Tuesday, 18 October 2016

How to make smooth, silky and citrussy rose hip jam

It is autumn again and at this time a year we usually prepare to make apple jelly, pear jam and carve pumpkins for Halloween, but if you have been for a crisp walk in the forest or along country lanes, you will have walked right past numerous bushes of wild rose which in the summer would have enchanted passers by with small pink flowers, but in the autumn those flowers have turned into a red oblong shaped hip...rose hip! usually a bush, which, depending on the size can give you about 1-4 kg rose hips.

Rose hip, autumn in a bawl!
get rid of bad fruit, leaves and tails

Rose hip was used in the old days mainly as dried fruit, a steamy brew. Rose hip was recommended in the winter months as it was believed to prevent flu, colds and bust the immune system, later scientists discovered that the wild rose hip has twenty times more Vitamin C than oranges.

These days it is considered a delicacy, but I suspect there are few places you can buy it from, it is fairly uncommon and can only be found in speciality shops in small quantities but I am delighted to see that it is also getting recognised by those interested in foraging, food explorers and alternative medicine.

raw inside of of rose hip

I have been making rose hip jam since I was a teenager, I remember  as child, me and my neighbours were sent out with 5 kg buckets to pick them from the edges around our gardens and country lanes around the neighbourhood and the edge of the forest which was only 500 meters away. It was a away to spend a couple of weekend days in the fresh air and we were being useful too! We used to muck about, play cowboys and Indians, climb trees and look for fox burrows, but we knew that we couldn't go home with empty hands.
raw rose hip sliced in half

Since we have been together, me and my husband often go for walks and usually we have a rucksack and  bags with us in case we see something worth picking. Well this Sunday, we came across two medium size rose hip bushes so we picked some of the fruit

Now if you do decide to adventure out to find rose hip and start picking, as winter is approaching and food will be scares for birds, be considerate and leave 1/4 of them on for the birds!

On with the recipe!

For around 2.5 litres of jam you need:

2 kg of wild rose hip
700 grams sugar
1 fresh lemon (juice only)
Jars, lids and labels

Cooking time 2 hr, prep time from 2-4 hrs.

Prep work

Washing rose hips
Wash the hips well and drain, cut the end and tail off, remove any leaves, otherwise the green tail and leaves might give it a bitter taste.

Now, cover with water, double the amount of water to the quantity of rose hips. Set to boil until they become mushy.

Whilst you are waiting for it to boil, get your recycled jars and lids cleaned with soapy water, rinse really well and put on a tray with the opening facing up ready to be sterilised, more on that later as we get closer to the fin time.
Cleaned with warm soapy water, labels removed,  these recycled jars serve a great purpose 

Check the hips by picking one and let it cool the attempt to squish it between your fingers if it breaks and has a mushy texture( not the pips, they will continue to stay hard :) ), then they are ready.
boiled rose hip 

Basically, not it will be the time when you start doubting whether you should have started this at all and will there be any jam at the end of the day?  Bare with, stay positive, it will happen, I promise!

If you have a strainer attachment to your kitchen robot you are in luck because it saves you about an hour, I din't so I had to do it almost the old fashion way.  I say almost because i used the blender to mush them rather than the potato musher
You can see here, I added some to the blender then added some water from the pan too, otherwise the blender will not work, few seconds and the skin is separated from them pips.

Once all blended you can start straining it, first get rid of the pips through a strain, now you need to get the muslin bag, cloth or sieve and start straining several time, washing the muslin and sieve in between. I have done it 6 time to be sure that there is  little or no hairs, they can irritate the mouth and digestive tract if ingested.

Now you should have a orange red, smooth liquid of single cream consistency and you are ready to start making the jam, yeye! Put it all in a non stick pan or two and get it boiled to half until you have a yogurt like consistency.

When it gets to the right viscosity you are ready to add the sugar, and the lemon juice( its a must if you want the colour to stay vivid, otherwise you will get a red brown colour) stirring continuously until the sugar has melted and the colour has changed to a deep red. From here is just like an other jam recipe.

At this point you need to get the jars and lids in the oven to sterilise, preheat the oven to 140 degrees Celsius and put in the oven for about 20 min, try to time it with the jam.

