28 February 2016

A Dozen Great Ideas for Marmalade

Today is the start of National Marmalade Week and whilst there are many national days (a while ago was #nationaldrinkwineday which sounds reasonable) and weeks this one is rather special. Not only is it to promote the buying, making and eating of marmalade but, even more importantly, there are lots of marmaladious events and competitions organized to raise money for hospices all over the world. ***

marmalade-recipes

National Marmalade Week starts off with a race auspiciously led by the great Paddington Bear and a Marmalade 'Peel of Bells’ with Oranges & Lemons, the famous nursery rhyme being rung by campanologists all over the country. People will even be wearing orange to celebrate the occasion. There are all sorts of ways to get involved – see here for more details 

Mackays,  who make the UK’s best selling and remarkably good marmalade, have sent me a few jars of their produce to play with.  See here for their whole range of marmalades.

Here are 12 ways to use marmalade but I’d like to start with handy hint (or “hack”as they are now called) – if doing anything other than spreading your marmalade on toast it is a good idea to stir it a bit first which liquefies it somewhat and makes it easier to assimilate into dishes.
maarmalade-hack

1.  Duck a l’Orange …


…as we say in England for some reason – I wonder if they say Canard with Orange in France! Many ears ago I used to make a very acceptable (enough to mentioned in the Good Food Guide!) Duck a l’Orange by deglazing the duck pan with port and stirring in orange marmalade, however I like this way even more …

2 duck breasts
100g orange marmalade
1 tablespoon soy sauce

~   Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/200ºC fan/gas 7.
~   Cut the duck fat in the traditional criss-cross fashion.
~   Stir together the marmalade and soy sauce in the pan you intend to roast the duck.
~   Pan fry the duck breasts skin side down for 2-3 minutes till golden, turn and cook just a minute to brown the underside.
~   Place in the roasting tin with the marmalade mixture. I used to turn the duck to coat but prefer leaving the fat uncoated so that it stays crisp.
~   Roast for 8-10 minutes then set aside to rest.
~   Stir the juices in the pan over a medium heat till syrupy.
~   Slice the duck breasts and serve drizzled with the glaze.

This is absolutely gorgeous served with roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes and here’s a picture of a cook’s treat I had when testing the syrupiness of the sauce.
easy-wonderful-duck-a-l'orange-recipe

2.  Marmalade on Salmon! 


Make a glaze for fresh or, even better, hot smoked salmon by stirring together a little marmalade (I used the lemon and lime) and some sweet chilli sauce and brushing over the fish before baking or grilling.

3.  Vinaigrette


Whisk or shake a little marmalade into vinaigrette, orange or orange & ginger for duck, lemon and lime for shrimp – vinaigrette basics here 

4.   Marmalade IN Toast!


It’s really French Toast – make a marmalade sandwich with some appropriate bread, nothing too heavy, brioche would be good. Beat together the following ingredients and soak the sarnie for about 10 mins, turning once. Don’t let it get too soggy.  Fry in butter.
1 egg
½ tablespoon sugar
50ml milk or cream or a mixture
½ teaspoon grated orange zest – if possible
pinch salt

5.  Marmalade Ripple Ice Cream


This quick, easy, egg-free, no-churn ice cream is made using my genius ice cream-recipe, adding a nip of whisky makes for a very soft and delicious ice cream but less than perfect for breakfast; difficult to keep on the toast.

500ml double cream
a wee nip of whisky – optional
200g condensed milk
425g marmalade
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 tablespoons more marmalade

~   Whip the cream, together with whisky if using, till thick
~   Fold in the condensed milk.
~   Fold in the marmalade.
~   Decant into chosen container.
~   Stir together the zest, orange juice and 2 tablespoons of marmalade and drizzle over the ice cream in a figure of 8, or any other enthusiastic swirly shape. Stir it through just once or twice making sure to do a large expansive sort of stir down to the bottom and out to the sides of the mixture. 
~   Freeze. 

When the ice cream is served the cutting, scooping and spooning will cause it to ripple further.

no-churn-marmalade-ice-cream

I am always creating new ice creams with my “genius recipe” but we do have our favourites (Buttered Rum & Ginger, Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream and Maple Syrup); Marmalade Ripple has now joined this auspicious list.


6.  Marmalade Sorbet – So Easy!


100g caster sugar
250ml hot water
200g marmalade

~   Stir the ingredients together till fully amalgamated.
~   Cool.
~   Freeze.

That’s it – delicious!  I’ve written a small book about sorbet as part of my Genius Recipes series and they are all a doddle bit I think this one wins!

marmalade-spritzer


I also tried making a drink out of it by just topping up with sparkling water and it was really, really  good – must try to remember it just in case summer ever comes!








