Tag Archives: katie stewart

Katie Stewart: Marmalade 2013

Photo shoot in snow

Oranges snow today

The cookery writer, Katie Stewart, died earlier this month.

There was an outpouring on Twitter from those including me who had learned to cook from her cookbooks.

Then Guardian food and wine writer, Fiona Beckett, suggested a Katie Cook (#katiestewart) day and others on Twitter took up the call, followed by Alex Renton in The Times. This is my contribution.

I have been following Katie Stewart’s helpful, practical recipe for making chunky marmalade since 1980 from The Times Calendar Cookbook. Having decreased  sugar bit by bit, I now use less sugar than fruit.

Katie’s original amounts: 3 lbs/ 1.1/4 kg Seville oranges | 6lbs / 2.3/4 kg sugar | 5 pts/ 2.3/4 litres water | juice of 2 lemons.

I use organic Seville oranges. They cost twice as much this year as non-organic ones because we live in a nutty world where wholesome food is more expensive than junk food. Still, added expense worth it because:

  1. Organic oranges have more pronounced taste because they are smaller and denser (basically less watery) than non-organic oranges
  2. More nutrients in organic too: “conventional farmers (drive) down nutrient levels via their pursuit of ever-higher yields,” says Charles M. Benbrook
  3. By paying the extra, I am doing my bit for healthier soils and water, and feeding the world. Think of it as a charity donation.

Talking of which, Katie Stewart’s family has asked for donations (rather than flowers) for The Kids’ Cookery School. The charity’s mission is to give every child in the UK an unique fun cooking experience to help them make informed choices about food. You can donate online.

My marmalade 2001 blog post talks about the young US soldier, Bradley Manning, Wikileaks whistleblower. Currently in pre-trial court martial proceedings, on Thursday he was refused the whistleblower’s defence: motive.

The marmalade: Katie Stewart’s recipe for Chunky Seville Marmalade, her invaluable tips, my amounts and spin on my Marmalade 2011. Apologies not metric – any help with converting amounts welcome.

Marmalade 

5lbs organic Seville oranges

4 lbs organic cane sugar

2 lemons

4 pts of water + 1 pt for extracting pectin

Top Katie Tips

  • Place a few saucers in freezer so boiling jam can cool quickly when testing to see it has set
  • Put weighed sugar in a preserving pan in low oven to warm
  • Clean jars thoroughly with hot water and dry them in oven
  • Add lemons at preserving pan stage.

Five stages of making marmalade

1. Clean oranges + simmer to soften
Washing oranges

Scrub non-organic oranges and remove stalks. Cook in a large pan or two smaller ones – with lids – in 4 pints of water and simmer heartily for about an hour until peel is soft. Orangey aroma fills room…

Drain cooked whole oranges and preserve cooking water as if it were a precious liquid (it is).

This process can be done earlier, or even the day before.

2. Extracting pith and pips for pectin

Pith and pips

Pith and pips (left)

Pectin, extracted from the insides of the fruit, is the setting agent. Cut cooked-and-cooled oranges in half. Scoop out with spoon the oranges’ insides – the pith and pips (pith and pips pith and pips - say it quickly) .

Add pith and pips to large pan with the 1 extra pint of water. Simmer for ten minutes then drain: this pectin-rich liquid will help jam set in Stage 4.

3. Slicing peel 
Slicing peel
Flatten softened peel with your hand, and cut up peel of oranges (and lemons), thinly or thickly, as you like.

4. Sugar boiling drama 

Fast-boil for imminent set

Fast-boil for imminent set

Add the sugar (warmed from the oven) to a preserving pan. Strongly suggest a preserving pan is good investment – otherwise use two of your widest pans.

Add the precious-liquid (stage 1), drained pectin-juice (stage 2), and cut-up peel (stage 3) in with sugar in preserving pan. Start boiling…

You must not overboil or you can lose that magic-setting moment. It really is as terrifying as it sounds. But you know what they say: the other side of fear is excitement.

It takes about 20-30 minutes to get it to boiling temperature and then you have to watch it like a hawk.

Start timing your 15-20 minutes when the jam is boiling like mad i.e. not just bubbling but when liquid goes into a furious fast-boiling glucky whirl – then start timing those 15-20 minutes.

So, after 15 minutes, take the pan off the heat and drop some hot jam on one of those icy-cold plates.

Let jam-droplet cool, tilting plate to encourage cooling, then push droplet gently with your finger. You are looking for tell-tale wrinkles and jelly-like character. (The opposite of an ideal lover? My 2011 joke).

If droplet is still runny, carry on boiling the big pan for a few minutes then test again. And so on.

Stage 5. Marmalade in jars

cooling marmalade

The marmalade droplets are now unequivocally set. Let jam cool in pan until not-too-hot nor too-set for pouring . Next, the sticky bit. Use newspaper to cover kitchen surface, use a ladle or a small cup. Good luck.

Recipes say use waxed discs to keep out condensation and mould but, cutting-corners-cook that I am, I have not not done so for years, with no adverse effects. Wipe jars from stickiness and proudly label.

