Amazing Jam

strawberry jam

As seen during Lifestyle&Co, TVM2

‘The color and texture of this jam is amazing.  Strawberry Jam with no processed sugar, no pectin and a unique texture by adding chia seeds’

You will need:

1 kilo strawberries
juice of 2 lemons
the seeds from a vanilla pod
4 tablespoons stevia, or honey, or agave
8 tablespoons chia seeds

Chop up the strawberries and place in a saucepan with the lemon juice. When it reaches boiling point, add your chosen sweetener, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Once it is cool add the chia seeds and stir.
Place in the fridge and leave to set for 2 days before using.

‘Because the jam contains no processed sugar, store in the fridge and consume within 2 weeks’

Strawberry jam with chia seeds

Amazing Jam

Quince and Carob Cake

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Quince and carob are old Mediterranean ingredients and although still available here, seldom used. Bring back the old I think, and keep part of our identity in a world today where eating is becoming so eclectic and universal. A good thing as long as we remember the roots.

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For this so delicious and yummy cake you will need:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
A few drops vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 quinces, poached with skin on with two spoons of carob syrup and 1/2 teaspoon of whole cloves, and the juice of one lemon, cooked until softened and then whizzed to a pulp

3 cups self raising flour
Grated rind of 1/4 lemon

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Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Prepare a cake tray covered with baking paper.

Beat the oil with the sugar and eggs. Whisk them together until they are well blended.

In a separate bowl sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.

Add the quince purée to the oil mixture and blend in. Use a metal spoon to combine the flour mixture, adding it in a little at a time. Do not overmix. I sprinkled some cranberries on mine to give it a festive touch.

Bake for 40 minutes.

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As ancient as a Mediterranean carob tree ..

Featured on INews

Tangerine marmalade with no pectin

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Today, a small batch of tangerine marmalade with no artificial additives and pectin free. Cut and preserved on the same day, i think the fresher the fruit, the better the flavor. Looking forward to having it spread on my toast with a cup of coffee tomorrow morning 🙂

I used:

1 kilo fresh tangerines
1 kilo sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
250 ml water

Cut the tangerines in half and remove the seeds. Keep aside.
Squeeze the tangerines and pour the juice into a heavy pot.
Add the juice of two lemons.
Keep the skin of 4 tangerines and keep aside.
Chop the tangerine peel neatly into very thin slivers. This is a very fine cut marmalade.
Add to the pot.
Place the seeds in a muslin bag with the lemons that have been squeezed and tie securely.
Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, keep adding water.
When the rind is tender and soft, add the sugar, lower the heat and keep at rolling boil for 10 minutes.
Test consistency using the saucer test
Store in sterilized jars and for my most favorite sterilizing method at the moment follow this link.

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My surprise this week came in the form of a loofah plant, seeing the fruit on the tree, cutting and peeling it to discover a perfect loofah, nature is more than amazing !

Featured on Orizzont

Quince, hawthorn and wild arugula

Quince, hawthorn and wild arugula in season this month featured on Mediterranean News today! take a peak … #buylocal

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A royal visit this weekend

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The island has been preparing for a visit from the Duchess of Cambridge.

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But yesterday changes were announced and this weekend Prince William is due to visit a tiny island in the heart of the Mediterranean to celebrate Independence Day

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And as there is no better Ambassador for British Cooking than Delia Smith, here is one of my favourites for the occasion.

The old fashioned roll is quick and easy to make.

You will need :
110g self-raising flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
50g soft butter
2 eggs
110g caster sugar, plus a little extra
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling and topping:
3-4 tablespoons jam, I use my own strawberry jam
Icing sugar to dust when finished

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Pre-heat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6

Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl

Add the butter, eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract, and use an electric whisk mix to a smooth creamy consistency for about one minute.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared tin with the back of a spoon

Bake it near the centre of the oven for 14–15 minutes or until it feels springy in the centre.

Prepare a damp tea towel spread out on a flat surface then on top of the tea towel you place a sheet of baking parchment that’s about 2.5cm larger than the tin.

Sprinkle caster sugar all over the paper.

