Seasonal cooking: Seville oranges; Bitter Whisky Marmalade, a Bitter Orange Tart, Gin, Cocktail
Are you bored of lockdown? Baked enough banana bread? Now that the wonderfully bitter Seville oranges have arrived, it's time to diversify your lockdown kitchen repertoire.
I bought a couple of kilos of these slightly ugly looking oranges a couple of weeks back. Memories of a trip to Seville many years ago came flooding back. As my friend and I walked around the orange tree-lined city one chilly January, the trees were heavy with fruit. Every now and again we'd see one on the floor where someone had picked one to taste it, received a bit of a surprise, and chucked it to the ground. The Spanish don't seem overly fussed about the oranges, instead it seems to be the UK that's the major consumer of these interesting fruits. The most popular dish being marmalade, or Dundee marmalade as it's often referred to in the US as a way of differentiating it from sweet orange marmalade (which we'd call orange jam). My 93 year-old dad is an avid consumer of marmalade, so my first batch of oranges were used to keep him happy, which should last for a few months.
The addition of the whisky at the end of the process takes this marmalade from good to great. This isn't for the purists, as I used Silver Spoon Preserving sugar, which makes it very easy to make; there's no need to second guess the pectin levels.
6 Seville oranges
1 lemon, juiced
1 litre warm water
1kg Silver Spoon Preserving Sugar
4 tablespoons whisky (no need for the best single malt, a blend will be fine)
First, sterilise your jars. Wash them with very hot water/put through the hot wash of a dishwasher. Place the jars and lids on a baking tray in a warm oven and leave until they are dry.
Put a saucer into the freezer to get it really cold.
Slice the oranges into quarters. Using a metal spoon, scoop out the flesh over a bowl to catch the juice, keeping the peel for later. Put the flesh, juice and pips into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
Push the puree through a muslin lined sieve into a heavy-based saucepan.
Flatten the peel and slice as much of the pitch from the peel as you can. Slice the rind into thin matchsticks (this part of the process is pretty time-consuming). and add them to the pan together with the lemon juice and water.
Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 to 1 and half hours until the rind is soft and the mixture has reduced by half.
Reduce the heat to low and add the sugar and stir until it's dissolved. Boil for about 10- 20 minutes.
Spoon a little of the marmalade onto the chilled saucer and place in the fridge. Push it, and if it wrinkles the marmalade is ready. If it's not, keep cooking and re-testing.
Allow the marmalade to cool a bit, then add the whisky. Carefully pour into the sterilised jars and seal with wax paper discs.
Bitter Orange Tart
When I heard that on the day Trump left the Whitehouse, Nigella had made a Bitter Orange Tart, I just had to follow suite. Instead of baking this as one large tart (I didn't have the right sized loose-bottomed tart tin) I made 4 individual smaller ones which left a bit, so the remainder I put into ramekins and we had those the next day. Even then I also ended up with some extra curd, this was lovely on hot toast and crumpets.
For the Base
250g gingernut biscuits (a packet)
75g melted unsalted butter
For the bitter orange curd topping
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
100g of caster sugar (in retrospect I'd have used a bit more than this, perhaps another 25g)
Zest and juice of 4 Seville oranges
150g of soft unsalted butter cut into small cubes
My food chopper had given up the ghost, so I put the gingernut biscuits into a clean plastic bag and bashed them with a rolling pin until they were crumbled.
Put the crumbled biscuits into a bowl and add the melted butter, combine until the mix looks like dark wet sand.
Place the mix into your tin/tins and push down and up the sides. Put into the fridge to allow the base to harden for 1-2 hours. This can be done a couple of days ahead.
Off the heat, in a heavy based saucepan, whisk together the eggs (whole and yolks) the sugar.
Add the orange zest (make sure you don't include the pith) and juice along with the cubes of butter, then put the pan on the heat (low-medium) and cook, stirring constantly. This will take 5-7 minutes. Take it off the heat regularly to stop it from getting too hot.
Once the curd has thickened, take it off the heat and keep whisking for about 30 seconds. Pour into a jug. Place a piece of damp baking parchment/greaseproof paper on top to stop it forming a skin, and let it cool in the fridge for about 30 mins. Don't let it set solid.
Pour into the tins on top of the gingernut base, spreading evenly. Let it set at least 4 hours. De-mould whilst it's still cold.
Serve with some good quality honey.
Seville Orange Gin
I didn't use any sugar in this process as I didn't want a liqueur style gin. I think that it's easier to add sugar syrup at the end to taste, if that's what is wanted. I found that 50ml worked perfectly for my taste; I started with 25ml, tasted, and then added the same again.
This is for a fairly small quantity.
500ml London Dry Gin
4 Seville Oranges
50ml simple sugar syrup
Slice the oranges into quarters. Using a metal spoon, scoop out the flesh over a bowl to catch the juice, keeping the peel for later.
Remove as much of the pith as you can.
Put the flesh and the rind into a sterilised Kilner jar together with the gin. Give it a vigorous shake. Do this once a day for 1 week.
Strain through a muslin lined sieve or coffee filter into a large jug. Decant into a clean bottle. (Mine could have done with a second filter to make it clear, but I was too impatient.)
Serve with tonic of your choice. I rather like Peter Spanton's tonic no. 4 with orange gins. The chocolate tonic isn't sweet, and works wonderfully with the orange flavour. Sadly it looks as if the company has gone into administration, so this may be my last ever bottle of it. I savoured it.
Alex spotted a blood orange IPA from an old favourite brewery of ours, Beavertown. He used 50ml of the Seville Orange gin, 100ml of the beer, 100ml Fevertree Mediterranean tonic. This was extremely quaffable. We may need to trademark it!
I hope that this article has given you a few ideas. Now is the time to buy those Seville oranges and to get creative.