ArchiveJanuary 2012

Marmalade Making

“Oh bliss – you’ve got the first of the new seasons Seville orange marmalade already” chirps one of our lovely customers clutching a jar of traditional Seville orange in one hand and ginger marmalade in the other. “Life is far too short to make my own, have you made any with whiskey or treacle? – my gran used to add those at the end.”

I, on the other hand love making marmalade, I find the chopping, juicing and slicing deliciously relaxing and then there’s the anticipation – somehow each batch is slightly different, it’s definitely a ‘high stool job’, turn on the radio – an afternoon play, Woman’s hour or something soothing and ethereal from Lyric FM.

And, lest there be any misunderstanding, marmalade making is not just a woman’s preserve, several men of my acquaintance hold very strong views on how to make the best marmalade. Having said that, there is indeed quite a revival in homemade marmalade making, I have only just heard about the UK Marmalade Awards on 25th and 26th February. Apparently this is the 7th year in a row and there are a variety of categories including Novice, International, Heritage and this years Mystery category – marmalade made for the Monarch to celebrate the Jubilee year. All over the UK there is a frenzy of marmalade making in preparation for the event held at Dalemain Mansion in Cumbria. Last year they had over 1,100 entries from as far afield as Australia and the Virgin Islands and this year already they’ve received jars of glistening marmalade from Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines and Alaska – how fun is that.

There will also be a Marmalade Concert, a Marmalade Church Service and an array of activities with a citrus twist – the mind boggles!

One can make marmalade all year round from a variety of citrus fruit; however the ‘proper’ oranges for authentic marmalade are the bitter sweet oranges from Seville and Malaga that are in season for just a few short weeks at this time of the year.

They are in the shops and Farmers Markets at present – I buy organic fruit from Caitriona Daunt who has a stall both at Mahon Point and Midleton Farmers Markets and can be contacted at 086 3623918.

It’s too late this year but how about launch the Irish Artisan Marmalade Awards next year!

Meanwhile here are 10 tips to help you to make a mighty pot of marmalade.

 

  1. Choose perfect citrus fruit, preferably organic and give them a good scrub in warm water.
  2. Choose a wide shallow stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan
  3. The pectin is in the pith and pips, tie them both into a little muslin bag, soak overnight with peel.
  4. Next cook the peel with the bag of pips until the liquid has reduced by between 1/3 and ½ the original volume. Check that the peel is really soft. The sugar has a hardening effect if added before the peel is tender. (No amount of boiling will soften it later)
  5. Heat the granulated sugar in a bowl in the oven 180°C/350°F/Mark 4 for 15 – 20 minutes. Hot sugar dissolves faster and the result is a more aromatic marmalade.
  6. Stir well until all sugar is dissolved, then boil, uncovered on a high heat until setting point is reached. Stir regularly.
  7. Sterilize the jars and lids in an oven 180°C/350°F/Mark 4 for approximately 10 minutes.
  8. Chill a plate in the fridge to test for a set, put a spoonful of marmalade on the cold saucer, cool for a few seconds – press with your index finger. If it wrinkles even slightly, it will set.
  9. Turn off the heat, skim of any scum that rises to the top and discard. Leave the marmalade to cool for 8 – 10 minutes in the saucepan before potting otherwise the peel may float to the top of the pot.
  10. Fill into the sterilized jars, cover each pot with a disc of wax paper (waxed side down), cover and seal immediately.

 

Alicia’s Chorizo con Marmalada de Sevilla

 

Makes 36

 

When Alicia Rios came to the school to teach a Tapas course with me she created this unlikely but delicious tapa using our Seville orange marmalade – perfect for easy entertaining – your guests will need paper napkins!

 

225g (8ozs) Chorizo sausage

110g (4ozs) Seville orange marmalade (see recipe)

 

Chop the peel in the marmalade into shorter chunks. Cut the chorizo into slices, top each slice with a little Seville orange marmalade.

 

Serve as is or on little rounds of bread.

 

Traditional Seville Orange Marmalade

 

Seville and Malaga oranges come into the shops after Christmas and are around for 4-5 weeks.

 

Makes approx. 7 lbs (3.2kg)

 

2 lbs (900g) Seville oranges

4 pints (2.3L) water

1 lemon

4 lbs (1.8kg) granulated sugar

 

Wash the fruit, cut in half and squeeze out the juice. Remove the membrane with a spoon, put with the pips and tie them in a piece of muslin. Slice the peel finely or coarsely, depending on how you like your marmalade. Put the peel, orange and lemon juice, bag of pips and water into a non-reactive bowl or saucepan overnight.

