This is a very special recipe shared with us by Ana & Juan, two siblings born in Colombia and now living in different parts of the world. Sharing and making recipes, such as these sweetcorn arepas (arepas de choclo), from places we call home help us feel closer to each other when we are too far to hug. Thank you Ana Maria Millan and Juan for sharing a tasty treat and transporting us to your Mum’s Colombian Kitchen table, in that flat that was bought precisely because it could fit a table large enough to gather friends and family as its focal point of togetherness. Much love and respect to Ana’s wonderful Colombian Mama and all the Mamas many of us miss from afar! Thank you to Ana who shared this recipe and her words, which make up most of this post. Ana was born in Colombia and has been living in the UK for nearly 20 years.
Arepas are a traditional food of Latin America, and they come in many varieties. Some are made with different types of corn (e.g masa harina) or rice flour. They are eaten as part of a meal or as a meal itself. This recipe is made with young sweetcorn (choclo) and a mix of flours.
Ana says, ‘I like it because it is sweet, and also because it helps me bring together some of the components of my multi-cultural family: a Colombian recipe with Dutch cheese. My husband is Dutch so we try to make the most of both worlds. Although I only started making arepas after moving to the UK, this recipe takes me home, to my mum’s kitchen. The ideal way to have these is with Colombian hot chocolate, with cheese inside (but that’s another story).’
‘For us sharing food is very important. Growing up we always had dinner together – it was the time of the day when we would sit together and talk about our day and anything that was happening. And, that is something that I do with my family too – dinnertime is family time.’
What (feeds 2)
- 2 cups or 340g sweet corn kernels (use defrosted or tinned + drained)
- ½ cup or 110g flour – use either masa harina OR gluten free flour OR a mix of gluten free and fine cornmeal ground furtner in a stone pestle or mortar
- 1 teaspoon of softened butter or coconut oil
- 4 Tbsp. or around 60ml milk (dairy or vegetable)
- Pinch of sugar
- Place the sweetcorn in a food processor until it is mushy, but not smooth. Some kernels should be visible.
- Heat the milk and melt the butter of choice.
- Add the flours and sugar to the blender and blend till smooth.
- The batter should look like thick porridge but it should not be too stodgy. If it is too thick, dilute it with some more milk.
- Use a large non-stick pan to fit many small pancakes or a smaller to make 2-4 large ones.
- Heat a little bit of butter until melted. Pour the mixture in small or larger circle shapes. Flatten to about 1cm thickness (not too thin but a little bit more like an American or blueberry pancake).
- Cook on low heat until it is nice and golden for about 3-5 minutes.
- Flip over carefully so it doesn’t break. Put the sliced or grated cheese on top and cook for another 3-4 minutes. You can fold in half and flip over to melt cheese further.
- Serve and enjoy.
- My perfect Ana & Juan arepas used a mix of gluten free flour and fine cornmeal (used for cornbread) ground down further in a stone pestle and mortar.
- Gluten free flour arepas were the second best.
- Heating up the milk to melt the butter worked really well.
- After my third attempt, I realised that the best way to blend the mix well was to add all the ingredients to the blender after first blending the corn kernels
- I used round metal moulds/cooking rings to make my round arepas. It helped my shape them and spread them thinner but they were mostly 2cm thick. I made mine about 10cm wide so the recipe quantity yielded between 8-10 small arepas.
- I LOVED using oat milk and coconut oil in my arepas. Ana is right it enhances the arepa sweetness
- I LOVED Ana’s Colombian/Dutch family tradition of using Edam cheese for the filling. It’s saltiness counterbalanced the arepa sweetness perfectly.
- Torn shreds of mozzarella was the second best cheese to use.
- I didn’t always fold the arepa as mine were mostly small.
- I loved serving with vegan or crisped up real bacon. Yum!
- Yes, I did the full Colombian thing and had chocolate with those. However, sweetened milky coffee was amazing too.
This is a recipe from our community and friends. Thanks to the the lovely Lucy Byrnes for the permission to share and adapt a recipe that makes her feel festive and takes her to a happy place she wants to share with us.
Lucy’s recipe feeds 4-6. It helped us see how easy is it to make paella at home to share with loved ones at all times and particularly during festivities.
