Friday, January 23, 2015

Marmalade is not just for Breakfast

It is the time of year when I am lured into making marmalade. Those tart seville oranges will not be around for long and before I have even checked what marmalade reserves I have left from the year before, there are a couple of kilo of oranges in my shopping basket. Back home as I rummage around for empty jam jars I realise they are all in still in use with last year's jams, and yes last year's marmalade.  I rarely make toast for breakfast on work days, just at weekends  and as each summer I also make blackcurrant and raspberry preserves with fruit from the garden, all too often there is a far greater supply of preserves than demand.
So this is a post about using marmalade any way other than on toast for breakfast, and is dedicated to anyone like me who has some 'vintage' marmalade in their cupboards that they really should find a way to use, if only to free up some jars that will facilitate the jam making habits they cannot shake off.
My all time favourite recipe for reducing the marmalade mountain is bread and butter pudding. If you  have eaten bread and butter pudding before, and did not like it, think back, was it made from the very low cost supermarket packaged bread? For this dish you really need slightly stale, ie at least a day old, traditional bread or buns, that absorb the custard mix without losing their structure. You can make the dish in quite small amounts very successfully which is another reason I am fond of making it.
Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding
I never weigh out ingredients for bread and butter pudding and you will find quite a range of recipes with some using a lot of cream, some far fewer eggs, lots more sugar than I have used etc. You really can fashion this to your own tastes. If you are skipping the marmalade then do sprinkle each layer with caster sugar as you place the bread into the baking dish. If you are using sweetened buns or bread then I would  not add in any extra sugar.

For 4 servings

6 slices of stale bread (about 160g), crusts removed, lightly buttered and spread with marmalade
400 ml full fat milk
4 eggs
pinch of cinnamon or allspice or nutmeg (optional)
50g sultanas or raisins or chopped dried apricots or chopped candied ginger

1 tsp caster sugar to sprinkle on top.

buttered shallow baking dish
Oven temp: 160C/320F/Gas3

After buttering and spreading marmalade onto each slice of bread cut these into quarters or smaller and build up layers in your buttered baking dish sprinkling in the sultanas or raisins etc as you go. If you are going light on the marmalade and have a preference for sweet desserts you may want to sprinkle in about a teaspoon or two of caster sugar along with the sultanas.

Whisk the milk and eggs together and pour over the bread. Now leave this to soak in for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the top lightly with the caster sugar and place into an oven preheated to 160C/320F/Gas3 and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed up and set. If the pudding has not turned golden on top then place under a hot grill just to caramelize the top.
The pudding will be nicely puffed up when it first comes out of the oven by will drop back down as it cools.

My favourite accompaniment is whisky custard (instant version:  packet of prepared custard into which you have stirred in a couple of tablespoons of whisky just before serving).

You can posh this up rather by using an enriched type of bread and plenty of cream such as in this Nigella's creamy brioche version which would also work well with Pannetone, if you have one left over from Christmas.

The classic French Toast has very similar ingredients to bread and butter pudding and makes a tasty weekend breakfast dish which is equally as acceptable as a dessert in my book. Here is another Nigella recipe  for a version that includes orange zest and cinnamon in the egg mixture and is served with an orange and marmalade syrup: Orange French Toast with Marmalade Syrup

I used a pinch of allspice instead of the cinnamon and made my syrup with just marmalade and fresh orange juice. The marmalade peel was sieved out in my case as all my home made marmalade has quite thick pieces of peel. If you have a thin cut marmalade, as specified, then I doubt you would want to sieve it out. Again I warn you not to use supermarket bread as you will get a much more pleasing texture from a traditionally made loaf.
Moving onto my favourite subject of cake:
Dan Lepard's Marmalade Flapjacks are also offer a quick and easy way to use up your marmalade mountain though I made these with golden syrup instead of black treacle specified and used a light brown sugar instead of dark. You could easily omit the raisins or substitute them with chopped apricots or chopped dates if you have too many of those left after Christmas.
Another rather flavoursome bake is Marmalade & Ginger Cake from Kate Weatherell's book 'Sugar & Spice'
This is a cake I made last year for a Cake Club meeting with the theme of 'Breakfast'. The original recipe has an orange and ginger glaze but I used a fondant icing and candied ginger.

90g butter
150g golden syrup
200g orange marmalade
240g self raising flour
4stp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
120ml milk
2tbs dark rum (optional)

Orange & Ginger icing
200g sieved icing sugar or powdered fondant sugar
1-2 tbs orange juice or ginger cordial or water
finely grated zest of half an orange
chopped candied stem ginger to decorate

Oven temperature: 170C/325F/gas mark 3
20cmx30cm deep cake tin lined with parchment paper

Sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl.
Measure the milk into a jug and add the eggs whisking to break them up.
Melt the butter and syrup in a pan.
Stir the marmalade into the butter/syrup mixture and take off the heat.
Add the marmalade mixture to the flour and stir in.
Add the milk/egg mixture and rum to the bowl and stir again to mix well.
Pour this quite runny mixture  into the cake tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester pierced into the centre comes out clean.
Turn out cake onto a rack to cool.

