It was Mother's Day here last Sunday.
As both my grandmothers died last year, it was the first Mother's Day for both of my parents without their own mothers. This year, I was more aware than ever that Mother's Day, and similar holidays, can be such a bittersweet occasion.
I like to think that my mother knows how much I appreciate her. But I fear that in between our email exchanges where I snappishly try to explain how to paginate documents in Word and the reminder texts that I get about whether I've written my thank you letters from Christmas, it probably gets lost.
I know that, in theory, I shouldn't just set aside the fourth sunday of Lent (as it is) for letting her know how much she means to me. I may not want to let her know every day because, frankly, that would be a bit weird and I'm pretty she has better things to be doing with her time, even if I don't. But still, if the last year has taught me anything, it's taught me that I have to make more of an effort because I don't want to wake up one morning and realise that it's too late.
Saying all of that that, I knew that she would appreciate a little package of some of her favourite things (namely caviar and champagne) to mark the occasion. I also slipped in a little bag of homemade grapefruit zest; something that I know she is very partial to. It is such an easy thing to make and, as it will last a month or so in the fridge, is a perfect gift.
Candied grapefruit zest
Yield: About 1/2 a cup
I've done this with orange before but I was a little worried that the grapefruit would be too bitter, hence blanching it four times. I needn't have been concerned though and I probably could have got away with one less blanche - there's plenty of sugar to balance out the bitterness. For a slightly more sophisticated treat, you can dip the candied zest in chocolate rather than rolling it in sugar.
- 1 grapefruit (I used a ruby red grapefruit)
- 225g (1 cup) granulated/caster sugar plus a little more for rolling the zest
- Several cups of cold water
- Peel the skin of the grapefruit - I used the little funny poking out bit of my zester but you can just chop it by hand. You don't want too much of the pith but I little isn't the end of the world.
- Place the peel in a small saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil over a medium heat and then drain and return to the pan. Repeat two or three times depending on how sweet your grapefruit is.
- When the grapefruit has been blanched sufficiently, dissolve the sugar in the pan with a cup of water. Bring it to the boil and allow it to simmer for a few minutes until syrupy.
- Add the zest to the pan and cook at a simmer for about 30 minutes until almost translucent. You can swirl the pan but try not to stir.
- When cooked, remove from the liquid, pat dry and then, if desired, roll in a little extra sugar. Leave to dry for a couple of hours before serving.