7.  Marmalade Frosting/Topping


Sweeten and flavour cream cheese with marmalade and maybe a little liqueur, soften with cream if necessary and use as a topping, frosting or filling for cakes and desserts.

8.  Marmalade Flapjacks


180g butter
120g marmalade
½ tablespoon of Golden Syrup
30g soft light brown sugar
2 teaspoons freshly grated zest to match your marmalade
250g porridge oats

~   Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325°F/140ºC fan/gas 3.
~   Butter a 20cm square (or similar) cake tin.
~   Melt together everything but the oats over low heat, stirring occasionally.
~   Stir in the oats and decant the mixture into the cake tin.
~   Bake for about 25 minutes till the top is golden and the whole place smells delicious.
~   Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting into 9 squares (or whatever you like!)

As Marmalade week is intending to raise money for hospices I might (if we haven’t eaten them all by then) take a few of these next time I “work” sorting books at Cornwall Hospice Care. 

9.  Manly Marmalade Bread Pudding 


Not the wobbly creamy bread and butter pudding type thing – see below for that.

225g stale bread torn into pieces
125g dried fruit plus 2 tablespoons rum or brandy or whisky (or, even better alcohol soaked fruit from your storecupboard)
70g brown sugar
180g marmalade
1 egg

~ Cover the bread with cold water and set aside half an hour or so.
~ Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C/No. 4.
~ Use your hands to squeeze the bread out as dry as poss and put into a mixing bowl.
~ Add all the other ingredients and whisk or beat (or manually munge) to completely combined.
~ Turn into a greased ovenproof dish and bake for about an hour till firm.
~ Cool and cut into squares or wedges. 

bread-pudding-recipe

Good with clotted cream but then what isn't?

10.  Bread & No Butter Marmalade Pudding (the wobbly, creamy kind) - serves 4


Traditionally this comprises slices of buttered bread layered up and baked in a custard but I don’t think there is much to be gained by the butter and, if you don’t have to butter it, random pieces of leftover bread are easier to use.

If the bread isn’t stale dice or tear into pieces and either leave it around the place for an hour or so or put it on a baking tray and pop in the oven for a few minutes.

100g-150g stale bread in small chunks
3 tablespoons orange marmalade plus another one!
200ml milk
100ml double cream
2 eggs
75g caster sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lovely orange


~   Put the bread into a lightly greased ovenproof dish or divide between ramekins.
~    Stir the 3 tablespoons of marmalade to liquefy and then drizzle over the bread. Turn the bread around in it.
~   Whisk together all the other ingredients and pour over pushing the bread under the surface to soak it. Set aside for 30 minutes or more – even overnight will do.
~   Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C/160˚C Fan/gas 4.
~   Bake for about 40 minutes till risen, golden and slightly wobbly when nudged.
~   Either dust with sugar or icing sugar brush with the glaze below.

Serve hot, warm or cold but warm is best.

11.  Alcoholic Marmalade Glaze


Stir together 3 tablespoons of orange marmalade and  1 tablespoon orange liqueur (Grand Marnier of Cointreau) briefly over low heat till runny and merged together. Brush over warm, fresh out the oven cakes, scones, buns or the bread pudding above.

12.  Wee Punch


Caribbean-'ti-punch
When I lived in the West Indies ‘Ti Punch (short for Petit Punch) was my favouritest Caribbean rum drink ever. The proportions are given in this traditional poem, and the ingredients are simply lime juice, cane or sugar syrup, rum and water (supposedly – not everyone agrees with this last ingredient!). I tried it making it with orange juice and strained marmalade instead or lime and syrup – no water, of course. Very good!

marmalade-punch


This was a lovely drink on a disconcertingly sunny afternoon!
Cocktails made with marmalade are, of course, entirely suitable for breakfast.









Marmalade is, of course, very important. I once sailed with an old man of the sea who one time, when passage making and not having seen another vessel for several days, sighted a yacht in the distance who radioed him to ask if he had any marmalade. He replied yes and was then asked if it was Dundee (fussy buggers) which it was so they met up!


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22 February 2016

10 Delicious Reasons to buy Real Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan-cheese-recipes

I “work”  with a guy, Graham, who despite limited cooking facilities is pretty interested in cooking for himself and eating well. I suggested he try making Alfredo Sauce which is so quick, simple, easy and yet absolutely delicious. See here for easy Alfredo Sauce recipe.

When I got to the Parmesan bit he asked if the ready grated would work or would he have to buy it in the piece and I related to him a tale I had heard years ago of grated “Parmesan” being made of grated umbrella handles. 

parmesan-made-from-umbrella-handles?
I thought I’d try to find the truth of the matter. I wondered if it was an urban myth but was surprised to find that not only is it true; a guy in Italy in 1969 was in fact doing the dirty deed but, furthermore and coincidentally, the matter seems to be trending!

