Mixed berries quick jam

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I always associated jam making with huge undertakings, which would take days,  if not weeks, to complete. Nothing a single girl could make – and eat – on her own. But, slowly by slowly, I start noticing quick jam recipes, with relatively small size. Like this one, which can be done in less than 1 hour, with almost no fuss what so ever.  I have to add I am not a great fan of super sugary food, but this is the kind of thing you can add to your yoghurt for a sweet treat…  (Not that may) calories definitely worthwhile taking.

Berry Quick Jam (adapted from theKitchn)

Ingredients

  • 350g fresh raspberries
  • 250g fresh blackberries
  • 250g fresh strawberries, hulled and thickly sliced
  • 200g raw cane sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

In a large bowl, combine the berries and sugar, and let them macerate for about 10 minutes, or until the sugar has begun to dissolve into the fruit.

Transfer the berries to a heavy pot and bring to boil over a medium heat. Add the salt, lemon zest and lemon juice and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Allow the berries to gently simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fruit breaks down and the mixture starts to cook down, thickening slightly. When almost done, the jam will still be loose, but should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove the jam from the heat and pour into a clean glass jars,  cap them and allow it to cool completely.

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Rice Pudding with Orange Jewels, Tarragon and Puffed Rice

I cannot make rice pudding the way my Mother does. No matter how many times I have watched her doing it or how scrupulously I follow her instructions, it is not the same thing. It doesn’t taste the same, it doesn’t feel the same and it doesn’t do her recipe any justice. It seems just impossible to reproduce her pudding rice. For a while, I tried other recipes, like the one Spanish chef Juan Maria Arzak has in one of his books, to less than optimal results.

A few days ago, while watching season 2 of Masterchef Australia, I saw how Gary Mehigan  and George Calombaris did this rice pudding during one of their masterclasses. It looked delicious, packed with different flavors and textures, and they comprehensively explained how to cook it. And, I decided it to give a another go to rice pudding. Anyway, what sort of expectations would you have on an Australian rice pudding recipe?  It was worthwhile the effort. In fact, there was a respectful silence around the table while people eat their desserts… Do not feel tempted to remove the tarragon, on the pretenses that no rice pudding has green stuff on it. With the orange, it is a delicious combination.

Rice Pudding with Orange Jewels, Tarragon and Puffed Rice

Ingredients 

Rice pudding

  • 40g caster sugar (or sugar too taste )
  • 700ml milk (the real thing, with all its fat)
  • 135g Arborio rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped

Candied orange peel

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • the peel of 1 orange, pith removed, julienned in the vertical
  • 1 orange, peeled zest, pith removed, julienned

To serve

  • tarragon leaves,
  • 1/4 cup puffed rice, toasted
  • 1 orange flesh segmented

Orange jewels

  • 15g caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp agar agar powder (do not follow the instructions on the bottle, as they are aimed to get a gelatin consistency. The jewels need to be solid to be cut properly, so it is OK if you add agar agar in excess).
  • 190ml freshly squeezed orange juice, strained (I used the juice of 2 oranges and topped with water until I had 250mL of liquid)

Method

Step 1: For the candied orange peel, place 1 cup of the sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium, add orange peel and simmer gently for 45 minutes until syrupy. If you are not using it immediately, it is better to separate the peels and letter then cool).

Step 2: For the orange jelly, line a 500ml plastic container with cling film. Add ¼ cup water, orange juice and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Sprinkle in agar agar and whisk for about 5 minutes until dissolved. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into the lined container. Refrigerate for about 25 minutes or until set. Invert jelly from container onto a board and cut into 1cm cubes.

Step 3: For the rice pudding, add the milk, rice, vanilla bean and seeds to a non-stick saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes, or until creamy and the rice is tender, stirring regularly. Add the remaining sugar and stir for about 2 minutes until dissolved (I had to use the whole 1-L of milk, as the rice absorbed the first 700mL of milk).

Step 4: To serve, divide rice pudding between serving bowls. Arrange the jelly jewels on top, along with the orange segments, tarragon leaves, candied orange peel, a spoonful of syrup and some puffed rice. Serve immediately.


Cranberry sauce

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Cranberries are almost nowhere to be found in the Mediterranean cuisine. Specially not during Christmas next to your roasted turkey. But, this Felicity Cloake’s perfect recipe looked so luscious I decided to give it a go – if pork is so good with apple jam, why not having a cranberry sauce to go with the chicken? It is indeed very-very-very easy to make and full of flavors, which complement well the tender roasted meat.

