JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, December 21, 2007

Spiced Christmas clementines

As you know, I'm always on the lookout for puddings which are predominantly fruit, but a little more exciting than just eating the fruit. It's not that we eat much pudding, just that I like to know that when we do, it's delicious and as healthy as a pudding can be. So when I saw this recipe in the paper last weekend, I knew I'd have to try it. This is a recipe from Giorgio Novelli's mother, one which she made each Christmas: She put the spices and fruit into a very hot oven and then just turned off the heat. You'd wake up to this amazing smell and you knew at once which day it was.

This is a kind of Christmas cake without the cake, a Christmas pudding without all that steaming. Or suet.

I'm making this tonight, for lunch tomorrow, when my parents are coming. I've prepared the fruit, we're just off to the cinema to see St Trinian's (how can you resist Rupert Everett in drag??), and I'll put it in the oven after I've finished cooking supper when we get back.

Mama Novelli's spiced clementines

whole clementines
vanilla pods
star anise
cinnamon sticks
Kirsch, or whisky, or Cointreau - or quince vodka

Blanch the clementines in boiling water for 30 seconds, to soften the skins, and to melt away any wax used for preservation (you'll avoid this if you buy organic, although I know it's not always easy or possible). If your fruit is waxed, you'll get a whitish bloom which you can gently rub off with kitchen paper while it's still warm.

Pierce each clementine at the top, and stick with spices. Put on a baking tray.

Put the fruit into a very hot oven, and switch it off straightaway. Leave them overnight. It really is best to do this overnight, because the oven takes a very long time to cool right down (I know this from making moonblush tomatoes, another overnight-in-a-cooling oven process).

In the morning, the fruit should be dry to the touch. Pull out the spices, and spoon a tablespoonful or so of your chosen alcohol into the fruit. Put them back onto the baking tray, and then put them into a warm oven, 150C, for 15-20 minutes to absorb the alcohol. Leave to cool.

To serve, cut in two, and scoop over vanilla ice cream / whipped cream / creme fraiche.

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