Friday, November 27, 2009

The morning after

Well, things got a bit hectic in the afternoon. Far too much going on to blog about it. In the end we had about 30 people and the food and friendship were both fantastic. We also pissed off the neighbours with a swordfighting championship in the street at 11pm (I won!).

Now I'm just doing the morning after dishes and waiting for the xmas tree to get delivered before I head into the office. But before we part, a few recipes...

Potatoes Dauphinois

White Potatoes
Salt
Pepper
Butter
Ground Nutmeg
Garlic
Cream

Peel and then slice your potatoes super thin. I use a mandolin set at 1.5mm then pat them dry on a clean tea towel. Spread a thin even layer in your baking dish. Lightly salt, pepper, nutmeg, crushed garlic, dot with butter. Repeat this layering manoeuvre until your layers are about 3 inches deep. Pour over cream to just cover. Pop into preheated 180C oven for about 1 hour.


Indulgent Bread & Butter Pudding

I hate raisins so I've come up with this alternative recipe.

Plain Panettone or brioche
Butter
Apricot Jam
Cooking Chocolate or Good Choc Chips
Cream
Milk
Eggs

Quantities are variable based on the size of your baking dish.

Slice your panettone or brioche into slices the thickness of bread. Spread butter and then jam on each slice. Spread a generous amount of choc shavings or chips on each slice. Arrange in a baking dish. Mix 275ml milk, 60ml cream, 3 eggs and 50g sugar then pour over. If you've made a big pudding you may have to mix up and additional batch of the liquids. The custard mix should be about an inch below the surface of the bread. Pop into a 180C oven for 30-40 minutes (or more) depending on the size of your pudding. Cook until the custard is set.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stuffing

After a frantic email rally and hastily written report, I decided to get to work on the stuffing. Or at least the vegetarian stuffing. Which is the same as regular stuffing but I use veggie stock cubes instead of lovely fresh chicken stock.

These ingredients made enough for about 6 people...

1/2 head of celery, finely sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp sage
1 package ready chestnuts, coarsely chopped
10 slices bread
butter to taste
Boiling water

Big lump of butter in the pot, add celery and onions and saute until onions are translucent and celery is soft. Add butter as necessary so nothing sticks or burns. Stir regularly.I add the sage about halfway through so it doesn't burn but infuses everything with its herby goodness. Add chestnuts. Add stock. Cube bread and add. Give it a good stir so the flavours coat the bread. Add water carefully - we want stuffing not soup! Keep stirring the water in so that the stuffing begins to cohere. Decant into a baking dish and cover with foil. I'll set this on the side and pop it in the oven when the final bird comes out to rest (about 30 minutes) and leave it covered in foil.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

I'm now prepping side dishes. I put the sweet potatoes on to boil for 40 minutes, skins on and then drained them. When they have cooled enough to handle, I will skin them and cut them in 2 inch chunks. I'm using 2 kilos of sweet potatoes.

I'll put the potato pieces in a large baking dish and sprinkle a cup of butter, a cup of brown sugar and about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of maple syrup over then pop that in a 160C oven for 30 minutes or so, basting regularly.

Cornbread

Or rather, corn muffins. I see no point in making these from scratch when the Jiffy corn muffin mix is so good.

So, open box of carefully smuggled and hoarded Jiffy corn muffin mix. Add to egg and 1/3 cup milk, mix, let sit for a few minutes while you grease the muffin tins. Spoon in until 3/4 full then bung in 400F/190C oven for 15-20 minutes.

Boston Baked Beans

Mom has arrived with supplies, the beans are up and I've got crappy daytime TV on. Let the gossiping begin!

Ingredients:

550g smoked streaky bacon
6 cans canneloni beans
3 Large onions
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup (or molasses)
2 tbsp dry mustard
ketchup

This is a slow-cooker recipe so just chop up your bacon and onions and bung all of the ingredients into the slow-cooker. Taste for flavour in 6 hours.

Also, when opening the cans of beans, watch out for kamikaze cats who equate all cans being opened with being fed.

Fauna of the Biritsh Isles

Let me tell you the megillah (that's yiddish for a very long story) of locating the bird for today. In the states I would normally cook a 25 lb bird but monsters of that size are almost unknown here and if you really, really want one you need to pre-order it months in advance. For Xmas. Not for Thanksgiving.

Now I know that the Waitrose at Canary Wharf gets a few fresh birds in for the American contingent so I trotted over there last week. They couldn't take an order for Thanksgiving - only Xmas. Ordering for Xmas is no good to me. For one thing it's too late and for another I already have a 7 kilo goose ordered for THAT holiday.

But they told me not to worry, they would be getting in plenty of fresh birds on Tuesday, they just couldn't take an order. So Tuesday I rocked up nice and early to inspect the flesh on offer. Hah! The biggest one they had just brushed 5 kilos. Good thing I checked. So I bought the biggest frozen bird they had and even THAT was only 6.8 kilos. Mind you, the ovens and roasting pans available here don't really accommodate anything bigger.

So the turkey has been defrosting since Tuesday, mostly in my fridge because otherwise I have to valiantly defend it from my cat, Princess Glinda. My mother has been defrosting another bird at her place and Richard has also bought a fresh turkey crown which is 2 kilos of pure turkey goodness.

Right then, time to brush my teeth and then get the slowcooker out of the garage for the beans.

Turkey Day: Bloody Dawn

Silly me, I had my Lib Dems AGM last night (I was reelected as Data Officer) and then got home late and watched 2 episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Hmmm.

Anyway, I'm up. Have made a pass through the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher. The kitchen is clean because I did a blitzkrieg on it this weekend, including the 15 loads necessary to wash all of the glassware and shelving.

I've also just turned on the ice cream maker to begin chilling. Last night, before the Lib Dem thing, I scurried home to quickly prep the sorbet mix (double batch) so it would be able to cool overnight. In parallel I prepared the cranberry sauce which is now in individual ramikins and set in the drinks fridge.

