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Blackberry and Chambord Jam from foraged fruits
Foraged Fruits  - by Sarah Leary 

My recent move to a village has unexpectedly turned me into a forager overnight. A grimly determined one at that, no fruit or berry is safe from my plundering paws, anything vaguely edible is in danger of being preserved, pickled or fermented.

Only recently I stumbled upon a huge bounty of juicy blackberries quivering enticingly in the hedgerows very close to my house. There’s something intensely satisfying about picking your own fruits returning home with your haul and immediately turning it into something else, somehow you feel more connected to the ingredients.

Foraging can be a great pastime, getting one out into the fresh air and often learning surprising things about quite unassuming plants. The humble nettle for example can be transformed into a flavoursome soup or even beer and chickweed is similar to spinach and can be used in winter salads or stews.  It is of course vitally important to know what you are picking and to forage responsibly. The UK’s wildlife relies on wild food, so only pick from plentiful populations and bear in mind that the plant needs to propagate itself for future generations.

I plan to continue foraging fruits responsibly and am delighted to share my recipe for foraged blackberry and Chambord jam. Watch this space, there will be more…..

Blackberry and Chambord Jam

Makes 4-59 450g jars- this recipe is easily halved


1kg blackberries

Juice of 1 lemon

1 x 1kg packs jam sugar (with pectin)

3 tbsp Chambord liqueur

Cooking Instructions

  1. Before you begin you will need to sterilise your jars and lids. Heat the oven to 120c/ gas mark ½. Wash the jars and lids thoroughly in hot soapy water and leave to drain. Place on oven trays and dry in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Put a couple of small plates in the freezer.

  2. Put the berries, lemon juice and sugar into a preserving pan. Heat gently to slowly melt the sugar and release the juices from the fruit.

  3. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and using a teaspoon drop a little of the mixture onto one of the chilled plates. Push your finger through the jam, it should wrinkle and have started to set (the wrinkle test). If it doesn’t, boil for 2 minutes more, keep testing and repeating until setting point is achieved. Make sure you remove the pan from the heat each time you test so that the fruit doesn’t overcook.

  4. Stir the Chambord liqueur into the jam and leave to settle for 10-15 minutes, this will help to prevent the fruit from floating to the top of the jars. Carefully skim off any scum that rises to the surface.

  5. Pour or ladle the still hot jam into the sterilised jars, top with a wax disc and seal. The jam will keep for 1 year unopened, but once opened, store in the fridge.

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Apple Chundo
Apple Chundo

This is a popular lip smacking accompaniment to theplas, (a traditional Gujarati fenugreek flat breads made of whole wheat flour and chickpea flour combination mixed with spices and fenugreek leaves)

Traditionally apple or mango chundo,  also known as chatni in Hindi, was made by keeping the combination of grated raw mangoes or apples and jaggery in a large covered glass jar in the sun for several days. The heat of the sun would dissolve the sugar and slowly the grated fruit acquired a delicious translucent colour.

The recipe below is for the chundo prepared using jaggery instead of sugar.



500g grated raw apples

200g jaggery – crumbled or grated

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 inch piece of raw fresh ginger

1 tsp sea salt

1.5 tsp ground roasted cumin powder

1 tsp chilli powder


Cooking Instructions:


  1. Mix the grated apples, ginger, salt and turmeric powder and set aside for 15 minutes so that the salt and turmeric permeates into the apples.
    Now add the grated jaggery little by little combining all the ingredients together.

  2. Then heat a pan and slowly sauté the mixture till all the jaggery is completely dissolved and the chundo thickens.

  3. Add the cumin at this point and stir in well.

  4. When the bubbles appear and the grated apple begin to glisten with the jaggery syrup and thickens, remove from the heat.

  5. Allow the mixture to cool before spooning into clean sterilised jars.



Cooks Tip 1: Use sweet or raw mangos instead of apples or use both in the same recipe.

For more Indian recipes take a look at my book A Cupboard Full of Spices

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Banoffee Cake
This recipe is a perfect way of using up the couple of black bananas lurking sullenly in the fruit bowl. Our banana cake is topped with caramel buttercream icing and finished with salted caramel fudge pieces and our latest discovery - salted caramel Matchmakers!


