Yo Soy Paddington (A Warming Marmalade Recipe)

Just before Christmas, I took my three year-old to the cinema for the first time.  We saw Paddington and were equally charmed.  It was funny and darling and the calypso band that played throughout was fantastic.  Helena clutched her stuffed bear, chomped on popcorn, danced in her seat and shrieked with delight through most of it.  I, on the other hand, cried through at least 20% of it.  I am not sure if it’s because I was still waiting to hear about my Indefinite Leave to Remain status or what, but the telling of this tale about a little Peruano immigrant bear really tugged at my heart strings.  I love Paddington.  I am Paddington.  Yo soy Paddington.

CUT TO: JANUARY 2015

Though the UK Border Agency had until March to process my visa application, I received it the first week of the new year.  I have no idea why it’s called indefinite leave to remain when ILR status allows one to remain in the UK for ten years.  Ten years is very definite, no?  Anyway, I was thrilled.  I studied for my Life in the UK exam like my college degree (or my residency) depended on it.  Go ahead.  Ask me anything about the Divine Right of Kings, The Pale, The Hundred Years War, 1066, Robbie Burns, or sticky wickets.  I know it all.  Or I did last August when I took the test.

While my heart’s all American, something in me changed when I received my residence permit.  And it’s not that I felt British.  Anyone who reads Chagrinnamon Toast knows that I ache for home and wish I could see my family more than I do.  That said, I am so grateful for all that England has offered me.  What’s changed is that for the first time, I don’t just feel like an American.  I feel like an immigrant.  Still so full of love for my homeland yet equally full of thanks for my adopted country.  Like I said, I am Paddington.

Which is why I felt it my duty to learn to make marmalade, not that I even like the stuff.  I just thought it should be in my repertoire especially as Helena and Henry love it.  The recipe I used was from The Breakfast Bible by Seb Emina & Malcolm Eggs.  I cannot lie.  My first attempt was a failure.  It smelled nice, tasted nice, but had the consistency of epoxy.  Apparently, when boiling marmalade, one cannot turn one’s back even for a minute.  Otherwise the temperature can quickly climb too high and leave you with mucilage instead of marmalade.

My second attempt was with the same recipe.  This was much better.  I gave some to Blake Pudding, one of the contributing writers of The Breakfast Bible, who said my marmalade “tasted like it was made by someone who didn’t have the weight of the empire sitting on her shoulders and who didn’t know the disappointments of being British.”  He went on to describe it as “Fresh and juicy.  In a word, Californian.”  Keeping California in mind, I began experimenting with my own recipe.

Second Attempt

Second Attempt

What is it I really want in cold dreary January?  To bask in the sunshine.  Sadly as that’s not an option here in London, I’ve tried to capture the warmth of the West Coast in a jar instead.  Below is my recipe.  I call it Winter Gold as it consists of Seville oranges, lemons, and ginger which look like flecks of gold when set in jars.  While it’s not sunny Malibu, it is warming and coming from someone who doesn’t like marmalade, it’s delicious.  All the glow of an orange, but with very little bitterness.

Misti’s Winter Gold Marmalade

Ingredients:

1 kg seville oranges

3 juice from lemons

100 g fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

750 g caster sugar

1 liter of water + 125 ml or 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Method:

First, place a small plate in your refrigerator.  You will use this plate to later test for a set.

Next, remove the stems from your Seville oranges and give them a  good scrub.  It’s really important they be nice and clean.

Quarter each orange and put it in a large heavy bottom pan.  Add the liter of water.  Boil with a lid slightly off for an hour and a half or until the skins are tender.

oranges pre-boil boiling oranges

Drain the oranges but make sure to keep the water in which they were boiled.  Allow the oranges to cool.

Use a teaspoon to scoop the insides of each orange quarter.  Put the seeds, pulp, and pith into a large pan.  Cover with the 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently to avoid sticking and burning.  Allow this mixture to boil for about ten minutes.  The purpose of this boil is to extract pectin that will help your marmalade set.  Remove from the heat and place in a cheesecloth or fine sieve to strain.  I use a spoon to stir the mixture within the sieve.  This presses out some of the pulp which is thick and sticky.  Retain all liquid that comes through the sieve.

boiling for pectin

straining scooped bits

Rinse the orange peel and drain.  Cut into shreds.

shred

Peel the ginger and slice thinly.  Cut each thin slice into matchsticks.  Chop the matchsticks into even smaller pieces.

