Creating seasonal recipes that are inspired by my passion for local, organic foods

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Candied orange peel

Chocolate dipped candied orange peelsOver on Crunchy Chicken I'm describing how I'm turning some of my food scraps into delectable foods. Candied orange peels are no different.

You can modify this recipe to make more or less.

Peels from 5 medium size organic oranges
4 cups granulated sugar
2.5 cups water
6 oz milk chocolate (for dipping, if desired)

The process is fairly easy.

Step 1. Scrape the inside of the orange peels to remove the residual orange from the pith. If the pith is really thick, scrape it out with a vegetable peeler or a knife.

Step 1

Step 2. Cut the peels into strips about 1/4" in width, removing the parts where the stem and the orange end are and any parts that don't look good.

Step 2

Step 3. Put the strips into a medium sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil to blanch the peels. This helps remove the bitterness of the pith. Repeat the blanching process one more time (if you removed a lot of the pith) or two more times if you left a lot of the pith on (like I did).

Step 3

Step 4. Drain the peels and rinse with cold water. In the same saucepan add the water and sugar and bring to a boil. It will start to boil somewhere around 210 degrees F.

Step 4

Step 5. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, add the peels and bring the temperature back up to boiling. Simmer the peels on medium low until they become translucent. Depending on how much pith is on the peel this will take anywhere from 1/2 an hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes (this is how long it took mine).

Step 5

Step 6. When the peels are looking translucent, use a pair of tongs and remove them from the pot, placing them on a rack set over a cookie sheet to catch the drips. If you want you can roll the freshly removed strips in additional sugar but I found this to be a huge mess.

[You can strain the sugar syrup and use it as a simple syrup in a variety of recipes - just make sure you refrigerate it.]

Step 6

Step 7. Leave the peels out to dry. If you want to speed things up you can put the whole cookie tray/rack combo in the oven at 250 degrees F for an hour or two.

Step 8. If you want to dip the strips in chocolate, melt the milk chocolate over a double boiler and dip, laying the strips down on parchment paper to dry.

Step 8

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Handmade butter

Thought you couldn't make butter by hand without a churn or some sort of fancy equipment? Well, I'm here to tell ya that all you need is a little cream (heavy whipping cream), a Mason jar and lid and two hands. It will take you about 30 minutes (probably less if you don't stop to take pictures).

Let the shaking begin!

1. Collect all the necessary equipment. I highly recommend trying to find local, organic cream as the quality is much better, but you can use whatever you have on hand if need be. I'm using a pint of heavy whipping cream here and a quart jar.

Step 1

2. Leave the cream out on the counter for a while (the longer the cream sours, the less sweet the butter will be). Once the cream is warmed up to about 60 degrees then pour it into the Mason jar.

Step 2

3. Put on the lid and start shaking it. After about two minutes you'll see a nice lightly whipped cream.

Step 3

4. After about four minutes it will look like thick, whipped cream. Resist the temptation to empty the entire Mason jar into you mouth at this point. But do breathe in the heavenly, sweet scent.

Step 4

5. After about nine minutes of shaking, the cream will start to separate from the sides of the glass. Feel free to take a break.

Step 5

6. After about fourteen minutes, the whey starts separating from the butter.

Step 6

7. After about sixteen minutes, the curd is more noticeable and there's a lot more whey.

Step 7

8. At this point you can start pouring the buttermilk off. Continue shaking for a few minutes until your butter has solidified a bit more and until you aren't getting anymore buttermilk off of it.

Step 8

9. Pour out the butter into a bowl. Doesn't this look like ice cream?

Step 9

10. Pour cold water over the butter and start "massaging" the butter with a spatula to rinse the rest of the buttermilk out. Continue replacing the water until the water stays clear. Drain.

Step 10

Mold your butter into butter molds or into ramekins. You will also end up with a scant cup of buttermilk (depending on how "juicy" your cream is).

Butter and buttermilk

Voila! Butter. In less than thirty minutes.