Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

Last year when I attended the Ballymaloe Food and Drink Literary Festival one of the first things I did upon arriving, was to take myself to their beautiful living room and order tea and scones – as you do!  Needless to say it set the tone for the whole weekend, but one very lasting memory was that they served their scones and clotted cream not with strawberry or raspberry jam, BUT with rhubarb and ginger jam. It tasted sublime and I made a mental note to try making some at some point back at home.

Now ok it’s taken me a year but I got there and it tastes great so was keen to share it with you. My mother celebrated her birthday the other day and invited some friends over for tea. My youngest daughter and I made cakes (an elderflower and lemon drizzle, in honour of the recent royal wedding and a carrot cake) and scones and some mushroom tartlets with sour cream and parsley. My eldest daughter baked her legendary chocolate cake and my father made a wonderful Victoria sponge and scones with raisins.

As a side note, scones you can make ahead as they are great to freeze – I made around a 100 for my brothers wedding tea – the recipe is here and it works really well. So whilst strawberry and raspberry jam were on offer for the traditionalists, my rhubarb and ginger jam tempted those who wished to try something new and exciting. Hope you like it too.

Strawberry jam (left) my Rhubarb and Ginger jam (right)         Mama

 

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

1 kg of pink rhubarb, washed and cut into 2cm pieces

1kg of jam sugar

50g stem ginger

1 lemon, zest and juice

4cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

 

Before you begin you will want to clean and sterilise the jars that you are planning on using.

  1. Place all the ingredients into a large plastic bowl, stir thoroughly and then cover and leave to one side for a couple of hours, stir a couple of times over this period,  so that the sugar dissolves and the flavours all harmonise together.
  2. Place a plate into the freezer.
  3. Use a large stainless steel pot – you do not need a preserving pan – and pour all the ingredients from the bowl into the pan. Place on a medium heat and stir so that the rhubarb tenderises and a setting point is reached. This will take no longer than 15 minutes.
  4. To test for setting point, simply remove the plate from the freezer and spoon a little jam onto the plate. Within a minute the jam will have little wrinkles if you move it with your finger. If it is still too runny, leave it to cook a little longer and try again.
  5. If setting point has been reached, remove from the heat and leave for a couple of minutes before pouring into the sterilised jars. Seal immediately and label. I find this easy fill funnel great for jam and chutney making.

 

 

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Rhubarb and Custard Slice – Competition to win ‘Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe’ cookbook by Mat Follas

Spring is in the air, well at least for the moment it is. Sunny skies make all the difference and you can notably see everyone feeling that extra bit cheery. Polo-neck jumpers can be cast aside and thick winter coats can be put away, for a while at least. With longer days and flowers beginning to make an appearance, the thought of doing some spring baking is rather attractive.

‘Images from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas. Photographs by Steve Painter. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.’

Enter Mat Follas – masterchef UK winner way back in 2009 – new book ‘Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe’. I can almost smell the delicate scents from the sweetpeas on the front cover and that cheesecake screams ‘summer’ to me. Mat, his wife Amanda and their business partner Kate, opened Bramble Cafe & Deli in Poundbury in Dorset in 2016 and this book is a collection of all the lovely recipes that they showcase in the cafe.

‘Images from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas. Photographs by Steve Painter. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.’

Sweet and savoury are both included ranging from the classics, such as the ‘Victoria Sandwich Cake’, to fancy dainties and patisseries, such as the ‘Salted Caramel Tartlets’. He includes some wonderful sounding jams, jellies and marmalades – strawberry and elderflower jam, as well as some alcoholic and non-alcoholic tipples.

‘Images from Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe by Mat Follas. Photographs by Steve Painter. Published by Ryland Peters & Small.’

I decided to make the ‘Rhubarb and Custard Slice’, which is a take on a classic custard slice or mille-feuille. It also reminded me of my ultimate favourite cake ‘Pasteis de Nata’ also known as ‘Portguese custard tart’. It was super easy to prepare and makes a great dessert or tea-time fancy. The only slight alternation I’ll make next time is that I will oven bake the puff pastry for a little longer and lightly brush whisked egg allowing it to bronze more. Other than that it tasted great and the custard was very similar tasting to the Portuguese custard tart. Rhubarb is so pretty, and tastes fabulous that the combination of the custard and rhubarb brought back many childhood memories for me.

If you would like to win a copy of this book head on over to my instagram page and look for this photo above which will provide all the details. It’s very straightforward so have a go at winning a copy.  UK residents only I’m afraid. For those asking, the beautiful plates above I have collected over the last few years from Anthropologie, which always stock such gorgeous things.