Prepare your jars and lids.  Wash them with warm soapy water.  Dry completely and place on a baking tray.  Put them in the oven at about 275°F/140°C/Gas 1 for at least ten minutes.  This will sterilize them.

Place the orange shred, the ginger, the sugar, both sets of liquid, and the lemon juice into a large pan.  Stir to mix.  You want everything to incorporate.  Over a medium flame, heat the mixture.  Do not allow the sugar to burn.  When the sugar has melted (you’ll be able to tell because the mixture will no longer feel gritty), bring everything to a boil.  Bring out your candy thermometer and watch it like a hawk.  Do not allow your mixture to go above 220°F this is roughly 100°C.   I take mine off at about 219°F.  Test for a set using the plate in the fridge.  Do this by spooning a little of the marmalade onto the cold plate and putting it back in the fridge for a few minutes.  If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s set.  Whatever you do, do not repeat my school girl error and allow it to surpass 220°F.  If you do this, you might as well keep boiling it even hotter and just make candy.

marmalade cooking 220F

When you have achieved your desired set, take the marmalade off the flame and allow it to sit for a few minutes.  Stir in the butter.  This will keep your marmalade from going scummy.  Spoon/funnel the mixture into warm jars leaving enough head room.  Tightly screw on the lids and allow to cool completely.  For me, this made three and a half 280 ml jars.  Enjoy on toast, cakes, cookies, or tarts.  Even use it as a glaze for roasting ham.  Most importantly, bask in its gingery glow.

Winter Gold

Winter Gold

Yo soy Paddington

Yo soy Paddington

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Sloaney Ponies, Supermodels, Spaniels, and Ham

Here is the latest from The London Review of Breakfasts: The Wheatsheaf Inn by Peter Pain Perdu.  Should you ever find yourself in The Cotswolds, specifically Northleach, I recommend staying or at least eating here.  You won’t regret it.

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Cheese Crackers

This time two years ago, I was in Los Angeles with my family.  While there, my kid sister, Scotty, introduced Helena to the magic of Pepperidge Farm goldfish crackers.  I am happy to have captured this moment with my camera.  It’s one of my favorite pictures from that holiday.  Well along with the ones of Helena trying to get away from Mario Lopez.  I guess not all girls love his Latin good looks.  But I digress. . .

goldfish crackers

Scarlett giving Helena her first goldfish cracker.

mario1 mario2

Back to the goldfish. . . These cheese flavored crackers are a pantry staple for families with small children all across America.  I ate my weight in them as a kid.  So did Helena until we came back to London.  Suddenly she had no interest in cheese–not even in biscuit form (we’re in England now).  That is until we went to Nanny and Grumpy’s house for Christmas this year.  There, Helena helped Nanny make the same cheddar biscuits she used to make for my husband and his brothers when they were young.  The sentimentalist in me loved seeing her on the exact counter where Henry used to sit and also help.  Plus ça change. . .

biscuits with nanny

Helena helping Nanny at Christmas.

helping

In the same place where her daddy used to sit.

 

My husband, Henry, is the tiny one on the right.

Henry is the tiny one on the right.

After the holidays, I tried making my mother-in-law’s recipe but it didn’t turn out the same.  I think it’s changed slightly since she started making it in the 70s.  For instance, the recipe she gave me calls for pecans but the biscuits she makes do not contain nuts of any kind.  The answer was clear.  I had to experiment and create my own.

Below is the recipe I’ve been making the past few weeks.  The biscuits it yields are extremely buttery, flaky and moreish.

I have been using a dinosaur shaped cutter as when I asked my three year-old which animal we should use for our biscuits, her response was, “Animals?”  She looked at me like I was daft.   “Dinosaurs!” Helena replied.  So cheesy T-Rexes it has been.  Apparently, animal crackers are for a bygone era.  I’m so old.