I'll just have some coffee and a cig and by that time the ice cream maker should be cool enough to pour in my sorbet mix.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

If you live in the US, just get out one or two of your nice pie plates to bake this in. If you like in the UK - well, rotsa-ruck as Bugs Bunny used to say. It is almost impossible to find a proper pie plate in the UK and you can almost forget about deep-dish pie plates. Asti was lucky enough to find one - but I think she may have bought it in another country and brought it back here. So if you are in the UK - use a quiche pan or tart pan or as I have, 2 "sandwich" cake pans. (I have no idea why they are called sandwich cake pans but they are cheap and handy to have in your kitchen)

Thanksgiving a la Two Project Managers

What you need to understand is that my daughter Astrid and I are project managers both by trade and nature. Therefore, all tasks and preparations leading up to Thanksgiving Dinner are scheduled and assigned in advance, whatever can be made the day before, is.

So today, Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, my local Tesco supermarket delivered the order that Asti & I placed. Altho dinner is at Astrid's house, delivery was to mine because my Tesco is reliable and Asti's isn't as we've learned by sad experience. This is a critical detail if you rely on any deliveries - how reliable is the supermarket/supplier. Want to trust your Thanksgiving dinner on some bloke who will shrug and say, "not my job, couldn't be helped, gov"?

The recipes I'm posting tonight were for desserts - all made the night before the big day. Sorbet is chilling in Asti's freezer now. I've just put 2 pumpkin pies in the oven to bake. Apple pie follows. Then 2 pans of potatoes dauphanois.

Tomorrow at 7am I'll pack everything into my little car and drive over to Asti's house where the turkeys will be roasted, sides cooke, and all the other bits come together - and yes, recipes and photos will be posted.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Day?

I will be doing Thanksgiving on Thames again this year and wonder if anyone would like me to share my Turkey Day Recipes? Mom can photograph and blog from my kitchen.

The menu, in addition to the recipe that Mom previously posted includes:

Turkey (of course)
Chestnut Stuffing
Potatoes Dauphinois (Richard hates them but I tell him that for one day a year he can shut up about that and just don't eat them)
Candied sweet potatoes (or yams depending on what's in the shops)
Brussels Sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts
Cornbread
Slow-cooked Boston Baked Beans
Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Port Sorbet (recipe already posted)
Apple Pie (mom)
Pumpkin Pie (mom)
Chocolate Apricot Bread & Butter Pudding

And don't forget the gravy

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sugar - UK vs US

Being an American, I was used to just picking up a bag of granulated sugar at my local supermarket when I wanted to do baking. The only issue I had with sugar was to make sure it was pure cane sugar - no corn sugar, no maltose, etc added (to cheapen and stretch the product).

But, when I moved to the UK and bought what was labeled as pure cane granulated sugar something was different, wrong, weird. It looked wrong, it didn't dissolve right in coffee or in batter mixes.

The problem was classic - same names for different things. In the UK, what I thought of as granulated sugar was called Castor sugar. Now the experts on the web claim that Castor sugar in the UK is the equivalent of Superfine sugar in the US. Perhaps. But UK granulated sugar is absolutely not the same as US granulated sugar. End of.

So if I call for castor sugar in a recipe - and you are in the US, just use granulated sugar.

With liquids we get a whole new set of issues. They still have cups and pints here - but they are also very different. For example: US pint = 16 oz, UK pint = 20 oz

I try to be careful about these issues when I post recipes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sweet Potato, Raisin, and Cranberry Strudel


I saw this recipe in Leite's Culinaria, a blog I follow. I modified it a bit to our tastes and made a test batch at Asti's house yesterday. Sensational! A note about the coarse sea salt. You need to use proper flake sea salt for this. Not kosher salt, not regular salt. I use Malden Sea Salt flakes - absolutely the best, a must in your kitchen supplies! Amazing stuff - and that from a known anti-salt person. Anyway, I worried about the saltiness of the finished dish as I lightly sprinkled salt flakes onto each of the 7 layers of phyllo dough. No need, it was delicious. We'll be serving this as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving dinner at Asti's house this year instead of the usual maple sweetened baked sweet potatoes; a welcome change.



1/4 cup dried cranberries (I used more of course)
1/4 cup golden raisins (Must use golden ones! And more is ok, too)
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 sticks (US) or 1 250 gr block unsalted butter
1/2 pound (8 ounces) phyllo pastry, thawed (1/2 a standard box usually)
1/2 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped (yeah, more is fine)
Coarse sea salt
3/4 cup spiced crème fraîche or sour cream (optional)

1. Put the cranberries and golden raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water; set aside to plump for 10 minutes, then drain.

2. Put the potato and carrots in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water, and add a little salt. Cook over high heat until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and carrots in a strainer and set aside.

3. Put the butter in a small saucepan over high heat. Let the butter melt and then stir continuously until the butter starts browning on the bottom of the pan. It will also start bubbling and foaming a little. The butter should have a medium golden-brown color. Immediately pour the butter into a small dish and set aside.

4. Smash the soft-cooked potatoes and carrots with a fork. You are looking for a lumpy consistency. Stir 6 tablespoons of the brown butter into the vegetables. Blend in the dried fruit and season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and fit a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

6. To make the strudel, unroll the phyllo dough and lay it flat on a clean work surface. The dimensions of the dough will be 9 by 13 inches, or cut large sheets of phyllo dough to 9 by 13 inches. To help prevent the dough from drying out while working with it, cover with a slightly dampened clean kitchen cloth. Carefully place one sheet of dough on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the melted brown butter, and lightly sprinkle with pecans and coarse sea salt. Lay another sheet on top and continue layering with brown butter, sea salt, and pecans. Layer and stack seven sheets together.

7. Carefully spoon the vegetable-dried fruit filling along one of the long edges of the dough, packing it with your hands into a tubelike shape. Starting with the filling side of the dough, roll the strudel tightly into a log. Place the strudel in the center of the baking sheet, brush with the remaining butter, and sprinkle with pecans and a little sea salt.

