Sunday, January 24, 2010

Grapefruit-Blood Orange Marmalade

I have been going back and forth over whether or not I should make this marmalade. I bought all of the ingredients and then couldn't decide between two recipes: one that lets the grapefruit sit overnight, but requires a candy thermometer, and another one that has a million steps. And then I began to wonder if I would even use the marmalade, or if anyone would like it.

What brought me back to my senses was a box of Honeybells, delivered to my place of work by a kind swim team parent. Honeybells are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. Who thought of that? Tangerines are tiny, juicy, and sweet, and grapefruit are enormous, tart, and tangy. Honeybells are essentially big tangerines that are slightly less sweet. Now I'm ready again for citrus, (though, as I eat my Honeybell, I'm reminded that citrus gives me uncontrollable hiccups.)

I went with the recipe of a million steps, because I realized, reading it again, that many of them are canning steps that I know already, and this one is a relatively simple process. The thing that takes the longest is preparing the rinds and fruit, but it's well worth it to follow the directions so you don't have odd textures or some serious bitterness in your marmalade.

Because marmalade requires the rind of the fruit, buy organic fruit if you can. Pesticides don't make for good eats. The flavor of marmalade relies on how you prepare the fruit, so take special care to slice the peel thinly, and to include as little of the pith (the soft white meat that separates the peel from the fruit membrane) as possible--it's incredibly bitter. The same goes for the membrane, which encases the pulp of each section. I didn't put the pulp of the blood oranges into the mixture because I couldn't separate it from the membrane, so I just juiced mine. Slicing the rind from the pith takes a lot of practice, so don't worry about it if some of your peelings are unusable--I only used about 1/3 of the rind out of all of the fruit. It turned out fine!

Traditional marmalade recipes use the membranes, seeds, and sometimes the pith to extract the natural pectin from the fruit to create a set. I decided to go the liquid route for a few reasons: one, taste--I like fruit spreads to be sweet; two, convenience--the balance of sugar to fruit and the time that you boil the mixture is very delicate. If you boil it too long, or there's too much sugar, or not enough sugar, the pectin will lose its gelatinousness, and you'll have syrup instead of spread. If I'm going to spend a few hours making this, it had better work!

Just a quick note, it may take up to two weeks for the marmalade to set, so plan ahead!

Grapefruit - Blood Orange Marmalade
(makes about 4 pints)

2 large ruby red grapefruits
3 blood oranges
1 1/2 cups water
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 3 oz package liquid fruit pectin

1. Sterilize the jars, lids, and bands according the directions.

Prepare the fruit:
2. Slice each fruit in half length-wise. Slice the peel off of the fruit, leaving as much of the pith on the fruit as possible. With a sharp knife, slice the peel into matchstick width, 1" long pieces. Separate the pulp from the membranes and set it aside in a large bowl with the juice. If necessary, juice the blood oranges.

Cook the marmalade:
3. Add the water and fruit peel to a large pot, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fruit and juice and repeat, but for 10 minutes.

4. Add the sugar and stir well. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Add the liquid fruit pectin and boil hard for 1 minute.

5. Skim off any foam and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water canner. Let sit on a towel for an hour and check for a seal by pressing down on the lid. 

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cream Cheese Filled Coffee Cake

Wow, it has been a crazy holiday season. I got back from my trip to MD (which was full of wonderful culinary adventures), had a week of swim camp to run (indoor snowball fights, icebergs, and prehistoric megafauna are no joke), and then our regular swim lessons started up again. Over the course of the first week in 2010, I received two more xmas presents from Corey: a subscription to National Geographic and Cooks Illustrated.

I fell in love with Cooks Illustrated ages ago. No, they are not a vegan publication, but I've been veganizing long enough to figure that stuff out myself. In addition, they really focus on the food science, which comes in handy when veganizing anyway. So, no, I won't make the beefiest beef stew, but I will make perfect baked apples, Austrian potato salad, and cream cheese-filled coffee cake.

The topping called for is crunchy and light: lemon-sugar-almond. Unfortunately, Corey does not do lemon, and our friend Adam is allergic to almonds, so I skipped a topping altogether and didn't miss it!

A couple of notes: My batter wasn't like a cake batter--it was more similar to brownie batter. Very thick and difficult to spread. If this happens to yours, no worries, you're doing it right. My cream cheese filling also spread a lot out to the sides and it even baked up to the top of the cake. It actually left a very pretty marble pattern on the top, and the slightly browned edges of cream cheese were a pleasant surprise. Lastly, the cake fell a lot after I took it out of the oven, and I suspect that it didn't rise as well as it should because there was a big delay between getting the batter together and actually baking it--Ener-G Eggs loose their potency the longer you wait to bake your goods. The results were totally delicious anyway. Moist and soft vanilla cake with a drizzle of sweetened cream cheese in every bite? Count me in!

Cream Cheese Filled Coffee Cake
serves 14-16

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/8 t baking powder
1 1/8 t baking soda
1 t salt
10 T Earth Balance, slightly softened
1 cup 2 T sugar 
1/2 T lemon zest
4 Ener-G Eggs
5 t vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Sour Supreme

8 oz Better Than Cream Cheese
2 t vanilla extract
5 T sugar
1/4 c coffee cake batter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 10" tube pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add Ener-G eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce mixer speed to low and add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, mixing well until combined, followed by half of the sour cream, mixing well. Repeat using half of the remaining flour mixture and the rest of the sour cream, followed again by the rest of the flour mixture, mixing again until combined. Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in any remaining flour.

3. Reserve 1 1/4 cup batter and set aside. Spoon the remaining batter into the prepped tube pan and smooth the top.

4. Return the mixing bowl to the stand mixer and beat the Better Than Cream Cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth, for about 1 minute. Add the reserved 1/4 cup batter to the mixture and mix until incorporated.

5. Spoon the Better Than Cream Cheese filling into the tube pan, keeping it about 1 inch from the sides. Spread the remaining cup of batter over the filling and smooth the top. Tap twice on the counter firmly to dislodge any bubbles.

6. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes, and a cake tester inserted comes out clean (if inserted into the cheese it will be wet). Remove the pan from the oven and tap firmly on the counter twice to dislodge air bubbles (cake may fall at this point).

7. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 1 hour. Gently invert the cake and remove it from the pan (I needed Corey's help for this part.) and allow it to cool for another hour, then slice and serve.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fresh Lemon Ginger Tea

I realize I've been neglectful in my posting recently, but my life went on overdrive these past few weeks. I'm getting back into the groove of things, but here's my favorite caffeine-free hot beverage to tie you over until after the weekend.

This is what I drink when I'm sick. It's seen me through sore throats, swine flu, and just plain cold days. It's great to keep you hydrated, and the fresh vitamin C doesn't hurt either. If you have a fever, you can drink this hot or cold--just put it in the freezer for a bit to cool it down. I provide instructions for steeping the ginger, but frankly, I just throw the pieces into the mug and let them steep as I drink it.

Lemon Ginger Tea

juice of half a lemon
1 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
8 oz boiling hot water

1. Pour hot water into a mug. Place ginger pieces in a tea strainer and steep in the hot water for 5 minutes.

2. Remove the ginger and discard. Juice the lemon into the mug and stir well, adding agave or sugar to sweeten.