Tag Archives: Preserving

Oranges 1 – A recap!

The oranges are gone, well, with the exception of the few that have been set aside for our breakfast fruit over the next week or so. Overall things went really well, and we have some lovely goodies stashed in the store for future use. We’ve also enjoyed some orange flavoured meals as well.

That being said, the marmalade proved to be my nemisis. The first batch didn’t set and discoloured!  What to do… Add Cointreau to the mix, and lable it as Orange and Cointreau Syrup for use with desserts – I have to say it goes deliciously with date pudding !

So what was the problem?  More pectin you say? That’s what I thought, anyway. So I saved all the pips from the oranges and lemons used in all the other recipes – I had a lovely little pile of them by the time it come to revisit the marmalade. Neither Gary, nor I, could understand what happened to the first batch, it’s never happened before…

With everything prepared, I started again – it was looking beautiful, time to test for set, and again… it just wouldn’t set and turned dark. Fearing it would burn, I took it off the heat and bottled it. The next morning when I checked, it was syrup, nothing like the lovely jelly like consistency of marmalade. By this time I thought I knew what the problem was – while the pot I was using was big enough, it was tall and narrow, not wide and squat.

Not wanting to waste the fruit sugar and time and effort, this time we decided to try and cook it a little more. It just got darker, and again wouldn’t set. Finally, I had to bite the bullet and use commercial pectin (I have plans to make my own in future, but didn’t have time at this point). Set was reached, it doesn’t taste too bad, really, just sweeter than usual and it looks like treacle!  A new wider, shallower, preserving pan style, pot has now been ordered and is on its way. I am hoping that by using it, we will avoid any more marmalade dramas.

So what was cooked? You will have seen some of the goodies in previous posts, but here is the list in full…

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There is one more recipe brewing, but it is going to take another couple of weeks – Collette’s Vin D’Orange. I will put up a post about it when its ready, and let you know what it is like.

Finally given that Jan provided all the oranges for this little marathon, I thought it only propper that I share the recipe for this delicious dessert that she has shared with me – Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream.

Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream

This simple little dessert is the perfect way to finish a meal. It can be prepared ahead - adding the Yoghurt Cream and pistachios just before serving.

Ingredients

  • 6 large navel oranges
  • 6 fresh dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs pure icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 55 g (1/3 cup) pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped

For the Greek Yoghurt Cream

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) Greek-style yoghurt
  • 125 g light cream cheese
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthways
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) pouring cream
  • 1 tsp pure icing sugar

Directions

  1. To make the yoghurt cream, place the yoghurt, cream cheese and honey in a bowl. Use a small sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until combined. Place the cream and icing sugar in a bowl. Use an electric beater to beat until soft peaks form. Fold into yoghurt mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 2 hours to chill.
  2. Cut top and base from each orange. Use a sharp knife to remove skin and white pith. Holding each orange over a bowl to catch any juice, cut along either side of the white membranes to remove orange segments.
  3. Combine orange, dates and mint in a bowl. Sprinkle with icing sugar and cinnamon. Toss to combine.
  4. Divide fruit among serving plates and serve with pistachios and yoghurt cream.
  5. Garnish with sprigs of mint.

Notes:

  • My sister Jan passed this recipe to me, she received it from her friend, Mandy, who found it in Australian Good Taste – September 2011, p.80 .
  • Allow 2 hours chilling time.

 

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Links:

Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Sticks 

Nana Mac’s Potato and Orange Salad

Orange and Mint Jelly 

Orange Cordial

Spiced Oranges

Spiced Oranges & Dates with Greek Yoghurt Cream 

Sugar Coated Candied Orange Sticks 

Zingy Citrus Mocktail

Spiced Oranges

 

Apparently oranges were preserved this way in days gone by, when citrus fruits were rare and expensive! They are said to pair beautifully with ham, pork and game, and I can’t wait to serve it with duck.  Unfortunately we have to wait a little while to taste them.

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Spiced Oranges

  • Servings: Makes 6 jars
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I think these look like sunshine in a jar...

Ingredients

  • 10 large thin-skinned oranges, washed well and cut into 5mm/1/4 inch slices
  • 600 ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 kg white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 g whole cloves
  • 6 blades of mace

Directions

  1. Put the orange slices into a large pan and cover with cold water. Simmer gently, partially covered with a lid until the peel is tender – about an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients into a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. When the oranges slices are tender, drain them and place them, together with the syrup, into a bowl. Leave to stand overnight.
  4. The next day return the orange slices and the syrup to a clean pan and cook for 30-40 minutes until translucent.
  5. Pack oranges into warm sterilized jars and cover with syrup.
  6. Seal and lable.
  7. Store in a cool dark place for six to eight weeks before eating.

Notes:

  • Adapted from Good Old-fashioned Jams, Preserves and Chutneys (1985) S. Paston-Williams p58.
  • Mace is an aromatic golden brown spice obtained from the dried net-like sheath that covers the Nutmeg seed, It is yellowish to reddish-tan in color, made up of flat, shiny branched pieces with a fragrant, nutmeg aroma and warm taste. It looks wonderful when left whole in your spiced syrup.
  • Keep any excess syrup for topping up the jars, as the oranges tend to absorb the syrup.
  • The flavour is said to be even better if left for several more months.

