Their bright colours and equally bright flavours can add a welcome zing as autumn arrives. Simon Hopkinson gets creative with citrus.
St Clement’s Cream
Enough to fill 6 large ramekins
This recipe was first published in a book of collected recipes from those I had written for The Independent newspaper during the 1990s, Week In Week Out. It’s originally based on a lemon posset, the one so loved by all who truly want a recipe that is ‘simplicity itself’. Now, much that I flinch when I hear, or read, those two banal words attached to any old dish, for once, here, they are apt. Well, the jelly bit on top may mildly tax those who only do easy, but, for me, it truly makes the dish shine, as it were.
For the creams
Juice of 2 large oranges
500ml double cream
100g caster sugar
Grated rind of two lemons
Grated rind of 1 large orange
Juice of 2 lemons
For the orange jelly
1 gelatine leaf
150ml freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of half a lemon
1tbspn Grand Marnier
Put the orange juice into a small pan and, over a low heat, reduce until syrupy. Put to one side. Bring the cream, sugar and rinds of the two fruit to the boil in a large pan (the size of the pan is important here, to allow for the expansion of the cream as it boils). Boil all together for exactly two minutes.
Take off the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and reduced orange juice. Leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Now strain everything through a fine sieve into a bowl and then ladle into the ramekins. Chill for at least four hours.
To make the jelly, first soften the gelatine in cold water until soft and spongy. Bring the orange and lemon juice just to the boil, noted particularly by the moment when a scum forms on the surface.
Immediately strain through a piece of muslin into a clean pan and stir in the softened gelatine while the juice is still hot. Add the Grand Marnier.
Leave to cool to room temp-erature and then carefully spoon about a tablespoonful over the surface of each ‘cream’. Return to the fridge to chill for a further hour, before serving.
Spiced Meyer lemons
Will fill about 3–4 small jam jars
12 Meyer lemons, thickly sliced,
700g golden caster sugar
350ml cider vinegar
8–10 green cardamom pods (as fresh as possible)
6–7 blades of mace
Put the lemon slices into a wide, stainless-steel pan and just cover with water. Bring up to a simmer and quietly cook them for no more than 20 minutes, skimming off any froth that may accumulate during the process. Once done, remove the slices to another shallow container (a wide and deep frying pan, say) using a slotted spoon, then discard the liquid.
Note: if it seems clear that the fruit is becoming too soft before the allotted time, arrest the process forthwith. Put the rem-aining ingredients into a stainless-steel saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for five minutes and leave to cool until lukewarm. Pour this over the lemon slices and carefully combine so that the whole spices are thoroughly integrated; hands are best, here.
Boil a kettle, pour the boiled water into the jam jars (as well as dousing the lids) and leave for five minutes. Drain, wipe clean and carefully fill with the lemon slices, dispersing the whole spices as prettily visible through the glass within each assembly; not essential, clearly, but if presenting to friends as a gift, very satisfying for both parties.
Now, decant the fragrant syrup into each jar until nearly full; any remaining syrup left over may be decanted into another jam jar and kept in the fridge, sealed, where it will keep for weeks.
To finish, tightly screw a lid onto each jar and place into a deep saucepan. Fill with cold water until just below the lids of the jars, put onto a medium heat and bring up to a simmer. Once simmering, cover and cook for about 45 minutes. Switch off the heat and leave in the water until completely cold.
Only now lift them out, wipe dry and store in a cool, dark place until ready to eat. I recommend waiting three months, but have frequently been known to ignore my own instruction.