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Pancake Day

8 Mar

We are going out tonight for dinner and so we won’t be having our normal Shrove Tuesday pancakes, so I thought, well why not have them for breakfast?  Apparently only one in 10 of us know how to make them (which I find very hard to believe!) so in case any of you feel like giving them a try when you get home tonight, I have written out a simple recipe for you.  There is one essential ‘ingredient’ though – you must have the right size frying pan – if it is too big you simply won’t be able to manage the flipping part and they will just shred and you will be all hot and bothered with nothing to show for it!  So, get yourself a good solid little frying pan – the one I use is 19 cm (7and a half inches) and is perfect.  So, here goes

Enough for 4 people

4 oz plain flour

2 Eggs

7 fl oz milk mixed with 3 fl oz cold water

pinch of salt

A couple of tablespoons of melted butter

To serve

Lemons and caster sugar

or

Maple Syrup

Everything you'll need

Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl with a hand whisk (or use a fork if that is all you have) break in the eggs and mix in and then gradually add the liquid – you want to end up with a consistency of thin cream.   Then add a tablespoon of the melted butter.   Make sure it is all nice and smooth before you start cooking.

Perfect batter

Take your pan and put it on the heat and put a little melted butter in the pan.  Swill it around and then tip the residue back into your melted butter bowl.

Now, you must have the pan very hot – normally I throw my first pancake away (I think everyone does) as you need one to start off with and to get used to the quantity of batter that you pour in for each one.  I find half a ladle spoon full is fine for this size of pan, maybe even a little less; it just needs to cover the bottom of the pan without being translucent.   As soon as the batter hits the pan, swirl it around to coat the bottom completely – don’t worry if it is thicker than you would like, practice makes perfect and it will still taste good.

Golden brown

Then with a round ended knife after about a minute or so, just go around the edge of the pancake and loosen it all the way – if it is a little sticky in the middle underneath, just gently prod with the knife and shake the pan – then you can have a go at flipping it over – if you can’t then just carefully lift it over with your knife and cook the underneath for another minute or two.  Slide onto a warmed plate and let everyone squeeze their own lemon wedge and sugar or simply drizzle with maple syrup.  Add a little more butter to the pan and tip out again for each pancake.  You will become more proficient with each one.  Have fun and enjoy!

Banana and Lemon (Birthday) Cake

4 Mar

For Mick and Sadie’s birthday on Wednesday I made a cake – I hardly ever make birthday cakes but I have a book on Lemons (quite useful for here!) and there is a lovely recipe for what I wanted.  I find with Victoria Sponge type cakes, you have to eat them on the day – after that the cream goes a bit funny and the sponge isn’t the once light and fluffy thing it once was.  This recipe is a bit sturdier, doesn’t have cream or jam to make it soggy and therefore is good for quite a few days (we have been eating it for 3 now!!).  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one for children – it is too subtle in flavour and contains no chocolate!  For grown up afternoon tea it is just perfect.

 

You will need two 9 inch round loose-bottomed cake tins lined with greaseproof paper.

 

9 oz plain four

1 and a quarter teaspoons of baking powder with a pinch of salt

4 oz soft butter

7 oz caster sugar

3 and a half oz soft light brown sugar

2 eggs

Half teaspoon grated lemon rind

About 4 medium bananas

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 fl oz milk

3oz chopped walnuts or almonds

 

For the Icing

4 oz softened butter

1 lb icing sugar

1 tspn lemon rind

5 tablespoons lemon juice

 

Lemon rind curls to decorate, or edible flower or whatever you like

 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 c, 350 f, Gas 4.

 

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl

Beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time and stir in lemon rind.

 

Blitz the bananas with the vanilla and milk and then whiz in with the butter mixture alternating with the flour.  Stir in until blended and ad the nuts (or obviously you can leave them out in case of allergies).

 

Divide between the tins and bake for around 30 mins or until golden and a tooth pick should come out clean.  Leave for 5 minutes and then turn out on a wire rack.

 

Cream the butter until smooth (a hand whisk is best for this), then gradually beat in the icing sugar.  Stir in the lemon rind and enough of the lemon juice to make a spreadable consistency.  Sandwich the cooled cakes together, then spread the remaining icing over the top and sides and decorate.

 

 

 

Almond Cake with Orange syrup

26 Feb

Today we are having friends over for lunch – all of us have been away and have not seen one another for some weeks.  Also Mick’s mum is here visiting from Shropshire, and she knows them all too so we thought it would be fun.

