Friday, 8 April 2011

It's Piccalilli - but not as we know it (captain)

A while ago I  made some Piccalilli.   Here it is.

In fact I made  several jars of it.  Before I made it I can't say it's something I ever had a burning desire to make.  In fact I don't particularly like it overmuch although I have been known to eat it.  So, you may well be asking - why?  Well, I will tell you............ it's down to a surfeit of cauliflower in my larder.  Why do I have so much cauliflower?  Well because................for as long as I can remember I have been prone to cravings for certain foods or food combinations whereby I would, as much as possible, exist entirely on whatever was the object of my craving for as long as that craving lasted. 

When I was a child my mother would occasionally call it faddy eating but in general she was well disposed towards catering for these cravings, within reason, that would be her reason not mine.  As I am one of five and four of us had odd food habits she probably felt  easier to accommodate us than have four children refusing to eat what was put in front of us. 

One of my brothers wouldn't eat anything green, not even a green fruit pastille - a dislike I was inclined to foster as I loved the green ones.  Another brother at one time went through a stage of only eating stew, dry bread and water as his main meal and my sister would only eat her vegetables raw - all her vegetables raw.  My middle brother was every mothers dream, he ate anything and everything going.  Occasionally my mother would rebel.   I remember the occasions she would put white chicken meat, white cauliflower and white boiled potatoes all on a white plate in front of us and look at us in a 'don't you dare not eat this' sort of way (I am sure I consider this to be the childhood trauma that drives me to ensure my food is very colourful). 

Mothers rebelliousness aside the only times we had to eat what we were given were when we were outside home.  Like the annual visit to my aunt in Sidcup for afternoon tea.  An event  which would fill me with a certain dread.  I would be forced to eat Birds Angel Delight because my aunt, who didn't have children,  was under the impression that all children liked it, especially the chocolate version.  Well this child didn't like it at all and would throw up in the car on the way home, an occurrence that was blamed on my occasional predilection's towards car sickness but knew it was that nasty, slimy stuff.  I still don't  like anything slimy such as  custard, semolina, tapioca and blancmange including those slabs with bits of coloured jelly in that were so beloved of  our school dinner ladies that we got it every week.  I mustn't get started on school dinners - that's a whole other issue - I  could write volumes on school dinners.   Perhaps that is where my fortune lies, a book on the horrors of school dinners!!!  Better make sure Nigel Slater hasn't done it  first.

Anyway, enough of the reminiscing the reason I have brought this up is because, for some time now, I have had a craving for cauliflower.  I hadn't eaten cauliflower for years so where this sudden craving has come from is somewhat puzzling.  Perhaps it has an essential vitamin I am lacking?  I shall consult my vitamin bible.

 Anyway, I had  been having cauliflower every evening either as a vegetable, in a cauliflower cheese or  in a vegetable curry.  However, there is only so much cauliflower a person can eat, it doesn't seem to keep very well  and because I bought so much of it I had to find something to do with the huge mound in my vegetable rack before it went off or I went off it.

So,  having seen Simon Rimmer make a jar of nice yellow, glistening Piccalilli on Something for the weekend it seemed a good  and easy way to use up the cauliflower. Thus I printed off the recipe and went shopping for the rest of the ingredients. 

Unfortunately, because I didn't read the recipe properly and so didn't realise I had to soak the vegetables in coarse rock salt over night, and as I hadn't been able to get rock salt anyway and because I wasn't going to be able to go shopping again for a few days, I had to eat an awful lot of vegetables in a short period of time until I could get some rock salt of the coarse kind.  I then had to go and get some more vegetables to go with the pile of cauliflower that didn't seem to have gone down any. 

On both shopping expeditions I was unable to get little silver skin onions and  had to get shallots and chop them up.  I couldn't get French beans and so bought Kenyan but I'm not sure what the difference is other than the name and the air miles.  There was an awful lot of chopping involved in this recipe and I was just beginning to lose the will when suddenly it was all done.  So, I covered the veggies in the rock salt for which there didn't seem to be enough and left it overnight to  do its stuff.  I then swept the floor of all the beans that had pinged across the kitchen as they were being cut!!!

 In the morning I expected no salt and lots of liquid as the recipe said to drain and rinse.  What I got was lots of salt and about 2 teaspoons of liquid?   I decided to ignore this occurrence and went ahead and made the yellow saucy stuff and shoved it all in a saucepan for the required time.   See...

This was before I learned that if I switched the flash off I got a much better picture.  That is why it looks a little unappealing - no - really - it is.

Then I put it in jars.

Now I haven't eaten Piccalilli for years but I was pretty sure that when I last tried some it was sort of gloopy.  A selection of al dente vegetables suspended in a mustard and vinegar sauce that slipped off the spoon onto the plate.  I am pretty sure you shouldn't be able to do this with it

Turn it upside down and shake it and have the contents stay in the jar!

CCV came round for lunch yesterday and spied a jar of Piccalilli that I hadn't been able to palm off on anyone and so I told her about its solidity factor complete with demonstration.  Just like this I said as I took the lid off and held the jar upside down whilst shaking it and watched as the contents came spluttering out all over the kitchen floor.   It obviously loosens with age.

I wasn't over keen on it myself but I gave jars to MO and AJ and they both liked it.  And, more importantly - they are still alive.  It wasn't hard to make - apart from the chore of chopping - but I don't think I shall make it again. Mainly because the cauliflower phase now seems to be over in as much as I'm not craving it and I have other recipes like buttered roasted cauliflower and cauliflower tart.  Fortunately I haven't gone off it but I am no longer buying it by the trolley load.

Possibly not one of my better efforts even though I followed the recipe to the letter.  Still never mind.

PS. for the uninitiated the title is a Star Trek reference!!!  I love Star Trek.  I am worryingly proud of knowing  the difference between a bird of prey and a warbird and I want it to be my millionaire question.

1 comment:

  1. Love it!! fab photos too
    spread the word
    xx CCV