Iím just a grump, but even with that wintry wonderland
outside our windows, itís easy to feel kinda gloomy this
time of year, donít you think?
sky tends to be grayer than blue during long winters. And
after the fun and games of those first feathery snowstorms,
the constant cold, slush and ice start to wear on you. I,
for one, am pretty darn tired of having to pull on sweaters
to stay warm in my drafty old house.
back summer, already!
seem equally bleak at the grocery store. Root vegetables and
winter greens make great comfort foods, but they donít
have quite the same pizzazz as, say, a basket of homegrown
tomatoes or a pint of sun-sweetened, local strawberries.
it may, a parsnip just ainít the same as a peach.
goodness thereís an easy fix for the winter blues: Juicy,
colorful citrus fruits.
winter months are peak season for these sweet, sometimes
tangy orbs, which bring a much-needed dose of sunshine to
the table along with a healthful shot of vitamin C and other
oranges and tangerines to grapefruit, lemons and limes ó
theyíre all available in spades now through late spring,
brightening the culinary landscape while tickling our taste
buds. And donít forget about those adorable little
"cuties," an easy-to-peel, super-sweet clementine
orange thatís the perfect size for snacking.
been eating bell-shaped minneolas, a type of tangelo, by the
bagful to keep my spirits up and help fight off the common
cold, sore throats and flu so many of us catch
post-Christmas. Seriously, you canít help but smile when
you peel one of these beauties and its tart, citrus-y aroma
(itís a hybrid of the Duncan grapefruit and Darcy
tangerine) fills the air.
shaping up to be another good year for citrus, with the USDA
forecasting some 103 million boxes (4.64 tons) of oranges
out of Florida this season. California also should enjoy
brisk sales, with some 50 million boxes of fruit expected to
hit the market, including tangerines and cara cara oranges,
a red-fleshed naval grown in the San Joaquin Valley thatís
gaining in popularity.
and tangy, with notes of cranberry and cherry, these
bright-orange hybrids are especially prized for their low
acidity and lack of seeds. "Weíve been doing a swell
job with them," says Jonathan Clements, produce
supervisor for Kuhnís Market, which has eight stores in
the Pittsburgh area. Still, "The California naval
orange is king."
oranges, which first came to the U.S. in the mid 1800s from
Bahia, Brazil, by way of missionaries, also are selling well
at Giant Eagle, says registered dietitian/nutrition coach
Samantha Montgomery, along with blood oranges, Meyer lemons
and green-skinned pummelos. Also known as Chinese
grapefruit, these specialty fruits ó the largest of all
citrus fruits ó can grow to the size of volleyballs.
Aromatic and juicy, theyíre a bit sweeter than traditional
fave minneloas also are getting a lot of second looks, says
Montgomery, because the peel doesnít stick to the fruit as
much as a regular naval. That, and the fruitís knob-like
formation on the stem, "which makes it nice for
opening," she says.
time of year is also when lemons and limes are at their
juiciest; in summer they tend to be a little seedier, says
Clements. And donít forget about red and white grapefruit,
which are for so much more than breakfast. Grapefruit can be
peeled and eaten out of hand just like an orange, or
sectioned and added to salads, entrees and desserts. And its
juice makes a puckery, sweet-sour cocktail mixer.
not particularly big on citrus, you might want to
reconsider. According to the USDA, a healthy diet includes
at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit a day ó or a quarter of
what goes on your plate at each meal ó and citrus is a
budget-friendly way to get those goods in the body.
only does citrus help stave off flu and colds, says
Montgomery, but itís also high in fiber, which helps you
feel full (good for weight management) and aids with
digestion. "And itís really easy to take with you,
and relatively easy to consume," she adds. "If youíre
out shopping or running about, you can grab an orange or a
couple of cuties as you head out the door."
also is incredibly versatile. Its juice can be used to
marinate seafood for ceviche or brighten a dessert curd; it
also can be sectioned and tossed into salads both savory and
sweet; juiced into Latin-style soups and stews; blended into
smoothies and salad dressings; and zested for baked goods.
biggest nutritional benefits come from raw citrus, but itís
still pretty good for you tossed into a stir-fry (cooking it
will make it sweeter) or baked or squeezed into a dessert.
