Tag Archives: citrus

Small Batch Meyer Lemon Marmalade

meyer lemon marmaladeI usually make monster batches of preserves.  I like preserving by the bushel when fruits are in peak season.  During the winter, I usually end up going down to San Francisco once or twice and getting some citrus fruit from the farmers down there who are coming over from the central valley.  I haven’t made it down there this winter, though, and a girl needs lemon marmalade, so when I was in Whole Foods the other day (I can’t believe I’m saying that; I never shop at Whole Foods and I think the stores are super pretentious, but I was trying to kill time in Santa Rosa, so I kind of just ended up there) I ended up buying six precious little meyer lemons.

Apart from feeling like a loser for buying fruit at the grocery store, this little batch of marmalade was quite a success.  It only takes a few minutes to slice up six lemons for marmalade (the last time I made lemon marmalade I did fifty pounds of lemonswhich took hours and hours).  The cooking time is also really short, which is nice.  Also, I’d forgotten just how lovely a kitchen smells when it’s filled with the aroma of fresh lemons.  The most important part: a piece of toast with butter and marmalade is one of the best things in the universe. IMG_5064MEYER LEMON MARMALADE

Makes: almost 4 half pint jars

Cook Time: 1 1/2 hrs.

Ingredients:

  • 6 meyer lemons
  • 3 c. water
  • 3 c. sugar

 

The first step is to wash and slice the lemons for marmalade.  If you’ve never done this before, check out this set of instructions from Hitchhiking to Heaven for an explanation.  (It seems redundant to take another set of pictures of virtually the exact same thing).   Save the seeds and wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie the top closed with string.

Next, measure the prepared lemons.  The six lemons I had came out to almost exactly 3 cups of prepared sliced lemons.   The ratio of lemons to water to sugar should be 1:1:1, so adjust the rest of the recipe accordingly.

Combine the lemons and water in a large, nonreactive pot.  Add the cheesecloth bag with the seeds and bring the mixture to a low simmer to cook the lemons.  Cook for about 20 minutes, until the peels are tender.  Using a pair of tongs, remove the cheesecloth and give it a squeeze to release the juice that’s inside (it’s homemade pectin, which will help the marmalade set). Discard the seed bag.

At this point, prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids.

Add the sugar to the pot and stir to combine.  Turn the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the marmalade reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer.  If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use the frozen plate method.  The marmalade will come up to a full, rolling boil and you’ll see that the liquid will start to thicken and runs off a spoon in sheets instead of a thin stream (click here for a picture).  At this point, you can put a teaspoon of the liquid on a plate that’s been in the freezer.  Put the plate back in the freezer and wait for a minute. Pull it back out and run your finger through the liquid. If it wrinkles, it’s done.  If it’s still thin and syrupy, it needs to cook for another few minutes).

Ladle the hot marmalade into hot, clean jars leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Wipe rims clean and attach lids.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude as necessary.  lemon slices

Chicken Tikka Masala, Because I Miss All the Restaurants In San Francisco

I am a country girl, through and through.  I love living wayyyy out in the sticks. I love it that if I want to wear my work boots with manure on them and dirty old jeans and carhartt jacket into town, no one looks at me funny.  My mud-covered pickup truck fits right in here. I love that I only have to brush my hair if I feel like it.  I can butcher a chicken but if you asked me for tips on applying eyeshadow I would be utterly clueless.sunny valley

BUT: boy oh boy oh boy, sometimes I really miss the days of living right in the middle of San Francisco, where I could walk just a few blocks and have my pick of some of the best (and cheapest) ethnic foods I’ve ever tasted, anywhere. Cities are awesome like that. One of my favorite spots was an Indian restaurant called Chutney, on Jones and O’Farrell.  When I’m in the city I make a beeline there and get the paneer tikka masala, saffron rice and garlic naan. It’s the stuff of dreams.

I like to be very self-reliant and DIY here in our homestead kitchen (remember last year’s Cook it! projects? we made our own pasta bread butter cheese and so much more), and one of the categories that I haven’t written about yet is: Cooking Exact Replicas Of My Favorite Restaurant Foods.  This is one of my favorite categories because I get to eat my favorite foods whenever the craving hits, all without ever having to change into real pants or figure out where I put my keys.

My most recent success story is this chicken tikka masala.chicken tikka masala

I won’t bother re-writing the full recipe, because it’s just from Serious Eats, but I want to add a few notes….

