Tag Archives: fruit

Candied peel

Candied peel

I have been slicing oranges into segments into a pretty bowl, sprinkling them with sugar and the juice of another orange or a clementine and leaving them to marinate for a few hours in the fridge. My eldest then tucks into them for breakfast or after school. I have been throwing the peel into the bin; neither the chickens or the compost likes it. It occurred to me that I should candy it. After all, it is nearly Christmas and there is something very Christmassy about candied peel.

This recipe is very easy to do on the Aga as you can leave the syrup and peel to simmer away in the simmering oven and then dry out the peel in the warming oven or on the top of the warming plate. You don’t need an Aga to give it a go though. A warm airing cupboard or shelf near a fire or radiator will have the same effect.

There is something very satisfying about candying your own peel. It does take a while, and it is a bit of faff, especially when you can buy it. But still, I think it’s worth giving it a go just for the smug glow you get when you look at your jar of candied peel and think to yourself ‘I did that’.  I am going to dip some of the glistening strands into molten dark chocolate for a treat for Mr OC and me, and maybe the children (if I tell them about it). But that’s another day in the not too distant future. Today I am just going to enjoy looking at the jar and enjoy my smug glow.

I used Debora’s recipe as a guide, I didn’t slice it as beautifully though and used only orange peel rather than a mixture of citrus. Four orange rinds needed about half the sugar and half the water Debora gives in her recipe, so 450g of sugar and 600ml water.  At the point when the peel was soft in the syrup I let it cool in the pan and then placed the pieces into a tin, lined with baking paper. I didn’t dredge it with extra sugar.  I put the tin into the warming oven of the Aga and left it there for about four hours, took it out and left it overnight on the warming plate of the Aga. It was beautifully dry in the morning and ready for the jar.

I plan to use the remaining few tablespoons of orange flavoured sugar syrup to glaze an orange flavoured cake.

Thanks must be given to Debora for all the inspiration she has given me over the past couple of years in both her blog and her book.

Plum and almond flapjack

plum and almond flapjack

This is a lovely way to use up those plums that you bought in the hope that they would be chin drippingly delicious but turn out to be tooth breakingly hard. It’s a sweet treat so you probably shouldn’t eat it all in one sitting…

100g (4oz) butter
100g (4oz) demerara sugar
1 generous tablespoon of golden syrup
150g (6oz) rolled oats
50g (2oz) flaked almonds
3-4 plums, stoned and sliced

Lightly grease a round pie dish or cake tin, mine measures 23cm but you could use one that measures 20cm and have a deeper flapjack.

Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat. Take off the heat and add the oats and the flaked almonds. Stir well to combine. Spread three-quarters of the mixture in the bottom of the pie dish. Lay the plums over this in a single layer. Spoon the remaining oat mixture over, leaving some of the plums exposed. Press the mixture down well with the back of a spoon.

Place in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 or the centre of the baking oven of the Aga for 20-25 minutes until golden. Mark it into sections as soon as you take it out of the oven otherwise it is difficult to slice when cold. Leave to go completely cold before removing it from the dish.

Poached pears in spiced red wine

A friend of ours has the most marvellous garden.  It is like The Secret Garden, only better.  It is full of fruit trees; apple, medlar, plum, cherry and pear.  Fortunately for us our friend is also very generous.  He turns up with buckets full of whatever fruit is ready.  Last week was the turn of the pear and what lovely pears they were. They deserved to be turned into something special.  In fact I made not one but two desserts with them, these poached pears and a caramelised pear and almond cake which will feature in the  next post. The two made for some very nice eating after a lovely meal at my mum and dad’s house.

6-8 pears (fairly firm)
1 bottle of good red wine
1 vanilla pod, split and cut into three pieces
5 cm cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 whole cloves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
225g caster sugar

Method

Peel the pears, leaving them whole and the stalk intact.  Cut a little off the bottom so that each pear will stand upright.

Pour the wine into a saucepan that is large enough to take all the pears but not too large as you want the pears to be as covered in the wine as they can be. Add the sugar, the spices and the thyme.  Place over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the pears and turn the heat up until the wine is simmering.  Cover the pan with a lid. Simmer for twenty to thirty minutes until the pears are just tender when you test with a cocktail stick or fork tine. If the pears are not fully submerged in the wine then turn them every five minutes during cooking to make sure they become evenly coloured.

Remove the pears to a deep bowl.  Turn the heat up under the wine and boil vigorously until reduced by about half and it has become syrupy. Allow the syrup to cool a little and then pour over the pears.  This way they will develop a deeper red colour. Place in the fridge.  The pears can be made up to two days ahead. Serve with lashings of cream.

Meddling with medlars

We have a friend who has a wonderful selection of fruit trees in his garden.  This year we have received basketfuls of apples, walnuts, these cherries

and this week, possibly the most exciting yet.

Okay, the cherries were probably the tastiest and it is a real treat to have cherries fresh from the tree and a huge basketful to boot.  But the medlar is a fruit I have read about and wondered about and I find them very intriguing. Now, according to my friend the colloquial term for these little beauties is Dog’s Arse – I can’t begin to think why.

I was thrilled when he knocked the door bearing a basket full of these unusual fruit.

As they are, fresh off the tree, they are hard and yield very little juice or smell. They are not pleasant eaten raw straight off the tree but I am led to believe that if I leave them in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks they will start to blet, which is they will soften and turn a darker brown, and then could be eaten raw.  However, I am not sure I will be brave enough to try them when, let’s face it, they will be halfway to rotten, and my friend tells me that he left some to blet last year and just couldn’t fancy eating one.  His chickens had a feast though.

Anyway, my medlars are in the garage bletting away.  I plan to make medlar jelly in the next couple of weeks with them. If anyone has any experience of medlars or has a good recipe for a jelly or anything else then I would be very interested to hear it.