Using citrus juice and zest as flavoring also is a nice way
to reduce sodium-related seasonings in many dishes, in that
it adds a little extra zip naturally, "and you donít
need a ton of it," says Ms. Montgomery.
buying citrus, look for firm fruit with bright, colorful
skin. While a few rough spots are OK, avoid citrus that
feels soft or spongy or has cuts and bruises. You also want
to steer clear if thereís any mold in the stem, or the
skin looks dried out. Weight matters ó the fruit should
feel heavier than anticipated. Higher water content means itíll
plan on zesting the fruit (itís most aromatic and
flavorful when you first remove it, so use it quickly), make
sure the peel is really clean and shiny, regardless of
whether or not itís organic. In addition to insecticides,
some fruit is sprayed with color dyes and edible wax to slow
the loss of moisture. Always wash it under warm running
water, using just the friction of your fingers to scrub them
we offer some fresh ideas on cooking with vibrant winter
citrus. Itís sure to brighten your mood and bring edible
sunshine into the kitchen.
in mind 1 lemon yields about 1 tablespoon of zest and 2 to 3
tablespoons of juice; a medium orange has twice that amount.
An average lime has about 2 teaspoons of zest and 2
tablespoons of juice.
about orange being the new black. Shades of pink ó think
the insides of a Ruby Red grapefruit ó is where itís at
during citrus season.
grapefruit juice amps up the flavor in this easy, slightly
sour margarita recipe. It also offers a dose of
antioxidant-rich vitamins C and A, as well as dietary fiber.
pantry is absent agave nectar, but simple syrup worked just
lime, cut into wedges
fresh grapefruit juice (I used Ruby Reds)
cup fresh lime juice
cup agave nectar
salt in a wide, shallow dish. Run a wedge of lime around rim
of 2 glasses, then dip them in the salt mixture. Set aside.
shaker, combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, agave and
tequila. Drop a handful of ice cubes into the cup and shake
well. Carefully strain and pour into prepared glasses. If
desired, garnish with a slice of lime.
"Healthy Latin Eating" by Angie Martinez and
Angelo Sosa (Kyle, Jan. 2015, $22.95)
and citrusy, this simple homemade mayo is equally delicious
in egg or chicken salad, and as a dipping sauce for fried
seafood. Also tasty on top of turkey burgers.
large egg yolk
pinch kosher salt
tablespoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
cup neutral-tasting olive oil
egg yolk with salt and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in small
bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil very gradually.
Whisk until mayonnaise is spreadable and all the oil has
been added. Gradually whisk in more of the lemon juice until
you have thin, slightly tart mayonnaise; you may not need
all the juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store
in refrigerator, covered, until ready to use.
about 3/4 cup.
"Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade" by
Rachel Saunders (Andrews McMeel, October 2014, $45)
12 organically grown lemons
milliliter bottle vodka
lemons then use vegetable peeler to remove yellow zest of
the peels. Store now-naked lemons is refrigerator to use
juice in another recipe.
the lemon zest strips into a large, clean glass jar. Pour
vodka over strips of lemon. Lemon should be completely
submerged in vodka; push is down with a spoon if necessary.
Cover jar and leave it at room temperature for 2 weeks.
Shake jar every other day to redistribute the lemon peels.
2 weeks, liquid will have taken on a bright yellow color
from the peels. Pour mixture through a strainer into a large
bowl or pitcher. Discard peels.
water and sugar in pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring,
until sugar has dissolved into water to form a simple syrup.
