APPLE AND TOMATO CHUTNEY (V+, ChF, GF, GrF, NF)

It feels as though so much has happened in the last two weeks and I am bursting to tell you all about it! Can I start off by sharing a little bit about my experience at Food Blogger Connect 2015 (FBC15)? If you've been following along, you'll know that I've wanted to become much more serious about my food blogging, writing, photography and recipe development. So as part of that 'want', I did a collaboration with Ceri about two weeks ago to broaden my food blogging horizons. I also attended FBC15 at Chiswick House and Gardens in order to get as many tips as I could on making my blog bigger and better.

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So what was the conference like? Well, it took place over 3 days (I attended and volunteered at 2) during which one had lots of opportunities to meet, mingle and connect with other bloggers, share experiences and provide one another with heaps of encouragement and support. For me personally, this was probably the most invaluable aspect of the conference and as it stands 2 possible collaborations are in the works as a result of FBC15! So watch this space ;)

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Furthermore, as food bloggers we had the privilege to sample some gorgeous food from start-up food traders. Apart from the fact that many of them made delicious dishes, I was really moved by their bravery to become street traders in the first place and share their deep felt passion for food with others. Many of them had left successful 9-5 jobs to follow their dream of setting up their own food business. It's a tough gig selling food on the streets of London, come rain or shine, wouldn't you agree? 

There were 3 traders that I felt deserved a special mention here on the blog (#notsponsored), so here goes:

1. RUPERT'S STREET – As someone who is mainly plant-based it isn't always easy eating out, but Rupert's Street made it a joy by providing lovely vegan food at FBC15. My favourite was their chickpea curry. SO, so good. Please do seek them out when you're next in London.

2. CHURROS GARCIA – These vegan sugar and cinnamon churros were made to perfection and I loved the owners' enthusiasm and her commitment to making the best churros in town.

3. COLOMBIAN STREET KITCHEN – I am not sure my words will do their food justice, but suffice to say it was delicious. And what a pleasant surprise to find authentic Colombian food so well done this side of the pond. With some vegetarian and vegan options Colombian Street Kitchen was right up my alley.

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As if that weren't enough FBC15 also hosted numerous workshops, discussion groups and presentations to give us bloggers further food for thought. As I mentioned on Instagram David Frenkiel from Green Kitchen Stories was one of the speakers at the conference and – considering his was amongst the first blogs I ever followed AND I own one of his (and Luise's) cookbooks – having the opportunity to hear him talk was rather special. 

So what wisdoms did he impart? Well, he talked about how he is quite careful and very thoughtful about what content and pictures he posts on his instagram page to ensure it's aesthetically pleasing as well as genuine. He was also very open about the fact that he only shares pretty images of his life and that it's actually as imperfect as everyone else's. (I must confess, I thought that was rather reassuring :).) 

But perhaps more importantly he initiated a wider debate about whether blogs are getting too polished and magazine-like, moving miles away from what they were initially intended to do: create personal, genuine content. He even went as far as to propose that maybe the 'flawless look' is actually starting to feel rather dated. I haven't made up my mind about that one yet, but I'm eager to see where the food blogging trend wave will take us next and whether David may be onto something... What do you think?

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Any other lessons learned? Yes! What all the celebrity speakers said - pretty much without exception - can be summed up as follows:

- work hard on your blog and create great, authentic content
- keep striving to get better at what you do
- be VERY clear about what your blog stands for
- find your niche 
- collaborate with other bloggers!
- have a strong, unique and clear voice 
- and perhaps most importantly - diversify; write a cookbook or a column in a magazine, sell ad space, do sponsored posts, bake cakes for a local cafe etc.

YIKES! I'll try, I will. I promise :). 

Thanks for reading everyone and now on to this week's recipe :)

P.S. Wanna support this blog? Then please share this recipe on pinterest or follow along on instagram. It would make my day. 

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APPLE AND TOMATO CHUTNEY (V+, ChF, GF, GrF, NF)

So, so sorry this post is rather picture (and word!) heavy. You see I've decided that if I can't make it as a pro blogger I'm going to become a photographer of apples. Joking aside, I never knew this humble fruit was so photogenic and I just couldn't stop myself from taking more and more pictures. In my defense the apples were practically begging to be photographed. So I just did as I was told.

