Monday, May 21, 2012

Marmalade marathons..& a recipe for rustic thumbprint shortbread


 Produce wise, I have no complaints about the past 12 months. Seasonal local vegetables from Hillsborough farm throughout the summer and a wonderful time exploring citrus varieties after that. My  clear favorite was the Mayer lemon. I simply fell in love with its vivid color, fragrance and sweet/tart taste. The best priced ones were from Whole Foods, priced at a modest 3.49 /lb (about 6-7 lemons). Indulged in making 'achar', preserved lemon, Lemon rice, margaritas & a dozen bottles of marmalade! (this was in addition to a community pick testing for Food52 , a fragrant Five-citrus marmalade.

 





 Back to Meyer lemons.  What?: A hybrid citrus thought to be native to China, a cross between lemon & mandarin orange. The skin is smooth and thin with minimal white pith, while the juice is not quite as tart as a regular lemon and it has a faint trace of orange, no doubt from its mandarin genes.




 Making a marmalade, I learned, is not for the beginner cook. It requires a good hefty dose of old fashioned labor. Just slicing through  10 lemons takes time, a task which seemed trivial though after I had gone through chopping 2 pomelos (huge chinese grapefruit similar to pamplemousse better known as 'pumplimaas' in Tamil) and a generous assortment of other citrus. If dedicated cooking is your passion, then here is my recipe for a yummy Mayer lemon marmalade spiked with crystallized ginger and cardamom. The recipe is adapted from Epicurious.com and I believe the original recipe was featured in Gourmet magazine in Dec. 1999.


Mayer Lemon Marmalade with crystallized ginger and cardamom (makes 10 1/2 pint jars)

You need:


10 Mayer lemons (or 8 regular lemons)
6 cups water,
6 cups sugar
1.5 cups finely chopped crystallized  ginger
1 tablespoon powdered cardamom

10 sterilized 1/2 pint canning jars with sealing ring lids.

Cut the lemons into halves and remove and reserve the seeds/pips. Tie up the seeds in a cheesecloth/muslin cloth/bag. (If you're South Indian or related to one, look for a clean 'veshti' or 'angavastram' to rip off a piece!)


Cut the lemons once again into quarters and slice thinly. Combine the lemon, water and the bag of lemon pips in a large non reactive pot. Cover and allow the mixture to rest at room temperature for a whole day. (yes, 24 hours).

Add the crystallized ginger pieces to the Lemons the next day and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and cook down the liquid until the quantity reduces to less than half the original volume (~ 1 hr).


Add the sugar and the cardamom powder and boil over medium heat, taking care to skim off any foam. Using a candy thermometer, monitor the temperature. (which is going to stay at 212 F for a LOOONG time ~ 1/2 hr).

Once all the residual water has evaporated, the temperature of the thick jammy mixture will quickly rise to 220 F. Immediately switch off the heat & remove the pot.

Ladle the marmalade into the sterilized jars leaving about 1/4 inch air gap at the top to allow for vacuum sealing. Wipe the rims thoroughly clean, screw on the lid & ring & tighten till the point of minimum resistance. Allow to cool slightly and then process in a vacuum bath canner. (I like to follow the timing prescribed from a post on Indian Food Rocks, viz, 10 minutes at sea level adding a minute for every additional 1000 ft above sea level, depending upon where you live).

Thumbprint shortbread cookies (with the marmalade that you just made!)




You need: (about 12-15 cookies)

1 cup All purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon Orange zest
1/4 cup of marmalade or any of your favorite store bought jam


Preheat oven to 325 F.
Sift the All purpose flour, sugar,salt and the baking powder together in a mixing bowl.


Add the butter and the orange zest (I used the frozen variety from Perfect Puree) to the flour blend. Using a silicone spatula, gently combine the ingredients together to form a dough.

Using a cookie scoop, measure out equal portions onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. (I personally like a rustic looking edge, but for a smoother circular shape, gently roll the dough into a sphere using your palms)
Gently press down to flatten. Using your thumb, make a well in the center of the dough.



 Fill the wells with 1/4 teaspoon of your favorite jam or marmalade.


 Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes, turnin the baking sheet around 180 degrees halfway through the baking process. until the base begins to turn a golden brown color

Cool the cookies on a cooling rack (they crisp up slightly upon cooling)  and serve these  rich buttery morsels with a hot cup of coffee or tea.



Bon Appetit!

5 comments:

  1. I love marmalade and I have fallen head over heels for yours. The first time I tasted meyer lemons was when a generous vendor at the farmer's market tossed in a few with our citrus purchase, they were divine.
    Will definitely try this.

    Aparna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Aparna, I'm sure you'll love this!

      Delete
  2. The marmalade looks yummilicious. Have never come across these lemons in this part of the world.However, I am sure this will work well for the other citrus fruits very well too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, the technique is the same for other citrus as well.. (you can use 5 lemons & 5 oranges instead).. the trick is to soak the fruit for a day with the seeds.

      Delete
  3. Yummy...
    http://www.deccansojourn.com

    ReplyDelete

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