Editor’s note: Everyday, we come across fantastic articles on an Iberian food, wine or cultural experience by a blogger. Some are based here in Spain and Portugal, while others are chiming in halfway around the globe with a new Portuguese recipe or Spanish wine. So in the spirit of sharing quality content, we’re featuring a section called, “Iberian Spotlight”, which highlights articles we feel are too great to pass by. Many of these bloggers aren’t getting the recognition they deserve, and by spotlighting them, we’re hoping to show added appreciation for their effort!
Today’s featured blogger is Nani Steele of the blog, My Nepenthe Book who wrote a fabulous post on Seville Marmalade to compliment our post on Spanish Oranges! Please note that the photos are also taken from her post!
I was feeling less than inspired this past week, or perhaps it was just a feeling of overwhelm. With so much to accomplish and not always sure where to begin, my brain slides into shutdown mode. It’s when I tend to lose myself in the kitchen, the place I’m often most comfortable and happy. Tossing a bowl of young greens with a little olive oil, say; grating the zest of lemon into a dressing, trimming fresh herbs from my garden and scattering them over baked fish, then sharing with friends. These are the things that I take comfort in, that I also miss in my sometimes too insular world.
Yesterday, I was on set working on a photo shoot for a friend’s book, and the idea came up about how cooking can be healing, and my first thought was in making bread–kneading the dough which is a kind of physical work and later seeing it transform into a crusty loaf. Just in taking the time to prepare food, putting your intensions and heart into it, can in itself be restorative. For me, the process of cooking–the stirring, chopping, layering of flavors–always lifts my mood.
So, in need of a lift, not only did I make my sourdough bread recipe again–and have another batch in the works today, still trying to perfect it–I made Seville Orange Marmalade, which takes more than an afternoon, but is always worth it, especially when spreading the slightly bitter, lovely colored preserves on that homemade toast. Even my daughter had 2 pieces to go on her way to school this morning with her mom-made latte.
Seville oranges remind me of my trip to Spain at the tender age of 17 with my step-mother; wandering through the amazing, lush gardens and cobbled streets at all hours of the day and night; soaking up the ancient tiles, the rich colors, flamenco and deep throated song from that part of the world. I am hungry to travel, to return to these places, to delve once more into foreign territory; eat my way through the lively markets of Tunisia (where I also visited on that trip), take in the piles of brick-colored spices, the sky-blue trimmed houses brimming with deep pink bougainvillea.
But here I am, in my sweet little house with my tiny little kitchen like a good arm-chair traveler, drawing from the colors and tastes of memory for inspiration, hence my creative play with the camera too.
And yet before I get too caught up reminiscing, I have a winner from my granola giveaway, also made fresh today, and that is Susan Flynn, who worked at Nepenthe back in the seventies and commented with a story about her time working in the “lettuce cage.â€ If you have a minute, read through the many comments I received on that post, and you will capture a a reflection of Nepenthe’s history that is quite evocative of place. Thank you all for sharing your stories and dropping by. And full disclosure-it was a completely random pick.
Meanwhile, enjoy my recipe for the orange marmalade.
Seville Orange Marmalade
Seville oranges are slightly bitter, have lots of seeds, and a fairly short season, so if you see them in your market grab a bagful. But don’t be discouraged if you can’t find them; you can use other oranges or a combination of citrus as well, slightly adjusting the sugar up or down, as needed, with good results.
When using Seville oranges, I find it best to juice the fruit first, as there are so many seeds; you can otherwise simply slice the fruit (rind and flesh), capturing the escaped juices into a bowl, and proceeding from there.
Wash and halve the oranges; squeeze the juice over a sieve, capturing the pips. Tie the pips into a muslin bag or piece of cheesecloth. Slice the oranges into small, thin pieces, 1/4-to 1/2 inch in length at most. Place the fruit, the juice, and pips in a preserving pot. Cover with the water and soak over night. The next day, simmer the fruit until it is soft, about 2 hours. Remove the pips, squeezing out any juice (the seeds contain a lot of the pectin) from the bag.
Add the sugar and the lemon juice, stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cook rapidly, stirring on occasion, until the marmalade reaches its setting point, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and thicken slightly before potting. In fact, sometimes, I will allow the marmalade to sit overnight again; gently re-heating (and adjusting for sugar, if desired) before potting on the 3rd day. Ladle into sterilized jars and seal.
Romney (Nani) Steele is a writer, cook, and food stylist. The etymology of her blog, Nepenthe,Â is the name of her family’s restaurant, perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea in Big Sur, CA. I stumbled across Nani on a Linked-In discussion on what equates to a quality food blog, and have fallen in love with her writing ever since. Please take a moment to check her out!