Monthly Archives: February 2014

Orange marmalade with whisky

The origin of the marmalade would apparently, according to Wikipedia, be Portuguese and it was the name given to a quinces’ jam. I had heard the “Marie malade” cute story involving the Queen of Scots and her French cook but I am afraid it all seemed a bit far-fetched, so Portuguese it is!

The arrival of the famously bitter Seville oranges is a short-lived event and one of the year’s highlights for any marmalade lover but if you have missed the slot do not fear because you can make a very commendable one with the stuff sold in tins in every British supermarket… I should not admit to that but I’ll say it: It will save you time, effort and even a bit of money to get yourself a tin of Ma Made by Hartley’s.

The cheat!

The cheat!

Just add sugar, water and boil as you would normally and there is is: Magical marmalade done – no sweat. I usually add a little less sugar and a little more whiskey but that’s just me. The great bit about Ma Made is that you can decide to do your Seville marmalade any time of the year and because it is just oranges, pectin and a bit of water inside the tin, it really tastes as good as homemade. The sugar is still up to you!

For those of you who, like me, enjoy getting the fresh oranges from the market, here is a very easy way to go about that too.

Labelled and dated

Labelled and dated with eat by date

Ingredients list:

  • 500ml of juice squeezed from fresh Seville oranges
  • The zest of 3 Seville oranges, peeled off and cut up finely
  • 500g of white sugar for jam (with pectin added)
  • 2 sweet oranges, cut in fine slices and then quartered
  • Juice of one lemon (its zest if you wish for more acidity)
  • A little glass of whisky

Buy your oranges (bigarade in French) as soon as they arrive and use them fresh: this way they will have more natural pectin and set quicker.

The day before your jam making session, sterilise the pots in the dishwasher and check you have all the ingredients: jaming is time consuming and then is nothing worse than discovering on the day you are missing a crucial element of the mix…

This recipe will yield about 6 to 8 pots.

On the day, press and zest your oranges and the lemon. Slice the sweet oranges. Cut up some of the skin of the bitter oranges to keep. Put all the pith and the rest of the skin into a muslin bag to dangle in the mix while cooking.

Put the fruit in a jam pan or pressure cooker with 1/2 litre of water and the sugar.

Bring to the boil and then let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Check the setting by putting a blob of jam on a cold plate: it should be runny but not liquid and move slowly when you tilt the plate. If not, give it another boil. Be careful not too let it go too dark or it will be burnt. Add the whisky at the end and take it off the hob.

Check the cut up skin is nice and soft. Then transfer the boiling jam into jars with a laddle and a funnel, being careful not to burn yourself. Screw the top of the jars tightly and flip them upside down to cool.

If you don’t have Jam sugar or would rather use natural pectin, try this other version with cooking apples.

On marmalade days, I love the smell that pervades from our kitchen up to the whole house: It conjures up images of orange groves and memories of the thick shade their glossy green leaves harbour all around … In Sicily, my son and I found a sunken garden where multiple species of citrus grew since the most ancient ages. Some produced bitter and thick skinned fruit and some the sweetest, most fragrant oranges I have ever tasted. In those Gardens of Kolymbetra, hidden at the feet of the ancient temples of Agrigento, we drank a heavenly orange juice and bit in a few citrus fruit we had no names for. It felt like sharing the food of the Gods.

Upside down!

Upside down!

Granola bars to fuel my winter runs

This again is adapted from the ever so plentiful blog of David Lebovitz “Living the sweet life in Paris”, of which my regular readers will know I am a fan!

At the moment I am running a fair bit and sometimes even in the rain or at dusk, so the promise of a warm drink and one of those energy packed bars is a big bonus at the end of a wet and cold run.

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Ingredients list:

  • 1 1/2 cups (150g) rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup (45g) sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup (60g) whole almonds
  • ½ cup (60g) walnuts bits
  • 1 cup (125g) pitted and diced dates
  • 1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (35g) dried sour cherries or cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup (35g) sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup (65g) smooth natural peanut butter or any nut butter
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • pinch of salt

Line the bottom of an 8-inch (20cm) square pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking, until they are slightly browned. Scrape them into a large bowl. Spread the almonds on the baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely break in a pestle and add the almonds to the oats.

Add the dates, chocolate chips and cranberries to the bowl.

Heat the peanut butter, honey, and salt in a small saucepan, stirring until warm, but not boiling. Pour the peanut butter and honey over the mixture in the bowl and stir until it’s completely incorporated; using your hands is the best way to go. DO not use a sweet peanut butter, just a natural one. You do not want a sickly sweet bar!

