This turned out to be Marmalade Weekend. It's a two day job so when I was working I always dedicated a January weekend to the task and I still stick to that tradition. The scent of marmalade cooking takes me back to my childhood - my (Scots) Mum made industrial quantities and the sweet smell of bubbling oranges used to greet us when we came home from school. In my post from 14th January last year - have a look in the archive if you are interested - I give the full recipe and method inherited from her, so please let me know if you ever make it.
I was proud to be awarded a Bronze level certificate in the Dalemain World's Original Home Made Marmalade competition in 2021 and will be sending off my jar for this year's judging too. I was marked down last year for "not filling the jar properly" (I'd hastily re-jarred a set into a smaller jar as there is a size limit to the entry, and obviously had not filled it to the brim) so I might hope to correct that fault this year. Wish me luck!
Grilled Marinated Peppers (vegan, but serving suggestion includes meat)
This is so simple but so delicious. I ate it first at a small French bistro in Canterbury, which has probably long since disappeared but provided straightforward un-faffy cooking that was huge on flavour and love. I like a recipe that I can make ahead and bring out as a home-made treat when needed at this time of year, without having to attend to last minute preparations when you have guests in the house.
Have a jar of these grilled peppers ready, and a pack of good Spanish ham, and you have a starter fit for a houseful of princes.
They keep for at least a week in the fridge, in a jar with their oil. After you’ve finished the peppers, the oil makes a tasty base for a very tangy flavoured French dressing – use it on crunchy red radicchio or endive, some leaves with a strong flavour of their own, and maybe a few shavings of parmesan on top.
Of course, you can also serve these as part of a vegan or vegetarian selection of grilled vegetables, grilled courgette with a sprinkle of lemon juice and some mint in the oil is lovely, and so is grilled aubergine with crushed garlic.
Serves 6 Timings: about 30 minutes work, but cooling time needed after the grilling.
Grill the peppers under a hot grill, turning until all sides have been charred and the skin is blackened and blistered. Turn them on their tops to grill their little bottoms too, you want the whole skin area grilled.
Put the now burnt-looking peppers into a glass bowl and cover with a plate to let the steam get at them. Not a plastic box as you don’t want hot food touching plastic if you can help it. You can leave them to cool completely while you do something else.
Take the peppers out of the bowl, pull out the choke with the seeds and stalk on. Carefully pull off the skin or scrape it away from the soft flesh with a sharp knife. It will come away easily after the grilling and the steaming. Make sure you clean away all the little seeds from the flesh.
Cut the flesh into long strips with scissors and place it in a clean jar layering the peppers up with oil. You can add any seasonings you like at this stage – a fresh bay leaf is nice or some lightly bashed coriander seeds or black pepper corns, but you don’t have to add anything. Top up the jar with oil to cover the peppers and leave in the fridge for an hour or until you want to use them.
To serve, give everyone a small serving of your best Parma or Serrano ham, a spoonful of peppers and a few leaves of rocket. Done!
Some Changes - April 2022
Thanks to my friends and followers for your patience, and for your encouragement to start blogging again.