 

Next day, bring everything to the boil and simmer gently for about 2 hours until the peel is really soft and the liquid is reduced by half. Squeeze all the liquid from the bag of pips and remove it.

 

Add the warmed sugar and stir until all the sugar has been dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a full rolling boil rapidly until setting point is reached 5-10 minutes approx. Test for a set, either with a sugar thermometer (it should register 220F), or with a saucer. Put a little marmalade on a cold saucer and cool for a few minutes. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s done.

 

Allow marmalade to sit in the saucepan for 15 minutes before bottling to prevent the peel from floating. Pot into hot sterilized jars. Cover immediately and store in a cool dry dark place.

 

N.B. The peel must be absolutely soft before the sugar is added, otherwise when the sugar is added it will become very hard and no amount of boiling will soften it.

 

Irish Whiskey Marmalade

 

Add 6 tablespoons) of Irish whiskey to the cooking marmalade just before potting.

 

Dark Seville Orange Marmalade

 

Add 2 tablespoons of treacle to the marmalade just before potting up.

 

 

Lemon Marmalade

 

6 – 8 pots

 

1kg (2.4lb) un-waxed lemons

2kgs (4.5lb) granulated sugar

 

Scrub the skin of the lemons in warm water with a soft brush. Put into a deep stainless steel saucepan with 2.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 2 hours and then remove and continue to cook until the lemons are soft and tender and the liquid is reduced to 1.5 litres.

Remove the lemons and allow to cool. Heat the sugar in a moderate oven 180°C/350°F/Mark 4 for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the lemons in half, save the pips and tie with the soft membrane in a little muslin bag. Slice the peel and put into a stainless steel saucepan with all the juice, liquid and the bag of pips. Put back on the heat, bring to the boil and cook to a setting point. Test for a set in the usual way.

 

Allow to cool in the saucepan for 15 minutes. Pot into sterilised jars, cool and store in a dark dry cupboard.

 

Ginger Marmalade

 

5 large Seville oranges (1kg)

3 litres (5 pints) water

1.5kg (3lbs) Bramley cooking apples

2.7kg (6lbs) sugar

1 – 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger

50g (2oz) chopped crystallised ginger, optional

 

Cut the orange in half around the equator, squeeze the juice and put in a large stainless steel saucepan, save the pips. Remove the membrane from the oranges, tie the pips and membrane into a little muslin bag, add to the juice. Slice the peel thinly and add with the water to the pips and juice. Leave overnight. Next day bring to the boil, cover and cook until the peel is almost tender, remove lid and reduce liquid until between 1/3 and ½ of the original volume.

Meanwhile, peel, core and chop the apples and cook with 4 tablespoons of water on a low heat until soft and pulpy, add the grated ginger when the peel is soft and the liquid reduced, add the apple and ginger mixture and the warm sugar. Bring back to the boil for 10 minutes approximately – stir in chopped crystallised ginger allow to cook for a further10 minutes until it reaches setting point. Pour into sterilized jars. Cover immediately – cook and store in a cool dry cupboard.

 

 

Seville Orange  Marmalade Tart

 

Serves 8

 

8ozs (225g) plain flour

pinch salt

5ozs (140g) butter

2 teaspoons castor sugar

1 egg yolk

 

Filling;

 

4ozs (110g) butter

4ozs (110g) castor sugar

2ozs (55g) ground almonds

1 large egg, beaten

4 tablespoons Seville orange marmalade

 

 

Set the oven to 200C (400F/regulo 6)

Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub in butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the sugar; beat the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons of cold water.  Use to bind the pastry, adding a little more water if necessary to form a soft but not sticky dough.  Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.    Roll out on a lightly floured surface and use to line an 8 inch (20.5cm) loose bottomed, fluted flan ring.   Prick the base lightly with a fork, cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper.  Fill with baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and discard the paper and beans.

Meanwhile prepare the filling.  Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, then beat in the ground almonds and egg.  Warm and then sieve the marmalade.  Reserve the liquid, stir rind into mixture and beat well until thoroughly mixed.

Turn the prepared filling into the pastry case.  Smooth over the top.   Reduce the oven temperature to 180C (350F/regulo 4) and bake the flan for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Glaze with reserved marmalade.   This tart is delicious hot or cold.  Serve with softly whipped cream.

 

Hottips

 

Prospective bloggers or food writers shouldn’t miss Hugo Arnold’s one day Food Writing Course at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 25th February. Hugo has published eleven cookery books and regularly contributes to several newspapers and magazines; there will also be practical advice and tips on how to get published. Phone 021 4646785 to book

 

The first national “Foodie Forum” will be held at GMIT (Galway Mayo Institute of Technology) on Thursday 2 February. Open both to the public and industry colleagues, visit http://tiny.cc/foodieforum for more information.

