31 August, 2014

Stone Fruit Compote

This recipe isn't technically a Redwall recipe, since it was never mentioned in the series. In fact, nectarines weren't mentioned a single time and peaches were only mentioned twice in all twenty-two books. Plums and damsons, of course, were mentioned almost constantly. Anyway, this recipe seems so Redwallesque that I felt the need to make it.

I left the skins on my fruit to keep it feeling rustic, but if you prefer you can score your fruit, blanch it (boil for 30 seconds, then submerge in ice water), and peel it before beginning the recipe.

Stone Fruit Compote

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 cup


  • 2 cups chopped stone fruit (I used equal parts of peaches, satsuma plums ((the ones with purple flesh)), and nectarines that I had chopped and frozen previously -- about 1 plum, 1/2 peach, and 1/2 nectarine -- but use your preferred mix)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 solid shakes of ground cinnamon


  1. Throw all the ingredients into a small saucepan and put over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook fruit, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes, or until fruit is soft. You'll notice that my plums pretty much broke down into juice that covered the other fruit chunks.
  3. Spoon compote into a jar and refrigerate until ready to eat or eat warm immediately after cooking.

23 August, 2014

Strawberry Cordial

Strawberry cordial is one of those recipes which is mentioned in basically every book in the Redwall series. Cordial, technically, contains alcohol. I would say that this should be an alcohol-free recipe because children in the series drink it regularly, but the high rate of alcoholism in the series makes me wonder if the dibbuns are actually drinking alcohol. Still, I decided to make this recipe non-alcoholic. I also didn't make it too sweet so it can be enjoyed straight (without mix-ins), but it is sweet enough that you probably don't want to drink too much at once. If you want to change that, just add a splash of vodka before drinking. I made a fairly small batch, but this would be easy to scale up.

PLEASE NOTE: Yet again, this is a recipe which needs to be started the day before you want it. Be prepared.

Strawberry Cordial

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cool time: 24 hours
Total time: 24 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 24 ounces (Three glasses)


  • 24 ounces water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups strawberries (I used frozen, thawed strawberries that I bought and froze at the peak of strawberry season) (I have also successfully tried this with raspberries, but ot have not yet tried any other fruit)

  1. Place fresh or thawed strawberries into a large, heat-proof bowl.
  2. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan.
  3. Heat water to a low boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. Pour hot water over strawberries and allow to sit until cooled to room temperature (about 90 minutes).

  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for the rest of the 24 hour cool time.
  6. Remove bowl from refrigerator and use a slotted spoon to remove the strawberries (Keep these -- they are great smushed onto toast or added to a smoothie). The water should now be a bright, jewel red.
  7. Use a ladle to pour liquid into glasses or funnel into bottles for later.

16 August, 2014

Blackberry Pudding

I feel like I should start this post with an explanation of the word "pudding." Here in the US, "pudding" refers to a specific dessert that's like a thick custard, generally milk-based and thickened with cornstarch, eggs, or gelatin. In the UK, "pudding" can be used just to refer to desserts in general. It also can mean specifically a bread pudding, often steamed, such as your traditional Christmas-time plum pudding. For the most part, I believe Brian Jacques (who was English) was referring to these bread puddings when he used the word. I will follow this idea for the most part, except for a few recipes I think sound like they would be better as the American, custardy "pudding."

This blackberry pudding (really a mixed berry pudding here because I worried just blackberries would be a little boring. And a little expensive) was mentioned in the book Taggerung. I made a small one, suitable for about four people, but it would be easily scaled up to a bowl twice the size of what I used.

PLEASE NOTE: This is another recipe which needs to be started the day before you wish to serve it. Also, this recipe works best with bread which has been left out for a few hours to grow stale, as though you were making French toast, but fresh bread will work as well.

Blackberry Pudding

Prep time: 15 minutes
Rest time: 18 hours
Total time: 18 hours, 15 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings (One one-quart pudding)


  • Sliced bread (I used about ten slices of a low-calorie, whole-wheat bread)
  • 5 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp water


  1. Cut the crusts off several slices of bread and use them to line the bottom and sides of a sturdy, one-quart bowl. Overlap the slices so you have as close to a gapless layer as possible. 

  2. Use a knife to cut off the bread at the lip of the bowl.
  3. Place the berries, sugar, and water into a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the berries become soft and begin to release their juices.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the berries into the bread bowl.
  5. Carefully pour the released juices over the berries.
  6. Cover the berries with more slices of crustless bread, again trimming any that hangs over.
  7. Place a plate or similar cover on top of the pudding and weigh it down with a can of beans or something similar.
  8. Refrigerate for about 12-18 hours.
  9. If necessary, use a butter knife to loosen the bread from the sides of the bowl, then invert the pudding onto a plate (or the cover of a tupperware if you're planning to transport it).
  10. Slice and serve the pudding, with a garnish of whipped cream, if desired.
If you happen to have extra juice at the end of step four, I highly recommend dipping your discarded bread crusts into it and eating them on the spot. :)

09 August, 2014

Strawberry Jam Turnovers

These turnovers were mentioned in Salamandastron. I made them small biscuits with homemade jam and puff pastry dough. They would be great to put on a saucer with your cup of tea if you're feeling fancy. Some unfortunate oven problems prevented my puff pastry dough from puffing properly, but they still tasted quite good. These are not very sweet, so if you want a more cookie-like treat you can dust them with powdered sugar after baking or sprinkle with granulated sugar before baking.

Please remember, if you're making your own puff pastry dough you should start it the day before.

