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When the house next door (which has been vacant for a year) goes up in flames in the wee hours of the morning, it’s pretty scary. When your own kitchen fills with smoke because flames are bursting from the kitchen windows next door, it’s really scary. Like round-up-the-pets-and-pack-up-your-valuables scary. Like pray-to-all-higher-powers-that-an-ember-does-not-jump-onto-your-roof scary. I’ve never in my life felt my heart pound so hard inside my chest. I can still feel an echo of that pounding.
And I am extremely grateful. I am grateful for the roof over my head. More now than ever in my life. I am grateful that I am constantly surrounded by family and friends. I am grateful for my cats and my dog, who make me smile and feel safe when I sleep at night. I am grateful for my life. I am grateful to be here.
On a much lighter brighter note, I’m grateful for all the babies who are making their way into this world. And for the lovely little fella who arrived just the other day, belonging to my cousin and her hubby. Congrats, ladies and gents!
I’m also grateful for this marmalade, which for a couple of hours helped to take my mind off all the craziness that has been swirling around the past few days. Marmalade always reminds me of Paddington Bear, who I believe would have approved of this gem. It’s a three citrus marmalade made of blood orange, pink grapefruit, and Meyer lemon, a sort of citrus trifecta if I do say so myself. This is everything I was dreaming of when this marmalade mission began – it has a very pronounced citrus flavor, a nice sticky consistency, and is just a tiny bit bitter. Plus, it’s absolutely gorgeous. You’ll be grateful to have it to put on your toast in the morning.
three citrus marmalade
adapted from Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone
makes 4 or 5 half-pints
4 organic blood oranges *
2 organic Meyer lemons *
1 organic pink grapefruit *
5 cups sugar **
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
*Feel free to change the ratio of citrus to your liking.
** The amount of sugar used is dependent on the amount of pulp your fruit yields.
Peel the skin from the blood oranges with a pairing knife. Cut the rinds into matchstick-size pieces. Place peels in a large pot and cover with 4 cups o water. Set aside.
Grate the zest from the grapefruit and lemons and add to the pot with the orange peels. Cook over medium heat until the rinds are tender, about 25 minutes. Do not drain.
Meanwhile, remove any excess pith from the reserved fruit. Cut the fruit in half along the equator and remove seeds with a pairing knife. Over a medium bowl, separate the sections of the fruit and squeeze the juice from the pulp. You can also use kitchen shears to assist with this process. Alternately, you can place all of the fruit into the bowl of a food processor and grind to a chunky pulp.
Measure the pulp and then add to the pot of cooled rinds. Let the mixture rest for 2 hours, covered in a cool place or the refrigerator.
Add an equal amount of sugar to the pulp and rinds. Add the butter. Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. When the temperature reaches 220°F on a candy thermometer, the marmalade is ready.
While your marmalade is cooking, fill your canner with a rack and bring water to a boil. Sterilize 4 or 5 half-pint jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs. Simmer the lids in a small lot of of hot water.
When the jars are dry but still hot, pour in the marmalade, leaving 1/2 to 3/4- inch of headspace at the top of each jar. Wipe the rims, set on the lids, and screw on the bands to fingertip tight.
Place the jars in the canner. Make sure there is at least 3-inches of water above the jars. Boil over high heat for 10 minutes. Turn of the heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner . Allow the jars to sit, undisturbed, for 4 to 6 hours. You will hear a popping noise as the vacuum is created in the jars. Store in a cool, dark place or up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.
Last weekend, I was on a mission to make marmalade. Since there is such an abundance of gorgeous citrus available right now, it just needed to be done. While searching for a sour orange, I spotted a mountain of bergamot oranges and decided at that moment that it would be a bergamot marmalade.