1. The recipe calls for a lot of lemon juice. You may have noticed that it’s winter and there’s tons of lemons hanging around on the trees these days. I made meyer lemon marmalade the other day, but I still have a big bowl of meyer lemons, so what better way to use them up than curry?meyer lemons

2. ….obviously…… this is the perfect recipe to make use of that epic stash of canned garden-fresh tomatoes from last summer.empty jar!

3. I was all excited about using my cast-iron grill pan to grill the yogurt-marinated chicken, but I promptly set off the fire alarm. So instead of actually grilling the chicken first, I just threw the raw pieces right into the tomato sauce.  I’m sure I was missing some charred flavor, but I also didn’t have to cook dinner in a cloud of smoke. It turned out totally delicious and didn’t really matter that I skipped this step.

4. To serve this properly, it’s best with steamed basmati rice and naan or chapatis, but since we’re lazy and had tortillas we just used those instead.

Citrus-Quince Marmalade with Fresh Rosemary

I’ve been having a bit of trouble finding inspiration for preserves this winter.  I went a whole month without canning a single thing, which I think has to be a record since I started canning.  I realized that the reason this had happened is that I started getting my fruit sourcing really dialed in last summer; I used mostly wild berries and plums, stone fruit from our own farm, the fall apples and quince from abandoned orchards were right on the hill where I live, I was gifted a bounty of ripe, juicy bartlett pears right from Redwood Valley.  When it came to citrus season, the idea of actually having to buy fruit seemed so unappealing. In past years, I’ve gone to big farmers markets in San Francisco and bought fruit directly from the growers. I know I would have fun making the trip, and I still think this is a great way to support local farms, but…. I kept hoping some lemons would just fall into my lap.

And they did.

I’m so happy I waited.  Some friends from the city brought us up a lovely shopping bag filled with meyer lemons from their tree on their last visit, and after a record breaking canning dry spell, I was back in the kitchen slicing fruit.  citrus-quince-rosemary marmaladeOver the past few years, I’ve really fallen in love with the whole process of making marmalades.  For my summer fruit jams, I’ve been wanting to keep them really simple: just ripe fruit, sugar, a touch of lemon juice, nothing else.  Good marmalades are often the polar opposite, with ridiculously complicated multi-day instructions (if you want to read more… check out Shae’s post about Why Good Marmalade Takes Time).  The thing is, it seems complicated at first, if you’re not experienced making marmalades, but the process is actually really straightforward and once you get the hang of it, I find it almost meditative — the tedious knife work to get perfectly sliced rinds, the patience involved in waiting for everything. Winter can be dark and dreary, but having the house smell like fresh citrus for several days does wonders.

This marmalade takes two days: day one is for making the quince juice and slicing the grapefruits, day two is for slicing the meyer lemons and cooking off the marmalade. Since the process might be complicated for less experienced jammers, I’m including some detailed instructions first, but scroll down to the bottom for the quick recipe with the measurements included.

Day 1:

Step 1: Make Quince Juice

quinceI was lucky to still have a case of quince in my pantry that I picked all the way back in October.  If you don’t have access to fresh quince or any frozen quince juice, you could substitute apple juice in its place (good quality juice, not the cheap stuff from concentrate).

To make the quince juice, first run the quince under water and scrub the gray fuzz off the outside with a clean sponge. Then remove the leaves and slice each quince into quarters. (Don’t remove the cores). Put the sliced fruit in a large pot with 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice, cover with water, and simmer for an hour or two. Drain the cooked fruit through a jelly bag for eight hours or so.  The juice will freeze very well, or can be used fresh for a variety of recipes.

Step 2:  Slice grapefruit for marmalade
I had a few organic grapefruits that I’d bought at the store that were so sweet, I couldn’t help throwing a few into this recpe.  Oranges would work equally well, or a combination of the two.

In case you don’t know how to slice fruit for marmalade, here’s a little reminder on the method I think most people are using… (again, I have to credit Shae from Hitchhiking to Heaven for teaching me this. She is the marmalade goddess).  You may notice that I’m cheating and using a serrated knife- I couldn’t find my steel for my chef’s knife, and this really doesn’t work with a dull knife. You really have to have a sharp knife to get the proper slices and not just squish everything.  Serrated is a decent backup, althought it makes the process take even longer. grapefruitcut off the blossom endsnotch out the white pithy centerslice the fruit into eighthtsslice each eighth into thin wedges

and then you cover the slices with water to soak overnight.grapefruit slices soaking
Day 2: You’ll slice the meyer lemons the same way as the grapefruit and then cook off the marmalade, then it’s into the jars…

Citrus-Quince Marmalade with Fresh Rosemary

The finished marmalade is pleasantly bitter, perfect spread on a crusty slice of whole wheat sourdough bread.

