24 March 2015

How to Eat Less Meat ~ and enjoy it!

I have just realised that it is both Meat Free Week and National Butchers Week here in the UK – how embarrassing!

Not sure what Meat Free Week is about I looked it up here and discovered that it is in fact a global campaign (different parts of the globe having different meat free weeks) to make people aware of how much meat they eat and the harm it can do to them, the environment and edible animals.

It is also a fund raising event with the monies raised going to various appropriate charities – these ones, in fact

On the other hand I have a good idea what National Butchers Week is; a way to encourage us to shop from real, expert butchers who prepare and sell meat of the highest quality from happy (but dead!) animals.


A guy who writes interesting on the happy animal side of farming, incidentally, is Simon Dawson who wrote Pigs in Clover: Or How I Accidentally Fell in Love with the Good Life which I enjoyed very much. 






So I have a suggestion – yes, eat meat, but in smaller portions. That should keep everyone happy! In fact the Meat Free Week people say “Going meat free for one week is a positive step towards change, with the hope that for the other 51 weeks of the year you'll consider eating smaller portions

Whilst not a vegetarian I don’t eat a lot of meat and the reason for this is that to me rather than being the focal part of a meal it may or may not be in a dish. I suggest you adopt the same attitude!

I don’t even understand why there is so much focus on meat (and fish) although I suppose from a dietary point of view it provides protein, but then so do beans and nuts and leafy green veggies and quinoa and several other things. Meat can be delicious, it can contribute flavour and texture to a meal butas I say, it is just one of so many, many options.

So here are a dozen dishes which lend themselves to the addition of a little meat (or none or, I suppose, a lot!).

1.     Soup – either make a meat soup or add a little meat to an existing soup. I have a very easy “genius” recipe for soup which I have written a book “SOUP (almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need”  which includes recipes for 15 ish meat or fish soups, such as Smoky Bacon Chowder and White Bean Soup with Chicken & Spinach, plus instructions on how to invent your own soup, which is actually the whole point of my Genius Recipes Series! It only costs about the same price as two cans of the red stuff! 



2.     Salad – add frazzled prosciutto or crispy bacon bits (by which I do not mean some bought in thing) to a cheese salad or try crisply fried pulled pork or chicken or whatever you fancy.


3.     Stir fries are a great way of enjoying a little meat together with lots of other goodies. This is a good way of using up leftovers from a roast dinner, add rice or noodles together with garlic and ginger, fresh veggies and maybe cashew nuts. Here’s one I made earlier, the steak has been marinated for a while in soy sauce together with fresh ginger, garlic, sesame oil and sweet chilli sauce.


4.     Pasta dishes of all sorts can happily take the addition of meat or fish – see here for lovely easy and rich Alfredo Sauce recipe and add chicken or seafood or bacon or ham or chorizo or shrimp or smoked fish, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon - you get the point. Tomato based pasta dishes welcome meat too. Furthermore a little leftover stew of most persuasions makes a good meaty sauce for pasta such as is oxtail stew with penne.


5.     Risotto – add meat and, if you can, use an appropriately flavoured stock too. Risotto also takes well to a little leftover stew folded through at the end of cooking and see here for a simple recipe for Pea and Smoky Bacon Risotto.


6.     Chilli con (or non or just a bit of) Carne – make your favourite chilli recipe but with a higher bean to meat ratio.

7.     Burgers – speaking of beans, which are delicious and protein, how about using half beef and half beans in your next homemade burger (I assume you do make them yourself!), the result will be moist and a delicious change.

8.     Pizza can of course be topped with all sorts of meats and some fish - good options are sausages of all types such as pepperoni, chorizo, sausage meat , minced beef (if using raw mince I fry it off slightly and drain it before adding to the pizza, this stops the juices soaking the crust), chicken (although I would add cooked chicken towards the end of cooking the pizza just to heat through – that way it won’t toughen and dry out in the high heat) and so on. Here’s the recipe for a great Creamy Onion and Bacon Flatbread from Alsace ...

