spiced redcurrant and onion relish

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As of today, it’s exactly one week until Christmas. I have no idea how that happened; in the corner of my brain it seems like yesterday was the start of November.

The last few weeks have passed in a flurry of work commitments, family events, end-of-year parties and early Christmas gatherings; all beautifully rich and memorable (except work, of course) but tiring just the same. Last weekend, my friend Miriam and I spent over seven hours cooking an Asian-inspired tapas feast as an early Christmas party for our friends; we rose with the birds, measuring clouds of wheaten flour and kneading potsticker pastry to the soundtrack of summer cicadas.

Thick beef ribs were smothered in a mixture of sticky black vinegar, palm sugar and star anise before being wrapped to slow cook for three hours under foil. We julienned carrots, spring onions, green mango and cucumber, some to be flash fried whilst others were marinated in lime juice, sugar and sesame oil.

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It was an absolutely beautiful day; fat with friendship, food, laughter and celebration. As seems to be my trend these days, I brought the camera but deliberately failed to use it.

Don’t get me wrong, there were endless opportunities for worthy photo capture. However, I’ve come to think that some moments are too beautiful, too immediate and real to be marred by the obstruction of a camera lens.

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The purchase of ingredients for last Saturday’s Asian feast necessitated at least three trips to markets around Perth city for meat, vegetables, oriental groceries and bamboo steamers. During one such trip, I spied a punnet of translucent red jewels, fat and delicate against their woody green stalks. I immediately recognized them as redcurrants and being the food nerd that I am, my heart skipped a happy beat.

Needless to say, I squirreled the punnet home in a calico bag with some fresh limes, various leaves, organic peaches and two green mangoes. It took me a few days to work out what to do with them (as I’ve never used fresh or frozen redcurrants before) but after some internet trawling I discovered this relish recipe from BBC Good Food.

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As an English ex-pat, I grew up eating various types of condiments with my Christmas meat; cranberry sauce, redcurrant jelly, chunky apple sauce and booze-spiked gravy. As I’ve grown older, our Christmas fare has transitioned slightly from traditional turkey to cold seafood and summer pudding; however, I still love a thick slice of roast ham or turkey with a dollop of piquant fruit relish.

This particular relish is all kinds of beautiful – glossy, dark and sticky, sweetly acidic and crimson-stained. I dolloped it over beef burgers last night with fine cheddar, creamy avocado and spinach leaves (it’s the Australian summer, after all) however it would be equally good as an accompaniment to your turkey or ham on Christmas day.

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season; may the final week before Christmas be beautiful, calm, organized and memorable in the best of ways.

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Spiced Redcurrant and Onion Relish

Adapted from this recipe from BBC Good Food

Makes approximately 1 cup (250ml)

  • 100g redcurrants (fresh or frozen), stripped from stalks
  • 1 red Spanish onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 medium red chilli, chopped (remove seeds if you’re not fond of chilli heat)
  • 1/2 red pepper (capsicum), de-seeded and diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small knob (about 1.5cm) fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100ml red wine vinegar
  • 70g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder

Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Add in the onions and peppers, fry until charred and softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

cook ooked

In the same pan, add half your vinegar, the chilli and garlic. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the aromatics have softened, return the onion and pepper mixture to the pot, adding in the rest of the vinegar, spice, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt.

Simmer until the mixture thickens to a syrupy consistency. Add in the redcurrants and simmer on low-medium for five minutes or until some of the berries burst and the liquid becomes syrupy.

boilingaddcurrants endboil

When sticky and aromatic, pour the mixture into a sterilised jar (process the jar in a boiling water bath if you intend to keep the relish long term). Seal and store for up to 1 month unprocessed (in the refrigerator) or 12-18 months if processed (in a cool, dark place).

Enjoy generously dolloped onto burgers, with cold meats, spiced sausages or slathered over fresh crusty bread with butter and English cheddar. This would also make a delicious condiment on a cheese platter with wholemeal crackers and oozing ripe brie.

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spiced lamb burgers with beetroot relish and hand-cut chips

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I love a good burger. There’s just something about a crisp-edged, juicy meat patty atop crusty bread with a myriad of cheeses, soft herbs and condiments. It’s portable, hand-held deliciousness, infinitely variable but perfect in its simplicity.

At present, my favourite burgers are made at a small South Fremantle cafe called Ootong and Lincoln. I was first introduced to this eclectic venue by my best friend Vicky (aka Hippy Vic) who has long held an obsession with their dukkah-crusted lentil burgers. Yep, lentil burgers. They’re absolutely delicious, even from the position of a well-entrenched carnivore.

Perfectly seasoned, crisp-edged and soft-centred, these lentil patties are house-made and coated in toasted dukkah before being piled onto a fresh roll with melting haloumi, soft greens and homemade relish. Have I made you hungry yet?

