Category: The Kitchen

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Delicious Home Made Pickled Beetroot

Our good friend and close neighbour Mick regularly supplies us with fresh vegetables grown on his allotment located across the road from us.

Mick has had his allotment for over fifty years, planting vegetables and even fruit trees.

One of my favourite vegetables he grows for harvesting each autumn time are beetroots. Mick grows a popular type called ‘Boltardty AGM’. Boltardy seeds can be sown at various times during the growing year and in most types of soil. It does not have excessive ‘bolting, a gardening term, which means premature sprouting of stalks flowering stem(s). Bolting can divert resources & nutriment from the beetroot and reduce it’s quality.

All Photos By PH Morton

After harvesting, Mick then produces jars of delicious slightly sweet pickled beetroot for his family and us. We save a jar for Christmas time. Beetroot is perfect to accompany Christmas meals.  This year, Mick invited me to harvest some of his beetroot. He then showed us how to make his ‘signature’ pickled beetroot. I took various photos from harvesting to our jars filled with delicious picked beetroot. Under Mick’s tutelage and help, Jean & I enjoyed producing our own jars of this delicious vegetable. Making pickled beetroot is quite simple & straightforward. 🙂

If using home grown beetroots from garden or allotment etc., a good time to harvest is from 50 to 70 days after planting. Avoid letting the beetroot get too big. A hand or tennis ball size is ideal. Do not let the stalks/stems bolt or grow above 6 inches (15cms). Dig around the beetroot and pick up avoiding breaking the stalk/greens from the beetroot.

Thoroughly clean & wash the dirt off and trim the stalks/stems short. Again do not pull out the stems, as water can get into the beetroot and damage it when boiling prior to pickling.

Harvested fresh beetroot can be stored in a refrigerator for about seven days.

Depending how many beetroots you are pickling, you will require:-

  1. Pickling /preserve jars with airtight lids. The normal size is around 500ml, or as large as you want. Most hardware stores will supply.
  2. Pickling vinegar, which comes in 1.4 litre size. Most larger supermarkets etc supply.
  3. Brown or white sugar granules to sweeten the vinegar taste to your choice.

Place the beetroots in a suitable sized saucepan(s) and cover with water.

Boil for two hours.

Carefully strain off the water and either allow air cooling or running cold water over the beetroots then dry.

Completely remove remaining stalks/roots etc.

The boiled soft skin of the beetroot does not need to be peeled with a knife as can be easily removed by hand.

Cut or slice the beetroot to whatever size you prefer.

Pour in small amount sugar, then add a small measure of the pickling vinegar, enough to cover the first layer of the slices of beetroot into the bottom of the jar.  Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar (to taste) then add another layer, pour pickling vinegar, then another layer, sugar, pickling vinegar until it reaches the top of the jar.

Close the jar, gently shake it then turn it upside down and leave for about 30 minutes. This will allow the vinegar and sugar to seep through the beetroot. Top up with the pickling vinegar if needed to completely cover the sliced beetroot in the jar.

If you want you can label the jar with day & month of pickling.

Home made pickled beetroot can be kept for 6 weeks to 3 months, refrigerated.
In practice, it can be longer.

But if you store them beyond 3 months and you’re worried, check for signs of spoilage (rising bubbles, cloudy liquid, unnatural colour) and don’t eat or taste.

Know Your Knives

Knives Block, Photo by jMORTON

Know Your Knives

A good working kitchen has to have a set of sharp knives.

Did you know?

There are more likely to have accident with a blunt rather than sharp knives.  Strange but true, I am afraid.

And there are  knives for every corresponding jobs.

Cheese Knife

There are actually quite a few types of cheese knives as there are of course quite a large amount of different cheeses.  There are hard cheese, soft cheese, aged cheese, smoke cheese, and even spreadable cheese.  So different knife for different kind.  The above though is a favourite one.  It can cut and it can certainly spread.  The pointed tip and even spear cheese.

Cleaver

A cleaver is a rather heavy knife.  Its weight is so useful chopping bony meat or large and rather hard or tough vegetables.

