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Lazy Lemon Jelly

Too many lemons  adorn the fruit bowl and a serious attack of laziness prevents me from doing a lemon marmalade, so I resort to a simple solution: pure lemon jelly.

The other reason for not doing a lemon marmalade resides in the fact that these lemons are not the Sicilian or Corsican organic lemons I favour for marmalade.

This jelly is a pure delight in colour and in sharpness. If you have sensitive teeth it may set them on edge, so beware.

Otherwise, spread this jelly on your breakfast toasts or use as an accompaniment to foie gras or any cold meat.

Makes 2 jars, 1 Bonne Maman size and 1 smaller:

300ml lemon juice

100ml water

400g preserving/jam sugar

 

1. Put all the ingredients in a jam-making pan and bring to the boil.

2. After 7 minutes of a vigorous boil, check that it is set and turn off the heat. To check setting, place a drop of the jelly on a saucer, put it in the fridge for 5 minutes. After that time, if it wrinkles when you put your finger on it, it is set.

3. Let the jelly rest for a few minutes and bottle. Place the lids on and turn the jars upside down. It will create a vacuum which will prevent any mould from forming.

This jelly will keep for a year in a cool, dark place but it may be too tempting to leave it in a cupboard!

A pleasant alternative is a lime jelly. Same method, same quantities.

 

Bon Appétit!

 

 

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Marmelade de citron or Lemon marmalade

I love lemons and all citrus fruit and to continue on the lemon theme started in February with the lemon celebrations, I’m making lemon marmalade, using a slight variation on my mother-in-law classic orange marmalade.
The sharpness of the lemons complements perfectly the first expresso of the day and wakes up the taste buds.
Sicilian lemons are abundant and because they have not been injected with disphenyl and other nasties, you can use their unwaxed skin for other preparations as well.

This marmalade is made over 2 days and is well worth spending the time as the flavour of the lemons comes through beautifully.

You need 4 lemons, jam sugar and water and sterilised jam jars.
Day 1:
Rinse the lemons and peel them with a very sharp paring knife. Cut the peel (Or zest) in very fine, thin strips. Reserve the peel.
Peel the white pith and discard as it would give a bitter taste to the marmalade. Slice the lemons and remove the pips. ( These would be worth keeping if you were making another fruit jam at the same time as it would provide you with extra pectin).
Place the lemon slices and peel in a large salad bowl, preferably made of glass, and cover with water. Put in a cool place. After a few hours, the water will have been almost entirely absorbed by the fruit and may need to be topped up.

Day 2:
Measure the quantity of mixture in a measuring jug and weigh the corresponding amount of jam ( or preserving) sugar. For example, for 2 pints of mixture, use 2 lbs of sugar.
Place the mixture in a jam cooking pot and heat slowly up. After 15 minutes, add the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon.
Bring to a fast boil for 7 minutes ( or the time indicated on the jam sugar packet).
When the marmalade is set, pour into the jars and place the lid on tightly immediately. Turn the jars upside down for a few minutes and turn again the right way up. Leave to cool and label.
Keep in a cool, dark place.

Enjoy at breakfast over toasts or in croissants or at tea time, spread on a sponge cake.

You can reserve some of the lemon zests before bottling because they will be perfectly candied and can be used when making muffins or sponge cakes. They can be added to fruit salads or lemon sorbets.

Tip:
On day 1 decide whether you want a very thick marmalade or a more jelly- like one. The quantity of fruit will determine the consistency of the marmalade. In both cases, it is important to respect the proportion of fruit mixture to sugar.

Bon Appétit!

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La Fête du Citron à Menton or another Carnival on the French Riviera

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Fête du Citron in Menton is using Dragons and other Chinese symbols for its floats and sculptures.
The official title this year is “Tribulations of a Lemon in China” in hommage to Jules Verne.
It is said that this Fête is competing with the Nice Carnival, which takes place during the same period. Should they really be compared as Nice is all about people in costume, flowers and mimosa in particular and Menton is all about lemons and citrus fruit ? The colour yellow is predominant and with bright sunshine augurs Spring and brings the warmth of the Mediterranean after Winter months.
Over 300 professionals help prepare this unique event which uses over 140 tons of citrus fruit.
No one really mentions what happens to all these citrus fruit when the festival is over. It would be such a shame to waste them.

So, why are those lemons so famous?
After all, lemons also grow nicely in Spain, Sicily, Corsica.
The lemons from Menton possess unique qualities which make them the favourite of the best chefs in the region but they are also found in many specialities, savoury or sweet.
This year, for Valentine Day, little lemon and raspberry heart-shaped macarons made their appearance to the delight of many macarons gourmets.
Carpaccio of crevettes, lemon curds, marmalades, sorbets with limoncello, lemonades, candied peel in chocolate, biscuits with lemon are to be consumed without moderation.