Rhubarb & Custard Slice

recipe from ‘Afternoon Tea at Bramble Cafe’ by Mat Follas

150g puff pastry (bought)

1 egg, whisked

300g fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2cm length pieces

vegetable oil, to coat,

50g Demerara sugar

200ml milk

100ml double/heavy cream

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

50g plain/all-purpose flour

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

100g caster sugar

non-stick 30x20cm/12×8 inch brownie pan, light oil and lined with baking parchment

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade (35o Fahrenheit) Gas 4.
  2. Roll out the pastry to 3mm thickness and trim to fit the base of the brownie pan.
  3. Using a fork prick holes over the base to stop the pastry rising too much. Use the whisked egg to brush the pastry to help it get a beautiful bronzed colour.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 minutes or until it is golden brown. If it has puffed up it will shrink when you allow it to cool out of the oven.
  5. Meanwhile trim and cut the rhubarb into evenly-sized pieces, about 2cm/2/4 inch in length. Toss them with a little vegetable oil and then the Demerara sugar. Spread them out on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until they are just softened and cooked through.
  6. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk and cream on a low heat, stirring gently until simmering, then immediately take off the heat.
  7. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, flour, vanilla and caster sugar to form a paste.
  8. Pour the hot milk and cream mixture into the mixing bowl, whisking constantly to combine into a think custard.
  9. Now return the custard to the saucepan and on a low heat whisk the custard over the heat until it has thickened and holding soft peaks. It is really important to have it on a low heat so it does not burn!
  10. Pour the thick custard over the pastry base and smooth it to make level.
  11. Place the rhubarb pieces on top of the custard – they should be half submerged.
  12. Refrigerate for at least and hour before cutting into 10 with a bread knife.
I was very kindly sent a copy of this beautiful cookbook. All views and opinions are my own.

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Book Review: Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

For those who are interested in wellbeing and the power of herbs (which I most certainly am) then the recently launched ‘Cleanse Nurture Restore with Herbal Tea’ by Sebastian Pole – founder of Pukka tea – will be a book that you will most definitely want to get your hands on. It’s also the prefect gift for those who have everything and you are at a complete loss on what to give them.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

There is so much interesting information within its pages that you need to take time to drink it all in. In fact drinking one of their elixir might just be the perfect accompaniment. Pole talks about how in the past we would “live at the mercy of nature, the care and protection of our loved ones would be high up our to-do list. We would be dependent on the shamans, healers and wise women for talismans and incantations as well as herbal brews and poultices to help heal all manner of ills. And we would have to understand the natural world around us so that we could stay healthy”.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

I think in the Western world today many of us have lost the interest and inclination to discover  the magical qualities of herbs and spices.  We are beginning to hear more and more about the health benefits of turmeric for example, but turmeric is one of thousands of herbs and spices that can help relieve pain and ailments.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

I am always interested in reading about tribes in the Amazon rainforest staying fit and healthy by utilising the numerous herbs around them in the forest. We are definitely missing a trick not listening more closely to these so call ‘primitive’ tribes. In many respects they are far far more knowledgable about medicines – well herbal medicine at least – and staying well, than many of us who rely purely on antibiotics so sort us out. One wonders perhaps who is in fact the primitive ones!

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

Pole’s book is split into many chapters to help guide us through the world of herbs and their individual qualities. There are chapters titled: The language of herbs, The doctrine of signatures, The perfect blend, The art of making herbal tea, Helpful herbal terms. Later on in the book the chapters focus more on mood and wellbeing hence: Ailments & Elixirs, Cleanse & Detox (great one to focus on in January folks!!), Nourish & Digest, Energise & Rejuvenate, Peace & Harmony, Joy & Happiness, Defend & Protect and so forth. A further chapter talks about ‘ayurveda’ and ‘where do herbs come from’, as well as a useful chapter on ‘suppliers & practitioners’. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable read, which will motivate even the most reluctant herbal tea drinker. Some drinks are hot whilst other ‘teas’ are cold. I opted for a cold one in fact to have at the beginning of my day.

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Cleanse, Nurture, Restore with Herbal Tea by Sebastian Pole, photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by Frances Lincoln (£20)

I decided to try out the ‘Nourishing almond saffron elixir’ – it is described as ‘Heaven in a glass. Golden, silken and sweet, it builds your brain and brawn’. Other than the soaking of the almonds overnight it takes minutes to prepare. I think ‘heaven in a glass’ might be pushing it just a touch, but it did taste rather good indeed and I will be making it again for sure. In fact I am keen to try ‘Elderberry & Echinacea winter warmer’ next as I can feel a chill in the air.

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Nourshing Almond Saffron Elixir

serves 1

10 almonds, soaked overnight

5 saffron strands

2 cardamom pods, seeds only

150ml water

honey to taste

  1. Soak the almonds overnight and in the morning remove the skins – back of teaspoon works well doing this (similar to how you would remove skin from fresh ginger).
  2. Put all the ingredients, aside from the honey into your blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Add honey to taste.

In the book, Pole goes into detail about the qualities of each of the ingredients listed so you will know what wonderful benefits it is giving your body.

