Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Seville Orange Marmalade

 The rule is, as soon as you have put the Christmas decorations away, you go in search of Seville Oranges!  They are in the shops from the second week of January to the end of January and then they are not.  So if you miss them, you miss them for a whole year, and it is very hard, almost impossible (unless you have a very savvy WI lady or granny nearby) to find homemade Seville orange marmalade.  It is wonderful almost addictive – and even mum, lifts her sugar ban in honour of proper marmalade.   If the thought of making marmalade is too daunting in January, remember they freeze very well, and you then have the choice to make it throughout the year (the advantage here is that the chopping is a lot easier as the peel is softened by freezing).  You need about 9 oranges for a 1.5kg batch (roughly) which is the right size for a jam pan.  This recipe has been tweaked over the years.  It started off with Gary Rhodes’, but, sorry Gary, yours is just too sweet - and has ended up nearly the same as Grampie’s recipe.  Look, if you like sweet marmalade, you just add more sugar (I’ll put it in for you softies below), and the more sugar you add, the more pots you make for the same effort (so, that’s why it’s done), and if you have wimpy kids who are scared of the peel, you just put the peel in the bag, with the pips – it saves an awful lot of chopping too!  I use organic oranges – as the peel is boiled to death and you eat the ‘stock’, I think this is really important (and I have read that they put colouring on non-organic Seville oranges which is why the washing is particularly important).  Download a good podcast to listen to, or rope in the family, as this is a fine example of ‘slow food’ and make sure the knives are super sharp.

A good large pan with a thick bottom – a jam pan is ideal.  Mine is 27cm across and 15 cm deep
A muslin cloth (preferably) or clean tea towel (boil it first if you are worried about its history or colourfastness)
A jam funnel – a wider spout than a ‘funnel funnel’ (for filling the jars, not essential, but saves wiping sticky jars) – I love my funnel and wouldn’t be without it
A jam thermometer – Not necessary, but if you happen to have one, dust it down and use it.  I don’t have one anymore, mine lost all its calibrations when I made soap with it once
Rubber gloves for testing setting and filling jars
4-6 Clean jars, put them in the dishwasher, or oven on 100C for 15 minutes.

Seville Oranges, 1.5kg (approx. 9) 
Lemons, 3
Water, 3.6L
Sugar, 1.5kg (but some people use as much as 3kgs)

Wash and cut the oranges in half.  Squeeze the juice out and put it in your best bottomed pan or jam pan (if using frozen oranges miss out this stage).  Using a large metal spoon (or a knife) scrape out the innards of the orange, the pips and pith - and retain them in a pudding bowl lined with a muslin cloth.  How much of the pith you scrape out depends on your patience and time, but it is worth having as little left on the orange peel as possible. 
Cut the peel into ultra-thin shreds, again this is not crucial, but I find the extra time taken here makes the product better.  I would not recommend using a food processor, it makes the marmalade cloudy and bitty, however, it is all about taste, and Sue from the country market does it, and her marmalade is quite good. 

Put the peel shreds into the orange juice in the pan and add the water.  Squeeze the juice out of the lemons, and add to the pan.  Roughly chop the lemon rind and put it in the muslin bag with all the bits and bobs.  Tie up the bag very securely with string and put it into the jam pan with the peel, water and juice.  Tie the bag onto the handle of the pan to keep it from floating off.  Bring the pan to the boil and simmer until the peel has softened and the water has reduced by about a half.  It probably takes about an hour and a half.  Cool the pan and remove the muslin bag.  With clean hands squeeze as much as you can out into the marmalade, but don’t get hung up about every last drop, there will be plenty of pectin already released.  Discard the contents in the compost bin.

I sometimes carry on the next stage the following day.

