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Posts Tagged ‘orange

Utterly butterly

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Sometimes all a dish needs to make it pop, come alive and generally look a little more special than the normal is some flavoured butter. These are easily whipped up by mashing herbs, spices or citrus into softened butter, then chilling the butter again, but they seem very exotic, the sort of thing that should sit on its own little plate, with a tiny silver knife, on a white tablecloth in a posh restaurant. Melted over food they add flavour, fat and all round awesomeness, bringing the dry and mundane into the world of the moist and fun immediately. Plus they last a very long time in the fridge, always a bonus.

Prawns with orange saffron butter
From Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume

This recipe was supposed to be served with a swede and tahini mash, which sounded great. Lacking swede I decided to substitute carrots, and thought my beautiful purple carrots would be just the thing. Alas, after boiling the water was a vivid indigo and my carrots had turned a sort of murky brown colour, and still didn’t mash properly. I think I might just stick with swede next time.

1 tablespoon gin
4 threads saffron
Zest and juice of half an orange
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon ground garlic powder
50g butter
250g king prawns, shelled and deveined

1. In a small bowl stir the saffron threads into the gin and leave to infuse for 3 minutes. Add the orange juice and zest, then stir in the sumac, cumin, chives and garlic powder. Beat in the softened butter; it will separate out, and then, when it is well mixed, come back together again. There may be a little liquid left in the bottom of the bowl; this is fine. Take the flavoured butter out of the bowl, plop it onto a piece of clingfilm, and roll it into a log. Twist the ends tightly closed and refrigerate for 3 hours, or freeze for an hour.

2. Heat a frying pan and add about a quarter of the butter. When it starts to sizzle, add the prawns. Toss to coat in the butter and cook over a high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add another quarter of the butter to the pan, allow it just to melt, and then serve the prawns, with the remaining chilled orange butter on the side. Serve with green leaves and swede and tahini mash.

Serves 2. I served this with a lovely Traminer from Bulgaria. Research suggests this could either be a Savagnin, or Gewürtztraminer. Alas, my Bulgarian isn’t good enough to permit me to discover which, and even if I could read all of the bottle, I suspect it still wouldn’t tell me. Either way, the fruity and strong floral notes matched the orange and saffron very nicely.

Written by guffblog

18th August 2011 at 12:52

Posted in Fish and seafood

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Not very British

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I thought about making something that was red, white and blue. And debated over a truly British dish, one that celebrates the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish. I ummed and ahhed and then decided I don’t give a damn anyway, judging by most weddings in that family it’ll fall apart soon enough, and besides, surely I should be more focused on the weddings of my nearest and dearest, who I actually care about and don’t have such sticky-out ears or terribly vapid grins. So here is my royal wedding celebration dish, and not British at all (except for the potatoes, and well, I suppose chicken is quite a British food). This is perfect for a dinner party, or probably even a wedding; most of the prep can be done in advance. All you have to do on the day is turn the oven on, cook up the potatoes and serve. Fit for a (future) queen, or even someone you know.

Orange and mustard chicken
From Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume


Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
90ml orange juice
4 chicken breasts
2 tablespoons light olive oil

2 oranges, supremed
1 avocado, diced
200g green beans, trimmed and blanched
100g spicy leaves (I used a mixture of rocket and watercress)

Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons orange juice

1. To make the marinade whisk together the orange zest, mustard, sugar, vinegar and orange juice in a large bowl. Lay the chicken breasts in the bowl, fully submerged in the marinade and leave in the fridge overnight.

2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and lay in a large baking dish. Sprinkle with coarse salt and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of light olive oil. Bake the chicken in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oven halfway through baking and baste with the juices in the dish, before returning to the oven to finish cooking.

3. To prepare the salad supreme the oranges. Dice the avocado, chop the green beans and toss in a large bowl with the salad leaves.

4. Whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Pour this over the salad, toss together, and arrange the salad on the plates.

5. Serve the chicken alongside the salad, with buttered new potatoes.

Serves 4. I served this with Poacher’s Blend white wine, a sauvignon blanc with a splash of riesling which balanced the slight heat from the mustard very well.

Written by guffblog

29th April 2011 at 18:57

Posted in Main courses

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Mollusc. Funny word. Like moist, it’s slightly onomatopoeic, and not in a good way. It hints at squishiness and damp, with lurking tendencies. Scallops are by far my favourite mollusc, and by that I mean they’re the only ones I like. Mussels are so-so. Oysters are just plain nasty (and let’s be honest, if an oyster’s not good when it’s just been plucked from the lagoon a kilometre away and is served with local wine, it’s never going to be good, though I concede that it was more an issue of texture than taste). And snails, well, I’ve never tried them but they certainly don’t look too appetising. Scallops though are meaty and thus move up from the category of mollusc, and by association small, slimy and blech, to real food. Alas, real food or not, they’re ruinously expensive, at least when you buy hand-dived ones from the market, (even when the lovely fishmonger gives you a discount because he only counted out 10 the first time, and throws in the final 2 for free) so I don’t eat them all that often. Thus when I do I feel they deserve special treatment, and a dish in which they can play the starring role. Scallops with chorizo are lovely, but chorizo being the star that it is, it’s always going to eclipse whatever it’s put with. Here the scallops’ slightly minerally, slightly ocean-breezey taste is able to come through a little more.

Coriander scallops with orange and ginger dressing
From Bon Appetit, March 2011

12 medium scallops
2 teaspoons ground coriander
100g baby greens (watercress, spinach, rocket, whatever you like really)
1 large orange, supremed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1. Prepare the scallops; wash them, pat dry and remove the roe (weird orange bit). Season them thoroughly on both sides with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the ground coriander.

2. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan until it shimmers. Place the scallops in the pan, taking care not to crowd them (cook them in two batches if necessary). Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on the size, so they are crisp and golden on the outside and just barely translucent in the very centre.

3. Meanwhile prepare the salad. Wash the greens and arrange on two plates. Supreme the orange, saving the peel to make orange rice with. Dot the orange pieces on top of the salad greens.

4. To make the dressing, whisk together the oil, vinegar, orange juice and chopped ginger with a little salt and pepper.

5. To serve, lay the scallops on the bed of greens. Pour the dressing over the top. Serve with orange-scented rice (rice cooked with orange peel).

Serves 2. I paired this with a nicely chilled sauvignon blanc which was a perfect match.

Written by guffblog

15th April 2011 at 21:27

Posted in Fish and seafood

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A few quibbles

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I had a few quibbles with this recipe, from my so-far perfectly written new favourite cookbook. Firstly, I found it very sweet, unnecessarily so. I know that Middle Eastern desserts are stuffed full of sugar but I felt the amount could have been reduced a little here without too much difference in the end result. In fact, and I’m just going to throw this out there, fully expecting it to be laughed down, but perhaps there wouldn’t be so much unrest in the Middle East if everyone wasn’t grumpy from toothache all the time. Just a thought. Anyhoo…

Secondly, the instruction for making the caramel sauce was very vague. “Dissolve the sugar and then turn up the heat until the sugar caramelises.” Working with sugar is a very exact science, requiring specific temperatures to get specific outcomes. I boiled the sugar quite hard and as a result my caramel sauce set pretty firm. Actually, a rather strange alchemy occurred in the oven. When I poured the caramel into the ramekins it set solid almost immediately; hit it with a spoon, crack your teeth on it kind of solid. Once I put the finished crème caramel in the oven though the top layer of the caramel sauce melted, and didn’t resolidify; this was nicely liquid underneath the creme caramel, when it came to eating time. The layer below that though remained solid golden sugar, sharp, with the texture of a boiled sweet and impossible to remove from the ramekin with a spoon. Not ideal, unless you like serving guests impossible party games to pass their time with.

Despite these minor shortcomings I would class the recipe as a success, as I would make it again, though I’d have to play around with the caramel sauce to get it just right.

Orange and vanilla crème caramel
From Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume

One final point to note, and this was definitely my fault, not the recipe’s, is to use orange flower water and not orange essence. I didn’t have any orange flower water, but unfortunately the orange essence I replaced it with was oil-based and thus floated around on top of my caramel and made the whole thing rather greasy and messy, without incorporating properly.

125g caster sugar
75ml water
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons orange flower water

550ml double cream
Zest of 2 oranges
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

1. Put the 125g sugar, water, salt and orange flower water into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved; this should take about 5 minutes.

2. Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil; not knowing a huge amount about sugar I can only describe from my experience, but there should be about 2 inches of frothy, boiling sugar on the surface of the mixture. Keep this amount of froth nice and steady for 8-10 minutes, or until the sugar starts to darken. Once the sugar does darken, and it will take a little while, keep an eagle eye on it. Burnt sugar tastes nasty and makes a bloody mess of your saucepans. You want the mixture to be the colour of a varnished chestnut table. Pour it straight into 6 ramekins and leave to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 150 C. In a small bowl, or even the pot containing the double cream, mix the cream, orange zest and vanilla extract. Stir well. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and 150g caster sugar until pale, thick and creamy. Slowly whisk in the cream and zest mixture until all mixed in and carefully pour the whole lot into the ramekins, on top of the caramel.

4. Place the ramekins into a small tray, just big enough to hold them all, and fill the tray with hot water, so that it comes about 2/3 of the way up the side of the ramekins. Put the tray with the ramekins in the oven and cook for an hour, to an hour and 10 minutes, or until the crème caramels are almost set in the middle. Check halfway through cooking in case the water needs topping up. The ramekins will probably develop a sugary crust on top (which is delicious) so you’ll have to break one to test for doneness. Once done, remove from the oven and leave to cool slowly in their water bath. Once fully cool, remove from the water and put the ramekins in the fridge overnight to fully firm up.

Makes 6. Serve in the ramekins (you’ll see the futility of trying to upend the ramekins onto a plate once they’re cooked, but that’s fine, they’re perfect served the right way up).

Written by guffblog

14th April 2011 at 19:04

Posted in Desserts

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Painter’s palate

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Usually when cooking you think about what flavours go together well, which contrast heavily, or which support and enhance each other. We don’t often think about what colours go together well. But given that colours of foods often give an indication of their flavour (or nutrient value) I think that building a dish based on colour is not as crazy as it sounds. With this in mind, I decided to make a crumble of contrasting colours, orange and blue. The flavours contrasted nicely; sweet berries and tangy orange, with a nice variety of nutrients; vitamin C and all your antioxidants from dark-coloured food. Yum. I mixed up the crumble with some buckwheat flour, which gave it a slightly nutty flavour. These were perfect as is, but I’m sure a splash of custard or some ice cream wouldn’t go amiss if you had it.

Orange and blueberry crumble

Next time I make this I might use an orange half that has been bobbing in some mulled wine. The boiling will bring out the orangey flavours in it, as well as adding a hint of spice and warmth from the wine.

25g butter, chopped into cubes
25g gf flour blend
25g buckwheat flour
25g white sugar
1/2 large orange, peeled and chopped
2 large handfuls of blueberries, fresh or frozen

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.

2. In a large bowl rub the butter into the gf flour and buckwheat flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

3. Divide the chopped orange and blueberries between 2 ramekins. Sprinkle the crumble on top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling up round the crumble and the crumble is just turning slightly brown at the edges.

Makes 2 ramekins.

Written by guffblog

19th December 2010 at 20:08

Posted in Desserts

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