All posts in September 2017

To Pickle or Not to Pickle

So often great food goes to waste in the home kitchen and too often we at Katering are left with excess produce after a busy week.

What better way to reduce food waste than to pickle, preserve, jam and jar. It’s creative, fun and delicious. There is certainly no reason why you can’t try it at home. Be careful though, it can be addictive!

You can purchase a few select and super delicious pickles from Katering at Home , we produce an ever changing selection of pickles based on the season; our most popular being the Pickled Beetroot and Baby Onions but if you want to have a little fun in the kitchen why not spend this weekend getting pickled.

Pickling is a cheap, easy and nutritious way of preserving the best of the winter vegetables. It’s also great for your gut too, packing in the Probiotics. Pickling is a form of fermentation, when vegetables and fruits are fermented, healthy bacteria help to break down the hard-to-digest cellulose in foods, as well as some of the natural sugar.

That is the question. With all of their health benefits, it seems like pickles can definitely be beneficial when eaten in moderation.

Pickling your own vegetables and fruits can help you preserve the produce in your home fridge, as well as bring new flavours to your food. So what are you waiting for? Grab a jar and get pickling! It’s easy to do.

Below I have included a recipe for crispy quick refrigerator pickles and a good for the gut, fermented pickle….. So keep your old jam jars and give some new life to those sad forgotten vegetables at the bottom of your crisper.

Quick crispy pickles

Preparation time: 30min

6 cups raw vegetables (beetroot, baby carrots, radish, turnips or whatever takes your fancy really)
1 tbsp. coriander seed
1tsp mustard seed
6-10 cloves garlic thinly sliced
few sprigs fresh dill or thyme
pinch celery seeds
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white wine vinegar
2 cup water
2 tbsp. table salt
5tbsp sugar

Prepare the vegetables by washing them and patting dry with paper towel, slice or quarter.
Bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to the boil in a medium size pot. Let sit for a half hour to cool slightly.
Divide the spices evenly between the jars.
Layer the vegetables into the jars with the fresh herbs and garlic slices.
Pour the hot liquid into the sterile jars, making sure to submerge all the vegetables.
Cover with a lid and let cool on the bench.
Store in the fridge – keeps for up to a month

Home Made Fermented Pickles

Preparation time: 30min

6-7 very fresh pickling cucumbers
2 garlic cloves, peeled
6 bird’s eye chilli peppers, fresh or dried
3-4 sprigs fresh dill
2 tbsp dill seeds
1 tbsp pickling spice (available from Herbies Spices)
3 cups boiled water, at room temperature
1½ tbsp Himalayan or unrefined salt
1 large, very clean glass jar (Mason type or hinged-top jar)

Slice the ends from the cucumbers and cut them in half if desired. You can also leave them whole if you prefer.
Stuff the cucumbers so they fit snuggly in the jar and add fresh dill, chilli, dill seeds and pickling spice.
Mix salt and water in a large measuring cup, stirring until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour over the cucumbers until they are completely submerged. Make sure to leave at least 2 cm of head space to allow the brine to bubble up during fermentation without exploding the jars on you.
Alternatively, if you wanted to draw more flavour out of your spices, you could also do this is by heating the dill seeds, pickling spice, salt and water over medium heat until it comes to a simmer then let this brine come back to room temperature before adding it to the jar.
Once the cucumbers are completely covered with the brine, place a small non-reactive object such as a small dipping bowl, shot glass or plastic lid over them to make sure they remain entirely submerged then close the lid leaving a little open to allow gas to escape.
Leave your pickles to ferment on the bench for 7 to 10 days. Open the jars every day to allow gas to escape.
After 7 to 10 days, transfer your pickles to the refrigerator, they will keep for 3-4 weeks.
If you like your pickles to be a little more on the vinegary side, you can add a little bit of vinegar to the jar once the fermentation process is complete. Let your pickles macerate for a couple more days before eating them.

Perfect Pastry

Everyone loves a delicious melt in the mouth homemade pie or tart.  Whether a classic zesty lemon meringue or a decedent rich chocolate tart, sweet shortcrust pastry is one of the simplest and quickest pastries to make. Shortcrust pastry (or pate sucree) is one of my favourites and works well with any sweet filling. It can be made ahead of time, frozen in blocks or lined and ready for baking, so why is everyone scared off and why so many fails in the kitchen?

There is certainly a stigma around pastry making possibly brought about by the recent MasterChef revolution and of course due in part to the fact that we no longer bake at home due to busy chaotic lives, work commitments and lack of knowledge. These skills are not passed down through the generations like they used to be. We are doing ourselves a real disservice by choosing convenience over homemade in more ways than one and our children really are missing out.  So forget MasterChef, you really don’t have to be a top chef to produce a good pastry at home and believe me, the satisfaction you will get from your finished creation will be well worth the effort.  Just purchase the ingredients in your weekly shop and set aside an hour one weekend to give pastry making a go. So long as you follow some simple, practical steps every time and you plan ahead it’s really as easy as pie. (Pardon the pun).  Be sure to follow these four practical rules for successful pastry making every time:

1. Why is flour type important?
 If you want that classic delicate crust and crumby texture you need to use flour low in gluten. The general bulk of the problems we encounter with pastry preparation are solely because we overwork the pastry, therefore working the proteins strands through pressure and manipulation.  To keep it simple, the best type of flour for the job is plain old white flour from the supermarket. In the commercial kitchen we call this ‘all-purpose flour’ if you can find ‘cake flour’ even better but it’s not essential.

2. Temperature
The one thing I must stress and repeat over and over again is to keep everything COLD. It’s a great idea to keep the flour in the fridge.  Cold kitchens, cold work surfaces and cold equipment. Start your pastry first thing in the morning before the day warms up for best results.

3. Rest the pastry
Always rest your dough for at least 30minutes after making it. This again helps the pastry to relax and remain short and crumbly. You will find the less you do to it the better it will be. I like to rest the pastry for another 30min after lining my tart base and before baking. A good 30min in the fridge or freezer will work wonders.

4. Tread softly
We must treat our dough with care, be quick, be gentle and take care. Don’t overwork it, or warm it too much with your bands. Just be light and nimble fingered. Don’t stress out. Let the dough relax and relax and enjoy the process.

Simple shortcrust pastry

250g Plain Flour
75g Pure Icing Sugar
125g Unsalted Butter
1 Whole egg
1/4tsp. Vanilla essence

Have a 20cm round tart tin ready to line, keep it chilled in the fridge if you prefer.
Weigh up all the dry ingredients, place into a bowl in the fridge.
Cut the butter into small dice (all the same size works best) and keep in the fridge.
Rub the butter into the flour with the tips of your fingers until crumbly (don’t worry If a few small butter lumps remain in the mixture.)
Using a folk stir in the egg and vanilla just until the pastry comes together.
Pat into a small round flat disk, do not work the dough at all, and just bring it together gentry.
Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30min or overnight.
Roll out the pastry between two pieces of baking powder till 5mm thick. If the pastry becomes a little soft you can always place it in the fridge for 10min at this stage.
Line the 20cm round tart tin, using flour to lightly push it into the corners and trim off any excess with a sharp knife.
At this point if you have the time, rest the lined tart once more. If you don’t want to make your tart today just wrap and keep it in the freezer for up to a month.
To Bake, preheat your oven to 160c
Place baking paper into the tin and pour in rice or beans.
Par bake for 30min or until light and golden.
Now you are ready to make, fill and bake your favourite tart!

At this stage, if the bottom of your tart is still a little undercooked just take out the beans and bake for a further 10min.

If you have a few cracks then make slurry with some leftover pastry and water and patch up and cracks or holes.