Continue to boil on medium heat, stirring every couple of minutes of so until the composition reached the texture of thick cream, it should take you about 30 min from boiling point, time is indicative only. You can always test on a cold plate, when it is cooled down on the plate it should have a slight movement, you don't want it so hard because when it cools down completely it will be hard to spread. I prefer mine more a thick sauce viscosity so I took it off the heat a few minutes sooner. Oh come on if you are making this whilst reading this blog, I know you have been trying it, or shall I say licked the spoon repeatedly, but that is ok because it is more ish!

and the rose hip jam is bottled

Get your jars out of the oven whilst nice and hot and start pouring the jam up to the neck (where the lid twists). Holding the jar with a tea towel, tighten the lids on the jars, this is very important as the steam will create a strong bond and the jam will last until next autumn or longer.

don't fill the jars to much

Cover up with a few towels or a fleece like me to allow that jam to cool down slowly, after at least 12 hr you are read to label and store it. of course don't forget to save some on the side to be eaten on the day, as you will feel like you deserve it after all  work! I made pancakes, all  can say is yum yum!

needed testing

Friday, 14 October 2016

Quick gluten free, butter free, easy to make healthy walnut sponge

Quick gluten free, butter free, easy to make healthy walnut sponge
As the title says, this is one of my favourite low calories, easy and fast walnut cake sponge to make
You can add walnut, other nuts, fruit, cocoa powder or any of your fave flavourings. 
Can be used as base for most sponge cakes, roulades or tortes 

Note: Same recipe work with normal flour, same rations, less the xanthan gum.

Prep time: 5 min 
Get your ingredients handy, mill the walnuts
Make: 5 min
Bake: 20-30

You need:
  • 4 medium eggs, separate the yolk from the whites
  • 6 spoons of sugar
  • 5 spoons of gluten free self raising flour
  • 200 grams of ground walnuts
  • 1/8 of a tea spoon of xanthan gum(has the same properties as gluten, gives elasticity and locks the moisture into cakes and sponges)

The butter, baking powder, cocoa and flavouring are for display only
Whisk 4 egg whites until stiff, gradually add 6 spoons of sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved

Incorporate the egg yolk by gently hand whisking
Mix 200 grams if milled walnuts with 5 spoons of self raising gluten free flour and 1/8 of a tea spoon xanthan gum
Fold in the dry mixture, gently not to beat the air out, until completely homogenised
Prep your tray with non stick backing

Spread it slowly without pressing to firmly
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius, bake for about 20 min until golden, the colour is more important than the time.
You can get the top smoother than mine!
Let it cool

Fill it, roll it, layer it,  eat it as is, dip it in chocolate ganache or cream,up to you
I covered mine in chocolate buttercream but the mice :) eat it before getting a chance to take the final pic!

Hope you found it easy to make, don't forget to share, leave a comment.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Gluten and sugar free jam/no jam doughnuts or Beliner Doughnuts

This particular type of doughnut is known under so many names: Berliner, Krofna, Turte, Krapni, Krapfne, etc

So many of us these days have food intolerances and gluten is no exception. I was recently diagnosed with an auto immune illness called Hashimotos. Like so many others I went into panic mode and ventured on the net to find the cure, only to find out that the words “could, should, and might” are all carefully used to basically tell us that it is a condition that will never go away. 

There is plenty of advice on what to do and not to do - everyone seems to be an expert, mainly based on their own experiences - and this helps us newbies to extract the details most pertinent to us.  It is fair to say that I was relieved to have found out what was wrong with me after almost 5 years and numerous trips to the GP but in the same time frightened that I will never get well.

So at this point you probably think this is the saddest doughnut making recipe you have read, and you wonder what is the connection with gluten and sugar in all this! 

Well apparently the thyroid cells see the protein in gluten as an enemy and start to defend themselves, which is not good for me, even though for some reason the cells think they are doing me favours! So in an attempt to improve my health I have decide to test the theory to see if it is applicable to me and remove gluten from my diet.

This is how the adaptations of my favourite recipes begun and gluten free bakes and cakes was born!

Back to the doughnuts. My favourite dessert of all time. Growing up in Western Romania, the cuisine is heavily influenced by the German, Austrian, Serbian, Mediterranean and Hungarian cuisine, doughnuts were regulars at our dinner table, especially on a Sunday or Bread Making Day.

The Berliner dough should be somewhat softer than normal yeast dough, however it must not be sticky. Before you start gathering the ingredients together read the Tips section at the bottom of the page.

