Scraping the bottom of the jar to get out the last of my marmalade, I decided this weekend to make my own. (I think subliminally I have also been reading a lot of jam recipes, presumably to preserve the last of the summer fruits in the Northern hemisphere). I used Delia Smith’s recipe for traditional Seville orange marmalade with a few brave changes – using 50% brown and 50% white sugar and also a whole lot less sugar than her recipe calls for, which was still a terrifying large amount.
I’d seen/read/heard that the worse thing that can happen to jam is that it doesn’t set, so I also added some extra peel from some oranges I ate, and while I think the sugar part worked out just fine, the extra peel added so much pectin to my mix that the consistency was too firm. The brown sugar makes a dark marmalade with a strong molasses flavour – perhaps that’s why I could get away with using less – but I think maybe 50/50 was too strong and next time I’ll try 25% brown 75% white.
The good thing is that making your own jam is straightforward and fun enough to want to try it again, and guess what friends and family will be getting as gifts soon?
- 900g oranges – Seville would be perfect for their intensely sharp flavour but I made it with naval and that turned out fine
- 1 lemon
- 500g soft brown sugar
- 500g white sugar
You will also need:
- A large, heavy-based saucepan
- 6 x 350g jam jars
- Add the juice of the oranges and lemon to 2.25l water
- Scrape out the insides of the cut fruit and add the pips, the pith and everything else into the centre of the cheesecloth. Leave nothing behind – the pith and pips contain all the precious pectin that will help the jam to set
- Cut the remaining peel into thin strips and add to the juice and water. Don’t worry about the excess pith on the rind, it will boil off
- Tie up the cheesecloth tightly and pop that into the pot
- Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours
- In the meantime chill some saucers in the fridge
- Once the peel is soft, remove the cheesecloth bag and allow to cool. Make sure the peel is soft enough so you can rub it to nothing between your fingers and before you add the sugar. Adding sugar arrests the softening of the peel and you don’t want tough rind in your marmalade
- Add the sugar to the pan and stir gently over low heat to ensure all the crystals have dissolved
- Once the bag is cool enough to squeeze, turn the heat to high and squeeze the contents in the cheesecloth bag. You can do this with two saucers if it’s still too hot. This part is messy, sticky and intensely satisfying as you watch the almost jelly-like goo that contains the pectin ooze out
- Stir into the mixture
- Once the mixture comes to a rapid, rolling boil, start timing. 15 minutes to start. After 15 minutes spoon a little of the marmalade on to one of the cold saucers from the fridge, and let it cool back in the fridge. Once it has cooled, you can see if your marmalade has ‘set’ by pushing the mixture with your little finger: if it has a really crinkly skin, it is set. If not, continue to boil the marmalade and give it the same test at about 10-minute intervals until it does set.
- After that remove the pan from the heat (if there’s a lot of scum, most of it can be dispersed by stirring in half a teaspoon of butter, and the rest can be spooned off)
- Leave the marmalade to settle for 20 minutes. This will allow any floating rind to settle
- In the meantime, the jars should be sterilised – washed, dried and heated in a moderate oven for 5 minutes
- Pour the marmalade, with the aid of a funnel or a ladle, into the jars, cover with waxed discs and seal while still hot
- Label when cold and store in a dry, cool, dark place
In the mood for comfort food, I made beef bourguignon the other day – a wonderfully rich stew of beef braised in red wine, with garlic, mushrooms, potatoes and pearl onions. This bistro favourite is adapted from Delia Smith.
Ingredients serves 4-6
- 250g streaky bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 kg chuck steak, cut into 2″ squares
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 1 heaped tbl plain flour
- 425ml red Burgundy
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 large potatoes, quartered
- 100g mushrooms quartered
- 350g shallots, whole, peeled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fry the lardons over high heat in a large, heavy-based casserole dish. Remove bacon and set aside
- Brown the chuck steak in batches in the rendered bacon fat. Remove from pan as they brown
- Add the onion to the pan and fry for a few minutes
- Add the flour to the onions and stir well
- Add the beef back to the pot, along with the Burgundy, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and bring to boil
- Reduce heat to a slow simmer, cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours, until beef is tender
- Add the bacon, potatoes, mushrooms, shallots to the pan, season to taste and simmer for a further hour
- Serve with steamed green beans
The resting rib roast
Pretty much the classic English roast dinner. I’ve tried roasting beef before but it just didn’t come up to the standard of ones I’d had in England (the best I have ever had was at Simpsons in the Strand in London) and the allure of crackling roast pork and the ease of roast chicken always won over wanting to attempt a roast beef again.
My dinner plate with medium rare roast beef, yorkshire puddings and duck-fat roasted rosemary potatoes (before the gravy)
I watched a Masterclass episode of Australian Masterchef (which is by far the best of the UK, Australian and American versions) where Gary Mehigan made this with his mum, and the next thing I knew I was looking up the recipe from Delia Smith and researching the best recipes for the most voluminous Yorkshire puddings (which ended up being Delia’s again – although I added an extra egg and made six muffin-sized ones instead of one huge one).
