Eat More Fish – Spicy River Cobbler Stew

We love to try new fish and we’ll only ever buy ethically sourced or sustainable fish. So why aren’t more people thinking outside the box? Okay everyone has their favourite fish, In the UK the nations favourites are  is still Tuna,Salmon and cod. We eat a whopping 72 tonnes of Tuna, 47 tonnes of Salmon and a staggering 42 tonnes of cod. Cod is still the UK fish and chip shop staple in spite of there still being historically low levels of cod in the North Sea, most of the nations cod originates from Iceland. Today we are cooking with River Cobbler or Basa fish.

A relative of the Catfish, Basa are native to the Mekong River in Vietnam and the Chao Phraya basin in Thailand. In other countries such as the US and Australia these fish are also known as swai and bocourti from its Latin name Pangasius Bocourti. The River Cobbler’s body  is stout and heavy with yellow or dark brown colouring and a pale mottling over the back and on its sides, typically progressively darker towards the tail. It has a hefty rounded, flattened head which is broader than its length and it has a blunt snout with a white band on its muzzle. Its body is of long eel-like appearance and tapers to a pointed tail and it has continuous dorsal, caudal and anal fins and can grow up to 100 centimetres.

Basa has become more common in the UK as “Vietnamese river cobbler”, “river cobbler”, or “basa”. It is mainly sold by large supermarket chains, in both fresh and frozen forms, as a cheaper alternative to popular white fish such as cod or haddock. It is a reasonably sturdy fish and flakes like its more famous counterparts. Great in curries and soups and of course coated in beer batter and served with chips and tartare sauce. Today, however, we are headed back to Vietnam, where is hails from for a tasty stew with chilli.



  • 250g of river cobbler
  • 3 green chilies ( deseeded and washed)
  • 3 or four dried red chillies
  • A pinch of chili powder
  • 2 tbsp of Fish sauce
  • A glug of peanut oil
  • A small bunch of spring onions, finely chopped
  •  1 red onion, finely diced
  •  1 red pepper,  roughly chopped
  • A large pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • 20g of coconut sugar


Clean the fillets of  river cobbler then spread 1 teaspoon of salt on the fish skin, leave for about 20 minutes.After 20 minutes, slice the fish into pieces then deseed and wash the green chilies ( wear gloves), then slice the chillies into circle shapes. Next, place the fish, chillies, spring onions, chili powder, oil, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt and onion into a sauté pan.Cook on a low heat but do not cover for 15 minutes, season to you own personal taste.

River Cobbler Stew



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Instant Pot Review – Spanish Infused Chicken Stew

1511382_695809893794145_1941663174593874858_nWe’ve been lucky enough to have been given an Instant Pot to play with. Instant Pot is new in the UK but has long been a best seller across The Pond. Designed by Canadians, this beautifully crafted pot is a smart electric pressure cooker. Why is it smart? Well not only does it use 70% less energy making it good for the environment, but it also has features which stop overheating and burning which is a massive plus. If like me, you have grown up with a pressure cooker since you could remember then you’ll love Instant Pot. My old-fashioned pressure cooker gave up the ghost a couple of years ago and I haven’t replaced it. I hadn’t realised how much I had missed it until I made some soup in the Instant Pot yesterday in 10 minutes flat.


On first sight the Instant Pot scared me. Lots of buttons and lights; so I did something I don’t usually do and read the instruction manual from cover to cover. Then realised that with most kitchen gadgets the easiest way to learn is to just get on with it. It couldn’t have been easier. I thought the lid was going to be a bit tricky, but no, because the Instant Pot sings to you when the lid is secure like R2D2 – I love that. This pressure cooker unlike its stove top relative cooks things up to 6 times more quickly, which,if you are busy working it is an absolute bonus. It has 10 built-in programs, which means you are able to cook soup or stew, rice and even porridge just by pressing a button.