Long story short, I have mixed feelings about the marmalade. But I know for certain that I’m in love with bergamot oranges. Bergamot oranges are pale in color, slightly bitter and extremely fragrant. The scent of bergamot, especially when you spend the afternoon peeling and slicing the rind, is heavenly. It almost made me want to make perfume rather than preserves. If you’ve never had a bergamot orange, you’re probably familiar with its fragrance and flavor from Earl Grey tea, which is infused with the oil from the bergamot rind. Which reminds me of these Earl Grey cupcakes.
I love cupcakes. In my opinion, they are the epitome of good things that come in small packages; they’re portion controlled and portable and perfect for just about any occasion – birthdays, bake sales, break-ups, you name it. In my circles of friends, I’m known as the cupcake supplier. Once upon a time, in my early twenties, I dreamed of opening a cupcakery. Which is why even I am surprised that I’ve yet to share a cupcake recipe here. Until now.
I made these Earl Grey cupcakes twice last summer, for two different bridal showers. If you like Earl Grey tea, you will love these cupcakes. They have such a delicate flavor and they’re a great alternative to plain jane vanilla or chocolate cupcakes. I especially like them dressed with a lemon buttercream, which really enhances the bergamot essence of the Earl Grey. Now if I could just get this marmalade situation figured out.
earl grey cupcakes
adapted from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery by Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas
makes 12 cupcakes
for the cupcakes:
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk. at room temperature
4 Earl Grey teabags
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 large eggs
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and add the teabags. Cover and steep for about 30 minutes. Remove the teabags and gently squeeze to remove any excess liquid from the bags. Discard teabags.
In a medium bowl, sift together the two flours and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, about 3-5 minutes. Add the almond extract if using and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until completely incorporated.
Alternate adding the flour mixture and the infused milk, beginning and ending with the flour, mixing until combined after each addition.
Carefully spoon the mixture into the cups, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. Test with a wooden skewer in the center of the cupcake. It should come out clean.
Remove from the oven and leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, frost the cupcakes with lemon buttercream.
for the lemon buttercream:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, milk, lemon juice, zest and half the sugar until smooth. Gradually add the remainder of the sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
2011, I like you already! The new year has been full of friends, old and new, laughter, great food and great drinks. I rang in the new year at a spectacular dinner party hosted by the lovely and talented Mr. Anderson. Chocolate mousse, Veuve Clicquot, an amazing view of San Francisco and fireworks – it was an ideal way to start the new year. I really couldn’t have asked for more.
Since we all want to start off the year on the right foot, how about some granola? Every new year, I swear to myself that I’m going to eat healthier. And I know I’m not the only one, which is why I decided a few weeks ago that I would give the gift of good health in the form of homemade granola (along with salted caramels and marshmallows, and a few other sweet things – you can’t deny the people of all the good stuff!).
Why granola? Because it’s healthy! Or maybe wholesome is more fitting. And because a little bag of homemade granola landed on my desk one evening (thanks, Ginger!) and inspired me to make my own. And when poured into jars and tied with some good looking ribbon, it’s practically begging to be given away.
This is my dream granola. It’s full of nuts and dried fruit and toasted coconut and sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup. It’s a sweeter granola, which makes it perfect over plain yogurt. I think next time I’ll throw in some candied ginger, maybe some pumpkin seeds. Or dried figs. Mmmmm. The possibilities are endless, sort of like the year to come. Happy New Year, my dears!
adapted loosely from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
makes 1 pound of granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup nuts ( I used a combination of walnuts, pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts)
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup dried fruit (I used dried cherries, golden raisins, and chopped dried apricots)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the oats with salt and cinnamon.
In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, brown sugar, oil and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Pour the syrup mixture into the oats and stir until evenly coated.
Spread the oat mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a few clumps for texture.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the oats with a metal spatula. Scatter the nuts and coconut over the granola and return to the oven.
Continue to bake for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the mixture again. Return the baking sheet to the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip the oats one last time.
Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Cool completely. Once, cooled, toss the granola with dried fruit. Store in an airtight container. The granola will keep for 1 week.