Jam session

[Recipe 1] FEIJOA, QUINCE and ROSEWATER JAM transforms into
[Recipe 2] SPICED LINZER TORTE

I’ve been on a jam-making frenzy! “It smells like the doughnut van at the footy” said the husband, and I could only take that as a huge compliment.
Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam is one of my favourite conserve creations to date. I adore feijoas! If you’re unfamiliar with them, they’re a little like a musky guava in taste, with a dash of watermelon and kiwi. They have a short season and are tricky to find, so when my friend Janet dropped off a bag recently I was one happy lady!
I usually stew feijoas with apples, but decided to give feijoa jam a try. Honestly it was as if the stars had aligned as within two days of my jam-making decision I discovered the important reference tool ‘Making men happy with jams and jellies’, published in 1930 and part of the beautiful Little Blue Book series. I also scored lemons from my mum and even styling props in the form of pink paper doilies (from my delightful 7-year old niece ‘especially for your blog’) and pink roses from my neighbours.
I love a robust, zesty jam and was concerned feijoas might be a little delicate in flavour and colour on their own, so decided to chuck in some quinces. Quinces have a similar season to feijoas, and they’re natural partners; both being quite fragrant – almost perfumey – and somewhat exotic. Quinces turn a beautiful ruby red colour after cooking too, which is a fab bonus!
I was so chuffed with how the jam turned out! After giving most of it away as gifts, I made a second batch the following week, reserving some for a pretty damn amazing Middle Eastern style Spiced Linzer Torte we’ve served up to two groups of dinner guests recently. I heavily tweaked the Hairy Bikers recipe, using more flour as I found their mixture a little wet. I also doubled the jam, added lemon zest and cloves (traditional Linzer Torte ingredients); and swapped the cinnamon for cardamom, which pairs beautifully with quinces and feijoas. Lastly, I lined the top edge with flaked almonds, both to hide the scrappy pastry joins and add a bit of crunch. Absolutely bloody delicious, even if I do say so myself!
I’m signing off with a poem by Dougall from Episode 19 of the Magic Roundabout:
“Life is for living.

Jam is for giving.
Love should be spread.
And I’m off to bed.”

Feijoas and quincesFeijoa and quince jam. One Equals Two[Recipe 1] Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam

Ingredients (makes 1.8 kilos/about 4 lb jam):
5 firm quinces (about 1.2–1.3 kilos/2½–2¾ lb)
½ cup (125ml) lemon juice (from 2 medium lemons)
10 cups (2.5 litres) water
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons)
4 cups (800g/1¾ lb) sugar

8 feijoa (about 500g/1 lb), peeled and chopped
2 small firm pears (about 300g/10½ oz), peeled, cored and chopped into small cubes
1 teaspoon rose water

Rinse and scrub the quinces. Place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with the lemon juice and water. Boil, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the quinces in the syrupy liquid for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
Remove quinces with a slotted spoon and place on a board, reserving the liquid. Add lemon zest and sugar to the liquid and bring to the boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 1–2 minutes, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Peel off the quince skins. Core quinces and chop roughly. Place into the prepared liquid as you go, to prevent discolouring. Add the feijoa and pear.
Bring to the boil, turn down heat and simmer rapidly, for 1½–2 hours, uncovered, until thick. Stir occasionally, and enjoy watching it turn ruby red right before your eyes! Keep a close eye on the jam towards the end of the cooking process, to ensure it doesn’t stick and burn.
Give the jam 3 whizzes with a stick blender.
Add rose water and simmer for a further two minutes. Remove jam from the heat.
Test to check the jam is ready. Place a small ceramic plate in the freezer for 5 minutes. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of jam onto the plate and return to the freezer for two minutes. If the jam sets and forms a skin it is ready! If the jam is runny and can be poured off the plate, return the saucepan to the stovetop and simmer jam for a further ten minutes, stirring constantly. Test again.
Divide the jam amongst hot, sterilised jars.
Reserve 500g (1 lb) jam for the Spiced Linzer Torte.
Store remaining jam in a cool, dark place.

  • Use good quality fruit that is firm and not over-ripe. Fully ripened fruit contains less pectin, the substance that makes jams set. It’s best to use your fruit as soon as possible after buying or picking.
  • I always add a couple of pears to my jams as they’re high in pectin. This will help achieve a good set even if your hero fruit is beginning to over-ripen.
  • Rose water can be found at Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you have roses in your garden, you can make your own! Rose water is beautiful sprinkled on khoshaf (Middle Eastern dried fruit salad).
  • Resist the desperate urge to enjoy your jam immediately! Allow it to further firm up for at least 24 hours, preferably longer, before using.
  • Jam in properly sterilised jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to ten months. Refrigerate after opening.

