Author Archives: britinthesouth@gmail.com

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles

It’s peach season here in the peach state and I’ve already knocked out a batch of jam from some of this year’s crop.

Although the jam is fantastic generously spread on hot buttered toast I couldn’t resist having a go at a batch of chocolate truffles, trying another twist on my favourite recipe for alcohol infused truffles.

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles from britinthesouth.comMy inspiration was the classic Italian Bellini cocktail, a mix of prosecco sparkling wine and peach puree. The truffles just need chocolate, peach jam and a little bit of prosecco, so you’ll have some left to sip as you eat the truffles.

It’s a pretty simple recipe and the results are delicious.

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles from britinthesouth.com

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles

8oz white chocolate

8oz dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60%)

4oz Peach Jam

4 tsp prosecco

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles from britinthesouth.comMelt the white chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler (or use a glass bowl over a pan as I do).

Once melted add the jam and prosecco and stir to combine. Allow to cool and then put in the fridge until the mix is firm.

Use a teaspoon to scoop walnut sized balls from the chocolate mix and roll into balls. Put the balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Melt the dark chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler and then coat the chocolate balls. Once again place them on a parchment paper lined baking tray for the chocolate to cool and set before enjoying.

Georgia Peach Jam

The topic for the Food in Jars mastery challenge for June is jam. As I live in the Peach State and the first of this year’s Georgia peach crop has just started to show up in local farmer’s markets it seemed the ideal candidate to turn into jam.

Georgia peach jam from britinthesouth.comSadly, the Georgia peach crop for 2017 is estimated to be 80% down due to a warmer than average winter followed by a spring freeze, so I need to take advantage of what I can get my hands on before the supply dries up.

Georgia peach jam from britinthesouth.comMy jam is based on Marisa’s recipe from “Food in Jars“, although I tweaked the amount of cinnamon and nutmeg from the original recipe.

The jam turned out really well and will be a welcome reminder of this year’s crop when the limited supply disappears.

If you have any spare jam, you can use it to make a decadent treat: bellini truffles. Click here for the recipe.

Peach Jam

2 lbs fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped

2 cups granulated sugar

Zest and juice of a lemon

0.25 tsp cinnamon

0.25 tsp nutmeg

3oz pack of liquid pectin

Put the peaches and sugar in a large non-reactive pan and stir well to combine. The peaches should start releasing their juice. Bring to a boil and add the lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook over high heat for 15-20 minutes.

Georgia peach jam from britinthesouth.comAdd the pectin and and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes. The jam should have thickened. Remove from the heat.

Pour the jam into sterilised jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace and then process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes. If you need to know more about water bath canning there is a good introductory guide on the Ball canning website.

Yield: Three 8oz jars

 

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Serviceberry Shrub

I wrote last year about my delight in discovering a serviceberry tree on public property in my neighbourhood, which gave me the chance to do a spot of urban foraging and make something delicious from the berries I picked.

serviceberry shrub from britinthesouth.comI’m glad to say that I have subsequently spotted a few more serviceberry trees within walking distance of my home meaning I can grab a decent haul of the sweet red berries but leave plenty on the tree for other foragers and birds.

serviceberry shrub from britinthesouth.comThe window for picking is relatively short. There was about a one week period where I was making daily strolls to pick berries from the abundant supply. I then returned from a couple of days out of town to find that the trees were bare of berries and that was it for this year.

Luckily I had gathered enough to make something delicious. Last year I opted for a sweet, thick syrup, perfect with pancakes. This year I decided to turn my berries into a shrub, or drinking vinegar. I make these regularly, especially when I have a glut of strawberries or blackberries, but have never tried with serviceberries before.

The result is absolutely delicious; it’s a pity that I’m going to have to wait another year until I can make some more.

Serviceberry Shrub

Ingredients

12oz fresh serviceberries

1 cup distilled white vinegar

Granulated sugar

serviceberry shrub from britinthesouth.comPlace the berries in a glass or ceramic jar, crush lightly and add the vinegar.

Leave to steep for 4 days, stirring or shaking daily.