8. Place the strudel in the center of the oven and bake until golden brown, about 25 - 45 minutes depending on your oven. Remove the baking pan from the oven to a cooling rack. Transfer the strudel to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut the strudel using long sawing motions. This will help prevent excessive flaking of the pastry. Serve warm or at room temperature with spiced crème fraîche or sour cream (stir in some ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice to flavor the cream).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chocolate mousse

This is a classic mousse which means there is no cooking of ingredients involved. If you are one of those people with issues about raw eggs - umm scroll back and find the chocolate pudding post and make that instead. Sorry but for me it's real mousse or nothing.

A quick note about chocolate. Of course, always use the best chocolate you can buy. But for this and many other recipes calling for dark chocolate, be careful about using a high % chocolate. I tried this recipe with my usual 70% dark chocolate and it was too intense and concentrated. I'd stick with the 60% range or so for this particular recipe or use less chocolate.

2 egg yolks
4 egg whites
7 oz dark chocolate
2 oz caster sugar (US: superfine sugar if possible)
1 teaspoon golden syrup/maple syrup/light corn syrup
½ cup double cream
1 oz unsalted butter
1 TBs espresso or strong coffee or cognac or rum
1 tsp vanilla

1. Use a large pyrex measure/mix bowl with handle for this ideally. Break up the chocolate and place in the bowl with the syrup and butter.
2. Nuke for 60 seconds in microwave. Remove from microwave and stir gently to make sure all the chocolate is melted - the residual heat will melt all the remaining bits quickly. Set aside to allow to cool slightly while you start the next step.
3. Whisk the egg yolks and the cream together, add vanilla and a good splash of espresso or cognac.
4. Take the bowl of melted chocolate and gently stir in the cream and egg yolk mixture until they have combined.
5. Put the egg whites into a large bowl and whisk them with an electric hand whisk until they have reached the soft peak stage (when the whisk is taken out of the egg whites the peaks left by the whisk should be limp and rounded).
6. Pour the sugar over the egg whites and then continue to whisk them until they reach the stiff-peak stage (when the whisk is removed from the egg whites, the peaks left by the whisk should be pointed and firm.
7. Spoon about half of the whisked egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently fold it in using a spatula (I love silicone for this!) until it is completely combined.
8. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold them in until they have completely combined (Don't beat or stir the mixture as this will break the bubbles in the egg whites, resulting in a heavy mousse).
9. Either put the whole bowl into the fridge or pour the mixture into ramekins/cups for individual portions and put them into the fridge. Cover with saran/cling film, of course.
10. Let the mousse set in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Overnight is fine.

The mouse will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days (are you insane, what kind of household lets mouosse sit uneaten that long?)

You can serve as is or with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pasta with Smoked Trout in Dill & Cream Sauce

I threw a few things together on Sunday night for dinner and Richard really rated it so I thought I might post it here. Basically, smoked trout (which I absolutely adore) was on special so I loaded up on it. I'd planned to use it on a salad but not everyone in the household was enamored of the idea so I ende up doing the following...

Ingredients:

2 fillets of smoked trout
handful flaked almonds
handful fresh dill
frozen peas (I would have used asparagus or french beans if I had any)
butter
olive oil
lemon juice
white wine
double cream
salt & pepper
farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

First off, toast the almond flakes. I spread a handful in a single layer on a nonstick pan and popped them in the oven. It was a cold (not pre-heated) oven at 180C for 10 minutes but YMMV. I cooked them for 5 minutes the checked to determine how much more they needed. Be careful here as it doesn't take much for almonds to burn.

I'm afraid there are no firm measurements here because I was cooking "off-piste" but basically while the pasta was cooking I melted equal parts butter with olive oil (I would say about 4-5 Tbsp each) then added lemon juice, salt & pepper. When sizzling lightly I added my frozen peas (or whatever green veggie you plan to use). I then added a few ounces of white wine and cokked down a bit. If using fresh veg I would still add them at this point point because, while not frozen they will probably be bigger/thicker so the timing will still be ok.

WHEN THE veg seem cooked, the sauce should have reduced a bit. Swirl through some double cream (single is more likely to split) and freshly chopped dill. Let bubble lightly and then add the smoked trout.

Drain pasta, and serve straight away with a generous helping of the trout & sauce. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Tomato Sauce

So, I figured to hell with it, I'd make it up as I went along. Check out what I did and see what you think, try your own vairents, etc.

Ingredients:
1. 3-4 pounds tomatoes. Tomatoes are in season right now, so they're cheap as hell, so I bought the ones still on the vine. They are usually much much mroe expensive but because it's the season, they were only 50 cents more per pound than the cheap shit, so I said fuck it- I'm willing to pay an extra 2 dollars for the vast increase in quality.
2. 1 large sweet texas onion (it's texan so you know it's huge)
3. 1 little bushell of curly parsely (that's the kind with tiny leaves)
4. 3 sweet red bell peppers
5. ~1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (first cold pressed, naturally)
6. 1 bay leaf
7. ~1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8. juice of 1 lime
9. ~1 tbsp cocoa powder
10. ~3 tbsp brown sugar (dark brown, none of that light brown crap)
11. ~4-5 cups cold water
12. 5 cloves garlic.
13. ~2 tbsp sherry.
14. 2 pinches dried dill (fresh is better, but I dind't have any)


Chop up two of the tomatoes. I removed the skin from one but it was too much damn work. Don't worry about the skin, honestly. Chop the tomatoes into rough cubes. Put these into the pot and drissle some olive oil over them. Set the heat on high. Continue chopping the tomatoes and adding them to the pot, stirring them in and adding more olive oil as you go. The tomatoes will heat fraster than you can chop (and I was chopping pretty fast). This is goign to be boiling for ages, so don't worry about getting rid of the juice- you want all of it, all the flavor everything, so dump everything into that pot. Once you've done that, add in the red peppers. Chop in the garlic. I would have liked to have added more but I only had 5 cloves on hand. Chop up that huge white onion- it'll seem lik the pot is half onion. The whole thing will be really thick by now, so add the water. I did this all eyeballed, so you have to add what seems appropriate. Bring the heat down to medium and let it simmer for abotu a half hour. Chop up the parsely and add it. I added balsamic vinegar to give the flavor some body. I rolled and squeezed one lime to give the flavor some highlight and let it continue to simmer another 10 minutes. On tasting it was okay but the lime was a little strong. To cut the sour of the lime, I added a little cocoa powder and some brown sugar (I dind't measure the brown sugar at all- just broke off a couple of chunks into the pot). Stir and let simmer a while longer. Add bay leaf. Add dill. It should taste good. Very good. But you need to add that sherry because the sherry acts to bring all the flavors together, to help them to meld into something different. Taste it and it'll be good. Turn the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for around an hour or so. Come back occasionally stirring and tasting. After an hour or so the liquid should be very red. To really get everything out, I like to take an old-fashioned potato masher, and mash within the pot to maximize the surface area. Let it simmer another half hour or so (if you do it longer, it doesn't do any harm.). Eventually you'll taste and judge it to be ready. At this point stick the whole thing into a blender and puree it in pulses until fiarly smooth. It'll be dark orange-red. It shoudl be tasty as hell too. You can freeze it for at least 6 months and it'll be garden fresh when you eat it. Probably longer. Oh, don't put it straight into the fridge/freezer, let it cool to room temp or a little warmer first.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cherry Garcia

