Meyer Lemon Tangelo Grapefruit Marmalade

When Alex wrote about her Meyer Lemon Grapefruit Marmalade on the Food in Jars website in January I feel in serious like with the tangerine colour of the jarred marmalade and knew I had to make that recipe.

I had already made one batch of the Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade in January myself but had been reading so much in the Food in Jars Facebook community about every other marmalade under the sun that other people were making (remember, the people in this group come from various parts of the world, places where citrus fruit is growing on their trees right now) that I just wanted to try some other flavours. Enter meyer lemon and grapefruit and then, because I ended up not having enough lemons (one was rotten and I didn’t notice until after I got home from the store), I substituted in a tangelo that I already had in the fridge.

In the end, this recipe was finicky and I’ll say right up front that I probably won’t make it again. It tastes OK but it’s really not absolutely delicious like the Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade recipe – which I really love and has probably ruined me for all other marmalades from this point forward. And the prep work on this one was onerous: first I had to take all the rind off all the fruits and cut it into thin strips, then supreme the fruit, then bundle all the membrane and seeds up in a cheesecloth sack and boil them with the marmalade. It just took longer than the other recipe because of all the various steps, whereas the other recipe allowed me to use the entire fruit: rind, pith and all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat my Meyer Lemon Tangelo Grapefruit Marmalade and I’ll enjoy it because I made it with my own two little hands! It will be delicious on a toasted bagel and I’m sure other ways. But my heart has been stolen by the mushy combination of Cara Cara oranges, lemons and real vanilla bean…so much so that I’ve already made another batch of that first recipe to tide me over until next January!

Salt Preserved Lemons

I’ve already mentioned that I’m doing the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge this year, and this month is focused on salt preserving. I have a couple of projects on the go and one of them is salt preserved lemons.

I can’t say that before this challenge I’d ever heard of salt preserved lemons before but apparently they are quite big in Moroccan cuisine.

img_1856I used this recipe from Serious Eats and it was very easy to  make. I used organic regular lemons and they were super juicy. I didn’t need to top up the lemons in the jar with any additional liquid as I’ve read is sometimes common to need to do. The recipe says that it takes 15 minutes to make these lemons and that is pretty much accurate. The worst part was the “ouch” that the salt and lemons gave to my hand that is healing from eczema right now, but under normal circumstances pressing the salty lemons into the jar wouldn’t have been a big deal. It was actually kind of fun to squish them all in there and see how many I could get in. I think in the end I was able to press 6 1/2 lemons in this 1 quart jar.

I will say that the mention in the directions that “the next day, lemons will have released a lot of liquid” wasn’t quite true in my case, so maybe my tossing the night before wasn’t really as vigorous as it should have been, but it didn’t seem to matter. When pressed into the jar they released a lot of liquid, it was just fine. There was enough to cover the lemons, which is necessary to do.

Also contrary to the recipe, I let the jar sit out on the counter for a week before I put them in the fridge. I’ve been reading posts in the Food in Jars Facebook community and other recipes seemed to include this “out of fridge” curing step, so that’s what I did. Apparently the more you leave them out of the fridge the more they have a bit of a funky flavour to them. I did have to shake them up a bit a few times over the week to distribute the salt so it didn’t all settle in the bottom of the jar.

It’s probably time to taste them and see what they’re like – I’ll report back when I have used them in a new-found recipe!

Chili Salt

I bought myself the preserving book Batch, written by the (Canadian!) folks at Well Preserved, and have been enjoying going through all the great information it has within. There are so many quick recipes for things that you can make with bits and pieces of food you have left over in your kitchen. One of those things is chili salt.

For a couple of months I’ve had some bird’s eye peppers in the freezer after needing 2-3 of them for some recipe I made and having been “forced” to buy a whole pack of them at the grocery store. What am I going to do with 14 chili peppers? I thought to myself at the time, and so I put them in the freezer to give myself time to figure it out later.