Flammekueche aka Tarte Flambée – for 2

1 batch of my awfully easy pizza dough
2 medium onions – thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil or 15g butter
200g smoky bacon lardons
salt and pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg if poss
240g crème fraîche

~   Make the dough and leave to rise.
~   Whilst it is rising gently cook the onions in the olive oil thus ... heat the oil in a small pan, stir in the onions, press a piece of foil on top of the onions to cover completely, put on the lid and cook very gently for 20 minutes or so.
~   When the onions are tender turn up the heat, add the bacon and cook a few minutes stirring till the onions are starting to caramelise and the bacon lightly cooked.
~   Set aside to cool.

When the dough is risen ...

~   Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/200ºC fan/gas 7.
~   Prepare the pizza bases.
~   Season the crème fraîche with salt, pepper and nutmeg and spread over the bases.
~   Top with the onion and bacon mix and bake till hot and crisp and delicious.

Et voila!


9.     Gratins –an easy way to add some meaty flavour to any kind of savoury gratin is to add bacon to the mix and maybe scatter some on top too.


10.     Pommes Dauphinoise and similar – simply put this is a delicious dish of sliced potatoes layered up and baked in cream. Add bacon or ham or, as in the recipe here with hot smoked salmon.


11.     Strata – this is a savoury bread and butter pudding and there is a recipe here for onecontaining cheese and chorizo . In the same post you will also find a recipe for ...

12.     Bubble and Squeak – which is great with added (and possibly leftover) meat or fish.

So that’s it really, I just cobbled this tpgether in a hurry having realised what a difficult situation we find ourselves in.

Whilst here please don’t forget to click on the sticky note at the top of the page, claim your free books and then, please remember to review them for me.




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22 March 2015

7 (+) Interestingly Different Ideas for Leftover Bread

I have just read (again!) that in Britain we throw out over 20 million slices of bread a day, and that's without me throwing away a single slice! These people are nutters.

There is so much can be done with leftover bread, it goes with almost anything! As I have mentioned before I stash all my crusts and bits and pieces in the freezer so that I always have the making of something good.

There are, of course, many well knows dishes such as bread sauce (my luxurious version here), bread pudding (both the custardy one and the manly one!) , croutons and so on, all great uses of spare bread but this post suggests some more unusual ideas from around the world that are well worth trying.

1.     Pappa al Pomodoro ~ Tomato and Bread Soup from Tuscany – for 4

This is traditionally made with fresh tomatoes but canned chopped tomatoes work fine as a substitute, or use a mixture as in this case.

750g cherry tomatoes
2 or 3 thick slices of stale rustic bread - diced
60ml olive oil
1 medium onion – finely chopped
3 finely chopped garlic clove
small bunch of fresh basil – the leaves shredded, the stems coarsely chopped
1 x 390g carton or 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
(if flavoured with garlic, basil or chilli all to the better!)
250ml vegetable stock
a little great extra virgin olive oil for drizzling and/or freshly grated Parmesan

~   Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/170ºC fan/gas 5.
~   Toss the cherry tomatoes with a little of the oil season and roast in a shallow dish till starting to collapse. You can do this hours or even a day or so in advance if you happen to have the oven on for something else.
~   Gently cook the onion in the rest of the olive oil till starting to soften, then add the garlic and basil stems and cook a few minutes more.
~   Add both the chopped and the roast tomatoes and the stock and bring to a boil.
~   Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring and squashing a bit.
~   Stir in the bread and most of the basil and allow to sit of the heat for several minutes.
~   Stir the bread unto the tomatoes to form a thick porridgy situation.
~   Now it’s up to you;  leave it at that, stir more to make a silky texture, add more stock or water for a soupier consistency, taste and season.
~   Bring back up to temperature and serve drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled with Parmesan and scattered with shredded basil (or parsley as in my photo but basil is best!)


The Tuscans also make a fine bread and tomato salad called Panzanella - see here for details.

2.     Skordalia

This is a traditional Greek sauce, a kind of garlicky mayonnaise with the bread replacing the egg yolk. This makes 150ml.

