Apolgies and Recipes

Oh dear and ho-hum. I really am rubbish at blogging...and having two blogs isn't a good idea for someone who can't seem to find the time to blog on one! Of course, I could just cut-and-paste, but that seems like a cheat. This blog was supposed to be about my weight loss (which has stopped. Though, as I discovered at the Doctor's on Friday, hasn't actually reversed (much) so that's a good thing), then about my cycling (which hasn't stopped but isn't very regular. I'm a reluctant cyclist, especially in the chillier Autumn days), then about my frugality (HAH! Don't make me laugh!).

So what is the point of this blog? I suppose I should probably direct it at food. That's my favourite topic. If I was a clever photographer I could take great photos of the food that I make, but I'm not. I don't think it's my camera; I think it's my lack of skill. But I can at least post recipes of things that work.

Here are two. The first is for Chilli Jam

1 kg ripe tomatoes
4-6 large red chillies (with their seeds)
6 fat cloves of garlic, peeled
3 thumb-lengths of fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
50g Thai fish sauce
450g unrefined caster sugar
125ml red wine vinegar

Blend half the tomatoes to a fine purée, with the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce.
Put the purée, sugar and vinegar into a deep pan & bring to the boil, stirring. Turn down to a simmer.
Chop the remaining tomatoes into a small dice. Add.
Cook gently for about 1.5 hours, skimming off foam when necessary, and stirring from time to time.
When it's reached setting point (test on a cold saucer from the freezer) pour into warmed, sterilized glass jars.
Seal . This keeps for months and is good with sausages, cold meats etc.

                                           Image from http://lizzieeatslondon.blogspot.com/2009/09/sweet-chilli-jam.html

The next recipe is for BASQUE CHICKEN.
I served this when friends came for a meal. It is good, but you do have to be careful the rice doesn't overcook too much. It was getting a bit gloopy when we ate it - but is delicious. Use strong/extra strong chorizo if you like it spicy!
There are quite a lot of ingredients but it is quite easy. I'm not giving all the details about removing seeds from peppers etc, as given in the original recipe. Just use your common sense.
4 chicken legs
2 large red peppers
2 onions
olive oil
150g chorizo, skinned and cut into chunks
50g sun dried tomatoes, in oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp paprika
brown basmati rice (measured to the 225 ml level in a measuring jug) *
275 ml hot good vegetable or chicken stock
170ml dry white wine
1/2 large orange, cut into wedges
1 tsp chopped thyme
50g black olives

Use a deep pan with a lid, or a stove top-to-oven casserole dish.
Season the chicken joints, and brown in the oil. Remove.
Slice the red peppers, peel and slice the onions, slice the sun dried tomatoes.
Add a little more oil to the chicken pan & increase heat a tad. Add onions & peppers. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes.
Add chorizo, tomatoes & garlic. Cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes.
Add rice, and coat with oil. Then add tomato paste, paprika and thyme.
Pour in stock & wine. Season. Simmer. Place chicken on top, making sure all the rice is below the top of the liquid.
Put orange wedges among the chicken pieces & scatter olives over the top.
Cover with a tight fitting lid & cook on a very gentle heat for 50 - 60 minutes or until the rice is cooked, but retains a little bite (or, like me, until it's gone a bit gloopy). Alternatively, cook in a pre-heated oven (GM 4/ 350°F/180°C) for 1 hour.

* perhaps this was my mistake with the rice. I used white basmati, which I would guess requires less cooking time than the recommended brown rice
                                                             image from http://www.lepinparasol.com/toile_basque_coated_tablecloth.htm
                                                                      (their recipe is different, but it looks quite similar!)

So there you are. Two recipes which I hope you like. As Eleni from Eleni Drinks Tea
said we all need a treat from time to time., so finally, for those of you who haven't been hyper-organised and made it already, I give you my MiL's fab Christmas Cake recipe. Whenever I make Christmas Cake (which isn't every year) I use this recipe and it always works well. The less said about my icing the better though!

       PAT’S CHRISTMAS CAKE            

20 cm round/
18cm square tin

18cm round/
15cm square tin

Shelled almonds
Citrus peel (optional)
Glace cherries
Plain flour
1 tsp
Mixed spice
¾ tsp
Moist brown sugar
Lemon – rind & juice
4 standard
3 large

Sherry/rum/brandy (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C.
  2. Line sides & bottom of tin with baking parchment
  3. Prepare dried fruit & nuts.
  4. Beat eggs in a bowl.
  5. Cream butter & sugar together in a separate bowl until light and fluffy.
  6. Then add the eggs.
  7. Add fruit, peel and nuts. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Stir in flour, mixed spice and lemon juice.
  9. Mix well and put in tin, pressing mixture into the sides. Smooth top with spoon.
  10. Place cake on a double sheet of parchment/brown paper on a baking sheet.
  11.  Bake for 4 hours as directed:
1st hour
2nd hour
3rd hour
4th hour

  1. When cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool in tin.
  2. When cooled remove from tin, peel off paper.
  3. To increase moistness and keeping time, prick cake on top with skewer and spoon a little alcohol into it. Invert and do the same with the base.

NOTE: The dried fruit selection can be changed to suit personal tastes. I've used dried cranberries, dried cherries, chopped dried apricots, sultanas, hazelnuts, and no citrus peel. Just make sure you keep to the total weight
When you are ready, cover the cake (except the bottom) in almond paste. Allow to dry for at least 24 hours, more if possible. Then ice with royal icing & decorate as desired.


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