Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Veg Everyday cookbook is one of my favourites. Even Jerry has been known to compliment a meat free meal made from it's pages (no small feat). Several of his recipes call for pearled spelt, but I have never been able to track any down. Pearled spelt is dehulled, but then goes though an extra process to scratch the surface of the grain to facilitate water absorption (and therefore dramatically reduce cooking time as well).

Recently one of my net-buddies has started an online food store, The Mindful Trader*, and she invited customers and potential customers to request items we would like to see stocked in the store. Sensing the opportunity to set a challenge, I nominated pearled spelt. Lo and behold a few weeks later a supplier was found and it was in stock. I placed an order.

My first cooking with pearled spelt attempt was Speltotto - like risotto but, you guess it, with spelt. I've linked to the swede version of the recipe, but I made my speltotto with kale. Basically follow the recipe, but ignore the swede part, and in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking add shredded kale. I served with a few slices of poached chicken breast, loads of cracked black pepper and some grated chilli peccorino. Heaven. Honestly folks this leaves regular risotto for dead. The spelt has a lovely nutty/wholegrainy flavour, and retains a good grain texture as well - no glugginess. It also reheated brilliantly the following day.

Jerry was as verbose in his praise as it is possible for him to be about a meal with very little meat. He agreed it was much tastier than regular risotto, and said he would be happy to eat a lot more speltotto in future. Once the weather cools down a bit I am keen to try a version with roasted root vegies. I suspect it will be equally delish.

*Disclaimer: Although I know the owner of the Mindful Trader, I haven't been asked to write this post, nor have I received any benefit (financial or otherwise) for doing so. I just really like pearled spelt :-)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Berry bonanza

Yep, it's berry season again, and it's going to be a cracker!

So far we have picked 10kg of berries (raspberries, brambleberries, loganberries), plus just over 2kg of redcurrants. Blackcurrants will be picked before Xmas. I've frozen some berries, but today to sheer volume decreed that jam making was in order.

Out with my jam bible - Marguerite Patten's the basic basics series book on jams, jellies and chutneys. I spied a variation in the loganberry jam section for loganberry and cherry jam. That sounded pretty good, and I happened to have a kilo of cherries in the fridge.
Half an hour later 2kg of fruit and sugar became 10 jars of jam (I made a double batch). Looking forward to trying it once it has set (it tasted pretty good warm!). It has an amazing colour.

Recipe from Marguerite Patten's the basic basics series book on jams, jellies and chutneys
  • 450g loganberries
  • 450g cherries (weight when pitted)
  • 900g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Put the loganberries and water in a pan and warm on a lowish heat until the juice just starting to run. Add the cherries and heat until the fruit is soft. Add sugar and lemon juice and stir over low heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Turn up the heat, and boil until setting point reached. Leave to stand a few minutes and stir to distribute fruit. Put into jars and process as per your normal method.

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