I should preface this slightly with a note about my ice cream maker. Mine is such that it is essentially a pre-frozen bowl which is used, rather than the ice and salt or anything subsequently stuck in the freezer. So my method may be a touch different from your own.

You will need:
1. ~1 cup bing cherries, halved and pitted.
2. 1/2 bar dark chocolate.
3. 1 cup milk
4. 2 cups heavy cream
5. 3/4 cup sugar
6. 2 large eggs.

First things first. Make sure all your dairy ingredients are chilled, as well as eggs and such. So, first step is to slice open the cherries and pitt them. Do you have a fancy cherry pitter? Good for you! I, alas, do not. I used a knife and just dug out the pits with my thumbnail. Bing cherries were on sale. It was $2 for a pound of them, so I bought a pound and decided to be picky and select my way through them, using only the choice and firm cherries for the ice cream. I got roughly a cup or so worth of halves.

Now, here is an alternative you may wish to consider. I did NOT use this alternative but I am mentioning it nonetheless. Halfing the cherries is nice for texture and flavor. However, there's not a whole lot of surface area exposed to the cream. You may want to slice them a little thinner. It might also be worthwhile to take a few extra cherries and simply crush them (or slice them thinly, then crush them) to collect the juice. The reason? The end result has a fairly delicate cherry flavor- but then, cherry garcia actually doesn't have a strong cherry flavor either. It's up to you. Try a batch, see if you like it, adjust accordingly.

Cover the cherries and stick them in the fridge.

I bought a bar of Hershey's All Natural Extra Dark, made from 60% cocoa. It costs about as much as a regular chocolate bar. You don't need to get anything too fancy, but you want some nice dark chocolate. Now this is important. High cocoa percentage means it will melt very readily, so hold the bar fairly lightly with the bar in the foil as much as possible. Make sure your kitchen isn't too warm. With a knife, shave off about half the bar. I alternated between scraping and shaving, getting nice little curls and the like. Don't hack off chunks but don't worry too much if it seems a little thick- it will be breaking up and such. As soon as you are done, cover the bowl and shove it into the fridge. If you were anything like me, now if the time to wash your hand off.


Do not bother to set up your stove top. Nothing is getting heated. Why not? Because that chocolate will simply melt into the milk and be done with. But the whole point is to have these little delicate flakes of chocolate. Does that mean that the ice cream will have raw eggs in it? Yes. Deal with it. So.

Crack open the two eggs, and whisk them until they become light and fluffy- 1-2 minutes. Then slowly add the sugar- I added it 1/4 cup at a time, whisked until dissolved, then added a bit more. You want to keep whisking until it gets fairly thick. Will all of the sugar dissolve? Likely not- but whisk it a couple of minutes anyway to dissolve as much as possible.


To this, add your cup of milk, whisk it, then your two cups of cream, and whisk again. If everything was properly cold, dump your cherries and chocolate in. Whisk the cherries and chocolate in with a few strokes- you don't want the cream mix warming too much and melting the chocolate, and you don't wan tot break up the chocolate if you can help it. Stick the mixture into the fridge for a good hour or two. From here, follow instructions accordingly for your ice cream maker. The shot below was taken VERY quickly as I was giving it a quick stir before I shoved the bowl, covered, back into the fridge.

Thoughts. You may be able to add the chocolate to the ice cream as it stirs and freezes. I didn't because I worry about it breaking up, and a little bit of the chocolate going into the cream might be nice. The couple of hours allows the cherries to flavor the cream a bit. however, if you tried the alternative above, then pour the cherry juice in with the cherries.

This is a delicious home-made version of cherry garcia- one of my absolute favorite ice creams. Let me know what you think. I'd also take some suggestions as to what to do with the greater portion of a pound of cherries.

Edit: I made this again this weekend and I used even more cherries, this time taking out a number and squishing them by hand and pouring the juice and the flesh into the ice cream. The result was a nice purple ice cream with a much more pronounced cherry flavor. I also, for the fuck of it, added about a teaspoon of almond extract. Its the kind of thing that gives a nice background flavor that the other flavors springboard off of. You may not notice the taste, but you notice its disappearance.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comfort Food - Rice Krispies Treats

Sometimes you just need the soothing comfort of a childhood favorite -this is so quick and easy to make. Gotta love it.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
OR -
4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray or buttered lightly. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

Store no more than two days at room temperature in airtight container. To freeze, place in layers separated by wax paper in airtight container. Freeze for up to 6 weeks. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ultimate Brownie


The Ultimate Brownie is absolutely the best brownie recipe I've ever found. It is tall like a cakey-brownie, but is dense like a fudgy-brownie. I just made a batch tonight and the house is full of a gentle chocolate scent - irresistible! It's easy to make and pretty forgiving if you tend to toss in a bit more this and less that like I do.
  • 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate or fine quality 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I cheat and only use 1/2)
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 C/ 170 Fan.

Grease a 9 x 13 pan. You can also bake this in 2 round cake pans, etc.

1. Melt chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat; set aside.

2.In a mixer, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla at high speed for 10 minutes. (If you use a Kitchenaid type mixer, 5 minutes may be enough.)

