I adore making my own pickles, relishes, confit, jams and preserves.
This is a relatively new passion for me, as I was always of the opinion that making those things was for Nannas. Well I guess I am a Nanna now, so maybe that's okay ;0)
The thing about making your own stuff, is that you are then compelled to find new and inventive ways of using it up. No point in having umpteen jars of Tomato Relish or Onion Confit, if it just sits there gathering dust and/or mould. One of the suggested uses of relish is not usually 'manufacture your own penicillin'.
As I've gone along making these things and using them, I've realised that chutneys, relishes, and pickles are the most wonderful form of DIY pre-packaged flavour bombs.
A couple of tablespoons of my Onion Confit in a casserole, and no other thinking is required. Lets see...the onions are there, as is the peppercorns, and other delectable earthy spices..why would I need anything but that and some H2O for a casserole to-die-for.
Similarly, my Tomato Relish is a brilliant addition to curries of the old fashioned kind that our Mums and Grans used to make before the appearance of Curry mixes and pastes on the supermarket shelves. The ones where a few generous spoonsful of relish and a teaspoon of curry powder gave the required exotic-ness to the dish. You may scoff, but those meals remain a staple in many households, and are much loved around here as a budget performer that satisfies the fussiest palate!
Note...Vintage style recipe in two sentences, as written by my Mum, coming up....
To whatever meat is inexpensive on the bone at the time, add a cup of relish, a couple of tablespoonsful of onion confit, and a half a cup of water, then cook in the slow cooker till tender and thicken the juices with 3 dessertspoons cornflour mixed with a bit more water. Add a generous teaspoon of Indian curry powder, and serve with rice.
I'm betting right here and now, that my Mums curry will become a family favourite for you too. Sort of sweetish, spicy, earthy and comforting all at once.
Being a Gluten Free household also means we view Corn Tortillas and Taco shells as a vessel for many things other than the obvious Mexican selections. We've used the aforementioned curry as a filling for warmed taco shells on many occasions. Topped with more Tomato Relish, some spiced yoghurt, and a bit more Onion Confit, and I defy you not to be groaning with culinary delight from go to whoa.
Here's my own recipe for Spiced Yoghurt. It's a grand accompaniement to curries, roasts, salads, and any manner of dishes, including a Hangover Breakfast...just ask my sons!
1 cup natural yoghurt
1 small onion, peeled and diced finely or grated
1 small green chilli, finely sliced
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 small tomato, finely diced
Leaves according to cuisine eg. curry leaves, kaffir lime leaves, coriander
Whip the yoghurt with electric beaters until smooth and thick. Add the other ingredients, first heating the mustard seeds in a small pan over a high heat. They will pop and become aromatic. Mix well and allow to sit to maximise flavours. Overnight is best.
Serve with anything you fancy. Careful...highly addictive!