Stephanie Alexander

The rest of the marmalade story!

IMG_0598Yesterday I started to tell you about marmalade but in my haste, I accidentally hit publish before I had finished my story! Then the day flashed by and I had no time to return to it. As I was saying, the damper with marmalade from the new cafe in the Dirty Janes Antique Market, where we are located, is delicious. The marmalade, made by Cath, one of the owners,  was a beautiful, translucent mandarin colour and was tangy and delicious.  I love a good marmalade but it is surprisingly difficult to get one with enough bite.  They’re all too sweet. I’ve hunted high and low and have tried all the usual famous brands, I’ve pounced on home made jars at school fetes, trawled through the Farmers Markets here and in Sydney, scouted through shops in English villages where they should know all about marmalade …  and still I hunger for just the right combo of chunkiness, tartness and aroma.  So I turned to Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion for help.  There on page 473 she lists this lovely entry:

Seville marmalade from a competent western-district cook.

This recipe came to me from a woman who read of my failure with my first-ever Seville marmalade.  She reminded me that it is most important to use fresh fruit – straight from the tree is ideal. 

Seville oranges, water, salt, sugar.

Thinly slice fruit, having first removed all pips and central membrane.  For every 500g prepared fruit, allow 1.8 litres water and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Simmer fruit, salt and water until peel is soft and easily squashed.  Allow to rest for 24 hours in a ceramic or stainless steel bowl.  Next day, measure fruit and water into a preserving pan or large stockpot using a cup.  Bring to a boil and for every cup of fruit and water allow an equal measure of sugar.  Return to a boil and cook for 25-30 minutes until setting or jelly stage.  Bottle into hot, sterilised jars.

Reading this tip about ‘straight from the tree is ideal’, brings me to another citrus note. We have just received a lovely delivery of very healthy, vigorous, perky looking orange, lemon, cumquat, grapefruit, blood orange and lime trees.  So if you too are a marmalade lover, you might like to think about putting in your own citrus grove and in a year or two you’ll have enough for your first batch of home-grown, home-made marmalade!

Visit The Potting Shed website for location and contact details.

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Asparagus love

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In May this year, following a memorable visit to London’s Chelsea Flower Show,  RHS Wisley, Hidcote, Daylesford and various theatre and gallery outings, we had lunch at Petersham Nurseries .  It was impressive – simple, seasonal, perfectly prepared and presented.  Paul and I ordered the asparagus starter – served simply with boiled eggs, a capsicum and chilli coulis and sprinkled with edibles.  So fresh and full of flavour … truly delicious.  Inspired, I came home and planted more asparagus in the garden.  You have to wait for a few years to get a good crop, but once established your crowns will deliver daily  delights each Spring for 20 years or more.  There is nothing like the taste of those spears cut early in the morning and poached quickly for the breakfast plate.  Just add butter.  Don’t mess around with asparagus … it’s paradise just on its own if picked fresh.  And then overnight, as if by magic, up they come again, little lovely fat spears waiting to be cut again the following day.  I’ll never forget one year at Country Trader‘s very swanky Christmas party there were giant bowls of asparagus in the most extravagant display I’d ever seen … voluminous bunches accompanied by Hollandaise sauce. Dip, sip, dip, sip.  Bollinger Champagne and fresh, warm asparagus … heaven!

So whether you’re growing your own or buying from the local Farmers Markets here’s what goes well with asparagus, as advised in Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion:

artichokes
bacon
breadcrumbs
butter
capers
chervil
chives
cream
eggs
gruyere cheese
ham
light soy sauce
mushrooms
mustard
olive oil
oranges
parmesan cheese
parsley
potatoes
raclette cheese
sesame oil
smoked salmon
spinach
tarragon
walnuts