December 4, 2009

A Passion for Heat- Fruit Mostarda

 Whole clementines at the end of the three day process

I adore all sorts of spicy sauces and the heat that chili gives to food.When I tasted the Mostarda di Cremona, it was love at first bite. Sweet, syrupy candied fruit with a wasabi like kick to it- hot and sweet together.

Not only great flavor, but beautiful as well. I know from my French pastry backround that the candied fruits made in France take days to make. I decided to try to make some whole candied clementines with the mustard essence for the first time.

It is not easy to find recipes with much detail, as Italians are famous for passing on recipes by word of mouth, assuming that everyone basically knows everything anyway.

The recipe I followed was rather strange, in that she takes out the oranges each day after a short 10 minute boiling in the syrup. I would have assumed you would have left them to soak. The syrup reduces daily and creates the syrup and candies the clementines.

My basic rule of life is the first time follow the directions- the second time tweek and the third time it becomes yours- so I guess I have a way to go!

The clementines look a little strange, I expected them to be hard and round- pumped up with the syrup they had absorbed- but instead the skins are tough and then insides have almost disappeared. The flavor is great and I will probably chop them up and put in smaller jam style jars for gifts for the holidays. Not sure I would do them whole again, I can buy them!!!

I am thinking that the way to preserve the fruit more is as in for the French style to soak the fruit for a day first. Will follow up with notes.

The second Mostarda I made was a more classic, home version with pears.
The fruit is peeled and covered in sugar and left to sit overnight. The next day, you cook the syrup with the pears and when cooled add the mostardo essence. I cooked down the syrup and left the fruit uncooked.

I think I would prefer more of a jam with a kick and will work on that next.

It is important not to add the essence of mostarda when the syrup is hot, as it can evaporate.
I have been using 45 drops when the normal amount advised to start with is 15 drops.

Another recipe said 15 drops a jar...... the problems with recipes from Italy is that noone really wants you to know how to make something!!!

In Florence, I go to Bizzari on Via Condotta to get the Essenza di Mostarda.When I was up north in Mantova it is sold in the pharmacy.

I have been told that in America, it is sold in Indian stores, and a friend has recently bought some and is experimenting as we speak! I asked one of my Indian cooking friends and she says it is used over the heat, so cannot be the same essential oil I use.

I look forward to the holidays as the Mostarda is also made using candied vegetables which look like jewels to serve with the Bollito Misto dinner which I make as my Christmas dinner.

When I buy the Mostarda, it is not always as hot as I like either, but by having my own essence I can take it up several notches.

When I get the perfect recipe I will let you know.

Mostarda is also lovely to serve with cheeses and used like our red pepper jelly with Cream cheese.
But oh so much nicer!

Happy holidays- I will be posting more of cookies and sweets to celebrate!

Don't forget- if you want to escape and cook with me in Mexico- there is space available!
Contact Dianne at Rancho Casa Luna in San Miguel D'allende.

1 comment:

  1. Judy I think it is quite normal for the fruit in artisan Mostarda to be dry and on the chewy side. The procedure aims for a dense syrup and fruit that retains its shape but if you prefer you can cook the fruit longer at the last stage.

    Have you come across a recipe for Mostarda Veneta? It has hints of saffron and cinnamon. If you come across a recipe for that I'd love to know how to make it for myself.