One of my earliest memories involves two scandalous mandarins.
I think it was my 4th birthday party and I remember having lots of friends over from pre-school. Mum made me a Micky Mouse cake and jelly orange wedges (I loved those!). After everyone had left I found a small white leather hand bag in the backyard that one of the little girls had left there. I quickly hid it in my bedroom until I could decide what to do with it, not because I liked the handbag (it was ugly!), but I was intrigued as to what might be inside.
The next day while everyone was busy doing other things, I took the handbag out of its hiding place in my room and quickly scurried under the dining room table to reveal it’s contents. Inside I found a packet of tissues and 2 mandarins! (obviously the essentials for a 4th birthday party!) I ate both the mandarins right there under the table with a mixed sense of enjoyment and guilt. It’s funny the things you remember!
Every time I peel a mandarin I am overcome with memories of being a kid in the playground at school, hopefully one lucky enough to have remembered my hat so that I could go out and play! I used to love having a mandarin for morning tea, I enjoyed how easy they are to peel, although I didn’t enjoy when they were full of seeds, and still don’t!
I was never one of those kids that took their lunch box home with everything else eaten except for the lonely and bruised piece of fruit, I went for that piece of fruit as soon as I could! I remember always being a bit jealous of other kids who had potato chips and fruit roll ups for morning tea, but I was always happy to be munching on my fruit and rice crackers. Thanks Mum!
I bought some mandarins the other day from the local organic fruit stall (they had no seeds!), his stuff is always so bright and beautiful, I always end up walking home with more than I can handle! I went a bit overboard with the amount of mandarins I bought and remembered that I had recently seen a recipe by Jamie Oliver for mandarin curd. I absolutely love lemon curd so I thought this would be a perfect thing to make! I also had a couple of friends coming over to hang out in my new little backyard in the sun, so I made some spiced fruit scones to have the mandarin curd with. It was a beautiful afternoon of sitting in the sun, munching on these and sipping a little white wine (I know it should have been tea though, haha).
This was my first attempt at making scones, I used a basic sweet scone recipe from Dan Lepard’s book Short and Sweet but added raisins, mixed peel, allspice and cinnamon. They turned out well! One of my friends that came over is English and she approved so they must have been ok, haha!
Mandarin Curd (Recipe by Jamie Oliver)
Makes 5 200ml jars
Finely grated zest and juice of 6 mandarins
6 mandarins, peeled, pith and seeds removed, flesh finely chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
400g caster sugar
300g unsalted butter, chopped
4 eggs plus 3 extra yolks, lightly beaten
Place mandarin zest, juice and flesh, lemon juice, sugar and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring until butter has melted.
Transfer mixture to a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (I pushed the mixture through a sieve first to get out the remaining pith).
Strain beaten eggs and yolks through a fine sieve into the heatproof bowl, stirring constantly, until well combined.
Cook mixture gently over the water, stirring regularly for 1 hour or until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Be careful it doesn’t curdle by making sure the temperature remains constant, and it doesn’t get too hot.
Take mixture off the heat and ladle it straight into sterilised jars. Allow to cool to room temperature and keep in the fridge for up to 2 months. (as if!)
Spiced Fruit Scones (recipe adapted from Dan Lepard)
2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp each of allspice and cinnamon
3 tbs caster sugar, plus more for the tops
3 tbs butter, softened
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup mixed peel
1/3 cup buttermilk or low-fat plain yoghurt, plus more for the tops
Heat the oven to 220 Degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into bowl. Add the sugar and butter and rub it all together with your fingertips until it is cream coloured and slightly crumbly. Add the raisins and mixed peel.
In a small bowl beat the egg with the buttermilk and add to four mixture. Combine to a firm ball of dough, adding a little more buttermilk if the mixture seems dry, and knead lightly for 10secs, no more.
Flour the work surface and the top of the dough and roll or press out until about 4cm thick. Use a 8 or 10cm biscuit cutter to cut out scones. Place on a baking sheet a few centimetres apart. Brush the tops with extra buttermilk and sprinkle with extra sugar.
Bake for 15-20 mins until risen and lightly coloured. Cool on a wire rack, covered with a tea towel to keep them moist.