There's a lot of Christmassy stuff happening on the Internet right now. Hoardes of people are posting on Facebook about what they are buying for who, and some of the blogs I follow have posted gift buying guides for the greedy gourmets in your lives.
I'm not dismissing their efforts (who wouldn't want one of these?), and I am NOT deliberately being a bore, but I can't help feeling the need to point out that it does not mean that you have to spend money on over-priced tat to show someone that you love them at this time of year.
Make them something instead.
There's been a rule in my family since time immemorial that we don't buy gifts for everybody. It's a complicated system based on age (as opposed to merit), and since I am now thirty, I don't qualify as a child by any means. Historically, we've never bought gifts for extended family (aunts, uncles etc.), so that puts me in a pickle as an adult, because I'd like to. Cooking is my way of getting around the ban.
I haven't always been successful at making things people actually want. The first batch of chutney I ever made was completely un-delicious (although my family ate it). But I got better. And there are things I've made that some people actually get in touch with me about in early December to see if I'll be doing them again. I might round them up later this week actually, since some of the recipes are on the blog.
That's pain poilâne, btw, and I have a terrible OCD relating to its consumption.
The curved, top crust has to be facing my right and the flat bottom, my left.
This way I can nibble from the top of the loaf to the bottom. Am I making myself at all clear?
This marmalade is a new addition to the hamper hit-parade. I wanted to make some in January with Seville oranges, and add dried cranberries to it, but it never happened. So this is my pink grapefruit version. It's delightfully bitter (Campari Soda alone cannot keep me in this perpetual bad mood), and can be personalised easily. You say you'd prefer thicker shreds? Slice accordingly. Don't like the idea of grapefruit? Use limes (maybe add some ginger!), lemons, oranges or even clementines. Or a mixture.
A pot of marmalade and a loaf of gingerbread is the perfect way to say Happy Christmas. Especially to the people who hated your chutney and ate it anyway.
Pink Grapefruit Marmalade
You will need:
750g pink grapefruit (2 of them)
1.5 kg granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons
- Half the grapefruits. Juice them, and then slice the rinds (literally, the whole thing - everything that's left after juicing) as thinly or thickly as you like. I think very thinly is better, but will allow you the freedom to choose.
- Put the juice, rinds and 1.9 litres of water into a large bowl, and leave to soak overnight.
- Transfer the grapefruit, water and juice to a large (LARGE!) pan, and cook gently for a few hours until the rind is soft. The liquid will have reduced by about a third.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then boil rapidly until the setting point (* see note) has been reached. This took about 30 minutes for me, though start checking at 15.
- Turn off the heat. Stir gently for a few minutes, to disperse any bubbles, and pour into hot, sterilised jars (* see note). Seal immediately with new lids. Use within 2 years.
I re-use jars. This recipe will fill 6-7 regular sized ones. To sterilise them, wash the jars (remove any labels) in hot soapy water, then rinse them. Place right side up on a baking sheet and dry them off in a 100°C oven. I leave them in there at that temperature until I'm ready to fill them. I also sterilise the lids by boiling them for 10 minutes. I buy my lids new. Get them from your local kitchen supply store.