After 4 days strain the fruit. Then add the sugar: I use a 2:1 liquid to sugar ratio but you can adjust to your personal taste. After straining I had around 10 fl.oz. of liquid so I added 5oz of sugar to it and then gently heated it in a pan over medium heat, stirring regularly until the sugar dissolved, about 10 minutes.

Once the shrub is cool, bottle it and store in the fridge.

I usually drink my shrubs diluted with sparkling water.

Pickled Garlic

The topic for the May Food in Jars Mastery Challenge was cold pack canning, which as the name suggests, involves putting the food in the jar cold and uncooked before adding liquid and processing. It is a quick and straightforward method but some vegetables and fruits are more suited to this treatment than others.

pickled garlic from britinthesouth.comI found this month’s subject more challenging than previous months purely because of finding something suitable to preserve. I prefer to use seasonal produce from the farmer’s market when I can and many of the best candidates for cold pack canning simply weren’t in season yet.

Luckily, as the clock ticked away towards the end of the month, my friends at Riverview Farms came to the rescue, bringing bundles of freshly picked garlic to the farmer’s market. This wasn’t the dried old stuff with papery skins that you find in the supermarket but plump and juicy garlic cloves not long out of the ground. They are easy to peel and large cloves means it is a quick and easy exercise to fill the jars and before you know it you have some good looking jars of pickled garlic stashed away.

pickled garlic from britinthesouth.com

I followed Marisa McClellan’s recipe for “Pickled Garlic Cloves” from “Preserving by the Pint”, using homemade pickling spice. Her recipe made 3 half pint jars but I only managed 2, probably because of the large garlic cloves I had.

Pickled Garlic

1 pound fresh garlic, peeled

2 cups red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon pickling salt

2 teaspoons pickling spice (see recipe below)

Put the vinegar in a nonreactive pan, add the pickling salt, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt.

Put a teaspoon of the pickling spice mix into each of the two half pint jars, then pack the garlic cloves as tightly as you can into the jar. Pour the hot brine over, leaving half an inch of headspace. Tap the jars to eliminate any air bubbles, wipe the rims, apply the lid and ring and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 half pint jars

Pickling Spice

3 tbs yellow mustard seeds

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs whole allspice berries

1.5 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground ginger

2 inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

Make the pickling spice mix, Lightly crush the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Break the cinnamon into small pieces and rip up the bay leaves. Add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.

pickling spice from britinthesouth.com

 

Pistachio Dukkah Chocolate Bark

Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix, typically made from nuts, herbs and spices which are dry roasted and then pounded together. In the last couple of years it has cropped up increasingly in food magazines, TV shows and on restaurant menus. The ingredients can vary but typically include cumin, coriander seed and sesame seeds. The nuts used are often hazelnuts or peanuts but almonds and pistachios make fine dukkah too.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.comI first discovered dukkah a few years ago thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and his brilliant 2011 book and accompanying UK TV series “River Cottage Veg Everyday“. My copy of the book is so frequently used that it is in danger of falling apart. His version of dukkah uses pistachios, and I always have a jar of it on hand in the kitchen. Hugh recommends the classic serving method of dipping bread first in olive oil and then in dukkah. That is a delicious way of eating it but I sprinkle it on all sorts of dishes to add a burst of flavour.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.comIt only recently occurred to me to try mixing dukkah with chocolate. In recent years I’ve had chocolates laced with all sorts of spices and chili and they have always been delicious so I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of this.

I’m glad I did. The spicy mix works brilliantly with dark chocolate and the result is quite addictive.

Pistachio Dukkah Chocolate Bark

Pistachio Dukkah:-

6oz shelled, roasted, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1.5 tbsp cumin seeds

1.5 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tsp chili flakes

0.5 tsp sea salt flakes

Gently toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat in a small pan until they are aromatic. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn easily. Place in a pestle and mortar and lightly crush.

Gently toast the sesame seeds in the same way and then add to the pestle and mortar along with the chopped pistachios. Bash them until the nuts are broken into small pieces, then add the chili flakes and salt. Transfer to a jar where the mix will keep for a few weeks.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.com

Chocolate Bark:-

6oz dark chocolate (I used 60% Ghiradelli)

8″ x 8″ baking tray lined with baking parchment

3oz pistachio dukkah

Gently melt the chocolate using a double boiler or by placing a heatproof bowl over a pan of water over medium heat. Once the chocolate is melted add 1oz of the dukkah to it and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the baking tray and spread into a smooth layer with a spatula.

While the chocolate is still molten, sprinkle the top with the other 2oz of dukkah.

Place the tray in a fridge to set for about an hour before enjoying.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.com

 

 

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Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

I’m a sucker for eye catching produce and in particular am often unable to resist the colourful pepper section at one of my favourite Asian markets in town. They have a vast array, ranging from mild to really hot, including many you simply wouldn’t find in a regular grocery store.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comLast time I was tempted by the red poblanos, which I turned into pepper jelly, but this time a pile of sweet, mini, multi-coloured bell peppers caught my eye. They were the perfect subject for the quick pickle treatment for this month’s Food In Jars Mastery Challenge.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comAs the name suggest, quick pickles are fast and easy. You simply make a brine with vinegar, water, sugar (or another sweetener of your choice) and spices. As they are kept in the fridge they do not need any sort of water bath processing or special equipment. Just prep your vegetable of choice, stick it in a jar, pour over the hot brine and you will soon be enjoying crisp, tasty pickles.

The taste of your final product will be heavily influenced by your choice of pickling spice. Of course, you can just go out and buy a jar of ready made pickling spice but where is the fun in that? Make your own and you can customise the flavour and spice level to your own liking.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comFor my quick pickles I loosely followed a recipe from Cathy Barrow’s “Mrs.Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry”. I started with her basic spice mix but cut back on the cinnamon, which I often find overpowering, and made it a little spicier.

This was a quick and fairly simple recipe and the peppers were ready to eat within a day of making them. I’ve already enjoyed them on veggie tacos and added to sandwiches and salads. They may not have the shelf life of water bath processed pickles but they don’t look like lasting long anyway.

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

12oz mixed sweet mini peppers

1 cup water

1 cup white or apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbs salt

1 tbs granulated sugar

1.5 tsp pickling spice (recipe below)

Pickling Spice

3 tbs yellow mustard seeds

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs whole allspice berries

1.5 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground ginger

2 inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

Make the pickling spice mix, Lightly crush the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Break the cinnamon into small pieces and rip up the bay leaves. Add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comPrep the peppers by washing them and cutting them into thin slices. As I used small peppers they were the perfect size to fit in a jar. Larger bell peppers will work but might need cutting down to smaller strips. Pack the peppers into a sterilised quart jar.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comIn a nonreactive pan combine the water, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the brine into the jar, ensuring the peppers are covered. Once the jar has cooled down pop a lid on.

Leave for about 24 hours before trying. Store in the refrigerator and use within a month.

 

 

 

 

Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

The shops were full of the usual array of seasonal chocolate goodies for Easter, but I fancied the fun of making my own, and what better than a dark chocolate egg, with a luscious home made salted caramel filling finished with a dusting of shiny edible gold dust for a final sparkle.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comI have to admit they were rather good. Although tempted to eat them all myself I did share some with friends and got an unanimous positive response.

In reality they were half eggs. I used a mold to make them and didn’t have time to stick the two halves together. Something to work on for next year.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comThe whole project was useful to practice a number of chocolate and candy making techniques, such as tempering chocolate, using molds and making caramel.

Tempering chocolate is heating and cooling it in a controlled way that ensures the crystals of cocoa butter that are produced are of a consistent size. This results in chocolate with a shiny finish and a snap when you break it, rather than a dull appearance with a white bloom and a crumbly texture. There are different ways of doing it, which include splashing out a few hundred dollars on a tempering machine to do it for you, spreading melted chocolate around on a marble slab or using what is known as the seeding method as I do below.

If you want an extra shiny finish you can spray the finished eggs with edible luster dust. Look for FDA approved edible dust which is available in a wide range of colours from cake and candy making supply stores or online.

Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

15oz Dark Chocolate (I used 60% Ghiradelli): chips, pistoles or chopped into small even pieces

I cup granulated sugar

3oz unsalted butter, cut in pieces

0.5 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

2 tsp flaky sea salt

Gold edible luster dust (optional)

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of water over medium heat. The water should not be simmering or boiling. The aim is to melt the chocolate slowly and gently. Place 10oz of the chocolate in the bowl and leave to melt slowly (around an hour).

As you wait for the chocolate to melt you can make your caramel sauce. Put the granulated sugar in a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Swirl the pan occasionally as the sugar slowly starts to melt but do not stir it at this stage. Like the chocolate, patience is the key. Keep a close eye on it and when the sugar has melted and starts to turn golden in colour add the butter and stir well to incorporate it. The sugar mix will bubble a lot but just keep stirring and make sure you don’t spill any of the hot mixture on yourself.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comRemove from the heat and add the cream, again stirring briskly as you do so to incorporate the cream. Make sure the cream is at least at room temperature. It could even be slightly warmed. I once made the mistake of adding cream which was too cold and the contents of the pan almost immediately seized into one solid lump of caramel.

Once the cream is mixed in add the sea salt. Set the sauce aside to cool.

Once the chocolate has melted and is smooth, remove from the heat and add the remaining 5oz of chocolate, stirring until it melts. Keep stirring until the chocolate cools down to around 88-89 F.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comPour the melted chocolate into the egg molds. Fill the molds, and then invert the mold over the bowl to allow the excess chocolate to drip out. Place the mold into the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the chocolate to harden.

Remove the tray from the fridge and use an offset spatula to scrape the excess chocolate from the bottom of the mold leaving you with neat chocolate egg shells.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comCarefully spoon some of the caramel filling into each egg, ensuring you leave room at the top for the final layer of chocolate. Return to the fridge for another 10-15 minutes to set once more.

Remove from the fridge, and add the final layer of chocolate to each mold, ensuring the caramel is completely covered. Use the offset spatula to wipe the excess chocolate from the mold.

Return to the fridge for another 15-20 minutes before gently releasing the chocolates from the mold. Lay the mold flat over a sheet of parchment paper and with just a little pressure the chocolates should pop out. If needed you can tidy any rough edges with a small sharp knife.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comFor extra sparkle, lightly spray the finished chocolates with edible luster dust.

Yield: 24 chocolates.

Red Poblano Pepper Jelly

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comI have cooked many times with poblano peppers and until last week all the poblanos I’d ever seen were either a bright and vivid dark green colour or a glossy chocolatey brown.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comSo I was delighted to find some bright red poblanos mixed in with the green at one of my favourite markets and couldn’t resist grabbing a bagful of them. A quick google search led me to rickbayless.com where the Mexican cooking guru enthuses about the red poblano.

Poblanos take a long time to ripen to red so most are plucked from the vine whilst still green, hence their limited availability. I tried his recipe for “fettucine with butternut squash and red poblano crema” and can heartily recommend it.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comThe rest of my pepper haul was destined to make a batch of red poblano pepper jelly, jelly being one of the options for March’s Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. Pepper jelly is one of my preserving staples in the summer when peppers of all shades are abundant in our CSA box, but making it with red poblanos would be a first for me. They are slightly hotter than their green counterparts , with a sweeter, more fruity flavour and, as I discovered, make a fantastic jelly.

I’ve already served it in the classic pairing of goats cheese and pepper jelly but it would also make a great glaze for meat or vegetables, be the perfect condiment for a grilled cheese sandwich, or add a kick when whisked into a salad dressing.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.comThe recipe is based on one for “Sparkling Sweet Pepper Jelly” from “The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving”. As the name suggests, this recipe leaves you with small jewel like pieces of pepper suspended in a bright, glowing jelly, making it visually appealing for the table as well as delicious. It also means that you have quite a bit of chopping to do to get the tiny pepper pieces but the result is worth it and once that bit of prep is done it is a pretty simple recipe.

red poblano pepper jelly from britinthesouth.com

Red Poblano Pepper Jelly

1.5 cups finely chopped red poblano peppers

0.75 cup white wine vinegar

3 cups granulated sugar

1 pouch liquid fruit pectin (I used a 3oz pouch of Certo liquid fruit pectin)

Combine the chopped peppers, vinegar and sugar in a non reactive saucepan (stainless steel or enamel).