Cook Time: 2 days

Makes: about 12 1/2 pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 5 c. prepared grapefruit slices (from 5 medium grapefruits)
  • 6 c. water (or quince juice)
  • 3 c. prepared meyer lemon slices (from 9 meyer lemons)
  • 4 c. quince juice
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 9 c. sugar

Day 1: Combine grapefruit slices and water in a nonreactive container.  Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.  At the same time, make quince juice using instructions above.

Day 2: Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Prepare jars and lids.

Combine meyer lemon slices with quince juice in a medium nonreactive pot.  Transfer the grapefruit slices to a large, nonreactive pot. Cook both mixtures until the slices are tender, about 15 minutes (the grapefruit slices may take a little bit longer than the lemon slices).  Once both batches are tender, combine them.  Add the sugar, lemon juice and rosemary sprigs and cook, stirring occasionally, until the marmalade reaches 220 degrees on a candy thermometer or passes whatever gel test you like…. I still just use the spoon test, shown here.

 

Skim any foam off the top of the marmalade, remove the rosemary sprigs, and then ladle the hot marmalade into hot jars using 1/4″ headspace, then process for 10 minutes, remembering to adjust for altitude as necessary.

Oh, and one note: While I was cooking this batch of marmalade, I actually ended up splitting it back into two pots. I was afraid that the cooking time would be too long with this larger batch size and that the finished product would taste caramelized. You might want to do this too.

marmalade

 

Yuzu Curd

I found yuzus at the farmers market last week.   It was so exciting, like finding buried pirate treasure underneath the lettuce and carrots.

I’d never actually had yuzu before, but I knew I wanted them: fancy restaurants use them in all kinds of stuff, plus, they’re citrus fruit (I can’t get enough), and I love saying the name- yuzu. Yuzu.  yuzuuuuuu.  Shae from Hitchhiking to Heaven has a pet pigeon named yuzu, and now when I think about yuzus, I also think about pretty white birds.  Positive all around.

I know some people are reading this and thinking “what the hell is a yuzu?”

The short answer: It’s a citrus fruit that originates from China.

Why do people care so much?

Well, they’re tart and very fragrant, which means that they’re going to lend themselves very well to all kinds of cooking applications.  If you hold one up and smell it, the fruit has this amazing scent of ripe, juicy citrus that reminded me of tangerines or mandarin oranges.  If you slice it open, you’ll see the fruit is filled with seeds and has very little juice.  The flavor of the juice is very tart, like lemon or grapefruit juice, but with this really subtle hint of muskiness.

I desperately want to make marmalade with these.  I know it would be amazing, what with the tart flavor and fragrant rinds (they remind me, visually, of smallish seville oranges),  but I only got my hands on a couple of them, and they were so expensive.  I racked my brain thinking of ways to preserve them that were even better than marmalade, and realized…

curd!

While marmalade is just fruit and sugar, curd takes citrus preserving to a whole new level, adding butter and eggs to make this buttery, silky, luscious spread.   Lemon curd tastes like the filling of a lemon merengue pie.  I don’t know if there’s such a thing as yuzu merengue pie, but if there is, I bet it tastes a lot like the curd I made.

If I were some kind of advanced level food blogger, I’d bake something ridiculous to go with my yuzu curd.  Chocolate cupcakes with yuzu curd filling and merengue icing, or something.   I don’t even have my camera, though. (It’s getting cleaned at Camera Heaven in San Francisco, because taking action shots of flour with an expensive camera means you need to go have professionals take care of it).  Maybe one day, when I have my camera back and I’m cooking for a special occasion, I’ll actually bake those cupcakes.  A vanilla pound cake would also be good, or croissants.  Fancy baked goods (that I never really eat) aside, my favorite real-life way to eat citrus curd is to mix a little bit into some plain yogurt and granola.  It’s heavenly, and you can have a healthy breakfast that tastes like something decadent.

