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.

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.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Eve's Pudding

Tonight was the debut of Eve's Pudding at our house.

This recipe is easy and delicious, and must be eaten all in one sitting. That's an order. It can be done, really.

Eve's Pudding

Sponge Cake:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Milk - to reach "right consistency"

3 apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch salt
optional - splash of cognac or calvados

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 48oz souffle pan or 1 medium pudding basin

First the apples:

1. Slice apples into thin 1/8" slices. Gently toss with 1/4 cup sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and cloves.

2. Place all in small saucepan. Toss in the butter and now's the time for that good slug of booze. Splash it in. Also a splash of water to prevent burning.

3. Bring apples to the boil, cover pan, let boil a minute then turn off heat and let apples sit COVERED. Don't touch that lid. You want to let the steam poach those apples a bit.

4. Go have a cup of coffee while the apples cool down a bit - covered.

Note - the apples should be firm sweet apples. If you can get Winesap apples they are quintessential. In the UK, I used Pink Lady - don't even ask.

Now the sponge:

1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In another bowl, cream together butter and sugar with a mixer until it becomes smooth and pale. Add the eggs, one at a time.

4. Alternately add in the milk and flour mixture. Do not over beat.
- This is tricky here. I suggest you add the flour mix in 1/4 cup increments. After each 1/4 cup of flour goes in, add a little splash of milk to keep the mix from tightening up. The operative word here is LITTLE. The sponge batter should be soft, satiny but thick. If you want a more exact description of how much milk and what the batter should look like - you will have to come and watch me make a pudding. And remember, don't kill the batter by mixinig it to death. Gentle. Gentle. Quick.

Now to assemble:

1. Spoon the apples into the souffle dish/pudding basin. Pour any remaining juices over the apples.

2. Spoon batter over the apples and with a flat spatula, level out the batter to form a flat seal to cover the fruit. Sprinkle the top with sugar.

3. Place on flat tray to protect from spills. Bake 45 minutes.

Serve warm with your choice of custard, whipped cream, cream