three citrus marmalade (and reasons to be grateful)

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.

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earl grey cupcakes

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.


cream of cauliflower soup with red beet chips

I totally forgot how much fun laryngitis is. Not. It was actually really exhausting this time around. So I drank a lot of ginger tea. And loaded up on Ricolas and tracked down my favorite cough syrup. I tried my best to speak as little as possible (especially after my father said I sounded like a man) and kept my alcohol consumption to a minimum. I was beginning to think that my karaoke days had been numbered when, finally, on day eleven my voice returned. It’s still a bit hoarse, but what a relief!

While I was nursing myself back to health, I spent some quality time in bed with Thomas Keller, I mean, Thomas Keller’s AdHoc at Home, a Christmas gift from my mom. The recipes in this book are far more approachable than the others in the Keller collection. Plus, there are a ton of kitchen tips and tricks throughout the book that can be applied to your daily cooking (like making and using parchment paper lids). I have been glued to the pages.

I pretty much flagged every recipe in the soup section of the book. One of the recipes that immediately caught my eye was the cream of cauliflower soup, which surprised me because I’ve never been a huge fan of cauliflower. I think it’s fine, though I don’t typically go out of my way to cook it or eat it. But I was very intrigued by this particular recipe. I think it might have been the fried beet chip garnish that sealed the deal for me.

Since it’s January and everyone is still trying their best to stick to their diets, I wish I could tell you that this is a healthy vegetable soup. But I would be lying. This soup is decadent. It is rich and velvety smooth and has a slightly earthy, full bodied flavor. And it’s garnished with browned cauliflower florets and garlicky croutons and crispy beet chips, which are the perfect contrasts in texture. The soup is also pretty amazing without all of the fancy accoutrements; just a drizzle of olive oil and you’re good to go. But I do love those beet chips. Almost as much as I love this soup. You’ve been so good this year. Treat yourself!

cream of cauliflower soup

adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

serves 6

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 heads cauliflower (4 to 5 pounds total)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped leeks (light green and white parts only)

3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon yellow curry powder

kosher salt

2 cups heavy cream

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

peanut or canola oil for deep frying

1 medium red beet

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

freshly ground black pepper

garlic croutons

for the soup:

Remove the outer leaves of the cauliflower, and cut out the core. Trim off the stems and reserve them. For the garnish, trim 2 cups florets and set aside.

Coarsely chop the remaining cauliflower and the stems into 1-inch pieces to that they will cook evenly. You will need 8 cups of cauliflower.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, leek, curry and chopped cauliflower, season with 2 teaspoons salt, cover with a parchment lid. Cook, stirring occasionally,  until the vegetables are almost tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the parchment lid.

Pour in the milk. cream and water, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, skimming off the foam from time to time.

Working in batches, transfer the cauliflower mixture to a blender of food processor. Puree until smooth and velvety. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Transfer back to the saucepan and keep warm. (The soup can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

for the garnish:

Fill a small deep pot with 1 inch of oil and heat over medium heat to 300°F. Set a cooling rack lined with paper towels over a baking sheet.

While the oil heats, peel the beet and slice off about 1/2 inch from the top. Using a mandoline, slice the beet into rounds that are slightly thicker than paper-thin.

Carefully add a few beet rounds to the oil and fry, turning them with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon as the edges begin to curl, pressing gently on the chips to keep them submerged.  When the bubbling stops, after 1 to 1-1/2 minutes, the beets will be crisp. Transfer the beets to the prepared cooling rack and season with salt. Fry the remaining chips in batches. The chips can be kept warm in a low oven.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the vinegar and the reserved cauliflower florets and blanch until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, swirling pan occasionally, until the butter turns a rich golden brown. Add the florets and saute until a rich golden brown. Set aside.

to serve:

Reheat the soup if necessary. If it seems to thick, add a little water to thin to the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the soup into bowls. Top each serving with croutons, a few cauliflower florets and a stack of beet chips. Sprinkle with pepper. Serve immediately.

granola!

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!

homemade granola

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.