Food diary #30: jam crisis, potato waffles, chicken dinners

The Sunday after I got back from my short but sweet holiday in Nairn we went to the mega boot sale in Polegate. Since I started my supper club (next one on 4th October, book now folks!) I’ve found yet another reason to spend cash on old toot, and boot sales are great places to pick up cookware. A few weeks back I bought 26 gorgeous Weck paté jars for just £10, and the Sunday before last I found a stall selling crates of cherries for about £1 per pound.


So, money spent, I decided to finally test my hand at making some jam. I followed the mighty David Lebovitz’s no-recipe recipe for cherry jam, not realising that my grandmother’s book that I brought home from holiday also contains a version; that would have been oh so much more romantic to blog about.

I spent all afternoon pitting cherries and then made the jam late in the evening, by which point I was so knackered and concerned about overcooking it that I didn’t get the jam up to gelling point, resulting in nine jars of chunky cherry coulis.

I’m trying not to beat myself up about this as it’s true that you learn from your mistakes. This time that, a.) novice jam makers should start with a fruit that is high in pectin, like citrus, or raspberries. And b.) buying 8lb of cherries is not a bargain if you’re going to make a crap jam with half and then let the rest go soft.

Still, my daughter and I have been eating this failed jam quite happily, spooned over that nice thick Chobani strained yoghurt, but I would welcome any further suggestions of how I might get through it in the comments.


Sadly the jam was not my only recent kitchen failure. This Sunday I made these pretty butterfly cakes but if you look very closely you’ll notice I split the cream. I should really stop making these cakes for guests as I can’t help but tell them that they look a bit like fannies, not so much in this picture mind, that’s good photography.


My friend Fi brought me this beautiful basket of goodies from her garden: courgette, new potatoes, sweet peas and a bunch of sorrel that really brightened up our chicken risotto last night. In fact, I think that risotto was one of my best, made with real chicken stock, leftover roast chicken, grilled courgette, thyme and sorrel.


We’ve also had two very fine Sunday roasts. Grilled courgette and raw beetroot salad dressed in honey and lemon really brightens up a standard roast chicken and tatties on a hot summer evening. Speaking of beetroot, I also made this tasty beetroot and potato curry from the Monsoon Spice blog for a tasty midweek dinner.


And if you thought potato waffles weren’t posh, you haven’t eaten them the way I like them. I had forgotten how much I like this brunch dish of fried egg and potato waffles with a tomato and parsley salad so I have now immortalised it on the blog, see recipe below.

If you would like the recipes for any of the other dishes mentioned in this post, please let me know in the comments. I will be posting my recipe for spinach and ricotta cannelloni (as requested by readers of this post) later this week.

Posh potato waffles with tomato salad
Author: Gannet & Parrot
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
  • 2 potato waffles
  • 1 egg
  • A little oil for frying.
  • 3 small ripe tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 spring onion or small shallot, finely chopped
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (be generous!)
  1. Put the potato waffles under the grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  2. While the waffles are cooking, combine the tomato, onion, parsley in a small bowl, dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir well.
  3. Fry the egg.
  4. Place the fried egg on the cooked waffles and serve the tomato salad to one side.


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About Chloe King

I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.

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11 comments on “Food diary #30: jam crisis, potato waffles, chicken dinners

  1. August 27, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I made crap jam this week too! Plum. Total fail. Sloppy, plummy soup. Any ideas for eight jars?

  2. August 28, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    I definitely don’t think you should beat yourself up over the jam. As you said, the compote you made instead will still be lovely with yoghurt, stirred into rice pudding, maybe mixed with apples to make an exciting crumble or fruit pie, or as a filling for cake…? Lots of uses.

    For low pectin fruits, I buy pectin powder and add some to the sugar. You can buy jam sugar with it already added but it’s cheaper to buy the pectin separately and then I don’t have to store so many different sugars. You can buy pectin in liquid form too. And obviously lots of people make their own, which I keep meaning to do but not got round to yet.

    Testing for a set is tricky at first, though I’ve now got to point that I am confident just holding up a wooden spoon and seeing how it drips off, but I used to test via the cold plate test which was a faff. My (pretty cheap) jam thermometer has paid for itself many many times over as it’s just a case of boiling till it hits the right temperature (helpfully labelled as JAM) and I know that’s fine (provided I added enough pectin to low-pectin fruits).


    • August 28, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Thanks Kavey! This is really helpful info as I intend to do much more in the way of preserving as I try to work my way through some of my grandmother’s recipes.

  3. August 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Hmm….serve with ice cream? yoghurt and granola? with pancakes? Swirl through a cheesecake? Make ice cream? In smoothies? I’ve been there! xoxo

    • August 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Mmmm, swirl through cheesecake! Now you’re talking xx

      • August 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm

        Btw I meant to say your food photos all look delicious! I’ll never be able to look at a butterfly cake the same way again though 😉 xoxo

        • August 28, 2013 at 9:35 pm

          Thanks love, I’m sorry I spoilt them for you 🙂 x

  4. September 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I’d like to know your ultimate roast chicken recipe Chloe – it’s such a basic but I have tried several and sometimes they end up more oily and less crispy. Got any secrets? Autumn is upon us, and I want to be roasting at weekends! x

    • September 14, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Hi Kate, thanks, I shall post on here but I reckon you get the best thin, crisp skin if you rub garlic and herb butter under the skin before cooking, cover with foil for first hour then remove it and allow skin to crisp up.

  5. October 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Bit late now I suspect but all you need to do if the jam hasn’t set is tip it all back into the pan and boil it up until setting point is reached. Maybe add some lemon juice if it’s proving recalcitrant…

    Love the sound of cherries on everything tho!

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