recipes

Fortified

Brandy Orange Marmalade

Madeira, port and sherry – all delightfully robust examples of wine fortified by matured, beautifully structured brandy. Small pours are all that is required to enjoy such aperitifs or digestifs, who resoundingly boast bold and explosive flavours – all the while supported silently by the strength and complexity of their custodian – brandy.

We each have our own internal fortitude (hopefully yours is not reliant on brandy). Unlike the liqueurs, often the things that give us our internal strength are entirely external to us – family, friends or the patterns of nature. To wake and see the sun lifting the chill from the garden, a sleepy rosy-cheeked child rising from his bed or even a genial wave from a neighbour, has a core-settling effect – the day is motion. And when all is as such, there is every reason to place your foot forward, roll up your sleeves and grasp hold of another new day unlike any other that was.

I’m not sure that marmalade has the good fortune we share. So to be sure that this batch was able to embrace it’s personal journey, I slipped some brandy into the pan at the final stage.

1.5kg oranges (blood or Seville if you can get them, otherwise any)
1.5 kg sugar
4 tbsp brandy
1 pkt Jamsetta (optional)

  1. Put the oranges and 2.25 litres of water in a large preserving pan, cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes until the fruit is very soft.
  2. Remove from heat, lift out the fruit, and cool.
  3. Measure the liquid and if required add extra water until you have 1.7 litres. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Halve the oranges, scoop out the flesh and pips. Tie these in some muslin cloth or similar.
  5. Chop the peel coarsely. Add to the pan with the muslin bag.
  6. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and cook at a full rolling boil for 10 minutes or until the marmalade has reached setting point. (If you are having any issues with setting, now is the time to stir through the Jamsetta).
  7. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the brandy.
  8. Pour into sterilised jars and seal.

marmalade toast

Postscript: The brandy worked wonders on the marmalade’s character and on toast in the morning, it has certainly strengthened mine.

recipes

Upcycle

baked glazed ham

It’s heartening to observe the recent trend of repurposing old goods into workable, worthwhile objects of value and especially so, if you were the one responsible for the transformation. We have had the pleasure of watching Kirstie pick up furniture orphans from junk yards and resourcefully transform them into prized family members on her weekly program. Clothing, toys and linens have all been fair game for the passionate upcycler, with vintage and charity shopping now a popular pastime. So after a beautifully baked leg of ham had served its dinnertime purpose, but still boasted a plentiful supply of succulent meat to carve, it was time for some upcycling in our kitchen.

Being well out of the festive season, purchasing a leg of ham is very affordable – in fact quite a canny choice. Simple to prepare and quick to bake, this is an overlooked roasted ‘joint’ with the potential to be so many other meals.

When you bring your ham home, carefully run the knife around the narrow end and gently work off the outer skin, leaving the fat underneath in place. Once the skin is peeled away, score the fat in a cross-hatch fashion. Warm a small jar of marmalade and brush this over the ham generously. Poke a whole clove into the centre of each diamond shape. Sit your decorated leg in a large baking tray and bake in a moderate oven (ie 180 degrees celsius) for 45 minutes or until it is nicely browned. Your ham is ready to carve.

My carnivorous family barely makes a dent on a baked ham in one sitting, so throughout the week rolls are filled, grills are served and finally I unwrap a calico covered shape that begins to resemble a bone. Still well covered, this joint is upcycled once again – pea and ham soup.

Traditional Pea and Ham soup

A plentiful soup can be produced by plonking the bone holus-bolus into the pot and using this recipe  (which I discovered on the back of my McKenzie’s Green Split Peas packet). Put your ham bone in, follow McKenzie’s steps and lunch/after school feeding frenzies are covered for the rest of the week.

As your ham leg makes its way through all of its various mealtime identities, it can be stored very effectively in the refrigerator in a calico ham bag. No ham bag? No problem – because you too are a resourceful upcycler, a dampened tea towel repurposes wonderfully.

Traditional Pea and Ham soup

Postscript: and just when you thought the upcycling was complete, the long simmered soup bone, after cooling on the bench, became a happy dog’s chew on a sunny afternoon.