Thursday, February 21, 2013

Home-stretch chutney glut avoided

Early on in this challenge, I began to get concerned I would come to the last few recipes and be facing a list of chutneys and sauces. These were the recipes I hadn't been regularly tackling, so I had to push myself to do them more often. It worked: I finally finished the sauces last week, and today I'm ticking off the last of the chutneys.

Fruit chutney (p30) is not much different from the peach chutney I made a few weeks back. Most of the ingredients are fairly similar; you just get to choose between apples, plums or tamarillos instead of the peaches. I chose apples: cheaper and easier than either of the other fruits.

I didn't want to make a full mix, and in the end, the amount of malt vinegar I had on hand restricted me to a one-quarter mix. This was still enough for a fairly full saucepan, though: by the time I'd put in the apples, onions, raisins, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, ground cloves and vinegar, I was a bit concerned that the pot might boil over.

Luckily, fruit tends to cook down quite quickly, and it turned out to be a good amount for the pan. The recipe says to boil the chutney for two hours, or 'until thick and jamlike'. My smaller amount took much less time, and was already looking usable before even one hour was up. I rushed through sterilising some jars and lids, but in the end, I only needed one of them.

So that was the last chutney done. It hadn't taken as long as I'd expected, and the oven was still on from doing the jars. Why not throw together a batch of cheese muffins (p27)?

I ought to clarify that these are not your standard cheese muffins. They're actually a variation of the cornmeal muffin recipe, only with cheese instead of sugar.

The first step in cornmeal muffins is to melt butter in a saucepan with milk and cornmeal. When the butter has melted, you let the mixture cool before combining it with sifted dry ingredients and beaten egg. This makes what I consider a very stiff dough for muffins - so stiff that I was filling the muffin tins by grabbing handfuls of the mixture and shaping it roughly into balls.

It took only 15 minutes for the muffins to cook. They came out golden and cooked through, but seemed slightly hard - on the outside at least. When they'd cooled slightly (but were still warm) I split one and spread it with some of the scrapings from the chutney pan.

I usually leave a chutney for a few weeks at least before trying it, but this was just the scraps. It wasn't bad, for fresh-made: nice and fruity with a little spice through it. I think it turned out ok.

The muffins tasted pretty good, and were softer than they appeared. This is the sort of muffin that needs to be buttered, not eaten as is. They have a slightly grainy texture from the cornmeal, which is odd but not unpleasant, and a nice savoury flavour. I definitely like these cheese muffins better than the plain ones.

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