 

Check out Sheridans Cheese Mongers January sale in Dublin, Galway and Waterford – 50% off a selection of Munster, Pont l’Eveque, Camembert, Reblochon and Mont d’Or – www.sheridanscheesemongers.com

Chinese New Year – The Year of the Dragon

The Chinese are gearing up to celebrate their most important annual festival – Chinese New Year. This year it falls on Monday 23rd January which heralds 15 days of celebration and the beginning of the Year of the Dragon. The Dragon is the fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac – a creature of myth and legend – the ultimate auspicious symbol signifying happiness and success.

For the Chinese, it’s the most prestigious event of the year and involves lots of fun, exciting preparations, colourful traditions and even taboos. Homes, offices and trees are garlanded with red lanterns and beautiful and exotic paper decorations. Doorways are pasted with New Year paintings and couplets to greet visitors. All the symbols have a meaning; the colour red is associated with happiness and good fortune in Chinese culture.

In South China a kumquat tree rather than a poinsettia is the plant of choice for the New Year symbolising an abundance of wealth and good luck.

 

On New Years Eve the house is thoroughly cleaned – “sweeping out the dust bids farewell to the past and ushers in the New Year.” Families get together to feast and celebrate. Each day has a different tradition, children are given ‘lucky money’ in little red envelopes by their parents and grandparents. There are lots of fireworks to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year and then there is the New Years Feast.

Most families start their preparations by buying lots of delicacies such as dried mushrooms, abalone, sharks fin, silver ears, birds’ nests, cured sausages, duck and a large selection of dried vegetables – anything for a special treat.

Southern Chinese eat Niangao – a cake made with glutinous rice flour piled higher and higher each year for good luck and prosperity in business.

In Northern China the traditional dish for the feast is Jiaozi or dumplings shaped like crescent moons. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations the more money you make in the coming year. Favourite fillings are pork, shrimps, minced chicken, beef and vegetables – they can be boiled, steamed, fried or baked.

The favourite Cantonese dim-sum Spring rolls are another element of the Chinese New Year Celebration – everyone loves them.

This gives me the excuse to share some recipes from lovely Ching-he Huang’s book China Modern published by Kyle Cathie whom some of you may already know and love from her appearances on UKTV Food, Saturday Kitchen and Saturday Cooks.

So let’s celebrate with the Chinese and incorporate some of the elements into our menu this week

 

 

Steamed Pork and Prawn Siu Mai Dumplings

Taken from China Modern by Ching-He Huang published by Kyle Cathie

 

Serves 4/makes 16

 

For the filling

 

200g (7oz) pork

200g (7oz) fresh raw prawns, shelled, deveined and finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine

1 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornflour

Pinch of salt and black pepper

16 wonton wrappers (available in Chinese shops)

 

For the Vinegar Soy Dressing

 

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (Chinese black rice vinegar is best)

1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander

1 teaspoon chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

 

Siu Mai dumplings are pork and prawn bites enclosed in a wonton wrapper and served in a bamboo basket. These open wrapped parcels of deliciousness are a ‘dimsum’ favourite and very healthy too as they are steamed. I first tried dim-sum in Hong Kong when I was about 13. My father took my me and my brother on trip to visit my aunt.

Put all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Take two teaspoons of the filling and place it in the centre of a wonton wrapper. Gather up the sides of the wrapper and mould around the filling in a ball shape, leaving the centre open. Make all the dumplings in this way. Oil the bottom of a bamboo steamer. Fill a wok or pan with boiling water to a depth that will not submerge the base of the steamer. Place the steamer in the wok and steam for about 6 – 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by mixing together all the ingredients. When the dumplings are cooked, serve with the dressing, or you could dip them in sweet chilli dipping sauce,

 

Duck, Ginger And Peanut Spring Rolls With Ginger Dipping Sauce

From Cook At Home With Peter Gordon

 

 

Makes 12-15

 

 

2 large duck legs, approx. 500-600g (18-20oz)

2 teasp. salt

2 ‘thumbs’ of ginger, peeled and finely minced

100g (3½oz) roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

1 cup coriander leaves

8 spring onions, finely sliced

10 x 15cm (6in) square, spring wrappers

1 egg, beaten, to seal the wrappers

300ml (10fl.oz) soy sauce

50ml (2 fl.oz) cider vinegar

50ml (2 fl.oz) light honey

 