Yuzu Curd

Makes: 4 1/2 pint jars

Cook Time: about 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. yuzu zest, from 10 or 11 yuzus:  If you don’t get a full half-cup of zest from the yuzu, fill in the missing amount with other citrus zest
  • 1 cup citrus juice: Use as much yuzu juice as you have, and fill in the gap with lemon or grapefruit juice.  The ten small yuzu that I had made only about 1/8 c. of juice and I used lemon juice to supplement the rest.
  • 3/4 unsalted butter, sliced into small pieces
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten until they are light and frothy
  • 7 egg yolks

Mix together the yuzu zest and sugar in a bowl and let it sit for 20 minutes.  Wash four jars (or other containers suitable for the freezer) in hot, soapy water.  In a heavy duty, thick-bottomed pot,* combine all of the ingredients, including the sugar/zest mixture.  Turn the heat to very low and start whisking everything together.  The butter will start to melt; keep whisking.  Once the butter is melted all the way and the mixture is smooth, turn the heat to medium.  Keep whisking.  Don’t stop, not for just anything, or the eggs will curdle and the texture will be off.**  It will take a few minutes, but eventually the curd will start to thicken.  Keep whisking.  When it reaches the consistency of a thick pudding, it’s ready.  Pull the pot off the heat.

Ladle the curd into jars, leaving 1/2″ or so headspace.  Attach lids.  Don’t water bath process this, just put it in the fridge or freezer.  I have no idea if this recipe is acidic enough for canning, but I don’t care because we eat it so fast.  The jars last for a week or so in the fridge.

*I use my jam pot for making citrus curd too.  The thick bottom makes sure you can control the temperature well, which is very important in this recipe.  Some people might use a double-boiler, but I’ve found that as long as you have a good pot and don’t stop whisking, it turns out just fine.

**I actually dropped my cell phone into the pot of curd during the whole whisking process, and my whole value system was tested in the blink of an eye.  Functional cell phone or yuzu curd? I chose yuzu curd. I yanked my cell phone out of the pot and threw it on the counter, covered with butter and eggs.  I did not stop whisking.  No more process pictures of curd, thank you very much.

For a curd recipe that’s safe for canning, go to this post which I did last winter, grapefruit-scented lemon curd. 

Sunshine and Citrus

The sun is finally out!  The daffodils are blooming….


 

And right when I should be out in the garden, pulling up bolting winter greens and replanting with spring crops, a friend with a backyard full of citrus trees dropped off these lovely presents….

 

So, sometimes I have issues with how much sugar is in jam, and I feel bad that I’m basically making candy.  Sometimes I think I should be making raw vegan soups or something.

The answer?

Butter, and eggs.  Lots of eggs.

Bright orange, creamy yolked, laid-this-morning, free range spring eggs…

This is hands down, the most delicious thing in a jar that I have ever made.  I want to put on sweatpants and lie on the couch and watch tv and eat the whole thing right out of the jar all by myself.  Seriously.

GRAPEFRUIT SCENTED LEMON CURD

makes: 4 1/2 pint jars

cook time: about 45 minutes


People get all crazy about canning lemon curd, the butter and the eggs being the main safety concern.  Recipes run the gamut- some claim that it’s never safe to can at all, that you have to freeze the curd or use it immediately.  Other recipes say that lemon curd is safe to can if you use bottled lemon juice, for the reliable acid content.  Here’s my two cents (follow at your own risk):

  • I found a recipe for lemon curd that was developed by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  It uses the boiling water processing method and was deemed safe for canning. “National Center for Home Food Preservation” sounds really official so I’m going to trust them.
  • I used fresh lemon juice instead of bottled lemon juice.  Careful though: Meyer lemons are not acidic enough, so don’t use them.
  • The National Food Preservation people are saying that canned lemon curd has a shelf-life of 3-4 months, much shorter than the multiple year shelf life of jam or jelly.

After all that background information, let’s get to the recipe. The ingredients are only slightly adapted from the official recipe that I mentioned earlier, but the cooking technique is much different.  Most recipes call for a double boiler (to avoid curdling the eggs and ending up with chunks of cooked egg whites) but I think that makes everything overly complicated.  I’ve made it twice now without a double boiler, and no curdled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 c. unsalted cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 c. grapefruit zest
  • 1/4 c. orange zest
  • 4 whole eggs, beaten thoroughly (they should be airy and light, with no little bits of white floating around any more)
  • 7 egg yolks

Bring boiling water canner to a boil. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water.  Put lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.

Zest your fruit.

Combine zest and sugar in a bowl, mix well, and set aside for 20 minutes to let the flavors meld.  At this point, you will be surprised at how amazing everything is smelling.  Your kitchen will be an explosion of grapefruity brightness.

Juice your lemons while the sugar is doing its thing…

Prep your eggs: thoroughly beat 4 whole eggs until they are light and airy, with little bubbles from the intense whisking you’ve done.  Make absolutely sure there are no little bits of white floating around still.

