Marmalade

This January, preserve the glut of seville oranges you no doubt have in the garden by making lovely marmalade in a slow cooker.  The first time I tried this recipe I just used any old oranges and it worked perfectly well, so don’t worry if you can’t get hold of sevilles.

Marmalade

makes 6-8 jars

1Kg / 2 lbs  seville oranges
1.7 litres / 3 pints near-boiling water
juice of 2 lemons
2Kg / 4 lbs sugar

Wash and scrub the oranges.  Cut them in half, squeeze the juice and keep it somewhere for later.  Remove the membrane and pips and tie them up in a piece of muslin.  Slice the orange peel into strips, chunks, or whatever you prefer.  The slices you cut at this point will determine the size of the shreds in the finished marmalade, so it’s up to you, and don’t feel you have to put it all in.

Put the peel and the muslin bag full of pips and orange flesh into the cooking pot of the slow cooker.  Pour over the water and lemon juice.  Cover and switch to high, leave for 6 hours (you have to get up early for this one.)  The peel must be really soft before adding the sugar.

Remove the muslin bag and leave it until cool.  Squeeze the liquid from it into a large pan.  Add the rind and cooking liquid from the slow cooker, and add the sugar.  Finally pour over the orange juice you squeezed from the oranges earlier.  Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Stick a plate in the freezer at this point to test the setting point later.

Bring to the boil and keep boiling rapidly for 15 minutes until the marmalade reaches 105°C/220°F on a sugar thermometer.  If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, you can put a few drops of the liquid onto your frozen plate out of the freezer, and leave it for about a minute.  Push it along a bit with a finger.  If the liquid wrinkles then it has reached the setting point.  If not, keep boiling.
Once the setting point has been reached, turn off the heat and skim off any scummy nastiness from the top.  Leave it all to cool for about 15 minutes.
This is a good time to put your jars into the oven, at about 120°C/250°F, so that they are hot when the hot marmalade goes in later.

Stir the marmalade to distribute the peel evenly, then ladle into the heated jars.  Seal with waxed paper, clean and leave to cool with a cloth over the top.  When they have completely cooled, top with jam pot covers and lids and label.  Store somewhere cool and dry and use within a year.

Raspberry jam

Needless to say my own diminuitive haul was not quite enough for a whole jar, so we went to a pick-your-own farm in Essex near Him Indoors‘ Mum’s house to pick enough raspberries for an afternoon’s jam making activities.

Raspberry jam

makes about 15 190ml jars

2kg raspberries

2kg preserving sugar (the kind without pectin, raspberries have enough pectin in them not to need extra)

The exact quantities aren’t important.  Just use an equal weight of sugar to the weight of the fruit.

Preheat the oven to 100°C / 210°F / Gas 2.  This is partly to heat the jars themselves up so that when you pour red hot jam into them they don’t shatter into a million pieces.  First of all, put all your jars on a baking sheet or similar and put them in the oven to warm up.

Pour the sugar into a tin, and put this into the oven with the jars.

Pour the raspberries into a big pan and turn up the heat.  Use fresh, dry, slightly under-ripe fruit it possible.  Don’t wash them first because you don’t want excess moisture when the berries are cooking.  If you do have to wash them, dry them thoroughly before use.
When the raspberries have lost their shape and have turned into a wonderful red foamy mass, add the sugar and stir. Heat the mixture until frothy and then boil for four minutes.  Stir only if you think the fruit is sticking to the bottom of the pan at this stage, you don’t want to knock the air out of it.
Test the jam is at the correct setting point.  Pour a little onto a cold plate and let it cool.Then make a trail through the jam with your finger.  If it crinkles up around your finger, it is ready.  If it all joins back together again, it isn’t quite ready.  Boil for a little longer.
When the jam is at setting point, turn off the heat.  Skim the surface with a metal spoon to remove any scum off the top (adding a small knob of butter to the fruit can prevent scum forming apparently, although I haven’t tried this.)Pour into warmed jars, and add little waxed discs to the top of the jam to keep it fresh. Then add a plastic lid by wiping the lid with a cloth and stretching it across the mouth of the jar. Secure with an elastic band.

There’s an article about UK PYO sites here.

Pancakes

Why do we traditionally eat these only once a year, when they’re so fabulously delicious and easy to make? Here, totally out of season, is a nice easy pancake recipe.

Pancakes

makes around 6

100g / 4oz plain flour
2 eggs
300ml / half a pint of milk
butter for frying.

