Last week I joined a gym. The owner is ex-military. He scares me a little. Before last week I had never been to a gym. Not once. He noticed me looking a little despairingly at the machines – which admittedly are ridiculously simple and I now feel fairly stupid – and helped me out with how to program them etc. If he thinks I’m going a bit easy on myself he does a casual wander over, peers at my screen and presses level buttons. It is only ever up. Its good for me, apparently.
What going to the gym has actually enabled me to do is eat cake guilt free and spend even more time thinking about food. As the calorie counter goes along I think, oo thats another biscuit gone from my elevenses, and the slice of the coffee cake I’m going to make when I get home. Oh and that delcious carrot cake the other half picked up yesterday. And so on.
This recipe was inspired by BBC Good Food and I am wholeheartedly supporting the come back of this slightly retro gift. By giving some to everyone.
A selection of citrus fruits – two or three lemons or limes, grapefruit, oranges, or the Christmassy clementine, a one to one ratio sugar syrup made from 4 cups water and 4 cups of sugar, melted dark chocolate (optional)
Using a sharp knife, make 6 slits along curve from top to bottom of each citrus fruit, cutting through peel but not into fruit. Using your fingers, gently remove peel. Slice each piece of peel lengthwise into thin strips. Trim excess pith from each strip. Place peel in a large saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then drain. Do this twice.
Bring equal quanities of sugar and water to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar has dissolved. Add peel to the boiling syrup then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, without stirring, until strips are translucent. This will take about an hour. Remove from the heat and let the strips cool in the syrup. Keep the syrup as it could also be used for a nice gift if you pop it into a pretty jar or bottle. It would taste great in cocktails or drizzled on ice cream or cakes as it is essentially a thick cordial.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a wire wrack placed on a rimmed baking sheet. Wipe off excess syrup with paper towels, then roll strips in more sugar. Arrange in a single layer on the wire rack, and let dry for at least 24 hours. At this stage you could dip a few of the orange ones in dark chocolate too. Candied peel can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
Eat them straight from the jar, add them to cocktails or pop them in a blender to make a citrusy sugar.