Flat Ruthie Ventures Up the Mountain – Strawberry Jam & Coffee and Baileys Ice Cream

For any eagle eyed readers out there, you may remember that Flat Ruthie of Cardboard Me Travels sneaked into my suitcase on a recent trip back from the UK.

Stowaway on Board!

While she was here she took the opportunity to do some sightseeing, so we didn´t see her for a while. However, it´s strawberry time here and as soon as she heard I had bought a few kilos of local strawberries, she finally joined me again.

Obviously, as we were going to be cooking, she insisted on a little apron, so I obliged.

We weighed out a kilo of washed, chopped strawberries then simmered them until slightly soft. Then we added a kilo of sugar, a sachet of pectin and the juice of half a lemon and boiled until setting point.

Ruthie stood back for a while as burning jam can be pretty dangerous but she was pleased to see how well it all turned out.

The next morning the sun shone brightly and I called her to join me for breakfast in the garden.

I think all her sightseeing must have worn her out as she stayed in bed and missed breakfast completely.

When she did eventually get up she decided she needed a good strong coffee to get her going.

No decaf in this house!

As I was making ice cream from Chgo John´s amazing recipe, she had the bright idea of replacing the pistachios I had wanted to use (but couldn´t find) with a shot of coffee.  I didn´t have half and half either so she explained to me that I could substitute a mix of both half whipping cream with half full fat milk for this part of the recipe.

Just as we were about to pour the ice cream mix into the machine she decided that about 100ml of Baileys would also be a good idea, so we put that in too.

After a little churning and a couple of hours in the freezer it was time to taste the ice cream. She took her pinny off to eat and her verdict was….mmmm, we´ll definitely make this again!

Finally I can take my pinny off and have a little break!

Thanks for the visit Ruthie, it was fun. Do keep the pinny, it suited you and it definitely won´t fit me!

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Pear, Lime and Ginger Preserve

Fruity, Spicy and Tangy!

Over at Lavender and Lime, Tandy has set a Weekly Food Challenge to cook using citrus fruits.  Anyone who pops over to my blog regularly will probably have noticed that I use a lot of oranges in my cooking, particularly salads, so I felt inspired to take part in my first ever challenge!

I´m not sure if you´re allowed to submit two recipes, but I recently put up a post for one of my very favourite salads, Ensalada Cateta, so I´m putting that one forward too!

However, I also thought I´d like to try something different and as I´m in jam making mode this week, I had a little play around with ingredients. After the visit from my friends from the UK last week I had a few limes left over from a Mojito session, so I took it from there.

I love pears, but tend to either eat them as they are, or with cheese, or poached in wine.  How about trying a chunky, spicy preserve instead?  I could eat it on bread or toast, or serve it, almost like a soft quince jelly with cheese or, finally, as a sweet option drizzled over creamy vanilla ice cream.

In the end I decided to marry the pears with lime juice and fresh ginger, and I have to say I was thrilled with the results.  Just a hint of the tang of lime and the warmth of the ginger combined with the fresh taste of the pears.  Pears contain a lot of water so I cooked the preserve for about half an hour for the quantities given below on a gentle boil.  The final result left me with soft pear chunks which still held their shape and a jelly like syrup.

I used the following:

500g of pears (peeled weight) chopped into small chunks

250g sugar

A piece of fresh ginger (about 3cm in length) peeled and grated

The juice of two limes

For the method I used, please see either my Ruby Jewel Jam recipe or my Summer Cherry Jam recipe.  This quantity gave me two medium jars of preserve.  I do hope you enjoy it, it has an almost autumnal taste to it – I think it must be the ginger!

Summer Cherry Jam

Ready to wing their way to the UK!

Yes, it´s back to jam again today.  You may, or may not, recall that a nearby village is famed for its cherries. We had a very, very long and wet winter which meant that a lot of the blossom this year was lost from the cherry trees. Such a shame for those whose livelihoods depends greatly on selling their crop, a shame for the cherry fiesta which is coming up next weekend, and a shame for all the customers who were hoping for a bumper crop.

We were very lucky in that a friend gave us a kilo the other day.  We tried a few and they were delicious, but I wanted to make my first cherries into jam, to capture a special moment at the start of summer.  Cherries are quite hard to get to set (at least, these were!), so in this jam I used a sachet of pectin powder, the setting agent which occurs naturally in some fruit like apples and citrus fruits.  If you can´t get hold of it (or the liquid pectin) don´t worry, a little grated apple or the pith of a lemon plus a few minutes extra boiling should do the trick.

After pitting the cherries (that´s a messy job!) I ended up with 600g of fruit to which I added 400g of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons.  Feel free to vary these quantities a little if you like your jam less tart and more sugary.

As with most recipes for jam, start it off at a low temperature until the sugar has dissolved. This is when I added the pectin powder and then turned the heat up and got it bubbling

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Keep it bubbling away for about 10 minutes.  Don´t get distracted or walk away!  If you have a jam thermometer, do use it, it saves having to reboil the jam later if it doesn´t set.  Otherwise you can drop a spoonful of jam onto a saucer which you have previously placed in the freezer.  When the jam cools on the saucer you push it slightly – if it wrinkles, it´s at setting point.  If not, boil a little longer then repeat.

Leave the jam to cool down a little for 5-10 minutes so that when you pour it into still warm, sterilized jars (I run mine through the dishwasher to do this), the fruit will not float to the top.

Seal the jars while they are still hot and this will keep for at least a year.  It´s delicious on bread but also fantastic on ice cream, especially if you warm it a little first.

