Wednesday, February 4, 2015

the scent of citrus spreads

seville orange marmalade
A few days ago my husband came home with a bucket full of oranges and dirty shoes on his feet. The shoes, those, were blocked by my explicit look that refrained any further steps into the house; and the oranges, those, were observed with a raised quizzical eyebrow.  It was obvious they were picked from some tree but it was impossible, to even imagine, that my husband would ever go fruit picking.  

In fact, someone else picked the oranges, but my husband did his share "holding" the bucket.  All of this, under the rain, while his feet were sunk in the earth, which explains the dirt on the shoes.  The thought of him soaking wet with a bucket full of oranges made me hug him so tight that he'll never forget that squeeze of gratitude :)

After squeezing my husband, I went on squeezing the Seville oranges that were waiting to become a marmalade.  It's not easy to find Seville oranges around here, you know?! But now we have our tree, found in a secret place, somewhere in the campagna romana, abandoned, left to grow wild, untreated, absolutely organic, which fruits make one heck of a marmalade.  The bittersweet type, my kind of thing.
Seville Orange Marmalade
Making jams or marmalades are worth it if the fruit you use is worth it. I mean, you can't just go buy some fruit at a supermarket because you want to make your own jam.  Well, you can, but what's the point when you may as well go for a good brand of store bought jam. There are plenty out there, some that I really like too. But when you decide to make jam, you need your fruit to be special, untreated, possibly grown in your own garden or from the garden next door, maybe somewhere up high in the mountains or in the countryside. You should pick it, smell it, taste it, love it and then put it in a pot, boil it and conserve it in jars.  A few months later, when you open up a jar, you'll enjoy the season you've captured in a sweet nostalgic taste, that's why making your own jam has that extra something that makes it so special.  

While I was at it, I used the extra amount of marmalade that didn't fit in the jars to make a crostata.

This crostata.  
Crostata with Seville Orange Marmalade
Two recipes in one, just for you.

I used Nigel Slater's recipe for this orange Seville marmalade. I like the fact that he cuts the peel of the orange the size of a match stick.  Nigel prefers the peel to be thinly sliced, and so do I, this way it stays on your slice of bread. If you cut it in chunks or bigger slices, like many prefer to do, you'd be more occupied in picking up the pieces rather then enjoying the bite. Peeling the orange first to leave the flesh free from its peel allows you to deliberately squeeze the juice and the job becomes stressless. 

Here's where you can find the link to Nigel's Seville Orange Marmalade Receipe:

300 g plain flour
60 g sugar
110 g cold diced butter
2 egg yolks, 1 whole egg
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
1 lemon zest
orange Seville marmalade (or any other kind you prefer)

Place a bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes so that it chills.  Wipe off any humidity with a towel before you use it.  Add the flour, sugar, pinch of salt and pinch of baking powder in the bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients and then make a well.  In the well, add the eggs, cold diced butter and lemon zest. Incorporate the ingredients and knead to form a dough.

Divide the dough in two, roll out a round disk with one portion of the dough and place it on a round flat tray, add some marmalade or any type of jam you prefer.  Spread the marmalade on the disk from the center to the edge leaving about 1 cm of space from the edge.  Roll out the other half of the dough and make long stripes that will go on top of the crostata.

Note: before you bake the crostata, place it in the freezer for 10 minutes or in the fridge for 30 minutes, this way it will chill up the butter again making the crostata more crisp and fragrant.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 35/40.


  1. Mia cara, dopo aver riflettuto a lungo, sono giunta alla conclusione che abbiamo solo due possibilità: io divento tua vicina di casa oppure tu diventi la mia vicina di casa. Altra cosa che devi sapere è quella che potrei fare follie per una cassetta di arance così e soprattutto per la tua crostata :-))))!!! Un abbraccio!!!

    1. Il caso vuole che stanno vendendo una casetta proprio accanto alla mia ;-) Un abbraccio fortissimo!

  2. Elvira, this is so lovely. Your photos are beautiful. There is something gentle and pensive about them. I can smell the freshly picked oranges and the crostata as if it were just coming out of the oven. If only I had an orange tree nearby ~ I'm one of those who had to get mine at the market. Not the same thing, I agree, but we do what we can. Sei bravissima!

    1. Domenica, I would most willingly share that tree of sevilles with you if only you were closer. Thank you for the compliments they fill me with joy and also make me blush (just a little). Wishing you a happy day. Sunny and brisk here in Rome...hope you come visit soon. :*