Here is what ingerdients you need to make gluten free  and sugar free doughnuts:
·         500 grams(g)f gluten free self raising flour
·         3 egg yolks 
·         200-250 millilitres(ml) of  warm milk 
·         1 tsp of yeast or 25 gr of fresh yeast
·         60 g of butter
·          1/4 tsp of vanilla essence
·         2 1/2 tbsp of xylitol natural sweetener
·         1/4 grated lemon or orange peel (no juice)
·         100g of icing xylotol (blitz the granules the food or coffee processor to obtain the fine texture)
·         1/4 tsp Xanthum Gum
        ·  750 ml of oil for deep frying

Firstly mix the warm milk (200 ml initially) with yeast and a pinch of sugar and a sprinkle of flour on top (so you can see how much has the yeast risen) and let it rest in a warm place for about 10 minutes. 

Seperately, mix the flour with the remaining sugar, salt and xanthum gum, now make a hole in the middle and add the wet ingredients: eggs yolks, vanilla essence, soft butter and the fruit peel, followed by the risen yeast (now that the flour has bubbled up)! Pour it over and knead to a smooth dough, it should take about about 5 minutes.

Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, knead a second time  for 3 min and let it rest for another 15 min. 

Roll  the dough in a circle/square, about 3cm thick and cut the round shapes using a flour dusted glass or cookie cutter. Now place the circless on a floured surface or non stick baking paper  and cover, keep in a warm place an wait until the dough has doubled in height(appox 20min).

Before rising


Heat the fryer to 160 °, and add the dough pieces, no more than three at a time. Always put them top first in the hot fat until they turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes on each side. 


If you choose to add jam then follow this step:

Fill a syringe with a long cream attachment with jam and inject each doughnut with a small portion of jam. 
Now roll it, the doughnut(not you) in icing sugar and enjoy!


The jam must be the consistency of thick double cream, not too liquid or too thick. 
Excessive kneading is not necessary as there is no gluten to activate, so homogenise the ingredients and you are done.
Suitable for diabetics or insulin resistant due to the fact that xylitol is a natural sweetener with a very low GI index around 7 and very low in calories 4kl for 1 tsp.

To find out more about xylitol, follow the link:

Make sure the room is warm if not it will not rise much, which is what happened to mine. If the room is cold, start the oven on 50 degrees and let the door open  so the heat can rise to you near by doughnuts.They tasted yumm!

This can be adapted using the same ingredients less xanthum gum for standard flour but no sugar or all together the traditional way. 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

4 Inspirational ways of putting colour back into you house with Fimo polymer clay

I started working with  polymer clay, the brand I primarily use is Fimo, it all started a few years ago when I decided to make some unique beads for my jewellery making hobby. Although it was supposed to be a trial, make a few beads, ruin them in the curing process, because, apparently that is a must :) and give up but some years later, I am still working with Fimo. The difference now is that after burning  few batches, it's worth mentioning it was not my fault :)... I still don't use an oven thermometer and I no longer make just beads but rather anything that I need around the house.

Usually when I tell people what I do and what the various things are made of, I get the same reaction; "I used to use Fimo to keep the kids busy for an afternoon or hmmm how interesting!" They are quite right, but how about we change the game a little bit.

Have you ever wanted to do something for you and not for the children  but never got around to do it or didn't know where to start? Well in this blog I will list a few things to inspire you and hopefully you will have a go at making something with Fimo clay or any other polymer clay brand. I will be showing you a range of craft projects that I did to put some colour around the house.

Will start we the basics of Fimo, which is no longer just a kid's play dough but more of a craft material which provides unlimited fun for many adults around the world! There are lots and lots of tutorials, blogs, web sites and you tube videos on how to work with polymer clay. just search for instance: How to make polymer clay beads.

1.Make a range of beads in different shapes and colour combinations to use as light cords, lampshade decorating

2. You can decorate door handles to give personality to otherwise simple handles. 

3.Put some colour in the kitchen by changing the look of your doors and kitchen cabinets with knobs covered in polymer clay. 

4.You can make decorative buttons which you can then use in various projects around the house.

Other easy to do ideas:
& Decorate your light cords with cured beads;
& Make different pots and tubes to store your make up, make up brushes etc;
& Use Fimo to embellish vases or other pots which you can use as utensil holders.

Good Day!