80g of dry bread torn into pieces
1 clove of garlic – chopped
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil

~   Soak the bread in cold water for a few minutes till saturated then squeeze out as dry as possible.
~   Crush the garlic and the salt to a paste with a pestle and mortar.
~   Work in the damp bread and stir in the vinegar.
~   Gradually, a drop at a time as with making mayonnaise, whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.



3.     Fried Bread Curry! (aka Roti Upma) – per person ...

This was a lovely surprise, so much nicer than I expected.

2 tbsp oil (or ghee)
2 slices of stale bread – diced or torn into pieces
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot red chilli chopped
(I freeze fresh chillies; they are easily chopped from frozen)
a small red onion, finely chopped
¼ inch ginger finely chopped
1 pinch turmeric (or curry paste which is what I used)
5 or so cherry tomatoes, quartered
a handful of cashew nuts
fresh coriander, chopped plus a sprig or two to garnish

~   Heat half the oil in a frying pan then fry the bread in it till turning crisp and golden. Set aside.
~   Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pan and the mustard seeds and wait till they start popping.
~   Stir in the onion and ginger and cook till they are starting to go translucent then add the chilli and the tomatoes.
~   When the tomatoes start to mush down stir in the turmeric and/or curry paste and cook together a minute or so.
~   Taste and season then stir in the bread, cashews and chopped coriander.



4.     Melted Onion Panade – for 4

This is surprisingly lovely!  A kind of French onion soup / bread pudding cross! It is best made with more substantial bread rather than the soft stuff.

3 large onions
3 tbsp olive oil
350g good bread – thickly sliced
About 500ml good beef stock (or other if you prefer) – hot
200g grated cheese – I used Davidstow Cornish Crackler which is divine

~   Melt the onions in the olive oil and when utterly, utterly tender turn up the heat and stir till starting to caramelise.
~   Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Put the bread on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for a few minutes till dried out but not taking any colour.
~   Butter a shallow ovenproof dish and lay a third of the bread slices in it. Break them if necessary to fit in neatly.
~   Spread with half the onions and sprinkle with a third of the cheese.
~   Repeat these layers, using up all the onions, the final layer should be bread sprinkled with the last of the cheese.
~   Pour over the stock, adding just enough to lift the top layer of bread so it starts to float. Do this gently so the cheese stays in place!
~   Cover the dish with a sheet of foil and bake for 45 minutes then remove the foil and bake another 20 minutes or so till the cheese is golden and delicious looking, like this ...


5.     Curried Cashew Fritters

I invented this just after I wrote “The Leftovers Handbook”  which is a shame, I would have loved to include it!
1 medium onion – diced
½ tbsp oil
1 tsp curry paste
120g stale bread – torn into pieces, spread out and left to dry out for an hour or so (or popped in the oven for a few minutes)
up to 125 ml hot vegetable stock
as many salted cashews as you fancy and can muster – coarsely chopped

~   Fry the onion in the oil till soft and turning brown.
~   Stir in the curry paste and cook a couple of minutes till fragrant.
~   Add the bread pieces and then gradually stir in the stock.  The bread should soak up all the stock and be completely soft but with no excess liquid in the pan so don’t add it all at once, take it slowly.
~   Remove the pan from the heat, cover, cool and then chill to firm up.
~   When ready to cook add 80g coarsely chopped salted cashews (don’t add them earlier as they seem to go soggy).
~   Divide into four little cakes and fry in a little oil till hot crisp and golden.
~   Serve with a dollop of yogurt or raita and a bit of salad.


6.     French Toast Pancakes

This is useful if you fancy French Toast but only have bitty scraps of bread, and in this case softer bread is best. Per person you need ...
1 egg
½ tbsp sugar
50ml milk or cream or a mixture
a drop of real vanilla extract
pinch of salt
40g ish of stale bread pieces

~   Whisk together all the ingredients except the bread.
~   Stir in the bread and allow to soak a few minutes.
~   Melt a little butter in a non-stick frying pan and using a slotted spoon carefully transfer the bread to the pan forming into two cakes.
~   Cook till the bottoms are firm and brown, turn very carefully and cook the other side.
~   Serve with maple syrup or whatever else takes your fancy.


