Monday, May 18, 2015

Crabapple jelly

Well if you follow my Instagram or twitter you'll know this has been quite the week, my son was born on Tuesday the 12th, a healthy 4.4 kg. So all my attention has, of course, been on him rather than blog posts.

Just before he was born we were given a hefty bag of crabapples from Sophie's mother which brought back fond memories of youth in Hastings living next to an apple orchard with a generous crabapple tree on our property and my mother cooking up batches of the sweet sour jelly. It's a versitle product, great spread on toast with lashings of butter, used as a glaze for roast duck or used to enrich a sauce. The jelly is a relatively straightforward, but it will take two days, only about 80 minutes of cooking though.

  • Pick over your crabapples removing the stems and discarding any overly bruised fruit. 
  • Place the apples in a pot and cover with about an inch of water. 
  • Put on medium heat and bring to the boil. 
  • Cook for 30 minutes on a brisk simmer. 
  • Pour through a muslin cloth and let drain naturally overnight do not be tempted to squeeze the fruit or push the liquid through otherwise you'll get a cloudy jelly.
  • Measure the strained liquid and pour into a pot.
  • Add 70 percent, by weight, of sugar and the juice of a lemon to the pot.
  • Simmer for 40 minutes skimming off any scum that forms. Check the jelly sets by placing a spponfull on a chilled plate.
  • Pour the hot jelly in to sterilised jars and screw on the lids. 
  • Allow the jars to cool on the bench before transferring to a cool dark place to store.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ultimate Cheese Sauce

This is a gooey cheese sauce with three simple ingredients, it can be made well ahead of time without fear of splitting when reheated, and it sets to a cream cheese texture in the fridge for ever so indulgent cheese sandwiches or grilled cheese. If the quantities are altered just ever so slightly you can pour the molten cheese on to a tray and set it in the “American” cheese slices.

The main components of the sauce are cheese, liquid and sodium citrate. Sodium citrate is the only odd ball ingredient here, it’s a sodium salt of citric acid and an emulsifying salt, it’s not too tricky to get hold of, you may need to order it online though. Cheese is a bit of a no brainer, any cheese you want, or a mixture. Liquid, can be water, beer, wine, stock, if you want a really luxurious sauce though, use reduced milk or add skim milk powder to the liquid, the extra protein makes for a much creamier sauce and my preferred addition.

The quantities are:
100 parts Cheese, finely grated
93 parts Liquid
4 parts Sodium citrate
(eg. 300g cheese, 279g liquid, 12g Sodium citrate)

  • Pour the liquid into a pot and add the sodium citrate, place over a medium heat, stir to dissolve the sodium citrate, bring to a simmer.
  • With either a whisk or immersion blender start stirring and adding the cheese bit by bit.
  • Once all the cheese is incorporated and you have a thick emulsified sauce remove from the heat.
  • Either use immediately, stir through some elbow pasta for the most over the top mac and cheese, or transfer to a container and when cool store in the fridge.
  • The sauce can be used as a spread, grilled, stirred through hot pasta, up to you.

Recipe inspired from Modernist Cuisine