blood orange and mandarinquat marmalade.

there’s been lots of marmalde making in my kitchen since my first attempt at kumquat marmalde. although, admittedly, most of it happened in the month of march. (this goes to show you how behind i am in getting around to posting things here!) after the blood orange and vanilla marmalade from my previous post, i’ve made a batch of mandarinquat and meyer lemon marmalade, as well as a meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade. the recipe for these was again based on the small batch kumquat marmalade and the small batch blood orange marmalade recipes from food in jars. the one thing i played around with the most was the sugar content.

mandarinquat and meyer lemon marmalade in progress…

the mandarinquat and meyer lemon marmalade turned out rather good. one of my jars didn’t seal properly during the waterbath canning process, so i’ve already had plenty of time to enjoy it. it sounds weird, but my friend s and i tried it on a tagalong cookie (yes, that girl scout cookie with peanut butter and chocolate) and it was a rather delightful treat once you got the proportion right. (as a side note – i’ve never been fond of the chocolate and orange combination, so i’m rather surprised that i liked it this way.)

mandarinquat and meyer lemon marmalade…done!

the meyer lemon and vanilla marmalde looks great. it tasted pretty good before i canned them. i really held back on the sugar so it’s only slightly sweet, with the tartness and bitterness of the lemons being highlighted. i have to be careful though because it needs the sugar to get to the right temperature during the cooking process.

the purchase of mandarinquats inspired the aforementioned mandarinquat and meyer lemon marmalade, but since i still had more of it, as well as some blood oranges lying around, my sister mentioned a mandarinquat and blood orange marmalade. at first, i kind of balked at the idea (after all, i was getting kinda tired making marmalades – all that careful slicing!), but the bottom line was if i didn’t can the mandarinquats, they would go to waste. i definitely had enough fruit to try it out, so i did.

blood orange and mandarinquat marmalade bubbling away…

i based the recipe on the ones i’ve tried to date. i started with half a pound of mandarinquats, and half a pound of blood oranges. the blood oranges i had around were rather small, so the prep took a little longer and was a little labor intensive. for the mandarinquats, i sliced off the top, and then continued to slice thinly. mandarinquats have a lot of seeds, so it took a little bit of time to get all of them out of the fruit to finish slicing. i reserved all of the seeds. for the blood oranges, i sliced off the top and the bottom, and then sliced in half. if there were any pithy cores, i removed them and set them aside with the mandarinquat seeds. once done, i bundled up the seeds and cores in some cheesecloth, and placed that bundle in the bowl with the fruit, and poured 2 cups water into it. i covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and placed the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours.

to cook, i placed the contents of the bowl into a stainless steel pot, and then added another cup of water, and 1 and 3/4 cup sugar. at first i heated the mixture slowly until the sugar dissolved, and then cranked it up. i let the mixture bubble for about 20 minutes or so, and removed any of the foam forming at the top.

once it passed the plate test, i ladled them into 3 half pint jars, cleaned the rims, and secured the lids. the jars were processed in a waterbath for 10 minutes, and removed from the waterbath onto the counter to rest undisturbed.

blood orange and mandarinquat marmalade…done!

i did taste the mixture before canning them, and i was beyond pleased with the results. i loved the flavor, sweet and tart with a zing of bitterness. soaking the fruit in water for a few hours helps preserve the gorgeous colors of the blood oranges, and yields a very visually appealing marmalade. by reducing the amount of water that the fruit sits in from 3 cups to 2, and adding the last cup just before cooking, i noticed a difference in the bitterness from the other recipes. i’m thinking of adopting this method in the future.

blood orange and mandarinquat marmalade in a weck jar. i love weck jars!

here’s the recipe, again heavily inspired by the small batch kumquat marmalade and small batch blood orange marmalade recipes from food in jars.

blood orange & mandarinquat marmalade

1/2 lb. blood oranges

1/2 lb. mandarinquats

3 cups water

1 3/4 cup granulated sugar

first, slice the fruit. my mandarinquats were small, so i just trimmed the ends, and sliced as they were, carefully removing the seeds and setting them aside. for the blood oranges, i sliced off the top and bottom, then in half from top to bottom, and then removed the pithy cores and any visible seeds. i set those aside with the mandarinquat seeds, and thinly sliced the blood orange. place all the fruit in a bowl, along with 2 cups water and a cheesecloth bundle with the seeds and pith. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight.

