still here. sorry the red kitchen has been a little quiet of late. i’ve been either too exhausted to post or had no time to post.
nonetheless, the kitschenette kitchen has been humming with activity. since bruno has been away i’ve been baking and jam-ming away almost every night! gotta keep busy so that the silence of the household (once the kiddies are asleep of course) doesn’t deafen me.
in the last few days i’ve made double batches of the great chocolate chippers from a couple of weeks back, this time using chopped up dime bars (these were FANTASTIC, properly chewy and caramelly with half melted chocolate and toffee), banana cake, a double batch of zopf, and two batches of strawberry and vanilla jam. and a big pot of chilli beans (max’s favourite meal, with rice and yoghurt) is currently simmering away nicely on the stovetop now. no pics, unfortunately, because bruno has taken the camera to milan with him. bummer.
the strawberry jam is really pretty, a beautiful glowing red. i first tasted strawberry and vanilla jam at a great little cafe in erskineville called bitton (i think it has now moved, gotten bigger and more famous) with my friend adamski. i bought a jar to take home and was delighted to find half a vanilla bean in the middle. if i remember correctly though, the jam itself was a little overcooked, brownish red rather than a bright fresh red. strawberries are in plentiful supply here at the moment, and quite cheap, so i bought a kilo and cooked them all up in sugar, with the juice of a lemon and a vanilla bean thrown in. the result was so wonderfully warm, and fragrant and delicious that i had to give a few jars away to share around the goodness. so i had to make another batch to replenish our sadly depleted jam stock (because we were in oz last summer i missed out on the last half of the jam-making season, when all the plums and blackberries are ripe). so, so good. max has declared it his new favourite jam (mr jam afficianado).
today is cold and gray, AGAIN. time for a pot of beans to warm the cockles of the heart. max will be happy to have his favourite meal, one that i KNOW he likes, after the disastrous lunch i made yesterday. reminder to self: cooked avocado tastes VILE. i know this, but i accidentally over-heated the simple pasta with avocado and tomato after i had tossed the green and red bits through. what is it about avocado that makes it taste so great raw and so disgusting when warmed? be warned!
strawberry and vanilla jam, via bitton cafe
1kg of strawberries, washed and hulled
800g jam sugar, or plain white sugar
juice of a large lemon
2 vanilla beans
– prepare and sterilise the equipment you will need: jars (about 6 small ones, or a similar assortment ie. 1 big one and 4 small ones), ladle, jam funnel
– place strawberries into a large pot, and macerate them (i use a potato masher) until fairly pulpy.
– pour in sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil. add one of the vanilla beans.
– continue to boil over a medium heat (be careful it doesn’t boil over!!!! very sticky!). skim off the foam as you go, but you don’t need to get too paranoid about getting every last foamy bit.
– when the jam has reached setting point (when the last drop hangs off the wooden spoon and doesn’t fall – this should take about 20 mins. don’t overcook it or else it will lose it’s beautiful fresh strawberry red colour and flavour), take it off the heat and fish out the vanilla bean (be careful, it’s HOT). cut both vanilla beans into thirds.
– working quickly, ladle the hot jam into the jars, and poke a vanilla bean into the middle of each jar. make sure the tip of the bean is covered with jam. seal the jars tightly, wipe off any sticky drops and let cool.
– enjoy with good bread. make sure you share some with friends, they’ll love you for it!
mr. max’s chilli beans
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 Tb paprika
1 tsp dried chilli * optional!
1 tsp brown sugar
1 large tin of crushed tomatoes or 2 small tins
1 tin of red kidney beans (or 2 tins if you really lvoe kidney beans, like we do)
– gently fry onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent
– add the cumin and oregano and fry for a minute to release the flavours
– add the paprika, chilli if using, tomatoes and brown sugar. stir to combine.
– bring to the boil, then add the kidney beans.
– simmer for half an hour or so, maybe three quarters, until it is a thick, spicy red beany mass.
– serve with rice and a thick creamy natural yoghurt. steamed broccoli is a nice accompaniment. a very nutritious meal!
>> we love this meal in our family. it’s quick, inexpensive and hearty. also, it smells fantastic as it cooks. i can’t think of anything better to eat on a cold, gray day (like today). leftovers work well as fillings for tortillas or burritos, with avocado, yoghurt or sour cream, cheese and salad leaves.