Jan 10 2012

Oranges in Cointreau!


I bought an absurdly large net of ripe unctuous oranges in Portugal last week. They were irresistible, for sale by the side of the road direct from the farmer for just 2 Euro. Ripe and soft they bore no resemblance to the hard, artificially ripened, waxed orange tennis balls we buy here.
But what to do with then once home? I realised greed had driven me to weigh down my bag! I scoured my not so small collection of cookery books. No more marmalade this year, I’ve made too much already and spiced orange in vinegar just doesn’t appeal.

So I sliced the whole fruit very thin, poached the slices quickly in a strong sugar syrup, an equal quantity of water to sugar till slightly sticky and shiny. I potted up the glistening fruit into large Kilner jars and topped up the syrup with orange liqueur. The smell was wonderful. I sealed the jars and put them at the back of the fridge to mature.

Watch this space!

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Aug 01 2010

Seville Orange Marmalade


My favourite marmalade recipe, the one I use year after year comes from Jane Grigson’s beautiful “Fruit Book” first published by Michael Joseph in 1982: the simplest, easiest and best-flavoured marmalade, she says, I agree.
Scrub 1 ½ kilos of Seville oranges and put them in a pan with 3 ½ litres of water. Simmer until skin is tender, about 1 ½ hours. Take oranges out of the water, cool, halve and remove the pips. Put the pips in a piece of muslin. Cut up the orange flesh or pulse in a liquidiser being careful not to reduce it to a mush. Return shredded fruit to water. Add 3 kg of preserving sugar and hang the little bag of pips over the side of the pan on a piece of string so they bubble along with the fruit and release their pectin. Stir gently over heat till sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil vigorously till setting point is reached. Test for setting by placing a tiny spoonful of syrup on a cold saucer and putting it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. If setting point is reached a wrinkled skin will form.
Leave the marmalade to stand for 15 minutes to allow peel to settle, remove the bag of pips and discard, then pot the warm marmalade into warm sterilised jars and cover: so nice!

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Sep 18 2007

Fig Conserve with Lemon and Walnuts

Fig Conserve with Lemon and Walnuts.
Take about sixteen figs or 1 kilo, 2 lemons, 750 grams sugar and 125 grams shelled walnuts, fresh if possible.
Take the zest from the lemons either with a lemon zester or potato peeler. If you use the latter slice the peel into tiny julienne strips. Remove and discard the lemon pith and cut the flesh into slices retaining all the juice. Save pips and put into a little piece of muslin.
Halve the figs removing the tough stem tip.
Make a syrup with the sugar and 300ml water. When the sugar has dissolved add figs, lemon rind and slices and muslin bag of pips (this aids setting)
Cook gently till setting point is reached. Test for this by putting a teaspoonful of liquid on a saucer; put the saucer in the freezer or fridge till cool. If it wrinkles as you touch it the jam is ready. Add the walnuts and stir in thoroughly.
Pot the conserve into small sterilised jars while still hot. Cover and seal. I prefer to use small kilner jars for this recipe. Store the jam in the fridge after opening.

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May 21 2007

Salting Meat

The meat and fish are preserved in a dry cure of flavoured salt and saltpetre. Saltpetre is sodium nitrite and in these health conscious days regarded as unsuitable for human consumption. Its dubious origins and old stories of its early collection certainly make one wonder! However it is a good preservative and turns the meat pink. If you are not using it refrigerate the meat during curing. Sea salt is considered the best for curing and preserving but rock salt is quite acceptable. Modern fine table salt contains chemicals to stop lumps forming so is therefore not suitable for curing.

For 3kg of meat, I suggest belly of pork to start with, mix 500 gms of sea salt with 15 gms sugar, 1 teaspoon of crushed peppercorns, 15 gms juniper berries, 2 dry bay leaves, a sprig of thyme, 2 crushed cloves. Herbs and spices can of course be varied according to taste.

Rub some of the salt mixture well into the pork skin, then, turning it over, rub more into the meat making sure no part is missed. Put a handful of salt into an earthenware or plastic bowl or bucket and place the meat on top. Pour over the remaining salt covering it completely.

Cover with a piece of close fitting, boiled wood or a scrupulously clean plate and a heavy weight. Leave in a cool, dark place for four days and up to several weeks if you have used saltpetre. Do check in regularly in these modern days of central heating and double glazing. The longer you leave it the more moisture will be drawn from the meat gradually turning the salt to brine. At first the salt draws the liquid from the meat then the procedure reverses and the salt solution begins to penetrate the meat.

Rinse the meat well before cooking, soaking for a couple of hours. Bring it up to the boil, drain and then simmer gently with herbs etc for about forty minutes for a piece of pork belly, longer for a larger cut. Serve hot with traditional choucroute or crisp savoy cabbage or press it under a heavy weight, slice finely and eat cold with all those pickles, chutneys and preserves.

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Sep 24 2005

Salting Meat

The meat and fish are preserved in a dry cure of flavoured salt and saltpetre. Saltpetre is sodium nitrite and in these health conscious days regarded as unsuitable for human consumption. Its dubious origins and old stories of its early collection certainly make one wonder! However it is a good preservative and turns the meat pink. If you are not using it refrigerate the meat during curing. Sea salt is considered the best for curing and preserving but rock salt is quite acceptable. Modern fine table salt contains chemicals to stop lumps forming so is therefore not suitable for curing.
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