Marmalade in jars

Katie Stewart: Pots de Crème au Chocolat (chocolate pots)

Spring vegetables Petersham Nurseries Katie Stewart book

Yesterday I received an email from the Guild of Food Writers with sad news: the cookery writer, Katie Stewart, had died.

“…a long-time Guild member and the recipient of our 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award. Katie was taken ill on Friday and died on Saturday” said the email.

My mum gave me The Times Calendar Cookbook (my edition published 1976) and I have used it since the 1980s. I also had the privilege of meeting Katie Stewart when she received her Guild of Food Writers’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

I tweeted the sad news, and soon there was an outpouring of tweet messages from fellow food writers who, like me, had learnt to cook thanks to Katie Stewart.

I believe generosity of spirit, and the heartfelt desire to communicate and share, really does transmit, to create classic cookbooks.

Yesterday Fiona Beckett, Guardian food writer, suggested on Twitter we have a day/weekend when we cook one of Katie’s recipes. What a great idea. More and more food writers thought so too. (Wow. Social media in action. Love it!).

I suggested we have a #katiestewart hashtag, and explained why at my other blog.

Alex Renton, The Times food writer got in touch. He is doing an obituary piece in Thursday’s edition for Katie, who was The Times cookery columnist.

He did not have a Katie recipe, so I offered to write one down.

I know the page number for pot au chocolate – page 77 - by heart.

My additions in brackets.

Pots de Crème au Chocolat

6oz/175g chocolate chips or plain chocolate broken in pieces

1/2 pint/3 dl. (300 ml single cream)

1 egg

pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)

Katie says: ‘Put the chocolate in the globlet of a blender. Heat the cream until just under boiling point, then pour on to the chocolate. Cover, switch on and blend until smooth. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Add the egg, salt and vanilla essence and blend again quickly. The mixture at this stage will be quite thin. Pour into six small individual pots, or failing this, small glasses. Chill for several hours or overnight until the mixture is quite firm. Serves 6

Katie Stewart pot au chocolat

As you will see from my pic, I have played with this recipe over the years, and in 2012, made a raw chocolate version with chilli and orange zest.

Her book, The Times Calendar Cookbook, follows, without fanfare, seasonality: “Fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and game mature according to the seasons and over the year offer us a wide variety of fresh foods to use in recipes,” writes Katie Stewart in her introduction.

The pic of spring vegetables (heading up this blog) is a photograph from the book illustrating May. The vegetables come from Petersham Nurseries, still going strong.

I fear I am jumping the gun a bit because our #katiestewart, or Katie Cook Day as Alex coined it, is really at the weekend.

So please, please all fellow Katie Stewart fans near and far – get cooking at the weekend, share your recipe and…pass it on!

God bless Katie Stewart. What a life-enhancing legacy.

May her soul rest at peace.

Guild of Food Writers awards 2008

Guild of Food Writers awardsJill Dupliex accepting her awardKatie Stewart and Elisabeth WinklerKatie Stewart and HughCookbook

The Guild of Food Writers’s annual awards party is a glittering must-go, this year held at Tamesa in the Oxo tower on the South Bank of the Thames. I was a judge of one of the awards but, shhhh, that’s all I can say about it.

Sustainability was a strong theme, from sponsors, the Alaska Seafood marketing institute and Bonterra organic wines, to the winners.

Listen, I rate the Observer’s ethical eco-hero, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for his animal welfare work. But he endeared himself further by making sure (see pic 1) that his fellow author, Nick Fisher, shared the award for The River Cottage fish book. (If you click on that link, read the Amazon review by Henrietta Green of Food Lovers Britain.)

I loved Jill Dupleix‘s wise words on accepting (pic 2) the Miriam Polunin prize for Work on healthy eating. She said: “I look forward to the time when there isn’t a special category for healthy eating and all food writing is healthy.” Yeah, sister, bring it on!

The sustainability theme continued with Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook, which addressed food miles and provenance.

It’s always nice when you agree with the judges. Hattie Ellis won for Planet Chicken. It is a beautifully-written easy-read on a hard subject: how we treat intensively-reared chickens.

Then Bill Buckley announced that the winner (taratara) of the Lifetime achievement award was…Katie Stewart. I took this award personally (again) – The Times calendar cookbook with its seasonal recipes has been a favourite for decades. (See my beat-up food-stained version in pic 5).

An awards ceremony is such an emotional event, I was starving by the end. My hunt for food took me to a quiet part of the room where Katie stood with friends. I am afraid I could not resist asking to be photographed with her (pic 3). She said the Times cookbook was her daughter-in-law’s favourite too because people nowadays want the classics, like toad in the hole.

Then Hugh approached – clearly another Stewart devotee. (I must admit Katie looks happier with Hugh than with me but hey, that’s show biz).

Prue Leith OBE presented the awards. She explained how she gave up cooking to campaign. A champion of real food in schools, she is a woman after my own heart.

This became more evident later. There was a queue for the ladies’ and on Prue’s advice, I used the (empty) gents’ while she stood guard. I liked that – the way she encouraged an unconventional route to get results.