Friday, 30 April 2021
Sunday, 15 November 2020
Along with the polarising affect sprouts have on people at Christmas, candied peel also causes folk to fall into one of two camps, like it or loathe it. I have some sympathy for those who have formed there opinion based on nothing more than experiencing the pre-cut product that is most commonly used. Even buying the larger pieces of candied peel, when you can find them will deliver a much better experience, but as in so many cases eating the peel you candy yourself is infinitely more enjoyable.
I regularly candy the peel of the large navel oranges we get in the UK early in the year, but my friend Chas Nicholson, well known for his regular article 'Dining in', in the Tannat Chronicle, introduced me to the idea of candied pomello skin. I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it. In many ways it makes more sense to candy pomello skin than any other, after all, pomellos, now readily available, have such a thick skin and you end up throwing it all away and are left with flesh that is little bigger than a grapefruit.
The following method works well for all citrus peel.
For this recipe you will need;
The skin of 1 pomello
1 kilo of sugar combined with 2 litres of water to make a syrup
Copious amounts of water to blanch the peel.
Begin by peeling the pomello. I carefully remove it in 4 pieces then cut each piece into 2 forming 8 petal like pieces. Place the peel in the largest saucepan you have with lots of water and bring to a boil. You'll find the pith causes the pieces to be incredibly buoyant, far more than orange or lemon peel. Simmer for 4 or 5 minutes then drain the peel and repeat the process. You need to achieve a waterlogged state for the peel before moving onto the next step. I found I needed to move more stubborn pieces about a bit to ensure they all became saturated.
Weigh out a kilo of granulated sugar and stir into 2 litres of water. Place the syrup into the saucepan and stir while bringing to the boil. Add the drained peel and gently simmer for 2 or 3 hours, moving the pieces from time to time so each piece gets to be at the bottom of the pan. Drain well on a cooling rack before placing in a dehydrator or a domestic oven set on the lowest heat, to dry out.
When completely dry, store in a lidded jar. It will keep for 3 months or more but is best used within the the first month.
It may seem like a lot of fuss, but believe me, it's not particularly labour intensive and the end product is very special. I sometimes cut my candied peel into fine strips before dipping them in chocolate, along with small packets of the peel itself, they make excellent gifts at Christmas time when candied peel is more often used.
This method works well for all citrus peel but don't ever skimp on the initial blanching, at least 2 or 3 times is ideal.
The large amount of syrup used is because of the size of the peel, the syrup can be saved in a bottle and stored in the fridge to use a second time.
Thursday, 8 October 2020
For my 70th birthday (some time ago now) my daughter treated us to a glorious trip around Rajasthan in November and December of last year. We were so lucky to make it before the pandemic. I learned a great deal to add to my knowledge of cooking Indian food.
In Udaipur, a lovely woman called Sashi, shared with us her recipe for amchoor chutney. Now in India, chutney refers to a great many cold sauce like accompaniments to dishes such as dosa and vada, it in no way resembles the preserve that we in the West tend to enjoy with cheese or cold meats.
Sashi was asking us about our lives back in the U.K. and assumed, on learning that I was a widower, that my daughter lived with me and looked after my every need. We explained that whereas I live in Norfolk, my daughter lives and works in London..... “but you go home each weekend” she suggested, when my daughter told our host that she usually pops up once a month, this poor woman was quietly horrified and realised she didn’t know what then to ask so that she could make sense of it all....... we got on with cooking....
For this recipe you will need;
2 tablespoons of Amchoor powder
3 medjool dates
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of Garam masala
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of Marigold bouillon powder or 1/2 teaspoon of salt
500ml of water
Begin by placing all the ingredients in a blender and blending well until the dates have succumbed and are no longer visible as small pieces.
Transfer everything to a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a gentle boil. Stir and cook for a few minutes then allow to cool.
This sauce is ideal served cold, as a dip for papadum, onion bhaji, vada or even crisps if you find the lockdown has caused you to lose the will to live.
Of course I shamelessly interfered with Sashi’s recipe as soon as I came back to Norfolk. In the original, sugar was used and I decided to replace it with dates, I might even try pomegranate molasses next time. When using sugar, then use cumin powder rather than whole cumin seeds and you can omit the use of the blender.
This sauce keeps well for a week in the fridge.
Wednesday, 30 September 2020
Sometimes a recipe just jumps out of the few things you’ve had around you in the kitchen for the last day or two.
I baked sourdough croissants at the weekend, the few remaining ones have waited patiently whilst slightly drying out. Sylvia kindly brought some pears some time ago. I considered a bread & butter pudding that incorporated pear when suddenly stem ginger popped into my head. I always have a jar or two of stem ginger in syrup, one of the most useful store cupboard ingredients and one that keeps for ages.
For this recipe you will need;
3 or 4 day old croissants
2 peeled pears
300ml of double cream
300ml of milk
220gm of stem ginger in syrup (drained & chopped) see note
100gm of caster sugar
Butter for greasing the ovenproof container
A pinch of salt.
Begin by cutting up the croissants into 6 to 8 pieces and placing into a buttered, ovenproof container. A lasagna dish is perfect. Slice up the pears and sprinkle amongst the croissant pieces, then sprinkle over the chopped ginger.
Whisk together the eggs, milk and cream along with the pinch of salt. Pour over the croissants, pear and ginger and place in a low to moderate oven, 160C for an hour, when the custard mixture should be perfectly set.
This is delicious served warm with a little pouring cream.
The amount of ginger I have used in this recipe makes it a ginger lover’s pudding, ginger is very much a major player and it get my vote but there is nothing to stop you reducing the amount or even leaving it out, but why would you.