Compiled by MARIE-CLAIRE DIGBY
Oranges are not the only fuit
Call it the Ottolenghi effect, but preserved lemons are flying out the door of delis, demand fuelled by the success of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s latest book, Jerusalem. “We sold an extraordinary amount of them in the run up to Christmas. We were cleared out of sumac and za’atar as well,” says Jennifer King of Dublin shop Fallon Byrne, which stocks these Olives Et Al ones for €6.95. It’s easy to make your own; just make sure your jars are well sterilised. You’ll only need sea salt and lemons (preferably unwaxed), plus a little oil to create a seal. Search online for recipes from Moroccan food experts Paula Wolfert and Claudia Roden. But be warned, although there are fast and slow methods, you’ll have to wait at least a week before using them, and some recipes specify a month.
The unmistakable aroma of bitter oranges simmering in sugar will soon be filling kitchens as marmalade season descends. Marmalades, Sweet Savoury Spreads for a Sophisticated Taste, by American food writer Elizabeth Field (Running Press, $18/€13.58) is a lovely introduction to the history of this preserve, as well as containing tips on how to make and use it in your cooking. Kumquat and Earl Grey tea; tangerine and vanilla, and orange, apple, ginger are some of the varieties for which recipes are offered.
There is a chapter on using marmalade in cooking that goes way beyond duck à l’orange. For marmalade-braised lamb shanks, the preserve joins an aromatic spice mix of cumin, coriander and cinnamon, while in the recipe for Chinese vegetable dumplings with marmalade dipping sauce, it sweetens a puddle of soy sauce , mirin and sesame oil.
Best of all, you’ll read the enchanting story of how marmalade got its name – but I won’t spoil it for you. If your local bookshop doesn’t stock this US publication, it is also available from amazon.co.uk.
All that’s missing from the immaculate table setting at Il Posto restaurant on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin (above), which last month celebrated its 10th year in business under sisters Susannah and Amanda Jackson, is a special bottle of wine. During January and February, you are invited to bring your own to the restaurant, and drink it without paying corkage.