Apparently the FDA recently found that  one company’s “100% grated Parmesan Cheese.”  was a mixture of other cheeses and cellulose. So they went on to investigate other grated “parmesan” producers and you can read what the FDA discovered here.

According to the Guardian it probably won’t kill you but, call me a foodie if you will, I want more from my food than just surviving the experience and expect you do to. So my answer to Graham is:

“Buy the real thing”


Here are 10+ good reasons to buy delicious real Parmesan cheese …

1.      Peppered Parmesan Popcorn


Simples – just toss freshly popped corn with butter, freshly grated Parmesan and lots of freshly grated black pepper. 


2.    Add Parmesan to Pangrattato


You might not know what I am talking about but see here for this Quick Cheap Easy Way to Improve Almost Any Meal.

3.    La Macronade


This is basically hot cooked pasta tossed with the rich juices from a meaty stew and layered up with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan. Finish with a layer of parmesan (and I don’t think it’s traditional but I’d add a handful of breadcrumbs to the top layer for extra crunch) then grill or pop in a hot oven till the top is golden.  Good use of leftovers!

4.   Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Polenta – enough for 4


700ml vegetable stock
145g cornmeal
2 teaspoons roasted garlic - see here for how to roast garlic 
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

~   Bring the water to a boil and stir in the Oxo cube, if using, till dissolved.
~   Slightly moisten the cornmeal till it is the texture of wet sand (this is a trick to keep the polenta smooth taught to me by a girl I used to work with, Cardella,  in the West Indies - for which I thank her).

parmesan-polenta-recipe
~   Add the wet cornmeal to the boiling water and stir in thoroughly.
~   Turn down the heat and simmer stirring almost all the time, it will thicken quite quickly but still needs to simmer for another 10 minutes or so till completely cooked.
~   Stir in the roasted garlic and the cheese, taste and season (I like lots of pepper) and serve immediately topped by something delicious and savoury.

Leftover polenta is delicious fried by the way - 7 ways to use it here.

5.   Salad of Roasted Pears with Shavings of the Best Parmesan you can find


1 not quite ripe pear per person
20g butter per person
½ tablespoon soft light brown sugar per person
½ tablespoon of sherry or balsamic vinegar per person
tender salad leaves
some great Parmesan in the piece

~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 2.
~   Peel the pears, remove the core, and cut them into wedges.
~   When the oven is hot put the butter and the sugar into an appropriate sized ovenproof dish and heat in the oven till the butter has melted.
~   At the pear wedges and toss to coat.
~   Cook for about 10 minutes till tender.
~   Remove the pears from the pan and set aside to cool somewhat.
~   Stir the vinegar into the juices in the pan, taste and season and also set aside to cool.
~   To serve toss a handful of salad leaves per person in the juices and arrange on plates or in a bowl.
~   Arrange the pear wedges on top and then using a potato peeler shave a generous amount of Parmesan over the salad.

Parmesan-and-roasted-pear-salad


mushroom-alfredo-recipe


6.   Mushrooms on Toast with (Black Garlic if you can get it) Alfredo








7.   Stir into soup as in this Parmesan and Roasted Garlic Soup from my genius soup recipe cookbook  which gives one key (genius) recipe plus all the info I can think of and 60+ soups based on the key recipe.

parmesan-cheese-soup-recipe

8.   Parmesan and Garlic Butter 


Just add freshly grated Parmesan to garlic butter and use in all sorts of fabulous ways such as ...

     ~   garlic bread
     ~   swirl into hot soup
     ~   chill and slice to top steak, chicken, fish etc.
or asparagus!
     ~   serve on corn
     ~   spread in appropriate sandwiches
     ~   pop in a jacket potato
     ~   add to mashed potato
     ~   after pan frying something and setting aside to rest stir the butter into the juices  for a quick sauce
     ~   add to pasta or risotto
     ~   etc.


Read more about compound butters here.

9.   Asparagus & Parmesan Sauce or Pesto


Cook asparagus till tender but not at all mushy and purée with butter and Parmesan cheese for a simple sauce or with the classic Pesto ingredients; garlic, Parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts, to be almost authentic. Stir through cooked peas, hot pasta or serve as a dip.

10.   Don’t throw away Parmesan rinds!


~   Simmer in tomato sauces or soups, as is traditional when making Minestrone, or in any sauce or soup that you would grate Parmesan over.
~   Parmesan broth – simmer rinds in chicken or vegetable stock together with your choice of flavourings for an hour or more. Strain and use the broth in soup, sauces, and risotto.
~   Marinate in olive oil together with flavourings such as herbs, garlic, black peppercorns or chilli. Discard the rind and use the oil to drizzle or dip.

See here for 64 Ideas for Leftover Cheese many of which can be made with Parmesan (plus a Joke!) 


