clementine ginger marmalade

You know that very first clementine of the season? You peel back the fragrant skin and pop a little bright orange wedge in your mouth, and the taste of that tart juice makes you think of everything you love about winter? It makes you want to open a Christmas present with one hand and sip mulled wine with the other (presumably in this fantasy you have three hands, so you can finish your delectable clementine). Well, this was not that moment.

It was bad. Way too sweet, mealy, dry. Ugh. A bag of bad clementines is one of life’s small yet significant disappointments for me. However, I’ve never throw food away because there’s almost always a way to transform it. Sure enough, apparently you can make clementine cake, clementine sauces, clementine muffins, and even soups that used clementines as ingredients. Considering I had a whole bag to deal with, I decided on marmalade. This is kind of a quick-and-dirty version of how to make marmalade, so if you’re looking for something that comes out very firm and professional store-bought jam/jelly-like, this is not the recipe for you. (There are many recipes you can find online that take upwards of 24 hours, so if you have that kind of time for peeling all the little white shreds off and making a bag from cheesecloth and immersing it and– you get the point… please let me know how that goes!)

jars of clementine ginger marmalade

The lazy way: all I did was to gently peel the outer layer of skin off each clementine with a vegetable peeler (trying to get as little of the white portion underneath as possible). If you have a zester that makes nice thin lines or curls of peel, even better, because then you can skip the next step. Then chop the peels into very thin short strips. Take the clementine wedges, trying to remove as much of the white part on the outside as possible, and just throw them all in a food processor (unless they have seeds- then you have to remove those first). Pulse it until you have a soupy mess of clementines, and then put it in a pot with the strips of peel, the juice from two large lemons, and about 1.5-2 cups of sugar (I used half white, half light brown). I also added some fresh grated ginger – about 2 tablespoons – as an afterthought about halfway through. Bring it to a boil, and then simmer for about an hour. Scoop it into glass jars and let it cool. It will firm up a little as it cools. I didn’t do any kind of fancy canning procedure, so this needs to be refrigerated, but if you have the means to can or jar things so that they’re shelf-stable, by all means do that! I think it’s supposed to stay good in the refrigerator for up to a year this way though.
Last step: enjoy on top of bread/toast/bagels/muffins, swirled into yogurt or oatmeal, used in a sauce or marinade, with cheese and crackers, or even in a cocktail? Ooh, this could get dangerous…

clementine ginger marmalade on toast


strawberry chocolate quesadillas

Most things in my life don’t go as planned, so I should have known that an anniversary celebration would be no different. Chris and I had planned to venture up to City Island, bike around for the day, have a lobster roll, and then treat ourselves to a fancy dinner Saturday night at August on Bleecker Street (which I was very excited about). But Hurricane Irene had different plans for us. On Thursday, we decided we would go to the Jim Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image and maybe a movie, as a backup rain plan instead of City Island, and then to dinner. Big grey rain boots didn’t really go with my outfit, but I’d make it work. Friday afternoon, Bloomberg announced that all subways and buses would be shut down at noon on Saturday. Ok, we thought, we’ll take a cab. And then the restaurant called to say they were closing in preparation for the storm. And then the Museum closed, and the movie theaters, etc, etc, etc. Onto plan D! Grocery store and Netflix.

Strawberry chocolate quesadillas in the pan

Chris and I planned out a few days worth of meals, just as a worst case scenario, including lemon pepper shrimp linguine, bread and cheese, wine, and salad for our anniversary dinner. But what would dessert be? Baking cookies or brownies didn’t seem special enough, so I reached for my Moosewood box of recipe cards that I picked up in Maine. Strawberry chocolate quesadillas? The recipe was in the “Spring” season section, but I didn’t care. Immediate winner. It’s pretty simple really: slice up about a cup and a half of strawberries, mix in a little confectioners sugar and cinnamon. Place a tortilla in a lightly oiled pan, cover one half with the strawberry mixture, the other half with chocolate chips, and when the chocolate chips start to melt, fold it in half. Serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, and whipped cream if you like. We decided it would also be great with bananas… or nutella… or ice cream… or pretty much anything.

We even made another batch for breakfast the next morning. Because dessert for breakfast is totally allowed on special occasions.

Strawberry chocolate quesadillas