 

It is the most amazing, warm February day and so I have set up the lunch table in the courtyard (I am mightily relieved otherwise I would have had to give the dining room a going over which I don’t feel like!).  I am making a simple lunch of grilled baby chickens (1 each!) marinated in pureed garlic, onions, wine, vinegar and lemon juice, roast potatoes and a huge salad with two dressings.  I like doing lunch on Saturdays as somehow people don’t expect a great big palaver of a meal, and just enjoy the getting together and avoiding going supermarket shopping!

 

Anyhow, for pud I decided to make an unfussy affair and dipped into my lovely Spooning with Rosie cookbook.  She always comes up trumps with delicious yet simple recipes that even if you don’t like cooking, will find easy and fun to make.

I trust her so much that I have broken my rule of never serving anything which I haven’t tried out on Mick first.  When I perused this recipe, I thought “that’s the one” as it is SO simple and also it is almond blossom time here and so has a nice seasonal feel to it.  She serves it with champagne or pots of tea; I am serving mine with strawberries and vanilla mascarpone to make it more dessert-like.

 

Pre heat the oven over to 160 or gas mark 2.

Take a 25 cm loose bottomed cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

 

6 medium eggs

300 g golden caster sugar (I didn’t have any and so just used ordinary sugar, not even caster!)

200 g ground almonds

1large juicy orange (which I picked from our tree)

2 tablespoons of water (I used orange blossom water)

 

Separate 3 of the eggs

Add the other 3 full eggs to the yolks and beat up with a fork.

Add to these the almonds and 200 g of the sugar. Grate in the orange zest, and keep the orange for juicing later.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and carefully fold them into the almond mixture.  Poor the foamy mixture into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for around 50-60mins.

 

Put the remaining 100g of sugar in a pan with the orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and set aside.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.  Then prod with a toothpick all over and spoon over the syrup.  It seems a lot but I think this is supposed to have a kind of Middle Eastern type stickiness to it so really go for it.  Leave to cool completely.

 

Anyhow, mine as you can see has turned out quite nicely – I will let you know after lunch how it tastes!

 

Baklava

30 Jan

On Saturday we have been invited to some friends on Vera Beach to celebrate Australia Day which was on Wednesday.  I was in Australia for the bicentennial in 1988 – and 26th January is always a public holiday there.  Graham, who is from Australia, and David used to own a restaurant in Sydney called the Yellow Book which I visited in the 80’s and just by chance we met them here again all these years later when they had their fantastic restaurant Cortijo Listonera up in Sierra Cabrera.  They are now enjoying some seriously deserved leisure time and are fantastic hosts and chefs.  I like to take a little something if I go to anyone’s house and so am making Baklava for them – for those of you who haven’t had it before, it is a very very sweet pastry but divine to have with an espresso or even a glass of dessert wine.  It is associated with many different cultures, each adding some spice or other, but I suppose now mostly with Greece or Turkey.   Our gorgeous friends James and Vera, bring us platters of sweets, all different, very similar to this when they visit us.  Vera is originally from Armenia and is a mean cook so it is really thanks to her that I am happy making this.

 

So do have a go if you feel like baking something different – I promise that it is much easier and less fiddly than it looks and certainly easier than making a Victoria sponge.

 

Anyhow, what you will need is:

 

200 g of nuts – I used a mixture of walnuts, almonds and pistachios.  You can’t always find unsalted, unshelled pistachios here, and if that is the case I just get the salted kind and shell them myself.  It doesn’t take long to shell a couple of small handfuls and the small amount of salt of course just enhances the taste!  You can just use one type of nut if that is all you have in the cupboard, it will still be delicious.

 

100g golden sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon orange blossom water (this always makes me laugh as it is about the only thing I use this for so lasts for about 2 years!)

1 tablespoon of rose water

A piece of unsalted butter to grease a square baking dish (I find a cake tin type dish is the best as you will be using filo pastry)

12 sheets filo

75 g unsalted butter, melted

 

Sugar syrup (recipe below)

 

Pre-heat the oven (but after you have shelled the nuts!!!) to 200c

Grind the nuts in a food processor until they are in crumb form but not uniform or fine.

Put in a mixing bowl with the sugar, cinnamon, and rose and orange water and mix together well.

 

Grease your cake tin (it needs to be at least an inch deep and around 15-18cms square or oblong) I use a square spring form cake tin as it is then very easy to transfer to a pretty plate in one piece if you use a fish slice and are careful), but this is not essential.

