Flat Out for Christmas!
You know that Christmas isn't far away when you start putting in 18 hour days on a regular basis. I still have plenty of Quince to get made into delicious treats - I am mostly selling those through the Christmas pop-up shop, Havershams. Had a demonstration there last Sunday making Luxury Mincemeat and Cranberry Relish and it was all really jolly and festive.
I have also been working on a Christmas Order Form for one of the local schools who are having a rest from Christmas Puddings this year. They have issued the forms to all of the parents and are expecting orders to flood in over the next couple of weeks - I hope so! I am also preparing an order form for my business with lots of fresh products - lemon curd, butterscotch sauce, pesto, things like that. It is a great time of year to be making some of these specials, makes a change from chutney. I started off a big batch of candied peel today which is incomparable to shop-bought peel and delicious both in cakes and mincemeats but also eaten as a sweetmeat - maybe dip the ends in dark bitter chocolate. A great after dinner treat with some home-made liqueur like bramble brandy or marmalade gin.
I enlisted Trev's help with shooting our fourth DVD for the Rosie Makes It Easy Clubs. It covers the festive goodies - mincemeat, cranberry relish and a new delight, Quince & Orange Butter. Nothing finer on your Christmas morning croissant. It also takes a look at making some quick and easy canapes topped with pesto, tapenade and cranberry relish - a very pretty plateful.
Well - if you have followed Twitter and/or the newspaper and television/radio news you will be aware that the estimable Rt Hon Tessa Munt MP has very cogently raised the issues surrounding the proposed changes to the Jam and Similar Products (England) 2003 regulations. They are shortly due to be debated in Parliament so the time is ripe to make a noise and let your MP know how you feel about the proposed changes. To help you get the picture on what is happening you could re-read my various blogs below in May where I set out the position as I understand it. I have also put a link to Tessa Munt's speech should you want to view
Nevertheless, this week was unexpectedly hijacked by radio interviews, mad dashes to television studios, phone calls from newspapers and the Press Association - non of my planned work got done and I have been playing catchup ever since. It is very important though to give this subject our attention before it is too late.
I have been catching up today making a large batch of Piccalilli - there are always lots of orders for this at Christmas. As I tweeted this morning, I was going to try incorporating some of the lovely quince I have been given and calling it Quincililli - in the end I made a version of Mostardo di Frutta with the quince. I do love this rich delicacy - fiercely hot but rich and fruity at the same time. Elegant with good cheese and crackers, always a show stopper. I made it like this:-
Add 115g/4oz mustard powder to 300ml/half pint water in a bowl, cover and leave to stand for at least one hour
Peel and chop 450g/1lb quince and place in a pan with around 600ml/1 pint water. Cover and cook until soft, stirring often
Meanwhile roughly chop 115g/4oz each dried figs, glace cherries, dried ready-to-eat apricots, and add 115g/4oz each dried, ready-to-eat cranberries, raisins, and chopped candied ginger
Put 300ml/half pint white wine or cider vinegar in a preserving pan and add 115g/4oz soft brown sugar and stir over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and cook the syrup until slightly thickened, add the cooked quince, the dried fruits, the mustard mixture and 1 teaspoon sea salt.
Stir to combine and then cook until the mixture has thickened
Pot into warmed sterilised jars and seal tightly
Leave for around 6 weeks to mature before use - just right for Christmas!
I also made some Quincemeat!
Starting with two very large quince, I peeled and chopped them small, poached them in enough water to prevent sticking, stirring often. I added 450g/600ml de-stoned and chopped plums, and the zest and juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon.
Once they are all soft add 225g/half pound butter and gently melt into the fruit, add 450g/1lb each of raisins, sultanas, currants and soft brown sugar. Chop 115g/4oz glace cherries and add to the pan together with 2 teaspoons mixed spice and a good grating of nutmeg. You could add 115g/4oz chopped nuts as well if you like.
Cook all together for about 20 minutes until richly dark and unctious! Take of the heat and slosh in some brandy if liked. Pot into warm, sterilised jars and seal tightly.
A fresher, sharper flavour than 'normal' mincemeat, I am looking forward to using mine perhaps by make some palmiers by spreading on puff pastry, rolling up and cutting into slices and baking for around 15 mins in a medium oven. A delicious idea from one of my class members - thanks Lisa!
Here is a link to Tessa Munt's speech if you would like to watch it