(Note  – This time, I am shamelessly using a stock photography. During the cooking frenzy, I forgot to take a picture, and after Christmas, cranberries could not be sourced).

Cranberry sauce

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 orange, plus zest of ½ orange
  • 210g caster sugar
  • 450g fresh cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons port

Method

Put the orange juice and sugar into a small pan, and heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the cranberries, and bring to a simmer, then cook until most of the cranberries have burst, and you have a loose cranberry sauce. It will continue to set as it cools, so stop cooking when it still seems a little too liquid.

Stir in the port and orange zest, and serve, or put into sterilised jars.


Red onion confit

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When I decided to try a dish who called for onion confit, I was far to imagine that I would end up to go on a quest for the perfect recipe.

First, I tried  the recipe that Joana Roque, a Portuguese food blogger and writer, had posted on her blog (here, in Portuguese). It looked all very serious, with loads of chefs and other food bloggers being quoted, with lots of flavors and texture,  but… either I had a bad culinary day and executed poorly the method, or this recipe is really not good at all. I ended up with something with the consistency of brick and tasting as sugary as sugary can be. The confit is now languishing in the fridge, with the vague hope that it might be used for something else.

A few googles after, I found C’est moi qui l’ai fait [I did it myself], a French blog that offered a recipe that looked much more reasonable. And indeed, it was delicious, its caloric content was a fraction of the first attempt and it posed no diabetes risk.

Red onion confit

Ingredients

  • 1Kg red onions sliced
  • 30g butter
  • 4 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 dl balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Method

Met the butter in big saucepan. Add the sugar and the onions. Give a good toss and let simmer for about 30 min, stirring every now and again.

Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer for another 20min, until the vinegar is totally reduced and the onions look well preserved. Salt and pepper to taste.

Put in a glass container and reserve in the fridge


Roasted pork loin with orange and apple jam

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Around 1975, long before celebrity chef storm over the global media outlets, the Portuguese Chef Silva had a very popular TV show called Tele Culinária [Tele Culinary]. Every week, all the country stopped in front of the tele to watch Chef Silva doing his creations, normally with loads of cream, double cream and different types of fat. It was such a popular TV show that it soon became a weekly magazine, with a special section for the televised recipe (apparently, first number went out on October 4th, 1976). My Mother never forgot to buy it and consistently gave a go to some of the recipes. Some of them became part of the family tradition – like the pumpkin cakes she always does on Christmas.

The roasted pork loin with orange was taken from Recipes for My Friends, a recently edited book. On the forefront, Chef Silva explains that these are the things he cooks whenever he entertains as “life tastes sweeter when friends and family join you at the table”. By the look of it, you can almost feel Chef Silva dictating from memory or looking for scribbled papers tucked away into the kitchen drawer.

Chef Silva recommends to serve the roasted pork with orange quarters. But, I thought that would be too many citruses in the same plate, and decided to go for apple jam instead. This is my Mother’s recipe, passed along in a moment of despair during a trip to the supermarket. “Why spend all that money in a sugary artificial paste, when it takes less than 20 minutes to to it home…. go and fetch some apples! You kids cannot value money and properly made food”. She was, as most of times, right.

Roasted pork loin with orange

Ingredients

  • 800g of pork loin (I used shoulder, following the butcher’s recommendation)
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 50g lard (impossible to find here, I used olive oil instead)
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • cloves

Method

Poor the wine over the meat and season it with salt and pepper. Place on the tray greased with the lard and roast it on a oven set for 160oC for about 35min. Turn the meat occasionally.

In the meanwhile, prepare the sauce: heat up the sugar in a small pan and stir it with a wooden spoon until it browns (brown, not burnt, I may add. It is really important to stir it at all times). Add 2dl of orange juice, 2 cloves and thin orange peels cut into diamond like shapes (slowly, otherwise the sugar will crystallize; if it does, just keep stirring until it dissolves). When serving, stick the diamonds to the meat using cloves.

Serve the orange sauce apart.

Apple jam

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg apples (bitter apples give best results)
  • Sugar to taste
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method

Peel and cut the apples in quarters. Put in a sauce pan with about 100ml of water, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Let it simmer for 10 min or until the apples start to feel apart. Remove the Cinnamon and blend it with a mixer. Put back into the fire and let it simmer for a few minutes more, until it gets the desired consistency.  ith a mixer. Put back into the fire and let it simmer for a few minutes more, until it gets the desired consistency.


Cream tea

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Whole bran scones (courtesy of H.), Devon clotted cream (courtesy of Mike’s British Cheese Center), blackcurrant jam and tea.