A Ploughmans Lunch is a simple pleasure.
A crusty loaf, a hunk of meat if you like, some cheese, relish, pickles, fruit and a cold ale or vino, and you're ready for anything.
Served on a large chopping board, this makes a great antipasto, and is a no headache lunch meal for any number of friends and family from 1 -100. Increase quantities accordingly for large crowds, of course :)
I love to zhoosh up the whole Ploughmans Platter idea, by making my own damper or Irish Soda Bread, and the pickles and relishes. I always have the relishes and pickles on hand, so if I want to serve this one, I just whip up the bread, buy some cheese and I'm done. Of course, if I'm feeling really clever, I make my own labna cheese with mint and lemon zest as well, but that's another story.
Here's my version of the main components:
1 1/2 cups wholemeal self raising flour
1/2 cup white self raising flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup buttermilk or milk with a tablespoon of yoghurt or vinegar added and allowed to sit for 15 minutes.
Mix together dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk and mix together to form a doughy consistency. Knead lightly to form a round cake and make a cross in the middle. Bake at 175C for 50 minutes.
Hot Mango Chutney:
Green Mangoes....however many you can lay your hands on. Two are required for this recipe. Tinned mangoes will do, when mangoes aren't in season. Peel these, deseed them and cut as much flesh from them as you can.
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli seeds or one chilli deseeded and sliced
2 cardomom pods
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Simmer all ingredients together for about one hour until reduced and thick. Remove cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods and discard. Spoon into sterilised jar. This makes enough for 2 350-500gm jars, depending upon the size of the mangoes.
Mimi's Herby Pickled Onions:
Makes one recycled pasta sauce jars' worth....
You need pickling onions, white vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns, sugar, fresh rosemary sprigs and Fenugreek Seeds.
Pop 15 small, peeled, pickling onions into a medium saucepan. Add white vinegar to cover. Toss in 4 bay leaves, 20 peppercorns, 4 tablespoons sugar, 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary and a pinch of Fenugreek seeds. Simmer for 45 minutes until the onions are translucent. Decant into the cleaned and sterilised jar while hot. Fill with the liquid right to the rim of the jar, and seal firmly. Invert on the bench for one hour, then turn upright. The pop up button should pop in to vacuum seal the jar. If it doesn't, immerse the jar in a saucepan of boiling water, and simmer for 30 minutes. Leave in the water to cool. The button should then pop in and seal.
Refrigerate before serving. These improve with long storage but are still yummy served immediately.
Hommus with a twist:
1 tin drained chick peas or 4 tablespoons dried chick peas, soaked and cooked till tender
1 heaped tablespoon Tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
2 tablespoons oil (preferably olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous grind of black peppercorns
3 teaspoons sunflower seeds, toasted in a dry, hot non-stick frypan till brown
3 teaspoons pine nuts or slivered almonds toasted the same way (do them all together)
1 red chilli sliced very thinly (optional)
Pita bread or Lavash bread and rocket leaves to serve
Place the chick peas, garlic and tahini in a food processor bowl. Process until very smooth.
Through the food processor chute, and while it's running, add the lemon juice, oil and salt.
Scrape into a mixing bowl.
Fold in the ground pepper, and toasted seeds and nuts.
Serve mounded onto a platter, scattered with the chilli if you're using it, next to fresh rocket leaves and warm pita bread.
The idea is to grab a piece of pita, cover it with a few rocket leaves, spoon a generous amount of hommus on it and eat!
Spicy Tomato Relish..makes about 2-3 litres
2 large onions
2½ kg ripe tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
2 tablespoons grated ginger
3 teaspoons ground allspice
3 teaspoons Garam Masala
3 teaspoons salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups Bundaberg Sugar (White or Raw depending on preference)
1 tablespoon cornflour
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (extra)
1. Place onions in a food processor and process until finely chopped; place in a large saucepan. Cut tomatoes into halves and process in batches until chopped, but not pureed (there should still be chunks of tomato visible). Add to onions, along with all other ingredients, except for cornflour and extra vinegar. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Boil, stirring occasionally, for 1-1½ hours or until starting to thicken.
2. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until very thick. Stir often to stop mixture sticking to base of pan.
3. Combine cornflour with extra apple cider vinegar. Add to tomato mixture and simmer, stirring for 2 minutes .Turn off heat and let stand for 10 minutes, then spoon into clean warm jars and seal. Turn the jars upside down for 2 minutes, then invert and leave to cool. When you turn them right way up, the little vacuum button should automatically pop 'in' giving a vacuum seal.
You need 4 decent sized washed and sterilized jars for this amount.
1 kg onions (different onions give a different result. Try red, eschallots, pickling onions or brown ones)
2 tablespoons oil
250 gms sugar
300 mls vinegar (different vinegars will also give a slightly different result in colour and flavour, so try balsamic, white, apple cider, sherry or even red or white wine or sparkling wine)
3 tablespoons honey or golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Peel and slice the onions thinly.
Heat a large frypan over a medium heat and slow cook the onion until it's limp, about 5 minutes.
Add the other ingredients and mix well.
Reduce the heat to very low and simmer, stirring regulary to prevent sticking for one hour.
Cover the pan and continue to cook over a very low heat for a minimum of 45 minutes but up to several hours depending upon the depth of flavour and the consistency you're after, stirring regularly. I have simmered mine virtually all day on a very very low heat, and after 10-12 hours, they are divine.
The confit is ready when there is not liquid and the onion has been reduced to a chunky paste.
Spoon into sterilised jars and refrigerate.
Keeps for up to six months.
Pile all your goodies into little serving dishes, add a knife for the bread, some other choices such as crackers or lavash, a big wedge of your favourite cheese, and a huge piece or several pieces of seasonal fruit.
A ham hock, slow cooked to tender perfection, leftover roast, meatballs or meatloaf, or just some deli meat would be the final addition.
Guaranteed to please the hungriest of tums.
Add ale, where appropriate :)