Making men happy with jams and jelliesFeijoa, quince and rosewater jam. One Equals TwoSpiced Linzer Torte with quince jam. One Equals Two

[Recipe 2] Spiced Linzer torte

Ingredients (serves 6–8):
175g (6 oz) almond meal

175g (6 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
200g (1⅓ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 teaspoons lemon zest, chopped (from 1 lemon)
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
175g (6 oz/1½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
500g (1 lb) reserved Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam (see recipe 1)
Egg wash (1 egg yolk, whisked with 1 teaspoon milk)
50g (1.7 oz) flaked almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting

Process almond meal, sugar, cardamom, cloves, flour, lemon zest and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and process until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add egg and process until dough just comes together.
Transfer to a bowl (it will look quite crumbly, don’t worry). Knead lightly into a ball. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Grease a 3cm (1″) deep, 25cm (10″) fluted tart tin, with removable base.
With a sharp knife, cut off one third of the dough (about 260g/9 oz) and roll out between two pieces of baking paper to make a rectangle approx. 25cm x 18cm (10″ x 7″) , and 3mm (.1″) thick. This is for the top layer of pastry strips. Slide onto a tray and pop in the fridge.
Roll the larger piece of dough between two pieces of baking paper into a piece large enough to line the base and sides of the pan, about 5mm (.2″) thick. Carefully press the dough onto the base and up the sides of the prepared pan, trimming off the excess. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, covered in cling film.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Blind bake the pastry: cover pastry base and sides with baking paper. Cut two 6cm/2½” high strips of foil and fold over the sides of the tin to prevent the top edge of the pastry from burning. Fill lined tart case with pastry weights (or uncooked rice) and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove paper, foil and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Spread cooled pastry base evenly with reserved Feijoa, quince and rosewater jam.
Remove smaller piece of dough from fridge and, using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut into 1½cm (.6″) wide strips. Carefully place strips diagonally over jam to form a criss-cross pattern. Press the edges to seal, and trim off excess.
Very lightly brush pastry strips and outer top edge of pastry with egg wash. Arrange flaked almonds around the edge of the torte, brushing with egg wash here and there. Use an outward movement to prevent the nuts sticking to the brush – ‘wipe’ the brush as if you’re removing paint!
Bake torte for 25–30 minutes, until pastry is pale golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan, then carefully remove and slide onto a serving plate.
Dust Linzer torte lightly with icing sugar, cut into wedges and serve.
[Recipe loosely adapted from the Hairy Bikers]

Oatally awesome

[Recipe 1] PEAR and WHITE CHOCOLATE MUESLI SLICE transforms into
[Recipe 2] APPLE and COCONUT CRUMBLE
……………..
This Pear and white chocolate muesli slice is a corker. It’s lovely and chewy; and relatively healthy. OK, it has white chocolate in it; but give me that any day over the creepy yogurt topping on packaged muesli bars – what is that stuff anyway? The slice freezes well and is perfect for lunchboxes. The bonus with this recipe is that you’ll also end up with a beautiful Apple and coconut crumble. Look for the orange diamonds in the recipe and reserve the specified portion of muesli slice mix (before adding the pear, chocolate and chia seeds), scatter it on top of stewed apple and – voila – an apple and coconut crumble will appear right before your very eyes.

Pear and white chocolate muesli slice

[Recipe 1] Pear and white chocolate muesli slice

350g (10½ oz ) butter, melted
¼ cup (60g) golden syrup
1½ cups (300g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup (150g) self raising (self-rising) flour
1 cup (150g) wholemeal plain (wholewheat all-purpose) flour
2½ cups (265g) rolled oats
½ cup (35g) dessicated coconut
1 cup (200g) dried pears, chopped into small pieces
¾ cup (125g) white chocolate bits
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Line the base of a large 33cm (13-inch) x 23cm (9-inch) tin with baking paper.
Mix together butter and golden syrup. Add brown sugar, self raising flour, wholemeal plain flour, rolled oats and coconut.
Reserve 285g (about 2½ cups) of this slice mix for the Apple and coconut crumble.
To the remaining (about 5 cups) muesli slice mix, add the dried pear, white chocolate bits, chia seeds and egg and mix thoroughly.
Press very firmly into prepared tin. The mixture can be quite sticky, so you may need to place baking paper on top, before pressing down.
Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked when tested with a skewer.
This can be baked in the oven at the same time as the Apple and coconut crumble.
Allow to cool completely in the tin. Cut into squares or bars.

  • This slice will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge, or you can cut it up and freeze it, with baking paper between the layers, for up to 3 months.
  • Chia seeds are high in fibre, omega 3, protein and antioxidants. They’re available from large supermarkets and health food stores. They can be omitted from this recipe though, if unavailable.
  • You can replace the dried pears with chopped raisins or dried apricots for variety. For added naughtiness, you can pipe melted white chocolate on top in drizzled lines.