Put one of the sheets of filo to cover the bottom and brush with melted butter – and repeat this with a further five sheets, brushing each layer with butter (yes I know but you don’t have to eat the whole thing!).  Be careful with the filo though, it really dries out so each time you take a layer; cover the rest with a damp tea towel to keep it nice and malleable so it doesn’t break.

 

Spread the mixture over this base and gently press down into the corners and then repeat layering up with filo brushed with butter with a further 6 layers.

 

Cut into diamonds in a criss cross pattern and put in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Remove when golden and leave for a couple of minutes.  Then pour over the cooled sugar syrup which you can make while baking.

 

175g white granulated sugar

75 ml water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon each of rose and orange blossom water

 

 

Place the water, sugar and lemon juice in a small pan, gently heat and stir from time to time.  Bring to the boil for a couple of minutes. Ad the rose and orange blossom water and boil for a couple of seconds.  Remove and cool.  Pour over the Baklava when completely cool.  When you transfer onto a plate, just cut through the diamond shapes and serve in small pieces.

 

It may look like a bit of a faff – it really isn’t and is quite special – serve with coffee after dinner or just for elevenses.

 

Buckwheat Bilinis

28 Jan

It’s Thursday and we are having friends over tonight to watch a movie – it’s a lovely way to spend an evening on a chilly January day – Anyhow, dinner and a movie takes a bit too long on a working day so I just make some snacks to have with some Cava and a quick gossip before having to shut up for a couple of hours.  I won’t say tapas, as my offerings are not Spanish – hummus with crudités, some goats cheese, spring onion and red pepper on some ready made thin rounds of Brick pastry – I nicked it from Delia’s TV ad – it’s a bit like filo but you don’t have to do anything to it – just top it like you would a pizza but a bit more delicately.  I made some with Jamon and gruyere as well. I found it in a supermarket in Almeria amazingly but I know Waitrose sell it.   I thought I should make at least one thing from scratch and I love tiny little pancakes that you can just pop in your mouth – you can put pretty much anything you like on them, but smoked salmon and thick Greek yoghurt goes very well – I forgot the salmon egg to finish with, but they were still pretty good.  These freeze brilliantly too so make them when you have time and just take them out an hour in advance to defrost slightly, put them on a baking tray and put in an oven at 190 for 5 minutes to make them crisp again.  Cool on a rack and top half an hour before serving.

For about 20 you will need

100 g buckwheat flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, separated

100 ml milk

To top

Smoked salmon

Sour cream or Greek yoghurt

Salmon eggs or chives

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and make a well.  Beat the egg yolk and milk and then add to the flour.  Mix together to form a batter.  Whisk up the egg white to form peaks and fold into your batter.  Heat a medium sized non stick frying pan and brush with a little olive oil.  This is the fun bit.  Drop teaspoons of the batter into the pan – have a bit of a practice as you want them to be small and not too thick, but of course they don’t need to be uniform – people will know they are home made!

Cook for a couple of minutes and then flip over – I find a round ended knife is perfect for this – a fish slice is too big – cook for another minute or two and slide batches of 5 or 6 onto a wire rack, brush on a little more oil and continue until you have used all the batter.  I make double the amount normally and freeze half for the next time I want canapés.

Top with the smoked salmon and sour cream, or cream cheese and salmon eggs or whatever you fancy. It is worth the effort.

Tortilla (Spanish Omelette)

24 Jan

It’s a chilly grey old day today, unusual for here, but expected on some days in January (last week was boiling!).  Lots of us in January are tightening our belts but this doesn’t mean that food has to be less delicious – I am notoriously extravagant where food is concerned but obviously there are fantastic inexpensive ingredients where taste is not compromised.  One of my favourites and really good at any time of year is Potato Tortilla.  In the winter eat it hot with sausage or a pork chop, in summer just with a delicious salad.  Anyhow, when you come in from work on a cold night and want something quick but comforting, try this – you will make it again and again – it is so easy – children love it too and you can add peas, sweetcorn or shrimp, or anything you like really.  If you have a mandolin for slicing the potatoes so much the better as it takes no time at all and if you don’t just enlist some help for slicing onions and potatoes!  You find Tortilla absolutely everywhere in Spain in tapas bars but no-one I know apart from my friend Sonya, who used to live in Spain, makes it at home in the UK.