There is also a manual button for when you are a bit more confident with timings and ingredients etc. I used the pressure cooker yesterday and there were no leaks, and hardly any noise. I wondered how that was possible, given the fact that it was producing steam, I still loved the fact that the little plume of steam came from the top when the pressure was released, but then I am an old-fashioned girl, of French descent, centuries ago and I guess, old habits die-hard. This fabulous shiny wonder is not just a pressure cooker, it also sautes, steams and slow-cooks and there are three individual temperatures for each of those functions. I am slow cooking today and making a spanish stew, using beans and chicken and chorizo. There are a lot of flavours in the pot and after a few hours cooking it should be delicious.

One thing the Instant Pot does is trap most of the aromas inside the pot. Is this a good thing? hmmm  I am split. I really rather like to smell the different flavours and how they change during the cooking process. That is my one beef, excuses the pun, in all other respects the Instant Pot is the most amazing piece of kit and I cannot wait to put the timer on for the morning so we have piping hot porridge for breakfast.

Now back to the Spanish Stew.Using the slow cooker function could not be easier and we give detailed instructions during our cooking directions. If you want to learn more about Instant Pot then you can find them on Facebook or Twitter and at their UK website Here



  • 4 large chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cooking chorizo, chopped roughly
  • 2 carrots, chopped roughly
  • 2 courgettes, chopped roughly
  • 2 leeks, chopped roughly
  • 3 red skinned potatoes, scrubbed and chopped in half
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • 1 handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • A small handful of oregano, finely chopped
  • 1  glass of fino sherry or dry white wine, and one for yourself
  • A large pinch of smoked paprika
  • A couple of strands of saffron
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chicken stock, enough to cover the chicken and vegetables


Firstly prepare the vegetables and place them in the Instant Pot. Next heat some oil in a sauté pan and sauté the garlic, chicken and chorizo until the chicken is browned. Add the chicken, chorizo and garlic mixture to the Instant Pot and stir. Heat the stock slightly and add the herbs,spices and seasonings and pour over the chicken to cover it. Pop on the lid. set to slow cook for 3 hours. Once the 3 hours is up then remove the lid, check for seasoning and ladle from the pot into bowls and serve with crusty bread or rice.



Heaven Preserve US: Hey Pesto Pistachio Pesto Noodle Salad

We love making fresh pesto at Heaven Preserve Us, we have built up quite a flavour-packed repertoire. Here is our latest incarnation made with one of our favourite nuts, the pistachio. The pistachio, Pistacia vera, is a member of the cashew family. It is a small tree, originally from the Middle East and Central Asia, and now common in Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Greece,  Turkey, Sicily, Krygyztan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, India,, Pakistan, Egypt,  Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and the USA, specifically California and more recently, Australia.
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence in Iraq that pistachios were consumed as long ago as 6750 BC. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were said to be populated with pistachio trees during the reign of King Merodach-Baladan around 700 BC. It was certainly first cultivated in Asia, where it was an important crop in Iraq and Iran. It’s cultivation in the Mediterranean, spread through Sicily from Persia. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder maintains that pistachios were introduced to the Roman Empire via Syria by its consul, Lucius Vitellus the Elder and into Spain simultaneously by Flaccus Pompeius.
The health benefits of pistachios are significant. At Pennsylvania State University, pistachios were found to specifically reduce cholesterol in the serum of volunteers. In 2008, James Painter, a behavioural eating expert at Eastern Illinois University, proposed the Pistachio Principle, whereby the body is fooled into eating less. The Pistachio Principle postulates that the act of slowly shelling, then eating a pistachio nut, one by one,  is sufficiently time-consuming to convince the body that it has eaten more than it actually has, so the consumer feels fuller after eating less. Preliminary studies also indicate that pistachios may offer protection against a number of food-borne bacteria.
  • 150g roasted and salted pistachio nuts
  • A large handful of  fresh young spinach leaves
  • The zest and juice of 1 large organic lemon
  • A pinch ground black pepper
  • A large glug of extra virgin olive oil

For the Salad

  • A large pack of egg noodles, cooked and cooled
  • A handful of  chestnut mushrooms, diced
  • 2 large courgettes, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced


Place the pistachios, spinach, lemon zest, juice and black pepper into the food processor and pulse, adding the olive oil into the mixture in a slow drizzle. Cook the noodles.Drain them and reserve a ladle of  liquid. Toss the noodles with the pistachio pesto, avocado, courgettes and red pepper. If you need to you can add some of the reserved liquid if the pesto is too thick.
pistachio-pesto- noodle-salad

You’ll be able to buy pesto, preserves and potions from us at our sister company Heaven Preserve Us. We’re working on the website, developing the final product range and getting ready to launch next month…. You can follow us on TWITTER and FACEBOOK to find out more about our product range.


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Meat Free Monday – Stone Soup

Welcome to Meat Free Monday this glorious holiday morning, If you spent yesterday over indulging in chocolate then perhaps todays recipe will leave you feeling refreshed and a little more saintly? I adore the story of Stone Soup and cannot wait to make a batch later today. Here is the wonderful story of the three monks who travelled  along a mountain road. It’s a beautiful tale about uniting people and gaining their coöperation over a pot of soup. It’s amazing how people pull together to make something from nothing and how a pot of boiling water with a few stones in could turn into such a sumptuous meal. I hope you enjoy it.



Three Monks traveled along a mountain road. They talked about cat whiskers, the color of
the sun, and whatever else came to mind. “What makes one happy?” asked the youngest monk.
The old and the wisest monk said, “Let’s find out.”
The monks found themselves gazing down at the rooftops of a village below. The monks
knew the village had been through many hard times and villagers had even become suspicious of
their neighbors. The villagers worked hard, but only for themselves. They had little to do with one
another. When the monks came down, the villagers disappeared into their houses and no one
came to the gate to greet them. Even the windows were closed tight. The monks knocked on the
doors but there was no answer. “These people do not know happiness,” they all agreed. “But today
we will show them how to make stone soup.”
They gathered twigs and made a fire. They placed a small tin pot on top and filled it with
water. A brave little girl who had been watching came to them. “What are you doing?” she asked.
“We are making stone soup and we need three round, smooth stones,” said a monk. The
little girl helped the monks find three perfectly round stones.
“These stones will make excellent soup,” said the oldest monk. “But this very small pot
won’t make much.”
The little girl ran home to get her mother’s big pot. “The three strangers are making soup
from stones,” she said.
The monks poked the coals. As smoke drifted up, the neighbors peered out from their
windows. They found the monks, the fire, and the large pot in the middle of the village very
curious, indeed! One by one, the villagers came out to see just what this stone soup was. “Of
course, old-style stone soup should be well seasoned with salt and pepper,” said the young
monk. “But we have none.”
“I have some salt and pepper!” said a villager and disappeared and came back with spices.
The old monk took a taste. “The last time we had soup stones of this size and color,
carrots made the broth very sweet.”
“Carrots?” said a woman from the back. “I may have a few carrots!” And she returned with
as many carrots as she could carry and dropped them into the pot.
“Do you think it would be better with onions?” asked the other monk.
“Oh, yes, maybe an onion would taste good,” said a farmer. He left and returned in a
moment with five big onions. He dropped them into the bubbling soup.
Something magical began to happen among the villagers. As each person opened his or
her heart to give, the next person gave even more. The monks simply stirred and the pot bubbled.
At last, the soup was ready. The villagers gathered together. Everyone sat down to eat.
They had not been together for a feast like this for as long as anyone could remember. After the
banquet, they told stories, sang songs, and celebrated long into the night. Then they unlocked their
doors and took the monks into their homes and gave them very comfortable places to sleep. In the
gentle spring morning that came the next day, everyone gathered together to say farewell. “Thank
you for having us as your guests,” said the monks. “You have been most generous.”
“Thank you,” said the villagers. “With the gifts you have given, we will always have plenty.
You have shown us that sharing makes us all richer.”
“And to think,” said the monks, “to be happy is as simple as making stone soup.”

