Looking for new ways to eat your Halloween pumpkin? Try these recipes for Pumpkin Pizza Dough and Pumpkin Pasta.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that we managed to grown a few humungous green squash of some uncertain variety in our back garden this year.   The last one harvested this week weighed in at over 5 kg!

I was expecting them to be a green variety of butternut but they turned out to be much less flavoursome than the nutty butternuts so I have had to be inventive and a bit sneaky to get the family to eat them, especially my generally vegetable averse son who wouldn’t go near anything if he thought it contained squash.

So, I have been experimenting – these are a couple of recipes I will be making again – especially since hubby and son are off to buy a pumpkin to carve today so there will be even more to use.

Easy Pumpkin Pizza Dough

Home made pizza is a firm favourite in our house.  We like that the toppings can be tailored to each family member to avoid waste.

I searched for pumpkin pizza dough recipes and came up with several paleo or gluten free versions but I wanted to make it as close as possible to our usual pizza base so no-one would know the difference, and to keep it as simple as possible, because who has time for recipes involving about 20 ingredients? So I experimented with a basic pizza dough recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 375g bread flour (or 00 pasta flour)
  • 1tsp quick yeast or easy bake yeast
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Approx 400g pumpkin or other winter squash  (enough to make approx 250ml puree)

Method:

  • Start by preparing your pumpkin or squash puree – peel and dice then cook the squash until just tender.  I steamed mine as I wanted to keep the flavour fairly bland so it wouldn’t be detected in the finished product but you could roast for a fuller flavour. Steaming the squash took about 10-15 mins.  Roasting may take a little longer.
  • Mash or blend the cooked squash and allow to cool.
  • Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl and make a well in the centre.
  • Measure out 250 ml of cooled puree – don’t worry if you have less than this as you can add water to the dough if necessary.
  • Start by adding about 200 ml of the puree to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a dough  – if the dough is still dry add more puree a little at a time.  If it is too wet you can add a little more flour.   Once it feels about right knead the dough on a well floured surface for about 5 mins until smooth and elastic.

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  • Leave the dough in a warm place for at least 30 mins to rise – it should roughly double in size.  You can leave it in the bowl covered with a damp tea towel, or simply leave it on the counter covered by your upturned mixing bowl.
  • Preheat your oven and oiled pizza trays to 200 degrees C.
  • Cut the dough into  portions and roll  to desired size  and thickness on a well floured surface.    This quantity will make 2  x 30cm round pizzas or more smaller, thinner pizzas.  We usually make quite a thin crust so I split the dough in half – put half the dough in the freezer and then made pizzas for 3 of us with the remaining half.
  • Bake the rolled dough on the hot tray for about 5 mins before removing from the oven, turning the base over and then adding your desired toppings.  This will help the base go crispy.  Return to the oven for approx 10 mins for a thin base, longer for a thicker base.

 

UPDATE – THERE IS AN EVEN EASIER WAY:  This came out so well I was confident enough to experiment with using pumpkin puree in my bread machine.  If you have a bread machine with a pizza dough programme you can use that and simply replace the water with an equal volume of pumpkin or squash puree.  I also tried the same with a regular white bread programme to make bread with hidden veg content.  No-one noticed the difference!

Easy Pumpkin Pasta

I made this with butternut squash a few weeks ago.  The method is pretty much the same as for wholemeal dried pasta but I used white flour and substituted the squash puree for the water. Pasta has to be my son’s favourite meal so if I can crack finding a homemade version he really likes it will be great.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups plain flour or pasta flour
  • 1 cup pumpkin or squash puree

Method:

Peel, dice and cook your butternut squash or pumpkin until tender by either boiling, steaming or roasting.   I started mine off on the hob and left it cooking in my Wonderbag while I was out at a class.  Perfectly cooked by the time I came home.

 

Mash or blend the squash to a smooth puree:

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Mix the dough either by hand or in a food processor – with the ratio of 1 cup puree to 2 of flour until you have a nice dough.  I didn’t measure it carefully and used too much puree so the dough on the right is rather too wet.  This is easily rectified by adding more flour until the consistency is right. (At this point I found I had run out of flour so had to dash to the shop for some more ).