To decorate
Place the sieved icing sugar into a bowl and add the grated zest.
Now add the liquid gradually until you obtain a fairly thick but pourable icing.
Carefully pour the icing over the top of the cake spreading with a palette knife to get an even cover.
Sprinkle over the chopped candied ginger while the icing is still wet.

Moving onto a savoury recipe now which I was at first quite skeptical that I would like but Diana Henry's Marmalade glazed chicken drumsticks was very simple and a really well balanced mix of sweet and spicy.
The chicken joints are baked in a marinade of  mild flavoured marmalade, fresh orange, mustard, garlic and chilli. I must be greedy as I would want more than the two drumsticks per person given in the recipe and I was tempted into using chicken thighs as well as drumsticks as they are my favourite part of the chicken.

Finally out with a bang. This rather fabulous rather strong cocktail is Hawksmoor's marmalade cocktail

Do follow the link for full instructions but here are the ingredients which are shaken over ice in a cocktail shaker and then strained into whatever glass shape you fancy
1 tsp Seville orange marmalade
50ml  gin
5ml Campari ( I had to swap this for a red vermouth and used extra orange bitters to compensate)
15ml lemon juice
a dash of orange bitters
a twist of orange peel to serve
Chin Chin!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Kitchen Diary #9 Spicy Soup for Soggy Saturdays

The weather has been cold and wet rather a lot over Christmas and New Year and coupled with having a niggling cold that has dulled my sense of taste the most appealing food I can offer right now is a spiced up chicken and noodle soup. The 'spice' came from a jar of Laksa paste which you can find in quite a few supermarkets and I quite like the Malay Taste brand though I use far less than they suggest on the jar. I am not going to even try and write this out as a recipe as I didn't measure anything while I made it. With apologies to Laksa purists the gist of the soup is:

Chicken stock about 2/3 of total liquid
Low fat coconut milk about 1/3 of total liquid
Some cooked chicken meat torn into spoon size pieces
Laksa paste
Cooked rice noodles or buckwheat noodles
A vegetable - I just used frozen sweetcorn but pak choi is good or beansprouts
Lime juice
Basil or coriander leaf

Cook the noodles first until just done then drain.
Put about a teaspoon of laksa paste per person into a saucepan and gently fry the paste.
Add in the chicken stock and the chicken meat and bring up to a simmer.
Add the vegetable and cook until just done.
Add the noodles and heat through quickly.
Add the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer.
Add lime juice to taste (about half a lime for 2 people).
Serve immediately into deep bowls and garnish with herbs and serve extra chilli flakes on the side.

Tomorrow the Christmas tree and decorations will be taken down and put away so here is a last glimpse of some of my favourite ornaments:
This cheeky baby dragon glass bauble came for Krakow and by some miracle survived the journey home to the UK.
The jester was bought over 20 years ago in Germany.
This glass bauble is hand blown by a local craftsman Malcolm Sutcliffe, they have a fabulous range which can be bought online.
Some of the ingredients associated with Christmas baking are jewels in their own way and I love these candied clementines which get added to various fruited breads and cakes
This is a cardamom fruited loaf which makes a tasty Christmas breakfast with good coffee.
I didn't get the fruit so evenly distributed mind.
This heavily fruited pull apart loaf is my alternative to the traditional mince pie. I make a fairly traditional mincemeat, but without any suet, and then incorporate loads of it into an enriched dough. Small balls of the fruited dough are then assembled in a loaf pan and baked. It 'pulls apart' readily once cooled but still looks like a loaf.
After several days of festive food the simple things start to appeal and this breakfast of 'Drambuie' porridge is one of my favourite winter weekend breakfasts. We were first served this many years ago at a hotel in the Lake District and it has remained a firm favourite ever since. Make your porridge as normal and serve, then pour over a good slurp of Drambuie. My formula for porridge is one cup porridge oats (not jumbo) one cup milk, one cup water, pinch of salt and sugar to taste. Cook all that until the porridge turns volcanic and gloopy!. Pour into warmed bowls and serve with milk/cream, Drambuie and extra sugar if you like.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the gloomy weather my thoughts have turned to planning next summer's vegetable patch and I was delighted to receive some seeds only a couple of days after ordering from Somerset company  Pennard Plants. They specialize in heritage varieties and the seed packets are just gorgeous.
I was particularly delighted to find they sell chervil root seeds.
My chickens are looking forward to sampling the lettuce mix too.
And if I can keep the frosts out of the conservatory I may even get to sample some home grown kumquats.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year from a very wet North Devon!