We ventured into York on Sunday. For the uninitiated, York, whilst a very beautiful city with many fine features, is what can only be described as a Tourist Trap. Especially around this time of the year when the main street seems to play host to one rather twee Christmas market after another.
Yes, I know. Bah humbug.
I love Christmas, I really do, but the advent of Internet shopping has spoiled me utterly and I can no longer bring myself to love Christmas shopping. I found myself in the Marks and Spencer’s food hall shooting imaginary death rays at all the old age pensioners who had decided that, despite the fact they have the ENTIRE WEEK to go and do their shopping, Sunday – and the Sunday two weeks before Christmas at that, is the very, very best time to venture out for mince and onion slices. The American tourists who were absolutely fascinated by the contents of the tinned goods aisle – apparently they don’t have Heinz Cream of Tomato soup in the States - were also on the end of my patented Beam of Death.
It was my husband that made me brave the ravening hoards to purchase the ingredients for homemade chutney. And it’s a good job he did really – I should have made it a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been shamefully disorganised. Last year I went it for a Nigella recipe inspired by all good flavours of Christmas, but this year I’m experimenting with a slightly simpler spiced apple recipe which I think will work beautifully with strong cheddar. It spent the night burbling away to itself in the slow cooker which made the whole process even more painless than usual. I’ll also be revisiting a fabulous piccalilli which I discovered a few years ago on the Waitrose website and which is reproduced below. This stuff is truly fantastic so I try and remember to make enough to both give away and retain a jar for us.
The only ingredient in this that the dedicated Weight Watcher needs to worry about is the sugar. I would therefore reckon on a single point for a good dollop.
700ml malt vinegar
2 tbsp coriander seeds
500g cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp English mustard powder
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp Tumeric
2 tbsp ground ginger
150ml Cider vinegar
100g French beans trimmed and sliced
½ cucumber, quartered and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
200g granulated sugar
Place the malt vinegar and coriander seeds in a large pan and bring to the boil, at which point add the cauliflower and onion and simmer for about five minutes until slightly softened but retaining some crunch.
Meanwhile, put the mustard, flour, turmeric and ginger into a small bowl and gradually whisk in the cider vinegar to make a smooth paste.
Add the remaining vegetables, garlic and sugar to the pan and stir over the heat for 2-3 minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Drain over a large bowl to collect the vinegar.
Put the mustardy mixture in the pan and bring to the boil. Gradually add the malt vinegar back in and then allow to simmer for 10 minutes, until it coats the back of a spoon. Now replace the drained vegetables and take off the heat.
The piccalilli can now be spooned into sterilised jars (the easiest way to do this is to run them through a hot dishwasher) and kept for as long as you can resist it. Not very long in our household.