Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Nectarine Chutney

I bought a large punnet of “Ripen-at-home” nectarines last Friday – they had deep rosy-hued skins and looked gorgeous; I foolishly fell for their charms.

Ripen-at-home? Yeah, right…not a chance! They sat on the breakfast bar in the warmth of my south-facing kitchen for five days and the bloody things were still as hard as a cricket ball – they could have been used as lethal weapons! I gave up waiting for them to become edible and made some chutney with them yesterday – sadly, I am not a woman who’s known for her patience.

I looked online and found nothing for nectarine chutney that appealed but there were loads of recipes for peach chutney if you happen to have a fruit bowl full of rock-hard peaches. They all involved skinning the peaches, understandable when the skins are hairy, but I was looking for something less fiddly; I just knew there was no hope of getting the skins off those damned nectarines!

I could tell you that I adapted my Chilli Plum chutney recipe… or, I could be completely honest and say that, in the end, I made this one up as I went along. As I’ve said before, chutney is very forgiving; just as well, really…

600g nectarines (after stoning)
325g red onions (after peeling)
125g dates
30g root ginger
30g garlic
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
325ml cider vinegar
300g white or soft brown sugar (I used a mixture)

Blitz the ginger and garlic, cumin, cayenne, salt and a couple of tablespoons of the measured vinegar until slushy. Chop the nectarines, onions and dates into largish dice and put into a large wide pan; add the garlic and ginger mix, the vinegar and sugar.

Stir well and bring to the boil then turn the heat down and let it bubble away steadily for about an hour until thick, stirring occasionally, by which time it will be a deep tawny colour. It’s ready when a channel drawn across the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon leaves almost no liquid behind.

Pot up into hot sterilised jars while the chutney is still very hot and allow to mature for about 6 weeks before eating.

Makes 5 190g jars.

Monday, 19 August 2013


I love, love, love pesto, but until yesterday I had never actually made it. I don’t know why, I never buy other pasta sauces, but it was just one of those things that I’d got into the habit of buying.

I saw a discussion on a food forum recently which pushed me into finally taking the plunge and I’m really pleased I did; I used some to make Delia’s Trofie Liguria for dinner last night and it was absolutely delicious, we loved it, it was so much more zingy and fresher-tasting than ready made. I also had some on a tomato sandwich for lunch today – gorgeous!

There’s a million recipes online – I just adjusted quantities a bit. Slightly less basil (I used all I had), no salt (I never cook with salt) and a bit less garlic in order to avoid knocking out the optician while she fixed Mr S-V's glasses today.

I’m a fool to myself – looks like I’ve just made another kitchen job for myself in future…

40g pine nuts
65g basil
40g parmesan-style cheese
125ml olive oil
1 fat garlic clove

black pepper

Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until golden and leave to cool. Chop the cheese into rough chunks then put everything in your processor or blender, add a few good grinds of black pepper, and pulse until you have the consistency you like. I don’t like it absolutely smooth so I stopped before it got to that point.

Pour into a clean jam-jar and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Store in the fridge. Now... how easy was that?