Monday, 17 August 2009

Peach Chutney, Tomato Chutney, Watermelon Rind Pickles

This evening, I made four pots (two half-litre, two 250 ml) of tomato chutney, having finally managed to find nigella seeds in an organic/diet shop in town. I'd spent the last week trying to find nigella, having identified them variously as onion seed, kalonji, and black cumin. People mainly just looked at me strangely when I asked if they had it- I tried Globus, Manor, Coop... Then on Saturday morning I bumped into my best friend in town, told her what I was looking for, and she suggested an Asian shop up near Placette (sorry- Manor!). So I went there on Monday morning. No luck, but I did find that it has all sorts of things that I had no idea I could find around here- such as tamarind. I've been reading recipes with tamarind in them for a couple of years now, but always assumed that it hadn't made it to Switzerland yet. Serves me right for not poking around more! However, on the way to the shop, I walked past the above-mentioned organic shop, so I stepped in there on the off chance. I found all sorts of other things there too, such as teff (to make injera with- I've only had injera once, but I loved it), and dulse. Will bear the two shops in mind in future!

So that was my final ingredient for the chutney. I've been making chutney on and off for about two weeks now. It started off with a white peach, ginger and chili chutney which I made up due to having too many white peaches that were turning too fast to mold. I put two red chilis in there, making it lethally hot- hence the single pot was handed over to my parents with instructions to let it mature for a few weeks! Since then, I've made it again, with yellow peaches and only one chili.

- peaches
- mustard seeds
- chili
- red wine vinegar
- onion (I think)
- brown sugar

Chop peaches, without skinning them, put in large enamel casserole dish, simmer until softened, add the other ingredients, simmer until thick. No doubt not at all the right way to make it, but sometimes you just make things up as you go along...

Having made a watermelon and feta salad for a family party, I remembered reading about watermelon rind pickles. I then spent a few days trying to round up what I needed for that- and now have two jars sitting maturing in the cupboard. Not so sure how that's going to go. They look... interesting. Probably more interesting than tasty. But I might be pleasantly surprised. I more or less used this recipe.

The tomato chutney, I had an urge towards making due to the farm around the corner selling some glorious big red tomatoes that looked absolutely yummy. And we've been meaning to start buying fruit and vegetables in the village anyway- can't get less food miles than that! Assuming that it would be "cooler" at about 16h, I waited until then, popped Greta on my back, and walked down the road.

It may have been cooler than earlier... but it was still incredibly hot, about 32C. Thank goodness it was only a 3 minute shuffle, or we would have melted away, leaving nothing but a pile of clothes and a baby carrier on the road.

The farmer's wife (why do we always assume she's the farmer's wife and not the farmer herself?) was having a nap, but a little old lady who turned out to be my neighbour-from-across-the-road hauled herself out of the shade of a parasol under a tree to sell me three kilos of tomatoes for very cheap, and have a chat about who she knew in my building. I'd have loved to stay and be friendly, but we were standing right in the sun, and although I'd smeared Greta with sunblock before coming out, I wasn't happy about it. Besides that I was also slowly wilting!

So we said our goodbyes, Greta waving politely, and walked back home. Of course, I wanted to start up my chutney immediately, as you do when you've finally got all your ingredients together, but Greta got very clingy and didn't want put down when we got back. I managed to measure spices out and tip them into a bowl, ditto the sugar, and I even managed to par-cook and then skin 2 kg of tomatoes (1 kg saved for salads and sandwiches), which was pretty impressive with only one hand. But then, as I've discovered since having Greta- most things can be done with one hand. Including breaking and separating eggs. As long as you don't mind egg white all over your fingers!

After she went to bed, I had a final review of my two source recipes. I'd picked this recipe from Becks and Posh, and another from allrecipes, and had decided to pretty much meld the two.

- olive oil
- 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 2 tsp nigella seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds (a leap of faith, this, as I dislike anise flavour intensely!)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 6-8 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 2 inches ginger root, chopped finely (I put the ginger and the garlic through the mini-chopper together)
- 1 cup golden raisins (which was too many- it should have been about half)
- 4 dried red chilis (not quite dried- I used ones I bought in a pack a few weeks ago when I was making a proper red Thai fish curry, and hadn't used these ones, so they've been sitting out drying)
- 1 tsp piment d'Espelette
- 2 cups organic cane sugar
- 2 1/2 cups apple vinegar
- 2 kg tomatoes

I heated the oil, added the spices and chilis, stirred, left a minute or two, then added the garlic and ginger, stirred that around briefly, then added the vinegar followed by the sugar. Stirred until the sugar had dissolved, then added the tomatoes and the sultanas. I simmered the pot for just under two hours. Becks and Posh said that it should be sloppy, and it was. Much sloppier than I had thought it would be, even with the warning! I spooned out one half litre into a jar, then the two 250ml jars, then did another half litre, and that was it. Inverted the jars, left for a bit, then labelled them with these great labels that dissolve in the dishwater, and left them to cool over night.

I'm now contemplating either plum or greengage jam (or both) with vanilla. Probably based on this recipe from Chez Pim.

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