Category Archives: Fun

Love Marmalade…?

You’ve still time to make this for Valentine’s Day and give your loved one a hearty breakfast! [sorry, had to get that one out of the way]

Orange marmalade with heart shaped peel pieces

A couple of years ago I saw some marmalade with heart-shaped peel pieces advertised in the run up to Valentine’s Day. It was only being sold in Fortnum and Mason’s so the schlep to the shops was a labour of love in itself, though it turns out this was as nothing when compared to making your own! But of course nothing says “I love you” quite like giving of your time, blood, sweat and tears. And as January and February make up the brief Seville orange season the timing is perfect for the feast of Saint Valentine.

Marmalade making has a bit of a reputation as a dark art where the magical mystery of the bitter orange’s own pectin provides the set, and timing and temperature are crucial components. Perhaps this is why for several years I’ve stocked up on Sevilles and then watched them shrivel before they could be preserved for posterity. Well not this year!

You’ll find any number of recipes online, I opted for that of baking guru Dan Lepard which you can find here. I didn’t think my oranges were providing enough juice for the amount of peel, so I juiced the same quantity again, but then used their peel too so I had the same ratio but double the quantity! When it came to cooking though I didn’t want to use too much water and ended up juicing a few more, and the result is certainly intensely orangey with a good balance of bitter and sweet. The main thing to get right seemingly is the liquid to sugar ratio [Dan gives detailed instructions], and to save every pectin-rich pip.

To make this Valentine’s version follow Dan’s recipe and these additional notes…

  • Equip yourself with a small heart-shaped cutter which you can find in the sugar crafts and baking section of your local cook shop.
  • Cut the heart shapes from the peel after their overnight soak in the orange juice. I found this worked best cutting with the pith side up, outer skin side down. If using a plain metal cutter [as opposed to a fancy plunger version] press down through a cloth, or you really might risk investing blood and tears!
  • Take some time to pare out about half the width of pith from the peel with a small sharp knife [not mentioned in the recipe] if you like a less chunky bite. I kept the papery internal membranes from the oranges too and threw them into the pot wrapped in muslin – I’ve no idea if this does any good but every other bit of the orange seems to have something to add so it seemed a shame not to!
  • You will end up with odd bits of off-cuts of peel when you’ve cut out the hearts. Don’t waste these but tie up in muslin too and add to the cooking liquor.
  • If you want a very clear jelly strain the juices through muslin before cooking. I didn’t, it’s up to you.
  • When the jelly is still hot and quite liquid the peel may congregate towards the surface. For more even distribution wait until the marmalade has cooled and set a little, then stir.

Now all you need is some pretty ribbon for decoration and voila – love in a jar.

Marmalade to spare? Why not try my brioche pudding recipe.

Comfort Food Challenge!

A fish finger [fish stick] sandwich with salad cream

Sod spending January nibbling away on some rocket detox diet crap, the winter months with the cold, the dark and the economically enforced hibernation mean comfort food is the order of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I love a decent salad [although I loathe rocket] – on a sunny day, in the garden, with a glass of something cold and pink. But not in any month where I can see my own breath outdoors, or when I’m to be found wearing a scarf more for warmth than dramatic effect.

We’ve had quite a mild start to the year so far but if the downward temperature trend forecast for next week follows a linear progression throughout February even the nitrogen in the atmosphere will be falling as solid snow by the 29th. So I’m retreating to the kitchen, in a cardigan, making food as warm and comforting as a duck down duvet.

In the past week alone we have seen:

  • Fish finger [US translation = fish sticks] sandwiches with the a compulsory splodge of salad cream for Sunday lunch – see picture above. A double whammy of winter woes and a hungover heads demanded nothing less than this king of comfort foods.
  • A baked Vacherin for supper with the sort of dipping ingredients I’ve already mentioned in this fondue recipe.
  • A surprise roast turkey dinner from the Shopkeeper – an unexpected weekday treat – and cauliflower cheese has accounted for around three of my ‘five a day’ for most of the week since.
  • A whole roast crispy duck’s worth of pancakes.
  • The remains of said duck with some mushrooms, wine, mustard and rosemary in a creamy pasta sauce the next day.
  • And tonight we’re heading for some slow braised steak and buttered baked potatoes.

I’m booking my arteries in for a re-bore sometime in March, but that’s the point – now is not the time to stint on culinary comforts! So your challenge is this…

Leave a comment listing your favourite comfort food between now and the 4th of February, after which I’ll pick my favourite and come up with a version of it to publish here. Feel free to leave just the name of a dish or a whole recipe, and if you want to tell me why it’s your comfort food of choice so much the better.

Over to you…

Build your own Cheeseboard!

I realise it’s been a while since I’ve shared any real food with you but it’s a busy time of year for a cheesemonger. So until the next edible instalment here’s a distraction from the library pages of the yellowwedge website – the opportunity to build your very own replica cheeseboard! And if you’re still looking to pick up the real thing the shop will be open until 3:00 PM on Christmas Eve. [PS – do us both a favour and don’t leave your shopping until 2:55!]

Cheeseboard outline

Looking for a Christmas distraction for the kids? If they’re old enough to wield a pair of scissors and can be trusted with the dining room table then this might keep them busy for an hour or two…

First download the template from here.

Assembly instructions:

  • If you’re old enough to do so, pour yourself a glass of wine [if not, get an adult to pour one for you].
  • Cut out the cheese shapes along their outer black borders.
  • Score the remaining black lines and fold the cheeses into shape.
  • Glue flaps and carefully assemble the components of your cheese board.
  • Arrange artfully upon a suitably board-like surface – a cheese board works well [NB these can be purchased from yellowwedge cheese].
  • Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labours [and the wine, see above].
  • DO NOT EAT – please remember that these are mere paper facsimiles of the real thing, for which you should visit yellowwedge cheese.

Your finished components will roughly resemble an assemblage such as the above, but arranged as you please, and slightly more colourful, unless you have made a basic error and constructed the pieces inside out – in which case it’s back to square one, but perhaps you should skip the wine next time?

The board includes replicas of Appleby’s Cheshire, Colston Bassett Stilton, Morbier and a Valencey Goat’s Pyramid. If you’re not sure which is which, you know where to come to find out.