested for cooking, that would be normal! Instead I used 1 tbs solid coconut oil, which comes over slightly in the finished relish. I couldn’t help think of bakewell tarts – as you do when making a pickle- and thought that coconut and cherry would go well together.

The recipe called for 3 tbs of sherry – which of course, I didn’t have – so I bodged with 3 tbs of elderberry gin that I had left over from last years foraging and making things – complete with boozy elderberries still sitting in the gin! Too good a bodge to resist. Add the Elderberry gin ( and some boozy elderberries) in to the softened onions, along with 6 tbs of red wine vinegar.

The recipe also wanted balsamic vinegar – which, surprise, surprise, I didn’t have, so I used one that I’d bought – a Raspberry, mint and chilli vinegar – 1 1/2 tbs of that added in.

Add the fruit to the onion and vinegar mix.  Add the sugar – I used raw demerara sugar 120gm. Add a bay leaf in too, though that’s optional, and as I was going for a sweeter relish I missed it out.

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Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Then keep the heat on strong and keep boiling until the amount of liquid has reduced and the relish is quite thick – the book says 15 mins but I found it took nearly 25, and that’s with the dried cherries that will be soaking up the liquids and thickening up things quicker. It may take you longer again if you’re going with fresh fruit.

If you added a bay leaf, don’t forget to remove it – without burning yourself!

Spoon the thick hot (be careful, it may not be jam but still has a high sugar content so it will be very hot if spilled on yourself) relish into appropriate sterilised jars.

I made 5 good sized jars from this and it tastes so scrummy I’ve found myself almost using it like a jam. It starts out with cheese on oatcakes then ends up on the oatcake on its own!

The jars I used are Ikea’s spice jars, 4 in a pack, which may give you an idea re size.

Enjoy plum season and any recipes you think I’d like, feel free to share 😉

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A Grand Day Out

Saturday was a dog and boy free day so we thought ‘ Wahay!’ I’ve been planning out next year in terms of shows, food faires etc. and had been told that this weekend the Foodies Festival in Edinburgh’s Inverleith park was on. We wanted to check it out and see if it was worth going to for next year, so off we toddled.

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It was a surprisingly big event – both in terms of the number and variety of stalls, and in the number of people that came. A word of advice if you plan to go today, or next year – go early. I’m biased in that I don’t like crowds much, and at around the lunch mark you could hardly move! Heaving mass of bodies everywhere so we made our escape around then.

There was a surprising number of gin stalls…oh dear, too bad, never mind, what a pity! snigger….apparently it was gin o’clock quite early in the day for me!

IMG_4263I’ve seen this driving around recently so it caught my attention – as designed to do! It was pulling  a dinky little trailer which turns into…..

IMG_4264Ta dah! a gin cocktail bar!

 

 

IMG_4265 I just had to force myself to try the Lady Pickering – which I have to say was scrummy, slurp!

IMG_4266 The drink itself coyly hiding behind the array of spices and herbs that flavour the gin. I had a good talk about them which was very interesting.They do tours and tasting at the distillery  www.pickeringsgin.com

I was amazed at the number of booze, especially gin stands there were, here’s a quick review of some, not all by any means…

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We (me, he was restrained) staggered on buying a wide variety of cheeses, chorizo, olives until we were told firmly by a sign to…

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And being relatively biddable people, we had to do what the sign said….:-)

There were a wonderful array of light, fluffy marshmallows from The Marshmallow Lady  (www.TheMarshmallowLady.com) so we had to try and buy some of them, the quote from Despicable Me comes to mind – “It’s so fluffy!”

This just whetted our sweet teeth so our sensible eating plan degenerated further with …

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Perfectly made, chewy on the inside, lovely flavours, though I could have done with the flavours being a bit stronger, though no website to order from, but he is in south of England, so you probably want local macaroons rather than being in the post. What you could order through the post is brownies – which he also does….and so does….

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Amazing GF brownie, scoffed already, oops!, a wide variety of normal brownies of varying flavours, and chocolate spread. This is something I’ve been thinking of making as an addition to hampers for Christmas and perhaps corporate hampers. What is interesting is that when I opened the jar to try it this morning, there was mold on it! Not so good, and with a sell by of end Oct I’d not expect that, though there is a high cream content in it. So this is something I’m going to tell them about, and something to be wary of myself if going down this route.

All the sweet stuff, I had to get my savoury mojo back, aided by…

IMG_4284 SeaVeg dried seaweeds.

Tees is a huge fan of Dulse, I suppose he is Irish after all! He bought a LARGE bag of Dulse, with my caveat that he wasn’t allowed to sit down and eat it like a packet of crisps! Which he would left to his own devices! I sampled their many other varieties and came away with a free bag of serrated wrack for skin care and small jars of all their dried, roasted seaweed seasonings. If you use a mix of red and green seaweed in your diet you cover all your trace mineral needs! No added salt, just seaweed.

IMG_4286 With my therapist hat on I recommend seaweed baths for skin conditions, or boiling it up for a gel that is better than your fancy expensive serums…

Taste buds refreshed by salty things we had to heal ourselves using Chinese medicine by tasting other things, next stop, chilli’s.

I’ve been trying to get a local chilli for my chilli bars but although Ceres has Chillilicious they don’t do ground chilli, which is really what I’m after. Unfortunately, none of the other 2 or 3 chilli producers did either. 😦

I loved the Chilli Bothy stall though

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And of course, reverted back to my alcoholic habits, and bought Chilli and Lime Gin! Haven’t  tried it yet, honest! Getting Chilli on my tongue is like coming home, perhaps because I convince myself that it’s helping my joints…so on that note the Chilli Lemonade had to be tried, Tees woosed out with a lovely tasting Lime Lemonade.IMG_4267 IMG_4268The Fresh Lemonade Company and my chilli lemonade, with yes, Scotch Bonnet Chilli floating around in there. They have their lovely tart proper old fashioned lemonade and add the extras, shake it up Martinin style, et voila!

We went ostensibly to see what the chocolate competition was doing, how it was faring, and to check out to see  if it’s worth our while going.

Charlotte Flowers was there and Fiona Sciolti, botanical chocolates. They were the only 2 remotely like us. In fact they were the only 2 chocolatiers, full stop.

Interestingly neither seemed to be particularly busy – but my mum, has always said people don’t buy chocolates when it’s hot ( I do, but then I’m a chocholic), and it was hot. Perhaps there is something in what she says – people buy choc to make them feel good, all those lovely chemicals in there, seratonin, theophylline, etc, and people feel good when the sun is out so they don’t need to buy choc to get that happy vibe.

Anyold hoo, I think it’s worth our while booking this for next year as it will raise our profile. Though I’ll be behind the stall and not having a great time tasting everyone else’s wares…. mixed feelings about that!

If you’re interested in going, there are some great talks and demos, but they are very oversubscribed – so prebook online if possible, or get there early and get your tickets in advance – the queues  were horrendous for the tickets! You have been warned…