For the cake

200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
200g light brown soft sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 ripe bananas, broken into chunks
200g self raising flour

For the topping

150g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsp Carnation Caramel
150g salted caramel fudge pieces
Handful of salted caramel Matchmakers


Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ fan 160c/ gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20.5cm (8in) deep, loose bottomed cake tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until pale and fluffy, this should take about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the eggs one by one ensuring that they are fully incorporated before the next addition, then whisk in the bananas until the mixture is smooth. The mixture may look a little curdled, but this is normal so don’t worry.

  2. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the flour. Spoon into the tin and bake in the middle of the even for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

  3. Meanwhile, make the icing. In a large bowl beat the butter, icing sugar and Carnation Caramel together until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

  4. When the cake is cooked through remove it from the oven, put it onto a wire rack and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the tin.

  5. When the cake has completely cooled spread the icing over the top and scatter over the fudge pieces and Matchmakers.

  6. Enjoy!

This recipe previously appeared in Good Housekeeping March 2011 and I have developed my own version subsequently to take this cake to another level.

#thecookingacademy #banoffeecake #baking #GoodHousekeeping
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The Ultimate Sausage Rolls
Since we have been enjoying an almost uninterrupted stretch of glorious weather our minds have turned to al fresco eating and in particular, one of the great joys of summer, the humble picnic.  In our opinion the mighty sausage roll is the perfect picnic fare and as such we really couldn’t keep our recipe for the ultimate sausage rolls to ourselves. Needless to say it’s super easy to make and ridiculously tasty.


1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tbsp olive oil
450g pork mince (at least 20% fat)
4 rashers streaky bacon, finely chopped
60g chorizo, finely diced
1 tsp fennel seeds
8-10 sage leaves finely chopped
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp flaked sea salt
Grated zest of a lemon
50g panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
1½ sheets ready rolled puff pastry (cut in half)
Extra egg for egg wash
Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Saute the onion, celery and garlic over a medium heat until soft and translucent but not browned. Set aside to cool.

  2. Chop the bacon very finely, so it is a similar grain to the mince, chop the chorizo into small dice

  3. Combine the onion mixture, mince, bacon, chorizo, fennel seeds, sage, salt, black pepper and lemon zest, and use your hands to mix the ingredients well.

  4. Mix in the panko bread crumbs, then mix in the whole egg.

  5. Lay out a rectangle of pastry, with the long edge closest to you. Take ⅓ of the filling and shape it into a long log shape down the middle of the pastry. Ensure that the meat is tight and compact, without gaps.

  6. Roll up the log in the pastry and use some egg wash to seal the edges of the pastry.

  7. Brush with the egg wash then cut the log into four equal lengths

  8. Repeat with the remainder of the pastry and mixture and then sprinkle the sausage rolls with sesame seeds.

  9. Heat the oven to 200c/ gas mark 6.

  10. Place the sausage rolls on a baking tray on parchment paper and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

  11. Leave to cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature

#thecookingacademy #sausagerolls #summer #savoury

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Double chocolate brownies
These delicious brownies are very easy and quick to make for a treat.  Use good chocolate with 70% cocoa solids to get a really good chocolately taste.  They should be fudgy and slightly gooey in texture so keep an eye on the timer!


250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
3 free range eggs
125g plain flour
50g cocoa powder


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/gas 3. Line a rectangular baking tin with baking parchment.  Make a bain marie, by putting a few centimetres of water in a saucepan and use a mixing bowl that fits well on the top of the pan, ensuring the water doesn’t touch the bowl.  Bring the water to a simmer.

  2. Break up the chocolate and melt it with the butter in the bain marie. Stirring occasionally to ensure it is melting evenly and becoming a glossy mixture.

  3. In medium sized bowl whisk the sugar and eggs together until it is smooth and creamy. You can either use a balloon whisk or an electric hand whisk.

  4. Add the chocolate mixture to the eggy mixture, using a spatula to get every last bit out of the bowl! Mix together well with the spatula.

  5. Sift together the flour and cocoa powder into the eggy chocolate mixture, and stir well until it is incorporated and there are no flecks of flour visible.

  6. Pour into the prepared baking tin, smoothing the mixture so it fills the tin.

  7. Bake in the oven, on the middle shelf, for 20 minutes. A skewer or knife should come out a bit smeared with mixture.

  8. Leave to cool in the tin, then cut into squares and enjoy.


Cook’s Tip 1: When melting chocolate, don’t over heat it or stir too often as it will “seize” and split.

Cook’s Tip 2: The brownies are delicious served warm with ice cream. They will keep in a tin for a few days...if they last that long.

#thecookingacademy #chocolatebrownies #darkchocolate #fairtradechocolate
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