Transfer the mixture to the pan and pat it down so it’s as flat as possible. I put a sheet of baking paper over and just pushed down with my palm until it was flat! Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes before eating them. I keep them in a metal box in my fridge and they stay fresh for longer.

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My run along the river at dusk! Beautiful and cold.

My run along the river at dusk! Beautiful and cold.

Same run in morning light.

Same run in morning light.

What is the food of love?

For your valentine today, you can whip up elaborate and sophisticated cake contraptions, spend hours turning red roses out of sugar or you can opt instead for a long bath and a DIY blow dry before turning up at the theatre doors with a simple hand drawn card!
(I let you guess what my option is.)

My, with so many personalised card offers all over the net, you can’ t even hide behind the excuse of poor drawing skills! As everybody keeps telling you: it’s the thought that counts…

In fact, go counter trend and don’t even SEND a card; better GIVE one to people you love – your sister, your son, your cat even! My Valentine does not need a card: he knows who he is!!!

Man, heart, bells - a love story in cutters

Man, heart, bells – a love story in cutters

On the first morning we shared – a Valentine’s day morning mind you -I served him heart shaped fried eggs and a couple of heart cut French toasts in my tiny Holland road kitchen. Then I took a plane… And he sent a card after me that I never got! But we got engaged 6 months later.

I don’t need to give you the recipe for heart shaped fried eggs I don’t think, or a cut out for heart-shaped toasts! I could give you a recipe for a happy marriage ( now there is an idea…) but it might take too long , and I don t like to gloat…

So… Happy valentine everyone!

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My lovers food of choice: two freshly laid eggs that were served to us at the Hibiscus on Maddox st. A real shell and inside, a reduction of mushroom topped with an “espuma” of chesnut and celeriac dusted with curry. Unforgettable.

Tagine of chicken with pomegranate and prunes

For this I advise you to use a proper pointy tagine dish but a heavy pan with lid will do if you can not have the real thing. The pointy shape of the dish does concentrate flavours wonderfully and makes a great centrepiece on the dinner table. Do not forget to soak the unglazed underside of the tagine prior to using it to avoid cracking in the feat. I use a heat diffuseur as well over the hob.

A moroccan tagine

A moroccan tagine

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Ingredients list:

  • Onion,1
  • M’rouzia (or Ras El Hanout), 1 tbsp
  • Chicken stock, 1 large glass
  • Passata, 100m
  • salt
  • Olive oil
  • Pomegranate syrup, 2 Tbsp
  • Diced chicken, 1 with bones and skin
  • Celery heart,1 diced
  • Carrots, 3 or 4
  • Prunes, one handful
  • Roasted almonds, one handful
  • Parsley and coriander to serve.

Fry the chicken in a pan with a little olive oil and turn each morsel a few times for about 15 minutes. Toss the M’rouzia mix over and roll the chicken in the spices until coated, add some salt, then reserve.

Lay the sliced onion at the bottom of the dish, place the chicken bits over. Cut up the celery heart and the carrots lengthwise and pile on.

Drain the chicken juice from the frying pan into a jug, add the passata, some more spice mix (M’rouzia is a current favourite but Ras el Hanout is good too). Then blend in some pomegranate syrup or grape molasses – in sale from any good middle-eastern grocer.  You should have about 250ml of liquid. Add a bit of water if you need too, then pour it all over the meat and vegetables.

Cover and cook on low heat for 45 min to 1 hour. Add the prunes at the end and give a little more heat for 5 minutes. Check the liquid level: the juice must be thick and reduced but still there to give moisture to the dish.

To serve, sprinkle with chopped parsley and coriander, a small amount of roasted almonds and 3 tbsp of fresh pomegranate seeds. The mixed fruity and nutty flavours are great against the saltiness of the meat!

You can serve it on it own or with steamed bulgur wheat. I love bulgur and it loves me back: it is impossible to fail and I really like its rough nuttiness better sometime than a silky couscous.

Faites des Crêpes !

I can’t believe that tonight is Chandeleur! The question is: Have I got the ingredients in my fridge? Actually, a pancake dinner is quite tempting: Thank God other bloggers have thought of it so hence the convenient reblogging from SML!

S M L

Chandeleur-SML-2014 Aujourd’hui c’est la chandeleur ! Vite une recette ! Voici un petit recap. de recettes de crêpes, galettes etc. histoire de vous donner des idées !

Recette de crêpes basique 
Recette de crêpes version Pierre Hermé
 
Recette de crêpes + idées de garniture

Recette de blinis
Recette de pancake

Recette de crêpes qui change
Recette de blintz
Idées de garniture sucrée
Idées de confiture

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