Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fresh English Peas

English Peas are one of the earliest signs of Spring, and are also a really quick and easy side dish to any meal! I've never been a big fan of frozen peas, but when the girl and I saw fresh English Peas in the Whole Foods near my house, we had to grab some.

To prepare them, just shell the peas and then simply steam them for 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with some salt and a little pepper and you have a great, simple side!

Make sure you buy a lot of peas, however - you'll be surprised how many pea pods it takes to get a serving. Trust me, you'll be sad if you don't have enough!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade

The Meyer lemon has gained a strong following in the culinary world in the past few years, showing up on restaurant menus and in cookbooks everywhere. Why is it so popular? Mainly because of its flavor, a sweeter and less acidic version of a regular lemon's. (The Meyer lemon is actually a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange.)

Meyer Lemon at The Orangerie at Tower Hill Botanic Garden

I found some Meyer lemons in the Whole Foods Market near my house, and decided to make a Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade. I tweaked an Epicurious recipe, decreasing the sugar. I also saved the seeds and put them in a cheesecloth pouch, then boiled them with the lemon/water/sugar mixture to add natural pectin to help it set.

I would definitely make this again, although I'd add some regular lemon juice to give it a bit more tartness. Unfortunately, it's the end of Meyer lemon season, so it looks like I'll have to wait until next year to try this again!

Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade

  • 1 1/4 pounds Meyer lemons
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Cheesecloth

Working on large plate to catch juice, cut lemons in half lengthwise, then very thinly crosswise. Save seeds to be boiled with lemons later. Pack enough lemons and any juice to measure 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to large nonreactive pot. Add 5 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand uncovered overnight.

Measure lemon mixture (there should be about 5 1/2 cups). Return to same pot. Add about 4 cups of sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Add seeds to a piece of cheesecloth and add to the pot. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer. Maintaining active boil and adjusting heat to prevent boiling over, cook until temperature reaches 230°F, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer to hot jars. Process jars in a water bath for 12-15 minutes. If you are not going to process in water bath, cool the mixture to room temperature and put in jars then refrigerate.

(All photos were taken by the girl, she's too good to me!)
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