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Source: Spiced Oranges

Links:

Glossary – Mace

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Oranges 1

My beautiful sister Jan, recently visited us for a little holiday. Jan lives in the north of the state of Victoria, very close to the great Murray River, and a wonderful citrus fruit growing area – about six and a half hours drive from here! When I knew that she and her friend, Heather, were going to come for a visit, I asked if she could pick up a couple of bags of oranges, thinking that they would be the same size as those you can pick up at fruit and vegie shops – 3 kilograms… When she arrived, I was presented with 2 bags of oranges – each weighing about 10 kilograms! 20 kilograms of oranges for $12 – that is crazy!!! Of course, I was not allowed to pay for them, but now the challenge begins…

I have given some to visitors, and we have eaten quite a few, and I think I have had to throw about 6 out! I have made old fashioned butter cake – gluten free, which after a couple of tries, is pretty darned good. The orange cake has been iced, sliced and frozen, so that we can have cake when we feel like it.

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However, over the next week there will be a lot of orange based recipes being prepared, and at times, concocted in my kitchen. On the list so far:

  • Orange marmalade – a must for Gary;
  • Orange and mint jelly – already half made;
  • A delicious refreshing citrus mocktail – which could easily be turned into a cocktail for those who must;
  • Orange cordial;
  • Sauces;
  • Salads;
  • Desserts, etc!

Oh, and a little tip, for an easy way to peal oranges, that I read about in an old recipe book of mine The Times Calendar CookBook by Katie Stewart, 1975. This works beautifully, but would probably only do 4-6 oranges at a time, because they still need to be hot for the peel and pith to come away cleanly.

To peel oranges:

Score the peel of the oranges into quarters with a sharp knife. Put all of the oranges in large basin and cover them with boiling water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, then drain and peel away the skins. Using this method, both the outer peel and the inner white pith will come away from the fruit. If any white pith remains, simply scrape it away with a knife.

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I have also tried this method on lemons and it worked just as well, so would imagine it could be used on most citrus – grapefruits, limes etc.

I hope that you enjoy seeing everything orange from my kitchen over the next week!

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

Links:

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Apricots

I still remember the joy of fresh bread, lashings of homemade apricot jam, and the cream! Fresh cream, real cream, not the homogenised, pasturised stuff from the supermarket shelf – just fresh, runny cream, no sugar, not whipped, just pure fresh cream dribbling over the edge of the bread.- Oh the memories …

We now have two apricot trees in our garden, a Moorpark – supposedly rich in flavour making it great for fresh fruit, jam, drying, stewing and juice, and a Blenheim, said to be one of the most flavourful of apricots around! However, like all of our fruit trees, they have only been in the ground for six months, which means that we must be patient, and wait until they grow before we see a nice crop.

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We did have a tiny surprise though – just after Christmas I spotted one solitary little apricot. It had been hiding and growing out of our sight and, fortunately, out of the sight of the birds. I watched it carefully, trying to make sure that the birds did not beat us to it. Then early last week, when I checked on it, I discovered that a grub had made it’s mark – I hadn’t counted on that, so quickly whisked it off the tree, and took it to the kitchen, where it became a simple little sweet treat to finish our evening meal – A simple apricot pastry.

Given the lack of fruit from the garden at the moment, I am constantly on the watch for a good buy, and was delighted to read a little add in the local newspaper for apricots. I made a call and was able to pick up 10kg, which lead to a couple of heavy days in the kitchen! But from that 10kg, we now have 14 jars of apricot halves in a light syrup, 15 jars of Worcestershire sauce, and 10 jars of apricot jam in the store.

There were a few left over so whipped up an apricot and pine nut tart – gluten free.

You know, apricot jam is not only great as a spread, but it can also be used to flavour meat dishes too, and the apricot halves can be used to make delicious sweet treats such as clafoutis, charlottes, tarts etc, but will also used in savoury dishes, including a favourite – Spicy Chicken Tagine with Apricots, Rosemary and Ginger! As for the Worcestershire sauce, it’s always handy to lift an otherwise dull dish!

So now that the store is stocked up with apricot preserves, it is my plan to highlight some of them in recipes over the coming months.

Until next time…

Bon appétit!

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Bacon & Eggs

I know, it’s just bacon and eggs. But last night, it wasn’t just any bacon with eggs, it was my, SBA’s, bacon with eggs and tomato – now do you understand…

While I’ve always wanted to try to make my own bacon, I was a little wary and thought it would be terribly difficult! That was until I come across the post of fellow blogger “The Old Fat Guy” from the Canadian Rockies… He showed the way to curing and smoking your own bacon, and I couldn’t wait. While I was unable to procure a piece of pork loin from my favourite supplier, Coltish Pork, I managed to get a nice piece from a butcher that I know provides good quality meat.