Bread Knife

This is so useful.  Have you had experience of cutting bread with just an ordinary knife and the bread turns into crumbs rather than elegant slices?!!!  You need a bread knife.

Carving Knife

Chef Knife

Boning Knife.  This knife is essential for deboning meat.

Paring Knife.

Favourite Knife 🙂

This is modelled from a Japanese Santoku knife, which is a general purpose knife. Its scalloped blade prevent meat, vegetables and fish from sticking into the blade, which saves time decluttering the blade as you slice.

Sharperner Rod

A sharpener rod is so useful in the kitchen.  As soon as you feel your knife is starting to blunt, just reach for the rod and run your knife against it a few times and you have a sharp knife again.  Couldn’t be easier.

Crepe/Pancake Pan

Crepe/Pancake Pan

Once again, I found myself at Neasden/Willesden yesterday. It so happened that it was market day, I mean, there was a makeshift outdoor market in Willesden just by Brent Magistrate Court.  Apparently market days are on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Real bargains are to be had.

The fruit and vegetable offerings were fantastic. I bought two huge avocados for a pound, and two packets of blueberries for a pound, I thought I would make Peter some blueberry muffins later. I almost forgot, I also got tomatoes and more aubergines.

I have to say my main purchase was a crepe pan which could also ideally double up as a pancake pan. It was for £7.99 but I bargained. I asked if I can get it for £5.00 but the Indian vendor said, “You are a pretty girl, you can have it for  £6.00.”  If there is sexism in that, I don’t really care, I’ll just take it as a compliment, after all I got my pan for the bargain price of £6.

I find that British people seldom bargain for a better price. They just pay for whatever price was first said or stated on tags. But I grew up where the price for even a few cloves of garlic are bargained for. Peter and James (son) used to roll their eyes whenever I bargain with market sellers when we were on holidays aboard. What they don’t realise is that bargaining is some sort of a dance, the seller tells you the price, you reply with silly amount you want to pay, the seller lower down his price a little bit, you up your bid slightly higher, again he lowers down his price a little bit more. This goes on until both are satisfied with the price or in some cases the buyer just walk away, repeating the same process with another stall/seller until he gets a real bargain … or not.

Anyway, I had wanted to get a crepe pan for ages because by beloved son always ask for pancake every time he comes home to visit. He said I make the best pancake. Awww  He loves his mummy! 😉

Next time, he comes, I shall be ready with my new paraphernalia and cook up a storm of pancakes just for my baby Boy!

Types of Wine Glasses

wineglasses2

 

Types of Wine Glasses

Different types of glasses for different types of wines or liqueur.

White wine glasses should only be filled up to a third of its capacity.  This will allow the aroma to concentrate upon the rim of the glass.  The aroma says a lot about a wine :0

Coloured wine glasses can be beautiful but would distort the true colour, which forms an important character of the wine.

……………………………………………

 

DSCN0004

Wine glasses by JMorton

 

I had a rummage into our wine glass cabinet and found these wine glasses.  From left to right are suitable glasses for: Port, sherry, white wine, the pink one standing tall from slightly behind is for champagne, the one beside the champagne glass is for red wine, the one in front of the pink glass in for brandy and the last one of course in for my favourite tipple, cocktail.

Did you know?

To make wine glasses sparkle at their best, they should be rinsed in cold water with a dash of vinegar.

You must hold your wine glass by the stem.  Otherwise your body temperature from your hand will warm up your chilled white wine, champagne or cocktail.

Wine is sunlight, held together by water.

Galileo

 

Washing Machine

washing machinehelpful tips
I bet you do not clean your washing machine regularly. Some of you might have not even thought of cleaning it, even once. But then again, why would you clean a washing machine when its function is to wash and of course, clean.

But actually a washing machine should be cleaned regularly of soap scums that get accumulated, so that it will function better.

Washing Machine

It is very easy to clean and disinfect a washing machine. Just pour in 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into the soap compartment and then run the machine on a full cycle without adding any other detergent or clothes to wash.