Bring to the boil over high heat and boil hard for a minute, stirring constantly.

Add the liquid fruit pectin, bring to the boil again and boil hard for one minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Ladle the jelly into sterilised jars, leaving half an inch of headspace.

Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Yield: 3.5 cups

 

 

 

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

As the name suggests, purple sprouting broccoli is a bright purple cousin of regular broccoli, producing small vivid violet florets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic but holds a special place in the hearts of British vegetable lovers. It is a frost hardy plant that grows slowly through the winter, reaching its peak between February and April, thus providing a welcome burst of colour and flavour in the garden and on the plate when folks are starting to tire of winter but the delights of the spring vegetable garden still seem a long way away.

So imagine my delight to find some recently at one of my local farmers markets.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.comIt is tender enough to nibble raw so doesn’t need a lot of cooking and whilst a versatile vegetable I find a relatively simple approach is best.

It takes just 2-3 minutes in a steamer to cook, maybe a minute or so longer if the stalks are on the thick or woody side.

It is glorious just dipped into a soft boiled egg but I also like to pair it with a simple blue cheese sauce. Just eat it with your fingers, licking off any stray sauce.

purple sprouting broccoli with Stilton sauce from britinthesouth.com

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Stilton Sauce

1 bunch purple sprouting broccoli

6 fl.oz (0.75 cup) heavy whipping cream

3oz Stilton cheese

Bring water to a boil in a steamer (if you don’t have one just put a colander above a pan of boiling water)

To make the sauce simply warm the cream over medium heat and crumble in the cheese. Stir regularly until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth (8-10 minutes).

Trim any thick or woody pieces from the end of the broccoli stalks. Place in the steamer and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes.

Remove the broccoli from the steamer and serve immediately, drizzled with the cheese sauce.

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Bara Brith for St.David’s Day

As my wife originates from Wales I try to cook up something Welsh related on March 1st every year to celebrate the feast day of St.David. Last year it was Welsh cakes; this year I turned to another famous baked item from Wales: bara brith.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comBara brith translates from the Welsh into “speckled bread”, a fruity loaf made with dried fruit and mixed spices. The fruit is traditionally steeped in tea overnight to enhance the flavour, and the loaf is typically served sliced and buttered with a cup of tea.

Mixed spice is a peculiarly British blend that seems to have no direct equivalent in the States. The closest thing in the USA is pumpkin pie spice but that is usually too heavy on the cinnamon for my liking, so I mix my own blend from allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, cloves, coriander and ginger.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comThis is a relatively simple recipe. It just needs a little forward planning to soak the fruit in tea the day before you plan to bake it.

Enjoy, and have a happy St.David’s Day, or dydd gŵyl dewi hapus.

Bara Brith

Based on this recipe

1lb dried mixed fruit  (I used a 50/50 mix of sundried raisins and golden raisins)

9oz brown sugar

10 fl.oz. warm black tea (I made a strong brew of English Breakfast Tea)

2 tsp mixed spice (see recipe below)

1lb self raising flour

1 egg, beaten

Mix the fruit and the sugar with the tea and leave to steep overnight.

The following day, preheat the oven to 325F.

bara brith from britinthesouth.comSieve the flour into the fruit and tea mix and then add the mixed spice and the egg. Mix well.

Pour the mix into a loaf tin lined with parchment paper.

Put in the oven and bake for around 70-75 minutes. The bara brith is done when a skewer stuck into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

bara brith from britinthesouth.com

Mixed Spice

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground nutmeg

0.5 tsp ground mace

0.25 tsp ground ginger

0.25 tsp ground coriander

0.25 tsp ground cloves

Mix the spices together until thoroughly blended. Store in a sealed container. As well as using in this recipe this is a versatile mix that can also be used in other British baking recipes like fruit cake and hot cross buns.

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