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 ~
Making bread maybe a slow process but once it is baked and you cut the first slice it is incredibly satisfying. I have recently taken to making the dough up just before I go to bed and placing it in the fridge to rise very slowly overnight. When I get up in the morning I take it out of the fridge and let it warm up for about an hour before knocking it back and shaping it for its second rise, which means I have fresh bread in time for a late breakfast
Aside from making sure that your bread has sufficient time to rise one of the most important things when you make the bread is how you shape it before placing it in the tin. I will freely admit that there have been many occasions where I have rushed the shaping and ended up with a hollow loaf. My tip it make sure that you knead the dough properly before the second rise and make sure that it malleable and supple enough to easily shape then slowly and carefully work the dough into the shape that you need for your tins.
If you haven’t made bread before do give it a try! It is a very straightforward process and kneading the dough can be hugely therapeutic especially if you have had a tough week. If that isn’t enough incentive then just think about the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through your house and being able to eat the loaf when it is still warm from the oven – heaven!!
My day always kicks off with a strong cup of coffee, it is my one vice that I simply can’t do without. I love the ritual of making it, packing the coffee grounds into my percolator and then waiting the five minutes for it to brew whilst the blissful aroma fills my kitchen. The only downside is that I have a tendency to gulp the coffee down in a matter of minutes before dashing out of the door to catch the train to work.
At the weekend when time is not of the essence a lazy brunch with lots of coffee is how I like to start my day before heading out to walk Oscar up on Wimbledon Common. The recipe below is a fantastic brunch option that is very simple to make and absolutely scrummy. If you are efficient it can be prepped and on your plate in under 10 minutes.
The key to this recipe is not over cooking your poached eggs so that the yolk is still runny when you cut into it and creates a beautifully rich sauce. In essence poaching an egg is very straight forward, however sometimes it takes a couple of tries to work out the timings. My tip for poaching an egg is to put a ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in the poaching water and make sure that the water is simmering whilst the egg is cooking not boiling.
This is a fantastic recipe full of vibrant colours that is a great way to start your weekend. 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!
Christmas is well and truly on its way with Christmas parties happening left, right and centre! Lately I have been making a lot of mince pies and whilst I like them I have to admit I am more of a savoury person, so last weekend I decided to try out a new recipe more in line with an open topped pork pie.
I have to give credit to Cockburns of Bedale who are the real inspiration for this recipe – for many years when I visited my eldest brother up in Yorkshire we would go to this butchers early on a Saturday morning to buy their open topped pork pies still warm from the oven for lunch (that is if they lasted that long…). If you are ever on the on the A1 heading through Yorkshire, I highly recommend that you make a little detour via Bedale and visit this butchers to try one of their pies, I promise you will not regret it!
Whilst the pies have similarities to a pork pie they are not made using hot water crust pastry. Instead this pie recipe uses a shortcrust pastry made with beef suet, the pastry case is then filled with spiced pork meat and topped with homemade cranberry sauce – delicious savoury sweet goodness! The pies make great canapes at a drinks party as they are surprisingly light but absolutely moreish.
The recipe below does have a lot of steps, however if time is not on your side and you need a quicker option, then simply follow the cheat options below.
Cheats option / time saver:
Use shop bought pastry.
Replace the pork mixture with some festive flavoured sausages instead and simply remove the meat from the skins.
Use shop bought cranberry sauce preferably containing whole berries.
I was chatting to my housemate about making pastry the other day and she was telling me of a Hawksmoor pie recipe that used both eggs and suet in the recipe and it dawned on me that this would be a great way to make sweet shortcrust. By making the pastry with suet it made the pastry beautifully light and more flaky than crumbly.
The concept of using two types of fat to make the pastry is not a new one, growing up the Delia Smith recipe that I used to follow for mince pies used equal amounts of butter and to make the recipe. However I have found the in using suet you get a far better distribution of fat throughout the pastry which gives it a marbled look when rolled out and it helps to turn the pies a beautiful golden brown colour during cooking.
Now to the mincemeat aspect of this pie – there is absolutely nothing wrong with using shop bought mincemeat! This is exactly what I do however I like to ‘pimp’ it up a bit by adding chopped walnuts, cranberries, glace cherries, plump sultanas and brandy. So if you have some dried fruit or nuts in you cupboard that you would work chuck it in, not only will it add to the flavour it will add to the texture of your pies. 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.
I suspect that you will be somewhat surprised to hear that the inspiration for this pie recipe was ‘Beef Wellington’- well to be more specific the mushroom duxelle and the pastry elements of it. There is nothing complicated about this recipe, it is just simple ingredients cooked well and left to speak for themselves.
“Tender chicken in a silky mushroom sauce topped off with crunchy flaky pastry – comfort food at its best!”
The filling can be made up in advance kept in the fridge for 1-2 days until it is needed which makes it a fantastic option for mid-week entertaining or to have in reserve if life is particularly busy – if you are doing this then cover with the pastry just before putting in the oven otherwise the pastry may dry out in the fridge.
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!