 

You will need

 

A medium sized saucepan filled a third with olive oil

4 large potatoes peeled and sliced as thinly as you can – about

a eighth of an inch

1 large onion, Spanish of course

Maldon sea salt and black pepper

4 large eggs

 

Heat the olive oil gently and add your slices of potato and onion alternating the two.  You don’t want the oil really hot, rather you want the vegetables to “boil” rather than fry. Just keep an eye on them and lift and turn them over from time to time – you just want them tender, not coloured.  Prod with a cocktail stick to make sure there is no crunch left in the potatoes!  Drain in a colander, reserving a few tablespoons of the oil and put to one side.  You can use the left over oil to cook something savoury in as it has a wonderful onion flavour.

Take a good omelette pan – not too large as you are going to be turning over the hot potato cake several times so it needs to be manageable.  It needs to be a decent depth though – at least an inch and a half.

 

Separately, in a large mixing bowl beat the eggs until they are a little foamy. Season with salt and pepper.  Add the potato and onions and leave for 10 minutes.  Heat a tablespoon of oil and let it get really hot and then add your potatoes, onion and egg, spreading it quickly so it fills the pan.  Lower the heat and just gently shake the pan so that it doesn’t stick.  When it looks like the eggs are starting to set on the top, place a slightly larger plate over the pan and quickly turn over.  Add a little more oil to the pan and slide the tortilla back in to brown on the other side.  The second turning will be easier – repeat a few times just gently shaking the pan, that way you get a lovely round, golden tortilla.  Each time you make this, you will get better at it.  Just keep the heat lowish and that way it will cook through without burning the outside.

 

As said, add things to it if you wish – sometimes I slice up chorizo and put half the egg mixture in the pan, put the slices of chorizo on top and then cover again with potato – it is fantastic.  You can just eat it on its own with vegetables or salad, as you have the protein of the eggs with the carbs of the spuds, so really you don’t need much else.  And it is cheap as chips!

 

Citrus Jelly for grown-ups!

17 Jan

This is the most fantastic and simple dessert – I particularly had my super slim sister in mind when I tried it because she just isn’t a pudding person and just likes unmessed about with food and likes things like fresh watermelon to finish a meal.  This is one of Nigel Slater’s simple supper recipes which I saw on television before Christmas, and had made a mental not to make it for her (and then forgot) – wonderful for us because I still have an abundance of oranges left from the end of November.

 

They keep beautifully in an airy basket in a cool corner of my kitchen and so I just squeeze them when I want them, or make a bit more marmalade or just put a slice in a Campari and soda.  Anyhow, this recipe calls for a litre of orange and grapefruit juice plus the juice of one lemon.  I used 2 ruby grapefruits to make up the litre.  It gives you enough for 4 decent sized puds, but simply double it if you are having a larger bash. It takes no time at all if you have an electric juicer, but if you have an extractor, make sure all the pulp goes into the pan too.  In fact, if you are making it for a dinner party, why not make it the day before, put it in the fridge and forget about it, as you don’t want to risk not leaving enough time for it to set.  It is very very zingy, hence why it is for grown-ups – but it is also good for slimmers too as it just contains a bit of sugar, and no fat whatsoever if you leave the cream alone!

 

You will need

Juice of oranges, grapefruits and a lemon to make up a litre

5-6 sheets of gelatine (I used 5 for a more wobbly jelly but I think I might try 6 next time for a slightly firmer set)

2-3 tablespoons of sugar (or to taste)

10 crushed cardamom seeds crushed

6 decent slices of orange peel from the juiced oranges

 

Put the juice, peel and cardamom seeds into a pan and bring to a simmer.

Add the sugar to taste and simmer for a few minutes

Remove from the heat and add the gelatine and dissolve.

 

Strain into glass dishes – single ones are so much more elegant and then easier to serve too.  The amount I have used would stretch to six medium portions – I used 4 huge stemmed glass dishes!

 

Refrigerate for at least a day.

 

For the finishing touch…..

 

Take more slices of orange peel and slice very finely

Put in a small pan and add some granulated sugar – a couple of heaped tablespoons

When the sugar is melting and turning golden, add a tablespoon of water – careful as it will splutter

Empty the contents on some baking parchment and leave to harden

 

When you are ready to serve, break into pieces and place on top of the jellies.

 

This is just so divine it stands up on its own, but of course you may like to serve with a little bowl of whipped cream on the table.  I just know I will make lots of this during august as it is so refreshing and light.  But it is brilliant at this time of year too, when you have eaten a big roast dinner, or a steak and kidney pie!   I urge you to try it.