Separate out seven egg yolks, and whisk them into the beaten egg mixture.  (Set aside the egg whites for something else, like angel food cake).

Now combine all the ingredients in a medium-large non-reactive pot.

Now turn the burner on as LOW as it will go, and whisk like crazy! We’re trying to incorporate the ingredients together slowly and consistently, avoiding high heat that could cook curdle the eggs. It’s hard work, but think of the sexy, rippling arm muscles you’ll have! And the smooth, luscious curd.

Once the butter has melted, turn the heat to medium and keep whisking.  Do not stop whisking.  Civilization could collapse while you’re making this, but if you want a smooth curd, you must not get distracted and stop whisking.  It will seem like nothing is happening and you will curse yourself for deciding to make this recipe because your arms are getting tired.  But then….  the mixture will start to thicken, and start to seem more like the consistency of pudding.  After another minute or two, the mixture will be thick enough that when you pull the whisk across the bottom of the pan, you will see the metal for a few moments because the curd is starting to hold its shape.

about the right consistency

Remove the pot from the heat. If you want, you can run the curd through a metal strainer at this point to remove the zest. Some people find the texture off-putting. I don’t, so I left it in.  Ladle hot curd into hot jars leaving 1/2″ headspace. Wipe jar rims clean and attach lids. I processed the half pint jars for 30 minutes, which is a little more than the National Center for Home Food Preservation recommended, but I figured “round up, just to be sure.”

Serving recommendations:

This curd is amazing with almost anything.  Mix some into yogurt.  Fold it into whipped cream and top with berries. Spoon some over angel food cake or pound cake.  The possibilities are endless!

Triple Citrus Glazed Butter Cake

citrus cake with our peach-raspberry jam

For the past week or so, we’ve had fantastic magical California paradise weather, and I’ve been working in the gardens almost all day long.   Late winter veggie starts went in the ground, and one last batch of garlic.  I also planted seeds for calendula, love-in-a-mist, bells of ireland, and poppies, along with the dahlia tubers I picked up at the store the other day.  This fantastic triple citrus butter cake is all that sunshine and good weather on a plate, no matter where you live! The flavor is bright and refreshing, and it’s lighter than all these 15 layer chocolate death cakes that are floating around with Valentine’s Day coming up so soon.  Those are awesome, but this the kind of cake that you can vaguely rationalize eating for breakfast, and those are important cakes to have in your life.

 

fresh eggs make better baked goods!

This recipe is an adaptation of the Lemon-Glazed Butter Cake recipe in the April 2009 issue of Gourmet. I’ve substituted skim milk and added some new citrus- I hope you like it!

Triple-Citrus Butter Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk (or whatever milk  you have in your fridge is fine)
  • 1/2 tbs. lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbs. tangelo zest
  • 1/2 tsp. clementine zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut extract (I was out of vanilla, you could use that too)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs (the original recipe suggests bringing the eggs to room temperature, but you could also just walk to the chicken coop and get three fresh ones that never were in the fridge at all)
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh citrus juice (combine 1/8 c. lemon, 1/8 c. tangelo, and eat the clementine. Or a different combination, it doesn’t matter.)
  • Optional: top with confectioners sugar and jam (I used Peach-Raspberry, but any fruit would be fine).  Whipped Cream would be good, but we didn’t have any when I made it.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter and flour an 8″ round cake pan, which I don’t own, so I used a glass dish…
  2. 2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, citrus zest, and hazelnut extract.
  3. 3. If you have an electric mixer, now’s the time to get it out: Cream together the sugar and softened butter until it’s fluffy and fully incorporated (about 2 min.)  Next, add in the eggs (one at a time, and mix well in between each egg).
  4. 4. Turn the mixer on low, and mix in the flour in batches, alternating with the milk mixture. (Make sure not to over mix the batter).   Pour the finished batter into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of air bubbles, and put it in the oven.
  5. 5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  When the cake is out of the oven and cooling, whisk together the confectioners sugar and citrus juice until it’s completely smooth.  Remove the cake from the pan and put it on a cooling rack if you have one(I don’t have one of those either, you can tell I’m totally not a baker…. I put mine on a big plate with paper towel). Brush the cake with the glaze and let it cool the rest of the way.
  6. 6. Eat the cake! (If you’re thinking about cake-dinner menu pairings, we had fried chicken, braised kale from the garden cooked with our home-cured bacon, and mashed potatoes with country gravy, and the refreshing citrus flavor went absolutely wonderfully with all that).