when you’re ready to cook, prep your jars. place contents of bowl into a non reactive pot and add the remaining 1 cup water and the 1 3/4 cup sugar. set over low heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, and then crank it up. you’ll let it cook about 15 to 20 minutes. skim off any of the foam/ scum that rises to the top during the cooking process. check the temperature – once you hit 220F or the jam passes the plate test, it’s ready to be ladled into the prepared jars for the waterbath process. you’ll want too process for 10 to 12 minutes.

once you take the jars out of the waterbath, leave them undisturbed for a few hours, and then check the seals. if any of them are compromised, place jar in the fridge and consume as soon as possible.

blood orange and vanilla marmalade.

oh dear! it’s been so long since i’ve updated this blog…summer is already in full swing. where does the time go? it’s time to play catch up.

it’s been quite a while since i made the kumquat marmalade – and with my first attempt at making jam and canning heading in the direction of being a success, i got down to the true desire of the past winter season – blood oranges. once i discovered them years and years ago, i’ve adored them. it’s one of those fruits i totally love and would love to have all year long, but it’s not meant to be. so this year, i’m definitely trying to preserve some so i can enjoy it until the next season comes around. since the small batch recipe for blood orange marmalade from food in jars seemed so easy, i gave it a go.

my first attempt at blood orange marmalade…

and it turned out rather well. the marmalade is an absolutely gorgeous color – the deep red from the fruit – unlike any other blood orange jam or marmalade i’ve purchased to date. it was a little too sweet for my taste buds, and a little too bitter, but i think that’s because i left it soaking too long and i cut the slices rather thin. it’s still totally edible though, and i’ve enjoyed it on some toasted french baguette with some peanut butter, some homemade buttermilk scones, and even as a croissant filling (i’ll get to that in a future post). it’s totally gratifying to eat a jam that i’ve made on my own. i still think i overcooked it a little, but the stiffness of the marmalade is not nearly as prominent as it was with the kumquat marmalade.

with my second attempt at canning showing signs of improvement, i set out to make a variation on the blood orange marmalade, one spiked with a touch of vanilla. one of the main reasons for this was my purchase from when i made my own vanilla extract a few months back. i still have about half the package of vanilla beans left, and while they have a decent shelf life, it definitely doesn’t hurt to use them.

to make the blood orange and vanilla marmalade, i just made a slight adjustment to the recipe that i first tried from food in jars. other than that, i followed the instructions. i reduced the amount of sugar by a 1/4 cup, and added a vanilla bean. i split the bean lengthwise, gently scraped off the vanilla bean paste from within, and put that and the pod in with the blood orange slices, sugar, and water to cook down.

the result was something i was happy with – it was definitely sweet enough and you still get the lovely taste of the blood orange with the slight bitterness that you always get in marmalade. this is definitely a marmalade i can wrap my hands around. i’ve made several batches already, and this past spring i served it along with some scones that i had made from scratch to a couple of friends who came over for tea. i had hoped that they would like it, and they did! more than the store bought mandarinquat and yuzu jam that i had also put out for the tea. i sent them home each with a small jar of the same marmalade, canned in adorable weck jars.

next season, i’m thinking of cutting down the sugar just a touch more so that the flavor of the blood oranges shine a bit more – but that’s a bit of a tricky business.

here’s the recipe. heavily inspired by the small batch blood orange marmalade recipe from food in jars.

blood orange with vanilla bean marmalade

yields about 3 half pints

1 lb. blood oranges

3 cups water

2 1/4 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean (or more if you want a stronger vanilla presence)

prep your jars for the canning process.

first, prep the blood oranges. cut off the top and the bottom, and then cut in half, top to bottom. remove the core and any seeds, but don’t throw them out! reserve on the side. then cut each half again so you have quarters. then slice the oranges, as thinly as possible, and place into a bowl.

next, take all the pithy cores, and any seeds that you have, and bundle them up in some cheesecloth. make sure you wrap them up tight so nothing can get out.