As soon as sugar has dissolved, remove pot from heat. Let
syrup cool to room temperature.
lemon-infused vodka into syrup and stir to combine. Pour
limoncello through a funnel into 2 clean 750 ml glass
bottles. Cap or cork tightly. Store bottles of limoncello in
refrigerator or freezer. Thereís still one ingredient left
to add: patience. Wait at least 2 weeks, preferably a month,
for flavors of limoncello to mix and mellow before serving.
2 750 ml bottles
"Preserving Everything" by Leda Meredith
(Countryman Press, 2014, $19.95)
curd typically is made with butter and eggs, so this vegan
recipe might seem strange. But itís actually quite good.
careful eye on the cooking curd; my mind wandered, and it
ended up turning a deep orange the first time I made it.
Still ate it, of course, but it wasnít as pretty as the
pale-yellow second batch.
can coconut milk
cup superfine sugar
2 to 3
tablespoons cornstarch (I used 3)
grate zest of 1 lemon and remove zest of another in wide
strips using a vegetable peeler. Squeeze juice from all 4 of
lemon juice, zest and zest strips in a small, heavy-bottomed
saucepan with coconut milk, sugar and cornstarch and whisk
together until thoroughly combined. Bring to boil and then
simmer uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring frequently,
until mixture reduces and thickens.
curd to sterilized jars. Seal and store. Once opened, curd
will keep in fridge for 2 weeks.
"Keep it Vegan: Over 100 Simple, Healthy &
Delicious Dishes" by Aine Carlin (Kyle, February 2015,
something to shake the family out of their winter doldrums?
This tart delivers, both in taste (itís sweet tart, with a
crunchy crust) and presentation. Itís nothing short of
a circular tart pan instead of the rectangular one called
for in the recipe, and layered sections of grapefruit,
orange, lime and lemon on top.
cup sweetened flaked coconut
cup powdered sugar
cup cold butter, cut into pieces
teaspoon coconut extract
Orange Curd (recipe follows)
assorted citrus fruits, peeled and sectioned
oven to 350 degrees. Bake coconut in single layer in a
shallow pan 4 to 5 minutes or until toasted and fragrant,
stirring halfway through. Cool completely.
coconut, flour and powdered sugar in a food processor until
combined. Add butter and coconut extract, and pulse 5 to 6
times or until crumbly. With processor running, gradually
add 3 tablespoons water and process until dough forms a ball
and leaves sides of bowl. (I used whole-wheat flour, and had
to add about 2 tablespoons more water.)
dough into a 12 1/2-by-8-inch rectangle (about 1/4-inch
thick) on a lightly floured surface. (I used a circular pan
so rolled it into a circle.) Press on bottom and up sides of
a 12-by-9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim excess
at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack.
Buttery Orange Curd over crust. Top with citrus sections.
"Southern Living: No Taste Like Home" by Kelly
Alexander (Oxmoor House, $27.95)
cups orange juice
large egg, slightly beaten
teaspoons orange zest
sugar and cornstarch in a 3-quart saucepan. Gradually whisk
in orange juice. Whisk in egg. Bring to a boil. Boil,
whisking constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes.
from heat. Whisk in butter, zest and salt. Place heavy-duty
plastic wrap directly on curd (to prevent a film from
forming). Chill 8 hours. Store leftovers in fridge for up to
about 2 cups.
& AVOCADO CEVICHE WITH LIME CREMA
acidic marinade "cooks" the shrimp in this zesty
appetizer. Pretty served in a wide-rimmed champagne glass.
pound medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and split in half
cup fresh orange juice
tablespoons fresh lime juice
tablespoon lemon juice
teaspoon kosher salt
tablespoons Mexican crema
teaspoon grated fresh ginger
ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
teaspoons diced red onion
teaspoon chopped jalapeno
bowl of ice nearby. In medium pot, bring 6 cups water to a
boil. Drop in shrimp and cook only until they just begin to
turn pink, about 15 seconds. Do not overcook. Remove from
heat, drain and chill the shrimp on ice.
small bowl, combine the orange, lime and lemon juices with
the sugar, salt, crema and ginger. Mix well and pour over
shrimp. Chill for 15 minutes. Just before serving, gently
toss in the avocado, onion and jalapeno.