3. Blend in alternately chocolate mixture, flour and salt until just mixed. Stir in the nuts.

4. Pour into prepared pan/s.

5. Bake for 35-40 minutes. (Don't overbake.) If you are using 2 round pans, 30 minutes may be enough. Just check to prevent burning. Brownies will start to shrink away from sides of pan as it nears doneness.

6. Cool and frost if desired, but that is not necessary.

These brownies are dead gorgeous. Believe me, I know. You can wrap half of them in a freezer proof bag and save for later. Or you can take any extras to work and win the abject gratitude of the entire staff.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Banana Nut Muffins

These are super easy to make - only needs a bowl and a spoon to mix up. Make sure the bananas are very ripe for best flavor.

Ingredients - basic recipe with notes on how I actually make it

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
(note - depends on size, I used 5 of the dinky ones we get in the UK)
1/3 cup melted butter - unsalted
3/4 cup sugar
(note - I used 1/2 cup - depends on how ripe bananas are)
1 egg, beaten
(note - I used 2 eggs - why? Because I'm the Mommy)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toasted or raw)
dashes of spices of your choice - I use cinnamon, nutmeg

Method

No need for a mixer with this recipe. Get out a comfy mixing bowl and big spoon

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

2 Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla.

3 Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

4 Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

5 Pour mixture into a prepared (this means well buttered) muffin tin.

6 Bake for 25-30 minutes. (My crazy UK fan oven did them in 23 - so check after 20 min to see how done they are)
Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheesey Chedder Biscuits

It's been a while since I've posted so I figured I would put up somethign quick and easy (even though I have photoes and such of other recipes, I haven't bothered writing them up yet so yea).

So, the ingrediants:

1. 2.5 cups Bisquick baking mix
2. 1 cup cheddar cheese, grated.
3. 3/4 cup whole milk
4. 2 tablespoons butter melted
5. 1/2 stick melted butter (keep seperate from the 2 tablespoons)
6. 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
7. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (keep seperate)
8. 1 teaspoon dried thyme.

Note: The origional recipe calls for garlic powder rather than onion,m and parsely flakes rather than thyme. I can't speak for that as I haven't tried it. I'd love ot hear from someone who tries both. I just don't have either garlic powder or parsely leaves here (or, more properly, I didn't see either and I'm not prepared to empty out the cabinet to find out)

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine (by hand, it's quite fast) the bisquick, milk, 2 tbsp butter, cheese, 1/4 tsp onion powder.
3.Put dough onto baking sheet in ~1/4 cup sizes (roughly 1.5-2inch diameter) Should make about 12.
4. Combine melted butter, thyme, rest of onion powder.
5. Search for brush. Fail to find one. Grab small spatula and try your best to "brush" the butter mixture onto the tops of the biscuits as a wash.
6. Stick in oven for 15 minutes.
7. Eat.

Possibilities for alterations:
1. Add 1 tsp old bay seasoning to the dough and/or a tsp paprika.
2. Try different cheddars. I used Cracker Barrel Extra-sharp white. You may like something more mellow, or use an aged cheddar for a richer flavor.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sauce, anyone?

This isn't so much a post as a request, or two requests. One is that people post a recipe for tomato sauce. I can and have made it and it was nice, but it essentially consisted of me shoving a bunch of stuff I thought would be good into a pot, boiling the shit out of it and going at it with a potato masher to smoothen it out. Mind you it still came out really nice.

The other is for people to reccomend their favorite nice pasta sauce, store-bought. Don't say the word mushroom- canned mushrooms I find completely disgusting. I don't need cheeses or meat- I'm talking straight-up tomato sauce. I can never remember the brand, but it's either Ragu or Prego (I think Prego) which I cannot stand because it has an incredible amount of stabilizers, to the point you can barely taste the tomatoes.

But I want something nice and tasty. My brother and father used to like Mama Rizzo's, but I find it too watery. I want something that actually tastes like....well, a tomato sauce. It's store bought so it won't be awesome. But something reasonably palatable which you actually enjoy, not just what's on sale or whatever. I don't eat a lot of pasta, so when I do and I'm going to use sauce, I want to use nice stuff. I don't always have time to make the stuff fresh (or even to make it fresh and freeze it) so this would be really handy for me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fish and Chips (hold the chips)

So my fiancé and I were watching Food Network yesterday and saw a throwdown between Bobby Flay (nee asshole) and this Fish&Chips place here in manhattan run by some bloke who has been cooking fish and chips in England since he was 7 at a place I’ve passed many times and wanted to try but never actually went into called A Salt And Battery. Well, after an hour of watching F&C we both sat there moaning about how much we wanted some- good, light, crunchy, fresh ones, not crap from the freezer. So we decided to do it. Only, we were too lazy to make the chips portion. So whatever. We also made the tartar sauce. Here’s the thing- I highly recommend you make the tartar sauce at LEAST an hour beforehand, though if you can let it sit in the fridge say overnight, I think that would be better.

Tartar Sauce (makes a SHITLOAD)

1. 3 heaping tablespoons sweet relish.

2. 1 minced garlic clove

3. 1 minced scallion

4. 1 teaspoon pepper

5. 2 tablespoons lemon juice

6. 2 tablespoons pickle juice (acts as a thinner)

7. 1 cup mayonnaise

Pretty much mix everything together nicely, then adjust for taste. I started with 2 tablespoons of relish and 1 tablespoon lemon and it was okay, but a bit heavy on the mayonnaise flavor. Adding more relish and lemon really made it much better and the mayonnaise gave a nice creaminess rather than being a heavy flavor. I saw a recipe that recommended sticking it all into a blender, but I like mine with a little texture and it seems a bit of a lot of cleaning for such a small thing. Note that this makes a hell of a lot so you might want to either cut the amounts used or simply store it for another day. Or make more fish, whatever. The pickle juice I used was the brine from some pickles bought on Essex street, so you know it’s the good stuff. Joanna gives it two thumbs up.

The Fish.

