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Winter

Food & Drink, Winter

Easy Organic Marmalade Recipe

seville-orange-marmalade-recipe1

seville-orange-marmalade-recipe1

There are a few things in life I don’t bother with.  Organic oranges are one of them.  I may be wrong, but my thinking is that the peel is probably too thick for pesticides to get through.  My one exception with oranges is when I’m cooking or baking with them and the recipe calls for the zest or peel of an orange. Then I’ll splash out on fancy organic oranges.

The other month I really fancied some marmalade and looked for some in the shops – the cheapest I could find for a jar of organic marmalade was £3, which felt a bit extravagant for me.  As we weren’t too far off of marmalade season I thought I would bide my time and make my own organic marmalade to make my money go further.  And here we are – marmalade season!  I picked up some organic oranges and managed to make 9 jars of organic marmalade for £8 – that’s less than 89p a jar!  Take that fancy shop bought marmalade!

I thought I’d share my organic marmalade recipe with you.  It’s loosely adapted from this BBC Good Food recipe and I’ve found this to be the easiest way of making marmalade – there is to peeling, adding things to muslin bags, or fretting with a knife whilst trying to remove pith from peel.  It is rather time consuming though – it did take 3 hours – but it is a great way to while away a wet Saturday in winter.  Plus you’ll have enough jars of amber goodness to keep you smiling of a morning for quite some time to come, which makes it all the worth while.

best-seville-marmalade-recipe

Organic Marmalade Recipe

Easy Organic Marmalade Recipe

This organic marmalade recipe has a bright and zingy taste to it, that will really help wake you up in the morning!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours
Servings 8 - 10 jars

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of organic seville oranges
  • 2 kg of granulated sugar if you want organic sugar then I'd recommend Billington's
  • The juice of one and a half lemons they don't have to be organic
  • A large heavy bottomed pan cast iron or a preserve pan
  • Several jars and lids roughly 8-10 jars

Instructions

  1. Wash your oranges, then place them whole in a large pan alongside 4 pints of water and the lemon juice.
  2. Making sure the oranges are fully submerged (I used a pyrex casserole dish lid to weigh them down – see above!), bring it all to the boil then simmer for 2 hours, until the peel is soft and easily pierced with a fork. I found a lot of water boiled off at this stage so I kept topping it up to keep a consistent level of water.
  3. After two hours, carefully remove your oranges from the water (I used a spaghetti spoon) then leave to cool. Do not discard the water. At this point also set your oven to 170°C.
  4. Once the oranges are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and using a spoon scoop out as much of the pith and stones from each of the orange halves as you can. As it’s boiled for so long it should scoop out really easily. Place the pith and stones in a bowl and keep to the side.
  5. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors cut all of the orange skins into very fine strips. You’ll find this to be really quick and easy as the skin is so soft and thin.
  6. At this point you'll also want to sterilise your jars and lids (see this handy guide on how to sterilise jarst.
  7. After you've sterilised your jars put all of the pith and stones in to the liquid, and boil for six minutes.
  8. Then sieve the liquid into a bowl using a fine sieve. Using a spoon press down on the pith so that as much liquid is squeezed out as possible into the bowl, then discard the pith, and return the liquid to the pan.
  9. Add the sugar to the liquid, and stir over a low heat until it’s all dissolved – this can take up to ten minutes. Once dissolved add your orange peel, stir well and bring to the boil.
  10. Let it boil (a rolling boil with lots of bubbles) for 15 minutes. I found I had to stir my mixture to stop the orange peel from burning to the bottom of the pan – the mixture will spit at you when you do this so do take extreme care and stand as well back as you can!
  11. Once 15 minutes is up, remove the pot from the heat and test to see if the marmalade has set. To do this, place a teaspoon of marmalade on a plate, and then place it in the fridge for a minute or two. If the marmalade is still runny after being in the fridge then return the pot to the heat and boil for another ten minutes, and repeat the test. Keep doing this – boiling for ten minutes then removing from the heat and testing – until it sets on the plate.
  12. Once set you may need to skim any scum from the surface using a spoon. Leave your marmalade to settle for 20 minutes (not on the heat). Then remove your jars from the oven and whilst the marmalade is still warm spoon it into the warm jars. This is messy business and the marmalade and jars can be very hot so do take care. Then before sealing with the sterilised lids be sure to clean the rims of the jars with a clean cloth.
  13. Stand back and admire your handiwork before enjoying a well deserved slice of marmalade on toast!