- 6 chicken drumsticks & wings (around 500g)
- 75g chorizo, sliced
- 2 peppers, Lucy recommends yellow & red for the colours
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ -1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2-6 strands of saffron
- 2 pints or 1200 litre chicken or other stock (1 or 2 stock cubes depending on taste)
- 200g-250g paella rice
- 500-700g sea food you want (Lucy likes big prawns with the heads on and mussels. Use half and half)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- Lemon to serve
- Salt for chicken
- Get the mussels soaking for a few hours, scrub well to remove grit and pull the beards off.
- Season the chicken with generous amount of salt. Set aside whilst you prepare the veg.
- Prepare the hot stock, add the saffron, a couple of prawn heads and a mussel or two and set aside.
- Use a paella pan or shallow cast iron pan with a lid instead.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan and lightly brown the chicken both sides turning occasionally for about 5 minutes.
- Add the sliced chorizo. Cook for a further minute.
- Take the chicken and chorizo out and set aside making sure the fat stays in the pan.
- Add the chopped onion to the pan (no need for extra oil) and fry until it starts to caramelise. Add the sliced peppers and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Stir in the crushed garlic, a small amount of saffron and the rice and stir it well.
- Return the chicken and chorizo to the pan.
- Add the stock first bit at a time, then the rest of it after a couple of minutes. Stir well and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- At this point the rice probably needs between 5 and 10 minutes so you need to add the mussels.
- Cover and after 3-4 minutes add the big prawns.
- Then turn the heat off and let it sit with the lid on for 10 minutes so that the rice can soak up all the juices.
- Squeeze some lemon juice when you serve and a nice cold glass of white wine and you are sorted as Lucy says.
Lia’s Kitchen Notes
- If you have no paella rice, you can use risotto or pudding rice. Just wash once to clear some starch.
- You can add the paprika to the chicken to marinade.
- Stir fry the rice until it starts getting translucent before adding the stock.
- Once you add the stock, stir once and then cook uncovered for 15-18 min.
- In honour of the Valencian paella I like my rice slightly caramelised at the bottom. Only add the mussels in when you are sure most of the water had evaporated.
- The Spanish do not usually use chorizo but we love it as the dish It reminds us of the Creole Jambalaya, which uses long grain rice and spicy southern sausages.
- We used a ten centimetre deep pan around 25cm wide. It just about fit 3 drumsticks, 2 chicken thighs, 500g mussels and 200g prawns.
- We used chicken on the bone and with the skin on. I like crispy skin and the flavour the bone adds.
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#paellarecipe #yourrecipe #recipesfromthecommunity
When you read our guest Broadbean Crop Share blog on Global Gardens Website News Section on 10/06/2020 you can read more about our approach to food and culinary exploration. In the past year Lia’s Kitchen has collected over fifty cook books (second hand and donations) for a shared cookbook library. When exploring what we could do with the fresh broad bean crop given to us by Global Gardens Project we turned for inspiration to these books. It was in Genevieve Taylor’s Charred that we learned how to make a dipping sauce with Korean red pepper flakes. We had to adjust the recipe to our ingredients but we want to fully credit this book for the idea and inspiration. Our Broadbean pod fries inspired by Chef Tom Hunt are gorgeous with that sauce. The only problem is you can actually eat too much and be unable to move. Our crop share recipes have taken a Wasteless approach using the whole plan from leaves, pods and beans. Enjoy!
- Discarded pods of 300g fresh broadbeans (used in our crisped mint broad bean crostini or creamed broadbean crostini recipes)
- 6 Tbsp. self-raising flour (GF flour works well too)
- A couple of generous pinches of salt
- 200ml milk
- Vegetable oil for deep frying
Genevieve’s Korean pepper flakes dipping sauce variation
- 3 Tbsp. soya sauce
- 1 Tbsp. Korean chilli red pepper flakes
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. mirin sauce
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- 1 tsp. caster sugar
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seed toasted and then ground
- Toast the sesame seeds in a non-stick pan and set aside to cool down.
- Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl. When the seeds are cooled grind finely in a pestle and mortar and add to the sauce. Let it sit whilst making the Broadbean pod fries.
- Place three fingers of vegetable oil in a deep pot and turn the heat up placing a lid on.
- Make sure you string the pods well when you are shelling the beans. Use a sharp knife to double string the sides of the split pod again before frying preparation.
- Cut each pod shell in 5cm long pieces.
- Mix the flour and salt well in a bowl.
- Place the milk in another bowl.
- Dust the pod shells in flour lightly on both sides. Shake flour off well.
- Swiftly dunk the floured pods in the milk and return to the flour.
- Dust in flour for the second time.