– Jon J. Muth, Scholastic Press



  • 1 stone (make sure its big enough to notice in the soup)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 medium red-skinned potatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1.5 litres of vegetable stock
  • 1 medium courgettes, diced large
  • 1 medium squash,peeled and diced large
  • 120g sweetcorn kernels
  • cooked soup pasta
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan/vegan cheese ( optional)
  • Croutons


Firstly scrub and wash the stone thoroughly. In a large stock pot heat the oil, then sauté the onion on medium-high heat until the onions have slightly softened. Stir in the celery, carrot, potatoes and red pepper, sautéing for  a further 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, then add in the vegetable stock. Using a slotted spoon, fish the stone out of the other pot, add it to the soup and bring to a boil. Add the courgette, squash, corn and pasta, cooking another 10 minutes or until the softened is the desired softness. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Before serving, sprinkle on the cheese and croutons, then ladle (minus the stone) into bowls.


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Sunday Lunch – Seared Wagyu With Ponzo Sauce

Wagyu (the literal translation is “Japanese cow”) refers to several breeds of cattle, the most desired of which is genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of unsaturated fat. The meat from such wagyu cattle is known for its quality, and demands a high price. In several areas of Japan, wagyu beef is shipped carrying area names. Some examples are Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi, and Sanda beef. Because of Japan’s rugged terrain and isolated areas, different breeding and feeding techniques were used such as massaging or adding beer or sake to their feeding regimen. It is suggested that this was done to aid in digestion and induce hunger during humid seasons, but it seems to have no effect on the meat’s flavour. Massaging was morse likely to have been introduced to prevent muscle cramping on small farms in Japan where the animals did not have sufficient room to use their muscles.


There are four breeds of wagyu: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. Wagyu cattle’s genetic predisposition yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef. The increased marbling also increases the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats. Japanese Black makes up 90% of all fattened cattle in Japan. Strains of Japanese Black include Tottori, Tajima, Shimane and Okayama. Japanese Brown, also known as Japanese Red, is the other main breed; strains include Kochi and Kumamoto. Japanese Shorthorn makes up less than one percent of all cattle in Japan.The Australian Wagyu Association is the largest breed association outside Japan.


Both fullblood and wagyu-cross cattle are farmed in Australia for domestic and overseas markets, including Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, the U.K., France, Germany, Denmark and the U.S.A. Australian wagyu cattle are grain fed for the last 300–500 days of production. Wagyu bred in Western Australia’s Margaret River region often have red wine added to their feed as well. In the United States, Japanese Wagyu cattle were bred with Angus cattle. This crossbreed has been named American Style Kobe Beef. Designed to mimic the diet that Japanese cattle were receiving, Wagyu cattle in the United States are fed a mixture of corn, alfalfa, barley and wheat straw. Wagyu were first competitively exhibited at the National Western Stock Show in 2012. Wagyu cattle farming in Canada appeared after 1991 when the Canadian Wagyu Association was formed. Wagyu style cattle and farms in Canada are found only in Alberta. Canadian Wagyu beef products are exported to the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Europe.



  • 6 oz. Wagyu sirloin
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • A large pinch of wasabi powder
  • A pinch of  allspice
  • A drizzle of peanut oil
  • Smoked ponzu sauce


Preheat grill to high.In a small mixing bowl, blend together ginger, garlic, salt, wasabi powder and allspice.  Rub exterior of the Wagyu with the peanut oil and season liberally with the dry rub mixture. Sear the beef for 2-3 minutes per side, remove from the heat and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. To serve, slice the beef thinly and serve with smoked ponzu sauce.

Ponzu Sauce


  • 118 ml of Tamari
  • A glug of rice wine vinegar
  • A glug of Mirin
  • The juice of half a lemon


Mix together the ingredients and allow to marinade for an hour or so before drizzling over the wagyu beef. Finally strew with finely sliced spring onions and slithers of ginger.



If you love juice you’ll love Raviva – Juice For Life. They’re giving away 3 cases of juice to three lucky readers. You can enter here. Details below.