Toppings:

lemon
sugar

Him Indoors’s additional topping suggestion: hot golden syrup

Beat the eggs and the flour together, making sure there are no lumps. Then add the milk very gradually until you have a lovely smooth batter.

Heat a little butter in a heavy based frying pan until it starts to foam gently. Pour in some of the batter and coat the bottom of the frying pan. When the batter begins to come away from the edges of the pan, jiggle it! Jiggle it, jiggle it until you can move the pancake around in the pan easily. Assemble a small crowd of onlookers, then flip it into the air with all the aplomb you can muster.

Fetch the step ladder from the loft. Climb up the steps carefully, brandishing a plastic spatula. Carefully scrape the pancake off the ceiling, and start again. Repeat until you get bored / full.

Peace on Earth biscuits

Named I guess because if everybody had some, there would be.

Peace on Earth biscuits

Makes 12

125g / 4oz margarine
125g / 4oz caster sugar
1 dessert spoon golden syrup
half tsp bicarbonate of soda in 1tsp of milk
170g / 6oz self-raising flour
75g / 3oz raisins and glace cherries, or chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 160°C / 375°F / Gas 5. Cream the margarine and sugar in a bowl. Pour in the syrup and the bicarb and mix thoroughly. Add the flour and the raisins and cherries / chocolate chips. Add a drizzle of milk if the mixture looks a little dry. Roll out into 12 balls, place on some greaseproof paper on a baking tray and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake for between 10 and 15 minutes, depending on how keen your oven is.

Brownies

The ultimate brownie recipe.  For a recipe which is easy rather than ultimate, have a look at this one instead.

Brownies

Makes 12

125g / 4oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
375g / 12oz caster sugar
75g / 3oz cooking chocolate, roughly chopped
125g / 4oz butter
3 eggs
2 tsp espresso or strong coffee
100g / 3.5oz chopped mixed nuts

Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas 3. Grease and flour an 11 by 7 inch(ish) cake tin. The flouring is very important, make sure it is even and the brownies will escape from the tin intact! Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add the sugar and beat for about 30 seconds. Melt the chocolate and butter in a pan, make sure you do not overheat the mixture. Allow the chocolate mix to cool slightly and then beat in the eggs, coffee and chopped nuts. Mix in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into the tin and bake for 45 mins or until the top is firm. Allow to cool in the tin, then turn out and cut into 12 yummy squares.

Ice cream

Just thought I’d share a really easy way to make ice cream I discovered the other day. I had some left over cream from something or other and was wondering what to do with it. I vaguely remembered reading somewhere that you can blitz it up with frozen fruit in a food processor, which I happened to have some of, and voila! Really creamy, gorgeous ice cream in seconds. Which is a very good reason to keep frozen fruit in the freezer for months on end I think. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. It’s not quite the consistency of normal ice cream, being less solid, but all the better for it I reckon. Especially with gratuitous chocolate shavings on top.

Post update: Him Indoors has just reminded me there’s an actual recipe for this!

Ice cream

serves 2

100g / 4oz frozen raspberries (or similar)
10g / half an ounce icing sugar
80g / 3oz cream (more evil the better)

Blend in food processor and serve immediately.

Plus if you want to make a sort of cheese-cakey base, you can mix up

4 gingernuts
1 knob molten butter

and then spoon this into the base before adding the ice cream.

Greek yoghurt

This is not going to save you enough money to take the family to Paris for the week-end or anything, or not quickly at any rate, but it is quite fun.  There’s something nice about knowing that once you’ve made the first batch of yoghurt, with luck, a following wind and an endless supply of milk you can keep making new from old, which is quite satisfying.

Anyway, the point of buying the above yoghurt maker is that it keeps the starting culture and the milk at a nice constant temperature.   It’s like a propagator I guess.  You just put a couple of teaspoons of super fresh , natural, unflavoured yoghurt (shop bought the first time, then you can just use the last of the previous batch) and a load of milk (UHT works best) into the central container, put the lid on, switch on the power, and watch like a hawk for 8 hours.  Or go to bed, up to you.

So far I’ve had very consistent results.  Then comes the creative part.  You hang the whole lot up in some muslin or something from the nearest door handle for a few hours, and Bob’s your Mother’s Brother, Greek yoghurt!  Genius.

If you don’t want to spend money on a yoghurt maker, the alternative is to control the heat manually.  You could put your yoghurt and milk mixture into a very very low oven, 40°C or so; or into an airing cupboard, on top of a radiator, under a chicken?  Or you could even put the mixture into jars in a pan of water on very low heat for half the day.  All of these will work fine, so long as the temperature remains more or less constant.