Monthly Archives: February 2012

Seville Marmalade Cake

Added to my list of things to try out with the batch of marmalade that didn’t quite set.


This week, Katherine and I took a long overdue holiday. We have spent the last five days amongst some of the most incredible scenery North Wales has to offer. If you like walking over snowy mountains, this place is for you. Not only is the landscape incredibly dramatic, but it is peppered with historic monuments, burial grounds, wells and even a bunker which I presume dates back to the Second World War. The sparsely populated county of Gwynedd, North Wales, is truly inspiring – we shall be returning, car under foot, to visit the fabled ‘Roman Steps’.

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Marmalade IV

Much better this time. The oranges peeled first, and the peel shredded before plonking in pot, as per this procedure.

This time, however, the innards of the oranges were popped into a jug, water added to cover, and then blitzed into a rough pulp with a hand blender, which is one of my favourite kitchen gadgets. (I’d be less fond of it with children on the premises as there are no safety features whatsoever.)

Thence into the muslin, which had been damped first, so it could be tied into a ruthlessly tight knot. Note that it’s worth shopping around for your muslin: the Middle Class Retailer near my office sells a single 46cm square for five quid, whilst Nisbet’s sells a 1m × 10m piece for twenty pounds. That’s £20 and £2 per square metre, respectively. (Lakeland worked out at £6/m2 but it comes in 12″ squares, so hardly useful. They are, however, just about the only place that will sell you non posh jam jars.)

The finely shredded peel took only an hour to cook – crucial that it reaches the stage where it can easily be crushed by light pressure between your fingers.

The bag of innards was hoisted out, and popped into a jug with some cold water to cool it down. With the knot being firm I was able to simply hold it by the knot, and twist the bag, to get all the gooey slimey pectin out, which obligingly stuck to my hands, but could be washed off in the aforementioned jug. When I’d finished, the squeezed bag was barely bigger than a single one of the oranges I’d started with. Contents of jug then added for the second stage.

As usual for me, 1.5kg of caster sugar (to an original 1 kilo of Seville oranges) and the whole lot topped up to 3 litres. The usual boiling and waiting for “a set” followed.

Cooled for 15 mins and stirred so the peel would be more evenly distributed when finally popped into jars.

And now, having become almost as obsessive about marmalade as I once was about pastéis de nata, I shall sign off, biding you all a rousing Fat Tuesday, and a suitably mournful Lent.

Stuffed Mushrooms

I happened to be making pasta sauce, so had a full frypan of sofritto and pancetta on the go, and a few large chestnut mushrooms that needed using. So, each mushroom was stuffed with a generous spoon of the mix, baked, topped with grana, and then baked a few minutes longer. Two birds with one stone.

A few points:

  • some recipes have you pre-cook the mushrooms: don’t bother
  • do remember to chop and add the stalks to the stuffing
  • lightly butter the dish, as they can stick
  • choose a dish where they’ll be packed almost too tightly, so they don’t keel over (they’ll shrink during cooking)
  • put a small knob of butter, and then the filling, in each mushroom
  • 20 mins at 180°C
  • add cheese
  • and then another 5 mins

If I were cooking them especially, I’d just fry up a load of onion, bacon and thyme leaves, and top with Fontina or Taleggio.

Possibly best, however, is when you stuff them with leftover risotto.

Marmalade III

I’m slightly miffed as the season’s first batch of marmalade has failed to set, and is sloshing around those oh-so-carefully sterilised jars, as neither liquid nor something you could get out of the jar with a knife.

Why did it fail? A couple of reasons. It was done with the “whole orange method”, which seems superficially reasonable, except you can’t tell when the peel is properly cooked, and it wasn’t. Also, the squishy peel is much harder to shred. On top of that, I really didn’t cook the bag of pips and pith for sufficiently long, so there simply wasn’t enough pectin on hand.

However, it’s very tasty, and can still be used for cooking: in between the layers in bread and butter pudding, filling pancakes, or maybe one of these.

Once more unto the breach.