>> Monday, 12 December 2011
I am addicted to cheese.
There, I've said it. I love cheese. Loveitloveitloveit. Soft, hard, creamy, nutty, tangy, smooth; I love it all. I'm not quite as bad as one ex-colleague who claimed that there is no dish in the world - sweet or savoury - that doesn't benefit from the addition of a little of the stuff (her favourite combination was curry and cheddar, which goes a little too far even for me), but I have to say that cheese does feature more often than it healthily should in my diet.
However. Cheese on it's own? All well and good. But cheese with a little bit of pickle or chutney? Culinary heaven. And in my opinion, there is no condiment in existence as well suited to a cheese sarnie as the Apple and Raisin Chutney that my mother makes, and which she has done for as long as I can remember.
Of course, there's a problem with this; I live in Moscow. Getting my hands on an extra-large jar of Mum's chutney is no longer as easy as it used to be, so I've been forced to take desperate measures. Yes, aged 44, I have become that cliche; I now make my own. And not only is it incredibly easy to do, but it's ruddy delicious if I do say so myself.
I happened to mention this on a previous post and as a result have been asked for the recipe. I can't remember the name of the 40 year old cook book my mother pulled this out of for me, so I will just call it West Country Apple & Raisin Chutney. And please note; this chutney does not only go well with cheese; it's perfect for that Christmas night turkey or ham sandwich as well...
West Country Apple & Raisin Chutney
- 1.75kg (4lb) cooking apples; peeled, cored and chopped (please note; I have also used eating apples from the garden and it tastes fantastic - even sweeter and tangier if possible)
- 4 medium sized onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 900ml (1 1/2 pints) white (preserving) vinegar
- 450g (1 lb) raisins
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 kg (2 lbs 2 oz) soft brown sugar (I used dark brown muscavado and it gives a gorgeous dark brown colour, but light brown will do too)
- Place the apples, onions, garlic, lemon juice, mustard seeds and 600ml (1 pint) of the vinegar in preserving pan (any large heavy bottomed pan will do).
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour until the mixture is soft.
- Add the raisins, ground ginger, salt, sugar and remaining vinegar and simmer, stirring frequently until the chutney is thick. (This bit can take up to 20 minutes or so; don't lose your nerve and go too early, but likewise don't expect it to set or to be much thicker than a loose apple sauce. It will thicken up as it cools).
- Put into sterilised jars*, seal with a waxed paper disk and lid, and label with the date. The yield is approximately 3.2kg (7lbs)
- This is ready to eat as soon as it's cold, but tastes even better a week or so after you've jarred it. Store in a cool dark place. Attack with a spoon when you fancy a sandwich. Or a salad. Or pretty much anything savoury, actually...
* To sterilise the jars, wash the jars and lids thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse, and then heat the jars (not the lids) in a moderate oven (180degC) for 5 minutes on a clean baking tray. Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes before using. Or, you can do as Expat Mum suggests in the comments for this post and run clean jars through the dishwasher to be ready to use just as your chutney is ready...