Something is troubling me, for about a week or two, that set me on this path and I wanted to share it with you. My friend asked me what’s your favourite meal your mum cooked for you, that special dish if you could have it now what would it be?
An innocent question that stopped me in my tracks. My mind wonders and I am cross I can’t think.
I reconnect with the question for over two weeks, I can’t think, I wonder through the memories of dinner parties, the chocolate eclairs at the winter wonderland party I ate so many I was sick. The apple pies with cinnamon pasty and slices of quince.
I am going mad, I could cry as I don’t have a favourite, I see my friend’s smug face as she declares it’s my mums roast dinner, another announces it’s her mum’s pie and mash. But I have failed I can’t think of a single dish. I conclude that as her cooking was so legendary it must be that, that’s stopping me choose.
But no there must be that one? like to love of your life! when they enter the room you just know. But I don’t, and I feel I have failed my mum, by not having a favourite. I’ve become obsessed with it, I wake up and wonder what it would be if I could sit down now and eat it. I almost settle with the battered oysters, then the nettle soup, I finally finish on the treacle pudding, but NO there’s more!
Its only when I reach the quince tart that I stop dead in my tracks I travel through time and I’m in the kitchen, my mums smile fills the room my dad’s cheeky funny self is entertaining her, she slightly flushed from the warmth of the aga, and the air is filled with the smell of roasted pheasant, I can almost taste the potatoes as their slightly earthy aroma steams from the pan as they cook. A large green cabbage is on the side waiting to be chopped and added to the pan. The plates are added to the bottom oven and I catch the smell of a quince tart as the door closes.
The kitchen is starting to fill up with pans some on the heat some push aside I beg for nutmeg butter, to go with my cabbage and watch as she turns the squash in the roasting tray, as they jostle for space with the carrots. I feel the warmth of the room as it fills my soul with such joy. YES I’ve remembered it’s! My Favourite dish, I want to go home, right now, I want to go to Barland Cottage and lay the table, put out the serving dishes, stoke the fire and sit expecting while my mum brings the table to life. My dad makes a joke, and my mum’s laughter fills the air we giggle, after all, he’s funny. I can safely say I’ve remembered the dish its Roast Pheasant that’s my all-time favourite and something I’ve not been able to cook since my mum died. I miss my mums cooking, I miss roast pheasant.
5 years ago I entered the World Marmalade Awards and won a bronze for my Seville with Cacao it was an epic day it lead me to decided that this is what really makes my world go around. So I thank Dalemain House for giving me the confidence that started me on this epic journey, this road has consisted of late nights and even hospital visits as I have fallen out of a trees. So thank you. (I am giving the world marmalade awards a rest, no other reason than I didn’t post it on time yet again!)
So now I make jam and the very fact you all wanted to buy eat and enjoy it well is nothing more than fabulous. Time has flown by and I moved out of my home kitchen, to one I built, started to keep bees, planted more fruit and vegetables, teamed up with the Chewton Glen to forage sustainably. So far so good.
I’ve lived and loved every minute, every disaster, every high, every low, they have all been fantastic. Although I feel that I may have lost the plot from time to time! But you, my friends, my children and my family have been there always encouraging me, every step of the way believing in me. Which means so much to me it hard to put into words.
So thank you all for supporting me in every way be it small large for helping me forage be it picking crab apples Carol,(Daisy cake company)or for growing them Darren Venables, to believing in my wacky ideas Martyn Nail, Luke Mathews, Leckford Farm, and of course the many bar tenders who have invited me in to help develop products cocktails and use jam in ways that made toast curl !
If I was to say I love what I do, it would underestimate the passion I have and my urgent need to cook everyday. I am always up early and chomping at the bit to get into the kitchen. So as I stop and reflect on the past five years, I shall share with you a few moments below.
Antonio Carluccio at Leckford Farm shop opening
Waitrose Charimans Award 2013
BBC Children in Need Carfest
Lunch Break with the Fabulous Baker Boys
Food & Drinks Award Hampshire
Foraging with nothing but the Bear essentials
Cooking at the Hotel & Catering Show
Cooking with Luke Mathews (my hero)
Talking Foraging with Estate Manger Darren Venables
As you know I am a fan of this particular farm in Spain their love and passion for growing organic oranges spreads across from Spain to our shores and into our kitchens like rays of the sun. You can buy these beauties from River Ford Organics, or Waitrose and a few independent retailers. This week on BBC radio Solent I talk about the farm marmalade making and here is the recipe the wonderful farmers send with their beautiful orange:
Ingredients: 1 kilo of Ava Marie Seville Oranges.
2.5 kilos of sugar.
Weight the empty pan and note it down (for stage 12)
Wash the oranges and lemon dry.
cut out the pips, saving them in a cup.