after that, place the cheesecloth bundle in the bowl with the sliced oranges, and then cover with 3 cups water. cover with some pastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

when you are ready to cook your marmalade, start preparing your jars. place the contents of the bowl into a non-reactive pot, along with 2 and 1/4 cup sugar. take the vanilla bean, split it lenghtwise, and scrape out all the lovely paste. place the bean pod & paste in the pot with the fruit, sugar, and water. cook slowly until the sugar dissolves, then you can crank it up a little. you want the water to reduce down to about half of what you started with, about 20 minutes.

once your mixture reaches 220F, do the cold plate test. if it’s still runny, cook a little longer, but if a thin skin sets up and wrinkles, it’s good. take it off the heat, ladle into your prepared jars, and then clean off the rims. leave at least 1/4 in headspace, secure lids, and then process in a waterbath for about 10 minutes. make sure it’s 10 minutes from the time it gets boiling.

once done processing, remove the jars from the waterbath and set on towels. leave them undisturbed. after about an hour or so, check the lids to make sure they are sealed properly. if not, the jar should be placed in the refrigerator and the contents should be consumed as soon as possible.

lemon shrub.

for my birthday this year, my friend y gave me a sodastream – the genesis model. i’d had my eye on a sodastream ever since it came out – mainly because before it’s introduction i came across a post about sparkling green tea to make at home.

i was unbelievably excited about the gift – mainly because in the past few years i’ve developed quite an affinity to sparkling water, and i was getting tired of buying it all the time. but with it came the ability to make my own soda flavors. so one of the first things i tried was a matcha sparkling water, and also my own ginger ale. after that, i made my own blood orange syrup. out of the three, the blood orange was my favorite.

about a week ago, i was talking to one of my co-workers about the sodastream and making your own flavors instead of buying the ones produced by sodastream. during that conversation, the topic of drinking vinegars (also known was shrubs) came up. shrubs can be made with just about any fruit or fruit juice. it’s used in cocktail making, but why not as a flavor for soda? there’s a great article on serious eats about making your own shrub syrups.

last night, i decided to make a lemon shrub, using the cold pressed method. citrus juice is better left uncooked. i had some meyer lemons lying around and also regular lemons, so i squeezed them to get one cup of juice. into a glass bowl it went along with one cup of sugar. i stirred it every so often to get the sugar to dissolve. once dissolved, i had a lovely, lemony syrup. the usual ratio of fruit (or juice) to sugar to vinegar is 1:1:1. however, considering that lemons are generally more tart than sweet, i opted to cut the vinegar by half, so i only added a half cup of apple cider vinegar.

this yielded something better than i had imagined. i put a few spoonfuls of this shrub and topped it off with some freshly made sparkling water. it was light, refreshing, with just a hint of sweetness. i’m sure i’ll be making this one all year long.


my first attempt at putting up: kumquat marmalade.

when i started making yogurt at home, i began wondering how i could change  up the flavor of the yogurt so that i wasn’t eating the same yogurt day in and day out. fresh fruit would be one way, but i’m not always good about having fresh fruit around. then i thought that maybe a spoonful of jam would work. if i had at least 2 or 3 different kinds around, i would have a decent variety of flavoring agents for my yogurt.

so i bought this book. it had pretty good reviews on amazon and i wanted something relatively easy that would allow me to get a hang of the basics but with a somewhat modern twist. once it arrived i ogled the book – but of course, never got around to making anything. my parents have a white peach tree and i had hoped to try a recipe out of the book using the white peaches from their yard. but by the time i asked, the tree was done for the season. so it kind of got pushed to the back burner.

but every time i looked at the book in my pile of cookbooks, the urge to make a jam was there. and even though it seemed daunting, i knew that i wanted to. especially after i made the vanilla extract for the holidays. i read squid ink (the la weekly food blog) on a regular basis and i came across this post. which led me to this recipe for kumquat marmalade from food in jars. the best thing about it was that it was small batch. i couldn’t wait to try it. the recipe said labor intensive, but i figured, i’d give it a try.