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All Shook Up : Brandy Cocktails

In a new monthly feature we’re going to be looking at the history of a particular drink and the cocktails associated with it. Today its brandy. A firm favourite in this house, usually savoured in a balloon after a particularly good meal as a digestif. What are your favourite brandy cocktails?

Brandy (from brandywine, derived from Dutch brandewijn, “burnt wine”) is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35–60% alcohol by volume (70–120 US proof) and is typically drunk after dinner. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks, some are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate ageing, and some brandies are produced using a combination of both ageing and colouring. Brandy is also produced from fermented fruits other than grapes, but these products are typically named eaux-de-vie, especially in France.


Brandy, as it is known today, began to appear in the 12th century and became generally popular in the 14th century. Initially wine was distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make it easier for merchants to transport. It is also thought that wine was originally distilled to lessen the tax which was assessed by volume. The intent was to add the water removed by distillation back to the brandy shortly before consumption. It was discovered that after having been stored in wooden casks, the resulting product had improved over the original distilled spirit. In addition to removing water, the distillation process led to the formation and decomposition of numerous aromatic compounds, fundamentally altering the composition of the distillate from its source. Non-volatile substances such as pigments, sugars, and salts remained behind in the still. As a result, the taste of the distillate was often quite unlike that of the original source.


As most brandies have been distilled from grapes, the regions of the world producing excellent brandies have pretty much paralleled those areas producing grapes for viniculture. At the end of the 19th century, the western European markets, including their overseas empires, were dominated by French and Spanish brandies and eastern Europe was dominated by brandies from the Black Sea region, including Bulgaria, the Crimea, and Georgia. In 1880, David Saradjishvili founded his Cognac Factory in Tbilisi, Georgia, a crossroads for Turkish, Central Asian, and Persian trade routes and a part of the Russian Empire at the time. Armenian and Georgian brandies, called cognacs in the era, were considered some of the best in the world and often beat their French competitors at the International Expositions in Paris and Brussels in the early 1900s. The storehouses of the Romanov Court in St. Petersburg were regarded as the largest collections of cognacs and wines in the world with much of it from the Transcaucasus region of Georgia. During the October Revolution of 1917, upon the storming of the Winter Palace, the Bolshevik Revolution actually paused for a week or so as the participants gor and everything that goes with them.

FRged on the substantial stores of cognac and wines. The Russian market was always a huge brandy-consuming region in which home-grown varieties were common but much of it was imported. The patterns of bottles followed that of the western European norm. Throughout the Soviet era, the production of brandy was a source of pride for the communist regime as they continued to produce some excellent varieties, especially the most famous Jubilee Brandies of 1967, 1977, and 1987. Remaining bottles of these productions are highly sought after, not simply for their quality, but for their historical significance.

Many of you will know that I’m a complete sucker for cocktails. From the cocktail shaker, to the swizzle stick, to the colourful paper umbrellas. So today I am giving you a number of recipes for brandy-based cocktails. Enjoy! I know we do!

Brandy Sour


  • 5 cl (2 parts) brandy
  • 2.5 cl (1 part) lemon squash
  • 2-4 drops of bitters Angostura Bitters
  • Top up with soda water (some use lemonade instead)
  • Ice


Cocktail brandy produced in Cyprus is typically less strongly flavoured than cognac or armagnac, and most brands have a caramel-biased aftertaste balance, so Cypriot brandy really lend itself to this cocktail. Cyprus also produces distinctive, yellow-green coloured, bitter lemons — used by British author Lawrence Durrell for the title for his autobiographical novel Bitter Lemons of Cyprus. These lemons are used locally to produce a bitter-sweet lemon cordial, which forms the sour and bitter base for the Brandy Sour cocktail. Bitters are added to taste. These ingredients are added to a tall glass and stirred, before the glass is topped up with lemonade (for a classic, slightly sweeter drink) or soda water (for less sweetness and a more pronounced brandy flavour), and plenty of ice.