Let’s do a Carpaccio of Crevettes, an easy dish for sea food lovers.

A carpaccio of fish, shellfish or meat means that the flesh is served raw but preserved in a marinade which makes it very tender and preserves it.
If you do not like the thought of this, you can panfry quickly the crevettes in a little olive oil, without having kept them in the marinade.
Use the lemon juice to sprinkle the cooked crevettes just before serving.

Serves 4:

20 crevettes, shelled
Juice of 3 lemons
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A handful of flat leaf parsley, rinsed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon of ginger, peeled and grated
Cayenne pepper

1. Open the crevettes and remove the black intestine with the point of a knife.
2. Place the crevettes in a shallow dish and cover with the marinade of lemon juice, garlic and ginger.
3. Sprinkle with pepper and parsley and place in the fridge until you want to eat them.

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Accras or Small Cod Bites

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To banish the Winter blues and escape to the French West Indies at least during the time of a meal, Virginie and I did a few “accras” for a charity event at my local health club. This took the shape of a cookery class for those members adventurous enough to join us.

The choice of accras was an obvious one as they are one of my favourite dishes from Martinique and Guadeloupe and a classic of French West Indian cuisine.
To be plunged into a proper West Indian ambience, you need a good rum punch and some “zouk” music. More later about how to make a “Planteur” (rum punch) or a “Ti Punch”.
I first learnt to make Accras in Martinique and the recipe I was given by a lovely lady called Marie is for 40 people. At the time, I thought I would always have to reduce the quantities but it proved to be useful when two years ago I made some for a large wedding party.

So what makes those accras so attractive? First of all, they are very tasty and go very well with a rum punch. Secondly, you can choose to eat them as appetizers, as in the West Indies, or as a main course, served with a salad. You may even take them on a picnic or in lunch box or even as a snack. They freeze well and this helps when you want to plan for a party.

Now, here is how to make them:

Serves 4:

2 chunks of salt cod, desalted overnight * if you use unsalted cod, add a little salt
1large onion, peeled and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced and 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 small chilli pepper and Cayenne pepper

500ml of oil

Pancake mixture with a few drops of beer to make it fluffier

1. Steam the fish with the sliced onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Drain and separate the flesh with a fork. Remove the bones and the skin.

2. Add the parsley, pepper and chilli.

3. Fold into the pancake mixture.

4. Use a teaspoon to shape the mixture into small balls and deep fry for 3 minutes until golden.

5. Remove from heat and place on kitchen roll to absorb excess fat.

Bon Appétit!

This Christmas we decided to have some as appetizers before our lunch, instead of the anchoïade and tapenades I normally do and it made a nice alternative.

In spite of having to desalt the fish overnight, I still prefer to use salt cod as it is tastier and the bones add to the flavour. They are easy to remove when the fish is cooked because they are very big and very visible.

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Pâté de Sardines

It is January and time to think of simple food after all the Christmas excesses.
Here is a delicious pâté my father used to make as an appetizer with pre-lunch drinks.
It can also be served as a starter with a salad or even a sandwich filler.
If you like sardines on toast, this will be a new take on that classic snack.
The acidity of the red onion combines well with the white wine vinegar to balance the taste of the fish.

For the sake of simplicity I use tinned sardines, but you can use fresh ones and grill them.
If you do like the smell of sardines as they grill. ….

You need:

Slices of country bread or rye bread
2 tins sardines in olive oil, if possible boneless
A little white wine vinegar
50g unsalted butter
A few slices of red onion

1. Put the sardines, butter and vinegar in a blender and whizz.
2. Spread on the bread.
3. Decorate with the red onion slices

Bon Appétit!

Note: If you have children who do not like fish other than in a fish finger, you can shape the pâté to look like a fish. It will certainly amuse them.

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Pears in Spicy Red Wine

Just a few days now before Christmas and I am looking to make a simple seasonal dessert that will not take too much time to prepare.
It will give me the opportunity to open a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which was sitting in the wine rack.

Depending on the appetite of your guests, plan either a large pear per person or two medium-sized pears.
Choose them not too ripe to avoid them becoming puréed during the cooking.

Large Comice pears, rinsed and peeled
500ml strong red wine
Juice of 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
10 cloves
Vanilla ice-cream.

1. Pour the wine in a large saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon juice.
2. Rub each pear with a half lemon to prevent discolouration.
3. Place the pears in the saucepan and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4. Take them out of the wine and cut delicately in a fan shape, making sure that you retain the stalk.
5. Drizzle the wine on top and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

You can serve the remainder of the wine as mulled wine.

This dessert can be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer.

Bon Appétit!