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Archive for the ‘citrus’ Category

So, I was curious about the pre-cooked, frozen langostino tails at Trader Joes. It was about 90 degrees today and I really didn’t want to turn on the stove. I put the frozen tails (about 1 lb.)  into cold, brined water [about 2 T sea salt to a half- gallon of water– I don’t measure]. They’re small, they thaw quickly in about 20 minutes. I drained them and added the juice of about three limes, 2 T very thinly sliced onion, cherry tomatoes (halved), a pinch of epazote, oregano, cumin [tiny amount,] dried chile guajillo moido, salt, chopped cilantro, about 2 T of mezcal, and half a seedless cucumber, peeled and diced. I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, then added a diced avocado.

I served it with a thick avocado/chile salsa/sauce on top:
1 pasilla chile, grilled, peeled, and cored
6 medium tomatillos. paper removed, grilled well, skins removed
1 avocado
juice of 1 to 2 limes
salt
2 T cilantro

Put all ingredients in a foor processor and puree until desired smoothness.

It would be great with some homemade corn tortillas, shredded lettuce, and a huge margarita…

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so, baking is not really my thing, but i’m trying to be more well- rounded in many areas of my life. i admit i may have a small obsession with blood oranges and pomegranates [my daughter just told me to delete the word ‘small’]. i couldn’t find pomegranates in the market, so just bought the juice; but i admit there is something zen- like about dismantling a whole fruit, seed by seed. pomegranates are exalted in many cultures, and with good reason; they are mysterious, gorgeous, and sexy.

as with any cooking experience, i learned a lot here. developing baking recipes is not my forte, and what i usually do is start with a recipe, deconstruct it, then rebuild it into something that comes close to what i was shooting for. if i were writing for a cookbook,
i would make this a dozen times, but really i was just satiating a craving for blood oranges.

ORANGE CURD [filling]

i used the zest of three blood oranges, but only the juice of two.

juice two of the blood oranges, until you have just under 1/3 cup. add enough pomegranate juice to make it 1/3 cup total. you can add a couple more tablespoons of pomegranate juice if needed. to the bowl of a double boiler add the juice, 5 egg yolks,
1 cup sugar, and the blood orange zest. place one or two inches of water into the bottom of a double boiler and bring to a boil. put the bowl of the double boiler with the orange mixture over the double boiler and whisk until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. do not allow the bottom of the top bowl rest *in* the water; it should be above. when the mixture has thickened, remove the bowl from the pan and stir in 1 stick of butter, cut into small pieces. put them in a few at a time and allow them to melt before adding more. set aside and allow to cool. at this point you can refrigerate it if you like and assemble the tarts later, or you can use the curd for scones or toast.

TART CRUST

i like this crust because it’s not just a shell for the filling; the eggs make it puff a bit, and equal the filling in presence. i like this especially to balance the richness and sweetness of the orange curd. this crust should not be overworked, it will get tough. it doesn’t bother me so much, i’m not a big pastry snob; if you are, you might want to try a less finicky recipe, like without eggs.

put 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of a food processor. add a 1″ chunk of ginger, cut up into small pieces, and 1 T of dried ginger. blend the sugar and ginger until the ginger is completely mixed in. add 2 sticks of butter, cut into large pieces, and pulse until combined. add 2 eggs, beaten, and pulse until just mixed. add 3 and 1/2 cups of flour and pulse until just blended. pour out onto a cutting board or marble slab and pat into
2 large circles. put one in the refrigerator or freezer and reserve for another day. divide the second half into 8 pieces.

roll out a circle of tart dough into a circle a little thinner than 1/4″. maneuver the circle over into the tart pan and push against corners and edges to evenly distribute the dough. take a knife or bench scraper and cut the crust at the top of the pan.

i only had two spring-form tart pans, so for the other tarts i used normal baking rings and 3″ x 3/4″ circle cookie cutters. because they did not have bottoms, i constructed them right on top of parchment on the cookie sheet.

to keep the bottoms of the tarts from rising from the pan, cut small pieces of parchment and weigh with dry beans or pie weights. bake in a preheated 325 degree oven until brown. remove the beans after about 15 minutes, and continue to let the shells bake until just tan. don’t over- bake.

fill tart shells with the orange curd and refrigerate.

in a small pan with high sides, combine 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of pomegranate juice and a large piece of fresh ginger cut into quarters. boil the liquid until it becomes syrup, and easily coats the back of a spoon. cool slightly, and pour over chilled tarts. i also used a tablespoon or so to sweeten the whipped cream instead of sugar and vanilla.

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i’m not a huge fan of mixed chicken salad. first, i don’t like mayonnaise much, and second, i like stuff with it that i would not necessarily want to put into one creamy salad mass. i had leftover roasted beets and turkey which are a great combination; but put beets in a traditional creamy salad and the whole thing turns pink.

i like to layer salad on my plate, then add a dressing, or just olive oil and vinegar.
i chopped up a couple of stalks of celery and put them in the bottom of a pasta bowl.
i like the pasta bowl for salad. on top of it i piled a grapefruit, peeled and sectioned with a knife, sliced beets, chopped up roasted turkey, chopped flat- leaf parsley, dried cherries and slivered almonds. i just drizzled olive oil and some balsamic vinegar over it, salt and pepper.