 

Put the duck legs into a saucepan, cover them with cold water, add the salt, bring to the boil and simmer rapidly for 60 minutes.  Remove from the heat and leave the meat to cool in the liquid.  Remove and discard the skin, then take the flesh off the bones and shred it finely.   Mix it with half the ginger, all of the peanuts, the coriander and spring onions then taste for seasoning.  Separate the spring roll wrappers, then stack them on top of each other to prevent them drying out.   (They separate best at room temperature.) Have them in front of you in the shape of a diamond.  Brush the egg-wash along the corner furthest away from you, then place a heaped tablespoon or so of duck mixture, shaped into a fat sausage, running left to right in the centre.  Roll the edge closest to you tightly over the filling, then fold each side (left and right) over it, overlapping slightly.  Roll it away from you towards the egg-wash until you have a firm, sealed spring roll.   Place it on a tray lined with clingfilm.  Continue until you have used all the mixture.

Make the ginger dipping sauce: put the remaining ginger, the soy, vinegar and honey into a saucepan.  Simmer to reduce by half, then strain.

Deep-fry the rolls in oil at 180C, 6-8 at a time, until golden.

 

 

Chinese Egg Custard Tarts (Dan-ta)

Taken from China Modern by Ching-He Huang published by Kyle Cathie

 

Makes 12

 

200g (7oz) read-made sweet pastry

Butter for greasing

 

For the filling

2 small eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

75g (3oz) caster sugar

375ml (13 fl oz) evaporated milk

 

“Crumbly pastry with a yummy not-so-sweet set egg custard in the middle. I have my mother to thank for this lovely recipe. An egg tart was sometimes my after school treat – delicious straight out of the oven, washed down with a glass of cold soya milk. You often find these little delights in dim-sum restaurants too and they can be make with puff pastry (equally tasty) Dan-ta resemble the Portuguese tarts (pasties de nata) and it may have been Portuguese travellers who introduced this recipe to the Orient, for they sailed the South China Seas and landed in Taiwan – my birth country – in the late 18th century, calling it Ilha Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful island’”

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Mark 6 and lightly grease a 12-hole tart pan with some butter. Roll out the pastry on a board to about 3mm thick. Cut out 12 circles using a 7cm round cutter and line the tart holes with pastry circles. Put the filling ingredients in a small bowl and beat lightly until smooth. Pour the filling into the pastry-lined tart pans but leaving 6mm at the top. Bake the tarts for about 10 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Mark 4. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until the custard has set. Test by inserting a small toothpick – it should come out clean. These can be served cold, but are much nicer warm.

 

Almond and Kumquat Tartlets

 

Makes 45 approx.

 

2 ozs (50g) butter (softened)

2 ozs (50g) caster sugar

2 ozs (50g) ground almonds

 

4ozs (110g) kumquats

sugar syrup (made by boiling equal quantities of sugar and water together for just two minutes)

 

tiny tartlet tins

 

Preheat the oven to moderate, 180C/350F, regulo 4.

Cream the butter, stir in the castor sugar and ground almonds – stop as soon as the ingredients are mixed.  Put a half teaspoon of the mixture into each tartlet tin and bake for 6-7 minutes approx. or until golden.

Allow to sit in the tins for a minute or two before lifting out onto a wire rack with a knife to cool.

Meanwhile, slice the kumquats into circles, put into a small stainless steel saucepan, cover with the sugar syrup and poach for 8-10 minutes or until just tender, allow to get cold.

To assemble:

Not long before serving, arrange the tartlets on a pretty plate; use a gold d’oyley if you can get one. Top each tartlet with a piece of kumquat, and if you fancy, pipe a little of rosette of cream on top and decorate with a tiny mint leaf.

 

 

 

Lime and Ginger Lemonade

 

Makes 8-10

 

4 fl ozs (110ml) freshly squeezed lemon and/or lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated

6 ozs (175g) sugar

3/4 pint (450ml) water

 

Put the sugar, water and ginger   into a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Let the syrup boil for 30 seconds. Allow to completely cool. Add the lime juice. Transfer the base lemonade to a jar or bottle, cover and chill thoroughly.

Serve with ice cubes and dilute with water to taste.

 

Hottips

 

Learn to cook really delicious, balanced gluten free meals and a few treats too for Coeliacs at the half day cookery course – Gluten Free Cooking with Rosemary Kearney Part 1 at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 28th January, 2.00pm to 5pm – 021 4646785.

 

Lettercollum in Timoleague are running a series of cooking courses that are designed to help people to eat more healthy food and also for those with food intolerences.

