Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Inzimino - Italian Chickpea Stew

I saw this on TV a few weeks ago and couldn't believe how simple it was and had to make it really.
The basic recipe is adapted from Theo Randall’s (it was him on TV cooking it).

This basic Italian stew is perfect as compliment to a meat dish, good on toasted bread or even on its own.

It’s packed full of good stuff and is fairly cheap and incredibly easy to make. The additions of the greens makes it even more healthy

It has simple everyday ingredients and as standalone dish is perfect for your meat free day.

Very tasty, filling and perfect for colder days

OK I could have used some better bread but hey it’s what I had in.

I was really pleased with how it turns out and proves yet again, as it does with a lot of Italian Dishes, that a few good ingredients can make a sumptuous and perfect dish

1 Red Onion Finely Chopped
2 Medium Carrots, finely chopped
400g Tinned Tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Two good Handfuls of shredded, Swiss Chard, Spring Greens, Cabbage – Whatever you have really, leave it out if you like
Handful of finely chopped parsley.

2 tbsp of olive oil for cooking
Good extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a large frying pan, add the cooking oil and heat, gently fry the onion and carrot for around 20 mins until tender.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and chilli flakes, stir through and simmer for 10-15 mins until most of the liquid has gone.
Add the Greens and simmer for 5 mins.
Season to taste, add some of the lemon, it should have “Freshened up” the taste, if it hasn’t done so to your liking, add  little more, tasting as you go.
Add the parsley, stir in and your ready to plate, either on bread/toast or as a side dish.
Finish off by drizzling over with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bilberry Vinegar

So first off an admission, when I say I’ve made a vinegar, what I actually mean is I took some white wine vinegar and added some fruit. I could have taken the fruit and made some alcohol then vinegar out of it but I don’t really have the patience for that. This however was very easy to make

Bilberries, in case you’re wondering, are any of several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species. Bilberries are distinct from blueberries but closely related to them. (Wikipedia). They also look like little blueberries and can be seen below.

I’ve had an idea for making a vinegar out of these for ages now. The Woods at Hanchurch are blessed with an abundance of the fruit baring shrub and this year the yield is very good indeed. Armed with a basket, Lisa and I spent a hour or so collecting fruit for this little experiment.

I’d looked around for ideas for making vinegar and settled on white wine vinegar base with the addition of the fruit and sugar.

So the taste, biased slightly, but it’s brilliant, it has a lovely fruity sweet note but with the all important tang that makes a vinegar what it is.

So far I’ve only used in with oil and bread, that said it is really, really good

Before we go any further, an apology from me. As I write this the bilberry season is pretty much over I think, so if you want to have a go, you’ll have to wait until next year

900g of Bilberries
700 ml White Wine Vinegar
350g Caster Sugar

Airtight Jar and/or sealable bottles

Remove and stalks and leaves from the berries, then wash in cold water. Put the washed berries in a large bowl, pour on the vinegar and then mash the berries. You can use a fork or potato masher for this. Once you’re happy that you’ve mashed them enough, pour everything into sealable, sterilised jar. Leave in the jar out of direct sunlight for around 4 weeks. You can, if you wish, about 2 weeks in, give them a further mash with your masher.

After 4 weeks drain the now vivid purple vinegar through some muslin and sieve to remove any bits, this could take a while to do, so you can if you want, squeeze the muslin around the berries to get the last bits of juice out, be warned though it’s wise to wear gloves as the juice is hell to get off your hands.

Once you’ve got all the goodness out, pour the liquid into a large saucepan. Taste it first it should be very tart but with a fruity taste. The Sugar volume above is a guideline, by tasting before you should have an idea as to how sweet it already is. I would start with about half the amount above and add to the pan. Over a medium heat dissolve the sugar into the vinegar and taste, if it’s not sweet enough add more sugar, if you’re happy then stop.

Pour into sterilised bottles or jars, seal and you can use it immediately, it does taste better after a few weeks though

Use it as you would balsamic or fruit vinegars