My yorkies !!
Here they are. Looks lengthy but all it takes is a little bit of planning. And it’s a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
- Rib-in beef. I bought two ribs for the two of us and there was plenty leftover. Don’t let your butcher cut off the layer of fat on the edge. That will help to keep the meat moist and also crisps up well in the oven.
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder mixed with 1-2 tbl plain flour
For the yorkshire puddings (makes six)
- 75 g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 75 ml milk
- 55 ml water
- Salt and pepper
- 6 tbl oil that has a high smoking point – I used macadamia oil and added a teaspoon of duck fat
For the gravy
- Beef stock
- tbl plain flour
- Make the Yorkshire pudding batter first
- Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre
- Break the egg into it and beat, gradually incorporating the flour, and then beat in the milk, 2 fl oz (50 ml) water and seasoning (an electric hand whisk will do this in seconds)
- Set aside while you prepare the beef
- For the beef:
- Make sure the beef is at room temperature by taking out of the fridge two hours before it needs to go into the oven
- Preheat your oven to gas mark 7, 425F, 220C
- Season the beef all over with salt and pepper
- Dust the fat with the mustard powder/flour mix to give that extra crispiness
- Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to gas mark 5, 375°F, 190°C and cook it for 15 minutes to the pound (450 g) – this will give you rare beef. Add 15 minutes to the total cooking time for medium rare and 30 minutes for well done.
- While the beef is cooking, lift it out of the oven from time to time, tilt the tin and baste the meat really well with its own juices – this ensures that the flavour that is concentrated in the fat keeps permeating the meat, and at the same time the fat keeps everything moist and succulent. While you’re basting, close the oven door in order not to lose heat.
- Once the beef has been roasting to your desired “doneness”, remove from oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes for all those yummy juices to go back into the meat
- Turn up the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F, 220°C and get your Yorkshire pudding done while the beef is resting
- For the Yorkshire puddings:
- Add the oil/fat to six cups of a muffin tray and place that in the oven
- After 15 minutes remove the muffin tray ***it’s important that the fat be smoking hot***, then place the tin over direct heat while you pour the batter into the sizzling hot fat. The batter should start to fry in the fat immediately
- Return the tin to the baking sheet on the highest shelf for 20 minutes until they are crisp and golden
- Take out of the oven, turn the puddings upside down and pop back into the oven so that the bottoms crisp up as well and don’t go soggy
- For the gravy:
- Take the beef out of the roasting tray and while it’s resting, pop your roasting tray over your stove and add the beef stock to deglaze the pan and release all those yummy bits stuck to the bottom of the pan
- Sprinkle flour over the stock and bring to boil, stirring all the time to avoid lumps. It will thicken a little as it cools
- You can make fancy gravy by throwing some onions in to roast with the beef. These will cook down and will add a delicious flavour to the gravy. You can even use them as a trivet for the roast.
- Serve all three with rosemary roast potatoes
Toad in the hole is one of the comfort foods of our household. Delicious sausages (tick!) encased in crispy batter (tick!) and served with a red onion, red wine and balsamic vinegar jus (tick!).
It’s pretty much the same as frying up sausages and serving them with yorkshire pudding, but I like how the batter rises up around the sausages like a protective (and deliciously crispy) wave.
This recipe is adapted from Delia Smith’s Toad in the Hole with Red Onion Gravy.
Ingredients: (for 2 hungry people)
- 75g plain flour
- 75ml milk
- 1 large or 2 medium eggs
- salt and pepper
- 4 good quality pork sausages
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- half glass red wine
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 220C
- Start making the batter first. Sift the flour into a large bowl, whisk in the egg and then slowly incorporate the milk with an electric whisk. You want to aerate the mixture well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a small flame proof roasting, brown the sausages
- Make sure there is plenty of fat/oil in the tray once the sausages are browned (if not, add some additional oil) and pop the roasting tray on the top shelf of your oven for a few minutes until the oil is smokingly hot
- Carefully remove from the oven and quickly pour the batter around the sausages and then quickly put the tray back on the top shelf of the oven for 30 minutes
- While the sausage and batter is cooking, make the gravy
- Fry the onions on low heat until soft and translucent – about 5-10 minutes
- Turn up the heat and add the wine and balsamic and bring to the boil for 3-5 minutes until the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce thickens
Tonight, I was in need of some real comfort food. I couldn’t find my old recipe but I did find the ever-reliable Delia Smith’s recipe of toad in the hole with roasted onion gravy. Her recipe here for sausages in crispy batter goodness. We also opened up a bottle of Clarendelle Bordeaux 2004 which we received as a Christmas present. Definitely benefits from a good “breathing” – gorgeous stuff.