Orange Marmalade

February is traditionally marmalade making month.  I´m a little behind this year, and hope this recipe doesn´t reach those of you, who want to give it a try, too late.

First of all though, I´d like to say a big thank you to two fellow bloggers who very kindly nominated me for awards.  Waterfalls and Caribous chronicles the adventures of a young couple travelling the world.  They´re currently in South Korea, and if, like me, you have never been to a Love Motel (it´s not rude, I promise!), click here. Thanks guys for the Versatile Blogger Award, and here´s my previous post on that if you want to check it out.

The lovely Alli over at Pease Pudding very kindly awarded me the Liebster Blog Award. If you haven´t visited this great blog yet, do pop over, it´s written by a lass from Northern England now living in beautiful New Zealand. Thanks Alli, and if you missed it, here´s where I share the love.

Last year I posted a more traditional way of making it, this year I´m using a slightly quicker method (no hand chopping and a quicker set), although marmalade making from scratch is a fairly lengthy, but rewarding process.

For the other method, click here.

Ingredients

  • For every kilo (or just over) of oranges, two kilos of sugar and 1.25 litres of water and one lemon
  • The biggest, heavy based, saucepan you have
  • A wooden spoon
  • A couple of large jugs or bowls and a fine sieve
  • About 6 regular sized jams jars and lids per kilo of oranges

Start by washing and drying the oranges, and lemons and putting them in the biggest saucepan you have and covering them with water.  You will now bring to the boil and cook gently until softened.  Unless they are tightly packed they will probably float, so just turn them around in the water every so often. This will take about an hour and they are ready when you can easily pierce them with a skewer.

Remove the oranges from the liquid (don´t discard it) and when they are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the flesh, pips and pith and place into the reserved liquid.  You will also probably need to cuts the skins into quarters and with a knife or spoon, scrape off as much of the white pith which still clings to it.  This is important as it will give you that precious pectin which will make your jam set. Put the two halves of each lemon in with the pulp.

Now bring the liquid with all the pulp and pith to a boil and using a potato masher, press down on the pulp as it boils. Leave it boiling gently for about 10 minutes and press the pulp a couple of times during this period.

As this is boiling you can process the skin – either by hand into fine shreds, or in a food processor into tiny chunks.

Now strain the liquid from the pulp and keep pressing as you pass it through the sieve to get any last drops of pectin out.

Put the liquid back into the pot, add the sugar and the chopped orange skin and cook gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Now bring up to a quicker boil until it reaches setting point.  You´ll find this happens quite quickly with this method, and if you like a thicker set marmalade, cook for a few minutes longer.  Personally I like a softer texture – the choice is yours.

Once it is ready, leave to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes and to allow the shreds to settle, then pour into sterilised jars, seal and wait for them to cool before labeling (if you do this). Now enjoy the wonderful smells of oranges which will still fill your house and cut yourself a lovely slice of bread to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

Spree has also made the most of the lovely oranges around at this time of year. Check out her beautiful rhubarb and orange jam.

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Cranberry and Citrus Confit

I am till trying to squeeze in a few festive recipes before we leave the celebrations behind, I thought I would share this favourite with you.  It´s another Delia Smith recipe, tweaked as ever, but enjoyed not only at Christmas.  As it is reduced to a jam like consistency, it keeps in the fridge for about a month and can also be made later in the year using sour cherries or even dried (and reconstituted) apricots.  Wonderful with cold meats and pickles, or bangers and mash (if you know what that is!).

Ingredients

  • 500g red onions finely sliced (you can use white if red not available)
  • 2 gloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of red or white wine vinegar
  • 150g (approx) of cranberries or other sour fruit
  • Grated zest and juice or an orange plus the zest of a lemon
  • Optional – ¼ teaspoon of crushed cardamom seeds
  • Salt & Pepper to season

Cook the onion, garlic and sugar slowly in the oil for about 10-15 minutes-  Allow to soften but not to brown.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for 10-15 mins.  Remove the lid and reduce for a further 30 mins (approx) until the mixture is thick and jam like in texture.  Cool and place in a plastic container.  Serve at room temperature.

PS. This morning we planted our garlic. Tradition round here says it should be done around Christmas Eve, preferably when the moon is waning.  We´re a bit out of sorts what with Christmas, so they only went in today.  About 100 cloves, so fingers crossed that in about 4-5 months we´ll be harvesting!

Secret Santa and Stinky Baked Camembert

You know that Christmas really is upon you when you decide to Get Organised.  I put that in capital letters to help motivate me.  And then when you decide to Get Organised, Things Go Horribly Wrong. I think you get the idea.

With my parents arriving shortly I sorted out our spare room for them this morning with my best linen, plenty of coat hangers and a few little tasteful decorations.  The bedspread is a gorgeous mulberry colour and I have some lovely purple Christmas lights that I wanted to drape around. Do you think I could find them? Like heck I could.

