Tuesday, November 2, 2010

British Preserves

I have a particular weakness for british cookbooks.  I like that the food is just that little bit different, requiring slightly exotic items like golden syrup to make slightly exotic things like sticky toffee pudding, I love that the quantities are quoted in weight rather than measure (with a digital scale on hand I cannot tell you how much easier this is than all of those measuring cups) and who can resist the descriptions of vibrant markets in London or charming countryside establishments that invariably make their way into the text accompanying the recipes.

I have long avowed my love for Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson, and the River Cafe ladies, but my deepest British crush at the moment is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, thanks to his incredible beet chocolate brownie recipe in River Cottage Everyday.  So when The River Cottage Preserves Handbook, named after Hugh F-W's homestead, was recommended to me, I nigh ran to the library to pick it up.

Now I will tell you that my mother has a major complaint about the various River Cottage handbooks...their format is perfectly suited to a handbook, but ill suited to a cookbook...and as a result she has practically boycotted them.  She does have a point.  The volumes are quite small and the binding does not allow them to fall open, and remain open, on your favorite (or any) recipe.  But this is a flaw that can be overcome with a can of coconut milk (in my case) lain across the binding to hold it open.

Once this solution was employed, I was free to enjoy the recipes.  And boy did I.

pickled spiced pears

Oftentimes when I peruse preserves books at anytime other than high fruit season I find myself depressed.  But this book has got more gorgeous recipes for the cool months than it does for the warm...pear chutneys, apple curd, dried fig mostarda...River Cottage has made cool and dreary fabulous (although I suppose that given the book's English provenance this could be called making a virtue out of necessity).  How cute are my pickled pears?  So delicious.  Tangy and sweet, I am determined to bring them home for Christmas to be eaten alongside roasted meats.  I can't wait to give the mulled pear recipe a try next.

I always love the hot peppers from the folks at Oak Grove Plantation at the Greenmarket, but this is the first year I've really had anything to do with them.

chile pepper jam and apple lemon curd

This chile pepper jam is absolutely to die for.  It tastes like an haute version of that sweet chile sauce that you sometimes find in Chinese restaurants, and would be fantastic on a turkey sandwich the day after one of the upcoming holidays.  And the apple lemon curd alongside it?  I've been spreading it on toast for breakfast nearly everyday since I made it.  Tart and just sweet enough and rich and luxuriant, I have, embarrassingly enough, resorted on occasion to a spoon in the jar while standing in front of the refrigerator.  

This is one of those rare books that continues to intrigue long after I've made the first few recipes...I've got visions of pumpkins and quince and beets and onions and plums in my cupboard in the form of compote and relish and chutney and cordial and marmalade, courtesy of the brilliance of the River Cottage.


brismod said...

That recipe book sounds absolutely fabulous. x

Jane said...

Hmm what a good use of extra stuff. I love HFW too, he is the kind of shaggy one isn't he? I get a bit freaked out by having to sterilise jars though. How do you do it?

I food poisoned my daughter with dip yesterday so I am feeling particularly touchy on the topic!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Jane - He is indeed the shaggy one! I just put the jars through a cycle in the dishwasher and use them straight after the cycle is done, when they're still hot. As long as you fill hot jars with hot preserves and keep everything relatively clean you should be OK.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

You had me at 'Beet Choc. Brownies'

I must further investigate!!

Happy Wed. to you ~ Deb

Terry B, Blue Kitchen said...

I just always feel so full of well-being after reading one of your cheery, cozy posts, Laura! I've steered clear of pickling so far. Too much science experiment in the process for me. But I've been intrigued of late by some fresh pickling recipes I've seen that don't involve boiling jars and all that. I'm glad to hear these recipes seem to fall into the non-science lab category. I've already visited my library's website and ordered this. Thanks!

Laura [What I Like] said...

Terry - You have to start pickling! I do a ton where I just store them in the refrigerator to avoid all of the sterilizing and the like. But then I love pickles, I realize not everyone is so obsessed.

Robin said...

You have got to make David Leibowitz's pickled carrots. Just a hint of ginger, so delicious.

I like HFW, he ran a whole show in the UK highlighting the cruelty of farmed chickens. It was terrible.

Mlle Paradis said...

love hfw. his tv series' are soooo cozy.

Sneaky Magpie said...

I adore Hugh! Every Sunday evening I am glued to the screen to watch his show. The pears look lush and the apple and lemon curd sounds so delicious!

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