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this is probably the best pie i have ever made, but that’s not saying a whole lot.

the recipe is a combination of my mom’s orange marmalade pie, and a shaker lemon pie. the marmalade pie has been a frequent staple during the holidays since i was a kid. there’s something about the fresh, crisp, clean citrus in the winter; it’s like mother nature taking pity on us.

the recipe uses blood oranges and meyer lemons; i have no idea why anyone would use anything other than blood oranges and meyer lemons when available; the color and flavor are superior. i’m game for any recipe that uses citrus rind, i might try something with grapefruit… hmmm…

the oranges and lemons are prepared separately, then combined in the shell and baked. i prepare the different parts and let them rest overnight, but you could start it in the morning and bake in the afternoon. it’s important to let the lemons soak with the sugar.

TART CRUST

this recipe makes a very flaky crust, and it’s pretty easy. the trick to making good pastry, i think, is really cold butter. when i make scones, i use frozen butter. the thermostat in my refrigerator is busted, so my butter is pretty much frozen anyway.

measure 3 cups flour into a bowl. dissolve 1/2 t of sea salt in 2/3 cups very cold water and set aside.

cut 2 sticks of unsalted butter, and 4 T of vegetable shortening into very small chunks and toss in the flour mixture, breaking up the clumps of cubes and coating them with flour. with your cold hands, reach in and grab the chunks of butter, and squish them between your thumbs and fingers, kind of smearing the butter and flour together in a big, thick flake. toss around and continue to do this until all of the flour chunks have been smooshed this way. or, use a pastry blender. you can also use a food processor, but only use the “pulse” feature, and don’t over blend.

the mixture should look combined, but with the large flakes of butter. do not over- mix, or your dough will not be flaky, nor will it be tender. drizzle in the water and salt mixture a little at a time, quickly tossing with a fork. i like to use a big serving fork. when it is combined but still rough, let it rest for a minute to allow the water to be absorbed by the flour, then shape the mass into two discs, wrap, and refrigerate.

CITRUS FILLING

with a sharp peeler [oxo makes the absolute best peeler], peel zest from two blood oranges. take a very sharp knife, cut off the ends to make the orange stable on the cutting board, then carefully cut off the white pithy part of the peel just inside the membrane, leaving as much of the flesh as possible.

over a pan, run a sharp knife down beside the membranes that separate each section and remove the sections. squeeze excess juice out of the remaining orange flesh into the pan.

chop orange zest into tiny 1/16″ slices and add it to the pan. simmer the zest, sections, and juice until the liquid [not everything] is reduced to about 1/2 cup. stir in 1/2 cup of sugar and 3T of triple sec and let rest until cool [i left it overnight].

trim off the stem end of the two meyer lemons, then with a peeler, peel the zest off the other end, about an inch from the top. this keeps your fingers from slipping while you slice. cut the lemons in half lengthwise, and with the flesh side down, slice them as thin as possible. it helps if the lemons are very cold [which mine are because, as previously stated, my thermometer is busted on my fridge]. chop the zest from the end as you did with oranges, and add the lemon slices and chopped zest in a non-reactive bowl with 2 cups of sugar. cover and let sit overnight.

the next morning, roll out one of the tart dough disks to a thickness of about 1/4″, and place in the bottom of a 10″ pie pan or tart pan with removable bottom. make sure the tart dough extends a bit beyond the edge of the top, as you will be adhering a top crust.

mix 1 t cornstarch into the orange mixture and distribute orange pieces and liquid evenly around the bottom. beat together 4 eggs plus 2 egg yolks and 1/2 t salt. whisk in the sugar and liquid from the lemons. pour about 1/2 cup of the egg and sugar mixture over the orange layer.

carefully lay lemon slices evenly on the top, trying not to disturb the orange layer. check that any leftover seeds are removed. spoon the remainder of the egg mixture over the lemons; going from outside [near crust] to inside.

beat two egg yolks with 2 T of heavy cream. brush around edge of bottom crust. roll out the second crust and lay over the top. press around edges to adhere, then crimp around the edges as you would do regularly for a pie. sprinkle with a semi- coarse sugar, and cut vent holes in the top of the pie. place a large piece of foil on the rack below the pie [not under the pan]. bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. set a timer for 30 minutes and check.

this pie must cool completely before it is cut so that it will properly set up. i can never resist having a warm slice and wreck it every time. try and show restraint…

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citrus is one of the bright spots of winter, as far as i’m concerned; they are like jewels in a snowstorm with their bright color, vitamins, and juicy texture. this salad combines the sweetness of blood oranges with the grassy taste of spanish olive oil, tartness of vinegar, and mint. i made this with roast lamb, it was a lovely, fresh accompaniment.

with a sharp knife, remove rind of 6 blood oranges, cutting just inside of the membrane separating sections. cut into 1/4″ slices. add the seeds from one half of a pomegranate. combine 1/4 c really good quality olive oil with about 3T (to taste) of pomegranate or balsamic vinegar. add salt and pepper to taste and pour over oranges and pomegranate seeds. garnish with chiffonade* of fresh mint.

*a chiffonade is a technique for cutting leaves of herbs or lettuces. stack leaves and cut thinly into 1/16 – 1/8″ ribbons.

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