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14 February 2016

Why won’t my Milk Go Off?

I have always (slightly) believed that whilst Best Before Dates can be ignored Use By Dates should be adhered to. At least that is what I always advise others, to be honest I use my senses and brain to assess the situation for myself which is how I came to be using ten days out of date milk this morning.

Whilst making our hot drinks I had a strokey chin ponder, as I often do, about Use by Dates.  Even though this milk is so very much past its date it tastes fine and doesn’t separate when heated – there is absolutely nothing wrong with it!  At first I was impressed but now I am a little suspicious.  Wtf has happened to this milk to make it so indestructible?

So I looked up what others think about it …

According to the Daily Mail

“Pasteurised milk will keep 50 per cent longer if you store it at a lower temperature. Try storing at the back of the fridge rather than the fridge door.”

However I always keep the milk in the door so it’s not that.
Rose Gray of the River Café says …

"If it's past its use-by date it's inferior, it has started to deteriorate in one way or another. It doesn't mean you can't eat it. It just means it's not as good for you, or won't taste as nice."
I’m not sure about this one – my real man is a bit of a super-taster (in fact he's super in lots of ways) and can taste the slightest change in flavour and he says it is fine.

According to the Beeb …

Milk will smell or taste bad long before it makes you sick”
… which is as I thought.

A chap called Dr Slim Dinsdale, who is an independent food safety and quality consultant, says lots of things on the matter but one that really resonates with me is …

"People don't make their own judgments, I see that as a retrograde step."

So that’s enough quoting (almost – see below!)

What I really, really want to know is why is my milk not going off? Seriously - any ideas?

In Other News ...

Somewhat related to the above I received lovely review of The Leftovers Handbook recently, there is quite a lot of it but the first paragraph pretty well says it all …
“I am a proud owner of your book, which was just delivered today, and wanted to tell you I am thrilled to bits with it! Honestly, I have quite a few books at home and quite of them are the "bible" type all-in-books, but I have the feeling yours will be the only one to be referred to time after time after time after time. I don't mean to belittle the work of Jamie, Hugh, Gordon, Nigel etc. etc., however I am in love with this book because it sort of reminds us what "back to basics" should look like.”

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7 February 2016

Lab Grown Meat, Dead Animals or a “Pile of Vegetables”?

I had a fabulous lunch with my friend Debbie at Archie Browns, a vegetarian café (and health food shop) in Truro last Thursday; we shared a tasting platter and it was wonderful.

Telling the chaps I “work” with about this the next day one guy said how could I be so pleased with “just a pile of vegetables?” Well really, just look at it …


Another of the guys, however, is a vegetarian and knows of Archie Browns so, of course, agreed with me.  He also made the important point that in a world of diminishing resources, a growing population, greenhouse emissions, climate change and what have we, it makes no sense to feed an animal much more food and water than we get out of it! This brings me to the second point of this post, have you seen this?

It’s Meat Jim – but not as we know it!

Scientists have been working on producing meat from stem cells rather than from dead animals and recently tested and tasted a lab-grown meatball.


This meatball was produced by Memphis Meats who grew animal muscle tissue using stem cells of cows and pigs fed with nutrients and oxygen. Based on the current price of lab-grown beef which is about $18,000 per pound it probably cost about $2,000 (plus, of course the trimmings!) but hopefully will become cheaper as they get better at it.

Some people apparently think the idea of growing lab-grown meat is yuk but then again some people don’t like the idea of eating dead animals and think that is yuk. What do you think?

If (a big if) this really works and has no hidden side effects – what a good idea! Watch a video about it here and see what you think.

Of course if you can’t wait for the price to come down but would just like to make yourself a delicious real beef burger see here. 

In Other News …

Having reviewed quite a few books I am now a member of the Legend 100 Club and will be sent books from Legend Press to review, but not necessarily foodie ones.  

To be honest I was a little discombobulated with the first one;  Fracture by Clár Ní Chonghaile, to review as this is really not my normal style of reading matter. 



How wrong I was, as soon as I read the first page I was hooked. The story is of a journalist held hostage in Somalia told from his own perspective plus that of his mother and of Abdi, a young guy recruited by the terrorist group to “take care” of the prisoner. 

The book is topical, realistic and makes one look at Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism from a different perspective. It taught me a lot I didn’t know about Somalia. The writing is excellent the characters believable and I felt sympathetic towards them. I heartily recommend it.



And speaking of reviews ... just look at this a comment on my last post.
“Hi there, just like to say that I purchased your 4 genius books for kindle yesterday - ice cream, sorbet, scones and soup. They are great! Wonderful simple recipes and a delightful writing style that made me laugh out loud at times.”
Thank you Rikki!

Genius Recipes? see here.






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