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 ~
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.
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!!
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!
Molten cheese oozing between layers of potatoes and smoky crispy bacon pieces – do I really need to say any more? As I write this recipe I am sorely tempted to sneak out to the shops an buy another Reblochon as I adore this recipe (my waistline less so…)
If you like cheese, but haven’t tried Reblochon before I implore you to try this Tartiflette recipe. However be warned this little number is not for the faint-hearted. It incredibly rich and will require you to have worked up an appetite, or to have a lazy afternoon ahead of you so that you may quietly slip into what I like to consider a ‘food coma’ (an afternoon of dozing in front of a fire).
Reblochon is an unpasteurised mountain cheese that comes from the Haute-Savoie in France – it has a soft rind that you can eat and a gooey middle. It has quite a strong smell so if you aren’t cooking with it straight away I would keep it in a Tupperware box in the fridge. That being said its taste is surprisingly delicate and nutty which matched with the waxy buttery potatoes and the saltiness of the lardons is absolutely scrummy. Definitely one to try this winter – Bon Appétit!
I’m back to cooking low and slow – as I’ve mentioned before it is a very simple way of cooking in terms of effort. The key is to ensure that you have plenty of time to let the meat gently cook, it should not be rushed and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process. By cooking the meat low and for a long period of time the meat will become beautifully tender and become infused by flavours of the herbs and spices.
The dry rub has a slight warmth to it from the combination of chillies used and cayenne pepper however it is not over powering. The smoked paprika and chipotle chilli flakes give the dry rub a wonderful aroma of barbecues and bonfires which adds to the overall flavour of the pork. If you don’t have smoked paprika in your spice cupboard at home I would strongly recommend getting some and giving it a try – it is great in soups, chilli con carne and hummus.
I cooked the pulled pork in my slow cooker on the lowest setting. If you don’t have a slow cooker then cook it in a heavy casserole (with lid) and cook in the over at 120°C for 6-8 hours.
serve as you would fajitas with homemade salsa, grated cheese, sour cream and guacamole. If you are looking to be slightly healthier then replace the tortilla wraps with lettuce leaves; or
serve in brioche buns with barbecue sauce, coleslaw and chips.
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.
Pumpkins and squashes come in all manner of shapes and sizes and in my opinion they are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook with. The good news is right now they are in season and fairly cheap to buy! For today’s recipe I have decided to keep things simple and turn butternut squash into a wonderfully velvety soup which is perfect served in a mug for bonfire night or as a starter for a dinner party with crusty French bread on the side.
The vibrant orange colour of this soup is hugely inviting and has the effect of making you warmer simply by looking at it. However, it is the paprika in this recipe transforms this soup – turning it from the sweet delicate taste of the squash into a rich smoky flavour that makes you want to keep going back for more.
This is definitely a recipe to try this autumn/winter whilst butternut squash is in season and at its best. The soup freezes well so can be made up in large quantities and squirrelled away until you need it. Enjoy!
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!