Cut the peel of the oranges and lemon into shreds.
Place the fruit into a stainless steel container.
Weight it and or every half of kilo of fruit add 1.5 litres of water.
From this measured water,take out a drop to cover the pips in the cup. If the measured water reaches 3 litres, remove 1/4 of litre.
Leave to soak over night.
The Following morning place the pips and the gelatine in a muslin sack and tie it to the handle of the pot, where you are going to cook the marmalade.
Squeeze the bag thoroughly and make sure it stays in the water with the peels.
Boil everything for approximately one hour until the peels are soft. ( make sure its a soft boil and cover with a lid or make a foil lid so that the liquid does not evaporate too much.)
Remove from the heat and weight the pan. Take away the weight of the pan and for each kilo of fruit add 1 kilo of sugar.
Slowly sir in the sugar until it has dissolved. Once it has dissolved slowly bring it to a rolling boil (stir continuously)
Cook for about half an hour to a maximum of 45 minutes.
take the pan off the heat when you are checking for setting point. To check for setting point you will need to remove a small amount from the pan and place on drop onto your plate that in the fridge. once it has cooled on the plate you can do the wrinkle check, pushing the marmalade with your finger and it will wrinkle.
Once you are satisfied with the set, pour into clean sterilised jars, lid and leave to cool.
Useful information and tips:
To sterilise jars wash and place in an oven for 10 mins. leave in the oven until required.
When cooking marmalade, you will feel it thicken when you stir the marmalade with your wooden spoon, the more you cook marmalade the earlier it will be to recognise the texture change whilst cooking. Just before she sets it starts to shimmer and glow turning silky.
Recipes from BBC Radio Solent chat with Katie Martin
Mixed Garden and Hedgerow Fruit.
Mixed Garden Fruit Jam (naked jam garden mixed fruit Available at the Chewton Glen Hotel).
A mixture of all your berries, from the garden or your nearest pick your own. I used the following from the Garden.
Soft Fruit Jam
1 kg of Gooseberries( topped and tailed)
200g of Blackcurrants
200g of Cherries (de stoned)
200g of Red Currants
200g of White Currants
2kg of Sugar.
200ml of water.
I used slightly less sugar than the normal ratio of a kilo for a kilo, but i feel for those who may not be fully confident in the kitchen stick to the rule of a kilo of fruit for a kilo of sugar.
Sterilized your jars by washing them and popping them into the oven. (for about 15 mins temp 150)
pop a small plate and spoon into the fridge to use for setting point.
Place the fruit in a large malsin pan add the water and slowly start to warm the fruit through, try not to overcook your fruit, after about 15mins or just when the fruit starts to break up slowly add your sugar. Sprinkling in the sugar ensures it dissolves quickly.
As soon as you are sure all the sugar has dissolved slowly bring the pan to a gentle boil stirring all the time, this process last about 25-35 mins. But if your fruit very fresh it can be as quick as 15mins so be watchful of the pan. You will be able to feel the jam begin to thinkin with your spoon. Remove from the heat and check for setting point. (test with a cold spoon and a plate that has been cooled in the fridge). Once the jam has set to your desired consistency pour into your sterilized jars seal with a wax paper seal and lid. label and store in a cool dark place upto 12 months. You can use Gooseberry or use any other soft fruit.
1 kg of soft Fruit.
1 liter of vodka
5 tablespoons of raw white sugar
If using large fruit such as gooseberries prick and place in a large clean “kilner style” jar shake and leave for about 6 weeks. The add the sugar over a few weeks (about 2) adding a small amount at time (about half of tablespoon, each time) Every time you add the sugar shake the jar, to help it dissolve.
Once you have added the all the sugar and it has all dissolved. Filter the drink through a muslin cloth or jelly bag. Decanter into a clean sterilized bottle and leave (if possible ) for about 4 months. Shake the bottle before serving over crushed ice.Now the fruit you have been soaking in vodka all this time is too good to throw away, so i suggest you use it for a layer in a trifle
1 liter of Water
400g of Sugar
Place the fruit in a large pan with the water and slowly bring to the boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for 20 mins when the fruit starts to lose it colour and you can smell its wonderful aroma.
Strain the fruit through a sieve and place back in the pan with the sugar, once the sugar has dissolved gently bring to a soft boil, bottle in clean sterilized jars seal and store in a cool place.
This can be used in cakes, ice creams and of course with prosecco or a buck naked matin.
Buck naked Martin
A citrus flavor vodka works with this.
Vodka, Elderflower juice,
naked Strawberry syrup or Jam,
Place all ingredients into a large glass shake and strain into a martini glass
Cocktail glass add a Strawberry and enjoy
If for some reason this all seems to much pop along to the White Buck pub in Burley and ask them for there house cocktail buck naked.