Strawberry Jam Turnovers

Prep time: (Not including making the dough, if you're doing that) 30 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Total time: 40-45 minutes

Yield: 3 to 4 dozen micro-turnovers


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Take your dough from the fridge and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll it out to about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  3. Cut the dough into 2.5 inch rounds or squares (I used the rim of a wine glass to make circles because I don't have any cookie cutters...that aren't Star Wars shaped...)
  4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and transfer your dough pieces. Place about a 1/2 teaspoon of jam in the center of each piece. 
  5. Fold the dough over to make a half-moon or triangle, covering the jam.
  6. Use a fork to crimp and seal the edges of each turnover. (You can tell I overfilled some of these and they leaked during the crimping. Use a paper towel to wipe the worst of the leak so you don't end up with burned jam at the edges.)
  7. Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  8. Slide the parchment paper with the turnovers onto racks to cool before storing in a sealed tupperware. 

08 August, 2014

Basic Puff Pastry Dough

Puff pastry dough is a basic necessity when making certain baked foods such as turnovers or pies. It also can be baked alone as biscuits or croissants. If you like, you can of course buy frozen puff pastry but that's no fun and you can't control what's in it. Traditional puff pastry has a 1:1 ratio of flour to butter, which is a little horrifying to me. I lessened the butter down to the bare minimum needed to get flaky layers and a rich, buttery taste.

PLEASE NOTE: This recipe is best made the night before so it can rest in the fridge overnight. I've been told that puff pastry can rest just a few hours in a pinch, but I've never tried it and can't personally vouch for the results.

Basic Puff Pastry Dough

Prep time: 1 hour (this is a high estimate; the temperature of your kitchen will matter a lot)
Rest time: 24 hours
Total time: 25 hours

Yield: Enough dough to make two pie crusts (such as for two single crust pies or one double crust pie)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 stick cold butter, diced
  • 1 cup ice water
  1. Whisk the flours together in a large bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until you have pea-sized chunks throughout the flour. 

  3. Slowly add ice water to the flour a little at a time, using the pastry cutter to work it in. Start with half a cup, then add a tablespoon at a time until the dough just barely holds together. Go slowly for this step. The amount of water you need will vary depending on your flour brand, method of storage, location, the current humidity, whether or not it's actively raining, and what house Jupiter is in.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a rough rectangular shape.
  5. Fold the rectangle into thirds and turn so the seam is vertical to your point of view.
  6. Repeat steps four and five three more times (so you roll the dough out four times total). As you roll, you will notice the dough becoming smoother as it begins to hold together more.
  7. Fold the dough into sixths, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for twenty-four hours.
  8. The next day, take the dough from the fridge and roll out as needed for your recipe.

Important note: It's important to keep the dough cold throughout this process. If you can smell butter your dough is getting too warm and the butter is melting. Put it back in the fridge for a few minutes before continuing to work with it.

02 August, 2014

Strawberry Jam

Strawberries were on a huge sale this week at my local grocery store, so I bought a lot and froze most of them. I recommend doing this with your summer berries and stone fruit if you want to be able to enjoy them outside of the summer season. Frozen fruit will keep for several months if properly frozen and stored, so you can enjoy it deep into the winter. Strawberries just need to be washed, hulled, and frozen in a single layer on a cookie sheet before being dumped into a freezer bag (no sugar or syrup required). Anyway, on to the recipe.

Strawberry jam is mentioned numerous times in the Redwall series, often accompanied by something or topping something. This week, I'm just going to explain the jam itself. I'll get to the accompaniments later.

My big sticking point when deciding on this recipe was that it could not contain synthetic pectin. Added pectin is not something Redwallers would have had to cook with; they just would have used natural ingredients. After scouring many recipes, I finally coalesced several ideas into a single recipe I liked. The downside of making jam without adding pectin is that it tends to be slightly runnier than other jams. The upside is that you barely have to add any sugar, since the pectin isn't there to dull the flavors of the berries.

Another quick point: I don't have canning supplies, so I made a small batch. I'm sure this could be scaled up to more usual jam proportions, but PLEASE don't try that unless you have all the proper canning equipment and knowledge. Just pouring jam into a can, closing it, and expecting it to last in the pantry for years can lead to serious diseases. This small batch will last for approximately three weeks in the fridge.

Basic Strawberry Jam

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Yield: Between 1 and 2 cups of jam (I got just about a cup and a half, but it depends on how much your strawberries cook down)

  • 1 pound of strawberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  1. Wash the strawberries, pulling out any stems, loose leaves, or rotting fruit.
  2. Cut the leaves off the strawberries and discard, then cut the fruit into chunks, such as quarters.
  3. Place the fruit and honey into a saucepan and use a potato masher or something similar to mash the fruit slightly and mix in the honey.
  4. Cut off about a third of the lemon and squeeze the juice into the mashed berries, then drop in the rind as well.
  5. Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring. The berries will begin to soften, then break down completely.

  6. Keep the strawberries at that boil (still stirring) for about fifteen minutes. They are done when you can swipe your finger along your stirring spoon and leave a clear trail. 
  7. Fish out the lemon rind and pour your jam into a container. Cool and store in the fridge for up to three weeks.
While "Redwall Strawberry Jam" would just be the fruit and honey, strawberry jam lends itself very nicely to other flavors. Feel free to experiment by adding at the beginning things like vanilla paste (or extract, or a bean that you fish out with the lemon rind), balsamic vinegar, red wine, black pepper, basil, mint, or rosemary.