Mandarin and fennel salt, blood orange shrub, a simple cauliflower soup and snow cones – here are late winters best flavours. Bright, punchy and perfect to get us through freezing cold weekends just like this one!
It’s snowing like crazy here today! And the farm looks like one beautiful big snow globe. We woke this morning to a light dusting and it’s continued to come down all day – this means a few good things; sport all weekend has been cancelled, the roads are snowed in so we get to stay home by the fire all weekend and I get to play around in the kitchen for two whole days.
Having this unexpected quiet weekend also means I get some time to hang out here on my blog and so thought I’d share a few recipes we’ve been loving this week – especially the mandarin and fennel salt I’m sprinkling on everything. To be honest, none of these are recipes as such, more just quick serving suggestions that are packed with flavour and super easy to throw together. My kind of cooking.
We are in peak mandarin season here, and ar have some friends down the road who have couple of trees at their place that are groaning with fruit and, oh joy, are bringing them over by the bagful at the moment. Gosh they’re good – sweet super juicy and hardly a pip at all.
As well as gobbling them up as is, I’ve been playing around with a few mandarin-recipes too, and my current favourite thing is to dry the peel, grind it up and mixwith sea salt and toasted fennel or sugar and vanilla. Both combinations, spooned into cute jars make fantastic presents and pack serious flavour punch into all of the below dishes/recipes and many more that I haven’t thought of yet. Also very keen to try this mandarin and almond babka.
Dried mandarin peel
Peel mandarins, trying to pull away as much of the white pith as possible. Place on a tray and pop in the lowest possible oven for a few hours (I had mine at 70C) or leave near the fireplace or out in the sun for a few days. Basically you want the peel to be as dry as possible. At this point, transfer peel to a blender, spice grinder or your mortar and pestle and bash or blitz until a coarse powder. Stop in an airtight jar.
Mandarin and vanilla sugar
1 cup golden caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
3 tsp dried, ground mandarin peel
Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape seeds into a bowl with the sugar and mandarin peel. Mix well with your fingertips, rubbing the peel into the sugar. Store in an airtight container or jar.
Uses for mandarin and vanilla sugar;
- Sprinkled over a hot chocolate or chocolate mousse for a Jaffa situation
- When baking – add to the butter and sugar before creaming together for a madeira cake.
- Mixed with golden caster sugar and sprinkled over the top of shortbreads before baking.
Mandarin and fennel salt
1 cup sea salt flakes
2 tsp fennel, dry toasted in a frying pan
3 tsp dried, ground mandarin peel
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well together with your fingertips, rubbing the peel into the salt. Adjust to taste – maybe you want more mandarin or more salt?
Blood orange ‘snow cones’
The idea here is so simple but so so good (and not new to this blog – I did something similar a couple of years ago but with quince and pear poaching liquid!). Basically all you do is get yourself some snow, or shaved ice and divide between cones or cute glasses. Squeeze fresh juice over the top, sprinkle with icing sugar to taste, and, should you happen to have some handy, a little ground, dried mandarin peel!
A current favourite cake – Anja Dunk’s speedy apple cake which we had for afternoon tea on Friday and absoultely loved.
Blood Orange Shrub
Peel four blood oranges and squeeze juice into a jug. Place a bowl on an electric scale, pour in the juice and note how much it weighs, add the same weight of light sherry vinegar and caster sugar. Whisk well. Pack the peel into a jug or large jar, pour over the juice/vinegar/sugar mixture and seal. Shake well and keep in the fridge for up to a week. Recipe inspired by one given in a new favourite book All Day Cocktails.
Shrubs are great in salad dressings and as a cordial mixed with mineral water and ice but the main reason I made this one is to mix into a cocktail combo that is still a work in progress!
Simple cauliflower and leek soup with mandarin and fennel salt
Slice up a couple of leeks and cook in a large saucepan with about 20g butter until soft, about 10 minutes. While that happens, cut up a head of cauliflower into florets, add to the saucepan and cook, stirring everything around for a couple of minutes. Then cover everything with stock (about a litre and a half) and cook at a simmer until the cauliflower is tender. Blitz until smooth. Serve with some nuts or seeds (we had some tamari roasted pepitas) and a good sprinkle with the mandarin salt – it’s crazy what a difference the flavour in this salt makes out this lovely simple soup. So delish.