- By this time the oil should be ready for deep frying.
- Place the pods in the pot but do not cram.
- Reduce the heat and deep dry for around 4 minutes or until golden but not burnt.
- Remove with a slotted spoon
- Drizzle with the sauce or dip each fry in the sauce with every bite you take!
National Vegetarian Week in May 2019 coincided with a new crop of cauliflower from one of our organic vegetable suppliers, so we thought it is best to share one of our best kept secrets. Cauliflower rice is a recipe which became a regular dish in our kitchen since 2015. We decided to share this at Riverside Real Food Roath Farmers’ Market two weeks ago for one of their community events. It is an easy and quick alternative to grain rice and a great additional side dish to your dinner table. It’s versatility also makes it the perfect addition to lunch boxes, picnics and barbeque tables.
This recipe is inspired by south American and Caribbean flavours. Think lots of lime, a bunch of coriander and a combination of caramelised onion and garlic. And did we say its vegan and gluten free? Cauliflower is a wonderful vehicle of flavours and you can adjust this recipe to take other flavour notes. Other cauliflower dishes we love include the Greek steamed cauliflower salad in lemon and extra virgin olive oil, cauliflower base pizza and deep-fried cauliflower nuggets (the current vegan craze).
- 1 large cauliflower head, grated
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 30g coriander, chopped
- Juice of two limes
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1-1.5tsp fine sea salt ff
- Heat the olive oil in a wide, non-stick pan. You will need your widest pan for this.
- Add the finely chopped onion with a generous pinch of salt. Lower the heat and sauté for 10-15 minutes, until the onion slightly caramelises. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to make sure the onion browns evenly.
- Cut the florets off the cauliflower and chop the stem into small chunks.
- Grate the whole cauliflower to rice grains size. The easiest way to do this is through a food processor (pulse in batches to reach the grain like consistency). But you can also grate by hand on the large side of your grater.
- Add the minced garlic to the onion stirring well and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium, add the cauliflower in three batches, stirring well to coat the cauliflower grains with the oil and onion/garlic flavour.
- After 10-15 minutes of stir frying add the lime juice and salt, stir quickly and thoroughly and remove from heat and cover.
- Add the finely chopped coriander and freshly ground pepper.
- Taste to check if you need more salt or lime.
Try making a masala cauliflower rice with a bit of chilli sauce and some chopped tomatoes. Or an Italian flavoured one with basil, garlic and parmesan. Yum!
Fáva is a velvety, smooth dip very popular in the taverns and homes of Greece. Not to be confused with the fava bean or broad bean, it is usually made with yellow split peas. Occasionally it is also made with dried and broken fava beans (κουκιά) but that dish has a light, green colour instead of its usual pale, mustard-yellow. It is usually served cold with chopped onion, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. But mother often fed us warm fava for a filling and nutritious meal – and we loved it. My favourite fáva flavour has a Cretan inspiration. Toasted cumin seeds and fried onion flavour my fáva recipe whilst roasted tomatoes and often caramelised onions are also paired or ‘married’ with it, as the Cretans say. Fáva can be paired beautifully with lamb but also octopus. It is nutritious and filling, and an impressive alternative to Hummus.
- 1 cup (around 250g) yellow split peas
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt (optional)
- Pepper (optional)
- Rinse the yellow split peas well and place in a sieve.
- Add enough oil to coat the base of a medium pot (2 to 3 tablespoons).
- Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and stir fry for around 5 minutes till the onion slightly softens.
- Toss in the yellow split peas and coat well in the oil and flavours.
- Add the boiling hot stock and bring to a low simmer for up to 40 minutes.
- At the beginning the mixture might froth. If this happens remove the froth with a slotted spoon.
- Half an hour into cooking check whether the dish requires additional water so that it does not stick to the pan.
- When cooked the peas should be getting mushy when mixed and should not have a bite.
- Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, add the lemon juice and cream the mixture with a hand blender.
- You can serve mixed in with roasted tomatoes and topped with caramelised onions.
- Yellow split peas are not the same as chana daal (yellow split lentils) commonly used in Indian cooking. You can source great quality, British grown, organic peas online through hodmedods.co.uk.
- Good quality ingredients make a great dip, so as well as using Hodmedods yellow split peas, I recommend you source use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this dip. Some of my choices include Oliveology, the Olive Press in Ludlow and The Greek Secret olive oils.
