In the greenhouse the tomatoes are coming on, and the Marmande* shown above will be the first to be ready. As I pinch out side shoots and tie in new growth, so that unmistakable tomato leaf smell is released. If you want a perfume that recreates that fragrance - and makes it more complex - try La Feuille by Miller Harris.
*Grown from the seed of a supermarket tomato we ate. The plant sat on the kitchen windowsill for a couple of years during which it flowered but didn't fruit. I moved it out to the greenhouse a few weeks ago, repotted it, and waited to see what it would do - 'vigorous' is the best description now!
Over on Instagram I asked a question about the correct spelling of this variety. Daniel's Run Heirloom Tomatoes kindly answered me and said that the full name is Rouge de Marmande, and it dates from 1925, though I read that there is also a more recent introduction called 'Marmonde' which is what my Waitrose ones were labelled as. Whatever its origin, it's a good tomato.
The marmalade is going down a treat, and not just in the conventional manner on toast. Sarah Randell's book gives suggestions for savoury uses, as I mentioned, and so far I can recommend the marmalade-glazed chipolatas. This evening we tried Lindsey Bareham's sausage pasta with marmalade tomato sauce (click here for the recipe if you're a Times subscriber), and it was superb: so rich and flavourful and perfect for a wintery evening. Improvise by browning the sausages, adding onion, red wine, stock, and a tin of tomatoes, and let it all reduce in a shallow pan before putting in a couple of dessertspoonfuls of good marmalade (that's for 2 people). It would be even better with mashed potato, but the pasta version makes it a quick and easy dish to which the marmalade adds a slight sweetness and tang rather than an overpowering note of the breakfast table. Even Paddington would approve, I feel.
My marmalade is done, and it is certainly the best batch I've ever made - the set perfect, the distribution of peel even, the taste well balanced - so all credit to Sarah Randell's recipe. As to yield, 1kg of oranges has given me enough to fill 3 of the 1/2 litre Le Parfait jars you see above, 2 smaller ones, and 2 standard jam jars.
I like a recipe which begins "Turn on the radio," and that's where you start with the Classic Seville Orange Marmalade from Sarah Randell's excellent book for which I did all the preparation today. The book doesn't just tell you how to make marmalade, though its instructions are detailed and clear, it also includes a great selection of recipes for both savoury and sweet dishes in which marmalade is an ingredient, so if you find you struggle to get through your annual batch on toast, this 'bittersweet cookbook' could help you make the most of it.
I made it with almonds and I'm very pleased with the result (it yielded about 300g., by the way). It's much stiffer than Nutella, more grainy, more chocolate-y, and less sweet - wholesome, darker and richer, I'd say.You must keep it in the fridge and use it within a week, but I doubt that will be hard. Very much worth a try.
Kay of the Bakery Bears podcast made it in her last episode, and that was what prompted me to give it a try. Kay uses ground allspice instead of the whole berries the recipe specifies; we had the whole spice, but can the quantity given - 3oz/75g - be correct? I used the contents of a 30g. jar tied in muslin, and that seems to have imparted sufficient flavour to the mixture, and Delia's damson chutney uses only 1oz/25g to a larger quantity of fruit, so go carefully if you're making it.
"Even now, simple things take me by surprise. Langoustines, split in half and grilled, their shells glistening, their juices mixed with nothing more than butter and the chopped needles of a few sprigs of rosemary, did that today. Eaten outside, at the garden table, a little feast of shells to crack and suck, snowy flesh to chew, buttery, salty fingers to lick and the smoky, resinous scent of warm rosemary."
Put the rice in a sieve and pour boiling water over it, then let the cold tap run through it until the water runs clear. Leave to drain well.
Bring 2 cups of water to the boil with a little salt to taste. Add the drained rice, bring it to the boil and let it boil vigorously for 2 minutes. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer very gently for 20 minutes (I use a small Le Creuset casserole and put it in the Aga's simmering oven, but a slow hob would do fine). When the time is up the rice should be thoroughly cooked with little dimples all over its surface, and all the water will have been absorbed. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Claudia Roden gives variations involving adding melted butter or oil, but I leave my rice unenriched - it will be quite 'dry' and the grains fairly separate, so if you want something stickier this won't be for you, but it is a good method. The quantities above will serve 4-5 people.
I've talked about this roasted tomato sauce before, but it's worth repeating for anyone who has missed it as it's so easy and versatile.
Above is a large roasting tin filled with tomatoes of different kinds (or the same - whatever you happen to have), red peppers, garlic, thyme, olive oil, seasoning, perhaps a little sugar if you doubt the tomatoes' sweetness, and some flakes of dried chilli if you're so inclined. Put it in a hot oven for about 40 minutes (it should have browned, and the liquid reduced nicely) then use it as it comes, blend it, or put it though a mouli to remove skins and seeds.
Serve it with gnocchi or pasta, with or without meatballs, on pizza, in aubergine parmigiana, ratatouille, as the basis for tomato and mozzarella risotto ....