7.     Apple Cribbly

A touch of nostalgia for me here – we served this dessert in our restaurants in Cornwall in the 1980s, it is either traditional Cornish or Cornish-ish, either way it is perfect with clotted cream.

You need about equal quantities of peeled and diced apple (this is one case where I don’t recommend Bramley apples; you want them to hold their shape) and diced stale bread, nothing too substantial in this case.

~   Toss the diced apple with sugar to coat, discard any that doesn’t stick.
~   Melt a knob of batter in a frying pan, add the sugary apple and cook, stirring occasionally till it is softening and browning and oozing lovely caramelly juices.
~   Use a slotted to spoon to remove the apple from the pan and set aside.
~   Add the diced bread to the pan and cook till the juices have been absorbed and the bread is turning crisp and golden.
~   Return the apple, toss all together and serve immediately with ice cream, cream or clotted cream.



As you may know I am very keen on making the most of leftovers not so much as a frugal measure to save money and avoid food waste (although that naturally happens if you use your leftovers) but because it seems such a shame to waste such wonderful eating opportunities. This is why I started this blog and why I wrote “The Leftovers Handbook” which has several more ideas for leftover bread plus similarly interesting ideas for 450 ish other potential leftovers. 

And speaking of books don't forget to click on the sticky note above and claim your free ebooks!



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15 March 2015

Quicker, Easier, Cheaper, Better Food with "Genius" Recipes

In the words of a recent telly ad for ordering takeout ...

“My favourite food is always at my fingertips” 

... but, in my case, this is because I can cook.  I can, and do, make stuff up as I go along, after all the sub-title of this blog is “spontaneous eating (mainly lunch) from bargains and leftovers” but very often I turn to one of my, what I am now calling, “genius” recipes (see end of post for explanation!).

Here are the genius recipes I use most frequently ...



“Soubised” Onions

This is a way of cooking onions which has been absolutely fundamental to my cooking, it makes the onions soft, sweet and delicious and a great base to numerous dishes. It is so good I have almost finished writing a whole ebook on the subject but no need to wait as I’ve also blogged about it here.  




Pizza Dough

I make this once a week, real man has his topped with denuded sausages, minced beef, and mozzarella and cheddar. I have a variety of toppings depending on the leftovers situation but usually including a hint of chilli and always accompanied by a glass of red wine.

This makes two medium pizza bases or, in our case, one enormous base and a pretty small one. I use Tesco’s Everyday Value Plain Flour which costs 45p for 1.5kg (at the time of writing) so about 10p, the yeast costs 14p and say 5p for the oil. The two pizza bases therefore cost about say 30p; about a third of the price of bought in plain pizza bases with the advantage that you can make them your favourite way. I like my pizza base to be so thin that it bubbles up in places all crisp and crunchy, my real man prefers a thicker, more filling, manly kind of thing. You can also add any flavourings you fancy eg. black pepper, garlic oil, etc.

This looks like a really long recipe but don't be scared, it's not - just a lot of words, give it a go.

225ml warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 7g packet of easy bake yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
325g plain flour
scant ½ tsp salt
a little more olive oil
a handful more flour - wholemeal if possible

~   Stir together in a large bowl (or mixer bowl) the water and the sugar till the sugar has dissolved.
~   Sprinkle over the yeast and set aside in a draught free place for 10 minutes or so till it has started eating the sugar and become bubbly.
~   Stir in (or slowly mix in with the mixer) the olive oil, salt and flour into the yeast mixture, to make a sticky but workable dough.
~   If using a mixer then just run it on low for a couple of minutes. If mixing by hand give it a few minutes good kneading – this is not hard work, not tricky and not unpleasant and doesn’t take long.


~   Lightly oil a fresh bowl, form the dough into a soft ball and put it into the greased bowl, turn the dough to coat with oil, cover loosely with a clean cloth or put a clean plastic bag over it and stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. If you want to prepare the dough in advance (for instance so you can make pizza as soon as you get in from work) put it in the fridge. A slow rise (which is what will happen) will actually make the dough tastier!