Saturday 18th February – Winter Warmers – soups, stews and casseroles and winter salads.

Saturday 25th February – Gluten-free Cooking

Saturday 10th March  Low GI Cooking – 353-(0)23-8836938 E info@lettercollum.iewww.lettercollum.ie

 

You can buy spring roll wrappers at Mr Bells at the English Market in Cork city or at the Chinese Shop on the Coal Quay.

 

Cookery Books to add to Your Collection

After Christmas I’ve got a whole stack of cook books with lots of tantalizing recipes to try– so much talent out there. I thought I’d share a list of some of my favourite titles so if you have squirreled away a couple of book tokens you might be tempted to add one or two of these to your collection.

Those of you who follow my ‘What’s hot in London’ list will know that I’m a big fan of Jacob Kennedy’s chef owner of Bocca di Lupo on Archer Street in Soho and Gelupo the gelateria and delicatessen across the street. Both are always packed – you’ll find him at the stove there several times a week so I’m not sure how he found time to write his Bocca cookbook – but definitely it’s a gem. Flicking through there are over 20 recipes I’m longing to try.

Maria Elia is another name to watch, her new book Full of Flavour is an eagerly awaited follow up to her best selling debut The Modern Vegetarian. The concept is intriguing, here she takes eighteen of her favourite ingredients and shows us how to tweak them – to create over a hundred different delicious recipes – a rare insight into the way a talented chef’s mind works to create the perfect balance of flavours and textures.

Elia is no lightweight, she has wanted to be a chef since she was four and has worked in the kitchens of Ferran Adria at El Bulli and Elena Arzack in San Sebastian. She was head chef at Delfina’s in London and the Whitechapel Gallery and is now executive

chef at Joe’s in South Kensington. She does regular TV and was voted one of the top 10 female chefs by The Independent.

Leon – Baking and Puddings is another cracker, co-written by one of my favourite bakers in the world Claire Ptak. Leon was founded on the belief that food should taste good and do you good – how brilliant is that. The design is bright, witty and fun and best of all the food doesn’t look intimidatingly perfect, but boy does it taste delicious. Claire and her co-author Henry Dimbleby hope this book finds a permanent place in our kitchens and becomes battered, splattered, tacky with toffee and dog-eared through use – mine already is. Other favourites are the Momofuko Cook Book, Rick Stein’s Spain and Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, possibly the best bread book I have come across in the last year.

 

Blood Orange, Red Onion and Oregano Salad

 

Serves 4 as a starter or side

6 small, very dark blood oranges or 4 medium ones

½ small red onion

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon picked oregano leaves

Cut the skin and pith from the oranges, then slice them across into 5mm (¼ inch) pinwheel rounds. Slice the onion very thinly across the grain, and soak for 5 minutes in iced water to crisp it and render it a touch milder. Arrange the orange slices flat on a plate and scatter with the drained red onion. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil and dot the oregano leaves on top.

Variation

:

Oranges with Pecorino

: In Sicily this salad is sometimes served with a few slices of peppercorn Pecorino as a starter or a side dish, the cheese best if fresh or medium, rather than very mature.

Oranges with Bottarga

: Scatter the salad with 60-80 g very thinly sliced mullet bottarga for a refined and luxurious antipasto

Bocca Cookbook by Jacob Kennedy

Cosy Lamb Meatballs with Peas and Tomato Sauce

 

Serves 4

For the Meatballs

500 g (18 oz) lamb mince

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Pinch of cayenne pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp turmeric

flour, for dusting

4 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pea and Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 x 400 g plum tomatoes, crushed

pinch of sugar

1 chicken stock cube

100 g frozen petit pois

1 tablespoon dried dill

Sea salt

½ bunch mint, finely chopped

To make the meatballs, simply mix all the ingredients except the flour and oil together and form into balls. Dust the balls in flour. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and add the meatballs. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Cook until the meatballs are medium-rare in the centre (about 3 minutes, depending on the size). Then set aside and repeat with the remaining oil and meatballs.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the tomato puree and cinnamon and cook for a couple of minutes more. Add the tomatoes and sugar and crumble in the stock. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and dill along with 200 ml (7 fl oz) water and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat. Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes, adding a little boiling water if the sauce is a little thick. Season with sea salt, stir in the mint and serve with mashed potatoes.

Variations

:

Serve with flatbread and sprinkle with crumbled feta

For an Asian twist, swap the meatball spices for ground ginger, cumin, coriander, pinch of chilli flakes and turmeric. Omit the cinnamon and the dried dill from the sauce and add some freshly chopped ginger, then finish with chopped coriander and lemongrass.

