Seville oranges are in season right now so it is time to roll up your sleeves and make Marmalade! I learnt a couple of things last week, firstly that Seville oranges have a short season from the end of December to mid-February, and secondly that there is a high concentration of pectin (natural gelling agent) in the pith and seeds of citrus fruits. What this means is that to make marmalade you only need 3 ingredients and decent amount of time on your hands.
Now I confess before I embarked on making Marmalade last weekend I gave Mummy Mortimer a ring to see if she had any top tips. Her advice was to cut the oranges in half and to cook them first in a shallow pan with a little water to soften the rind. It was a great shout and meant that I could make the marmalade in two stages and the rind was incredibly easy to cut into slivers.
My tip is to put at least 4 side plates in the freezer for testing when the jam has reached setting point. When you think the jam is ready to test – spoon a small amount onto one of the plates and place back in the freezer for 1 minute and then push the marmalade gently with your fingers to see if the jam wrinkles. If it does then you will know that it is ready, if not keep boiling.
The beauty of making your own marmalade is that you can adjust the balance of sugar in the recipe to suit your own palate. I personally prefer a sharp marmalade so I work on the following ratio 750g sugar to 1 litre of liquid and then add more sugar as needed.
The process of making marmalade whilst lengthy is very easy and I recommend you giving it a go if you can get it your hands on some Seville oranges. At the end of the process you’ll have at least 3 jars which you and either keep and enjoy over the next few months or give to friends and family as gifts. Enjoy!
“A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of an emergency”
~ A Bear Called Paddington ~
Scotch eggs have definitely been on the brain this weekend. In honour of the Joneses being in town I thought I would try out a new recipe on them. So this morning I knocked up some Scotch eggs for lunch.
I have to be honest it didn’t go entirely to plan! Having successfully soft boiled the eggs I then proceeded to ruin 6 of them whilst peeling off the shells. I don’t know if I was being particularly heavy handed or if the eggs weren’t as fresh as normal but whatever it was I ended up with a lot of yolk on my hands and had a minor sense of humour failure. Fortunately for me my housemate came to the rescue and not only picked up some more eggs but ended up peeling the little devils for me.
Today’s Scotch eggs were made using both duck and chicken eggs and they were both equally as good as each other. The only slight plus in favour of the duck eggs they proved to be slightly more robust when it came to peeling and were the only two eggs that I actually managed to peel successfully.
For the meaty shell I used a combination of sausage meat and haggis, which helped the haggis to become more malleable for shaping around the egg whilst retaining its earthy beautifully seasoned flavour! I am pleased to report after the initial egg peeling disaster all of the Scotch eggs once deep fried had retained their runny yolk – WIN!!!
Now then I have to stress that the even though I had what can only be described as an utter fail this morning – this was highly unusual! Please do not let this put you off making these little beauties as it really is very straightforward! Enjoy.
This recipe came off the back of a conversation that I had earlier in the week with two of my great friends who I met when I was living in Hong Kong. As normal the topic of food came up and we were pondering the ranking of a pork pie, sausage roll and Scotch egg. Off the back of that conversation GB piped up that she plans on hosting a Scotch egg party with the idea of an ostrich Scotch egg in the centre and then filtering out to goose, duck, hen and quail.
Whilst I love the idea of a Scotch egg party the thought of one absolutely massive ostrich egg did not appeal to me hugely. However, it got me thinking – what if you confit the yolk and served with small pork or chorizo bites then that could be awesome! Not being the type of person to leave an idea alone and what with it being Burns Night this week and haggis being readily available I decided to give it a go albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. The result was delicious and this is definitely a recipe that I will be repeating!
Is it worth the effort of confiting the yolk? A thousand times YES – whilst it may take an hour to cook it is incredibly simple to do and at the end of it you get an egg yolk that is warm,silky and creates a wonderful sauce to dip the crunchy haggis pops in one you cut into it. This is absolutely a recipe worth trying if you can get your hands some haggis! Enjoy.
I am going through a phase of trying to use up leftovers and empty my freezer which is no mean feat. As a family we are notorious for hunting down a bargain and raiding the reduced aisle for tasty goodies. In fact there have been several occasions of late where certain members of the family have bragged about stocking up their freezer with organic meat that has been reduced to quite frankly a silly price.
So why pork belly and cranberry I hear you ask, well quite simply a month or so ago I picked up a decent piece of belly pork that had been reduced and it has been sitting in the freezer waiting to be used along with half a bag of frozen cranberries that I bought for Christmas. In the interests of trying to be somewhat more frugal this month I decided to knock to together Sunday lunch using up these ‘scraps’ and I have to say that I was very pleased with the outcome! A beautifully tender piece of pork, crackling, topped with a sticky sharp cranberry sauce – YUM!
Now, whilst I made my cranberry sauce, if you are looking to cheat then just use shop bought cranberry sauce. In all seriousness there isn’t much to this recipe so do give it try, if you don’t make the cranberry sauce then there are really only two steps – how much more simple can you get?! Enjoy.
I have decided to share a recipe that helps to use up one ingredient that has a tendency to be leftover after Christmas – mincemeat. The recipe below is super easy and can be eaten either hot for pudding with a little cream, or is great served cold as a topping for porridge in the morning for breakfast.