Apple and coconut crumble

[Recipe 2] Apple and coconut crumble

1 x 800g (30 oz) can pie apples (or 3 cups stewed apples – see tips below)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2½ cups (about 285g) reserved slice mix

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Stir cinnamon and brown sugar into apples. Divide apples between four lightly-oiled 1–1¼ cup capacity ramekins.
Roughly scatter the reserved slice mix on top of the apple.
Bake for 25–30 minutes or until golden brown.
This can be cooked in the oven at the same time as the Pear and white chocolate muesli slice; or the crumble topping can be stored to use later (see tips below).
Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

  • Although the slice and crumble can be cooked together, the uncooked crumble topping can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days if you’d prefer to save it for another night. It also freezes really well, for up to 3 months. Simply break up the frozen topping with a fork, scatter on the apple and bake!
  • For a change, add a handful of flaked almonds to the crumble mix; or a handful of sultanas to the apple.
  • Canned pie apple is super handy to keep in the pantry. It contains no additives and is perfect for a quick crumble. If you have time to make your own stewed fruit though, you’ll need about 1¼ kilos of fruit (8 large green apples or pears, or 10 of the smaller varieties, like corella pears); peeled, cored and sliced thickly. Put fruit in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons water. Cover and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10–15 minutes or until just tender. Drain and cool.

A spicy Christmas

[Recipe 1] FRUIT MINCE PIES with ORANGE AND CRANBERRIES
transform into [Recipe 2] FRUIT MINCE CRUMBLE SLICE
……………..
Nothing beats a plate of slightly wonky, buttery home-made Fruit mince pies with orange and cranberries. Making fruit mince is surprisingly easy. My recipe contains no suet (shudder) and no alcohol; just lashings of dried fruit with a hint of orange zest, soaked in orange juice and spices. Yum.
Half the fruit mince is reserved as planned-overs (look for the orange diamonds) for recipe 2, my moreish Fruit mince crumble slice; which, if you have good self-control, you can put in the freezer for the kid’s lunchboxes in January!

Cranberry Christmas mince tarts

[Recipe 1] Fruit mince pies with orange and cranberries

Ingredients (makes 36 little pies, plus extra mince for Recipe 2):
½ cup (85g) craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
2 cups (300g) raisins, chopped
1 cup (150g) sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup (150g) pitted prunes, chopped
2 large green Granny Smith apples, peeled, grated
½ cup (100g) firmly-packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely chopped (1 large orange)
½ cup (125ml) orange juice
1 quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon milk, for brushing pastry
Icing sugar, to dust

Combine the craisins, raisins, sultanas, prunes, apple, brown sugar, spices, zest and juice in a bowl. Set aside, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 days (or up to one week) for flavours to develop. Stir once a day.
Remove 1½ cups of the fruit mince and blend until smooth, with a stick blender or food processor. Return to the bowl, and mix thoroughly into the fruit mince.
♦ Reserve half the fruit mince (1½ cups – about 450g/just under 1 lb) for the fruit mince crumble slice.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Roll out the shortcrust pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 3mm (⅛-inch) thick thick. Use a round 7cm (2¾-inch) diameter pastry cutter to cut 36 discs from the pastry. Lightly oil 3 x 12-hole shallow, round-based patty pans. Line the 36 patty pans with the pastry circles. Prick the bases with a fork. Bake for 8 minutes, until dry.
Re-roll leftover pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until 2–3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Use a star-shaped 5cm (2-inch) diameter pastry cutter to cut 36 stars from the pastry. Spoon 1–2 heaped teaspoons of fruit mince into each pastry case. Top with pastry stars. Brush with egg wash. Bake for a further 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

  • Fruit mince can be stored for up to one month in the fridge.
  • Fruit mince tarts can be frozen for up to 3 months, layered between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container. Thaw overnight at room temperature. Make and freeze them in October and be well-prepared for Christmas!
  • 
If you run out of fruit mince filling, and are facing a few empty pastry shells, make little jam tarts. Simply spoon chunky jam into the empty pastry shells and top with pastry circles.

Christmas mince slice

[Recipe 2] Fruit mince crumble slice

Ingredients (makes 24 squares):
Oat base:

250 grams (8 oz/2 sticks) butter, melted
¾ cup (150g) firmly-packed brown sugar
2 cups (300g) plain flour
1 cup (100g) rolled oats
1½ cups (about 450g/just under 1 lb) reserved fruit mince
Crumble topping:
⅔ cups (185g) reserved oat base mixture (explained below)
¾ cup (75g) desiccated coconut
½ cup (70g) sunflower kernels, lightly crushed in mortar/pestle
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Make the oat base by placing the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the flour and rolled oats and mix well.
Reserve ⅔ cups (185g) oat base mixture for the crumble topping.
Press the oat base mixture firmly into a lined 23cm (9-inch) x 33cm (13-inch) slice tin. Bake for 15–20 minutes, or until light golden. Allow to cool slightly.
Spread the reserved fruit mince over the base.
To make the crumble topping, stir the coconut, egg and sunflower kernels into the reserved oat base mixture. Scatter the crumble topping over the fruit mince. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until golden. Cool in the tin.
Cut into squares, and store in the fridge.

  • Fruit mince crumble slice can be frozen for up to 3 months. Layer squares between sheets of baking paper in an airtight container. Thaw overnight at room temperature.
  • My boys love this slice for morning tea at school, and using sunflower kernels keeps the slice nut-free (our school has a no-nuts policy); whilst adding nutty flavour and texture. Sunflower seeds rock as they’re packed with protein, fibre and vitamin E.