Roll the dough into a ball, cover (with an upturned mixing bowl )  and leave to rest for about 10 mins.

Then, on a well floured surface, roll the dough out to be nice and thin – thinner than I managed would be good – I definitely need more practice, or a pasta machine.

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Leave them as noodles or form into your desired shape.   Either cook in boiling water for a couple of minutes or dry for future use.  When dry they will need to be cooked for 8-10 minutes.

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Happy to report that both the pizza and pasta were happily eaten with son none the wiser that he had been eating more vegetables.

As well as these I made spicy soup, cheesey pumpkin scones and pumpkin muffins, pumpkin marmalade which if it passes the taste test will be given as Christmas gifts, and have lots of diced and pureed squash in the freezer for future use so would love to hear more ideas for using up that pumpkin and squash. What’s your favourite recipe?

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The easy way to make waste free, wholemeal dried pasta

Who knew that pasta was so simple to make?

I have never been a great fan of pasta, but my son absolutely loves it – he would eat pasta and pesto every single day if I’d let him.  But in the UK it is difficult to find pasta without plastic packaging, particularly if you want to buy in large quantities  (there are some options mainly in card but with a small plastic window).  Having heard it was easy I thought I should give it a go – and it really is easy – and it got the taste approval from my fussy child. You can easily buy flour in a paper bag which you can either recycle or put in your home compost.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 cup hot water

Method:

Making the dough:

  • If you are using a food processor fit the dough attachment.
  • Add the flour, pour in the hot water and switch it on.  It will turn to breadcrumbs to start with but stick with it and it will soon come together into a dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface.
  • If you are making the dough by hand place it in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the flour and pour in the hot water a little at a time and mix together  either with your hands or a wooden spoon.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until it comes together in a dough.
  • Press the dough down into a flat round.  Divide into 4 quarters  (this will make it more manageable to roll out later).
  • Cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 10-15 minutes.
  • You could freeze all or some of the dough at this point for later use if you wish.

Now you can begin to turn it in into your desired shapes:

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it very thinly.
  • Then you can get creative and cut and shape to your heart’s desire – but be warned, this bit can take a long time.   I like to look on it as something therapeutically undemanding on the brain to do while listening to some muscic but you could get the kids to help or invite a friend round for a natter while you work. Slicing into lasagne sheets or into strips for tagliatelle is probably the quickest.  I tried to make spirals on my first attempt but decided this time that bows might be easier.    For bows I rolled the dough then cut into strips which I then cut across into small rectangles as shown below.  To turn into bows you simply squeeze them together in the middle.

Drying your pasta:

  • If you don’t want to use your pasta straight away you can dry it for storage.  As I have an electric dehydrator I used that but if you don’t you can just spread them out and leave somewhere airy until dry.
  •  The time it takes to dry depends on the size and thickness of the shapes you have made – I dried the small bows for 3-4 hours at 50 degrees C.  The first batch of spirals were larger and took 4-5 hours.  The best thing is to keep an eye on them and remember to swap around the trays from time to time since the different levels may dry at different speeds.
  • Once fully dry you can transfer to a storage jar until needed and cook as you would shop bought dried pasta – around 8-10 mins.    If you skipped the drying part you’ll need to shorten the cooking time.

Now I know how to make basic pasta dough I’m next going to try to sneak some vegetables into the ingredients –  as he’ll happily eat shop bought green pea pasta, and red lentil pasta without realising.  I have seen people making pasta from pumpkin puree and flour as an example – but any recommendations on things to try are welcome – please comment below.

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How to impress with minimal effort – Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

chocolate-caramel-tart
Easy Chocolate Caramel Tart

When it comes to Christmas and New Year entertaining, easy is good.  Well, let’s be realistic, easy is good anytime.

Last week I made Banoffee Pie, to take to family for a Boxing Day tea. Since they started selling ready tinned caramel so you don’t have to boil a tin of condensed milk for hours Banoffee Pie has been my go to easy dessert.  But this dessert, inspired by Millionaire’s Shortbread, is even easier.  Yes really.