As soon as the Swiss roll is cooked, lift it out holding the sides of the liner and turn it onto the paper immediately.

Gently strip off the liner, take a sharp knife and trim 3mm from all round the cake. This will make it much neater and help to prevent it from cracking.

Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave for a couple of minutes, then remove the damp cloth and spread the cake with jam.

With one of the shorter edges of the cake nearest to you, make a small incision about 2.5cm from the edge, cutting right across the cake, not too deeply; this will help you when you start to roll.

Start to roll this 2.5cm piece over and away from you and continue to roll, holding the sugared paper behind the cake as you roll the whole thing up. When it’s completely rolled up, hold the paper around the cake for a few moments to help it ‘set’ in position, then transfer the cake to a wire cooling tray.

Dust with a little more caster sugar before serving.

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Her Majesty spent happy times on the island.

Prickly pears, the season nearly over …

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Prickly pear cactus plants this week are still heavy with fruit and it must be the most under-utilized fruit here. I am also guilty of not having made the most of them and i keep promising myself to try the paddles as an ingredient. The simpliest way to use them is by peeling them to extract their delicious sweet juice and if passed though a mouli you will get no bitterness from crushed seeds.

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On this month’s airline magazine, I featured more summer fruit.

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And if you have prickly pears in your garden, remember they are the last of the season, just for another week or so. Simply wear gloves and it is an effortless job. You will find recipes using prickly pears on this blog.

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(Prickly Pear Photo Emmanuel Croset)

Watermelon Chili Chutney

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Watermelon is so refreshing and at the peak of its season now so i think its a good idea to take advantage while the price is low to stock up and store some for the winter months.

We have spent the last month eating watermelon for breakfast with yoghurt, for lunch with local goats cheese and making endless fresh juices and home made granitas with mint and other herbs but it is time for something a little bit different.

I wanted to make a sweet chili jam using watermelon and I have combined two recipes and added chili and salt. In the Middle East, it is common to make a watermelon rind jam and I have combined the red flesh and rind of the watermelon to make this wonderful preserve. The result is something different with a great taste, texture and color and it is delicious served with cheese, fresh bread or water biscuits or alternatively with cold meats.

Although I deseeded the watermelon, I decided to leave a few seeds as this clearly identifies the fruit once it is in a jar or when it is plated. The chili can be adjusted according to your taste. I love it and hope you will try it out. It is especially good with hard cheese such as pecorino or Manchego.

1 kg watermelon rind, with the tough green skin peeled off
1 kg watermelon flesh put in a sieve and mashed to drain water out
2 kg sugar plus some extra sugar to sprinkle over watermelon rind
6 limes, squeezed juice and zest
50 g pectin
Crushed dried chillies, quantity to your discretion

Remove the green tough skin of the watermelon and cut into rough chunks. Sprinkle sugar over it and leave for 2 to 4 hours. Drain the liquid out.

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Take the flesh of the watermelon, deseed and cut into chunks. Place in a sieve and with a masher break it up allowing the juice to drain through the strainer. Save the juice and refrigerate it. It is delicious with some ice and lime zest.

Add the drained flesh to the chopped rind in a large cooking pot. i added a few seeds but this is optional. Add the sugar, juice and lime zest and heat gently until it comes to a boil and reaches 220 C. Add the pectin and cook for a further five minutes.

I used the saucer method for testing the setting point. Place a saucer in the freezer and test the preserve by putting a few drops on the cold plate. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it has reach setting point. If it is still runny, return to heat, boil and retest. The best color is achieved when the jam is not over heated for a long period of time, but this is a matter of preference. I have heard some people say that they like a darker color.

Finely chop as many chillis as you desire and stir me into the watermelon preserve.

Now you will need to sterilize the jars. Rinse them in clean warm water and allow them to drip dry and place upside down on an rack in the oven at 140C for half an hour.

Pour the jam into the jars preferably through a funnel. I wear latex gloves to prevent contamination. I pour the jam into warm jars while it was still warm.

If you are going to store the jam, I suggest placing a disc of waxed baking paper onto the jam before covering with a lid.

You will need to store the jam in a cool dark place.