When I read the oh-so-simple recipe for chili salt in Batch, my mind went immediately to my freezer-living chilis. And so that’s what I did, I chopped up all my frozen chilis and made a batch of chili salt in a matter of minutes. So easy. If you can chop up stuff (a food processor makes the job faster and easier), mix things together, and then shake your jar every so often, you can make this salt.

You’ll find the recipe here on Well Preserved’s website and here are some photos so you can see the super easy steps:

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Note that I added an extra step recently from what the recipe says, namely to roast the salt in the oven for an hour (check three times) at 150 degrees. This is because the chopped up chilis still seemed kind of damp after about 3-4 weeks in the jar in the cupboard, so I wanted to dry them out a bit. I also added more salt before I did this, because it seemed pretty “chili-y”.

I haven’t tried my salt yet but I did give some away to a friend. It made quite a bit (and it’s pretty hot!) so I still have a cup left. I think roasted potatoes are in my near future, hot in more ways than one…

Lemon Curd

Many years ago I learned about Cooking Light magazine and started making recipes that they featured. I had a couple of their compendium-type cookbooks for years, I only got rid of them in a recent move when I was downsizing some of my cookbooks. Since all of their recipes are available free on their website it seemed unnecessary to keep old cookbooks from 15 years ago. It’s funny to think back on this, but I remember being thrilled at that time that I could type in ingredients into Cooking Light’s website recipe finder and recipes featuring that ingredient would pop up. Amazing! They certainly seemed ahead of their time then.

Cooking Light is still one of my “go to” sources of recipes that aren’t too fatty or calorie-ridden but now I mostly do my searching of their site through my Paprika app on my iPhone, so I can save recipes right into my app for later.

A recipe that I started making a long time ago is this lemon curd. Truthfully, I don’t make it often, and it’s been years since I have made it, but I decided to pull it up the other day. January was all about thinking about citrus due to the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge feature on marmalade, and talk of curd came up. It reminded me to search out this old recipe and revive it in our household.

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The recipe is very easy to make, no double boiler necessary (unlike a recent lime curd that I made, which I’ll tell you about later) and it’s literally a ten minute job. To use the curd, in the past I’ve made a nice tart-like crust, poured the curd in and put blueberries on top. A great dessert for really not much effort.

This is how much the recipe made, about 1 1/3 cups.

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This time I used regular lemons for my curd but I still have on my to do list to make a version with Meyer Lemons. Marisa from Food in Jars has a recipe in her cookbook for one, and so I might do a taste test to see which one I like better. Hers looks creamier and definitely not a “light” version so I’m curious.

Oh, I should tell you that this lemon curd comes with a warning: it won’t last long after you realize how delicious it is by the spoonful. I had grand intentions to make jam tarts with the curd this time but it didn’t make it!  My daughter, who had never had curd before, took one taste and loved it. At one point she went looking in the fridge for it and…it wasn’t there. “Mommmyyy!” was the pained cry. I might have had something to do with that. 🙂

Caramelized Balsamic Cipollini Onions

I was getting some fruits and veggies at one of my favourite Victoria food stores the other day and ended up bringing home an unexpected addition. If you haven’t been there, the Root Cellar on McKenzie has an amazing array of produce, and I always end up coming out of there with at least a full bag-full, even though I only went in for one thing!

When I was looking for Meyer lemons for the marmalade earlier this month I knew I could get them at the Root Cellar. And I have a kimchi recipe that I’m planning that calls for Asian pears, and I saw them there too. I forget what I was heading in there for this time but just happened to be in the neighbourhood and used the opportunity to go in.