kumquat is one fruit that my parents don’t have in their yard. the saturday over president’s day weekend, i was going to meet up with some friends in anaheim, so i decided to get an early start and hit up the soco farmer’s market that was sometimes mentioned on stick a fork in it (the oc weekly food blog). it’s held every saturday morning in the parking of the soco collection and the oc mart mix. (which also allowed me to pop into portola coffee lab before meeting up with  my friends!) it’s a very small farmer’s market (it’s only one small portion of the torrance farmer’s market which is the one i usually go to) and the selection is pretty limited. but the quality of the produce available is still great. i picked up about a pound of kumquats (to make the marmalade) as well as sweet limes, blood oranges, and beets.

i didn’t get to it as fast as i had hoped, but i did get around to trying out the recipe. it is REALLY energy and labor intensive. if my sister didn’t help me with prepping the kumquats, it would have taken a little bit longer. since i’m slow, it took me a good portion of the day from start to finish.

finally ready to cook!

i started with just over a pound of kumquats, and followed the recipe exactly – 1.5 cups sugar and 2 cups water. the only thing that i had difficulty with was the time. it took a little longer than i thought it would, and even though i had 2 thermometers, i still had difficulty reaching the desired temperature of 220F even though i had surpassed the minimum 212F. good thing i had stuck in a saucer in the freezer so i could do the plate test. it passed the plate test with flying colors! the down side of the thermometer fiasco was the fact that i think i overcooked the jam. now that it’s cooled, it’s pretty stiff!

ready to go on the stove!

the bundle in the pot are the seeds and the inner membranes of the kumquats wrapped in cheesecloth. these contain the natural pectin needed for the marmalade to set.

bubbling away...

i actually did the waterbath canning process and so my finished marmalade can be stored away for a bit. with the exception of the slight stiffness to the marmalade, i’m pretty happy with the results. it’s not too sweet, and you still get the flavor of the kumquats and the slight bitterness it has when you eat the kumquat fresh.

all done! cooling down.

the recipe yielded 2 half pint jars. and since i had just over a pound of kumquats when i started, i had just a little that didn’t fit in the jars that i can enjoy right away. not that i couldn’t pop open one of the jars i made, but at least i can savor it a little bit and enjoy the taste of kumquats when i can’t find fresh ones. and as an aside i’m so loving these ball jars i found out at target!

caramelized cauliflower.

when i was a kid, i wasn’t that fond of cauliflower. i didn’t hate it though. but in the beginning, my mom always made it the same way – boiled and then we ate it with this mayo-shoyu (soy sauce) dip that almost every japanese family i know makes. another attempt was in a vinegar based salad, and that didn’t go over well with me at the time. so depending on how it was prepared, i would avoid it. that was until the day she made this salad which consisted of cauliflower, broccoli, and fake crab meat. and she never made that awful vinegar dressed cauliflower again.

now, as an adult, i hardly ever bought cauliflower. it seemed like the only time i would make anything with cauliflower was if someone gave me some, or i had a real hankering for that cauliflower and broccoli salad. then one day i had the fried cauliflower at open sesame, and every so often i would make it at home.

lately, i’ve been on this kick of roasting vegetables. so one day, not too long ago, i tried it with the cauliflower. it’s so simple and so tasty. but, unless i bought the florets, i have to admit i was hesitant to buy the whole crown because i would have to “dismantle” the crown into florets. then i discovered this recipe on foodily. (food, i love you) i just made it as a side dish for dinner a couple of nights ago, and i couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.

first, no dismantling! just a few knife moves and you’re ready go. slice, toss with olive oil and salt, lay on a cookie sheet and into the oven it goes. as i was slicing, i wondered why i had never thought of doing that before. and i was struck by the beauty of a sliced cauliflower.

partially sliced crown of cauliflower

i made quick work of slicing the cauliflower, then put all of the pieces in a large bowl with some olive oil. and instead of kosher salt or sea salt, i opted to use trader joe’s smoked sea salt and it turned out great.

slices of cauliflower waiting for olive oil and salt

i love this recipe! not only for its ease of prepping and cooking, but it is so tasty, too.

caramelized cauliflower is served!

i absolutely love the new foodie pak from hipstamatic. i took a picture using it.

picture using hipstamatic

try the recipe! so easy and so tasty.

dineLA winter 2012: craft los angeles.

i thought that i might not be hitting any of the restaurants during dineLA‘s winter 2012 restuarant week. resaurant week is an awesome way to have prix fixe meals around the city and discovering new restaurants, trying places that are new to me, and revisiting some old favorites. sometimes the prix fixe prices aren’t as great as you think they are (in comparison to the prices of the same dishes a la carte) but nevertheless, it’s a pretty cool deal.

