Thursday, 27 November 2008

Rum and Raisins

Have just been busy chopping and soaking fruit in an attempt to make a Jamaican Christmas Cake.

I've been experimenting and think I've found the closest thing to my mum's christmas cake recipe! It was her mother-in-law (my grannie) who taught her how to make it - I just remember it being really heavy but oozing with rich fruity goodness and rum! I remember her filling huge empty Quality Street jars with dried fruit steeped in a mixture of dark Jamaican rum and Sherry. She would soak the fruit for months, sometimes even a year!

I guess I've left it late for this year, but am tempted to have a go anyway, and will soak the fruit for just 2-3 weeks.

Alcoholic fruit mix:

560 g raisins
225 g prunes (stoned)
2 tbsp demerara sugar
3 tbsp water
110 g glace cherries
50 g dates (stoned)
50 mg candied orange peel
375 ml dark Jamaican rum
375 ml Porto (or mixture of Porto and Sherry)

1.5 litre glass preserving jar with rubber seal, sterilised by washing in hot soapy water and drying in an oven.

Stone the prunes, place in a small saucepan with the water, sprinkle with the demerara sugar and simmer gently on low heat for 20 min, stirring regularly, and adding a little more water if necessary.

Meanwhile, finely chop the cherries, stone and finely chop the dates, snip the candied orange peel into tiny pieces with scissors, and place in a large mixing bowl with the raisins. Allow the prunes to cool, then chop finely and add to dried fruit. Stir well, and transfer to a glass storage jar, and fill to the top with the rum and porto (and sherry if used).

Close the jar and leave for as long as possible (anything from 2-3 weeks to a year)

It's starting to feel all Christmassy with all the fruity rum-infused fragrances in my kitchen (not to mention the year-round fairy lights on the beam hehe)

Saturday, 1 November 2008


well yesterday, being that time of year again, I was up to arse and elbow in pumpkin flesh post-carving, and put 2 roasting trays of pumpkin cubes, tossed in a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt and freshly ground pepper, into the oven to roast so I could make "Roast Pumpkin and Cinnamon Soup", from the Moro East cookbook. It's so delicious, roasting the pumpkins gives it such a nice flavour, and it's been a huge hit with the kids!

Also had my first attempt at Toasted Pumpkin Seeds which the kids loved too!
Basically I cleaned the seeds in a colander, under the tap, then put them in a saucepan with 4 cups of water per cup of seeds, and 1 tbsp rock salt per cup of water (thinking of trying it with less salt next time though), brought it to the boil, then simmered for 20 min, drained, spread out the seed on a baking tray drizzled with olive oil, and roast in a hot oven (220 C) for 20 min til nice and golden. A few exploded and popped in the oven, but they turned out pretty good!

I prefer shelling them to just eat the inner kernel - the husk is too fibrous and salty, but the inside bit is good - makes a nice little savoury snack.