Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Always Make the Most Of,,,!

The good(e) news is that the cake seemed to turn out alright after all. At least it seems solid enough in the centre, and probably didn't need such long cooking after all. Turned upside down, the base gives a little under pressure (as a normal cake would) so at least it isn't dry. With several 'feeds' of rum or brandy over the next couple of months, it could be perfect for Christmas.

In any case, being a large cake, am intending to reduce the size down to a 6" square (cutting a strip off one side and one end), this being a large enough size for the two of us, and Beloved will be the one eating most of it - for he loves fruit cake with cheese. "Will need some blue cheese to eat with it" he said yesterday, after I mentioned he could eat the bits I was cutting off, so that means an expense I hadn't allowed for at the moment. Maybe will not cut it yet, and he can wait until the December order is delivered (or pay for the cheese himself).

Took a photo of the cake (because I KNOW you are all dying to see it). It doesn''t look THAT interesting, so took a long shot so you could see the kitchen table and some of the other things on it, being less boring than just 'cake'. On the wall at the back is my spice rack, with four of my five extra large mugs hanging underneath. These mugs are used mainly for cuppa soups (the largest one that is my favourite is missing, it was waiting to be washed).

Above the fruit cake are the empty citrus shells, above those a basket of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons and limes), close to this is one of my hyacinth glasses waiting for a hyacinth bulb, and at the back of the table my double batch of marmalade still waiting for a shelf to be cleared for them. The clutter on the right (almost out of sight) is to be ignored.

Now we come to the interesting bit. The citrus shells left after the juice and some zest had been removed are shown below in more detail. There is still enough zest left on the oranges to make them worth using, and the lemons will be put in bowl of water and heated in the microwave - this gives off a steam that makes the m.oven easy to wipe clean.
Or - could take a thin slice off the base of each lemon shell (so that they will stand up securely on a saucer), and when the membrane and bits of flesh left after juice has been squeezed out, these will make good 'holders' for something like sardine pate. So might freeze them away until needed for this purpose.

The orange shells really are worth using, not once, but twice and maybe even thrice. First they can have the membranes removed and then perched on top of a glass to prevent them tipping over to be filled with a firm jelly (I use half a pint of water to a full pack of jelly).

Any fruit jelly could be used, but lemon, lime and orange work best (being citrus flavour and colour). Below you see the empty shells after membrane removed, and the remaining shells filled with jelly. These should have been filled with jelly almost to overflowing, but as they would be put in the fridge, and knowing B tends to slam the door, felt they might spill, so slightly underfilled them. In front are the two remaining shells with the membrane scooped out.

After a few hours in the fridge the jelly was set firmly, so brought back out and one sliced in half, then in half again to make four segments. Normally would slice the two filled halves into segments, but wished to show one full and one sliced on the same place. The photo of this can be seen below.

Imagine a plate with a half orange shell in the centre, perhaps filled with a large scoop of ice-cream, sorbet, jelly, or even whipped cream, and segments of jelly-in-shell placed around it, maybe with other segments placed between these to make an outer layer. It could look like a massive flower, and extremely pretty if each circle of wedges was a different coloured jelly, maybe orange in the centre, and lemon further out. Or make one ring, alternating colours, orange, lemon, lime etc.

Children particularly like these wedges as they can be eaten in the hand, rather than with a spoon. Adults too like them, especially if some of the liquid is replaced by gin or vodka.

Normally, these jelly-wedges would be made with orange shells that have not had the zest removed, if so, once the jelly had been eaten, most of the membrane could be scraped away and the strips of peel then dried to add to 'winter' pot-pourri, or even added to a casserole to give added flavour. Peel with most of the membrane left on can be used to make Candied Peel (recipe for this found on 23rd Oct. 2006), or Orange Peel Marmalade.

Any orange peel can be used in this way (lemon peel can also be candied), they don't have to start off as half shells, just the bits normally discarded after the fruit has been peeled to be eaten. Or use lemons shells that have been squeezed for their juice.