Ingredients:

100 g butter, cut into cubes

100 g plain flour

100 g mixed grated hard cheese (I use a blend of cheddar, pecorino, and parmigiano-regiano)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

dash of cayenne

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with your fingertips.  The warmth of your fingers will soften the cheese and butter.  When the mixture resembles coarse meal, begin kneading it until it’s smooth.  If it feels too crumbly just keep kneading.  You’ll get there.

butter biscuit mixture

Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in cling wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

kneaded mixture

On a floured surface, roll out the dough and cut your biscuits with a cutter.

pre-baked

Place them on a lightly greased baking tray and bake them for 10-15 minutes or until golden.  Your nose will tell you when they’re ready.

Allow your biscuits to cool a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.  Be careful as these cheese biscuits are extremely crumbly.

t-rex close up baked dinosaurs

 

 

You Can Win Friends with Salad

Last week, the dreariness of January really got to me.  I was desperate for a taste of sunshine.  That’s why I made Lucas Hollweg’s Chicken and bulgar wheat Waldorf salad with dill and poppy seed yogurt that featured in the September issue of Waitrose Kitchen.  I made a few substitutions: quinoa for bulgar wheat, pecans for walnuts, and orange and lemon instead of just the latter.  This salad was exactly what  I wanted and needed.  Light, refreshing, and full of the promise of spring and sunny summer days.  More importantly, I proved Homer Simpson wrong.  You can too win friends with salad.  My family loved it, especially tiny and these days she doesn’t eat anything but chips.  I’ll be making this one again soon.

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Marshmallowy Macaroons

I am so over French macarons.  They’re everywhere and they have become what I refer to as fake fancy.  Marks and Spencer’s sells them.  Tesco’s sells them.  As does the bakery in the little village where my in-laws live. I still love Ladurée, but let’s face it. Macarons have become the paninis of the pastry world–everyone makes them; yet few know how to make them well.  Besides, they’re a little too refined for me these days.  I want something less fussy, something rougher.  That’s why I’m bringing back the coconut macaroon.

My coconut macaroons are really marshmallowy because that’s how I like them.  I tend to make plain ones that I then drizzle with melted dark chocolate or I like to add the zest of 1-2 limes, depending on how much citrus sunshine I want to taste.

Below is my recipe.  I hope you enjoy it.

 

Ingredients:

3/4 c coconut chips

3/4 c desiccated coconut

2 large egg whites

1/4 c caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

the zest of 1-2 limes (optional)

melted dark chocolate (optional)

 

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4.

Toast your coconut in a large skill over low-medium heat.

057

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

Add the vanilla and salt then whisk some more until the mixture goes all shiny and marshmallowy.

Finally, fold the toasted coconut into the marshmallowy mixture.  If you want lime in your macaroons, now is the time to add the zest.

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plain marshmallowy macaroon mix

 

with lime zest

with lime zest

Spoon the mixture into 12 small rounds on a lightly greased baking tray (I use coconut oil).

Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Once cool, drizzle with melted dark chocolate if you like.

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Goodbye Pompous Chair, hello Guardian

chagrinnamontoast:

I have to kvell. My husband has a new column in The Guardian called Henry Jeffreys’ Empire of Drinks. Saturday was his first piece and I am so so proud.

Originally posted on Henry's World of Booze:

Yesterday I threw out a favourite old chair that had become rather decrepit. My wife calls it my pompous chair. It used to belong to an aunt who worked in the antiques trade so had a good eye for furniture though it isn’t especially old. This is me in the chair about five years ago looking suitably pleased with myself.

pompous chair

Despite my fondness for it, it’s always looked a bit out of place in our flats. There’s something about 1980s Buckinghamshire furniture that just doesn’t work in 50s London council flats. As soon as I removed it from our little place in Lewisham, it was like the room breathed a sigh of relief and became brighter. The old Persian rug seemed so much happier now that it didn’t have to compete with the Pompous Chair (I feel I should capitalise it now.) I put it out by our recyling bins thinking…

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