Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Home-made Marmalade

Making marmalade is time-consuming  but ooh! the lovely fresh citrus smell as it cooks would brighten any winter's day. It is economical and the result in flavour and texture is well worth the effort.
January is the only time of the year that the really bitter oranges, marmalade is traditionally made from, are available in the shops- they are sold as 'marmalade oranges' (much too bitter to peel and eat)

I followed my Mum's recipe the first time I made marmalade. She was a Domestic Science teacher  in the early 1950's and she told me they made batch after batch of marmalade to sell to raise money for their department, so her recipe is very economical and makes quite a large quantity using every part of the orange. The minced fruit is soaked overnight in cold water presumably to reduce the cooking time.

Made in the same way as jams or jellies, the peel is an integral part of marmalade, extremely tough and requiring long, slow cooking. Pectin which is essential for a good set, exists in the pith and in the pips. Both should be tied in muslin and boiled with the chopped peel. An all-purpose thermometer can be used to guage setting point (220 degrees F) or pour a little onto a cold saucer and if a wrinkled sking forms within a few minutes, setting point has been reached.

There are many variations of marmalade using a variety of citrus fruits. Depending on the method used, marmalade can be chunky with large thick strips of peel or  clear jelly with fine strips of peel or thick and chunky where all the peel has been minced rather than cut into strips.  It just depends which you prefer.

But whichever you choose nothing  tastes quite like freshly made marmalade.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Looking for Baking Inspiration ?

Do you ever have days when you want to bake but don't knowwhat to bake ?

I do, from time to time and when I do I usually resort to my collection of recipe booklets which are made up of recipes donated by individuals, compiled into a book by groups who then sell them to raise funds for their organisation or charity.
e.g.I have one from the Ayrshire SWRI, North Yorkshire WI and several compiled by a friend of my Mum's from Brechin. This lady produced almost 6 little booklets, tried and tested every recipe-totally reliable.

Many recipes are the same or similar to the ones I already use but I always find some variations and something a little different. One such recipe I would like to share with you is homemade
Macaroon Bars and the magic ingredient.........MASHED POTATO! - sounds odd but it works - lovely and sweet.

Scottish Macaroon Bars (makes 12)

- 1½ heaped tablespoons of cold and thoroughly mashed boiled potatoes per bar
Icing sugar (have a packet ready – quantity depends on how stiff your mashed potato is)
2 tsp vanilla essence
8 oz Melted chocolate for coating
1 Cup Toasted desiccated coconut

Cook potatoes in boiling water for 20 minutes before mashing.
Toast desiccated coconut on tray at 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4) until golden brown.
Melt chocolate slowly in a warm pan; stirring constantly to prevent sticking.
Mix potatoes with icing sugar; add enough sugar to make the mixture firm.
Chill, then roll out to ¾ inch thick and cut into bars.

Coat the bars with melted chocolate and cover with the toasted desiccated coconut on all sides.

Allow the bars to cool before eating and enjoying.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Facts about Afternoon Tea

1.    Afternoon Tea is a tea-related ritual, introduced in Britain in the early 1840s.
2.    Reputedly begun by Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford to fill the gap between their two main meals of the day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o'clock in the evening. She began to invite her friends to join her for “tea and a walking the fields” Before long all of fashionable society was sipping tea and nibbling sandwiches in the middle of the afternoon.
3.    Afternoon Tea is a meal composed of sandwiches (usually cut delicately into 'fingers'), scones with clotted cream and jam, sweet pastries and cakes.
4.    Interestingly, scones were not a common feature of early Afternoon Tea and were only introduced in the twentieth century.
5.    The difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea ?- Traditionally, the upper classes would serve a ‘low' or ‘afternoon' tea around four o'clock, just before the fashionable promenade in Hyde Park. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial ‘high' tea later in the day, at five or six o'clock, in place of a late dinner.
6.    The names derive from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, high tea being served at the dinner table.