The inspiration for this dish came after a visit to East Sussex to see some of my friends who swear by a bowl porridge for breakfast, topped with fresh apple, yogurt, seeds, nuts and honey before a days hunting, shooting or fishing. Not being one for porridge normally, I am well and truly converted and the recipe below is my take on their porridge toppings.
The simplicity of this recipe makes it an absolute gem, it takes a matter of minutes to prepare, the key really to this recipe is about how well you core the apple as you want to create a cavity that is large enough to pack all of the mincemeat in. As the apple cooks it becomes beautifully soft and infuses with the spices and flavours of the mincemeat.
This is definitely a recipe to try and is absolutely fantastic on these chilly winter days. Enjoy!
If you are having friends over for brunch, or if you are looking for something simple to cook with your kids for breakfast that is simple and tasty then this is a great little recipe! Cooking pancakes should be straightforward and fun – if a little messy…
These pancakes are very similar to drop scones, they should be relatively small, about 10 cm in diameter making them very quick to cook. I would highly recommend using a non-stick frying pan that has been lightly oiled when making this recipe. If you use too much oil the pancakes will simply absorb the oil as they cook. My tip for oiling the pan is to pour a little vegetable oil onto a piece of kitchen towel and then grease the pan all over, rather than pouring the oil directly into the pan. Also it is always worth doing a small tester pancake to make sure that you pan is hot enough before starting to cooking the pancakes in batches.
The ‘filling’ of the pancakes is a classic combination of apple and cinnamon. As they cook your kitchen will be filled with the a lovely fragrance that I always associate with autumn and crumbles. The syrup adds a sweet and sharp element to the dish that makes the pancakes particularly moreish as they soak up the juices. These pancakes are best served straight from the pan – if left too long they will start to dry out.
As the dark evenings draw in and the temperature starts to drop off rich stews and casseroles come into their own. The recipe below is a fine example of cooking ‘low and slow’ which results in the meat becoming mouth-wateringly tender and falls off the bone.
Whilst I was in France a couple of weeks ago with some of my school friends, a debate started over what is the difference between a stew and a casserole. After a lengthy discussion and a bit of googling we learnt that stewing is done on the top of a cooker with heat being applied directly to the underneath of the pot; while casseroling takes place inside the oven with heat circulating all around the pot. In both cases the meat is cut up fairly small and cooked in a liquid (stock, wine, water, cider, etc). So it transpires that I have been using the terminology wrongly for many years – whoops.
The recipe below is for oxtail casserole which uses Guinness as a substitute for tomatoes and stock on the basis that it has a lovely earthy and almost bitter flavour which combined with the red currant jelly becomes beautifully mellow. Whilst I cooked this in a cast iron casserole dish this recipe would work really well in a slow cooker, however make sure that you cook it on a low setting for around 6-7 hours.
For presentation purposes I took the oxtail off the bone and served in a roasted squash, which looked lovely. However I have a confession to make, after decanting the casserole into the squash is dawned on me that whilst pretty it was highly impractical, so I ended up tipping it back into the pot before serving and it saved me from one heck of a mess. In hindsight I should have served the oxtail on the bone (2 per person is about right) with wedges of roasted squash and green vegetables on the side. As they say “you live and learn”… Enjoy!
The recipe below is a little gem as it can be prepped and ready to eat in just over 20 minutes and works well both as a main meal or starter. It is packed full of veggies meaning that you are well on your way to meeting your “5-A-Day”. I am not really the type of person to talk about ‘clean eating’ as I am of the view that if you make something from scratch more often than not it falls into that category – that being said, for those of you that are looking for a healthy option for supper this recipe is right up there!
There is no denying that this is a ‘rustic’ recipe – in other words the presentation lacks finesse. However, the variety of vegetables used in this dish means that your plate is filled with vibrant colours making it draw the eye and entice the eater. The flavours complement one another giving a delicate balance between sweet, salty and creamy. Ladies and Gents, if you like mushrooms then this is one to try as it is tasty no nonsense cooking. Enjoy!
One-pot cooking is incredibly convenient for washing up purposes but also in terms of ease. The idea with this style of cooking is that you can throw everything into a casserole dish, cover and leave to bubble away in the oven without needing to think about it until it is time to serve. The added bonus with this particular dish is longer you leave it the more succulent and tender the lamb becomes.
As this dish cooks, the juices from both the apricots and lamb seep into the sweet potato mixture turning it into a stuffing that is infused with all the flavours of the dish. I would recommend serving this meal with simple accompaniments for example fluffy couscous and steamed green vegetables so that you can relish the taste of the lamb. This recipe would be a good alternative to a traditional Sunday roast, or would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party. Enjoy!
Lately I have been finding that I am pushed for time in the evenings, as a result I have been resorting to meals that can be prepped and on the table in 20 minutes without too much fuss. The recipe below fits the bill perfectly as in the time that it takes to steam the rice the rest of the dish can be cooked.
This ‘sticky beef’ recipe uses dates to make sauce, giving it a wonderfully sweet caramelised flavour. The spice and warmth from the chilli helps cut through the sweetness of the dish, however if you find it too sugary for your palette then add 1 tbsp of light soy sauce to the dish at the end.
By stir-frying the vegetables quickly they will retain a slight crunch which contrasts the smoothness of the sauce and tenderness steak. Don’t feel that you have to use beef to make this recipe, it would work just as well with pork or chicken thighs cut into thin strips and cooked in a little oil before adding it to the sauce. Enjoy!