Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Bells of St Clement's

[office kitchen, lunchtime]
The Saucemaker: So x has an orange tree in the backyard that is loaded right now, if you wanted some for anything.
Macarong: That would be excellent! I wish I had an orange tree, but, as you know, Saucemaker, I get no sun in my backyard and even thyme dies on me.
The Saucemaker: Cool, I’ll bring some oranges in then.
Macarong: Thanks ever so! I wish I could grow a rosemary bush in my backyard, because that would be the best thing ever. So sick of paying three dollars for a few sprigs that shrivel up in minutes.
The Saucemaker: Well, there’s a whole rosemary hedge. Do you need rosemary?
Macarong: Do I ever, Saucemaker! But you know what I really crave? Figs. I could make all those Mediterranean-type cakes with whole figs in them without paying twenty bucks at the market every time.
The Saucemaker: Oh yeah, there’s a fig tree as well. Totally laden with figs.
Macarong: Oh! [begins to hyperventilate] I’ve always wanted clementines, so I could do that Nigella Lawson whole-clementine cake with actual clementines.
The Saucemaker [waves airily]: Yep, loads of clementines at the moment. Doesn’t know what to do with all the clementines.
Macarong [weakly]: Pomegranates? Pine nuts? Saffron crocuses? Mangoes?
The Saucemaker: Mmm, don’t think the mangoes are in season yet, but apart from that, sure...
Macarong: But really I wish I could grow a lemon tree in my backyard, because that would be the best thing ever… [Enter The Labyris Bearer, The Intrepid Cyclist and The Tall Editor, rendering the kitchen somewhat crowded]…So sick of paying like two dollars for four waxed lemons I use up in a single day.
The Saucemaker, The Labyris Bearer, The Intrepid Cyclist and the Tall Editor in unison: Oh, could you use some lemons? We’ve got so many lemons on our trees we don’t know what to do with them!

Yes, I can always use lemons! So the moral of this tale is that my kitchen’s been enjoying a perfect embarrassment of citrus fruit lately, the first results of which were the two attempts at Poh’s orange chiffon cake. Long may the bounty continue. 
Manna from Heaven's Orange Hazelnut Biscuits to which I added choc chips but they really needed salt

One thing perhaps worth documenting is the marmalade I made last night. I’ve never made marmalade before; I’ve never been a big fan of it, with its large matchsticks of chewy bitter rind. But I dimly remembered a fine version Alida Irwin did some years ago with a vanilla bean, so I gave it a go. To get around my rind aversion, I tried finely zesting rather than boiling up the whole oranges for an hour beforehand and cutting the skin into strips, which seemed to be the most common method found online.

3 oranges
200g raw sugar
juice of a lemon
vanilla pod, split and scraped

Zest the oranges with a fine microplane zester, get rid of the white pith layer with a sharp knife, and chop the orange flesh. 

Put orange and zest in saucepan with sugar, lemon juice and the vanilla pod, and stir occasionally until thickened. 
It’ll be runny enough to be poured into a jar, but will set a lot more while cooling. 
  It made one good-sized jar-full, which I didn’t bother sterilising first – I have Plans for this single jar, and am not looking for lengthy preservation.

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