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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Lomo en Manteca – Confit of Loin of Pork

So, I translated this dish as confit, as it sounds so much more appetizing than “slow cooked in lard”.  Let me tell you how I come to be posting about this delicious dish.  Do you find that you´ve struck up friendships through your blog? I bet the answer is yes.

Someone forgot to tell the ladies it was Singles Day at the local bar...

Well, a blogging pal of mine, Mad Dog, has a bit of a passion for many things Spanish, due to having worked in Barcelona.  We exchange e-mails and ideas from time to time and for some very strange reason recently, we were talking about lard and how it has fallen out of fashion.  He sent me info about it and I was amazed to learn that weight for weight, it has less cholesterol than butter.

Anyway, I´ll leave it to him to tell you more another day, I´ll move on to the fact that lard most definitely has not fallen out of fashion in Spanish cooking. Round here, if you´re not using olive oil, it´s lard.  Even in cakes.  Many of the more traditional dishes use lard and it was very common to preserve pork in lard for the winter months, after the matanza, or pig killing.  Back in those days the meat was stored in big earthenware pots and slabs of pork were dug out and used as needed.

Pork loin, slowly cooked in lard is a common dish still and is served cold and thinly sliced as a tapa, or warmed through or refried for a “plato de los montes” (a mountain dish) with egg, fried potatoes, fried peppers and chorizo and morcilla for an immensely filling meal.

To recreate this dish nowadays is very simple. Quantities are not that important as it will all depend on how much meat you are using.  Nowadays people tend to cook it frequently and store it in the fridge – so no need for mountains of lard to cover kilos of meat.

An optional but highly recommended stage is to take your piece of boneless pork and the night before cooking rub it with a large garlic clove, sprinkle some salt over, add a small amount of white wine and chopped thyme and forget about it until the next day.

You will need enough pure lard which, when melted, will cover the pork when it is in a container.  Cut the pork into thick slices (about 10cm wide), remove any garlic and thyme clinging to it and put in a pan with the lard on a very low hear.  Cook very slowly until the meat is cooked through but not browned. Some people mix a little olive oil in with the lard, that´s up to you.

Now either leave the meat in the cooking pot if you do happen to have a nice earthenware one or transfer it to a storage container and leave to cool. The lard will revert to solid form and cover the meat.  When you want to serve it, remove the meat from the fat, covering over any pieces that become exposed.  This will keep for several weeks at least, but if you plan on storing it for longer (which is probably unlikely), don´t salt it before cooking.

As a tapa, slice thinly and serve with a chilled glass of your favourite wine or beer, a little slice of bread and a few tangy olives.  Old men in flat caps are optional.

Preserved Tomatoes – Conserva de Tomates

 
Ready for a winter debut

Well, summer is here and I finally have my first glut of tomatoes.

Forgot to weigh them...

We also picked runner beans last night, although they are coming to an end now.

Run, Fat Bean, Run!

And the first of our bobby or French beans.  I planted two varieties, one green and one yellow, but so far I´m only seeing green ones!

´Allo, I am Claude and zis eez mon ami Bobby...

Because we  don´t use insecticides or nasty sprays, some of our tomatoes look a little quirky, but we don´t mind that.  It makes us love them all the more…

Faces made for the radio

Time to start laying some by in jars for the winter months. Last year I made what seemed like enough for the whole village, but by the end of April we ran out.  I am on a mission this year to make enough to last us until next summer.  It is a little bit of effort, but we have so many tomato plants and have also just done a second planting, that it makes sense to do it and enjoy all our hard work in the colder months.

For a great idea on how to use your tomato sauce, and also the way I make mine, head over to Tales of Ambrosia for a delicious aubergine and tomato sauce dish.

I started by cutting small crosses in my washed tomatoes.

Criss Cross

Then I blanched them for a minute or two in boiling water.

Into the hot tub...

After peeling and coring them I put them into my food mouli (although sometimes when I´m pressed for time I just blitz them with the hand blender). 

Scantily clad tomatoes

The mouli, if that´s the correct word in English, is a hand held vegetable mill and gets rid of any tough bits and seeds.

...and grind...

Every so often you´ll need to empty out the bits you´re left with.  You can either use these in soups or sauces or if you have chickens, like us, they love them as a special treat.

Your chickies will thank you!

You´ll be left with a purée of tomatoes which you can now freeze, use or bottle (can).

Gorgeous tomato pulp

When I am going to bottle or can them, I add half a teaspoon of salt per litre of  tomato and heat gently until just bubbling.

This then goes into sterilized jars which are tightly sealed then left to simmer in a bain marie for about 10 minutes and then left to cool down.

Today, as I had been cutting back my basil which is getting a bit overgrown, I added a spring of basil into each jar too.

Now put the jars away in a cool dark place and on a dull grey day, a few months ahead, you´ll be so glad you invested a little time on a hot summer´s day doing this!