best-way-to-make-marmalade-recipe

I hope you enjoy this organic marmalade recipe!  What’s your favourite preserve?  Also, do you normally bother buying organic skinned fruit?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Food & Drink, Winter

Brussels Sprout Gratin

brussels sprout gratin

brussels sprout gratin

The humble, much maligned Brussels Sprout is, I think, a fantastic winter vegetable.  In season from October through to March, it sadly suffers from a bad image problem.  To many people they are foul smelling, sulphuric and soggy poor relations of the cabbage, only tolerated once yearly as part of Christmas dinner.  The problem, more often that not, lies in how they are cooked – more often than not boiled to within an inch of their life.

This cheap, quick and easy to prepare Brussels Sprout Gratin, made with store cupboard essentials, is a fantastic way to turn how you view the Brussels Sprout on your head.  Instead of seeing them as soggy and vile, the addition of the cheese and mustard sauce to the Brussels Sprout Gratin invites you to instead enjoy them as a decadent comfort food.  It’s absolutely perfect for cold nights when you need something delicious and hearty to warm your cockles.

brussel sprout gratin recipe

This Brussels Sprout Gratin is great as an accompaniment to meat/meat substitute, or even a baked potato.  It’s also a good way of using up any bread that has gone stale, and additionally makes wonderful leftovers for the next day.

If you also omit the salt and go easy on the parmesan style hard cheese then it’s great for babies and toddlers.  My one year old daughter adores this dish!

Serves four adults

Brussels Sprout Gratin Recipe

best brussel sprout recipe

Brussels Sprout Gratin

This tasty Brussels Sprout Gratin, with it's cheesy mustard sauce, makes for a deliciously comforting winter treat, that is sure to delight even the most ardent Brussels Sprout hater!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 adults

Ingredients

For The Gratin

  • 500 g Brussels Sprouts buy locally grown ones if you can - washed, trimmed and cut into quarters
  • 25 g butter
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 100 g cheddar cheese or similar hard cheese grated
  • 30 ml whole milk
  • ground pepper and salt to season to taste
  • 2 spoons of mustard - coarse or smooth.

For The Topping

  • 30 g cheddar cheese or similar, grated
  • 10 g parmesan cheese grated (if you’re vegetarian Sainsbury’s sell an “Italian hard cheese” which is veggie friendly and similar in taste)
  • 30 g breadcrumbs roughly equates to 2 slices of bread (I use stale bread and a food processor to achieve a good crumb. It’s also less messy than grating).

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to gas mark 5/190 degrees C.
  2. Prepare your sprouts by washing, trimming and cutting them into quarters.
  3. In a large pan, bring a large amount of water to the boil and add your quartered sprouts. Once the water comes back up to the boil, let the sprouts boil for two minutes, then remove from the heat and drain.
  4. Melt the butter in a small pan, and then add the flour and milk, continually beating to create a smooth and lump free paste. Warning – this bit can get very very spitty so wear an apron and keep at arms length! If, once you’ve added the milk and the sauce is still very thick, keep adding a little bit of milk at a time until it’s smooth.
  5. Once you’ve got a nice consistency, lower the heat and add the grated cheese, the two spoons of mustard, and your salt and pepper (to taste). Give it a good stir to mix it all in.
  6. Add the sauce to your sprouts, stirring well so that the sprouts and sauce are well combined.
  7. Spoon into an ovenproof dish and spread it out so that it is evenly distributed.
  8. Mix your grated cheese(s) and breadcrumbs in a separate bowl.
  9. Cover the sprouts evenly with your grated cheese(s) and breadcrumb mix.
  10. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Serve and enjoy, and never pass on the sprouts again!

* I adapted this recipe from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook (affiliate link).  The original recipe called for infusing milk with bay leaves, peppercorns and onion, but I feel that life is just too short to spend it infusing milk!  I’ve tried it with and without the infused milk and to me there is no real perceptible difference.  I also felt it needed a bit more mustard, and the addition of some parmesan style hard cheese helped up the flavour.