It is as easy as that.

Cleaning Mould and Mildew

How to clean mould and mildew

molds
It is easy enough to get rid and clean mould and mildew without resorting to anti-bacterial agents and bleach which are harmful to the environment.

Moisten a cloth with vinegar and rub it to the moldy parts and the tiles. To clean the grout, scrub with an old toothbrush dip in vinegar.

 

Kitchen Hero: Mezzaluna

Mezzaluna is one of my kitchen heroes. I have been using one since I saw a young Jamie Oliver chop herbs into smithereens in one of his tv cooking shows in the early 90s. I bought the Jamie Oliver one and then a Nigella one. The mezzaluna below is now my third set.

I should remember this!!! Apparently knives and utensils with steel blades should not be put into the dishwashers. It blunts the blade. Why did the instructions not say that?!!! But then again, I am not one for instructions. I only look at instructions when something is about to go wrong!

Anyway, let’s hail the mezzaluna and its function of minutely dicing herbs and the likes.

Roast Chicken 002Roast Chicken 005 Roast Chicken 004 Roast Chicken 003

Love February

My Darling Husband surprised me with these beautiful dishes on St Valentine’s day. Although I did hint (a lot 😉 lol) that I wanted them, I was still surprised because I did not see him come home with them.

I have decided that I will, the willing and enthusiastic help of the hubby, collect heart shape dishes for all posterity.

I really loved these crockeries and we have now used them a lot. They are so pretty and I reckon I can use them any day of the year and not just for St Valentine’s Day. They just add  interest to the dining table; a lot of love and good food (hopeful for the latter!)

IMG_0861

IMG_0862

Dishes for Valentine’s Day

I saw these sets of serving dishes at Sainsbury’s supermarket last Saturday and my heart is coveting them so much for Valentine’s day. 😉

The sets come in deep bowls and flat dishes in heart shaped whites. I can see them now in my dining table.

Anyone wants to give me these for Valentine’s day?!!!

I don’t want flowers, I don’t want chocolates, I don’t want another piece of jewelries.

I want…

Dishes for Valentine’s Day

 

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.” – Blaise Pascal”

125225203_1 123426749_1

Heston’s Triple Cooked Chips

Heston's Chips

Heston’s Chips

Chips on their own or of course, with battered fish are a favourite traditional British meal. We can get them ready fried from fish and chip shops.

We can also get frozen chips from any supermarket which are ready for home cook to pop into the oven, or rarely we can make our own by peeling potatoes and then do the slicing and frying. Home made cooked chips obviously taste better.

However our top Michelin Starred chef Heston Blumenthal has come up with a recipe that makes The Chip king among  chips :).  To make these delicious chips is fairly labour intensive, but the effort is well worth it.  Many restaurants in UK make their chips this way.

Jean and I tasted these wonders at the Cellarium Cafe & Terrace, which is set within the 14th Century store house (cellars) of Westminster Abbey, after our visit and attending a Service at the Abbey.

Ingredients

1kg Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into chips (approx. 2 × 2 × 6cm)
Groundnut or grapeseed oil
Salt

Method

Put the cut chips into a bowl under running water for 5 minutes to wash the starch off.

Place 2 litres of cold tap water in a large saucepan and add the potatoes. Place the pan over a medium heat and simmer until the chips are almost falling apart (approximately 20–30 minutes, depending on the potato).

Carefully remove the cooked chips and place them on a cooling rack to dry out. Then place the rack in the freezer for at least 1 hour to remove more moisture.

Heat a deep-fat fryer or a deep pan no more than half filled with oil (to a depth of around 10cm) to 130ºC. Fry the chips in small batches until a light crust forms (approximately 5 minutes), remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Put the potatoes on a cooling rack and place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. (At this stage, if you don’t want to cook and serve immediately, the chips can be kept in the fridge for 3 days.)

Heat the oil in the deep-fat fryer or deep pan to 180ºC and fry the chips until golden (approximately 7 minutes). Drain and sprinkle with salt.

%d bloggers like this: