A bit of a random recipe choice to blog at first glance, I know but it’s ahead of a wee Burns Night Challenge I’ve been given so watch this space to see how I use this 🙂 In the meantime… this sweet sticky stuff is a wonderfully versatile accompaniment to so many things – cheese, pates, terrines, cold meat, hot meat (steak sarnie or burger anyone?) – stir it into a quiche mixture, or make a tart out of it and top with goats cheese, and its a fab wee crostini or canape topper. And it’s so easy to make that I’m actually a little ashamed at how often I’ve bought it ready made… New year’s resolution #147 – never again!
There are so many recipes online, all variations on a theme, but the one I’ve adapted substitutes pomegranate juice for the more traditional red wine, and I’m much happier drinking leftover pomegranate juice than I am red wine 😉
Depending on the size of onions you’re using this should make about 1 cup. If you know what you’re doing making jams and marmalades from scratch (I don’t!) then pop this into a steralised jar and it should keep in the fridge for up to three months. Otherwise, it will last in the fridge covered for up to two weeks.
Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade
A sweet, sticky, versatile accompaniment to all sorts of savoury noms.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dark brown soft sugar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup pomegranate or cranberry juice
- salt to season
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium-low heat before adding the onions. Saute for 10-15 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
- Add the sugar, stir well, and cook for a minute or so. When the sugar has dissolved add the vinegar and juice, season with salt, and turn the heat up. Bring it all to a boil before reducing the heat back down to a simmer.
- Cook until the liquid has evaporated, which should take somewhere between 30-60 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure the marmalade doesn't burn.
I may have mentioned this before (!) but I suck at summer food, and I suck at lunchtime inspirations. They are my nemesis… or should that be nemisi? Regardless, I have finally, found something that ticks both the summer food and the lunch food boxes, and is so easy to make that it isn’t technically ‘cooking’, more like ‘mixing’ 🙂 Couscous! Did I mention that it’s ridiculously easy, like so-easy-its-a-crime-to-buy-it-ready-made, and takes next to no time to throw together? Both big plusses in my book, especially in this very un-Scottish heatwave when who in their right mind would want to spend any more time in a hot kitchen than they need to?
As well as being a great lunchtime option (it’s an awesome side to quiche) I’ve found that couscous makes a nice alternative to rice in the Summer when you’re having something that isn’t heavy on the sauce, like a bit of pan fried cod with lemon and garlic butter or some leftover roast chicken all torn up and tossed in a wee bit of tzatziki. Or wrap it up with hummus and some greenery for some portable noms!
So this is my base recipe, once these ingredients are in place anything goes really, like chargrilled veggies (courgettes and aubergines especially lend themselves well to this), or sunblush tomatoes instead of fresh, or coriander as your herb of choice, or plump raisins soaked in pomegranate molasses, toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds, go fruity and use orange zest and juice instead of lemon, pretty much whatever takes your fancy. No two versions need ever be quite the same, which isn’t a bad thing 🙂
A back to basics couscous that is packed full of lovely summer flavours.
- 250g couscous
- 1/2 pint/300ml hot water
- chicken or vegetable stock cube/pot
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- cherry tomatoes
- feta cheese, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 3 inch long piece of cucumber, skinned and finely diced
- fresh mint or parsley, chopped
- olive or rapeseed oil
- In a medium sized mixing bowl mix the couscous and stock, cover with clingfilm and leave for about 15 minutes. Add a couple of glugs of olive oil and fluff with a fork – the olive oil will keep the couscous from clumping together. Add everything else and mix well. Chuck it back in the fridge, covered, to let all the flavours infuse and blend, and that is it!
- It doesn’t hurt to refresh it with a wee bit more olive/rapeseed oil before you’re going to tuck in, but otherwise keep it covered in the fridge and it should last you 2-3 days. And on the off chance that there’s still some left and in danger of going to waste, mix it with some flour and egg and fry yourself up some couscous cakes 🙂
So! Along with my newly(ish) discovered like of soup comes something similar for bread, not of the sliced loaf variety but of the more artisany tear and share type that you can dunk in aforementioned soup – I’m a total sucker for sourdough, or a nice boule, oven warmed and then slathered in butter. Making bread from scratch though hasn’t ever appealed, that whole kneading thing being a bit of a turn off, so when I found this recipe on The Slow Roasted Italian (via Pintrest or course!) that sounded delicious AND required nothing more than a good stir I knew I had to give it a go! Smart move on my part 🙂
Simple really is an understatement, in fact, this recipe is simpler than simple and another of those ones where the effort to taste ratio is crazy heavily biased towards taste (hurrah!) I can’t say I wasn’t a little suspicious about the total lack of kneading, as well as there being no yeast involved, but my loaf baked up very very nicely. Unsurprisingly, it was denser than a traditional loaf but it was perfect for purpose and absolutely hit the spot when buttered up and paired up with a big bowl of soup. I wouldn’t try and make a sandwich using it though…
Much, if not all, of the credit for the final flavour has to go to Hubby who was in charge of the beer selection – he went for an Innis & Gunn which is his go to beer for drinking and cooking, a lovely homegrown brew, and opted for their rum finish which was a little darker to get a punchier flavour. Totally the right choice! Hubby was also in charge of the cheese combo as I am rubbish when it comes to the stuff (cheese boards actually terrify me!) and went for a mild cheddar (arran) and an emmental which was plenty cheesy enough for me.
If I had any advice to give it would be to start with milder cheeses to figure out what they’re adding, and then experiment accordingly. And to have a go at making this bread. Go on… It’s SO easy, it would be a shame not to 😉
Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread
An easy knead-free bread that is full of big savoury flavours, perfect with soup.
- 3 cups all purpose flour (363 grams)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese (mix up to three different types)
- 340 ml/12 ounce beer (I&G was a wee bit over so we just poured it all in)
- 4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Get the oven on first and preheat to 175C/350F, then grease your loaf tin with butter and set aside. Cook your bacon up, I usually like mine crispy but for this I kept it quite “soft”, drain on kitchen towel and then snip or cut into wee pieces. Melt your butter and set aside.
- In your mixing bowl put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix it all up with a whisk and then make a well in the middle. Into the well put the bacon, about 3/4 of the cheese and then pour in the beer. Stir with a wooden spoon until its all combined.
- And that’s it! Seriously! All that’s left to do is pour your mixture into your loaf tin, top with the rest of the cheese, drizzle over half the melted butter, and then pop it into the oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Take out the oven, drizzle the rest of the butter over the top, and then pop it back in again.
- Bake for another 25-30 minutes, by which time the cheese should be nicely browned on the top, and when you tap the loaf it should thump.
- Give it five minutes to cool a little and then pop the loaf out of the tin, it should literally fall out, and leave on a wire rack to cool. We gave it about 20 minutes and then scoffed it with a big bowl of soup. Epic!