Last week was a tumultuous time in The Mother-in-Law’s House. On Wednesday, The Husband and I had a flaming barney just before he left for work, which crescendoed in my almost throwing his lunch at him in the hallway. Luckily for The Husband – and the falafel within his lunch bag – the Jewish wife gene kicked in and I surreptitiously sneaked the lunch into his work bag. I couldn’t bare the thought of him not eating all day, which irritated me enormously, so I consoled myself with the notion that there was also a Jewish refugee gene at play – that I’d have been left mortified seeing food wasted, had I struck The Husband on the temple with said lunch.
The following evening, whilst doing that typical parent thing over dinner of walking around and eating the children’s leftovers and doing things like tidying stuff away all at the same time, I choked on a sesame seed. This, it appeared, was an optimum time for The Mother-in-Law – in full view of The Husband – to beat me on the back in a manner that, at first, would have appeared to be a helpful pat, but was indeed assault disguised. What had I done to deserved this?! I didn’t actually throw the falafel at her son.
Channeling the spirit of some lone WI member, I chose to make jam and not war the next day. I bought a catering-sized box of citrus fruit that included Seville oranges, blood oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, and then set about making seven thousand jars of marmalade. It took me almost two days because there was just so much fruit and the AGA couldn’t cope with the pressure.
On Saturday night, The Psychotherapist Boyfriend (a professional marmalade maker and nosher) walked in just as I was screwing down the last lid. He took one look at the mismatched army of jars and proclaimed that, “It won’t set”. And he was right; I’d managed to ruin a year’s supply of marmalade.
It was probably upon seeing my contorted face – misshapen by a) the pain of failing to get the simple science right, b) the awful realisation of having to remake it all on my own, and c) the anxiety that if I didn’t save this marmalade I’d have to make ten million fruit cakes (and that was a terrifying thought) – that spurred on The Husband, The Mother-in-Law and The Lodgers to get me through the wee hours, and this catastrophic culinary episode. Yes, the whole house came to my rescue.
Deep into the night – using both the AGA and The Lodger’s stove in the basement – we emptied jar-after-jar of golden liquid, stirred in more sugar and lemon juice, and carefully carried shissels full of molten lava up and down the stairs. By 2am, we had refilled every jar with a thick, gooey marmalade before heading to bed warmed by the knowledge that the jam shelf was bursting once again to see The Mother-in-Law’s House through to next winter.
Unable to face more extreme jam-making, I still had lots more fruit to deal with. So the limes added tang to a batch of deliriously good chocolate truffles and the blood oranges were squeezed into a seriously addictive curd.
Super-easy to make, and free from dairy (fruit curds are typically made with butter) and refined sugars, this Blood Orange Curd will sit in your fridge quietly whispering to you, “Eat me. Eat me NOW”. Really, it’s that good.
Will fill a small 227g jam jar
150ml blood orange juice (about 3-4 blood oranges)*
4 tablespoons honey
4 large free-range organic egg yolks
4 tablespoons odourless coconut oil (you could use unsalted butter if you like)
Firstly wash, dry and sterilise your jar. (I do this is the oven but don’t heat the lid!)
Squeeze your oranges, removing any pips or pith from the juice.
Pour the juice into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes and reduce until you have about 4 tablespoons of concentrated liquid. Remove from heat.
Beat together the egg yolks and honey in a small, heatproof bowl.
Now vigorously whisk the juice into the yolk and honey mixture, adding little by little so it doesn’t curdle.
Clean the saucepan and pour in a couple of inches of cold water.
Place the bowl of curd mix on top of the pan and return to the heat.
Bring the water to a simmer, stirring the mixture continuously until it thickens and coats a spoon.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the coconut oil a little at a time. For a thicker curd, whisk more gently.
Pour into the sterilised jar and cover. Leave to cool before refrigerating. Your Blood Orange Curd will keep in the fridge for a week.
Serving suggestion: If you can resist eating this straight from the jar, it’s pretty awesome on toast, swirled into yoghurt, and as a topping for cakes.
*You could make any sort of curd using this recipe. I’ve made lemon, Seville orange, and mango. Just experiment!