Sunday, February 03, 2008

Blood Orange Curd

I was very excited on Friday to receive my first organic fruit and vegetable box from Abel and Cole. For £9 a week, I get a good seasonal selection of produce delivered by a very friendly driver on a day that is convenient. Abel and Cole tell you what to expect in your box each week and you can specify if there are particular items that you do not like (fennel, in my case, which last week was changed for alfalfa sprouts). My first box looked like this...

Nothing too unusual, although the Arran Victory potatoes have purple skins, but a good selection. Citrus fruits were to the fore, unsurprisingly, and the box contained both mandarins and blood oranges. Such gorgeous fruits these - so surprising. The orange exterior gives little away - except for a touch of rosy pink on one of them. But cut into them and you are in for a glorious surprise - just look at these beauties...

You'd almost be forgiven for mistaking these for ruby grapefruit. The flavour is an interesting one and, I think, goes to show how eating is a process involving all the senses. You are seeing a deep red colour in the glass and yet... it tastes of orange. It is somehow... unexpected. Rather than eat these as they were, I decided I'd like to use their juice to make something delicious. I toyed with the idea of a jelly to start with, but eventually settled on making this delicious blood orange curd. I just adore lemon curd - all eggy and buttery and tangy - spread liberally on white toast (never brown - all wrong), crumpets, pancakes or sandwiching together a lemony cake. I figured that orange curd would be pretty good too.

Making jams, jellies, chutneys and curds gives me a great sense of domestic bliss and achievement. I urge anyone who has never done so to start with making an orange or lemon curd. It is just so simple and yet so satisfying. And what is more, they make lovely gifts - just think how thrilled someone will be when you go round for dinner and take a homemade gift as well as the requisite bottle of wine.

Sterilising jars may sound like a whole lot of faff, but really it isn't in the slightest. All you do is fill the sink with very hot, soapy water and throw empty jam jars and lids in to soak. The labels will eventually float off with a little help. Give them a bit of a scrub and then rinse under hot water. Place them on a shelf in a low oven to dry out until you are ready to use them. Hardly any trouble in that, is there?

But what about all those funnels and preserving pans and wax disks? Don't you need a lot of equipment? Not really. If you are making jam on a big scale, then yes, some of this equipment will help. But not for a simple curd. I would suggest investing in pack of wax disks - these usually come from any cook shop in a packet along with celophane disks and tiny plastic bands. These just keep everything nice and hygenic and clean.

I based my recipe very loosely on Delia's recipe for lemon curd.Obviously oranges are a lot sweeter than lemons, so I used less sugar and added quite a bit of lemon juice to balance things out a little. The result is much sweeter than lemon curd (next time, I'd use even less sugar, I think) but is absolutely delicious and such a pretty colour. I could eat it straight from the jar... Actually, if the truth be known, I have been doing exactly that as I am out of both crumpets and white bread (...did I mention that curds simply HAVE to be eaten with white, not brown bread, in my book. You can slather them on brown bread if you really must, but do so at your own peril!). If you are short of ideas for using up your curd, may I suggest using it to sandwich together an orange-flavoured Victoria sponge or meringues or even stirring it through some plain yoghurt?

Blood Orange Curd
Fills four regular jam jars

3 blood oranges

1 large, juicy lemon

4 large eggs

10 oz golden caster sugar

8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature

1 dessertspoon cornflour

1. Finely zest two of the oranges and then squeeze the juice from all three oranges and the lemon.

2. Crack the eggs into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk the eggs a little.

3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the saucepan with all the other ingredients and place over a medium heat. Whisk with a balloon whisk for around 9 minutes, until thickened. Do not worry if it looks very unattractive during this stage. Mine looked as though the butter would never fully melt (I made the mistake of adding it rather cold) and meld with the rest, but it did. Just look how horrible it looked for a while...

4. Once the mixture has thickened, turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes, continuing to whisk. Remove from heat.

5. Remove jam jars from the oven and place on a tea towel. Pour the curd into the jars whilst they are still hot. Any spills will be caught by the tea towel. Top each jar with a wax disk and seal jars whilst still hot.

6. Once the jars are cool, label and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Notes - don't panic if the curd looks a little too liquidy in the jar. Once it has been in the fridge, it will firm up a little more.


Katie said...

Your orange curd looks delicious. Its nice to see a change from the usual lemon curd. I bet it would be wonderful on freshly baked scones.

Bellini Valli said...

Wouldn't this be fabulous Antonia on scones or between layers of fruit in a shortcake!!!! I love blood oranges and look forward to the season every year!!!

Antonia said...

Katie - I think it would be divine on scones. Why didn't I think of that?! I might just need to go and bake a batch right away...

Val - so good with scones and with shortcake too! I wish I had made more now. I've never really used blood oranges before but will now look out for them at this time of year.

neal whitehouse piper said...

thanks for a great recipe, i will have to try this one out

Rosie said...

That does look a great organic fruit & veg box and what value!!

Your orange curd looks delicious and gosh this on scones instead of jam for a cream tea would be perfect! Thank you for sharing this recipe :)

Rosie x

Emiline said...

How fabulous! I recently tried my first blood orange, and it was delicious. I had about 50 ideas in my head on what I could do with them.
I didn't think of a curd! I swear, someday I'm going to make preserves, jams, etc. I keep putting it off. So I always admire when people make their own preserves.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Blood oranges are spectacular, aren't they? Enjoy that fab-looking curd!

Antonia said...

Neal - welcome! Let me know how it turns out - I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.

Rosie - yes, I think the box is great value too. All this talk of scones has persuaded me to bake some to try with the curd.

Emiline - thank you for stopping by. The curd is so delicious and really easy to make - trust me, I don't make this sort of thing that often but was suprised how quick and easy it was. Do give preserve making a try - it is so satisfying too!

aforkfulofspaghetti - there are beautiful, aren't they? Almost seems a shame to eat them!

Pixie said...

I had my first taste of curd a few months ago, cranberry to be exact and loved it. Orange curd must taste amazing. Thanks for sharing. (and shall be making your chicken pesto dish 2nite- so looking forward to it!)

LisaRene said...

It's wonderful that you enjoy making your own curds, jams, jellies and chutney's. I have never attempted any of the above but you may have just motivated me to give it a try!

Antonia said...

Pixie - I bet cranberry curd was delicious! Yum. So glad you enjoyed the chicken pesto dish, by the way.

Lisarene - welcome! You should really give it a go - I made my first chutney last year and found it so satisfying and so much easier/quicker than I had anticipated. There's no stopping me now!

Heidi of Switzerland said...

Are you sure that you need the cornflour? Most recipes I have for curd don't have any! I'm going to be making this later this week anyway... ;)

I AM SO COOL IT IS RIDICULAS AND I KNOW I SPELT THAT WRONG BUT I COULDNT CARE LESS rguisfgjkdgfskfhj`hdsfhfiudftryufhbejnkmdutregvbhuijnl,hgdrsjnmhybgtcdexfsgtvybhukml,hygtfr said...

I am making this for a christmas present!