Add the sugar and heat gently stirring occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Carefully try it.  If you want more sugar, add it at this stage.  Bring the pan to the boil and boil rapidly (I use my biggest ring, top left, on the highest setting), but you will have to assess and keep an eye open.  Put a saucer in the fridge to cool.  You will know it is nearly ready when the boiling changes.  The bubbles will become smaller, more fizzy, and will rise up the pan, if it is dangerously near the top, turn the heat off immediately, until it retreats a bit and continue heating and watching.  After about 15 minutes start testing for setting.  Put rubber gloves on, and place a small amount of boiling liquid onto the cold saucer in the fridge.  Leave it for 5 minutes to cool.  Poke it with your finger, if it starts to get a skin or jellify, you are nearly there.  Test every 5 minutes.  You don’t want it rock solid, you want a soft jelly to form.  If you think it is done, turn off the heat while you wait for your final test – you can always turn it back on and carry on if not ready, but you don’t want to risk burning it.  If you have a sugar thermometer, it will tell you when you have reached setting point.  But your nose, and your eyes will also help you.

Leave to cool for about 20 minutes.  If you are too eager to jar it up you risk burning yourself, and the peel will float to the top of the jars and you won’t win first prize at the county show.  Wipe off any scum from the surface – it is still edible, so keep it for breakfast.  Stir in the peel.  Put the funnel over the first jar.  Put on the rubber gloves, and use a jug to ladle the marmalade out of the pan, holding a saucer underneath to catch the drips.  Fill the jars and wipe around the top if there are sticky bits.  Put the lids on.  They should pop and suck in as they cool.

Look forward to breakfasts to come when marmalade is best served on crisp cooled whitish toast with thick unsalted butter with tea (following eggs).  For treats it is nice with blue cheese instead of butter.  I can’t like marmalade on bread, but Paddington did, and so might you.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Cranberry Sauce

It’s a Nigel Slater unadulterated original, not too sweet, amazing colour, takes minutes, so easy you wonder why you haven’t done this for years.  Definitely a Christmas tradition to continue.

250g Cranberries
100g Sugar
100g White wine (last night’s cava)
6 ultra-thin shreds of Satsuma skin

Boil up for a few minutes – about 10, don’t stir too much.  Put in Jar.  Keep in the fridge, serve warm - much much nicer than Ocean Spray, and a very lovely colour. 

TIP.  Keep a few berries back so you can put them on the top of the Christmas pudding as our holly NEVER has any berries on it, and real cranberries are much bigger and better (and safer) than poisonous holly berries anyway. 

Excellent with turkey bread sauce, stuffing and sprouts, (and in Brevilles with the aforementioned) but also amazing all year round with chicken, ham, duck and cheese……  

Mushroom Stroganoff

Great when you feel that you have over indulged in meat, but need a tasty comforting meal, which isn’t too heavy.  Serve with green petit pois and creamy mash, the ultimate comfort food after a walk on the cliffs.  Quick to prepare, a good way to use up a mushroom situation (which is why I have recorded it!).

Olive oil, a glug
Onions, chopped, half small one per person

Fry the onions until softened, about 5 mins.  Add:

Mushrooms, handful per person, I use chestnut, sliced
Garlic, half a clove per person
Stock cube, chicken (or veggie), in turkey stock (or water)
White wine, a glug (or flat rose cava)
Tomato Puree, half a tablespoon per person
Lemon, small squeeze of the end

Boil for about 5 minutes, add:

Salt and pepper
Paprika, preferably smoked, a sprinkle to taste, approx. half tsp
Worcester Sauce, slosh, but not if doing veggie
Cornflour, 1 tsp, mixed into some cold water, stir in to thicken

Boil for a minute or so, and take off the heat.  Stir in:

Crème Fraiche, half table spoon per person

Sprinkle with:

Parsley, fresh and chopped

29th December 2013

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Mulled Wine with Caramelized Chili and Spices

Mulled Wine with Caramelized Chili and Spices:

This is the Olly/Jamie version where the sugar is caramelized and the spices are ‘fried’ in the sugar before adding the liquid.  Allow an hour to mull over.  Everyone likes the sweetness of this, but if I was making it just for myself, I would put 4 of sugar instead of 6.