I wasn’t planning on buying cipollini onions but I saw them there last time I went and this time noticed them again. I was at the Granville Island market last year in Vancouver and saw the cipollini onions bathing in balsamic at one of the vendors, and I’m not sure I even knew what they were at the time. I saw them again recently at the new Whole Foods in Victoria and just had to try them. They were amazing! Why buy them though, when I figured I could probably very easily make my own?

img_1849I used this recipe from Snapguide and it was really helpful. Loved all the explanatory photos and it was easy to follow from my iPhone in the kitchen. I won’t go through all the steps again here, you can see for yourself over on that recipe, but it was very easy to make and they tasted delicious. They were softer than they were when I bought them from Whole Foods, but probably because they were warm. I varied from the recipe with the chicken broth because I just had 1 1/4 cup leftover from something else I had made, not the 3 cups the recipe called for, but this was just fine. (I actually don’t think that all that liquid could have boiled down in the 1 1/2 hours it said, as I cooked mine on the stove for almost that amount of time and it seemed just right.)

Here’s what they looked like in the end:

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We had them as a side dish to some stuffed pork roast that my husband had won in a local meat draw. (I know – a meat draw! We definitely live in a small town now.) Now they’re living in the fridge for a bit until we eat them again. Not sure how long they’ll last (if you know, please tell me) but I’m going to guess just a week or two.

Who would have thought that this girl that hated onions growing up (I used to take the onion out of onion rings and eat the fried batter only) would make onions as a complete side dish one day!

Making bone broth for the first time

Last fall I had lunch with a friend at the delightful Charlotte and the Quail cafe at the Gardens at HCP. The food was delicious (what else would you expect from the team that also has created Nourish) and I was encouraged to get a warm drink of “bone broth” to accompany my meal. This was not a term I had ever heard before but I have since come to learn that it’s kind of this trendy thing. (Yet again I’m behind the times I guess!) The broth was good and I was happy to hear that it had some health benefits but I didn’t really think much about bone broth for some weeks after that.

Fast forward to this month and my acupuncturist (whom I haven’t seen for years but returned to recently to get some help with an annoying bout of excema on my hand and other issues) mentioned that bone broth would be a good thing for me to have right now. I stopped by the wonderful Glenwood Meats in Langford and cheerfully admitted to the clerk that I wanted to make bone broth and had no idea what kind of bones to buy! Luckily they are great at Glenwood and soon I was going home with $11 worth of three beef marrow bones, cut neatly so they would fit in my slow cooker.

My friend whom I had shared the original lunch with sent me the recipe she uses for bone broth but, admittedly, I decided to use this one from Bon Appetit instead because the idea of roasting the bones for more flavour (which wasn’t featured in her recipe) really appealed to me.

First I boiled the bones in a stockpot to get rid of some of the impurities:

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It was recommended to throw out that water, which I did.

Then I spread the bones out on a roasting pan and put them in the oven at 425 F as recommended:

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During the roasting stage the bones began to look like they were sitting in clear water but I think it was actually collagen coming out of the bones because it was sort of thick – so strange!

Since the recipe didn’t mention how long to roast the bones I ended up putting them in for two timed sections of 30 minutes each, so an hour in total. And an added “bonus” event for excitement happened at the end: when I opened the oven to take them out I discovered that my smoke detectors are still working fine as the voice audibly rang out “Fire! Fire!” and I was treated with an ear piercing alarm! So strange, nothing on the pan was even burned…

Next it was back in the pot for those bones to be accompanied by some old garlic that I had kicking around and half a big onion, chopped:

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I brought that mixture to a boil and then let it simmer on the stove for about three hours. Then I transferred it to my big slow cooker to simmer even more overnight. Sadly I got the worst sleep ever as the whole house smelled like bone broth by that point – even my pillow! The smell was mostly a good one, but smelling meat all night long quickly became much too much. In the morning it was looking a nice medium brown so I pulled it out of the slow cooker (oh to get rid of that smell!) and put it into mason jars to store in the freezer (after I cooled it).

The moment of truth came this morning as I finally got up the gumption to try the broth. I slopped some of the gelatinous mess from a mason jar into a mug (don’t let this turn your stomach), warmed it up in the microwave and drank about a 1/2 cup for breakfast. I did add some salt for a little more flavour, but overall it tasted pretty good. A little weird for breakfast when I usually have oatmeal or cereal though!