~   Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/200ºC fan/gas 7
~   Prepare two baking sheets by sprinkling with wholemeal flour (or normal if you haven’t got any) and then shaking to coat evenly.
~   Knock the dough back (ie. knead the air out of it) incorporating the oil clinging to it.
~   Divide into two and roll or push into shape on the baking trays.
~   Top with whatever you have planned
~   Bake at till crisp and golden and wonderful.


This dough also makes very acceptable bread either a loaf or focaccia-type and also breadsticks. Have yourself a play.

A Marvellous Cookie Recipe

This was originally a really fab Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe but is so good that I now use it for other cookies too.

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
100g light soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 few drips of real vanilla extract or other flavouring as appropriate
225g self raising flour – sifted
good pinch of salt
200g of additions eg. chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit etc.

~   Preheat oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Cream together the butter and the two sugars.
~   Lightly beat the egg together with the vanilla or any other extract you are using.
~   Gradually stir or whisk the egg mixture into the butter and sugar, if it looks like curdling add a spoonful of the flour.
~   Stir in the flour, pinch of salt and your chosen addition (which could very well be chocolate chips!).

Now you have two options ...

1.   To bake immediately roll into walnut sized balls, put on a baking tray with enough space around them to spread and squash them slightly. Bake till turning golden around the edges which takes about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack till cool enough to eat (or you could let them cool completely, store in an airtight container and eat them later).
2.   Roll the dough into one or two thick sausages, wrap in cling film and store in the fridge or freezer till needed.  Slice, from frozen if you are strong enough, and bake as above.


Shortbread

I wrote about this recently when testing some flavourings – it is such a simple recipe and easy to remember ...



Vinaigrette

There is a formula for making vinaigrette which is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar or other acidic ingredient such as lemon juice and here is a basic recipe using this formula ...

Basic Vinaigrette Recipe

½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp vinegar – of your choice eg. red wine, balsamic or sherry vinegar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
pinch of salt

~   Liquidise, whisk or shake the ingredients together.




See here for a lot more detail, 24+ ideas and recipes putting this formula into practice plus a few things to do with vinaigrettes other than dress a salad.  

This makes about 60ml for a cost of say 25p but of course, can easily peasily be double or trebled etc. The cheapest vinaigrette I can see doing a quick search is about £1 for 100ml and again, making it yourself, which is a doddle, you can personalise it. 


Why “Genius” Recipes – a bit of a rant

I have recently been irritated by Nigella Lawson although it is absolutely not her fault. Apparently she had published a simple coffee ice cream recipe which was being acclaimed as genius with people commenting about how wonderful she is to come up with the idea. 

The thing that irritated me was that the recipe is the same one I have been using for over 30 years to make literally hundreds of different ices which I have sold to pernickety customers in high end restaurants so if she’s a genius what does that make me?  

As you may know I am so pleased with the recipe I even wrote a book. At the time I first wrote it, and three others on equally useful recipes, I called them key recipes but have now changed this to genius recipes, it suits them!

The 4 books in the series so far (as I said “Onions” coming soon) are ...


100+ Luscious Ice Creams without a Machine ... or much Time or Effort or having to Mash the Stuff as it Freezes! as one reviewer said “No kidding, this method makes the best creamiest ice cream ever with hardly any work!” In this case not only does the ice cream cost a lot less than bought in, the book also costs less than bought in ice cream!



Sorbets & Granitas – a companion book to the above giving over 40 easy sorbet and granita recipes.







SOUP (almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need – this is truly the case, I’ve used this recipe to make everything from Caribbean Callaloo to Apple & Butternut Squash Soup and loads of others.





The Secret Life of Scones: There's so very much more to this simple recipe than perhaps you realise! – this phenomenal and phenomenally easy recipe not only makes wonderful scones but also dumplings, doughnuts, cheese straws, Welsh cakes, Singin’ Hinnies and loads more.




