Dec 5, 2011

A box of roses

 For Mischa's wedding in March next year, she wants to give each of her guests a beautiful cupcake packaged in a pretty box.  The boxes are ready and waiting... all we need are the cupcakes!  Last week i made a few samples for Mischa so that she could use them to set up a demo table to check that all the thoughtful details work together beautifully once the table is all set.  Here are some pics of the beautiful hand-made rose topped vanilla cupcakes

Dec 2, 2011

Apricot Chutney (home-made)

Jars and jars of home-made apricot chutney!!
So my apricot trees have finally started bearing fruit... after about a decade of being planted!  Last year, between the two trees, i had the grand total yield of 7 apricots!  When you see the size of these trees, it is hard to believe, i know!  But this year, with more time on my hands, i actually started to water the trees... on my grandfathers advice: only a little trickle at the base of the tree for 20 minutes each week.  That is what i did et voilà... apricots galore.  Yesterday i picked about 120 apricots from the one tree alone... The reason why i counted instead of weighing (which is what my little, OCD, scientific brain likes to do) is because i wanted to make the '100 apricot chutney' recipe in my good ol' Kook en Geniet.  Well, technically this tome belongs to my mom, but she left it here (for me) and i put it to very good use.
The two, rather tall, apricot trees.
The apricot tree, bare, after our picking spree
The not-yet-ripe apricots on the second tree.  I feel that we made enough chutney with the first tree, so have absolutely  no idea what to do with the apricots from this tree.  We'll cross that bridge next week!
 On page 227 of the English, completely revised edition, of this South African legend, you will find a very simple recipe for chutney made with 100 apricots:

100 apricots, dried or fresh (!)
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
750 ml white wine vinegar
1.25 kg sugar
5ml cayenne pepper
30 ml ground ginger
5 ml dry mustard
Apricots - all clean and chopped (what a mission btw... took us almost 2 hours!)  I had no idea what 100 apricots would look like once chopped.  I definitely didn't count on it being as much as it was - we filled two big soup pots like the one pictured above.
Sugar and spice and all things nice!
1. If using dried apricots, soak overnight in cold water and cook  in the same water until tender.
2. Grate or chop the onion and garlic.  Boil in the vinegar for ten minutes or until tender.
3. Add the sugar, salt and spices to the apricots and cook in the vinegar mixture for 30 minutes to 1 hour until the mixture is thick enough.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning and sticking to the bottom of the pot.
4. Pour the mixture into hot, clean dry jars and seal immediately.  Do not allow any metal to come into contact with the chutney while cooking or storing it (except for the pot you cook it in of course (: ).
Shortly after adding fruit and sugar to vinegar mixture.
About 20 minutes into cooking time.  I cooked the chutney for an hour.  The consistency, to my mind, is perfect.  Had i cooked it any less, it would have been too runny, for lack of a better word.  Not viscous enough, if u want to get technical...

My Notes:
Upon tasting, the chutney is a bit too sweet for my liking, i prefer something tarter and more savoury.  Instead of using white wine vinegar, i used all the left overs in my cupboard (i'm not a big salad-person, so had lots of infused etc kinds of vinegars that have been in the cupboard for years).  This included powegranate vinegar, thyme-infused white balsamic etc etc. Maybe these vinegars aren't as acidic as white wine vinegar and that is why the chutney is still a bit sweetish.

The apricot flavour is fairly prominent.  Still not sure how i feel about that - reminds me a bit too much of apricot jam, which is not something i would normally put on my boerewors roll (which is what we had for dinner last night... Usana pasture-fed beef boerewors... yup, it was gooood!

The merchant (aka my husband) suggested that i throw half of the jars of chutney back into a pot with some more vinegar and cook it up again to see what happens. Clever guy eh?!  I might add some fresh ginger and another onion too.