This summer I am working on a very important project with Oasis Cardiff and Festival of Voice in Wales. It is called Refugee Food Stories. And it is all about recording the recipes of people who work at and are supported by Oasis, and upskilling/mentoring some amazing individuals. These recipes helped create a menu which you can try at the Oasis Food Trailer at the Wales Millennium Centre Hub at Festival of Voice between 7 and 10 June and 15 and 17 June.
This is a recipe from Sudan and most importantly of an amazing lady called Huda who has made Wales her new home. About a year ago I went to one of Oasis’s Cardiff Supper Clubs where Huda showed us how to make and eat these Sudanese meatballs. I left with images of her family feasting in backyards in celebration of their bonds and life. I left feeling a little bit closer to her and with my belly full and happy. This is her recipe, a nourishing and delicious dish. If you have not tried it yet make sure you visit the Oasis Trailer outside the Wales Millennium Centre and between the Pierhead building this weekend. And why not try to make it at home.
Ingredients (yields 5 portions)
- 500g minced lamb
- 1 onion (150g), finely grated or minced in a food processor
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1tsp ground pepper
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 50g parsley finely chopped
- 1tsp salt
- Flour (approx. half a cup)
- 1-2 cups vegetable oil to fry meatballs
Tomato & yoghurt sauce
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1lt passata
- ¼ cup water
- Up to 250g Greek yoghurt (strained)
- ½ tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 250g basmati rice
- 500ml water
- 1 small carrot grated
- 1 small handful frozen peas
- 1 heaped Tbsp butter salt (50g)
Yoghurt and tahini dip
- 125g yoghurt
- 1 garlic clove
- Pinch of salt
- 25g tahini
- Pinch chili powder
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Mix all the mince ingredients (apart from the flour) well in bowl with your hands.
- In a flat tray place ½ cup of flour and spread thinly.
- Place the vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan, cover and heat whilst rolling the meatballs.
- Roll the meatballs into small round balls (3-4cm diameter) and place in the floured tray. The recipe should yield around 25 meatballs.
- Flour the meatballs well by gently shaking in the baking tray until they are lightly covered in flour.
- Fry the meatballs between 6-7 minutes on medium heat, until they are browned. Remove and set aside.
- Add two tbsp of vegetable oil in a deep pot, heat, add the minced garlic for the sauce and stir fry for a couple of minutes on low heat.
- Add the passata, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, salt and some water and stir well.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble add the yoghurt, shake to mix.
- Take off the heat and stir quickly before returning to the hob.
- Add the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes on low to medium heat.
- To make the yoghurt and tahini drizzle, add all the sauce ingredients and mix well in a bowl.
- For the rice: add the rice, water, carrot and frozen peas to the boiling water and simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
- Add the butter and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Serve a portion of rice with a ladle of 5 meatballs, a drizzled of the dip and a garnish of parsley (as would Huda).
A good risotto is a great dish to showcase seasonal ingredients from all parts of the world. Lia’s pea, broad bean and courgette summer risotto is inspired by Blaencamel farm’s seasonal, organic vegetable box and a popular Greek blogger video (Cucina Caruso) summing up the correct method for an authentic Italian risotto step by step. The result is a risotto recipe where Greece meets Wales and Italy in one plate.
Make sure you make time to enjoy the process of your risotto making selecting some nice music and a beautiful crisp white wine. Now more than ever we implore you to make time for the little joys in life and to enjoy the dolce vita. Eat seasonally, be positive and feel happy!
Order your seasonal Blaencamel veg box online http://www.blanecamelbox.com
Ingredients (for 4 people as a main)
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 125g butter
• 300g Arborio or other risotto rice
• 400g courgettes, coarsely grated
• 300g fresh peas and broad beans
• 1-1.5 litre vegetable stock
• 15 g fresh mint leaves
• 1 tbsp dry dill or the tips of half a small fresh bunch finely chopped
• 100 ml white wine
• Some extra virgin olive oil
• Freshly ground pepper to serve
• Grated parmesan cheese
• Some unwaxed lemon zest
1. Prepare the hot stock and add the herbs to infuse it during the first stages of risotto preparation.
2. Coat the surface of a wide and deep pan with just enough olive oil and add the 50g of butter.
3. Once the butter melts add the onion with a pinch of salt and slowly sauté on low heat until it caramelises.
4. Turn the heat up and stir in the rice. Sauté for a minute making sure that every grain is coated in butter.
5. Pour a ladle of the warm stock and stir whilst the rice slowly absorbs it. Only add another ladle of stock once the previous has been absorbed.