I’m not sure I’ll make bone broth all the time, mostly because of the length of time it took to do all this and the “meat smell permeating the house for hours” issue, but I’m looking forward to using it in recipes and as a sipper just for my own health. It was fun to try something new, sucking out all the marrow of life…

 

Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade

I’m participating in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge this year and January is all about making marmalade. It’s been many years since I made marmalade as my first and only attempt a long time ago with bitter Seville oranges made a batch that I didn’t like at all. When my father in law visited and said that he actually liked it, I sent him home with all the remaining jars! And I never made marmalade again.

As a result of that earlier experience I was a little uncertain when I saw that marmalade was first up with Marisa’s FIJ Mastery Challenge, but I joined the Food in Jars Facebook group and started seeing posts from (mostly) women all over the place about “marmalade” being made with strawberries, kiwis, cherries, cranberries, kumquats, lemons and more! And people were talking about different kinds of oranges too, oranges I didn’t even know existed. These posts revealed to me that marmalade could be something other than what I imagined! (They were also fun to read as a reminder that some people live in parts of the world where oranges grow on trees in their backyard…nice.)

I found Cara Cara oranges at the Market on Millstream in Langford and decided to try this Cara Cara Orange and Vanilla Marmalade. The Cara Caras sounded right up my alley because they were said to be a sweet orange and a beautiful colour – sort of halfway between the regular navel orange colour we all know and the red of blood oranges. I bought five for the recipe which called for four oranges, ate the fifth to try it out, and it was great. The appeal of using real vanilla bean was there in this recipe as well. (Not cheap, but well worth it.)

If you’re interested in making marmalade this winter, I’ll warn you right away that this recipe took a LONG time. Yesterday it took me quite some time to cut up four oranges and two lemons in thin slices, and today the cooking time was significant – much longer than what the recipe advised.

Here are the lemons and oranges all cut up and ready to be boiled in water in my Dutch oven:

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And this is after the first 40 minutes of boiling, right after I put the berry sugar and vanilla bean in (that’s what you see in the middle that looks like a cloud of pepper – it’s not!):

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This is after the second 40 minutes of boiling while I was waiting for the temperature to increase on my candy thermometer. The boiling ended up taking about 30-40 extra minutes over what it said on the recipe:

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After many unsuccessful gel tests on cold plates (I later read Marisa’s canning instructions in the Food in Jars cookbook that Cara Cara oranges – because they are virtually seedless – actually need a little pectin added to achieve a better set – that would have been great to know earlier!), I finally decided it was ready to can. The recipe said it would make five cups and for me it actually made nine so prepare some extra jars if you make that recipe so you don’t get caught out not having enough like me. (Friends of mine are getting the extra today!)

Here is the finished product, just pulled from the water bath:

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And I just had to have some on a piece of toast to try it right away:

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It is delicious, much better than the bitter Seville marmalade that was my first attempt years ago.

Full disclosure: You might notice some dark parts in the marmalade. This is due to the unexpected extra long cooking time and me not realizing that the mixture was burning a bit on the bottom. At the end I fished out some of the particularly dark parts and didn’t use some at the bottom of the pan. It still tasted great though and I had so much mixture that I wasn’t concerned about 1/3 cup of wastage. Next time I’ll keep a better eye on the later stirring though so this doesn’t happen.

Overall the cooking and processing time this morning took me about three hours, so I got some other things done in the kitchen while it was bubbling away. It was a lot of effort to make this recipe but the yield was good, much more than I’m sure we’ll eat even over the course of a year. And it was nice to do a little indoor, “easy” work while the winter sun was streaming in and I didn’t have anywhere else to be. Just note that the linked recipe here has some holes in it so you may wish to: a) add a little pectin, b) add the vanilla bean in when you add the vanilla bean seeds in (as the recipe didn’t mention this specifically, you have to read between the lines) and c) remember that the cooking time might take longer than expected. Enjoy!