 


Meyer Lemon Marmalade

meyer lemon marmalade on vanilla pound cake

This past week has been a crazy tornado of citrus! In the midst of the whirlwind of blood oranges, tangelos, lemons and honey tangerines,  I thought it might be nice to stick to Meyer Lemons and sugar for one batch- no fancy spices, no booze (well, not in the marmalade atleast), no other fruits, no added pectin.

I was able to do my shopping for the marmalade extravaganza at the Allemany Farmers Market in San Francisco, which is my absolute, hands down most favorite shopping experience.  I find so many lovely things there; just this last week I went home with fresh dates, a bundle of lemongrass, chanterelles, fresh baked croissants, a dozen oysters from Point Reyes, and, of course, a rainbow of citrus fruit! (The prices here tend to be really reasonable too, not like Whole Foods or other specialty markets).  With such high quality, fresh fruit, it seemed like a shame to mess with it.

I want to brag about only buying certified organic, but really, a signed statement from the farmer saying that he’s never sprayed a pesticide in his whole life seems more genuine than any certification from the government.

Enough about the farmers market, though, check out these lemons!  In case you haven’t seen then before, Meyer Lemons are smaller and juicier than regular lemons, and their thin skins are much more delicate, making it hard for normal grocery stores to stock them since they don’t ship well.  They are also incredibly aromatic.

This marmalade is simple, with no added pectin.  All you need is Meyer Lemons, sugar, water and time.  This recipe uses a ratio of 1 part prepared lemons to 1 part sugar, so once you’ve read the whole thing through, if you’d like to change the amount, it should work fine.

Ingredients:

  • 36 Meyer Lemons
  • 3 Water
  • 6 Sugar

Because these peels are so thin and delicate, so I used a different method for preparing citrus fruit than I usually do.   First, I sliced off the ends of the fruit. Then I slice each lemon into quarters.

Using a sharp knife, slice out the tough inner piece of pith and remove any seeds.Slice into very thin wedges and put them into a nonreactive pot. Add a little water (I used 3 cups for 36 lemons; change the ratio accordingly).

Cover the pot, set it aside, and wait for a day.

After you’ve waited the full 24 hours, bring the lemons to a simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes or until the peels are soft.  Set aside the cooked lemon mixture in the fridge for an hour to cool and let the pectin develop. (The pectin, which makes the marmalade gel, is inside the lemons. By letting the lemons rest- first for 24 hours, then for 2 hours- the pectin oozes out into the surrounding liquid.)

After the hour has past, use a large measuring cup to see how much lemon mixture you have.  Combine equal parts lemons and sugar in a large, wide-bottomed nonreactive pot. I had six cups of the lemon mixture so I divided it into two separate batches just to make sure it didn’t have to cook forever to reach the gelling point (you lose a lot of flavor this way).

Cook on medium high, stirring fairly often, until the marmalade gels (about 30 minutes). It seems like everyone has a different way of testing for gel point, but I just use my trusty wooden spoon. When the marmalade drips off the spoon in one big sheet instead of single drops, it means it’s done.  (You can also leave a few small plates in the freezer, and when you think the marmalade is close, put a teaspoon of hot marmalade on the cold plate.  Wait 30 seconds, and run your finger through the marmalade. If you see little wrinkles on the surface of the marmalade, it means it’s set.) Ladle the hot marmalade into hot, clean jars. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and screw on the lids.  Process half-pint jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes to get a good seal.

RECIPE IDEAS:

This classic marmalade is great on english muffins with lots of butter, or as frosting on pound cake. It would also make a fantastic marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp, and it will work well in Spanish, Moroccan, or Middle-Eastern dishes.

As a bonus project, you can germinate some seeds and try to grow your own Meyer Lemon tree…

Just pull out some whole seeds, fold them in a damp paper towel, and put them in a ziploc bag. I blow some air into the ziploc bag so it’s like a little greenhouse.  Theoretically they will sprout in 7-14 days, and then you can plant them.  These little seeds probably won’t bear fruit for years and years, but they’re pretty plants and fun to grow.   Good luck! 

Orange Jam with Rum and Elderflower

I know everybody’s making marmalade right now, but I was feeling lazy and didn’t feel like doing all that knife work.   Plus, this orange jam is completely different than any marmalade; it’s sweet, not tart, and the rum rounds out the orange flavor and adds a lot of depth.  One small note about ingredients though- normally I only use fresh local fruit, but I have this elderflower syrup in my fridge that is really amazing, and I absolutely had to add it in.

So, yeah, it’s from IKEA.

