I can’t think of a better way to cap off 2011 then with a preserve, especially this one. It represents the best of my year, a little spontaneous, a little spicy, definitely sweet and totally ready for celebration. I’m not sure what I’m most excited about, the fact that I managed to make this after a two month preserve-making hiatus, that I made this preserve quickly and while wearing a baby, or that it tastes delicious.
The uncanny clan are visiting with family near Toronto and a trip here always means one of our famous “ethno-grazes”, where we visit several spots in Toronto and load up on ethnic delights and refill our spice cabinet. This past trip meant a stop to Chinatown and returning with a big bag of kaffir lime leaves. While I normally reserve these leaves for my curries, one sniff and I knew I had a preserve in the making. Luckily, there were some lone oranges kicking around my father’s fridge that needed some love and some lovely dried chill peppers meant an interesting preserve could me mine.
It’s a very small batch, totally spur of the moment, but preserves can be that fabulous. While canning means more preparation with cleaning and sterilizing, but mini-batches means you can experiment and have a lot of fun discovering flavours you might like (or not!). I particularly liked this preserve and am looking forward to featuring this preserve over a chèvre and crackers for our New Year’s Eve celebration.
I opted for the largest orange in the fridge and sliced it using my favourite citrus slicing method a la Hitchhiking to Heaven. I tossed in about 1/4 cup of water and then added more orange juice as it softly boiled to prevent scorching, about 1/2 cup of liquid all total. Two small pieces of hot pepper were added and that was enough for a nice kick, but you can start judiciously and add more near the end if it’s not spicy enough. 4 kaffir lime leaves seemed the right amount, so adjust accordingly if you’re making a larger batch.
Let the mixture softly boil until the orange slices turn to mush when you squish them between your fingers, or eat a slice and when its softened to your liking, add your sugar (I added to taste).
To try this yourself:
Spicy Marmalade with Kaffir Lime Leaf
Yields: 1 cup
1 large orange, cleaned and scrubbed, quartered with the middle pith removed and thinly sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 inch piece of dried hot pepper
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water/orange juice (approx.)
1. Combine orange slices, hot pepper and kaffir lime leaves and water/juice and bring to a low simmer, cover and stir occasionally, about 40 minutes.
2. Put a dish in the freezer to test for gel point.
3. When you’re happy with the softness of your citrus, add sugar and increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until the set point is reached. Remove hot pepper and lime leaves. Enjoy!