4 to 6.
"Healthy Latin Eating" by Angie Martinez and
Angelo Sosa (Kyle, January 2015, $22.95)
BERRY, BABY KALE, GRAPE AND ORANGE SALAD
not so much into health food (admit it ó wheat berries,
which are the whole-grain form of wheat, fall into that
category) but this recipe was kind of terrific. Sweet and
nutty, with a wonderfully chewy texture, the rice-like
kernels marry perfectly with sweet oranges and grapes. I
never bought into last yearís kale crazy (hate the stuff)
so substitute baby spinach. Go easy on the vinaigrette ó
it packs a punch.
cup extra-virgin olive oil
cup golden balsamic vinegar
tablespoons fresh orange juice
teaspoons agave nectar
teaspoon Dijon mustard
teaspoon curry powder
of cayenne pepper
of ground ginger
ground black pepper
ounces baby kale or baby spinach
seedless red grapes
seedless green grapes
ground black pepper
raw, unsalted walnuts, toasted and chopped
wheat berries: Rinse them and put them in medium pot with 6
cups water and salt. Bring to boil and then reduce to
simmer. Cook, covered, 1 hour, until wheat berries are just
tender. Add a few cups cold water to pot; stir and then
strain. Place wheat berries in a very large bowl to cool,
vinaigrette: Combine oil, vinegar, zest, juice, agave,
mustard, salt, curry powder, cayenne, ginger and pepper in a
small jar. Seal lid tightly and shake vigorously to combine.
Set aside at room temperature.
salad: Combine cooled wheat berries with kale or spinach in
a large bowl. Toss with 1/2 cup of dressing. Add grapes and
orange segments and another 1/4 cup dressing and toss again.
Add more dressing if desired and season with salt and
pepper. Toss in walnuts right before serving.
"Straight from the Earth" by Myra Goodman and
Marea Goodman (Chronicle, 2014, $27.50)
stir-fry recipe is a keeper! Slightly freezing the meat
strips made them fry up crisp and crunchy, while still
staying tender inside. I added a little bit more orange peel
than what was called for, and an extra jalapeno, too, so my
son wouldnít feel impelled to douse his serving with
pounds sirloin steak tips, trimmed
tablespoons soy sauce, divided
3-inch strips orange peel, sliced thin lengthwise (1/4 cup),
plus 1/2 cup juice (2 oranges)
tablespoons dry sherry
tablespoon rice vinegar
teaspoons roasted sesame oil
jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and sliced thin lengthwise
tablespoons grated fresh ginger
teaspoon red pepper flakes
scallions, sliced thin on bias
beef with grain into 2- to 3-inch-wide pieces. Slice each
piece against grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut each
slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Toss beef with 1
tablespoon soy sauce in bowl. Add cornstarch and toss until
evenly coated. Spread beef in single layer on wire rack set
in rimmed baking sheet. Put sheet in freezer until meat is
very firm but not completely frozen, about 45 minutes.
orange juice, molasses, sherry, vinegar, sesame oil and
remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce together in bowl.
second rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper
towels. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until
oil registers 375 degrees. Carefully add 1/3 of beef and
fry, stirring occasionally to keep beef from sticking, until
golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes. Using wire-mesh skimmer,
transfer meat to paper towel-lined sheet. Return oil to 375
degrees and repeat with remaining beef. After frying,
reserve 2 tablespoons frying oil.
reserved oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until
shimmering. Add orange peel and jalapeno and cook, stirring
occasionally, until about half of orange peel is golden
brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and pepper
flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until garlic begins to
brown, about 45 seconds. Add soy sauce mixture and cook,
scraping up any brown bits, until slightly thickened, about
45 seconds. Add beef and scallions and toss. Serve
"Cookís Illustrated Meat Book" (Americaís Test
Kitchen, 2014, $40)