Now, I’ve never deep fried anything so this was a bit new for me. Luckily, my lovely assistant Joanna handled that part of it. Now this is a variant of the classic beer batter. However, beer batter tends to taste a bit like, well, beer and neither Joanna nor I really care for the flavor. So instead, we substituted seltzer. It gives it a nice, lightness which you get from beer, but without the instrusive flavor. We ended up with a batter which was crunchy but with a fairly delicate flavor that allowed the flavor of the fish itself to come through.

1. 2 pounds of cod

2. 2 cups flour

3. 2 cups cornmeal

4. 3 cups seltzer

5. 2 eggs

6. 1 teaspoon pepper

7. 1 teaspoon salt

8. A shitload of vegetable oil

Directions:

1. Head to your local fishmonger. Seriously- as with all fish, the fresher, the better. We, being in Chinatown, have a few within easy walking distance. I dunno what the usual price is but we got about 2 pounds worth (2 large fillets) for $11.50 and this stuff was really nice. Yes, that’s right- I’m eating fish from a Chinatown fishmonger. Again. If I come down with heavy metal poisoning some day, you’ll know why.

2. Debone the fish and slice into pieces roughly 2”x3” (some wiggle room is fine of course- but we found that too big took a bit longer to cook- although that might have been because of the oil temp- more on this later.)

3. Dump the vegetable oil into a big pot and put it over a high flame. We used vegetable oil because we didn’t want any flavors from the oil affecting the taste of the cod (papa, I’m talking to you- don’t use goddamn peanut oil or olive oil or mustard seed oil or hair oil or whatever unless you want your fish to taste like anything but fish). You need to let the oil pre-heat for about 10 minutes before it will be the right temperature. Some people have thermometers, I do not.

4. Combine all the dry ingredients together with a whisk. The corn meal is, I admit, a little odd. I was afraid that it would make the batter gritty. As a matter of fact, it didn’t since it ended up being crisp. However, it still strikes me as rather odd. I looked up several recipes and they all recommended it, so I used it but it still seems a touch odd to me. As I said, because they were fried to a nice crispness, it wasn’t a problem, but I still think it seemed wrong. Thoughts from across the pond?

5. Crack in the eggs and add half the seltzer, THEN stir. With the amount of dry ingredients involved if you try stirring having only added the eggs, you will end up with a large ball of goo in the middle of your whisk. Once the mixture is homogenous, add the rest of the seltzer and keep mixing. You may need to adjust the amounts of seltzer and flour and cornmeal. My original amount I used 1.5 cups each of the flour and cornmeal, and 2 cups of seltzer. That ended up being too thick. I added another cup of seltzer (yes, I thought it was foolish adding so much at once, but there you have it). It ended up being watery. I added 1/3 cup each of corn meal and flour So really it’s not 2 cups each, it’s 1 5/6 cups each but close enough, says I. Anyway, the consistency should be roughly that of a thin pancake batter. It should coat your fish, but not glop on.

6. Take your fish and dunk them in, good and covered. Let some excess drip off.

7. Take battered fish and carefully drop them into the oil. Now this is delicate- the oil MUST have been preheated, or you’re fucked. How do you know the temperature is okay? Well, you never really know for sure until you add your first piece. However, you can try testing with a drop of just the batter. It should bubble like crazy, but not dangerously so. That’s about all I can tell you. Joanna got nervous after a while and turned down the heat. After a while we noticed some of the pieces were taking forever to cook and weren’t browning. I suggested turning the heat back up- worked like a charm. So keep the heat up on high the whole time, if you can.

8. Leave the fish in the oil for ~7 minutes. By this point they should be a nice gold and brown. Take them out with tongs or a mesh scoop or whatever (do NOT use plastic- it’ll melt). Put them onto a plate covered with a few paper towels and let cool a minute or two.

9. Dunk cooked fish into tartar sauce and enjoy!

Note: The amount of battery is ludicrously more than you need for only 2 pounds of fish. I’m giving the measurements I used because I know that they work, but feel free to half this. That said, this is actually healthier than you might think (among other things because of the clean oil, etc.). Make sure you let the oil cool before you chuck it- and please do throw it out, don’t save it.

One thing I rather liked about this recipe was that it was pretty cheap. It mostly used stuff I had around the house. The only things I needed to buy were the fish and the oil (we don’t use much oil in my home). I am telling you this- after 1 pound of fish, you will be full, so if you plan on adding chips (not fries unless they are steak fries. Real chips are meant to be chipped off of a potato) then you can probably feed four with this recipe.

One other thing. Some recipes call for salting your fish before you dip them in the batter. I’m not a huge salt guy and I’ve had fish that was too salty because they did that. I also know that when Bobby Flay (*asshole*) was doing that on the show, the guys from A Salt and Battery were looking over saying “Oh no, he’s salting the fish…” in a “look what that idiot is doing” kind of voice. Their fish and chips have consistently been rated as the best in the western hemisphere, so I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

You can add things like paprika to the batter to give it a little spice. However, to my mind the batter is mant to be fairly subtle in flavor and act as a nice baseboard for the fish to come from. The fish, being cod (you can use other white fish, but cod is really traditionally best) is fairly light in flavor itself, and so is easily covered up. The big flavoring I would use is the tartar sauce. However, should you get ahold of some malt vinegar, sprinkle some over your fish and give it a try- let me know how it comes out (I don’t have any on hand, but was more interested in the tartar sauce anyway)

I should also say- I despise tartar sauce, and have since I as a little kid. However, a few years ago I finally tried some and to my surprise I enjoyed it. I discovered what an absolute world of difference there is between home-made (which is surprisingly easy) and store-bought tartar. If you, like me, hate both mayonnaise and tartar sauce, give this recipe a shot- you might be surprised.