The first thing was to trim up the meat, weigh it, calculate the brining period, then weigh out the cure ingredients, massage them in, then pop it all into a snap-lock bag in the fridge for (in this case) 10 days. Each day I turned it and gave it a little massage, just to make sure the cure was getting to each and every little bit of it. Then the big day come, it was removed from the fridge, taken from the bag, washed, given a little soak and then set un-covered in the fridge until the next day. The cold smoker was lit and the meat was set in place to cold smoke for 6 hours before being put back in the fridge. The following day, the hot smoker was set and in went the pork, along with a few other bits and pieces, and all were smoked accordingly.

The, what was now, bacon was covered and placed back in the fridge for another two days, and yesterday was the big day…

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The bacon was sliced and several pieces set aside for our dinner last night – yes, that’s right, dinner, not brekky, dinner, and oh my gosh, it was amazing, delicious, what can I say. The rest of the bacon was vac sealed into small serving sizes and then frozen for another day.

While I have posted the recipe here on my blog, I urge you to go and see The Old Fat Guys’ blog where he provides a lot of insight into the making of bacon with this dry cure and has some fantastic pics of the various stages along the way. He has some amazing posts and recipes too, so you may find me referring you there again in the future. I do find it a little amusing that a Slightly Bent Aunt from Australia is referring you to The Old Fat Guy in Canada, don’t you?

So what else was in the smoker, you ask…

I wanted to make sure I put the space to good use, so had brined three large pork hocks, three potatoes and two sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes will be used later this week for a smokey sweet potato smash, and the ordinary potatoes were turned into a delicious creamy smoked potato soup topped with a little truffle oil, fine shavings of parmesan and just to gild the lily, a few shavings of black truffle – we had that for our “Soup and Sweets” night the sweets (dessert) was my Spiced Honey and Yoghurt Panna Cotta topped with vanilla poached peaches and toasted coconut flakes.

Here ends another frantic but fun few days in “Tranquility”….

Links:

 

The Old Fat Guy

Coltish Pork

Home Cured Bacon

Spiced Honey and Yoghurt Panna Cotta

A Parting Gift

A Parting Gift

Earlier this year, when I finished up my last job, my colleagues showered me with well wishes for our future and some amazing gifts, one of which was a voucher for a cooking class at Culinaire Cooking School in Swan Reach, which is a lovely little town down near Lakes Entrance. Well, what an amazing weekend!

I booked in for the Herbs and Spices class which was to be run over two days. Given that we live just on an hour away, I chose to drive back and forth each day. The first day, on my arrival I was met by a very energetic Christine, and was told that I was to be the only student, how luck was I! Given that we were concentrating on herbs, we headed into her herb garden to gather the majority of the ingredients for the class –

she has so many herbs growing, including lemon verbena, horseradish, tarragon, parsley, sorrel, thyme, marjoram, oregano just to name a few. After a nice cuppa, we got to work, making all manner of goodies including an Asian dressing to be used for our lunch, herb mayonnaises, flavoured oils and vinegars and pestos. I had such an amazing day and went home with a lovely basket of goodies and great enthusiasm about what the next day may bring.

Day two and it was spice day. The morning started with a cup of tea and a chat with Christine and John. Then we started, first up was to identify and group a plethora of spices from all around the world and then we got to use them. Coconut chicken and lemon rice was prepared for our lunch.

We also made a fresh laksa curry paste – so simple, so fresh – nothing like that that comes in jars on the supermarket shelf… Oh and Satay chicken, that you just wouldn’t believe the flavour – again, so simple and fresh. Then there was a mustard, in fact a horseradish mustard. The making of which, was rather funny, given that the day before, when we added horseradish to the mayonnaise, we just couldn’t get the kick that we wanted from it – today it was the opposite. We were using an older piece of horseradish and the more I grated it the more the tears streamed down my face – I said I had horseradish eyes! But boy-oh-boy, the mustard, it is sensational and I think we have used it almost every day since. To finish the day, we prepared a gorgeous sweet spicey wine syrup for fruits.

To my past work colleagues a huge thank you – this was the most amazing gift, I not only gained new knowledge about the use of herbs and spices in cooking, but I feel as if I have a new friend too. Thank you so much Christine, I will be sure to encourage anyone I know, to come and take a course at your cooking school. Oh and I didn’t mention the location, sitting up on a hill overlooking the Tambo river, it is so easy to get distracted by the view from the kitchen through the beautiful garden down to the river.

Feeling inspired, I spent yesterday pickling Asparagus, it is in season and who can resist it at this time of year. The off-cuts have been pressure canned to be used in soups, canapés etc.

And today, a lovely fresh herb sauce (with a little of the special horseradish mustard added) to go with our salmon for dinner.dsc06064-r

While I’ve been having such a wonderful time cooking, Gary has ordered the posts and digging holes for the espaliering of our fruit trees.

Here ends another week in “Tranquility”….

Links:

 Culinaire Cooking School

Pickled Asparagus

Crispy Skinned Salmon with a Creamy Herb Sauce.

Magnolia Bed

Side Rose Garden

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