Tag Archives: quinces

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!

Roasted duck legs with quince, ginger, honey and cinnamon

Quinces are the star fruit of winter and make it up in taste subtlety and exotic look for the lack of variety available at this time of year. So enjoy them while you can!

A very precious and ancient fruit

Duck legs 4 (or one for each guest)
Olive oil
Lemons 2
Water 1 pint
Quinces 2 (peeled and quartered)
Ginger root (1 bitesize)
Ground cinnamon
Clear honey 2 Tbsp
Salt and black pepper
Fresh bunch of coriander

Preheat the oven to 230˚. Rub the duck legs with some of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper then place on a rack. Roast in the oven for about 30 min until the skin is crisp and raised in places.

Pour a pint of water and the juice of one lemon into a pan. Bring to a boil, add the quince quarters and simmer until tender. I left the skin on mine because their skin was thin and lovely but some variety have a thick skin that needs peeling.

Slice the quinces quarters and fry them in olive oil and butter until golden. Reserve.

Take the duck out of the oven and dip some of the fat out into the quinces pan – a couple of spoonfuls. Stir in the grated ginger, honey and cinnamon and fry gently on low heat. Add some more lemon juice. Pour some water to make this into a sauce and let it bubble a few seconds.

Arrange the legs and quinces into a dish and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle a bit of coriander to serve.

This dish would make a tasty alternative to the traditional Christmas turkey, I reckon. I particularly love the way the quince slices melt in the mouth – one of the nicest ways to serve quinces, at any rate.

Original recipe by Ghillie Basan, a brilliant travel and cookery writer – and friend- who lives in the wilderness of Scotland but whose cooking is infused with middle eastern spices. Her books are a true inspiration for anyone who enjoys Mediterranean flavours and heritage.

Tagine of quince and lamb shanks


Tagine of lamb shanks and quinces
The point of a tagine is melting meat and fragrant spices, slowly cooked in a traditionnally pointy dish with a lid so all the flavours remain as deep and intense as possible.
Ingredients list :
2 quinces
Water 200ml
Sugar 100ml
Cinnamon bark
Peel the quinces and cut them in quarters. Boil the quinces in the sugar with the cinnamon bark until the flesh is soft. Put aside.
Lamb shank 1 for each guest
Onions 2
Safran a few strands
Raz el hanout (from moroccan stores)
Salt and pepper
Cinnamon 1 Tbsp
Stock 500ml
Pinch of Cayenne pepper
Coriander and parsley, 1 small bunch
Olive oil
Chop the onions and brown them in a cooking pot with a bit of olive oil. Add the meat and the herbs, cover with the stock (or water with a stock cube) and cover. Put in the oven for 2 hours at 160˚. Tagines are one of the most fragrant dishes and spices need to be generously used there. Make sure you hit the right level – but not too high !
When the meat is ready, serve with the quinces and pour the warm syrup over the lamb and fruit. Sprinkle the chopped coriander and parsley before serving.
This is a festive dish, perfect for the season and I love the fact that each guest gets its own lamb shank : my favorite lamb cut because it is so moist and tasty…
Beautiful golden quinces from the fruit market!