Brandy Alexander


  • 30ml (1 part) Cognac
  • 30ml (1 part) Crème de cacao (brown)
  • 30ml (1 part) Fresh cream
  • nutmeg to taste


Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg.




  • Four parts brandy or cognac
  • Two parts Cointreau
  • Two parts lemon juice


Mix the ingredients in a shaker half-full of ice. Strain and serve in a sugar-rimmed glass. Garnish with a strip of lemon rind


Brandy Daisy


  • 3 or 4 dashes gum syrup
  • 2 or 3 dashes of Curaçao liqueur/yellow Chartreuse
  • The juice of half a small lemon
  • 1 small wine-glass of brandy
  • 2 dashes of Jamaica rum


Fill glass one-third full of shaved ice. Shake well, strain into a large cocktail glass, and fill up with Seltzer water from a syphon.




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Maille Culinary Challenge – Chargrilled Monkfish Cheeks With Warm Mango Vinaigrette

imageWhen our friends at Maille asked me to take part in their culinary challenge this month I jumped at the chance to get my hands on some of their more unusual ingredients. The task to create a dish using at least one of the iconic range of Maille products. Being me, (oh, that’s slightly off the wall, experimental and slightly obsessed with flavours) I chose my two ingredients without even thinking about my dish – mango vinegar and original cornichons. The next task to think of a key ingredient to compliment these two beauties. Maybe a twist on salsa verdi to accompany lamb ( as its Easter) or a knockout sauce tartare to accompany some beer battered fish?

Then I got married and my beloved flavours notebook and ideas were shelved until last weekend when I visited our wonderful local market in Crystal Palace. A trip to said market always results in a visit to fabulous award-winning fishmonger of the year 2014, Veasey & Sons. Inspiration and a quick chat resulted in me finding the key ingredient for my dish. Monkfish cheeks.  We’d had them a few weeks before our wedding, when a friend stayed for the weekend with sauce vierge and they were delicious. A true taste of the sea.

I toyed with the idea of skewers made by  marinading the cheeks in the vinegar overnight. I toyed with the idea of a hot and sour curry. Beautiful ingredients like monkfish cheeks deserve respect, delicate layers, a cleansed palate on finishing. So Yesterday I got to work in the kitchen. I have only been married for twelve days so I am still trying to impress my darling wife – She tried my entry to the challenge today for lunch and she made ‘That’ face. The face which says ‘ This is absolutely delicious’ trust me, she would tell me if it was not, she’s a trained chef. Trained in the traditional French way. Believe, me if she didn’t enjoy it she would tell me.



For the warm vinaigrette 

  • 1 large mango
  • 3 tbsp of Maille Mango vinegar
  • 1 pinch of powdered ginger
  • The juice of two limes
  • 4 Maille Mini Cornichons
  • Half a large red chilli, seeded
  • A small glass of fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp of fish sauce
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp of tamari
  • 1 inch block of coconut cream
  • Coriander for decoration

For the fish

  • 10 monkfish cheeks ( serves 2)
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • A splash of olive oil


Remove the flesh from the mango and place in the food processor together with the other ingredients. Blitz until you have a reasonably smooth sauce ( we like to see the flecks or red and green from the chilli and cornichons) Place the sauce in a small pan and heat. Bring to a gentle simmer and reduce the sauce by half. Next season the monkfish cheeks in a bowl with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil and mix. Heat a large sauté pan or your chargrill pan and once very hot place the cheeks on for 2 mins either side. To serve, place the  sauce in a bowl and put the monkfish cheeks on top. Strew with coriander for decoration.




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Heaven Preserve Us – Crab Apple Jelly

At Heaven Preserve Us, we are all about flavours, delicious and tantalising flavours. We want to introduce old favourites to a new audience and crab apple is one of those fabulous ingredients which doesn’t spring to the forefront of your mind when choosing a preserve.

