Monday, October 3, 2011
More Lemons, and Scones
This week I made marmalade, pear and lemon marmalade. And it turned out marvelously well, no doubt due to the impeccable instructions and recipe from Rachel Saunders of the "Blue Chair Jam Cookbook". My intention was to include this marmalade with last week's lemon entries, but the pears did not ripen in time. When they were finally ready to use I set forth to make my marmalade. It is a two day process but not difficult in the least. The marmalade set up in the time that Ms. Saunders suggested it would, and I got the same yield that the recipe stated. Very satisfying indeed. We enjoyed a Sunday breakfast of oatmeal scones with pear-lemon marmalade. Here are the recipes:
Pear-Lemon Marmalade ( from "The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook" by Rachel Saunders )
2 pounds 5 ounces very ripe pears, such as Warren or Bartlett (I used Bartlett)
1 3/4 pounds seeded lemons, halved crosswise, each half quartered lengthwise and sliced medium thin
3 pounds 10 ounces white cane sugar
1 to 2 extra lemons, to make 4 ounces strained freshly squeezed juice.
1 ( 1 1/4 inch ) piece of cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly to release their seeds
First, prepare the pear juice: Cut the pears into quarters or eights, depending on their size. Place the pear pieces in a medium stainless steel kettle and cover with enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to a lively simmer. Cover and cook the fruit for 2-3 hours, or until the pears are very soft and the liquid has become syrupy. (Mine took the full 3 hours) As the pears cook, stir them every 20 to 30 minutes or so, adding more water if necessary. The level of the water should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks. Strain the pear juice by pouring the hot fruit and liquid into a medium-fine-mesh strainer suspended over a heatproof storage container or nonreactive saucepan. Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to drip overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the sliced lemons: Place the slices in a wide stainless steel kettle and cover amply with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, discarding the liquid. Return the lemon slices to the kettle and cover with 1 inch cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and cook, covered, at a lively simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the fruit is very tender and the liquid has reduced significantly. Remove the pan from the heat, cover tightly, and let rest overnight at room temperature.
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the marmalade later.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pears and their juice and discard the pears. Strain the juice well through a very fine mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids. Place the sugar in an 11 to 12 quart copper preserving pan or a wide stainless steel kettle. Gradually stir in the pear juice, fresh lemon juice, and cooked lemon slices and their liquid. Put the spices into a fine mesh stainless steel tea infuser with a firm latch and add it to the mixture, pressing down on it to be sure it is submerged.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cook at a rapid boil over high heat until the setting point is reached; this will take a minimum of 30 minutes, but may take longer depending upon your individual stove and pan. Initially, the mixture will bubble gently for several minutes; then, as more moisture cooks out of it and its sugar concentration increases, it will begin foaming. Do not stir at all during the initial bubbling; then, once it starts to foam, stir it gently every few minutes with a heatproof rubber spatula.
As it gets close to being done, stir it slowly every minute or two to prevent burning. The marmalade is ready for testing when its color darkens slightly and its bubbles become very small. To test the marmalade for doneness, remove it from the heat and carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of marmalade to one of your frozen spoons. It should look shiny, with tiny bubbles throughout. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the marmalade runs; if it does not run, and if its top layer has thickened to a jelly consistency, it is done. If it runs, cook it for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed. When the marmalade has finished cooking, turn off the heat but do not stir. Remove the tea infuser and use a stainless steel spoon to skim off any surface foam. Let the marmalade rest for 10 minutes off the heat, then fill 1 jar. Wait a few moments to see if the rinds begin floating to the top; if so, let the marmalade rest for another 5 minutes. If not, quickly pour the marmalade into the remaining jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. (Please see my previous post on preserves for Ms. Saunders instructions for processing).
This recipe yields approximately eight to nine 8-ounce jars.
Oatmeal Scones ( adapted from Cooks Illustrated )
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 375F. Spread the oats on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant; this will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 450F. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt , and spices. When the oats have cooled, place them in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 4 to 6 times. You don't want to grind them finely, just chop them up a little. (This step is optional if you like the texture of the whole oats in your scones ). Add the oats to the bowl of dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or rub it in with your fingertips. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal with a few bigger bits of butter still intact. In a small bowl, mix the milk, cream, egg and vanilla. Remove a tablespoon of this mixture to use for glazing the scones. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir together gently and quickly, adding the raisins once the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a round about 7 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges with a sharp knife and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops gently with the reserved egg cream mixture. (Be sure you use a heavy baking sheet as the high oven temperature can make the bottoms of the scones very dark. Double up your baking sheets if you have any doubts; it will prevent the dilemma of burning the undersides of the scones before they are completely baked). Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until golden brown and firm.
These scones have a lovely oat flavor and a tender buttery texture. You could customize them by replacing the raisins with another diced dried fruit, or with chocolate or cinnamon chips.
* Further to last week's post about the lemon tart recipe: I was re-arranging my cookbooks and came across a book by Michel Roux called "Eggs". I remembered reading that Marco Pierre White's lemon tart recipe was one he learned from the Roux brothers. I quickly flipped to the index and there it was: lemon tart. My instincts about this was recipe were correct. Mr. Roux's recipe calls for a smaller diameter and deeper tart ring but almost twice as many eggs and more cream. His method of mixing the ingredients is slightly different as well. I am continually fascinated by how recipes evolve and I will attempt to find the best to share on this site.