Red Onion Jam – twisted No.4

Sometimes I just griddle a few fat slices of onion for a fry up, but there was a glass of red wine left in the bottle, so this seemed like the sensible, grown up thing to do with it.

Ingredients

2 small onions – white or red (red will give you a deeper coloured jam, but white will do fine)

1 glass of red table wine – nothing too oaky

2 tablespoons sugar

Method

Cut the onions into fine rings. Place in a non reactive pan – (enamel), with the wine.  Simmer until onions soften and begin to collapse. Add sugar and continue to cook until syrupy. Stores well in the fridge.

Also great with bangers and mash or as a cheap alternative to mostarda or membrillo with cheese.

Brockwell Park Salad

There’s a great park in South London called Brockwell Park, and it has amazing community gardens based around the old greenhouses (it dates back to 1811, so there used to be gardeners on site raising bedding plants for displays). Anyway, some years ago, when the community space was first set up, I was invited to go and help cook the produce at their open day (it was part of my job at the time, working on local food projects – I’m not trying to make out I’m famous). Such a beautiful idyll in the middle of the city.
Anyway, this below is what we made, it was all there was to harvest that day, but happily it was a pretty perfect combination. I always think of it as Brockwell Park Salad – I make it as soon as there’s an excess of nasturtium leaves in the garden…sadly, I haven’t been on the ball enough to grow everything for myself this year, but there were enough new potatoes in the left over dinner I was given, and I have some broad beans in the freezer. The leaves and the onions came from our community garden here in Limehouse.

Ingredients
For every 500 g of potatoes (new or salad potatoes – I like Anya or Pink Fir Apple, ‘cos they’re so dense and nutty)
2-3 generous handfuls of broad beans, fresh young ones or frozen, slipped out of their little white jackets
2-3 spring onions
½ red onion
Rocket leaves – wild or cultivated
Baby nasturtium leaves – if you haven’t got any, you could use watercress, as they come from the same family and taste similar.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt, preferably flakes or coarsely ground
Coarsely ground black pepper – optional, as the leaves are peppery.

Method
Boil the potatoes in their skins. Placing the broadbeans in a sieve, immerse them in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes, then remove and set aside.
Meanwhile, finely slice the red onion, and chop the spring onions at an angle, into 1cm lengths. Gently heat the oil, and sweat the spring onions for a couple of minutes so they just lose their oniony bite.
Drain the potatoes, and gently squash them to crack their skins – you may need to cut up some of the larger ones. Add the oil, spring onions and the salt, mix through and set aside to cool down a little – it’s fine if you serve it warm, but the leaves will wilt too much if the spuds are too hot.
When cooled a bit, add everything else and fold in. If you’ve got some nasturtium flowers (mine aren’t in bloom yet) you could use a few on the top, but I quite like it yellowy cream and bright green with a hint of crimson from the red onion.

Butterbean salad for supper-last tuesday week!

Ok, got some catching up to do…I am going to get on top of this and get disciplined…so

I used some wild garlic (Ransom) leaves – roughly torn by hand and then gently wilted in olive oil for 30 seconds and marjoram in mine.
This is a really good main course salad for when salad greens are expensive and imported. It’s also about 50% out of the store cupboard, and depending on what you add to it, can be made to travel well for work/picnics – nothing worse than slimy lettuce leaves that have got a bit warm, eh?
The way you assemble it may seem weird, but it ensures that the beans soak up flavour from the vinegar, without making the bread go pappy and soggy.

Ingredients – serves 2 as a main course, 15mins
Core ingredients –
1 can butterbeans
1 small red onion, finely sliced
8-10 cherry tomatoes left whole, or 2 tomatoes, cubed, if you’re going to eat it straight away.
Handful (about 5-6 per person) black olives, the shiny, slightly wrinkly kind.
1-2 slices stale bread, toasted
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper
Mean pinch of salt to taste – you won’t need as much as you think, because of the olives.
Herb of choice

Optional ingredients if you’re eating it straight away
10 cm length of cucumber, cubed or 1 small Lebanese cucumber, cubed
Handful of baby spinach leaves
Basil
Rocket

Optional ingredients if you’re making it for later
Lightly cooked green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
Roasted red pepper, torn into shreds
Sweet marjoram, thyme or rosemary

Method
Lightly toast bread, and leave it in the toaster or under the turned off grill.
Rinse butter beans, and add to a bowl with the onion and a healthy twist of coarse black pepper – mix by hand and gently squeeze – you want the beans to keep their shape, but some of their skins to slightly break so the flavours get in. Add vinegar and mix again.

Re-toast bread (you want it to be completely dry without it burning) and rub the garlic clove over both sides, then tear into smallish chunks or cut into cubes. In a separate bowl, combine oil and bread. If you’ve only got white sliced, and you’re making this salad for later, it is worth gently frying your toasted cubes in the oil like croutons.

Add tomatoes, olives, salt, herb of choice and anything else you’re using to the beans and mix. If you’re eating it straight away, you can mix in the bread as well, if not, lay it on top of the salad and mix when you come to eat it….it doesn’t matter if some of the oil gets into the salad – in fact that’s a good thing, but you don’t want the bread to sit in the vinegar too long before you chow down.