Malus is a genus of 30-55 apple trees in the family Rosaceae.  These are small deciduous trees that include the domesticated apple but almost every other variety would be classed crab apple, crab or wild apples. Native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, they are 13-39 ft (4-12 m) tall with a dense crown on maturity. The flowers are very pretty, five-pe talked and either white, pink or red.  Apes require cross-pollination by insects, usually bees. Self-poi stink is impossible, but several Malus species, including the domestic apple, hybridise quite easily. Crab apples are particular popular as ornamental trees because they provide plentiful blossom in the Spring and copious fruits in the Autumn/Fall. Astonishingly, the fruits often persist through the winter months.
Often, crabapples are cultivated to provide rootstocks for domestic apple trees because they are a hardier tree. They are also used as pollinisers in apple orchards. Varieties of crab apple are often planted as the sixth or seventh tree in an orchard or their limbs are grafted on to the apple tree. Crabapple was one of the plants invoked in the Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century. Crabapple fruit is not viewed as an important crop because it is usually far too sour and woody for most palates to eat raw, with the exception of the Chestnut cultivars, which are universally sweet. In some Southeastern cultures however, they are valued as a sour condiment and are eaten with  salt, chilli pepper and/or shrimp paste. Crab apples are an excellent source of pectin and their juice can be made into a ruby-red preserve which is particularly fine when accompanying hot or cold roast meat.
  • 2kg of crab apples
  • The juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 2  litres water
  •  2kg jam sugar
  • 1 slice of ginger
  • 1 large red chilli, pricked
Wash the crab apples and remove any blemishes. Cut the apples into thick wedges but do not peel or core them.
In a large heavy based pan, combine the apples, lemon juice, slice of ginger, chilli, lemon juice, zest and water. Make sure that there is just enough water to cover the apples you can always add more water if necessary. Over a medium to high heat, bring the contents of the pan to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 3 hours until the apples are soft and pulpy. NB:Remove the chilli after 30 mins. You are looking for a subtle flavour not a massive hit, unless you want to have a more spicy jelly, in which case leave it in.
Place the  crab apple mixture into a muslin bag and suspend over a clean  pan. Allow the mixture to drip overnight.
The next day, weigh the juice and add an equal weight of jam sugar. Bring to the boil and begin testing for a setting point by placing a drop of the jelly onto a cold plate. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is ready. Skim if necessary. Pour into sterilised jars and cover with a lid. Place in a cool dark place for 2 days then its ready to unleash with cheese, meats, vegetables or whatever your preference.


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The Great Raviva Giveaway – Juice For Life

Today we would like to welcome to the blog our friends at Raviva. The ethos behind the company is to provide premium drinks with no sugar or other additives. Currently, there are 3 different juices, Yellow (orange and mango), Purple (apple and blueberry) and Red (red grape with a twist of grapefruit). They urge you to drink the difference!
New bistro range copy
Once upon a time RAVIVA was nothing but a distant dream nestled deep within our Directors heads.  We know, this is hard to believe as the brand appears so strong and the flavours are incredible!  Well friends, it was a long treacherous road, which required juggling balls of steel, buckets of inspiration and bellies so strong they could watch a whole episode of that reality show, that sounds like Big Mother, without projectile vomiting on ourselves…..
We began our lives as Surveyors (yes surveyors).  All was fine in the Land of Surveying, until the Big Bad Recession dug it’s claws in and battered us half to death, with the help of the nasty banks.  Unfortunately for us (and many like us) the property market took the first blow that the recession landed, leaving us with little option but to find other ways of feeding our hungry brood.
You’re right, going from surveying to producing fruit juice drinks called RAVIVA is not the most obvious of things to do.  However, we figured that if WE found most soft drinks too sweet then surely there were other people who felt the same.  So we began crushing grapefruit, squishing grapes, splatting oranges and caressing melons (some enjoyed the latter more than others). Our first range was called REVIVA (not RAVIVA) and was mainly grapefruit based.  Although the drinks were nice we felt that we could connect with a wider audience if we provided other flavours too, whilst sticking with our ethos of not adding sugar or anything unnatural to our drinks.
The next twist in the tail came when we found someone who said they could bottle our juice.  Therefore, we excitedly began making a TV advert, which we booked with ITV.  Then, at the last-minute, the bottling company pulled out!  We decided there was nothing for it but to do it ourselves.  We got all hands on deck, working 15 hours a day, building a food grade bottling plant.  We shed blood, sweat, tears and more tears but we finally got there.The first day’s bottling was interesting, as we didn’t know which pipe went in which hole and what pump pumped which pipe.  However, after scratching each other’s heads we bottled our first batch!
We set about selling our juice to anyone who would listen, gaining distributors along the way.  Over time feedback began to build up and we decided that we should try and improve the look of the labelling and flavour.  We did this and relaunched.  We were right to do this as sales began to grow a lot faster.
Pub range
We also decided to change the name slightly as many people believed our drinks were energy drinks.  This was definitely not the case.  We then found out that Viva means long life in many non UK countries,  voilà, happy days, cushdy!  This fitted our juice perfectly and led on to our Juice For Life catch phrase. We now spend our days lying on a beach in the Bahamas drinking RAVIVA out of coconuts.  Yeah right, we wish!  This is just the beginning and we have many mountains to climb, more blood to shed and expletives to repeat before we are anywhere near getting to where we want to be.  The main thing is we believe 100% in our juice and we think that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy better drinks.
We would love to take you all with us on this journey, therefore this story will be updated as we go along.  You can, of course, follow our story on Facebook and Twitter
Each follower is a little nudge in the right direction to helping us be the difference! To encourage you to try Raviva we are  giving away three cases of a selection of our drinks to three lucky winners. It is so easy to enter, just follow the instructions below - Good luck!