 

Jamon

16 Jan

This year for Christmas we decided to treat ourselves to a Spanish Jamon as there would be nine of us for some time!  They look fantastic on their stands and pretty much every spanish family we know has one (or sometimes even two!).  When buying one, you need to do a little research to fully understand what you are paying for so it is worth spending a little time on the internet to get some background information.  Spanish cuisine has become very fashionable in London in the last few years (it tends to be much closer to english cuisine than, say, French cuisine.  It is more robust and less fussy and usually very delicious.  They are proud of their Jamon and rightly so.  You see them hanging in bars and restaurants all over Spain and at Chrismtas time in every supermarket.  In London I know you can pay hundreds of pounds for a Jamon so if I were you I would just book a flight for a weekend break and pay less than half the price here!

Here is  a quick look at the different types of Jamon you can buy

Jamon Iberico de bellota – the king of hams from free range Iberian black pigs fed on a diet purely of acorns.  Utterly divine and you can taste the nuttiness – even the fat is healthier as it is 60% nut, similar in goodness to olive oil which melts at room temperature.

Iberico de Recebo – the next best thing and quite a bit cheaper as although they are also free range, they feed from pasture and grain as well as acorns but truly sensational as well

Jamon Iberico

Still free-range black Iberian pigs, but fed on compound feed – very good value and great tasting

Jamon Serrano

The most common jamon that you will find in all supermarkets in abundance – it is really delicious but ordinary cured ham that comes from white pigs.  It is obviously the most affordable and you can buy an entire leg for around 30 euros.  Fabulous with melon as a starter or lunch dish.

All our guests are served Serrano Jamon at some time or another during their stay.  If anyone wants to taste the Jamon de bellota I add it to the menu as it is much better value for money here than in the UK.  For more detailed information on the different types of Jamon go to www.jamon.com

Pear and Nutella pie

10 Dec

I’m in a bit of a hurry today – I had to go to Turre to order the Gammon for Christmas and whilst I was there went to one or two other good shops there.  It is half an hour away so I was gone for a couple of hours.  I rushed back to give our carpenter, Graham, lunch with Mick, have a quick tidy up and make supper for Graham’s family who are all joining us tonight.  I felt myself running out of time and so whenever that happens I make a pie for dessert – just always lovely, warming and cosy and dead easy.  Sometimes though I feel the need to make something up and so today have used pears rather than apples which for some reason, always get a bit forgotten in pies.  I just don’t know why though – once you have used them, I guarantee you will use them again – they are just divine, need little sugar and no pre cooking.

 

So here is my recipe for a pie to serve 6 large portions –you will knock it up in no time at all.

 

For the pastry

 

I always use more than recipes state as there never seems to be enough for the top otherwise!

 

12 oz plain flour

6 oz cold butter

Splash of water

Pinch of salt

 

If you have a food processor so much the better –my mum and sister have lovely cool hands – but not me and so a food processor is essential for me!

 

Put the flour, cubed butter and salt in the food processor and whiz it up until it becomes like breadcrumbs – then with the whizzer still going, pour in a little water at a time, not too much, until the mixture comes together to form a dough (about 2 or three tablespoons should be enough).

 

Then chill the dough for 20 minutes.

 

For the filling

 

6-8 pears (I like proper deep filled pies!)

Nutella chocolate spread put in the fridge

Ground Almonds

A bit of Demerara sugar

 

While the pastry is chilling, peel the pears, quarter them, core them and then slice each quarter into 2 or three slices and continue until they are all done.

 

Take a fluted flan tin with loose base, and brush with butter.  Pre heat oven to 220 degrees c, 425 f or gas mark 7.

 

 

Roll out your pastry on a surface dusted with icing sugar (better than flour for puds I think) Line your tin and let the pastry overlap.  Put in your pears and then scoop out some dessert spoons of Nutella from the fridge and blob over the fruit.  Sprinkle over some ground almonds (however much you think) and then scatter a little brown sugar.  Roll out the top, cover and push down around the sides.  Decorate with leaves, brush with milk and a little caster sugar.  Put on a highish shelf for ten minutes and then reduce the heat to 190 c, 375 f, gas mark 5 for around30 mins or until golden.

 

Dust with a little more castor sugar before serving with vanilla or chocolate ice cream.  Yum Yum.