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But there is method behind the madness. Cuz the other day, in the midst of London's Indian summer and just before the sun went down, I was overcome by a strong urge to go apple foraging. Together with my husband and son, I set off with a ladder and wicker basket and went for it. My son LOVED the excitement of climbing up the tree and collecting as many apples as he could. By the time we got home, it was near to dark, but it didn't matter as we were literally laden with the fruit of our labour.

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Now, what to do with our bounty? To be honest, I pretty much had a plan from the start ;). See, I'd won (yes won!) a copy of The Modern Preserver by Kylee Newton and we'd also just harvested the last few tomatoes from the garden. So I'd decided to make the wonderfully sounding apple and tomato chutney from Kylee's book. I have to say - it didn't disappoint and we've worked our way though most of the jars I made already (blush), though are saving 1 to give away as a Christmas gift :). 

Before I leave you with the recipe however I want to stress that I can wholeheartedly recommend Kylee's book. It's so, so gorgeous. In fact, if ever I write a cookbook I'd want it to have the look and feel of Kyle's book. And that's saying loads, cuz I own quite a few cookbooks :)

Hope you enjoy the recipe and please do read the tips at the end before giving this one a go ;)

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Pre-Preparation Time: 1-2 hours for tomatoes to drawout liquid
Preparation and Cooking Time:1 hour and 20 minutes
Makes: 3-4 350ml jars

Ingredients: 
500g/1.1 lbs (organic) (vine) tomatoes
1 tsp salt
500g/1.1 lbs (organic) apples
350g/12oz (organic) onions
300g/10.5oz (organic) brown sugar
375ml distilled malt vinegar

Ingredients for the spice bag:
1/4 (organic) lemon
1/4 (organic) lime
1 cinnamon stick
1/2tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp cloves

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Instructions:
Chop up the tomatoes, sprinkle with  salt, combine and leave for 1, preferrably 2 hours. The aim is for the salt to draw out as much moisture from the tomatoes as possible, which is key to making this recipe work. 

In the interim, peel, core and chop up the apples into small chunks. Peel and dice the onions.
Put all the ingredients into your spice bag, ready for use.

Drain off the excess liquid from the tomatoes. Then put the tomatoes, spice bag, apples, onions, sugar and vinegar in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil.

Then lower the heat and simmer, stirring continuously for 40 minutes or until the chutney begins to thicken.

At this point I sterilised my containers for use once the chutney was done. Please see tips below how I did this. 

Add the raisins about 10 minutes before you're finished.

Then take the chutney off the heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes, stirring to release access liquid in the formof steam.
Remove the spice bag and then transfer the chutney into your prepared sterilised jars. Seal well.

Leave to mature in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks or, like us, just enjoy it straight away (blush again). 
The chutney will keep unopened for 6 - 12 months. Once opened consume within 4 months.

Tip 1: You need to have jam/chutney jars ready before you get stuck in. 
Tip 2: You need a large, wide stainless steel pan.
Tip 3: Use muslin bags or squares as your spice bag. 
Tip 4: The vinegar in the chutney will react with the metal in the lids of the jars. So please use wax discs to create a barrier before putting the lids on.
Tip 5: Please ensure you sterilise the jars before use. I did this by thoroughly washing the jars I was going to use in very hot, very soapy water. I then popped the jars into the oven at 110C/90Fan/250F for minimum 20 minutes. In fact I kept them in there until 5-10 minutes before the chutney was ready.
Tip 6: I used red onions, but really and truly it just doesn't matter.
Tip 7: It might seem a lot of work, but it's worth it and actually was pretty straight forward, you know. 
Tip 8: I halved the quantity suggested in the original recipe, but you are of course welcome to double up in quantities if you like, making the effort more worthwhile :)

Eat with.... home-made pita bread and avocado. YUM! Or, this chutney is also lovely with a boiled egg on toast :). 

Would you like to read more about why I'm so obsessed with food photography? You can find out about my food photography journey here ;)

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