Chef Imelda makes good use of a gift of fresh blackberries

Imelda Tynan's homemade blackberry jam
This week I received a beautiful bowl of freshly picked blackberries from my neighbour, needless to say my 8 year old son was thrilled because his favourite jam is blackberry. We made two delicious pots of jam and a tray of tasty blackberry buns. I have also included a family favourite; Lamb Casserole, I cook this at home at least once a week and usually can get two days dinner out of it so it is ideal for busy people; the most important thing to remember when making this dish is to buy good quality lamb from your butcher.

This week I received a beautiful bowl of freshly picked blackberries from my neighbour, needless to say my 8 year old son was thrilled because his favourite jam is blackberry. We made two delicious pots of jam and a tray of tasty blackberry buns. I have also included a family favourite; Lamb Casserole, I cook this at home at least once a week and usually can get two days dinner out of it so it is ideal for busy people; the most important thing to remember when making this dish is to buy good quality lamb from your butcher.

Blackberry Jam

1½lb Blackberries

1½lb Sugar

Juice of 1 Lemon

4fl oz. Water

Heat the oven to 150⁰. Take a large heavy saucepan and place the blackberries, lemon juice and water into the saucepan, bring to a slow boil and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes.

While the fruit is simmering, put the sugar into an ovenproof dish and place in a warm oven for about 5 minutes to warm, remove the blackberries from the heat and now add the warmed sugar to the fruit and stir well, return to the heat and keeping the heat low allow the sugar to dissolve completely, this takes about 15 minutes stirring all the time.

Now turn up the heat and let the jam boil rapidly for about 8 to 10 minutes, remove from the heat and test for a set i.e. spoon of jam onto a cool saucer and place in the fridge. If the jam has not set boil for 5 minutes more and repeat the set test. Allow to to cool before filling into warmed sterilized jars.

Blackberry Buns

7oz Castor Sugar

7oz Butter

4 Free Range Eggs, lightly beaten

7oz Self-raising Flour

Blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180° and line a 12 hole bun tin with bun papers. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and creamy, slowly add the eggs followed by the flour and mix together to combine all the ingredients. Gently add in the blackberries and give a good stir, divide the mix into the baking tin and bake for about 20 minutes until golden.

Lamb Casserole

8 to 10 Lamb Cutlets, (enough to feed a family)

4 Fresh Carrots, chunky cut

4 Fresh Parsnips, chunky cut

1 large Spanish Onion, sliced

Fresh Sage, Thyme and Parsley

2oz Plain Flour

1 to 2 Pints of Chicken Stock

1tbsp Tomato Puree

2 Garlic Cloves, crushed

3 to 4tbsp Olive Oil

2oz Butter

Salt & Fresh Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°. In a large casserole dish heat the olive oil and line the base of the dish with the lamb cutlets and cook until nice and brown turn over and repeat on the other side. Lift out the cutlets and leave to one side and into the casserole place all the vegetables and fresh herbs and garlic, and brown really well, this is where the flavour of the dish comes from. Next add in the butter allow to melt and stir in the flour to make a paste, put the cutlets back in along with any juice from the cutlets and add in the stock and tomato puree, then pour in enough stock to cover, season with salt & pepper, put the lid onto the casserole and place in the oven for about 1½ hours to cook until nice and tender. Delicious with boiled potatoes.