Ingredients:

  • 250g biscuits ( I used digestives as I had half a pack left from the banoffee pie but I bet something oaty like Hob Nobs would work really well)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1 tin caramel (I used Carnation)
  • 200g block of milk chocolate ( I used Choceur from Aldi which comes in easily recyclable card packaging and is free from palm oil)
  • Optional decoration ( I used Dr Oetker Gold Shimmer Spray but  as I subsequently noticed this contains palm oil  I would omit or seek an alternative in future)

( I have mentioned which products I used for convenience only – this post contains no affiliate links)

Method:

  • Grease a flan dish or baking tray well.
  • Crush the biscuits either using a food processor or by wrapping them carefully in a clean tea towel or (ideally cloth) bag and bashing with a rolling pin.
  • Melt the butter – I did this in the microwave, setting the timer to 30 secs and checking and stirring every 10 secs or so until completely melted, but melt in a pan if you prefer.
  • Stir the butter into the crushed biscuits until well combined.
  • Tip the mixture carefully into your flan dish and press down with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Chill for approx 1 hour until firm.
  • Spread the caramel carefully over the biscuit base and chill again until you are ready to top with the chocolate.
  • Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a bain marie or in a jug in the microwave.  I prefer the microwave as it is quicker but as with the butter check and stir it frequently until just melted.
  • Pour the melted chocolate onto the caramel carefully, gently spreading with a spatula until the top is covered.
  • Decorate as required and chill again until the chocolate has set.

To serve cut carefully with a sharp knife and have your plate or bowl at the ready – it will crumble!  And enjoy. Remember, easy is good.

Seasonal Eating – Beetroot Recipe round-up

Not much is growing in our back garden at this time of year, but my dad is still harvesting and sharing beetroot from his allotment. He gave us such a lot that I ate beetroot every single day for more than a week, and twice on some days so was in need of a selection of different recipes for a bit of variety!  Some of my favourite recipes are shared below, and  thanks go to Rosie at A Green and Rosie Life and Erin at The Rogue Ginger for allowing me to include links to their beetroot recipes. The post is also being shared on Rosie’s Going Green Linky.

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Beetroot and Halloumi

Our favourite way of eating beetroot is a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella’s Kitchen for beetroot pureed with lime juice and a little olive oil.  Nigella uses vacuum packed beetroot but if you are using fresh you need to trim the leaves (leaving a little of the stalk still attached) and boil  with the skin on until tender.  This year I have been saving energy by cooking the beetroot in my Wonderbag – I gently wash the beetroot and place it a lidded casserole dish and cover with water (it works best if the casserole is pretty full), bring to the boil for about 5 minutes and then pop it into the Wonderbag (the Wonderbag is an insulated bag which retains the heat so the food conitnues to cook without needing additional energy) for a few hours until we are ready to eat.  Once cooked, allow to cool a little and the skin can be easily peeled off by hand.  You will also have a casserole full of gloriously red beetroot water  which you can save to use in stock, soup or risotto.

Once peeled blend the beetroot with the juice of a lime and a little olive oil. Season with pepper.

Slice up a block of halloumi into about 10 slices and dry fry in a frying pan until browned.

Serve the halloumi over a bed of salad leaves (earlier in the year than now we would use rocket and land cress from the garden, along with marigold and nasturtium flowers but you can use whatever salad leaves you like).  Then drizzle the beetroot puree on top.

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Beetroot, Potato and Chorizo Hash

Another easy recipe is this one which originally came from an Asda magazine. You can substitute other root vegetables depending what you have available, and could use leftover roast veg.

Preheat the oven to 190c.

Cut approx 300g of potatoes (you can peel them but I prefer to leave the skin on), 300g of beetroot (peeled) and one sweet potato (peeled) into cubes and boil for 5-10 mins.  Drain well.

Place the drained vegetables into a roasting tray with 2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges, and 225g of diced or sliced chorizo.

Mix together 1tbsp sunflower oil, 2tsp wholegrain mustard and 2tbsp Worcestershire Sauce.  Pour the mixture into the roasting tray and stir to coat the meat and veg.

Bake for approx 40 mins, stirring after 20 mins.

Top each serving with a fried egg and season with black pepper.

