I was invited to a friend’s house last night, on one condition. We had to sit in the dark. It turns out we were marking Earth Hour by eschewing electricity. I admit that our gesture of solidarity to the planet was small, but sixty minutes of candle-lit gloom became slightly addictive. Four hours later we were still sitting in the murky light shed by a dozen candles.
Although gentle candle-light is flattering to a slightly sagging complexion, it turns out that cooking in the virtual dark is a nightmare. But in the interests of Earth Hour camaraderie, I have the perfect recipe, one inspired by the great chef Skye Gyngell. It’s so easy you could make this dish with your eyes shut. And so brightly zingily fresh-tasting is it, you could light a room with its orange glow.
Oranges in Rosemary Syrup
5 or 6 sweet, juicy oranges. I used Maltaise sanguines, a delicious variety of blood orange
2 good sprigs of rosemary, about 10cm long
150ml light, clear honey
Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each orange. Stand the fruit on a chopping board and, with a very sharp knife, slice the peel off in curving downward movements. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the juice that collects on the board as you prepare the oranges. Slice the oranges thinly and arrange on a plate.
Bend and bruise the rosemary in your hands to release the aroma and place in a small pan with the honey and the reserved orange juice. Warm gently for ten minutes over a low heat. Allow to cool for a further ten minutes, remove the rosemary and pour the honey over the sliced oranges. Decorate with another sprig of rosemary and it’s done.
After my evening of enforced gloom I walked home by the gentle light of a wind-up torch. But opening the front door was like walking into a harshly lit lift in a municipal car-park. Blinking mole-like at my slightly alarming reflection in the dazzling hallway mirror, I realised there’s another peril to entertaining by candle light. It’s impossible to see quite how many times your wine glass has been filled up.
Perfect, Orange Earth Hour, I love it. Off to seek out those weirdly named oranges in the week.
Looks delicious. My Rosemary bush is so prolific I am always looking for something new to use it in. Not sure about the candlelight chopping though. I see even Rose Prince in yesterday's Telegraph, while roadtesting some new and unfamiliar knives, managed to slice off the tips of a couple of finger pads.
Thanks for you comment Anonymous… the oranges are worth getting for their name alone.
Hello Jakey The oranges really do taste good. Lucky you to have such a great supply of rosemary.
Oranges in the dark – great! – and they made me think of Miss Matty eating oranges in private in Cranford.
Hi Liz I'm so pleased to be reminded of Miss Matty eating her oranges so voraciously in private. It's a wonderful moment.
Oh yes lovely Miss Matty and poor Miss Deborah eating their oranges solitarily (is that a word?)This recipe strikes me as v Italian influenced, am I right? It looks amazing, I hope the candlelight was sufficient for everyone to enjoy the aesthetics
Hi oxslip It's interesting that you see the Italian connection because sometimes I make these oranges to serve with an Italian lemon polenta cake. Good by candlelight but even better sitting on an Umbrian hillside in the sun…