January at Water Lane

Our pea green gate has been closed for a few weeks, but we are excited to be swinging them open again on 19th January, when we reopen the Carnation House for breakfast and lunch, the Pelargonium House for workshops and events and our new shop and kitchen pantry in the Vinery. We’ve been busy in the walled garden over the festive period. Ian and the gardening team have planted over 4000 Spring bulbs and taken delivery of nearly 30 fruit trees to be grown espalier along the warm red brick walls. Inside, Nick, Jed and the kitchen team have been creating new Winter menus, making dozens of pots of marmalade while also thinking ahead to Spring feasts. As we write this first note of the new year to you, it is one of those perfectly crisp and cold, icy-blue skies day. A few more of these and soon the green shoots of Spring will be here.
We’re in the midst of the seasonal ‘Hungry Gap’ here in the gardens of Water Lane, but the brassicas and root vegetables are enjoying the sugar surge created from the freezing temperatures. On the restaurant menu are bitter winter salads under a duvet of cosseting blue cheese and the nourishing and tasty Gardeners Pie, a pocket-sized individual puff pastry pie filled with root vegetables, herbs and a little cream. New dishes to look forward to include cod cheeks, tartar sauce and crispy shallots; braised leeks, ricotta, chilli and pine nuts; roast skate wing, sprouting broccoli and dulce butter and on the dessert menu, lemon tart; chocolate orange polenta cake and Tams Tipple, figgy pudding, walnuts and pear.
There was much excitement when the Spring bulb delivery of tulips, daffodils and narcissi arrived from Peter Nyssens. The daffodils have been planted along the bank of the garden restaurant and will be a riot of cheery colour come Spring. Over 4000 tulips have been planted in the cutting garden and will be sold in bunches on the produce table.
We’ve chosen an eclectic mix including classic varieties such as Tulip ‘Spring Green’ and Tulip ‘Orange Princess’ plus other varieties such as the beautiful Tulip ‘Marianne’ with its fluted shape and raspberry-pink edges and amber-orange inside; the frivolous, raspberry and cream peony-like Tulip ‘Columbus’ and Tulip ‘Comet’ with is a lovely parrot tulip with orange, red and yellow twisted petals. There is a mix of early, mid and late flowering varieties to extend the season and colour spectacle.
Our aim at Water Lane is to be as self-sufficient as possible, what we can’t grow or produce ourselves we will always aim to work with local suppliers who mirror our ethos and values. Winter citrus is another matter and the bitter and sweet blood oranges, clementines, bergamot and of course, Seville oranges from Spain and Italy are ones we make a welcome exception for. Marmalade, and all jam-making, is a bit of a passion for Nick; food writer and cookbook author Diana Henry included one of his recipes for Good Morning Marmalade in her preserving book, ‘Sugar, Salt, Smoke’, saying it was her favourite marmalade.
Here is a new Seville orange marmalade recipe from Nick to brighten your toast and morning. This recipe is a whole fruit method which is deep in colour and has a stronger flavour than when the fruit is prepared raw. Makes 10 x 227ml jars.

  • 1 kg Seville oranges
  • 1.5 kg golden granulated sugar
  • 500g demerara sugar
  • 150ml fresh lemon juice

Give the fruit a light scrub under cold water and also remove the ‘buttons’ before placing into your largest pan that has a lid, and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat, with the lid on, to simmer for approximately 90 minutes or until soft when a skewer is inserted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, preferably overnight.

The next morning, remove the fruit from the pan and measure the poaching liquid. You will need 1 litre of liquid so either top-up or boil down.

Meanwhile, slice the cooled oranges in half and remove all the flesh and pips into a wide gauged sieve using a dessert spoon. Slice the skins as thin or as thick as you prefer, and place back into the poaching liquid. Push the pulpy flesh through the sieve into the poaching liquid and discard the pips.

Bring the poaching liquid and chopped skins to a boil and add the sugars and 100ml of lemon juice. Continue to boil until the marmalade setting point of 105oC is reached. Add the last 50ml of lemon juice to ‘season’. Allow to cool slightly, stirring occasionally to help evenly distribute the peel.

Prepare the jars and their lids by sterilising in a hot dishwasher cycle or in a low oven for 10 minutes. Don’t let even a fingertip go inside the jars once sterilised. Place in a large roasting tin in preparation for decanting hot marmalade.

Ladle the marmalade into the clean, still hot, sterilised jars and immediately screw the lids on. If prepared and sterilised correctly, the marmalade will last at least a year.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year and we look forward to welcoming you to Water Lane,

Nick and Ian