It has been a while – I am sorry – been busy writing and, after a while of that, anything with words becomes too hard to do.

I thought I’d pop up some of my recent culinary adventure recipes.

Haw sauce.
This makes a wonderful fragrant sauce which you can use with pork. It is fiddly, and to avoid the wost of the fiddles you will need a mouli (which is a wonderful investment if you are making lots of sauces from your own produce). Haws are the red berries of the hawthorn hedge, so if you have one near you, then watch for the bright red berries in autumn and help yourself. This recipe comes from the amazing River Cottage Handbook No. 2, Preserves, by Pam Corbin.

The quantities here make about 250 ml.

500 gram of haws
300 ml of white wine vinegar
170 gram of sugar
half a teasp of salt
ground black pepper to taste.

The hardest part of this recipe comes from trying to strip the tiny haws from a hawthorn branch – which if you have never encountered one before is very, very, very thorny and quite vicious. This is where the mouli comes in handy. Frankly, the easiest way to do this is to just cut the bunches roughly from the branches, dump everything into the pot – leaves, stalks, everything, and then mouli out all the roughage later. I spent 3 hours painstakingly picking off individual berries to get half a kilo of haws and I will never ever do it again.

So, pop the haws into a pan with the vinegar and 300 ml of water and simmer for about half an hour until the haws are soft and their skins split. Rub the mixture through a seive (or take the easy route and process it through a mouli), then return the fruit mixture to the pan. Add the sugar and heat gently, stirring, until it dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a sterlised bottle, seal and use within 12 months.

This sauce is lovely, but a nightmare to make unless you have a mouli.

This is an incredibly versatile tomato sauce which I use as a base for soups or casseroles. Passata literally means ‘passing through a sieve’, and it produces a thin, spicy tomato sauce. This recipe also comes from the above book.

I use just rough quantities – it really doesn’t matter what you do.

Take several kilo of tomatoes, halve them, and place them cut side up on an oiled baking tray (you will need several baking trays). Scatter among the tomatoes about 12 shallots per tray (and by shallots I mean shallots, the brown mild onion bulb, not spring onions!), 12 cloves of garlic (you do not need to peel either shallots or garlic), a sprinkling of thyme or mixed herbs, about a tea spoon of salt per tray, similar of ground black pepper, and a light coating of oil.

Roast for about an hour or until everything is soft.

Process through a mouli until you have removed all the skins and are left with a thin, spicy tomato sauce.

Pop the sauce into a preserving pan and boil for 5 minutes.

Bottle in hot sterilised jars, together with a quarter of a teaspoon per jar of citric acid* (this is because the tomatoes are of dubious acidity, which you have further diluted with the addition of the shallots and garlic, the citric acid will re-acidify the mixture and makes no difference to the taste), then hot water process for half an hour.

Store in a cool, dark place and use within the year.

Will be back to add some more. :)

*I use 600 ml (or pint) jars. A quarter of a teaspoon of citric acid works for up to about a litre of sauce.

This is a mouli – I just picked the first page I found so not sure if this is a good price or not for one. You just dump a mixture in the bowl and turn the handle and it comes out the bottom as a fine sauce and with all skins and seeds removed – very handy.