 

Seville Orange Marmalade (with or without Whisky)

24 Nov

It’s Sunday morning and I have about 15 kilos of oranges all over the house!  They are in baskets in the hall, living room and kitchen. We have two orange seasons in Spain – one in May and the other in November.  The trees everywhere are just dripping with the things and my harvest is made up from our courtyard oranges and the ones I have scrumped from Desert Springs!  Theirs are much bigger and juicer whilst mine are a little more bitter which is perfect for marmalade making.

 

I put on Radio 2 for Love Songs (yes I know, I know but parts of marmalade making are intensely boring and I need something to sing to where I know the words, or have even heard of the artist – this is nothing new and those who know me well know that I never have known what goes on in the modern world of music, only the old one!).  I am looking out onto the courtyard which is drenched in sunshine.  It is still early so a little chilly so I light the kitchen fire.  Now I am at my happiest!

 

You can make marmalade with any citrus fruit – grapefruit is wonderful as it is bitter and therefore not sickly.  As is lemon (see previous recipes).  However, bitter orange is also divine and I always put in a whole pound less sugar than the recipe states.  This does mean leaving it on a rolling boil for much much longer, but I think the result is far superior unless you have an exceptionally sweet tooth.  It is dead simple, you do not need any special equipment, just the fruit and the sugar, and a bit of whisky if you like, and that is that.  So, collect your jars, give them a wash and 10 minutes in the oven (moderate) to sterilise of off you go.

 

The quantity I use means that you are not having to wait forever for a set (when the jam is ready to leave to cool and then bottle).  Also, you don’t want it boiling over which is a nightmare.

 

2 lbs (900 g) Seville Oranges, or lemons, or grapefruit

1 lemon

4 pints of water (2.25 litres)

3 lbs granulated sugar (1.3 kgs)

A small square of muslin or a fine clean handkerchief will do (this is to tie the pips and leftover pulp in the juicer)

 

Put the water into a very large pan – the size that you would use for a casserole

The juice the oranges and the lemon and add to the pan

Now for the boring bit – enlist some help if you can – you need to slice the orange halves into thin shreds.  I don’t make them too thin as it just takes too long but you may be more patient than I!  If you come across any pips, put them on the muslin square.  All of this contains pectin which will help the marmalade come to a set.

 

Then tie up your little muslin bag with string and suspend it into your liquid by the handle.  Bring up to a simmer, and continue simmering for around an hour and a half.

 

Then remove your little bag to cool.  Add all the sugar and stir in to dissolve before turning up the heat and bringing to a raped boil. Squeeze the little bag with your (clean) fingers into the pan or you can scrape it onto a saucer first – it will be a jelly like substance – and whisk it into the jam.

 

You need to kind of hover about for the next bit as you do not want your marmalade to boil over – but just let it come to a rolling boil and leave it like that for at least 25 minutes – at the same time put 4 saucers into the freezer (this is for testing the jam).

After 25 to 30 minutes put a teaspoon of marmalade onto the saucer and pop in the fridge.  After a couple of minutes, take it out and push it with your index finger – if it definitely crinkles you know it is ready – in my experience it never is so continue boiling for another 10 minutes and re-test.  Don’t be tempted to bottle until you get a crinkle –I have done often when it is not quite ready, and whilst I like what I call French jam (runny) you don’t want a liquid either!).  When you think it is ready, take it off the heat and cool for 20 minutes – this way the fruit stays evenly distributed in the marmalade.   I find it easier to ladle into a large jug and pour into the prepared jars.  Put a waxed disc on and seal.  (you can buy these from stationers I think or else order from Lakeland!).

 

If at the end of the day the marmalade is still too liquidy, don’t fret, just pour it all back in a pan and repeat from the rolling boil part.  It’s a bit of a faff but at least you won’t have wasted your time.  If you want to add a bit of whiskey, do so just before bottling – for this quantity I would say you need about 5 tablespoons – but you do need the marmalade to have reached a proper set first – the crinkly bit – as otherwise the added liquid will just hinder the setting process. Again, if it doesn’t set, no matter, just re-boil as above – the worst that will happen is the whiskey will evaporate!

 

Once you have made your own marmalade or jam, you won’t ever want to buy any again.  My sister supplies a little restaurant in North London where you can have tea and scones all day long among other things,  with jams from fruit on her allotment and they can’t get enough and have numerous comments from their customers.  Have a go when you have some time to yourself – it is very rewarding and also very relaxing and something different to do.  Start now and you will have some lovely pressies for Christmas.