Sunday, 17 June 2012

How to make ........... Marmalade

****  I actually made the marmalade and wrote this post in January.  It took me ages to write this up as my laptop was playing me up.  I had just got to the end and the computer died on me.  I nearly cried!!  I know that in the background it saves the post as you go along, but I couldn't find it and really couldn't face sitting down and starting all over again.  Now that Blogger have updated their site it shows me all of my posts, including all of the draft posts that have been saved ..... and this one was sat there.  So, it is out of season but who cares. 

I'm now on my last jar of marmalade and I wish I had made more.  Hay Ho, at least I have something to look forward to in January! **


It suddenly struck me the other day that it was the season for Seville oranges, which are the perfect oranges to use when making marmalade.  I've always wanted to make marmalade, but I'd never got around to doing it.

I made jam for the first time two years ago which was always something I had wanted to do and never got around to it.  I wish I had tried it before because it was really EASY.  I think what had put me off before was the thought of it being difficult to make and that the jam would never set and it would have been all a waste of money, time and energy. But it wasn't at all and it tasted so good.  I made strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant and blackberry (once I started I could stop!!).

So realising that the Seville oranges were in the shops I decided to have a go at marmalade.

  • 1kg Seville oranges
  • 2kg demerara sugar
  • 75mls lemon juice

I scrubbed the oranges, removed the little tops and put them in 2.5ltrs of water. Bring that to the boil, put the lid on and let that simmer for 2 - 2.5 hrs.

I would suggest putting the coffee on.

Whilst the fruit is simmering it's best to get prepared for later when it's all hands to the pump. Put three saucers into the freezer, you will use these to test the setting point later.

Then wash the pots that you will use. This amount of fruit will need around 6 or 7 jars, so it's best to prepare 8 or 9. I have learnt from experience to do more as it isn't an exact science and there is nothing worse than having lots of lovely jam/marmalade left and nothing to put it in. I put mine through a short cycle in the dishwasher and then put them in a pre-heated oven (100 deg) to dry and sterilise.

The oranges are ready when they are nice and soft and the skin pricks easily. I wish this was scratch and sniff as the smell that comes from this is lovely. It's like a summers day in the kitchen.

Remove the oranges from the water, but keep this as you will need it later. Let the fruits cool down and remove all of the pips.

I used a fork and flicked them into a sieve resting above a bowl to catch any juice.

Now comes the chopping part. This is where personal preference comes in, if you like thick pieces of peel, slice them thick, if you like them thin, slice them thin. I just chopped and had a mixture!

Measure out your reserved cooking water and make it up to 1.6ltrs with water. Add the chopped peel, sugar and lemon juice. Slow bring to the boil to let the sugar dissolve.

Now bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 10-15 mins or until it has reached setting point which is 104.5 deg c.

To check if it has reached setting point, go and get one of the saucers that you put in the freezer. Take the marmalade off the heat and very carefully take a teaspoon full and put it on the saucer.  Leave it to cool down for a minute and then push your finger through it.  If it crinkles it has reached setting point, if it doesn't put it back on to the boil for 5 minutes and then test again, or in my case again and again and again.  This really did seem to take forever and I think it must have been on the boil for at least 25 mins.  I will put my hands up now and say that in the end I got a bit fed up with it and decided that it had reached setting point even though it wasn't crinkling.  More about that later!
Let the marmalade cool down for 20 minutes.

Take your pots and lids out of the oven and VERY carefully fill them with marmalade.

Put the lids on and leave them to cool down.  Now, I did say that I didn't wait until it had completely reached setting point didn't I .........

Guess what I had to do the next morning......... Decant, re-boil, re-steralise and re-pot. That will teach me 'eh! Now, when I realised the next morning that it hadn't set I done a bit of research on the internet and marmalade can be a bit tricky with reaching setting point and can take a lot of boiling. Some people got around this by adding shop bought pectin, so that is exactly what I done and it passed the crinkle test first time.

I did think that there was too much of the peel and this was probably due to having to boil it for so long and the liquid evaporated, therefore leaving a higher ratio of peel to liquid than normal.  This was easily sorted by taking some of the peel out.

So, after re-potting I was eventually done and had lots of lovely marmalade to enjoy, especially as I am the only person in my house that likes it.  Result!
**  It also seems like the dog likes it too and enjoyed two pots which I had left opened on the table! 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

How to make ....... Ginger & Chocolate Brownies

I love making brownies, especially when you get them just right and they are lovely and squidgy in the middle and even better if you eat them when they are still warm!
Now, I wouldn't say I have made these too many times, but you can see from the page in the book that they are a firm favourite in our house!

The recipe is in The River Cottage Family Cookbook. It is a REALLY good book and has lots and lots of recipes that we have cooked. I have lots of cook books and sadly many of them are there just make make the place look cluttered pretty. I have all of the Nigella Lawson books and can probably count on one hand how many times I have made something out of them, but I can't say the same for this one, or any OF Jamie Oliver's either. His books are great too and the best one is his 30 Minute Meals.

Anyway, today was a brownie day.

250g Chocolate
200g Unsalted butter
200g Caster sugar
3 Eggs
125g Plain flour
50g Cocoa powder

Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C

The book does say 100g walnuts, but I've never put them in.

Do you like my book stand.  Duct tape is SO versatile!

I usually make them with milk chocolate (I find dark chocolate too rich) but the last time I made them I didn't have enough, but I did have a bar of Green & Blacks Ginger hanging around and I thought why not give it a go. They were GORGEOUS, especially the little pieces of ginger that you find.

Melt the chocolate and butter.  I do this on a medium-low heat in the microwave.  Keep a close eye on it though as you don't want to heat it too much.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together until they are light and creamy, this only takes a couple of minutes.

When the chocolate and butter mix has melted, pour it into the egg and sugar mixture and stir until it is fully incorporated.

Sift the flour and coca powder into the mixture and fold in with a wooden spoon.

Line a tin with tin foil and put a teeny tiny amount of oil into it and brush around.  Put into the oven.  My oven is a fan oven and it takes 23 minutes to cook.  When you take it out the sides are cooked but the middle is still nice and squidgy.  If you put a knife into it, it will come out with a sticky mixture on it.  Now what ever you do, DO NOT put it back into the oven.  Take the tin out, put it on the side and leave to cool in the tin.  It will carry on cooking whilst cooling and the middle with be lovely and squidgy.

Can you see how damp and squidgy they are.  YUM YUM YUM YUM!!

Please give these a go as they are just gorgeous. 

Happy baking!

Love Marge x