Full of Flavour by Maria Elia

 

St Clement’s Pudding

 

Serves 4-6

1 clementine

1 vanilla pod

140 g (4½ oz) unsalted butter

125 g (4½ oz) caster sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

200 g (7 oz) plain flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

100-150 ml (3½-5 fl oz) milk

For the Syrup

Zest and juice of 2 clementines

200 g (7 oz) caster sugar

150 ml (5 fl oz) water

Double cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Butter a medium sized pudding basin. Grate the zest from the clementine and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod. Set the zested clementine and seeded vanilla pod aside for later.

Cream the butter, sugar, clementine zest and vanilla seeds until light and fluffy, then gradually add the beaten eggs. Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in thoroughly. Add the milk and set aside.

To make the syrup, put the clementine juice and zest into a small pan with the sugar, water and the vanilla pod. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer until the mixture has reduced to a syrup. Cut the zested clementine in half and place in the pudding basin with the cut sides down. Pour over three quarters of the syrup, reserving the rest for later. Spoon in the sponge mix and place a round of baking paper on top, then cover the basin with a second larger piece of baking paper (with a generous pleat in the middle) and secure with an elastic band or string. Put the basin into a deep roasting tin and pour enough hot water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the basin. Steam for 2 hours, or until well risen and firm to the touch (remember to keep the water topped up). Turn out on to a large serving dish deep enough to catch the syrup and pour the last of the syrup over the top. Server with double cream

 

Leon – Baking and Puddings by Claire Ptak and Henry Dimbleby

 

Hot Tips

Seed Catalogues

The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co Leitrim 2012 Course Programme and Seed Catalogue is packed with interesting courses to do this year – to get a copy phone

071 9854338 – info@theorganiccentre.iewww.theorganiccentre.ie

Irish Seed Savers at Capparoe, Scarriff, Co Clare have some excellent workshop series scheduled this year, Fruit Grower Series, Herbalist Series, Brewers and Fermenters Series, Wild Food Foragers Series… Contact them on 061 921866 / info@irishseedsavers.ie / http://irishseedsavers.ie/index.php

Madeline McKeever winner of the recent West Cork Belling Artisan Food Awards has a range of over twelve hundred heirloom seeds in her Brown Envelope Seed Catalogue and while you’re at it pick up one of her 2012 calendars beautifully illustrated by Sonia Caldwell.

Farmers Markets

Mahon Point and Douglas Farmers Markets are back in full swing every Thursday and Saturday respectively after the Christmas Break – www.mahonpointfarmersmarket.com

Midleton Farmers is open again today – Arun Kapil of Green Saffron Spices is doing a free cookery demonstration at 11am at the Community Stall – www.midletonfarmersmarket.com

New Seasons Olive Oil

– We have just got a delivery of the first of the New Seasons Tuscan olive oil, Capezzana, Fontodi and Selvapiana extra virgin olive oil ‘to die for’ – the ultimate present for a foodie friend – Ballymaloe Cookery School Shop – 021 4646785.

Women’s Little Christmas

This Christmas our Christmas present to all our extended family and many of our friends was ‘food from the farm’, a roll of homemade Jersey butter, a jam jar full of thick unctuous yoghurt with a nice layer of cream on top, a chunk of cheese, a bottle of elderflower cordial, a dozen or more freshly laid organic eggs, maybe a few sprouts, a big bunch of kale and some traditional home cured pork. Not a whiff of Joe Malone (delish as it is) or Chanel in sight and the response was, unless I misjudged, unbridled delight. Home grown and home made is so cool once again.

Several times over Christmas friends were discussing vegetable varieties they planned to grow. The grandchildren were each given a Red Sentinel crab apple tree by their Uncle Rory; others got apple trees or blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. My sister-in-law gave all her grandchildren a hen each to lay a special little egg for their breakfast but also to teach them how to care for poultry and how useful the manure is to add zing to the compost bed which in turn will make the soil more fertile to grow more beautiful vegetables and herbs. Everyone seemed to be on a mission to reconnect with nature and to do ‘even a little something’ themselves.

The tradition of Little Christmas or Nollaig na Mban is also gathering momentum again. The Twelfth Day of Christmas was widely known in Ireland as Nollaig na mBan – Women’s Chrismas. Over the festive season the men would have been pampered and eaten their fill of various meats and indeed often drunk to excess, but January 6 th was the womens’ own feast. There would be a splendid high tea when all the dainties that the women really enjoyed were served. Thinly sliced white bread and homemade jam and cream, fluffy sponge cakes and tiny buns decorated with swirls of icing – and as if that wasn’t enough, plum cake, gingerbread, warm apple cakes and pots of the finest tea. On January 7 th the Christmas decorations were taken down and until quite recently there was a widespread custom of keeping aside the holly and wilted greenery to heat the pancake griddle on Shrove Tuesday.