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September issue …. Preserving Summer Fruits

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Home made jams with pure fruit and no artificial additives are divine.
Succulent summer fruits are abundant to our Mediterranean climate and these can be preserved in the form of jams, chutneys, pickles and compotes. They make original Christmas gifts and will be appreciated in the winter months.

Pectin gives a larger yield as you do not have to cook the jam for so long. The fruit colour is retained and you are guaranteed the right consistency. Pectin is available in the store.

Apples have a very high pectin content and can be added to jams instead of pectin however it is harder to achieve a clear jam.

The high content of sugar preserves the jam without the formation of syrup, crystals or mould and stops fermentation.

If you need to follow a reduced sugar diet, you can use stevia or another alternative however jams will need to be stored in the fridge.

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September issue !

Pomegranate Jam

3 kilos pomegranates
White Sugar
Juice of 6 lemons or limes
Pectin and follow instructions on packet or 6 apples peels and finely chopped

Peel the pomegranates and juice them. Do not use a juicer as this will give the jam a bitter taste. I place a large pot in the sink, cut the pomegranates in half and I squeeze the fruit with skin on with my hands. Strain the seeds.
Weigh the juice on a measuring scale and weigh an equal amount of sugar. Place in a pot with the juice and the sugar. Add the pectin or apples. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and keep on a rolling boil for half an hour. Skim the pink foam from the top of the jam while it is cooking. Use the saucer test and when it is the right consistency, remove from heat and fill the jars.

Dark Apple Chutney

2 carrots
1 turnip
1 cauliflower
2 onions
2 large apples
1 courgette
10 mini chopped gherkins
4 garlic cloves
125g chopped dates
1 teaspoon salt
Juice of one lemon
500 ml malt vinegar
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 spoon whole peppercorns

Brown sugar and white sugar: weigh all the fruit and vegetables and use equal amount of brown sugar and white sugar. Eg. 1 kg fruit and vegetables requires 500g brown sugar and 500g white sugar.

Combine all ingredients with the exception of the sugar and gherkins in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until the vegetables and fruit are soft. Add the sugars and cook for a further 20 minutes. During the last 10 minutes add the gherkins. There is no need to do a saucer test with this as the chutney will need at least 4 weeks to mellow in flavor and texture.

Prickly Pear Jam

Use one color for the jam and I found that the best colour for jam are yellow prickly pears

2 kilos peeled prickly pears
Sugar
Juice of 3 lemons
Grated rind of one lemon
Pectin and follow instructions on packet or 6 apples

Place 500g prickly pears in a pot and mash them. Put the other 750g into a large gauze and squeeze the juice out of them. Weigh the combined fruit and juice. Weigh out the same amount of sugar and keep aside. Add the lemons, rind, pectin or apples to the prickly pear mixture. Using moderate heat, bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Add the sugar and keep on rolling boil for 15 minutes. Do the saucer test until you are happy with the consistency. Pour the hot jam into sterilized jars.

Refreshing Melon Mosaic

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The summer brings manna in our journey through life in the form of fruit here, so much of it with the fullest of flavors that you can imagine. And watermelons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes including these mini ones i picked from Joseph‘s harvest.

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I have small, medium and large ones today and you can compare the size with the lemon.

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Joseph has winter Cassaba melons too, the ones with white flesh and a tough bright yellow rind. It may seem a bit unusual to have fields full of winter melons in the height of summer.

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I was surprised this morning while I was preparing my dish, having a feast with all the left overs because i was not expecting the ripe sweet flavors, much more so than when we find them in the middle of winter when we leave them to ripen at room temperature.

For my dish today you will need:

1/4 of a regular size watermelon, peeled and deseeded
1/4 of a winter melon, peeled and cleaned
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon honey

Cut equal sizes, about 1/2-inch thick square shapes of watermelon and melon. Arrange alternate colors checkerboard style on a serving tray or plated individually.

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Drizzle a few drops of lemon juice and a teaspoon of honey. Refridgerate.
I used fresh chocolate mint leaves

For more watermelon recipes, these two were very popular last year ! Watermelon amd feta checkerboard salad
and watermelon Chili Preserve.