Edit: I have now tried the recipe by changing one or two things. First, got rid of the corn meal. Also, added some salt and pepper to the batter itself. Third, let the oil run hot the whole time- yes it bubbles at first but it will go down within seconds. I also tried making a slightly thicker batter and not letting as much drip off post-dredge. My conclusion- there's a leeway in the thickness of the batter. However, it is a good idea to really let the majority of the excess to drip off. Otherwise you get pieces curling up on themselves, or giant globs of the stuff you're biting into, etc. And don't be afraid to let it go an extra minute or two- you really want them nice and golden- if they're too pale, you can eat them but they aren't as nice. Added to this, the lack of cornmeal definately improved the flavor and texture. We also tried chips- not so hard all in all, but not so interesting. We made the tartar sauce int he morning and let it sit throughout the day until we cooked- made a huge diffrence- learn from this.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Andrew's Awesome Chowder

I don't have pictures this time because I didn't have my camera ready. Nonetheless, this is pretty straightforward. The result is both very nutritious and delicious. I thought it was fantastic. Joanna, while eating it, would periodically come up for air and say "this is fucking awesome!" So, without further ado:

Serves: enough for 2 hungry people for dinner, plus lunch for them the next day.
Time: Roughly 45 minutes to an hour.
Cost: 15-20 dollars, depending.

Ingredients

1. 3 1/3 cups water
2. 4 large potatoes (I would say fist sized, but my fists are pretty big...)
3. 1 1/2 cup baby carrots
4. 1 1/2 cups broccoli.
5. 4 Shallots
6. 2 Tbsp butter
7. 2 cups whole milk
8. 1 large ham steak
9. 1 tsp salt
10. 1/4 tsp pepper
11. 3 tbsp flour (I used all-purpose)
12. 1 can corn.

I'm lucky in that I'm the only guy in my family who can eat broccoli, either raw or cooked. Which is great because I love the stuff. Anyway, that said, the amount of broccoli is not exact because I really just eye-balled how much I wanted to put in. You do the same. I did the same with the carrots. The carrots ended up being roughly half of a standard-sized package of fresh baby carrots, if that's any help. You can substitute onions for the shallots here, but I think shallots are so lovely- if you don’t know, they're a cross between onion and garlic and smell like acetone when cooking but taste divine.

Equipment:

1. 1 medium pot
2. 1 wooden spoon
3. Cutting board
4. Chopping knife
5. Frying pan.

Instructions:
1. Peel and chop the shallots.
2. Peel and cube your potatoes.
3. Melt the butter in the pot.
4. Add shallots to pot, and stir go gently cook them. Keep an eye on these shallots as they cook rapidly.
5. For gods sake, don't do what I did which was peel the potatoes now and then try chopping them- it's a nightmare. The timing is just terrible.
6. Once the shallots have finished cooking, add the potatoes, and then add 3 cups of water.
7. Add the salt and pepper.
8. Turn the heat up to high to help the water get hotter faster. Leave uncovered.
9. Chop up the baby carrots into small chunks. Add them to the water.
10. Chop up the broccoli and add them to the water. Note that you want to try to remove the stems for the most part. Not the teeny stems, I mean the primary and possibly secondary branches from the main stalk- when you are going to eat this, it's going to be hot and you don't want to have to try working your mouth around a stalk of broccoli. It'll cook relatively quickly.
11. Separately, take your ham steak and stick it into your frying pan on a medium heat for three minutes. Turn over and let the other side cook for 3 minutes.
12. Take the ham steam out of the frying pan and slice into small cubes- try to remove as much fat as possible. I used a hickory smoked ham for this that was really delicious- I really recommend it.
13. By now, roughly 15 minutes should have passed and your potatoes ought to be finished cooking. If they aren't, let it cook another 5 minutes and they should be done. The water ought to not cover the vegetables in the pot quite, or might just barely cover them. Turn the heat back to medium.
14. Take 1/3 cup of water and the flour and separately (I did it in a measuring cup) mix them until smooth. Add to the pot and stir.
15. Add the 2 cups milk, and then stir. Allow to come to a simmer.
16. Add the ham and corn. Allow to cook a further 10-15 minutes. Enjoy how your kitchen smells.
17. Serve hot with some crackers in a big bowl.

I'll admit, this is the first time I had ever made any kind of chowder except out of a can. I was really surprised how incredibly rich and fulfilling this dish was. I actually though you needed cream and such but no, it came out just great. I am pretty sure that this is robust enough to simply substitute clams for the ham and make it into clam chowder instead, or shrimp or whatever you like.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Perfect Pancakes - American style

By noon I was feeling well and truly famished and wanted an American Sunday Breakfast. Well, forget getting any Jones Farm breakfast sausages but I immediately thought PANCAKES! GMTA because Alan popped in to say, "Any chance of pancakes? American kind?" Well, that was enough to get me started heating up the griddle. Here's the recipe I used this morning to produce absolutely perfect pancakes; taste was delicate and clean, texture was light and fluffy and raised high.


2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk (If you insist on substituting, on your head be it)
3 tablespoons melted butter (or vegetable oil if you must, but please don't)
1 splash Vanilla extract (optional but adds a subtle warmth to the flavour)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I confess, I used self-raising flour by mistake - worked great!)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

1. Beat the eggs and milk until light and foamy using a wisk. Stir in the butter.

2. Measure out the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir a turn or two to evenly distribute the salt, baking powder and sweetener.

3. Gently and quickly mix flour into the egg and milk mixture. Let the batter rest for a few minutes, while the griddle/pan is heating; it"ll thicken slightly.

4. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, or set an electric griddle to 350°F. Lightly grease frying pan or griddle. The pan or griddle is ready if a drop of water will skitter across the surface, evaporating immediately.

5. Drop large serving spoonfuls (about 1/3 cup) of batter onto the lightly greased pan. Bake on one side until bubbles begin to form and break, then turn the pancakes and cook the other side till brown. Turn over only once. Serve immediately.

I recommend serving the pancakes with unsalted butter and REAL maple syrup.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bagels

I give up on finding real bagels anywhere within reasonable travel from where I live in London. I know there are some Jewish areas that have shops where you can get real bagels but we're talking 3 hours car travel round trip in off-peak hours or more - and forget about public transport, they shut down half the subways and trains here on weekends. Are you kidding?

So I watched Rachel Allen teaching how to make bagels on a cooking show and thought, "I can do that".

Know what? I can and I did. Twice this week already. They're great. Look they are no H&H but they are damn good and easy enough to make. Fresh bagels? Heaven. You can make them, too.