Nowadays it’s a lovely opportunity for women to get together over afternoon tea or dinner to spend a carefree evening after the excesses and stresses of Christmas. In France, they celebrate the Feast of the Kings with the traditional Galette du Rois. Every Boulangerie has its own version of this recipe but this one is hard to beat and is easy to make, so one can start the tradition in your home.

Galette du Roi

 In France, on the Festival of the Kings over 50 million flaky Galette du Roi are eaten. Tucked into the soft frangipane filling is a little surprise for the lucky person who chooses that slice. There is a wonderful ritual played out every year, everyone sits around the dining table but the youngest child climbs underneath. As the galette is served slice by slice, Madame points at the portion and asks ‘who is this slice for?’ The child calls out each person’s name in turn, the lucky person who finds the feve in their slice is ‘the king’ and the golden crown is placed on their head. As the ‘king’ raises a glass to ‘his’ lips everyone choruses ‘the king drinks, the king drinks!’

Serves 8

1lb (450g) Puff Pastry

Filling

3ozs (75g) ground hazelnuts toasted, freshly ground

1oz (25g) ground almonds

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

1½ ozs (45g) melted butter

2 egg yolks, preferably free range

2 tablesp. double cream

1 dessertsp. rum (optional)

Egg wash made with 1 beaten egg and a tiny pinch of salt

Glaze

Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/regulo 6.

Put the hazelnuts onto a baking tray. Bake until the skins loosen.

Remove nuts from oven and place in a tea towel. Rub off the loose papery skins. Let cool. Grind the nuts in a nut grinder or chop in a food processor.

Increase oven temperature to 230°C/450°F/regulo 8.

Divide the pastry in half, roll out just less than ¼ inch thick, cut into 2 circles approx. 10 inch (25.5cm) in diameter. Put one onto a damp baking sheet, chill and chill the other piece also.

Mix all the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl until smooth. Put the filling onto the pastry base, leaving a rim of about 1 inch (2.5mm) free around the edge. Brush the rim with beaten egg or water and put on the lid of puff pastry, press it down well around the edges.

Make a small hole in the centre brush with egg wash and leave for 5 minutes in the refrigerator. With the back of a knife, nick the edge of the pastry 12 times at regular intervals to form a scalloped edge with a rose petal effect. Mark long curving lines from the central hole outwards to designate formal petals. Be careful not to cut through the pastry just score it.*

Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then lower the heat to 200C/400F/regulo 6 and bake

for 30 minutes approx. While still hot dredge heavily with icing sugar and return to a very hot oven or pop under a grill (Do Not Leave the Grill) – the sugar will melt and caramelize to a dark brown glaze. Serve warm or cold with a bowl of softly whipped cream.

Note:

Galette du Roi is best eaten warm, but it also keeps well and may be reheated

Gingerbread

Traditionally in Ireland, we make gingerbread in a loaf tin and cut it into thick slices and slather them with butter. This one is particularly good when it’s fresh, so eat it quickly! Alternatively bake in a 22cm x 7.5cm (9 x 3 inch) square brownie tin for 40-45 minutes, serve cut into 12 x 7.5cm x 10cm (3 x 4 inch) squares with a blob of cold apple puree and cream or with crystallised ginger with cream.

Makes 1 loaf

225g (1/2 lb) white flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

110g (4oz) soft brown sugar

75g (3oz) butter, cut into cubes

175g (6oz) treacle

150ml (5fl oz) milk

1 very small or 1/2 organic egg

50g (2oz) sultanas

25g (1oz) chopped crystallised ginger (optional)

wipped cream

1 x 23cm (9 inches) x 12.5cm (5 inches) x 6.5cm (2 1/2 inches) loaf tin lined with silicone paper

Preheat the oven to 180°C\350°F\gas mark 4.

First line the loaf tin with silicone paper.

Sieve all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Gently warm the brown sugar with the cubed butter and treacle. Then add the milk. Allow to cool a little and stir into the dry ingredients and make sure that there are no little lumps of flour left (I use a whisk for this). Add the beaten egg and the sultanas and ginger if desired. Mix very thoroughly and. Bake in a lined loaf tin for approximately 1 hour in a moderate oven. Cool in the tin. Serve with butter or a little whipped cream with crystallised ginger.

