Tag Archive for: grapefruit

Candied Peel

I love love love candied peel. I used to run to the baking cupboard and cram spoonfuls of it in my mouth when my mum wasn’t looking. It was my favourite bit of any fruitcake or barmbrack. This is especially odd since I don’t like oranges as a fruit, juice or flavouring, and generally eschew citrus fruits of all kinds. But mellow those citrus rinds in vats of sugar and it’s hypnotic to me.

An inability to read recipes a few weeks ago meant I ended up with an overabundance of grapefruits when making marmalade for cake and found myself wondering what to do with them all. A casual Twitter conversation about Christmas preparations brought about a massive lightbulb moment. I would make my own candied peel. Never mind if it was incredibly faffy and complicated: I could rise to the challenge!

Imagine my glee when this Waitrose recipe popped up and I realised candying my own peel was actually easier than pie. Radio on, sleeves rolled up, I set about peeling and de-pithing my citrus fruit. I had a mix of pomelo, ruby grapefruit, lemons and orange, but avoided limes as I thought it might be too overwhelming, like cordial.

Get four pans going on your hob and simmer the peels separately in hot water for about 20 minutes to soften them up. Then split the peels into two pots to simmer in the syrup. I actually made two batches of candied peel and found it easier to keep the peels bigger and cram less peel into the pans as they bubble and soak up the sugar. I just did two batches of the syrup to be sure nothing caught or burned. Keep the heat down low as you can, you only want the merest blip in the syrup to stop it getting bitter or caramelising. Then go off and do stuff while your house smells truly amazing…

I came back to my peel when there was still a tiny bit of syrup left, and lifted the biggest pieces out with tongs, laying them on baking trays. The smaller bits went into a sieve to drip any excess syrup off, as you don’t want so much syrup on the pieces: they dry crunchy and I didn’t fancy trying to boil my pan dry and win the challenge. I then left the trayfuls of peel in the living room to dry as it was the only place I had room, but the airing cupboard or anywhere the cat can’t walk on them will do.

About three days later, I turned the peel with tongs and left for another two or three days or until I remembered about it. I popped it in a ziplock bag, with a tablespoon or so of icing sugar, and shook it up to coat it and stop it sticking together. Some went into the Christmas mincemeat. Some went into cellophane bags to give as gifts. The rest was stored in a jar to be used for various festive recipes closer to the time and the leftover syrup stored for a drizzle cake or put on porridge or ice cream.

So if you didn’t do a cake on Stir-Up Sunday, impress people with homemade candied peel instead. You will never buy one of those tiny tubs again after you’ve tasted the citrus sensation of making your own. It tastes as good as it looks!

Grapefruit, Pimm’s and Mint Sorbet

I’ve been living in England for the last ten years, and yet I still wouldn’t consider myself at all English. The Veda-loving Norn Irish in me remains predominant and I haven’t kicked my spud obsession at all, but other tastes from this green and pleasant land have filtered through to become well loved and often craved. Buttered crumpets, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, lashings of proper gravy, potted shrimp all make me very happy indeed. But my favourite English flavour is Pimm’s

Just perfect on a warm and sunny afternoon, dappled with refreshing cucumber, mint, strawberries and borage flowers, a jug of Pimm’s has replaced my previous refresher of gin and grapefruit juice as the taste of summer. Knowing the weather for the Royal Weather wouldn’t be just as glorious for sitting out as the previous glorious Easter weekend, I decided to bring some sunshine back to my life and toast the nuptials with a recipe for a Grapefruit, Pimm’s and mint sorbet and combine my favourite sunny flavours in a style suitable for an 11am start.

I have had this recipe knocking around for years, copied carefully into my handwritten recipe book from a magazine or paper, but with no evidence remaining of where it came from, but a major reason why I recently bought my ice cream maker. And I was delighted to see that it was worth the wait!

Buying the machine was the faffiest bit of the whole recipe really. Simply dissolve 100g of caster sugar in 150ml Pimm’s, around 300 ml of fresh grapefruit juice (this is around 3 large fruit) and 125ml of water. Cool the syrup in the fridge, adding in around 10 finely chopped leaves of mint. Then simply pop it all in the machine, adding a well whipped egg white and churn for around 30 minutes until you have a pale golden sorbet the texture of snow. Serve immediately or freeze until needed. It scoops perfectly from the freezer without needing to be thawed at all.

Super refreshing, the sorbet has a lovely sweet taste of Pimm’s on first taste, before you get a gorgeously tangy and incredibly refreshing grapefruit hit that works just beautifully with that quintessentially English of tastes. The mint comes through as a aftertaste, marrying the grapefruit and Pimm’s perfectly. Cleansing, refreshing and with a subtle kick from the Pimm’s, this is the most grown up way to cool down this summer. Bottoms up!