The thing is, it’s really good in cocktails.  So, you know, everyone who likes sparkling vodka drinks with elderflower in them should just buy some anyway.  If you don’t feel like it though, agave would be a good substitute. It’s got a similar sweetness, viscosity, and brightness of flavor.  (Hopefully, I can make my own sometime, if I can find some elderflower…)

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice (about 14 oranges)
  • 1/2 c. fresh squeezed meyer lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1/2 c. elderflower syrup (or 1/3 c. agave nectar)
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 2 tbs. maple syrup
  • 3 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s calcium water
  • 4 tsp. Pomona’s powdered pectin, whisked together with 1/2 c. sugar
  1. Bring boiling water canner to a boil.  Put jars on a cookie sheet in the oven on 120 degrees so they are warm when you are working with them. Put jar lids and rims in a small boil, and pour boiling water from the canner over them.
  2. Juice enough oranges to make 4 cups of  juice and enough lemons to make 1/2 c. of juice.  Put juice into a large, nonreactive pot, and add in calcium water, rum, maple syrup, and elderflower syrup. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes (just to bring the flavors together and make sure there are no hidden tough citrus bits).
  3. Add in 3 1/2 sugar, bring to a full rolling boil. Cook for one minute, then add in the pectin powder/sugar mixture. Cook at a full rolling boil for 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Ladle hot jam into hot jars. Wipe the jars rims completely clean, and screw on lids. Process in the boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Recipe Ideas:

The mellow flavor of this jam makes me want to use it in salad dressings and cocktails (not necessarily alcoholic). Just take a few tablespoons of jam, put them in a saucepan over very low heat, and simmer until it is completely liquid.

For salad dressing, combine with whatever vinegar you like and mix well. I think this would be good on a summery fruit salad, with peaches and goat cheese, and some champagne vinegar.

For drinks, fill your glass with ice and whatever mixers you’d like (such as seltzer water or club soda), add in alcohol if it’s that kind of day, and then stir in a tbs. of jam to add flavor.

Orange Pecan Tea Bread

I’m in upstate New York right now, visiting my parents for the first time in a great while.  If I ever decide to become a 400 lb. woman I will come here to do the dirty work…  My dad is a loves to cook and my mom is a fantastic baker. Even though we’re supposed to be in the New Years Resolution phase of the holiday season, the shelves are still stacked with cookies, chocolates, marzipan, and other delicious treats. Given this situation, and the fact that now she’s wandering around the house talking about making tiramisu this evening, I either need to put on my sneakers and go for a run or maybe just buy some bigger pants.

Today I had warm Orange Pecan Tea Bread waiting for me when I woke up. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from Cooking Light, and a great way to use up some marmalade. My mom used the seville orange marmalade I made last winter, but you could use any type you have on hand.  She didn’t bother with the glaze (see step 4 below), it was delicious without it.  The citrus and buttermilk in this recipe will brighten up any winter day, no matter how snowy.

I am a terrible baker, unlike my mother. I can’t be bothered with things like recipes and measuring. I don’t even own a tablespoon (I may have once, but I lost it).   The concept of preheating an oven is foreign to me, it’s either “hot” or “off.” Lasagna is ready when it’s bubbly and the cheese has nice golden brown spots, not when it’s been in the oven at 350 for an hour and fifteen minutes (this is a guess, I really am not sure how long I cook lasagna for).  I often get angry at recipes for trying to tell me what to do. The nerve of these people…

If, unlike me, you can follow instructions, here’s  the original recipe from Cooking Light (December 2009 issue):

Orange-Pecan Tea Bread

  • 7.9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 3/4 c.)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans, toasted
  • 3 tbs. 1% low-fat milk
  • 3 tbs. canola oil
  • 3 tbs. orange marmalade
  • 2 tsp. grated orange rind
  • 2 large eggs
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. chopped pecans, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Combine granulated sugar and next 7 ingredients (through eggs), stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
  3. Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring until smooth.  Drizzle glaze over bread, and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp. pecans.  Yield: 14 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Calories: 164; Fat: 5.4 g; Protein: 3g Carb: 26.6g; Fiber: 0.6g; Chol: 26 mg; Iron: 1 mg; Sodium: 136 mg; Calc: 46 mg.

Pomelo Marmalade With Rosewater and Cardamom

Welcome to my shiny new blog! I hope that you keep reading and maybe try out a few of the recipes and projects that will be appearing here. Check back often- 2011 should be a pretty action packed year. Anyway, enough with the introductions, time to make some marmalade!