Then I decided to remove all my nice table linen from the chest in the spare bedroom so that I don´t have to go disturbing my parents.  What did I find? Well, the linen was where it was meant to be but I also found the remains of an enormous red wine stain on my lovely tablecloth.  It´s not even in the middle where it could have been hidden by plates or candles…damn, that´s now doing its third round in the washing machine.

Finally, the dishwasher made a very rude noise and appeared to have given up on me mid cycle.  I foolishly opened the door to give it a good talking to, and out flooded a sea of dirty and very hot water.  One of those days, you see.

But all was not bad.  In the midst of all this mayhem, sorry…Festive Fun… Big Man came in bearing a beautiful poinsettia for me and a parcel from Secret Santa. I also saw that Nia awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award, so a huge thank you to the lovely Nia.  For my responses to this in a previous post, check this out.

Tandy over at Lavender and Lime kindly organised this fun exchange of gifts, so thanks so much Tandy! My Secret Santa (you can´t hide your details from the Spanish Postal system!) is a lovely Blue Jellybean from Madrid – thanks Jellybean, I´m so pleased with my gifts!  Look at my gorgeous book of Tapas recipes – there are some old favourites in there plus a load of new and inspiring ideas for me to try out next year.  I´ve only managed to get a quick flick through it as I had to wrestle it off Big Man who was deciding what “we” (for “we”, read “me”) should try first.  I also received some gorgeous decorations…which are very special as I ask Christmas visitors to buy me a new decoration for us to keep and remember them by.  So perfect…my first gifts and I am a very, very lucky Chica indeed.

Of course, while things were exploding and flooding all around me, I did have time to make a little bite to eat.  Inspired by some Baked Brie recipes From the Bartolini Kitchens and Rufus´Food and Spirits Guide, I decided to do a simplified version with a Camembert which was so ripe it was about to take a walk all on its own!  I unwrapped the very stinky camembert from its box and separated the plastic paper from the waxed paper which I wrapped around the cheese again.  I put it back into the base of the box and baked for about 20mins in a hot oven.

We ate it with bread sticks, and I put a few spoons of my plum compote in the top of the cheese.  The strong taste of the cheese worked well with the cinnamon and vanilla notes in the plum and we quietly sipped a glass of vino Rosado whilst the dishwasher groaned and breathed its last breath.  Guess what Santa might be buying tomorrow?!

I´ve gone right off Medlars….

Ms Chica Andaluza, Somewhere Up a Mountain in Andalucia

Dear Ms Andaluza

We understand that you have recently made Quince Jelly, something which the readers of Mediaevel Medlar Monthly would be most interested in reading about in more detail.  A reporter will contact you shortly to arrange details of the interview.

Yours most sincerely

Ye Olde Editore, Mediaeval Medlar Monthly

Reporter: So Ms Andaluza

Chica Andaluza: Oh please, do call me Chica

R: OK, Chica it is.  The Medlar is not a widely known fruit, what do you know about it?

CA: Well, I suggest your readers check out this excellent post by Mad Dog, which gives some fantastic information about this fruit which was traditionally used to make fruit jellies and cheeses.

R:  How did you manage to get hold of your medlars then?

CA: I have a lovely friend, Florence, who let me pick a whopping 8kgs of fruit from her tree for my first journey into medlar jelly making.

R: Tell us a little more about it then

CA: Well, the fruit has to be “bletted” or almost left to rot before it´s edible.  This is the fruit when we picked it.

And this is the fruit about 2 weeks later.

R: Talk me through the process of making the jelly then

CA:  I used about 5kgs of the fruit which was “rotten” enough, and washed it to remove dust and leaves.  It tastes, as a fruit, of something like prunes and plums…a sweet, pleasant, earthy taste.

Then I added just enough water to cover the fruit and cooked it until it was mushy.

R: How did you know how much water to add?

CA: I searched the internet for recipes, which were all a little vague.  In retrospect, I should probably have used more water.

The reporter notes at this point that the subject of the interview is beginning to tremble slightly and mutter under her breath.

R: Once they were “mushy”, what did you do?

CA: The fruit has to be strained through jelly bags to extract the liquid which is then boiled with about two thirds of its weight in sugar until it reaches setting point.

The interviewee is beginning now to behave like Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther films – shaking and twitching uncontrollably when the word Medlar (rather than Clouseau) is used.  A glass of wine calms the situation down a little.

R: Is there any special kitchen equipment needed for making this jelly?

CA: I´d recommend a step ladder

R: How so?

CA: Well, you need a large jug to put the jelly strainer over.  I went to get one out of my “despensa” and could not be bothered to get the step ladder, and tried to hook it down with a metal skewer. This resulted in a large wooden tray crashing onto my face and giving me a black eye.