6. When one third of the way through the stock add the peas and broad beans together with another ladle of stock and stir until the rice absorbs it. To blanch the peas and beans place in in hot water off the hob for 5 minutes. You can skip blanching if you prefer the beans al dente.
7. Two thirds into the stock add the grated courgette, stirring and allowing the vegetable juice to slowly seep out flavouring the risotto.
8. Then add the wine, stir and when it is absorbed continue adding the stock until you are left with one ladle.
9. Add the last ladle and immediately remove the risotto from the hob.
10. Add the rest of the butter(75g), stir and let the risotto set for a few minutes to create the creamy finish.
11. Serve this delicious risotto with grated parmesan, the grated rind of one lemon and freshly ground pepper.
Enjoy with a chilled glass of Greek Malagouzia/Malvasia or Assyrtiko white wine.
May is the period of the hungry gap but at Blaencamel Farm where, during this period of summer anticipation , they continue to grow nourishing greens. Gem and pink, and green Battavia lettuce have appeared on the stall. There is spinach, sweetheart cabbage, wild and green garlic. Whilst the seasonal bouquet garni can complement the dill that makes this spring soup so special.
May’s recipe is a Greek traditional Easter soup with a Welsh and clean-eating twist! Mageiritsa is traditionally cooked with lamb’s liver and plenty of greens and salad leaves. This is a vegetarian version and could be made vegan if you choose to not use avgolemono, the egg-lemon sauce typical of many Greek recipes. If you live in Wales what makes this Mageiritsa extra special is using dried kelp from Pembrokeshire. And the final Greek note is the use of the tangy and sharp sea buckthorn berry, which is becoming a staple in my cooking this year.
Visit www.liaskitchen.com for more ideas and monthly seasonal recipes inspired by Blaencamel Farm’s crops.
Ingredients (4-6 portions)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 -2 leeks, finely chopped
- 1 green garlic or 1 bunch of wild garlic
- 500-700g finely chopped mixed Blaencamel greens, such as spinach, lettuce and/or sweetheart cabbage
- 500g mushrooms, Blaencamel farm or chestnut if they are not available
- 1 punnet of mixed Blaencamel farm herbs (fennel, sage, mint, thyme) (Optional)
- 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp. tried dill
- 2 Tbsp. uncooked rice
- 1 heaped tsp. Pembrokeshire Beach Company Kelp or other dried/crumbled sea weed (optional)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. sea buckthorn berries roughly chopped (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Around 2 litres of stock
For the Avgolemono sauce:
- 1 small egg
- Juice of one small lemon
Preparation (45 minutes)
- Coat the base of a deep pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one teaspoon of salt until soft and translucent.
- Add the cubed mushrooms (2 -3 cm chunks) and sauté for 2-5 minutes.
- Add the finely chopped herbs, wild or fresh garlic and greens, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
- Then add the stock, stir well and (if you are using) add the dried kelp or other sea weed, pepper and sea buckthorn berries.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rice.
- After 20 minutes (when the rice has softened and soup has thickened) remove from the hob.
- Beat the egg really well until it is fluffy and creamy (around 5 minutes), and whilst you continue whisking gradually add the lemon juice.
- Take one ladle of hot stock from the soup, strain through a fine sieve and add the hot stock slowly to the egg-lemon mixture whilst still whisking on low speed or by hand.
- Finally add the thinned egg-lemon and stock juice to the hot soup stirring in well to make sure it flavours and thickens all of the soup.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
You don’t need to wait for the weekend for this beautiful dish. It’s a great light midweek dinner or lunch as well as the perfect weekend brunch.
We live in the age of avocado craze so admittedly this is not the first time you see a recipe like this one. But I was asked to blog the recipe by one of my followers when I posted a photo on social media…and here it is.
I love using potatoes instead of bread but sourdough or other bread is a great alternative if that’s what you have handy.
Poached eggs are an absolute treat for me but if you like scrambled or fried don’t let me stop you.
And Dukkah, the Egyptian spice condiment the recipe for which is on my blog, lifts flavours and as another page follower said ‘makes everything taste better’. So maybe have a go at making it this week.
I love smoked salmon with avocado but you can easily omit it and replace with anything you fancy, for example sundried tomatoes work really well with this dish, as does chorizo and other spiced sausage if you are a carnivore.
- 2-4 eggs, depending on your hunger
- 1 avocado, halved and thinly sliced
- 170g new potatoes
- 60g smoked salmon, half a packet
- Half a lime
- 1/4 tsp chilli and garlic paste or 4 drops of Tabasco sauce
- A few slices baby plum or cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil
- White vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dukkah spice mix
- Wash and quarter the new potatoes (skin on) and simmer for 10 minutes, till cooked.
- Drain and mix in a bowl with the chilli sauce, a pinch of salt and a careful splash of olive oil.
- Squeeze the lime juice on top of the avocado slices and sprinkle carefully with a bit of sea salt.
- Slice the smoked salmon into thin slices.
- To poach the eggs bring a pot of water to the boil.
- Add a tablespoon of white vinegar.
- With a fork or spoon stir quickly in the middle to create a whirlpool and quickly crack an egg into its centre.
- Simmer for 3-5minutes for a runny poached egg or a bit longer if you like it firmer.
- Cook one egg one at a time.
- Serve the egg(s) on a bed of potatoes, topped with the salmon strips and the avocados on the side.
- Add sliced baby tomatoes on the avocado if that takes your fancy.
- Sprinkle the dish with the Dukkah spice mix or a bit of salt.
- You can also add more mild chilli sauces of your choice like Cholula or the coriander chilli sauce from Blaencamel market stall in Cardiff.
- A dollop of yoghurt is mighty fine with this dish too.
Have you ever ordered something in a half-asleep kind of way?
A few weeks ago when ordering pie ingredients from Cardiff Market I ended up with about 10kg of onions in excess even after cooking many caramelised onion pies. In the process of making the order I was wearing my astute-business-woman face, hiding tiredness from a long day at work. And the only thing I heard the helpful man say was ‘very little money for a lot of onions’ to which of course I said ‘yes’. It is unlike me to be imprecise with orders (on food or anything really) but this wonderful mistake gave me the opportunity to experiment cooking with a lot of onions within a short period of time.
Admittedly Dan and I will not have onion soup again for a while. But we gratefully savoured its thyme and wine flavours during a May week when the weather had turned bad, we got ill and the heating came on again. French onion soup recipes online are plenty but my version is closest to Elise Bauer’s one on Simply Recipes because I also use no butter. And on occasion I choose to leave out the garlic and also make Gruyere cheese toast on granary bread instead of baguette croutons.
The bulk of my excess onions however I turned into a spiced onion chutney. I almost followed a recipe from Allotment Growing Recipes but did not use as much sugar and added ground pimento berries, bay leaves, port and red wine. The result is a fragrant onion chutney that compliments strong and piquant cheeses competently and also works well with beef burgers. I converted and amended the recipe below for you.
Make up to 9 medium jars and about 4Kg of Chutney.
5kg onions (peeled and chopped)
800gr dark brown sugar
9 Tbsp olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground nutmeg
3 tsp ground ginger
6 tsp ground coriander
3 tsp ground cloves
6 tsp salt
3 tsp black pepper and pimento berries ground together
9 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 Tbsp malt vinegar
1 shot of red wine
1-2 shots of port
Preparation and jarring
At least 4 hours
Heat the oil in a 5lt pot, add onions and sauté for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the vinegars, lemon juice and spices and cook for 2 minutes.
Add sugar and then simmer uncovered for at least 3 hours.
Half way through cooking add the wine and port.
The chutney is ready when the liquid is reduced even if not fully evaporated- it will thicken when you stir.
About half an hour before the chutney is done sterilise jars.
Boil clean jars and their lids in bubbling water for 10 minutes.
Whilst doing that preheat the oven at 110 centigrade.
Line a baking tray with a clean towel.
Place the jars upside down on the tray using metal tongs.
Leave in the over for 15 minutes.
Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.
Label the jars when fully cool.
The chutney should keep for a year.
- Be prepared to peel and chop 5 Kg of onions for about hour if you have as small a kitchen as mine.
- I added the vinegars and lemons half an hour in the cooking process is as I was adding and sautéing onions gradually.
- Leave the lid off!
- Keep on low heat and stir regularly. Caramelised is good and burnt is bad.
- I put 800gr sugar but next time I’ll use less.
- Keep the jars in the oven if you have to wait a bit longer for the chutney to cook. The jars need to be hot if you are filling with hot chutney.
- Good instructions for sterilising can be found on Taste.com, an Australian website.
- The simple rule of jarring is to never add hot chutney to a cold jar and vice versa.