One of the South West’s most talented chefs, Martin Blunos was born and brought up near Bath, his parents having come to England from Latvia just after the Second World War. He has held two Michelin stars for more than 15 years and appears regularly on television and radio with regular slots as guest chef on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen with James Martin, BBC Market Kitchen, ITV Daily Cooks and ITV’s Saturday Cooks.
We’re off, and what a start to the year. VAT’s up and the temperature’s down. In my book, comfort food is the answer, which means broths, bakes and braises. Cheap and warming, they’re a much welcomed internal cuddle…
Shopping for fresh food is a lot quicker at this time of year because the seasonal choice is limited, and too much choice is sometimes a pain in the proverbial.
Nowadays we’ve got a choice of full fat, semi skimmed and skimmed milk and not just from cows! Bread displays that once used to fill half a shelf, now take an isle. If you’re anything like me, you can spend forty minutes choosing and end up on the street clutching a tetra pack of semi skimmed pro biotic yaks milk, a mixed grain mini bloomer loaf and a box of twenty five, hand woven silk pouches of decaffeinated earl grey! Tea and toast has taken on a new meaning.
Talking toast, Seville oranges make their brief appearance at this time of year which means that it’s time to dust of the preserving pan and make marmalade. Making home made preserves is really satisfying – the house smells like a sweet shop and all the preparation and time that you put in results in jar upon jar of golden goodness.
Here’s my marmalade recipe, try it spread thickly on your toasted slices of mixed grain! Alternatively, a dollop worked into a bread and butter pudding works a treat and for savoury dishes, try it smeared over a baked ham whilst glazing it in the oven. The classic duck à l’orange is lifted by using a spoon of marmalade in its creation. See now I’m giving you choices – enjoy!
900g Seville oranges
2.5 litres cold water
1.8kg granulated sugar
- Wash fruit under cold running water and place in a large preserving pan. Add the measured water, cover the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat so water simmers gently.
- Cook for 2 hours or until the fruits are tender when tested with a wooden skewer. Put the sugar in a large roasting tray and heat through a low oven (140°C) for about an hour.
- Drain the fruits from the water and leave the water to one side. When the fruit is cool enough to handle, cut in half and scoop out pith and seeds – put these back into the pan along with the lemons.
- Bring the pan back to a fast boil and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Strain and push through a sieve back into the pan. Add the warmed sugar and place the pan over a low heat, stirring from time to time untill all the sugar has dissolved. 5 Shred all the orange skins to (your) desired thickness. Add to the pan and bring to a rolling boil – cook for twenty minutes then do a plate test (spoon a little of the marmalade onto a cold side plate. Ater a few minutes, when cold, push your finger through the small puddle of marmalade and if it is ready it will wrinkle.) If set is not achieved continue to boil for another
- minutes and repeat the test.
- When ready turn off the heat and allow to cool. Pour into sterile jars, cover and seal.