Almost a week later and it still hurts!

R: Oh dear, any other experience you´d like to share with our readers…

CA:  Well, it took me almost 48 hours to strain the juice from the pulp.

R: That must have been a lot of juice

CA: Not really, about half a litre

R: Oh…

CA: And then I had to boil the syrup to hell and back to get it anywhere near setting point, so most of it evaporated

R: Oh…how many jars did you make in the end

CA: Not quite 2. I had envisioned inviting Roger over to take photos of my extensive stock of Amber hued jelly, but I don´t think I´ll bother now.

R: Will you be doing this again then?

At this point the interview was terminated as the interviewee collapsed into a hysterical heap clutching her eye and a large bottle of wine muttering “never again, never again”.

Ms Chica Andaluza, Somewhere Up a Mountain in Andalucia

Dear Ms Andaluza

Thank you very much for giving so generously of your time recently, particularly in your most delicate state of health.  Whilst we wish you a speedy recovery, we do not feel that the tone of the interview will convey the message of the true beauty, flavour and versatility of the Medlar fruit and will not be publishing your interview.

Yours most sincerely

Ye Olde Editore, Mediaeval Medlar Monthly

Advertisement recently seen in Mediaeval Medlar Monthly

FOR SALE: Almost two jars of unset medlar jelly, offers over £500 per jar or will exchange for a small house or sports car. Serious buyers only please.

Dulce de Membrillo – Quince Jelly

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”
Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”
Said the Piggy, “I will”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon

I couldn´t resist quoting the above “nonsense” poem by Edward Lear – after all, how much poetry mentions the beautiful quince?  Aah…such silly romantic nonsense.

Actually, making quince jelly in our house is one of the few cooking adventures we undertake together, so there is a small element of romance to it!  Chopping up a quince is quite tough – fine if you´re only doing one or two, but every year we usually make a huge batch of Carne or Dulce de Membrillo in one go and it takes 3 or four hours. Much easier if there are two of you working together.  I know that autumn is really here, and in fact today was dull, grey and wet, so it was perfect for steaming up the kitchen with beautiful smells.

Making quince jelly is not difficult.  You just need a little patience, a big pot and a sharp knife.  You´ll be rewarded with beautiful jewel coloured jelly which will last for months if kept in the fridge or a cold place and it can be eaten with cheese and hams or on its own as a delicious sugary treat.

Even if you only have one or two quinces, do give this a go as they are very tart unless lots of sugar is added (but also very nice baked with honey, sugar and raisins as a dessert).

For every kilo of prepared fruit, you will need 750g of sugar.  And that´s it, ingredient list over.

Wash the fruit and get prepared with scales, knives, chopping boards and your pot.

Cut into halves, quarters and even eighths if you have small hands to make it easier.

Core and chop into chunks.  I recommend weighing as you go along.

Put the quince into your biggest pot and add the sugar.

This is where the slightly hard work and patience comes in.  Start on the lowest heat and keep turning the quince and sugar with a wooden spoon.  You don´t want them to catch on the bottom of the pot while the sugar is dissolving as this will give your jelly a burnt taste.

Dissolve the sugar slowly (and if anything does burn, just remove the offending chunk).

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bubble gently until the quince has turned mushy and amber coloured. We had two pots of 5 and 3 kg of fruit plus sugar and they took about 30 minutes each from starting to bubble.

Just a bit longer now.

Now remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 10 minutes then blend with a stick blender or mash then pass through a mouli.

Pour into shallow plastic tubs, cover with a cloth until cool and solid then put the lids on.

Store in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy with cheese, nuts, and whatever takes your fancy.  Port, dessert wines and also a good red wine work well I find!

Plums for My Porridge – Perfect Plum, Cinnamon and Vanilla Compôte

Do you remember my beautiful plum tree I showed you back in the spring? No matter if you don´t.  I knew back then from the enormous amount of blossom it had, following the rainiest winter for over 80 years in Andalucía, that we would have lots and lots of plums.

Of course, we did and we´ve been eating and enjoying them, giving a lot away, and the chickens have thoroughly enjoyed pecking away at those that fell to the ground.

A couple of weeka ago the plums really were coming to an end.  The last few clinging on to the tree were looking a little sad and soft, so I decided to turn them into a kind of compôte (rather like a jam) to drizzle over my porridge, or oatmeal, in the winter months.  It´s also delicious with ice cream!

You can either peel and stone the plums first, or do as I did – boil and squish!  I put them in a large pot and on a gentle heat for about 30 minutes, by which time the skins had popped and the plums were soft.

On with the kitchen gloves and I removed all the stones and skin, then passed the fruit through my trusty mouli.  You could also use a stick or regular blender. The prepared fruit weighed 2.3 kgs, so I added just under half the weight of sugar (1kg) and the juice of one lemon.  As this started to warm and the sugar dissolved, I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence and 2 sticks of cinnamon.