Eat More Fish – Tuna Carpaccio

I’ve got some sushi grade tuna in the fridge which Dan at Veasey and Sons specially cut for me at the weekend. There is only one thing to do with something this beautiful and that is to eat as carpaccio. Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat or fish such as beef, veal, venison, salmon or tuna, sliced very, very thinly or pounded thin and served as an appetiser. The dish was first produced in 1950 in Venice to celebrate an exhibition of the artwork of a Venetian painter, Vittorio Carpaccio.  The dish is actually based on the Piedmont specialty, carne cruda all’ d’albese. It was invented and popularised by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice.   He originally prepared the dish for Countess Amalia Nana Mocenigo when he learned that the doctors had told her that she needed to eat raw meat to improve her condition.
The typical Piedmont carpaccio is made with thin slices of beef sirloin, marinated in olive oil, lemon and shavings of white truffle and/or Parmesan cheese. But today the term carpaccio is used to describe any dish of raw meat, fish or vegetables that have been very thinly sliced and seasoned with lemon or vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Sirloin is used rather than fillet because it has a fuller flavour and it must always be exceptionally fresh, almost on the hoof! Less commonly, following Piedmont tradition, it can be made with minced beef and garlic. This would technically be called carne cruda, however. Tuna carpaccio is a slightly exotic yet wonderfully simple light meal that is tangy and flavoursome and melts in your mouth. It is a particularly successful way to serve this fish which many love, but which can be rather ‘meaty’ for some people’s palates.
  • 1 pound of  sushi quality tuna
  • 1 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • A large pinch of good quality sea salt
  • The juice of two lemons
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large handful of drained capers
  • A large handful of flat-leaf flat-leaf parsley roughly chopped
Place tuna in a ceramic baking dish and rub flesh all over with salt and pepper. Add the juice of one lemon juice and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove the tuna from marinade. Rub most of the extra olive oil on tuna and place in a non stick sauté pan and sear all over for 5 minutes. Remove and cool, then wrap tightly in clingfilm and refrigerate for 2 hours until it becomes very cold.  When very cold, get a very sharp knife and cut into thin slices. Place the slices on a platter overlapping just slightly. Drizzle with remaining teaspoon olive oil and remaining tablespoon lemon juice. sprinkle with capers and parsley leaves and micro herbs and salad. Serve with an ice-cold glass of Gavi .
Tuna carpaccio 130-2

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