Whisked Sponge Cake with Kumquat Compote

Serves 8

4 eggs, preferably free range

4 ozs (110g) castor sugar

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

4 ozs (110g) plain white flour

Filling

Kumquat Compote – see recipe

Mint, Lemon Balm or Sweet Cicely to decorate

Castor sugar for sprinkling on top

2 x 7 inch (20cm) tins

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gast mark 4.

Grease the tins carefully with melted butter, dust with flour, cut out a circle of greaseproof paper and fit it neatly onto the base of each tin.

Put the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk until it is a pale and fluffy mousse. When you lift the whisk, make a figure of 8 on top: it should hold its shape for several seconds. Put the flour into a sieve and sift about one-third gently over the mousse; fold in the flour with a spatula or a long-handled metal spoon (not a wooden spoon) and then sieve in some more; repeat until all the flour is lightly folded in. Turn gently in the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven, for 20 minutes approx., until cooked. Turn out on a wire tray, peel off the greaseproof paper and allow to cool.

Once cool, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Spread the cream over the base sponge and then spoon the drained kumquat compote evenly on it. Lay the remaining sponge onto the filling and press gently. Sprinkle castor sugar over the top of cake. Serve soon.

Kumquat Compôte

A gem of a recipe, this compôte can be served as a dessert or as an accompaniment to roast duck, goose or glazed ham. Also delicious with goat’s cheese or yoghurt and makes a gorgeous filling for a light fluffy sponge cake. This compote keeps for weeks in the fridge.

Serves 6-20 depending on how it is served

235g (8 1/2 oz) kumquats

200ml (7fl oz) water

110g (4oz) sugar

Slice the kumquats into four or five rounds depending on size, remove the seeds. Put the kumquats into a saucepan with the water and sugar and let them cook very gently, covered, for half an hour or until tender.

Lemon Curd Meringue Cupcakes

Makes 24

Cupcakes

225g (8oz) butter (at room temperature)

225g (8oz) caster sugar

225g (8oz) self-raising flour

4 organic large eggs

zest of 2 lemons

Lemon Curd

2 ozs (50g) butter

4 ozs (110g) caster sugar

grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

2 organic eggs and 1 organic egg yolk whisked (keep white aside for meringue)

Lemon Curd Cream

110ml (4fl oz) mascarpone

4 tablespoons lemon curd (see recipe)

2 tablespoons sieved icing sugar

Meringue Kisses (see recipe)

Garnish

sprig of Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena

2 muffin tins lined with 24 muffin cases.

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

First make the cupcakes.

Put all ingredients into a food processer, whizz until smooth.

Divide mixture evenly between cases in muffin tin.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until risen and golden.

Meanwhile, make the lemon curd.

Melt the butter on a very low heat. Add the caster sugar, lemon zest and juice and then add the whisked eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat with a straight ended wooden spatula until the mixture coats the back it. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To assemble

Mix the lemon curd into the mascarpone and add the sieved icing sugar. Put into a piping bag with a medium sized plain nozzle. Put the remainder of the lemon curd into a piping bag with a small plain nozzle.

Insert the nozzle into the top of the cupcake and squeeze in a small teaspoon of lemon curd. Pipe a blob of lemon cream over the top. It should almost cover the top of the cupcake. Top with a meringue kiss and garnish with a sprig of lemon balm or lemon verbena. Eat as soon as possible.

Meringue Kisses

Makes 30

2 egg whites

110g (4oz) caster sugar

Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2.

To make the meringue.

Line a baking sheet with silicone paper.

Mix all the sugar with the egg whites at once and beat until the mixture forms stiff dry peaks. Put into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe into 4cm (1 1/2 inch) rosettes on to the baking sheet. Bake immediately in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until set crisp.

Hottips

Midleton College Cook Book

– it’s so brilliant to see so many schools pushing out the posts to reconnect children with how food is produced teaching them how to grow and cook – valuable skills for life. Midleton College is a shining example; they have 30 free-range hens, 5 Gloucester Old Spot pigs, a new home economics room and a chef who really cares about cooking food that nourishes the children and a headmaster – Simon Thompson – who inspires them all. Recently they self-published the Midleton College Cookbook with contributions from students and parents past and present. For €15.00 it’s really worth seeking out, there are quite a few gems in it.

Vegetables for the Irish Garden by Klaus Laitenberger

– a brilliant book suitable for Irish conditions. Another is Michael Brenock’s The Irish Gardener’s Handbook – a great read as now is the perfect time to think about what you would like to grow in the Spring.

Letters

Past Letters