on a whim, my sister (aka liz) and i decided we’d go to at least one, and decided to go to craft in century city. we asked our friend l if she wanted to join us. craft is tom colicchio‘s los angeles outpost of his new york restaurant. there are so many menus to look at but i tried to look at those of places i knew i liked, or places i had been wanting to try. craft had been on my list for a while, and i’d been somewhat hesitant based on some things i had heard. but this time the menu looked pretty good, and i think it was pretty much one of the best restaurant week dinners i have had thus far, for several reasons.

the first was the service. we were still a bit away from the door, but one of the hostesses opened the door for us and warmly greeted us. we were a few minutes late arriving for our reservation, but our table wasn’t ready yet, so we chose a couch in the bar section to wait. a server quickly greeted us and asked if we wanted anything while waiting for our table. and she wasn’t the first. we got checked on every few minutes, and the manager even came to apologize for the fact that we had to wait for a table. a few minutes later, a server came out with napkins and fried brussels sprouts leaves, compiments of the house, for our wait. the warm and friendly service continued as we made our way through the bar and the dining room to our table and also during the course of our meal. my iced tea was always kept fresh, and our water glasses never got empty. we also got an amuse bouche, a little sweet finish to end our meal, and even some house made granola for breakfast the next day. it’s little things like that that i find impressive.

the second was the overall ambience of the restaurant. it’s in a nice neighborhood, so it definitely has an expensive feel to it, and with all the wood and rich browns in the decor, combined with the touch of “bling”, it just felt so warm, inviting, and cozy.

last, the food. i don’t know what i was expecting but the food overall was pretty good. whenever it comes to restaurant week menus, it’s choose one starter, choose and entree, and then choose a dessert. at craft, we only had to choose an entree, because we would be getting all of the starters to share.

first off, we were given the fried brussels sprout leaves while we were still waiting in the bar area. i’m totally into brussels sprouts these days so i loved it! my sister liked it, and our friend l, who had never had them before, liked it as well.

crispy brussels sprout leaves

next was our amuse bouche. a small cup of potato leek soup good. creamy, not too salty, and a great way to start our meal.

amuse bouche - potato leek soup

the starters came out next. the first was the laughing bird shrimp with a fennel salad and blood orange vinegarette. it tasted good, the shrimp wasn’t overcooked, and the fennel still had a great crunchy texture to it. out of the three starters, this was my favorite, followed by the winter vegetable salad. i couldn’t make out everything in the salad, but there was definitely some kale, ramps, and swiss chard. candied walnuts and gorgonzola cheese crumbles rounded out the salad. my only complaint here was that i wish it was dressed a little bit more.

laughing bird shrimp starter

winter vegetable salad

our last starter was the chicken liver mousse. it was tasty, but it wasn’t really my thing.

chicken liver mousse

for our entrees, my sister chose the short rib ravioli. it was a touch salty for my taste, and as soon as i tasted it, i got the horseradish note in the ravioli. needless to say it wasn’t a favorite with my sister, who doesn’t like horseradish at all. the ravioli was accompanied by roasted vegetables that included purple cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radish, and delicata squash. l chose the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin served over polenta and greens. i picked the skate served over a parsnip puree and greens. out of the three entrees, the skate was my favorite!

short rib ravioli

roasted vegetables

bacon wrapped pork tenderloin

skate wing

dessert was a meyer lemon pudding with citrus and we also got rum raisin ice cream and vanilla ice cream. the pudding itself was more like a fluffy cake – light and airy. awesome with the orange and blood orange supremes.

meyer lemon pudding

vanilla bean ice cream & rum raisin ice cream

our sweet finish was a cashew toffee popcorn and chocolate hazelnut cookies. the cookies were ok, but the popcorn was awesome! and i am not that crazy about popcorn to begin with.

cashew toffee popcorn & chocolate hazelnut cookies

we were given little bags of house made granola to take home. i took it to work and it was my snack for several days. i couldn’t figure out everything that was in there, but i’m pretty certain it contained oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, and cinnamon. i really liked it though, and want to try and create my own version of it one of these days.