Makes: 8
Prep: 3 to 4 hrs
Bake: 20 min @ 220C (210C Fan)

Ingredients:
450g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting (This is a high glutin bread flour)
2 tsp Salt
7g fast-acting Yeast (1 packet)
250ml warm water (this is approximate, I needed almost 275ml)
2 tbsp clear Honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
3 tbsp honey or molasses or in US - Karo syrup can be used
maize or cornmeal, for sprinkling
1 Egg, beaten with a bit of water
sesame seeds, sea salt poppy seeds, or a savoury topping of your choice (optional)

How-to:
1. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl

2. Measure the water in a measuring jug then stir in the honey and oil. , Add the yeast and mix well. Yeast should start to bubble and turn water cloudy.

3. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the liquid in gradually, bringing the dough together with your hands. Dough should be soft and slightly sticky - add slightly more water if the dough feels stiff and dry.

4. Turn the dough out onto a clean, dry and floured work surface. Start kneading the dough, stretching it away with the palm of one hand and folding it back again with the other, for about ten minutes, adding more flour if the dough becomes too sticky. Continue kneading until the dough is firm and elastic. This takes about 10 minutes. Do not try to cheat and cut it short. If you are one of those lucky people with a proper mixer with a dough hook, go for it! Let the machine knead it till it forms a smooth and elastic ball around the hook. (You know best how your machine works.) I did the kneading by hand, the dough shapes up nicely.



5. Shape the dough into a large ball and put into a lightly oiled large bowl and turn in the oil to coat. Cover with cling film or a plastic bag and put in a warm, dry place for 2–3 hours or until the dough is doubled in size.

6. When the dough is nearly ready – doubled in volume – bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and add the honey or molasses. Cover and turn off the heat.

7. Lightly oil two baking trays and sprinkle with maize or cornmeal. (I confess, I lined the trays with non-stick baking parchment and lightly oiled it. Didn't use cornmeal since none was available here) Remove the dough from the bowl, then punch it down and knead it briefly. Roll it into a rough sausage shape and divide into 7 or 8 equal chunks. As you work with one chunk, keep the others covered with a clean tea towel.

8. Firmly roll out each chunk into a long log, then bring the ends together and seal with a splash of water and squeeze the ends together. Place on the prepared baking trays and repeat with the rest of the dough. You can also do it the traditional way of lightly rolling the dough into a flattened ball, then pushing a finger through it to make the hole. Twirl the bagel around your finger a bit to enlarge the hole as it will shrink when the dough rises.



9. Cover and allow to stand for a further 20 minutes.

10. Preheat the oven to 220C.

11. Bring the saucepan of honey and water back to a gentle simmer. Gently drop each bagel into the water (do this in batches of no more than 2 or three at a time as they swell) and turn over after 1-2 minutes. Simmer for another 1-2 minutes, then remove the bagels from the water, and drain.

12. Place the bagels on the prepared baking trays, spacing them widely apart. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds, sea salt, poppy seeds or a savoury topping of your choice, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool before serving.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lime Marmalade

This is a classic "free form" recipe, in other words, something I just whipped up from stuff I had in the house anyway and without bothering to measure or test. It's absolutely gorgeous.

I've tried to remember general measurements but don't worry, it's pretty forgiving.
Another thing is that it's just a small batch - a couple of jars for us and 1 to give away to a friend. If you make this and want to make more to stock up, just double the recipe.

I should warn you that I like a really strong tart lime flavor. This is it in bags.

Ingredients:
13 big juicy limes
5 cups water
1 KG jam sugar - this is a special sugar you can buy in the supermarket that has pectin in it to help fruit jell. It's essential with soft fruits and good with lime because limes have no pits (well, mine didn't) and very thin skins with little pith. It's the pith and pits that release pectin into jams. You must have pectin as that's what makes the marmalade "jell".

You want to use a fairly large/tall saucepan for this because the liquid bubbles up high and FAST when it boils.

1. Slice limes in half, squeeze out all the juices and dump juice into the pan.

2. Slice the leftover peel from about 4 of the limes into very, very thin crosswise strips. Cut the limes halves into quarters to get about the right size for the strips. Six is better but I'm a lazy sod and lime peels are tough and a misery to slice into small thin strips. Dump the strips in the pan with the juice.

3. Now add the 5 cups of water to the pan. I used filtered water because London water is - well it just is.

4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours, until the peel is very soft

5. Add the jam sugar and stir over low heat until all the sugar is dissolved.

6. Turn up the heat and let it boil rapidly for about 15 min. Watch the pan because you will have to adjust the heat occasionally or stir down the boil if it gets too active and starts to rise too high.

7. The mix needs to reach the "setting point". To test for this, put a small glass or china saucer in the fridge when you start cooking. After the mix has boiled for 15 min, move the pan off the heat, dip in a small spoon and drop a teaspoon of the marmalade onto the saucer. Let it cool a few seconds and then blow on it and touch gently with your fingertip. If the surface wrinkles it is ready. If not, boil for a further 5 minutes. When I made the marmalade today it needed 2 extra min cooking for perfection.

8. Take the pan off the heat, skim off any obvious foam -don't fuss. Let it settle for 15 min and then you can ladle it into jars.

9. You can be fancy and use proper canning jars/jam jars. Or you can be like me and save a few small jars and lids, wash them thoroughly, and reuse them for jam. I used 4 small jars for this batch.

10. We'll assume your jars are clean. Just before you fill them, while the marmalade is settling, rinse the jars and lids with very hot tap water, drain and set upside down on a clean dishtowel.

11. Ladle in the hot marmalade leaving about 1/3 inch clear space at the top. Wipe the jar lip with a damp paper towel and put on the lid. Place filled jar back on the dishtowel to cool. You may have enough to partly fill a 5th jar like I did. This is fine. That jar will be ready to use first.

12. Leave the jars to cool and then store all but one (see- that's what the partial one is for!) in a cool dark cupboard.

13. Put up coffee or tea. Make some toast. Butter toast with unsalted butter. Spread some marmalade on the toast.

14. Sit back, sip your coffee/tea. Eat buttered toast with lime marmalade and smirk at the world knowing you have something utterly delicious that you made by yourself.