So, Reader, since we’re just getting to know each other, a few basics first-  If you want your jam to be really, really amazing the key is to get your hands on the highest quality, freshest fruit at the peak of the season.   Avoid grocery stores like the plague. Fruit should come from your own garden, your neighbor’s tree, a farmer that you know, or a local farmers market.  While buying local and organic is certainly very trendy right now, the reason to seek out this produce is really flavor.  Ethically, it is important to support small farms, cut down on your carbon footprint, etc., but the fact of the matter is that this fruit is just going to taste infinitely better.  If you were to do a blind taste test, the local, in season produce will win every time.  You’ll really know it’s time to make marmalade when you’re at the farmers market and you can actually smell the oranges and grapefruit before you can see them.

Even though I live in California, it’s the dead of winter right now- pouring rain, freezing cold, dark at 4:30 pm.  I am dying to get on a plane and go somewhere exotic, where I will need a passport, sunblock, and a little book to translate common phrases like “this is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen” and “why yes, freshly caught lobster sounds lovely,” or “a cocktail would be wonderful, thank you.” This marmalade is a little jar of happy intentions and new year’s resolutions to travel a little bit more and work in the garden a little bit less.  Oh, and it’s totally delicious,  floral, citrusy and exotic.

Rosewater, green cardamom pods, and saffron add extra dimension.

How to Prepare Fruit For Marmalade

Of course you must start with sharp knives:

This can get kind of tedious here. You might want to drink a beer or something  to make it more fun. Take your time and do a good job though, and you’ll be happy about it later when your friends are praising your excellent marmalade-making skills.

We want only the colored, outer part of the rind.

Stack the pieces of the rind on top of each other and slice through them to make julienned strips.

Repeat with all the fruit. (Dream of tropical vacations!)

Cut off the ends and the white part of the fruit.  Use your knife to separate the fruit from the membrane.

Your prepared fruit should look something like this:

Chop the wedges into small pieces. Put them into your pot.

Pomelo Marmalade with Cardamom and Rosewater

Ingredients:

  • 1 large pomelo
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 meyer lemons
  • 1 tsp. rosewater
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron (use either Spanish or Mexican depending on your budget)
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 5 c. sugar
  • 3 tsp. Pomona’s calcium water
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Pomona’s pectin powder
  1. Fill your canner with water and bring it to a boil. Wash jars and lids. Put jars on a cookie sheet in the oven at 150 degrees until you are ready to fill them.* Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the canner.
  2. Wash fruit thoroughly.
  3. Make calcium water (see instructions inside Pomona’s box). Measure 4 1/2 c. of sugar and set aside in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the other 1/2 c. sugar with the pectin powder and whisk well, making sure to avoid any clumps of pectin powder. Set aside.
  4. Using a small sharp knife or veggie peeler, remove outermost layer of the rind from the fruit, avoiding the white as much as possible.
  5. Working in batches, make small stacks of the colored rind and julienne into thin strips.
  6. To prepare the fruit for cooking, cut off the white rind, exposing the fruit inside.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut in between the membranes and each section of fruit, and lift out each wedge. Chop the prepared wedges, and set aside. (See illustrations below, in “How to prepare fruit for marmalade”
  7. Squeeze 1 c. fresh orange juice.
  8. In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the prepared fruit and rinds, 2 c. water, 1c. orange juice, 6 green cardamom pods, 2 tbs. rosewater, and 3 tsp. calcium water. Cover, and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until rinds are soft (about 30 minutes).
  9. Turn heat to medium high and stir in 4 1/2 c. sugar. Bring to a boil, and then stir in the pectin-sugar mixture. Bring to a full, rolling boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. (Marmalade will reach sheet stage)
  10. Ladle into hot jars leaving 1/8 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on lids. Process for 5 minutes.

yield: about 8 half pint jars.

*It is not really necessary to sterilize your jars in the oven, since they will be processed later. I’ve had jars crack in the canner when they weren’t hot though, so now I always do it. Hot jam, hot jars, hot water seems like the way to go.

Recipe Ideas

  • Heat 1/2 c. marmalade with a few teaspoons of butter and a little chicken broth to make a sauce for sauteed chicken breasts, top with slivered almonds.
  • Mix with couscous (add the marmalade to the cooking broth). Garnish with chopped cilantro and toasted pine nuts.
  • Marinade for grilled lamb skewers (whisk together equal parts marmalade and olive oil, add a dash of mustard or vinegar for more acid). Serve with olives and pita bread.