6 heaped desert spoons of light soft brown sugar
1 chili, whole fresh, cut down centre and in half, use seeds’n’all
6 all spice balls
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into 3
2 nutmeg, whole
20 cloves
Fresh root ginger, 1 inch, sliced
Zest and juice of 2 oranges (use potato peeler for thin layer of zest, no pith)
400ml water
1 bottle red wine

Put sugar in the pan and heat.  As it starts to melt WATCH IT doesn’t burn, and add all the spices and orange zest.  ‘Fry’ spices for 5 minutes, adjust heat to stop any burning, stir occasionally.   Carefully add the water.   This will splutter, so be careful and the chili may burn your eyes if they are too close!  The sugar will set rock hard, but then re-dissolve back into the water, heat slowly.  Add wine and orange juice.  Do not boil.  Mull for about an hour, strain before serving.  Makes about 1.2L, 10 small glasses, 120ml. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Good Humous

Good Humous

Found this note on my desk to myself, thought I had better blog it for safe keeping…

Salt, ½tsp
Chick Peas, I can, including the water
Lemon, Juice of 1
Tahini, 4 heaped tsp
Garlic, 2 cloves crushed
Olive oil, a dash

Mush it.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Matar Paneer - Barny’s Classic Pea & Feta Cheese Curry Recipe

Serves 4

 Our family have been making this for years, it is a real classic, and a good veggie option.

Before you start, boil the kettle and soak the 3 tomatoes in the boiled water so that the skins come off easily when you need them to.

Ginger, fresh, 1½inch, chopped finely
Garlic, 2 cloves, chopped finely
Oil, for frying

Fry the ginger, garlic in the oil gently for 2 minutes.  Add:

Chilli powder, ½tsp
Cardamon, ½tsp of the inside black seeds, crushed
Tumeric, 1tsp
Coriander, ground, 1tsp

Fry gently for a few minutes.  Then add about half a cup of boiling water and add:

Peas, fresh or frozen, 1lb (500g)

Boil for 5 minutes until they are cooked.  Then, “Lob in”:

Tomatoes, 3, fresh, peeled, diced
Feta cheese, 1lb (500g), diced

Gently heat through until the cheese melts.  Check the seasoning, you shouldn't need to add salt as the feta adds enough.

It is so nice, even cold on toast the next day, but usually there isn’t any the next day…..

Monday, 25 February 2013


With thanks to Katie Stewart and AA Milne who made some good recipes in very small quantities – this multiplies their ingredients by 6.  It is Pooh’s recipe, from the Pooh Cook Book, given to me by the Elliots for Christmas in 1973.  I was 6, they were nice people, and this was a very good present.  The page is much marked – a bit like ancient parchment - and Cai has signed his name on it in 2008, an old family favourite you might say.  It is a good one to make with small children, as it is so simple (but you do have to breath deeply when the oats start scattering – and call in the dog – and sometimes when the golden syrup ends up in the pigtails, there is nothing for it, but bath time).  This was one of the few dairy free, egg free things I could make for my allergic babies - now of course they can enjoy it as Pooh intended (full of butter).  However, as there is so much of it, you could dilute the butter with sunflower oil – that is, if you have a guilty conscience.  I don’t actually think Pooh had a conscience ……….

Butter, 12oz (1½ pks, or dairy free margarine or 6oz butter & 6oz sunflower oil)
Golden Syrup, 6 rounded tbsps
Sugar, soft brown, 6oz

Melt the sugar and butter into the syrup.  It doesn’t have to boil, but make sure there are no granules and it is a smooth caramel.  Mix in;

Oats, rolled porridge ones, 24oz
Salt, big pinch

Eat some mixture ‘raw’ (essential tradition – but beware, as you can get carried away and it might not even make it into the oven - these things have happened – oh yes).  Press the remainder firmly into a small roasting tin (20x30cms), lined with non-stick baking parchment, and bake for 20 minutes on 150C.

It should have a pale golden crust.  Let it cool a little in the tin, and mark out - about 24 squares - with a sharp knife pressing down any wrinkles.  Leave it to cool completely before attempting to remove from the tin.

25 February 2013
I had to make this today as Cai ‘needed’ it after a frosty football practice under arctic floodlights and it distracted his torrent of moaning about his woeful new position and craving for ‘proper’ chocolate bars, which aren’t organic…. This, a small snapshot of our life as it is now, and a glimpse of the consequence of a little too much maternal brainwashing and the emergence of a nearly 12 yr old backlash as the realisation dawns that there is ‘another world’ out there.  That of Cadbury’s and Nestle and Coke, ah well 12 blinkered years, not bad really. 

Amanda at Nantgwynfaen Organic Farm