See my Genius Recipes page for more info on these ebooks – the most expensive is £2.16 at the moment, it varies very slightly, something to do with the dollar/pound exchange rate.

If you haven’t already got it don’t forget to download your Free Copy of ... 


 ... with a link to get another free book; 

“Easy Ways to Pimp your Food”

 



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8 March 2015

24 Great Ideas for Citrus Zest and Peel

This post came about as I was  eating a perfectly delicious orange from our tree which set me thinking of ideas for the skin/zest/peel part of the fruit, this is what I came up with.


Firstly a few general points ...

~   This post covers oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit (plus any other citrus fruit you can think of) and as a general guideline, at least so far as peel is concerned ...

1 grapefruit  =  3 oranges =  5 lemons  =  6 limes

~   Wash and dry citrus fruits well, especially if you intend eating the skin.

~   Remove zest before you do anything else with fruit (such as cutting, squeezing etc.) it is so much easier that way.

~   When removing the zest (the brightly coloured outer layer) be careful not to take the pith! This is the white fleshy stuff between the zest and the fruit; it is bitter.

~   Grated or shredded zest can be frozen for later (well worth doing as it is so useful) by wrapping small pieces in cling film and making a collection in an airtight container in the freezer. As the pieces are so tiny the zest can be used immediately from frozen.

Citrus fruit shells ...


1.     It might seem a bit old school but serving homemade citrus ice cream in the shell of the fruit is attractive, economical and a handy way of storing the dessert already portioned. You can, of course, do it with bought in ice cream too but where’s the point in buying it when you can make it so very easily


2.     Put a few empty peels in the cavity of a chicken before roasting, lemon is the norm here but depending on your accompaniments orange and lime work well too.

3.     You can easily clean chopping boards by scrubbing with the inside of a used lemon plus a sprinkling of coarse sea salt. If you've got a tricky stain let the fruit sit directly on it for a while to bleach it.

4.     Speaking of stains, if you have discoloured elbows (no need to explain) rest them in a couple of squeezed lemon skins for a while and then wash them!

5.    Used citrus peels can make your home smell good, just leave them about the place or simmer them in a pan of water or do a similar thing in the microwave. 

6.    Slightly dried out peels, particularly orange, are good thrown on a wood fire to make a lovely smell – great at Christmas time.

Large Strips of Zest ~ easily removed from the fruit using a potato peeler.


Use large strips of zest to ...

7.   Flavour spirits, normally this would be vodka and lemon but gin and lemon would work to as would rum and orange for instance.  Ad strips of peel to the booze, seal and wait a week or so, strain before drinking. Or make ...

8.  Limoncello

the zest of 5 lemons, removed in large strips
1 ltr vodka
750g white sugar

~    Pour out a small amount of vodka and drink it!
~    Add the lemon peels to the bottle, close tightly and leave it alone for a week apart from giving it a shake once a day.
~    At the end of a week prepare a large, clean jar with a tightly fitting lid.
~    In a small pan over low heat stir together the sugar and 750ml water till the sugar is dissolved (or melted – I’m never sure which!).  Cool.
~    Pour the vodka and lemon rind into the clean jar, stir in the cooled syrup, seal tightly and wait another week or so, continuing with the shaking.
~    Store in a dark place and drink over ice.


9.   Similarly use citrus strips to flavour olive oil – just add the strips to the oil making sure they are completely submerged.

10.  Use a twist of fresh citrus zest to garnish drinks OR freeze a little twist in ice cubes.


11.  Crystallised Orange & its Ensuing Syrup

This is taken directly from my Ice Cream eBook, the Sauces Coulis and Syrups Chapter (so I've made it red to indicate that it's a quote) and is used to make luscious no-churn orange ice creams but is also good drizzled on all manner of things!

You can mostly sit and read or watch telly or play online bingo or whatever whilst this is cooking but do check occasionally. What you are checking for is that the fruit juice has not reduced and thickened too much. If it is too thick and getting frothy add a splash of hot water.  Remember you are aiming not only for tender zest but also a syrupy syrup – not jam.