 

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I love risotto – I could pretty much eat it every day ( and before I had a husband and son to cater for I pretty much did, adding whatever other ingredients I happened to have).  So here is a link to my  Easy Beetroot Risotto  recipe, on the blog a few years ago.

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My Beetroot and Fennel Soup recipe was from the really early days of my blog, so there is a link to the recipe but sadly no pictures as I hadn’t yet worked out how to add them!

I also made a Beetroot Cake which my son loved, mainly because he thought it was made with raspberries!  I much prefer this to the popular beetroot/chocolate cake combination. Beetroot Cake

Heat the oven to 180C.

Grease an 8 inch cake tin.

Mix together 250g self raising flour, 2tsp baking powder and 150 of soft brown sugar.

Then add 100g of sultanas and 250g of peeled, grated beetroot.

In a separate bowl beat together 150ml of sunflower oil and 2 medium eggs, then add into the dry ingredients and mix together.

Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1-1 1/4 hours.

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Fellow bloggers Rosie and Erin kindly shared these great beetroot recipes from their respective blogs. Follow the links to view the full recipes on the host blog.   A reminder that you can use the whole beetroot – don’t throw away those leaves.  I often freeze them to use as a spinach substitute if I don’t want to use them straight away.

What’s your favourite way to eat beetroot?

Grated Beetroot Salad:

Rosie at blog A Green and Rosie Life kindly shared her deliciously simple recipe. for Grated Beetroot Salad

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Beetroot Leaves:

Erin at The Rogue Ginger shares her recipe for How to Cook Beetroot Leaves

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Making the most of our Easter lunch leftovers

Despite my best efforts, we had plenty left from our Easter Sunday roast.  This was partly due to the only organic chicken in the shop being a little larger than we needed, partly due to my husband thinking everyone has the same appetite as him, and partly due to him deciding to do bacon and eggs for breakfast ahead of a roast dinner.  This was not the weekend to guess that I have been trying to reduce the quantity of meat we eat. As I am also still working on getting us to all eat the same meal as often as possible to reduce the number of times a day/different things I need to cook this is something of a challenge, although we are getting there slowly.

But none of it was wasted – it was all turned into something else for the next day / for future use.

I also baked hot cross buns and a chocolate cake – funnily enough these didn’t create any leftovers.

This is what we made with our leftovers.

Curried chicken and lentil soup

chicken soup
Chicken Soup in progress (no chicken yet)
  • 1 onion ( peeled)
  • 1 carrot (peeled)
  • 1 stick celery (trimmed)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Coconut milk ( 1 tin or equivalent made up powdered coconut milk)
  • Chicken stock (approx 500ml)
  • Leftover roast chicken, chopped into small pieces
  • Red lentils (50 to 100g)

Do feel free to adjust the ingredients and quantities here depending what you have left – the lentils will bulk the soup out so use more if you are short on chicken or less if you have plenty.  Similarly substitute other veg if that is what you have.

  1. Cover the red lentils with cold water and bring to the boil for 10 mins. Skim any scum from the surface with a slotted spoon and rinse with fresh water.

Meanwhile:

  1. Blitz the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a food processor or chop finely.
  2. Fry the processed/chopped vegetables gently in a little oil until softened but not browned.
  3. Stir in curry powder and other spices to taste (fennel seeds would also go well) – stir for approx 1 min.
  4. Add chicken stock (see recipe below) and coconut milk, and bring to a gentle simmer.
  5. Add the roast chicken and lentils.
  6. Simmer for around 20 minutes, checking the lentils are tender.
  7. Season to taste.

Great served with homemade bread – we are lucky enough to have a bread machine which takes the effort out of this.

Chicken Stock:

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  • 1 chicken carcass (include any small bits of leftover skin and meat not used in the soup above)
  • 1 stick celery, halved
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 carrots, cut in half (peeled or unpeeled) – you can replace these with saved carrot peelings/trimmed carrot tops
  • Handful of parsley  or other herbs (we got a huge bunch from the market which I keep in the freezer and break handfuls off as needed)
  • 3 bay leaves ( we have a branch trimmed from our garden bay tree from which we take dried leaves as needed)
  • 1 handful of leek tops (thrown in for good measure as we happen to have loads of these in the freezer!)
  • A little salt and pepper to taste

You can also add/substitute any other vegetable trimmings you have on hand.  I  added our leftover gravy.

