Friday, 20 February 2015

Clementine and Lime Marmalade

Clementines are still with us, by the boxful! Some of our box got made into this marmalade.
As far as I can remember, my mother's marmalade-making afternoons were messy and laborious, but the kitchen was filled with the delicious fragrance of Seville oranges. Home made marmalade is just so much better than that anodyne, glucose-laden jelly you get in the shops that it's well worth making. So how to recreate that wonderful aroma and those luminescent orange jars of preserve without all the mess?- With a food processor, that's how. The end result is not as glassy, and I did find there was a hint of bitterness in my marmalade (maybe because of the pith?) but when it's spread on crackers or bread, you don't really notice and the aromatic clementine flavour comes through. Besides, a good marmalade is supposed to have a complex flavour, comprising sweet, bitter and sour. Thanks to for the time-saving food processor idea.

Makes a large jar (the kind you get gherkins in)
14 clementines
2 limes (total weight of fruit about 900g)
1 tab lemon juice
2 1/4 cups (290g) soft light brown sugar
1 tab agave
  • Wash the fruit thoroughly.
  • Grate it all using the fine grating attachment on your food processor.
  • Using a jelly bag/ muslin cloth, squeeze the juice and pulp out into a sturdy pan.
  • Pass what's left through a fine-meshed sieve and remove any pips and large pieces of peel or pith. You can chop the peel into fine shreds with scissors or a small, sharp knife and return them to the pan. 
  • Over a gentle heat, dissolve the sugar into the fruit with the lemon juice.
  • Bring to a steady boil, and remove from heat when it reaches setting point. (Test by dropping a little into a glass of cold water. If it holds together, it's ready.) This may only take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the agave.
  • Bottle in sterilized jar(s), sealing the top with a circle of waxed paper. Put the lid(s) on when cool. Keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Marmalade facts:
Did you know that marmalade was originally made by the ancient Greeks and Romans, using quinces, or melo? This quince paste is still made in Portugal and Southern Europe today, where it is known as marmalado. It was only in the 17th century that marmalade came to be associated with citrus fruits.
What recipes could you use this marmalade in? I think I'd like to use it to top a vegan cheesecake...

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Fresh this month: Swede (Rutabaga)

The humble swede, or rutabaga, is a cold weather brassica root, perhaps best known in the UK for its inclusion in the famous Branston Pickle. There are many of us who were put off swede for years because of the watery pulp our school kitchens reduced it to back in the 60s and 70s. That, and the fact that it is a traditional livestock food and a lot of people seem to have some difficulty in accepting as human food that which they happily feed to animals. (But that's another issue...) Well I say swede is a perfectly good vegetable, with nutritional value, versatility and a distinctive flavour, plus it's cheap and plentiful round here in Winter. Really, what's not to like? 
For those of you who have never seen one, the swede, pictured above, is a lot like a large turnip, with purplish-green shading on the outside and pale yellow inside, which darkens when cooked. It has a strong, brassica-y, mustard-y taste which means that although some claim it's nice grated into salads, it's probably better cooked, when the flavour becomes more delicate. (I'm guessing most people use swede diced along with parsnip, potato and carrot in winter veggie stews and soups.)
Swedes are a cross between turnip and wild cabbage, and were mentioned as being grown in Russia and Scandinavian countries as early as 1620. They seem to have become widespread in the British Isles and other parts of Europe by the end of the eighteenth century and from there found their way across the Atlantic to North America. 
There are other ways to cook swede apart from in stew; it can be roasted or baked too. If the taste is too dominant, try mixing it with potato or carrot and seasoned with black pepper as a root vegetable puree. In Sweden, swede is often accompanied by mustard. Swede is even sometimes used grated as a filler in mince pies and Christmas cake. It also goes really well in bean and vegetable pasties (hand pies), served with a tangy chutney.
 Health and nutrition: While not really classed as a superfood, Swede is actually quite a good source of vitamin C if prepared in such a way as to preserve it. (So maybe swede salad would be best, after all!) It also contains some B vitamins and trace minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Being a member of the brassica family (ie: a cruciferous vegetable) swede shares the anti-cancer properties of the antioxidants and compounds also found in broccoli, cabbage, kale etc. The iron in swede is absorbed more readily because of its vitamin C content. Vitamin C helps support the immune system ans skin healing, amongst other things. Another beneficial substance found in swede is beta carotene. Beta carotene is the precursor to vitamin A, a known cancer-fighting and preventative agent.
If you are still not convinced about trying swede, take a look at this recipe- the smoky flavour and buttery texture make it a delicious side dish, especially with something like a nut roast:

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Pancake Special for Shrove Tuesday: Gluten Free Pancakes, and more...

Pancakes, blinis, adai, crepes, dosai, jian bing: call them what you will, they are part of the local cuisine almost anywhere in the world. Which sort will you make? If you want to cook this gluten free version, try savoury (wrapped around cashew sour cream and veggies) instead of lemon juice, fruit or syrup- these pancakes will go both ways, and being gluten free as well as vegan, they're sure to please everybody.
Here's the buckwheat potato pancake recipe, followed by some links to more of our pancakes:

Makes a large batch:
150g raw buckwheat, ground into flour/ buckwheat flour
100g potato flour (farina)
100g singoda flour
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt (if savoury)
500ml (2 cups)water

  • Grind the buckwheat dry, or measure your flour into a high speed blender.
  • Add the singoda and potato flours, turmeric and salt, if using.
  • Pour in water and whizz up into batter.
  • Pour into a lightly-oiled non stick frying pan on high heat and cook carefully on both sides, as you would any kind of pancake. Do not turn over until the top has completely set.