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Anyway, after that three paragraph speal, I’m here to tell you that I don’t have the secret recipe for Ootong’s lentil patties. Or their relish, for that matter (but they do sell their dukkah crust in jars on site at the cafe, uh… well, that’s only marginally helpful).

What I do have is a recipe for completely non-vegetarian lamb burgers with a quick, throw-together beetroot relish. Perfect for a delicious after-work dinner when you can’t get your tired ass to Ootong in Fremantle.

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This entire meal is cheap to make and ridiculously easy. In fact, I threw it together in about 20 minutes (discounting the cooking time). Begin with your potatoes; chop then boil them whilst you combine ingredients for your patty mixture. Mold into patties, then refrigerate whilst you start frying the chips. When the chips are in the oven, start your beetroot relish, then leave it to macerate whilst you fry your meat. Before you know it, everything’s on the plate.

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The original concept for these burgers was from taste.com.au. However, as per usual, I’ve bastardized everything according to my own specifications.

The recipes for the chips, patties and relish are entirely forgiving so I’d encourage you to play around with them as you see fit. Add some toasted pine nuts, feta or chopped parsley to the patties if you like. Want some extra spice on the chips? Add in some chilli flakes, lemon rind or a pinch of cayenne pepper. The relish is also hugely adaptable; I’ve made it with grated apple, red cabbage, poppy seeds, caramelised onion, with and without extra lemon rind and brown sugar. It’s also wonderful with pomegranate seeds, finely chopped coriander and crushed pistachios. Infinitely adaptable. Like most good food should be.

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Lamb Burgers

  • 500g good-quality lamb mince
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 red Spanish onion, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • 2 generous tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • plain flour, to dust
  • olive oil, for frying

To assemble the burgers:

  • 4 crusty hamburger rolls
  • soft goats cheese
  • garlicky hummus
  • washed rocket leaves
  • beetroot relish
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • avocado, if desired

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl, ensuring that the aromatics are finely distributed.

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With moist hands, separate mixture into four equal-sized portions. Flatten each portion in the palm of your hand into a rough circle, approximately 1.5cm thick.

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Place each patty onto a lined tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking (during this time, you can prepare your beetroot relish).

To cook: Preheat oven to 180 degrees C  (350 degrees f). Lightly dust each patty with plain flour and sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a heavy based, oven-safe frying pan. When oil starts to smoke, carefully place patties into the pan. Fry on each side until golden but not cooked through; transfer pan into oven and cook for another 5 minutes or until just cooked through.

pattiescook

Whilst still warm, top each patty with a few slices of soft goats cheese. Toast the burger buns if desired, spread bottom half with hummus (and top half with avocado if desired) then top with a goats-cheese-topped lamb patty. Dollop on some beetroot relish, top with fresh rocket, grind over some fresh black pepper. Serve with oven chips (and aioli for dipping, if desired).

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Quick Beetroot Relish

Makes roughly 1.5 cups. Serve any remaining relish on crostini with soft goats cheese, or on toasted sourdough with poached eggs, hummus and fresh rocket for breakfast.

  • 250g peeled, cooked beetroot, grated coarsely
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 ground sumac
  • handful of mint leaves, washed and finely chopped
  • good splash (approx 1 tsp) red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dark agave syrup or honey
  • extra virgin olive oil

Place chopped onion into a small bowl with the lemon juice. Mix well, then leave to macerate for 15 minutes. Drain well.

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In a medium sized bowl, combine the grated beetroot with the soaked onion, agave, red wine vinegar, olive oil and spices.

beetrootsaladingredientsMix well and allow to soak for 5 minutes. Mix in the mint just before serving (for a quick version, like I did, you can just dump everything into a bowl and mix it together; however the beetroot definitely benefits from marinating).

chipsrawHand-cut Chips

This amount serves 2 (allow around 200-250g potatoes per person)

  • 450g waxy potatoes; I used Ruby Lou (approx 3 medium potatoes)
  • 3 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • smoked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil, for frying

Cut each potato into rough batons, around 1x1cm in width. Place in a pot of cold, salted water, then slowly bring to the boil.

potReduce heat slightly, allowing the potatoes to simmer until tender (but not falling apart). Drain well, then season with smoked sea salt and black pepper.

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Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees f). Heat oil in a large, heavy based oven-safe frying pan or oven tray. Add in the garlic cloves and herbs. When smoking, toss in the seasoned potatoes and allow to crisp lightly on all sides.

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Transfer the tray or pan into the oven. Continue cooking the chips, turning them regularly until golden and crisp on all sides.

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Drain on paper towels prior to serving with assembled burgers.

chipbowl doneplatterEat, padawan. Eat. I know you want to.

*by the way, for those who read the Appreciation Post about Aaron, the board below is one of a set of two that he made for me. I still haven’t posted a proper shot of them, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.

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done

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