How was Christmas?

Mine was pretty crap. I was ill for the whole time… In fact I was so ill, I didn’t eat for three days! I was actually very fearful that I may never want to eat again… I had a little weep because I couldn’t eat. However, I did use my time productively, as I was too zoned out to do any shopping for Christmas and in fact far too skint to buy anything, I decided to try my hand at tasty home-made treats. I spent three days experimenting, ruining and finally perfecting Red Onion Chutney and Fudge!

Now first of all, the Red Onion chutney is fine, and I mean fine! So tasty, I started with a random recipe I found on the internet and played about a bit. I’, not going to divulge my exact recipe as it is so tasty, I might think about jarring it up and selling it. In essence it contains many an onion some fine merlot, some unrefined castor sugar, a wee bit of sherry vinegar and some special stuff. Takes bleeding ages to cook but it’s worth it. mmmmmm

The fudge is a nightmare, how anyone invented fudge is beyond me. There’s such a fine line between what’s essentially butterscotch sauce and sweet sand that you can’t take your mind of the job for a moment. It takes ages and you have to stir it all the time! I’ve tried a few recipes now and the ones with condensed milk are second rate. Use one with the fattiest milk you can find and you get fudge so sweet and tasty you can only have a little bit before you don’t want to eat fudge again. Thus making it healthy! I shall let you in on the fudge recipe cos its easy:

100g Butter
350ml Milk
300g Caster sugar (I prefer the unrefined golden stuff)
1 tsp Vanilla essence
[Optional, four squares of dark chocolate and 50ml of scotch]

Plonk the butter, milk and sugar in a heavy pan and heat up, stirring all the time. After about two or three minutes it will start to boil. Turn the heat down and keep it boiling, stirring all the time. Keep this going for about 35 minutes. Don’t worry, it will look disgusting for the vast majority of the time, like the milk has separated. Ignore it and press on. You may want to get yourself a glass of wine and put the TV on. Maybe even grab a chair. Don’t stop stirring for a second or it’ll burn and become nasty. If you do have to leave for a wee or whatever, take it off the heat. At no point think about sticking your finger in for a taste, this stuff is hotter than the sun!

After about 35 minutes, it will become a little thicker. This is where it starts to get annoying. Annoying because the time it takes to do this next bit can vary from ten minutes to an hour in my experience, with no bearing on any physical factor. It must be voodoo… At this point, chuck in the vanilla and chocolate and booze if you want to. Careful with the booze, when you chuck it in, the alcohol will evaporate almost immediately and the pan will bubble like a deep fat fryer. Keep your face out of the way! Get yourself a bowl of chilled water on hand. Every five minutes or so, you need to test the mixture. You’re looking for a stage that pastry chefs call the ‘soft-ball stage’. Now, its no massive secret what this means, it simply means, drop half a teaspoon in some cold water. Leave it for a few seconds to cool to room temperature, take it out and it should be able to rolled into a soft ball. If it isn’t ready yet, it’ll basically dissolve leaving you with a minging, murky mess (check out my alliteration!). If you go too far, it’ll be like toffee. The turning point is very narrow as well so you have to keep on your guard.

Once you have your soft ball, take it off the heat immediately. Run a sink of cold water a couple of inches deep. Take you pan and wooden spoon and plunge the pan into the water, taking care to get none in the pan. Now frantically beat it with the spoon until it starts to make your arms ache but its cool enough to handle without burning yourself. Then you need to spoon it out onto a greased baking tray and pat it into a rectangle so its about half an inch thick all over. It should still be quite warm to the touch and the consistency of warm plasticine. Cover it with a towel or some kitchen roll, not cling film and leave to cool on the work surface. Don’t put it in the fridge.

If you for any reason go too far, you’ll know pretty quick. Your biceps will burst and you spoon will snap and you’ll end up with something resembling builders sand. Tasty sand, but still very gritty. No loss though, I’ve found its very tasty sprinkled on ice cream!

I think Christmas would be much better if everyone gave up on all of this buying crap for crap’s sake, like remote controlled UFOs and novelty pint glasses; and actually put some effort in. How cool would it be if, for Christmas you got a load of hand made food from all of your mates? Delectable desserts, savoury sauces, tasty treats, piquant pickles, marvellous, mouthwatering masterpieces? It would be awesome!

Enjoy your fudge!

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