weird condiment #1

This one harks back to our Tassie travels, again. Rigoniman has already described the lovely St Andrews Inn and his biscuit experience there… but it bears mentioning again because it’s the same place were were introduced to Tomato Jam. Honestly, I can’t remember actually eating the tomato jam there, but we must have, because otherwise why would we have bought two jars of it to take home? Seems like a strange punt to make on a weird sounding condiment.

tassie - st andrews inn - jumpOf course, it’s very good. We ate both jars pretty quickly, and found it to be delicious on cheese or charcuterie platters and on such things as bacon and egg sandwiches.  Yes it’s sweet, yes it’s savoury. But it works.

There was a sad period of time between finishing the second jar and discovering a recipe for it. Oh happy day to flick the pages and see the simple heading TOMATO JAM! You may already have guessed where we found it. Sally Wise’s A year in a bottle. Yeah.

Our crazy bumper tomato crop this summer meant we were almost overwhelmed,  and as such we managed to make two batches of tomato jam. The mini romas contributed a really sweet and intense flavour.

photoAnd now we live in the delicious world of tomato jam again, and life is good. The recipe includes an optional ingredient of ginger. It’s gives a subtle result and I’m just as happy without it, but go ahead if you are keen on it. I recommend dumping the tomatoes in the food processor (after washing them) and giving them a quick whazz, because, well it’s so much quicker and easier than chopping them, and they break down super fast, which means, you reach a set quite quickly. Totally different to large tomatoes, which have more water content.

You can find the recipe here, however, it’s not quite the same as the book (hint: use less sugar, and round up the lemon juice). We strongly urge you to give it a go (in fact this post was spurred on by a text yesterday from a friend asking how-to (hey mards!)). And then you can tell us what else this weird condiment is good with…

Salami School

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The mornings are getting colder and I’ve pretty much made the switch from beer to wine, that’s a good sign that winter is just about here. The heavy yield garden crops of the warmer months are all but gone and so now we look for something different to preserve. Around the start of winter, usually the Queen’s birthday weekend most Italian families lock themselves away and convert their garages, sheds and kitchens into home butcher workshops; it’s salami season.

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The weekend just past was something of a test run and real treat, Giancarlo and I were able to attend an amazing day of butchery, cooking, charcuterie and most importantly coffee. Hosted near Kilmore, just north of Melbourne, in a converted stone building that anyone would be happy to have in their backyard we kicked off early and with an espresso in hand, James, our host proudly led us on a tour of his home, garden and backyard butchery. WOW!

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Organised by the Home Make It crew and the Salami Board (hosts of the massively successful Melbourne Salami Festa) we were in great hands and in my opinion they really nailed it. The day consisted of meat boning lessons – a guide on how to butcher a pig, mincing, mixing and spicing – getting the texture right is just as important as the spice mix and then a guide on filling and hanging salami.

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During the day we were treated to an amazing spectacle of food, wine and hospitality by our host, true to form from any Italian, and when it was time to go we were all sent off with our own salamis to hang as well as a few kilograms of pork sausage to cook. Most of us stayed well after the course officially finished, enjoying that day’s produce cooked in our host’s wood-fired oven all the while quaffing his chianti.

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From our new friend made this weekend we have already secured our own 130kg free-range sow and are planning our own full scale weekend of butchery and curing soon, stay tuned for the result.

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Roo-Boar Sausage

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Like many Italians, my father immigrated with his family just after the second world war, they brought with them a wealth of knowledge and culinary skills that have helped to shape the flavours of food we enjoy today. But Italians have been calling Australia home since settlement and in the 1850’s gold rush came people from all over the world looking to strike it rich.

Many Swiss-Italian came to make their new home here during this time, bags bursting with dried spices, aromatic garlic and rich red wines, the flavours they loved so much. Daylesford, Victoria still holds an annual festival preserving their rich heritage. This recipe was known to the Italians  as salsiccia or sausages but it was the Australians of the day that gave this sausage, made of beef, pork, red wine and spices, its name – Bull-boar.
If you grew up in Tasmania then you will more than likely have tried or even made your own kangaroo patties, they’re much the same as a normal burger pattie but the Tasmanian kangaroo used have less of a gamey taste, a real treat if you get the chance to try them. But today I’m not making bull-boar sausages nor am I making kangaroo patties… I was recently given some freshly shot kangaroo meat from the apple isle and have opted to try a roo-pork hybrid inspired by a traditional Italian sausage recipe.
There are many variants to this recipe and I’m sure they are all good, this one’s fantastic! A great alternative to this is to cure these sausages into salami, If you are planning on this then five grams sodium nitrate per kilo of sausage filling.
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1 natural sausage casing
1kg pork shoulder minced
1kg kangaroo minced
8 cloves garlic
1 nutmeg grated
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ground pimento
1 tbs cayenne peper
1 bottle of red wine (full bodied)
25g salt
20g black pepper
Combine minced meat with dry ingredients and mix by hand for at least five minutes, mix in red wine and leave to sit overnight in fridge or some place cold. At this stage of making salami of sausages I always fry some of the mixture up for a taste test, delicious! The next day fill sausages, tie them off and let hang to dry for another day before packing for freezing or eating.
sausage1The mince can also be cooked in patties but I would advise against this, I ate a considerable portion during taste tests and resulted in less sausages and a very full stomach.

Sweet Tomato & Eggplant Chutney

Winter is almost here and the days are certainly shorter, and to be honest I’m finding work is getting in the way of my stomach. So today I decided to take the afternoon off and see to some jobs that need seeing to. We picked the last of our summer crop of fruits and vegetables about 2-3 weeks back and our home has been littered with bowl of things in need of consuming. 

The tomato season just past was a great one for us and will be something I’ll be gassing on about for years, “remember that summer of ’12-’13” I’ll say “that was a doozie” and then I’ll be off to predict today’s weather with my bones and potter about the garden. This may sound like the actions of an old man but to be honest it could be this weekend. I can’t wait to get old, midday naps, complaining about the government and what are those kids doing on my lawn.

DSC_0119So what to do with all these tomatoes? We’ve already made Pasatta, Tomato jam and Tomato chilli pickle, So now its time for some Chutney. You can pretty much make any combination of chutney you like but I’m adding eggplant to this one for something different and the fact that I have one lonely eggplant sitting in the fridge. The recipe is simple and an easy place to start if you haven’t bottled your preserves before, just don’t burn it. Simples.

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1 kg ripe tomatoes
250 g brown onions, chopped
250 g eggplant, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds, crushed
250 g sugar
300 ml white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

 Clean and chop the tomatoes and add them to your pan, add salt and stir over low heat for five minutes. Add all other ingredients taking care to stir until sugar has dissolved, then increase heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 50-60mins until a nice thick chutney like consistency in achieved then bottle in sterilised jars. Like any chutney this will improve over time and should be ready for its first taste in a month but will last unopened in your larder for at least a year.
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