Red Onion Marmalade

I am already thinking ahead to after Christmas, and days of eating left over cold meats.  To make it into something to look forward to rather than dread, I have made something to perk it up.  Some sticky and sweet onion marmalade to go with the turkey on boxing day will liven it up a bit!

The key to this is the long cooking of the onions.  This gives them that great caramalised colour and taste.  It also removes a lot of the water in them, which helps to make the finished marmalade nice and thick.  This other addition which makes this great is the use of balsamic vinegar, which helps to sweeten the onions.

Red Onion Marmalade

Makes 1.5kg

Ingredients

  • 2kg red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 8 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 150ml red wine vinegar
  • 150ml balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.  Cover the pan and turn the heat down.  Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove the lid and stir in the sugar.  Increase to a medium heat, and cook for about another 30 minutes, stirring more often to prevent it from catching.  The onions should now be browned and greatly reduced in volume.
  3. Add both the vinegars, and stand for a few minutes, as there will be some steam coming off the onions.  Cook for about 10 more minutes until the marmalade is a nice treacly consistancy.
  4. Seal in sterilised jars.

This marmalade is great with cold meats, but equally at home with your favourite cheeses.

Mincemeat

If you are anything like me, then you are putting off thinking about Christmas for as long as possible.  I have been trying to do this, but I had already written my Christmas menus months ago, and my little sis informs me that I am booked to go on a train ride in a fairy grotto with my niece.  (And no, there will NOT be pictures).  With the news of that, I thought I could not put it off any longer, and had better get some mincemeat made.

It is best to get it prepared about one month before you want to get your mince pies made, as it gives the flavours time to develop and it is one last thing to worry about during that crazy Christmas month.  Mincemeat is a very easy to adapt recipe, leaving out the thing you don’t like and adding those you do, or just substituting the spirit for your preferred tipple.  This year, I wanted mine to have some crunch to it, so I thought I would add a selection of nuts – what could be more festive than chestnuts?

Mincemeat

Ingredients

  • 200g currants
  • 200g raisins
  • 200g sultanas
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 100g chopped dried dates
  • 100g chopped dried figs
  • 300g bramley apples peeled and grated
  • 150g  soft brown sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 200g chopped nuts
  • 150g stem ginger chopped
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 400ml brandy
  • 250g suet

Method

If using chestnuts, cut a cross into the top of each to make peeling easier later, then load into your trusty Victorian brass chestnut roaster.  Place onto an open fire to roast.  If for some reason you consider this to be a bit of a faff, vacuum packed chestnuts are available, or a substituted nut of your choice.

Place all the ingredients in a very large bowl and get your hands in to give a good mix. Cover and leave overnight. The next day pack into sterilized jars and leave to mature.

Tomato and Pepper Chutney

One of the regulars at the pub had a very successful year in the greenhouse, and brought some of his produce in for me.  They were some small, sweet, dark red peppers.

I racked my brains about what to do with a carrier bag full of peppers, finally decided to make some chutney, so that I could have the taste of summer through the colder months to come.

It might not be the most gastronomic use, but a little of this to spice up your cheese on toast will make the coldest, darkest winters day a little brighter!

Pepper and Tomato Chutney

Makes approx 2.5kg

Ingredients

  • 2.5k tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 10 sweet red peppers, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 red chillies, de-seeded and chopped
  • 900ml red wine vinegar
  • 700g brown sugar
  • 2tbsp pimenton

Method

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a pan, and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 1 ½ hours, until thick and jam like, stirring from time to time.
  2. Using a stick blender, whizz until smooth.

Pour into sterilized jars, and save for a cold wet day.