2 gorgeous oranges
200g white sugar
200g icing sugar

~   Wash and dry two lovely bright unblemished oranges.
~   Using a potato peeler peel long strips of zest from the fruit – just the bright orange skin, not the white and bitter pith underneath.
~   Using a sharp knife cut the zest into little strips, or ‘julienne’.
~   Squeeze the juice from the denuded fruits into a measuring jug and, if necessary, make up to 500ml with water.
~   Bring the juice and sugar to a boil stirring till the sugar has dissolved.
~   Add the orange zest strips, partly cover the pan and simmer gently, topping up occasionally, till the zest is tender – 45-60 minutes.
~   Turn off the heat and cool a little in the pan.
~   Strain, keeping both the zest and the syrup.
~   Preheat oven to 275°F/140ºC/120ºC fan/gas .1
~   Sift the icing sugar onto a baking sheet or large plate and roll the orange zest in the icing sugar to coat it.
~   Spread out on a non-stick pan liner or baking parchment and bake for an hour or so to dry out.
~   Cool and keep dry for up to 3 months.
~   Also keep the syrup.

Large strips of zest can also be dried by leaving in a spaced out single layer on plate somewhere warm and dry for a few days. They can then be stored in an airtight container out of the sunlight and used whenever you remember you’ve got them!

12.   Add dried peels to your tea instead of lemon or milk.

13.   Put a strip or two into stocks, soups and stews.

14.   Use together with appropriate spices to mull wine (or make mulled wine syrup).

Grated Zest ~ the easiest tool for grating is a fine Microplane but any grater will do.


15.   Mix finely grated zest into pastry at the breadcrumb stage; orange zest pastry makes for fab mince pies.

16.   Mix into softened butter together with something complimentary eg. parsley, sea salt and black pepper with lemon, chilli with lime or light brown sugar with orange – see here for details and suggestions for flavoured butters

17.   Add to the mix when making a fruit crumble topping – simple crumble recipe here

18.    Stir into breadcrumbs for coating or topping dishes.

19.    Add to cake recipes or other baked goods eg. scones, biscuits etc.

20.    Citrus Sugar – mash finely grated zest it into about 250g granulated sugar per 1 orange (or equivalent) till very well combined. Spread out on a tray and leave for several hours to dry. Use to replace plain sugar in appropriate recipes, sweeten tea, rim a cocktail glass, sprinkle on fruits, etc.

21.   Citrus Salt – very similar to the sugar above but with a higher percentage of zest to salt. Use lovely crunchy sea salt. (See here for spicy salt ideas and here for wonderful bacon salt).

22.   Lemon Pepper – mix together 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest and 3 of coarsely crushed peppercorns (a mix looks pretty but black are fine). Spread out on a foil lined baking tray and bake in a very low oven till the zest has dried out which takes about half an hour. Decant into the bowl of a pestle and mortar and crush to your desired texture.  Gradually stir in crunchy sea salt to taste – maybe as much as a tablespoon, up to you.

23.   Gremolata – this is a classic Italian seasoning/garnish and is simply lemon zest, parsley and garlic. In slightly more detail finely grate the zest of 2 lemons and then (otherwise you might contaminate the rest of the lemon fruits) 1 large clove of garlic. Finely chop a small bunch of parsley and mix all three ingredient together. Gremolata adds bright highlights of colour and flavour to all sorts of dishes; sprinkle over lamb, chicken, fish, veggies and so on. Of course you could get all creative and use orange zest instead.


24.   Citrus Rub – mix together 3 tablespoons of grated zest of your choice (or a mixture), a finely chopped garlic clove or two, a little chilli or paprika, salt and pepper and a little oil. I am being vague here as there are so many things you can rub this on; beef would go with orange and bit of chilli heat, fish with lemon or lime, chicken maybe heavy on the garlic and so on.  Anyhoo, mix these all together and rub onto your piece of meat of fish.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes (or longer in the fridge) before cooking using a dry heat eg. grilled, pan fried, baked etc. Maybe add a little grated fresh ginger!


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News just in - a 25th idea, if you have time on your hands, Seville Orange Wine and it sounds great.

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