I let it boil quite hard for 5 minutes, removed the cinnamon sticks then poured it into sterilised jars.  Now I´m ready for the cold weather and already anticipating my first bowl of porridge with Perfect Plum Compôte!

And now, a confession.  I made this last year too (minus the vanilla) and earlier this year I was making ragú for my pasta and fumbling around in my despensa (that´s a little Spanish larder) when I grabbed a jar of this instead of tomato conserva.  Can you believe I didn´t notice the difference? We even ate the pasta, initially saying things along the lines of “gosh, you can really taste the sweetness of the tomatoes coming through”.  Eventually we decided that the taste was overly sweet (even the minced meat, garlic and red wine couldn´t compete) and the realization of what I had done dawned on me.  Not a recipe I´ll be repeating….still can´t believe that we ATE it!!!

Pear, Lime and Ginger Preserve

Fruity, Spicy and Tangy!

Over at Lavender and Lime, Tandy has set a Weekly Food Challenge to cook using citrus fruits.  Anyone who pops over to my blog regularly will probably have noticed that I use a lot of oranges in my cooking, particularly salads, so I felt inspired to take part in my first ever challenge!

I´m not sure if you´re allowed to submit two recipes, but I recently put up a post for one of my very favourite salads, Ensalada Cateta, so I´m putting that one forward too!

However, I also thought I´d like to try something different and as I´m in jam making mode this week, I had a little play around with ingredients. After the visit from my friends from the UK last week I had a few limes left over from a Mojito session, so I took it from there.

I love pears, but tend to either eat them as they are, or with cheese, or poached in wine.  How about trying a chunky, spicy preserve instead?  I could eat it on bread or toast, or serve it, almost like a soft quince jelly with cheese or, finally, as a sweet option drizzled over creamy vanilla ice cream.

In the end I decided to marry the pears with lime juice and fresh ginger, and I have to say I was thrilled with the results.  Just a hint of the tang of lime and the warmth of the ginger combined with the fresh taste of the pears.  Pears contain a lot of water so I cooked the preserve for about half an hour for the quantities given below on a gentle boil.  The final result left me with soft pear chunks which still held their shape and a jelly like syrup.

I used the following:

500g of pears (peeled weight) chopped into small chunks

250g sugar

A piece of fresh ginger (about 3cm in length) peeled and grated

The juice of two limes

For the method I used, please see either my Ruby Jewel Jam recipe or my Summer Cherry Jam recipe.  This quantity gave me two medium jars of preserve.  I do hope you enjoy it, it has an almost autumnal taste to it – I think it must be the ginger!

Summer Cherry Jam

Ready to wing their way to the UK!

Yes, it´s back to jam again today.  You may, or may not, recall that a nearby village is famed for its cherries. We had a very, very long and wet winter which meant that a lot of the blossom this year was lost from the cherry trees. Such a shame for those whose livelihoods depends greatly on selling their crop, a shame for the cherry fiesta which is coming up next weekend, and a shame for all the customers who were hoping for a bumper crop.

We were very lucky in that a friend gave us a kilo the other day.  We tried a few and they were delicious, but I wanted to make my first cherries into jam, to capture a special moment at the start of summer.  Cherries are quite hard to get to set (at least, these were!), so in this jam I used a sachet of pectin powder, the setting agent which occurs naturally in some fruit like apples and citrus fruits.  If you can´t get hold of it (or the liquid pectin) don´t worry, a little grated apple or the pith of a lemon plus a few minutes extra boiling should do the trick.

After pitting the cherries (that´s a messy job!) I ended up with 600g of fruit to which I added 400g of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons.  Feel free to vary these quantities a little if you like your jam less tart and more sugary.

As with most recipes for jam, start it off at a low temperature until the sugar has dissolved. This is when I added the pectin powder and then turned the heat up and got it bubbling

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Keep it bubbling away for about 10 minutes.  Don´t get distracted or walk away!  If you have a jam thermometer, do use it, it saves having to reboil the jam later if it doesn´t set.  Otherwise you can drop a spoonful of jam onto a saucer which you have previously placed in the freezer.  When the jam cools on the saucer you push it slightly – if it wrinkles, it´s at setting point.  If not, boil a little longer then repeat.

Leave the jam to cool down a little for 5-10 minutes so that when you pour it into still warm, sterilized jars (I run mine through the dishwasher to do this), the fruit will not float to the top.

Seal the jars while they are still hot and this will keep for at least a year.  It´s delicious on bread but also fantastic on ice cream, especially if you warm it a little first.

Sorry, I only took a photo of it in the jars, and they are already earmarked to wing their way back to the UK with my friends!  Luckily Big Man came home with several cartons of cherries this morning, so tomorrow I´ll be busy stoning cherries again for the next batch.