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You can order your order our own copy here

Disclaimer: From time to time chilliandmint.com receives new cookbooks that are about to/have just launch. It is only those that she would actually recommend that make it onto the blog itself.  All opinions are her own. 


Easy Classic Scones for a Big Occasion

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My little brother is getting married tomorrow so I thought I would do a spot of baking. I have co-ordinated a whole team of bakers in fact to make all manner of deliciousness for guests when they arrive back at the house from the church. Scones are great when you need to bake in advance as they freeze really well. When you’re ready to eat them all you need to do is defrost them completely and then place them in a low oven  for 2 to 3 minutes to warm them up. It’s that simple.

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After you have combined the self-raising flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and butter (you crumb the butter so that it is mixed in completely) you make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in warm milk – which has a couple of drops of fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract. Using a knife mix the warm milk into the flour and a beautifully soft dough will form – you can add a little more flour if it remains too sticky.IMG_1361

Place it on a floured surface and fold it over a few times either by hand or using a rolling pin. Flatten it so that you still have about 4cm thickness and then using a cutter (5cm in diameter – smooth edges is probably more preferable but I only had a wavy edge one!) make your scones. I dug out one of my children’s cookie cutters that actually allowed the dough to bulge out the top, which I thought worked rather well. Place them spaced out on a large baking tray covered with baking paper. Glaze each scone with your beaten egg mixture.

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Place them in a preheated oven – 220C/fan 200C if using a non fan for 11 minutes precisely.

The proportions below will make 11-12 scones. I made mine in 6 batches as I found it a lot easier doing it this way.

You can either serve them immediately with clotted cream and strawberry jam or once cooled freeze them until ready to use (in which case defrost thoroughly and then reheat them for a couple of minutes in a low oven).

 

Easy Classic Scones

350g self-raising flour

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking powder

85g unsalted butter, cut into cubes

3 tbsp caster sugar (optional – see notes below)

175ml milk

few drops of fresh lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten to glaze

strawberry jam

clotted cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/ Gas 7 and line a baking tray.
  2. In a large bowl sieve the flour and baking powder. Add the salt, sugar and cubed butter and using your finger tips break up the butter to form little crumbs when mixed with the flour – you don’t want any large butter cubes remaining.
  3. Warm the milk in a pan/microwave so that it is warm but not boiled. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice. Make a well in the bowl of flour mixture and gently pour in the milk.
  4. Using a knife mix the milk into the flour to form a dough ball. Flour your hands and the work surface and move the dough onto the surface. Flatten it with your hands and fold it over a few times. You can gently use a rolling pin but you need to make sure that the dough remains fairly thick – around 4cm deep.
  5. Place some baking paper onto your baking tray and place the scones at intervals so they do not touch. Brush the tops with beaten egg.
  6. Once you have used up all the dough place in the oven for 11 minutes exactly. Remove from oven and then either leave to cool completely and then freeze or eat immediately with jam and clotted cream.

Note: A couple of batches I completely omitted (forgot) sugar and honestly I could not notice a difference once I had placed clotted cream and jam on top.

If freezing, when you want to eat them simply defrost completely then heat in a very low oven for 2/3 minutes to rewarm the scones.

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Banana, Cinnamon and Nutmeg Loaf

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Having afternoon tea is very much a British thing to do. Granted we may not always sit down to tea and scones every afternoon, but given half the chance then we probably would. Copious amounts of tea is drunk throughout the day, but at tea time – around the hour of 4pm, a little sweet treat or savoury dainty might make an appearance if you are lucky.

 

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It wasn’t always the case. In fact it was Charles II wife, Catherine of Braganza from Portugal, who started the trend of tea drinking in the seventeenth century. From the English royal court it spread to London’s coffee houses and from there into the homes where civilised tea parties would take place.

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If you want a no fuss cake that is easy to whip up, moist and produces delicious baking smells when cooking then look no further. This banana, cinnamon and nutmeg loaf won’t win prizes for appearance in ‘The Great British Bake Off’ but what it lacks in appearance it makes up for in taste.

 

 

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So put on the kettle, pour yourself a cup of tea in your favourite fine bone china teacup and sit back and relax with a slice or two of this moist banana, cinnamon and nutmeg loaf.

 

Happy Days.

 

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Banana, Cinnamon and Nutmeg Loaf

2 eggs, beaten

90g butter

150g light Muscovado sugar

4 bananas, mashed

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

250g self-raising flour

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. In a large bowl mix the eggs, butter (which has been at room temperature) and sugar together and when it is smooth add the mashed banana, cinnamon, nutmeg and flour. Stir in throughly. I use a hand whisk but arm power works equally well if you do not have one.

3. Grease your non-stick loaf tin. I don’t tend to line my tin as I find that the loaf easily comes out of the tin when cooked.

4. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. It is done when you place a sharp knife into the centre of the cake and it comes out clean.

5. Place on a rack to cool slightly.

It is lovely to serve warm but equally lasts well for a few days.