my one criticism of the evening was where we sat in the dining room. one place i think isn’t a great table to sit at is the one by the doors that lead to the kitchen. it wasn’t like we were sitting right next to it, but it was close enough that you can see the kitchen when the doors are opened. other than that it was a great meal! and since we self parked and got validation, parking was free.

craft los angeles * 10100 constellation blvd. * los angeles, ca 90067

something homemade for the holidays – vanilla extract.

years ago i toyed with the idea of making some infused oils and vinegars to give away as gifts during the holidays. like many of my ideas back then, it was an idea that was not well thought out nor did i leave myself a lot of time to execute the idea, so it never came to pass.

a few months back i got on a big baking kick, and was using vanilla extract left and right. i kept thinking i needed to go to costco to get myself a bottle, but never got around to it. then i remembered that i had read an article some time before about how easy it was to make your own vanilla extract at home. you just needed to have a little bit of time.

so i went back online to do some research about making your own vanilla extract. the recipe was easier than i remembered. some vanilla beans, vodka (or any grain alcohol so long as it’s 40% ABV) and a vessel. and of course, time. my only crux was the vanilla beans. it’s not the most economical thing to buy at the market – it’s usually about 2 to 3 pods in one jar for about $10 (or more!) and sometimes they look worse for the wear. an easy project to undertake, but could be just as costly, if not more, as buying some already made extract at the market.

vanilla beans from

but then i discovered they specialize in vanilla beans and carry about 6 to 7 varieties of vanilla beans at any given time. they sell them singularly (1, 3, 5, and 10 beans) as well as in half pound and 1 pound bulk packs. based on some information i read on what variety of vanilla bean is good for different culinary applications, i opted to go for the bourbon vanilla beans to make the extract. i figured, if i was going to make some, then not only was i going to make some for myself, but a few extra to give away as gifts during the holidays. so i did a rough count and decided to make 10 bottles of extract, and so i purchased the half pound bulk pack (which contains 50 to 60 pods). even though it was sent first class postal, it arrived so quickly! the beans were vacuum sealed and looked better than any of the beans i had seen in the spice jars at the market. after the beans arrived i went to the container store for some bottles, and then to total wine and more for some vodka. i went home with two big bottles of smirnoff (and a couple of other things) and the girl that rang me up clearly thought i was having some kind of a big blowout party. ha ha!!

the total time spent wasn’t even an hour. i boiled some water to pour into the bottles in order to sanitize them. while boiling the water, i scored each vanilla bean lenghtwise. poured the hot water into the bottles, and let them sit for a few minutes. once the hot water was poured out of the bottles, i added three pods to each bottle, followed up by a cup (8 fluid ounces) of vodka. seal and done! it sits in a cool, dark area for 8 weeks before it’s ready to be used. the occasional gentle shaking of the bottle will help get it going. that’s the time factor.

all done! now the waiting...

i even broke down the costs of the ingredients and the bottles to see if it was more cost efficient than buying a bottle at the store. here’s what it broke down to per bottle:

bottle from the container store – $3.24

vanilla beans – $2.04 (based on approximate qty of 50 pods in the 1/2 pound bulk)

vodka – $2.24

total cost – $7.52 + my labor and time per bottle. the labor and time actively spent to make the vanilla extract was pretty minimal. you can see the size comparison of the bottle i made and gave away next to the last bottle i bought at the store. the recipe i followed yields about 8 fluid ounces (about 240ml) and the last bottle i bought was 4 fluid ounces (about 120ml) and i think i paid $8.49 for it.

my vanilla extract vs. store bought

as you use it, you can keep topping it off with vodka, and swap out the beans to keep it going. once the vanilla beans are removed from your extract, you can let it dry and make your own vanilla sugar or vanilla fleur de sel should you choose to. for myself, i ended up making two of these bottles instead of one big bottle – one to use, and the other as a “stock pile” so i can break into that one when the first one needs to be replenished.

the recipe:

3 vanilla beans, scored lengthwise

1 cup (8 fluid ounces) vodka*

combine the vanilla beans with a vodka and seal tightly. let sit for 8 weeks, checking on it every week or two to shake gently. then it’s ready to use!

*i used vodka, but you can use gin or any other grain alcohol that’s 40% alcohol by volume.