Combine ingredients in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Skim off any grey foam that rises to the surface.

Simmer gently for around 3 hours (check the water level if you are leaving it uncovered  – you may need to add more during the cooking time)

When ready the stock should be a golden colour.

Strain the stock carefully.  If you want to freeze the stock it is a good idea to boil it again for half an hour or longer to reduce it further  at this stage – you can then freeze the concentrated version in ice cube trays for later use ( just pop a few from the freezer into a jug of boiling water)

Allow to cool completely – then you can remove any fat from the surface.

If not freezing you should refrigerate and use within a few days.

Everything sieved out of the stock went into our bokashi bin ahead of composting.

 

My husband made up these patties for tea:

Roast vegetable and bacon patties:

 vegetable patties

  • Leftover roast veg ( we used potato, parsnip, carrot, celeriac).
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • A few slices of streaky bacon
  • Handful of breadcrumbs ( plus more to coat if you wish) ( we save up crusts in the freezer as they tend to get left and then whizz them in a blender to make crumbs as required)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • A little grated cheese ( purely as we had some leftover)

 

Fry the bacon until cooked through and chop into small pieces.  Fry the onion and garlic until softened.

Mash the roast vegetables and mix together with the other ingredients.

Shape into small rounds, coating with additional breadcrumbs if you wish.  If they are too soggy you could stir in a little flour at this stage.

Fry in a little oil until cooked through and turning golden on the outside.

 

As we were making these up on the go we didn’t manage to shape these into patties for cooking but instead just scooped the cooked mixture into balls on serving – not the most attractive but they were tasty and even our fussy 8 year old who claims to hate most vegetables ate them  and said we could cook them again which is praise indeed.

 What’s your favourite leftovers recipe?

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Vegetable Curry in a Wonderbag

I have been lusting after a Wonderbag for ages.  This year one arrived under our Christmas tree. Hurrah!

Wonderbag

With this new piece of equipment I thought it was about time my I posted a recipe as I haven’t done one for ages, having got really engrossed in reducing our household waste and otherwise reducing our environmental impact. Which is where this fits in quite neatly. The Wonderbag, if you are not familiar with the concept, does not require electricity. You do still need a heat source to start off the cooking process, but once it is piping hot through you pop it into the Wonderbag which is so well insulated that it keeps in enough heat to continue the cooking process for around 4-5 hours ( maybe longer depending what you are cooking).
This suits us well as we have solar panels producing electricity in the middle of the day but we don’t get a chance to eat until quite late. As I work part time I am able to get the dinner going when the sun is out on those days I am home, and still have it hot when we are ready to eat .

For our first go at this I thought I would play it safe with a vegetable curry. The recipe is approximate – feel free to substitute in whatever spare veg you happen to have and vary the spices and quantities to taste, but this is (roughly) what I did. This is enough to serve 4 – as there were only 2 of us eating I just froze half and reheated in the microwave another day.

Start by getting your Wonderbag ready in the place you want to leave it cooking – the instructions suggest you place a trivet or pot stand inside to put your casserole on but you can also line with tea towels – actually I did both this time.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potato – diced ( I used half of one as that was what we had)
  • Cauliflower – broken into florets ( depending on size half to one)
  • Broccoli – broken into florets ( again I used about half)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion
  • Garlic
  • Approx 2cm cubed ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green chilli, sliced
  • Handful of green beans
  • 400g tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • A few mushrooms
  • A couple of tomatoes, chopped
  • Coconut milk ( either 1 can or the powdered sort diluted in hot water)
  • Vegetable stock ( if you like – I think I actually forgot this and just added water)

Additional spices to taste:

  • Chilli flakes or powder ( 1tsp)
  • Turmeric ( 1 tsp)
  • Cumin ( 1 tsp)
  • Ground Coriander ( 1tsp)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • In a tight lidded casserole safe for using on the hob, heat a little oil and fry the onion for a few mins till it is starting to soften.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and continue stirring for a minute, then add the other spices and stir in to release the flavour.
  • Next add the rest of the vegetables, coconut milk and stock – you want enough liquid to just cover all the vegetables ( not too much as the liquid doesn’t thicken/reduce in the Wonderbag).
  • Stir well and bring to the boil, cover tightly with the lid.
  • Boil for around 10 mins to make sure it is really hot.
  • Transfer carefully to the Wonderbag and seal it up tightly with the drawstring.
  • Get on with something else and come back to it up to 4 hours later ( but as it is all vegetables 1-2 may suffice).  Open it carefully – remember it will still be hot.
  • Serve with rice or Naan bread.

And sorry I forgot to take a photo of it before we ate it 

If you like it spicier you can add any additional spices you like or some curry powder. You could cook the rice in the bag too to save even more energy – you’ll need to add it at least 5 mins before you transfer to the Wonderbag and it will absorb some of the sauce.

Wonderbag 2

 

Notes on sourcing ingredients with minimal packaging:

If you are a more expert food grower that myself you may well have some of the ingredients straight from your garden or allotment – in which case I am in awe.  At this time of year we only had homegrown garlic and windowsill chilli and I had to go out to buy the rest.

I generally find the local market to be the easiest way to get unpackaged veg – so I went off with my trusty shopping trolley and filled up with most of the required veg either straight into my trolley or my own cloth bag. The ginger was unpackaged from supermarket.

The only veg I can’t find package free are the green beans – we have decided the best way to get these out of season is frozen so we can buy a larger amount ( less packaging pro rata) and my thinking is that it might also be more local than the out of season fresh ones shipped from Kenya – although I have yet to check this out ( note to self to do this soon). Sometimes we do have luck growing these so would have our own in the freezer, but sadly not this year.

Rice – I buy bulk 5 or 10kg  bags of basmati rice which last us ages – they are still in plastic but again, relatively less than buying the small bags.

Spices – I didn’t buy any especially this time but they are either in glass jars or again bought in bulk size bags.

Chick peas – I tend to buy in tins rather than dried for convenience – at least the tins are recyclable.

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Damson gin and vodka

Finally got around to bottling the damson gin and vodka I made way back in September, when the damsons were as yet pretty underipe.

Image of bottled damson gin and vodka
Bottled damson gin and vodka

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Next wondering what to do with the lovely damsons removed from the alcohol.   Some great ideas ranging from the simple serving with ice cream, to making jam and crumble, through to including in a chocolate cake.  Just wish I had time to try all these things!

Plum Jam Recipe

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So here’s the recipe for plum jam.   Easiest jam I’ve tried, and as the plums are high in pectin needs no special sugar or anything.  I even managed to make it without burning the pan.  Scale recipe up or down as required – I find it easier to manage smaller quantities as I don’t have a proper jam pan. I sometimes add ground ginger and/or an apple.

Amounts below make 2.25kg. (5-6 jars depending on size)

1.5kg plums – washed, halved and stoned

300ml water

1.5kg sugar, warmed

Place water and fruit in a pan and simmer till tender.

Add sugar (warm for a minute or 2 in microwave first) and stir in until dissolved.

Boil for 15-20 mins until setting point is reached.

You can test for setting point by putting a small amount of the jam onto a cold saucer – after a few moments it should wrinkle slightly when pressed with your finger. You can use a jam thermometer if you prefer but personally I’ve never had much luck with these.

Once setting point has been reached , skim off any surface scum and pour carefully into warm sterilised jars and seal whilst hot.

beetroot and halloumi

Our absolute favourite way of eating beetroot from the allotment this year has been a recipe from Nigella’s Kitchen for beetroot pureed with lime juice and a little olive oil, drizzled over grilled halloumi and served on a bed of salad leaves such as rocket or spinach.  Nigella uses vacuum packed beetroot but if you are using fresh you need to trim the leaves and boil  with the skin on until tender.  Once cooked the skin can be easily peeled off by hand.  Allow it to cool as this is a cold recipe ( although it still tastes great if you are pushed for time and the puree is still warm.  Simple and delicious.