Sorry, I only took a photo of it in the jars, and they are already earmarked to wing their way back to the UK with my friends!  Luckily Big Man came home with several cartons of cherries this morning, so tomorrow I´ll be busy stoning cherries again for the next batch.

Speedy Apricot Jam

Ready to enjoy!

A visit to Málaga a few days ago to sort out some paperwork also led us through the backstreets to the old market, which has been beautifully restored.  Sadly, I didn´t have my camera with me to show you the stalls beautifully laid out with fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.

Sadly too, some of the fruit, when we got home, was not as lovely as it had promised to be.  I think the best stuff was “up front” and the bags of non regular shoppers were filled with the less than top quality produce from the back.

Hey ho, squashed and not so fruity tasting fruit lends itself to jam making, and making it in small quantities is also fun.  It´s quick, you don´t feel obliged to give away most of what you made to friends and family, and you get to have a wide selection of different flavoured jams in the despensa (that´s the larder to you and me)!

After tasting a few apricots and deciding that they weren´t up to that much, I stoned the rest and chopped them roughly and was left with 500g of fruit in weight.  I added 300g of sugar and the juice of one lemon and put into a deep pan.

Start the jam off at a low temperature until the sugar has dissolved.  The turn the heat up and get it bubbling, but making sure that it doesn´t boil over.  Cleaning cold, set jam off your cooker is no fun at all. 

Bubbling Away

Keep it bubbling away for about 10 minutes.  Don´t get distracted or walk away!  If you have a jam thermometer, do use it, it saves having to reboil the jam later if it doesn´t set.  Otherwise you can drop a spoonful of jam onto a saucer which you have previously placed in the freezer.  When the jam cools on the saucer you push it slightly – if it wrinkles, it´s at setting point.  If not, boil a little longer then repeat.

Sometimes you can just go with instinct, and even if it doesn´t set, runny jam tastes just as good.

Now you need to leave the jam to cool down a little for 5-10 minutes so that when you pour it into still warm, sterilized jars (I run mine through the dishwasher to do this), the fruit will not float to the top.

Seal the jars while they are still hot and this will keep (although I doubt you´ll be able to resist!) for at least a year.  Now, where´s that loaf of bread?

 

Ruby Jewel Jam – Mixed Berry (Fruits of the Forest) Jam

The Colour of Rubies!

A day when I feel like an exhausted mother who has been given an hour´s respite while her partner takes the children to the park for an hour.  Big Man has taken the dogs out for a walk and I´ve just made myself a cup of Lady Grey tea and plonked myself down on the sofa.  I´m sure real mums have it a lot worse, as it´s constant, but I have spent a lot of time with little people today and it´s worn me out!  Probably because I´m not used to it, at least that´s my excuse. 

Having said that, it´s been a fun day.  Tomorrow in Spain it´s the feast of San José, Saint Joseph, which means it´s Father´s Day here.  One of Big Man´s sisters is a teacher at the local primary school and I went along to help her out with classes today to get gifts and cards sorted out for the Dads. 

The day was focused on healthy eating, balanced diets, and talk about vitamins, minerals, calcium, protein etc.  All pretty advanced for 7 year olds I thought, but they loved it.  We made Fruit Salad, which is called Macedonia here, and the children ate this in their morning break.  We also squeezed some oranges that one of the dads grows and made a Moroccan dessert of sliced oranges sprinkled with a little sugar and cinnamon.  All were made with much laughter and consumed without a single cry of “I don´t like fruit”.

Cards with hearts and sunshine were also made and finally we moved on to some Moroccan pastries (a recipe from one of the mums who comes from there) made with ground almonds, eggs, butter, grated lemon and coated in icing sugar.  Good, sticky, messy fun. 

This afternoon was spent with Big Man´s niece who is studying English at the University of Malaga and we had a conversation class.  To get the ball rolling, I asked her to help me prepare some jam, which she happily did, and we covered a whole new cooking vocabulary which is not usually studied in a typical language class!

A few weeks ago I bought a bag of frozen mixed berries.  I think they´re called Fruits of the Forest sometimes.  We only used a little which I had whizzed up with yogurt, but I think the fruit had been picked very much out of season and was eye wateringly sour.  There was nothing for it but to convert the remaining 600g from a 1kg bag into a delicious, and beautiful, mixed fruit jam.  Here´s how we went about it:

  • 600g berries
  • 600g sugar (any amount if fruit and sugar will do, but they need to be equal quantities)
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • The juice of 1 large lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • A large, deep saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • A saucer
  • 2 or 3 clean jars and lids

Start by putting the apple and water into the saucepan and bring to a simmer.  As it simmers, mash with a fork or potato masher.  This will only take a few minutes. 

If you´re going to sterilize your jars in the dishwasher, put them in now as this jam doesn´t take long to make.  Put your saucer in the freezer for testing the setting point of the jam later.

Warm gently until the sugar has dissolved

Add the lemon juice, fruit and sugar to the pan and warm gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Once the sugar has dissolved, turn the heat up and bring the jam to a boil.  This only needs to boil for 5-10 minutes to reach setting point which you can test with either a jam thermometer or by putting a teaspoonful onto your icy cold saucer.  If the jam wrinkles when it has gone cold and is pushed slightly with your finger, it´s ready.  If not, boil for a couple more minutes then retest.  Be really careful with the boiling jam as it burns incredibly if it splashes onto you.

When it´s at the right point, leave to cool down a little while the dishwasher finishes its cycle and then pot your jam, screw the lids on while still hot but label the next day when the jam has cooled down completely.

Now all you need to do it bake some delicious scones to go with your beautiful jam!

Spread that on your toast...