Yesterday Emma bought some smoked mackerel from the supermarket in the city centre. I was looking for a suitable recipe which could be made using items we had in the kitchen. I found a recipe which looked promising. The only thing I didn't have was olives, so I left them out. I also decided to cook it in a pan instead of in the oven.
I started by frying some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until they softened. I then added a glass of red wine and boiled it for a couple of minutes before adding a similar amount of chicken stock and half a tin of tomatoes (just the tomatoes, not the juice - I didn't want the sauce to be too runny). I added a pinch of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of capers and a sprig of rosemary and let it simmer while I boiled a pan of rice. We thought a slightly spicy rice might go with it so I cooked the rice in the rest of the chicken stock and added a generous pinch of chilli flakes.
When the rice was nearly cooked, I removed the sprig of rosemary and added the mackerel to the pan. When it was ready to serve, I grated some parmesan to sprinkle on top.
The combination of tomatoes, fish and capers reminded me of a puttanesca sauce. The flavours were fairly intense but well balanced without anything dominating too much. The fish was quite good too, despite being from the supermarket's economy range.
I still have a few home-grown chillies and tomatoes in the fridge and I felt like making some kind of chilli sauce out of them. A few weeks ago I came across a Chilli Jam recipe from the BBC Good Food website and I thought that might be suitable. I used to occasionally buy a jar of Tracklements chilli jam and the recipe looked like it might give similar results.
I scaled the recipe down a bit for two reasons: I only wanted to make a single jar, and I didn't have enough vinegar or red peppers. The original recipe called for garlic and root ginger, which I didn't have either so I left those out. I hope it doesn't affect the recipe too much.
I started off by weighing 150g of granulated sugar into a pan and added 100ml of white vinegar. I started warming this through gently while I chopped one red pepper and 5 small cayenne peppers and put them in the liquidizer. I peeled 100g of fresh tomatoes, popped those in with the peppers then turned the liquidizer on and blitzed everything to a fine mush. I then added that to the pan.
At this stage, I transferred everything to a small camping stove in the back garden since every time I boil up vinegar in the kitchen, the smell permeates the house and lingers for hours. I gently heated the pan until it started to simmer, then left it for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
When it had started to thicken (and had reached what felt like the consistency of a melted jam) I turned the gas off and let the pan cool slightly while I sterilized a jar by pouring boiling water over it. I emptied the jar, left it to dry for about a minute, then carefully spooned the jam into it.
I haven't tried the jam yet since it is still cooling down so I hope it works out ok.
I decided to try my tomato chutney tonight. I think it was a success. It tasted like a 'proper' bought chutney. I hadn't followed the recipe exactly - I didn't measure out the sugar and vinegar but poured some in until it looked about right. The balance of sweetness and sharpness seemed about right. Since I used less vinegar than the recipe, it probably won't keep as long as normal chutney so I should make sure I eat it fairly quickly. Since I have two fairly large tubs of it, that's a lot of chutney to eat over Christmas.
We made turkey burgers for tonight's tea so I thought the chutney would go well on the side.
If I made the chutney again, I think the only change would be to chop the tomatoes smaller. Some of the pieces are quite big but since it was my first go at making it, I wasn't sure of the best way to do it.
At last, over a month after it was delivered, it was time for our recycling bin to be emptied. We filled it a couple of weeks ago and we've got enough new recycling to fill it all over again.
There had been a heavy frost overnight. It took a while to defrost the car this morning.
On my way to the office this morning, I overheard some women talking. I missed the start of the conversation but I think they were talking about the cold weather. I heard one of them say "But it's not even December yet!".
I had lots of spare unripe tomatoes in the fridge so I decided to make some Green Tomato Chutney. I followed one of Keith Floyd's recipes from the BBC website. Chutneys are supposed to improve after a few weeks so I won't sample it yet and give it a chance to mature.
I don't know whether the tomato harvest has been poor this year or whether there has been a shortage, but I have noticed the price of tinned tomatoes has gone up recently. It is most noticeable at the 'bargain/value' end of the market, where the cheaper tins have doubled in price. Strangely the price of tomato puree has stayed the same.