Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Mad Marmalade Mission


Each winter I make a small stash of special reserve marmalade. It’s quite a procedure but to my mind and my taste buds it’s definitely worth the trouble.

This years organic Seville oranges appeared early, in the middle of December, and rather than miss them I bought my usual three kilos and stashed them. Until yesterday.


It’s a two day mission to make marmalade so you need a bit of time and space to get it done. First the peel of the orange needs to be pared away from the pith and then finely shredded with a sharp knife.

IMG_1095The oranges are then juiced, pips, pith and any remaining fruit flesh are tied in a muslin bag and then everything is put into a large bowl and seeped over night with some water.

IMG_1096The next day all of this is tipped into a big saucepan and boiled up for an hour or so, until the peel is tender. The muslim bag comes out at this stage. I put it in  a colander and left it to cool while I took the dog for a run on the beach. When I got back it was cool enough to handle and I could give it a good squeeze to extract all the pectin, Pectin is extremely gelatinous and this is vital for the marmalade to set. Once the pectin was back in the pot I added the sugar and boiled it up. And boiled it up! It takes ages. The kitchen was like a steam bath even though I had the extractor on. I was checking to see whether it would set by dropping a spoonful onto a chilled plate and doing the wrinkle test. When it finally it reached setting point. I potted it up and we now have nine jars of very valuable orange nectar for our breakfast toast.

Post Movie Cook-Up


We drove to the city yesterday to watch The LIfe of Pi.

It’s surprising how hungry you can get just sitting watching a movie. Mind you the journey was pretty epic. We went to Mahon Point shopping centre, thinking we wouldn’t have to pay for parking and there were so many people there we couldn’t find a parking space! Luckily all these people were on a crazy shopping mission and the cinema had plenty of space. I really enjoyed reading the book some years ago and the movie does a great job with the story.

It took twenty minutes to leave the car park after the movie so by the time we got home we were even hungrier.

We had a bowl of vegetables left over from our Xmas dinner – roasted spuds and chilli ginger sprouts and these were rapidly transformed together with a fried onion into a tortilla which we ate accompanied by some ‘blonde’ cole slaw.


Winter slaws are the business this time of the year and in our vegetable basket we had a pointy cabbage, some chicory and fennel. I sliced these all thinly , added a sliced pear and  a few walnuts and made some dressing by mixing a little left over vinaigrette with a little left over sour cream and a little wedge of gorgonzola cheese.

All very tasty and it helped to shift the backlog of food loitering in our kitchen.


Sunday Evening Pasta Fest

This is one of our favourite lazy dinners and it’s the perfect home for our past the sell by date buffalo mozzarella which we bring home from the shop. It’s a kind of an owning  a food shop perk – eating all the food that’s past the sell by date. Past the sell by date is of course a different thing from being out of date  which could be dodgy. We marinated the mozzarella in olive oil with the very last of this years basil crop. It felt good to be eating our own basil in December.It’s quite amazing that it survived last weeks frosts.

It takes very little time and effort to prepare this dish and doesn’t require any fancy equipment. A large saucepan to cook the linguine and small saucepan for the sauce and you’re away.

The sauce is very simple to make, just olive oil, garlic, a few chilli flakes, anchovies and canned tomatoes. Don’t be put off trying this recipe by the mention of the anchovies as this isn’t a fishy dish.. In this instance the anchovies are acting as a flavour enhancer and once cooked in the sauce add an extra dimension – other than that they disappear completely

Here’s the recipe. It serves 4-5 people


Linguine with Tomato and Mozzarella and Basil

2-3  fatty cloves of garlic

1-2 red chillies

50ml olive oil – about  2 overflowing tablespoons, plus a little for the mozzarella

5-6 anchovy fillets

2 balls of fresh mozzarella

2 cans tomatoes, chopped

500g linguine

A bunch of basil

Salt and black pepper

Peel and chop the garlic and chop the chilli.

Put a pan on the heat and add the olive oil, garlic and chilli. Don’t allow the oil to get too hot as garlic burns easily and will spoil the sauce.

Cook gently for a minute or so and then stir in the anchovies.

Mash the anchovies up with a wooden spoon then add the chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.

Bring the tomato sauce to the boil then turn down and simmer for twenty to thirty minutes. The oil will eventually come to the surface, which means the sauce is ready

Dice the buffalo mozzarella and chop the basil and put them into a bowl. Season with salt, black pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Mix together gently and leave aside for the flavours to infuse.

Bring a big pot of water to the boil, add plenty of salt and cook the linguineaccording to the directions on the packet. Watch the clock!

Drain the linguine after the specified time and put it into a warm bowl. Pour the tomato sauce over and then scatter  the mozzarella on top.