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Posts from the ‘Orange’ Category

baby spinach, orange & feta salad

I’m pretty much a lousy patient. For starters, I’m notoriously bad about calling the doctor in the first place.  Give it a day or two, it’ll pass. I’m sure of it. (That gene’s on my mother’s side.) Frequently I’ll forget and need reminders nagging to take my medicine, or I’ll fail to drink enough water when I do. And that whole “bed-rest” thing…that’s for someone who’s, you know… sick!

I made an exception this time. Allow me to boast (I may never have another opportunity like this one again) – this time I was an exceptional patient. (Except for that whole wasteful bed-rest thing.) I’ve been fighting (well, not me alone) a very nasty infection. I’m pleased to announce : we’ve won! I took my medicine. I drowned myself in fluids. I ate my spinach. And you should too! (How quickly we turn smug and start to nag!)

Baby Spinach Leaves, Orange & Feta Salad 

in a Walnut-Citrus Vinaigrette


Baby spinach leaves

Orange – especially Blood Oranges if you can find them! – thinly sliced

Feta Cheese, crumbled

Pea shoots or seed sprouts

Olive Oil & Walnut Oil

Juice of fresh Lemon

Freshly-Ground Black Pepper

Toasted Walnuts – Optional


For each share of salad, about 2 cups of beautiful baby spinach leaves, washed, dried, tumbled into a bowl; peeled and thinly sliced orange, dropped on top. (Reserve as much of the fallen juice as you can.) Vinaigrette – couldn’t be easier. Equal amounts of olive oil and walnut oil. Equal amounts of freshly-squeezed lemon juice and orange juice. (Start with equal parts oil & citrus juice…adjust to suit your taste.) A few grinds of black pepper, and pinch of flaky salt. Stir, drizzle, toss. Read more

olive oil & red grape cake

If I were to name my sweet weakness, cake wouldn’t be it. Once every blue moon though comes a cake with that certain something that causes my knees to wobble and my will to crumble. Enter this cake.

Generally cakes tend to be a bit sweet for me, sugar muscling out every other taste sensation. This cake is sweet enough to be called a cake, but doesn’t overpower the palate with sugar. My own sweet weakness is for fruit desserts and most cakes are rather wussy in the fruit department. This cake is deliciously fragrant with citrus, both lemon and orange, and has purply bursts of fresh grape. Many cakes are made of more than a dozen ingredients. This has 8 very simple ones. There’s only 1 cup of flour in this 9-inch cake. The lightness and golden color come from eggs. The exquisite richness, from a fruity olive oil (to name another weakness.) This is a fine-textured, delicately scented, out-of-the-ordinary cake quite perfect for finishing a meal.  And if sweet tea-time be your weakness, could I suggest…

Citrusy Olive Oil & Red Grape Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (155 g) sugar, with more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for brushing*
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup (125 g, 5 ounces) cake flour sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (250 g) seedless red grapes

You’ll need a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. 

* I recommend a light or sweet & fruity sort – avoid the pungent peppery kind you might love dipping your bread in.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Rub the springform pan with a little olive oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit.

Grate the zest from the lemon and orange, and then juice the lemon. (One means of getting more juice from the lemon is to roll it back & forth on the counter first, applying medium pressure with the palm of your hand. Or put the lemon in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to help release the juices. Slice in half and juice.)

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and ribbony. Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice and the zest of both the lemon and the orange. Add the flour, and stir to combine.

Beat the egg whites with the salt ’til stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the lemony batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Plunk in half of the grapes, fairly evenly throughout the batter. (These will sink to the bottom.)

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rhubarb & orange jam

One of the fruits that I remember adoring from early girlhood was rhubarb. The other was watermelon. I think the love I had for watermelon had more to do with the “staging” than anything else.  Warm July or August, my mom would set me on a sun-warmed patio step. She’d lower a plate into my lap stacked with deep red watermelon wedges, polka-dotted with their shiny black seeds. The sugary juice would drip down my tan arms and fall from my elbows. I remember first her demonstrating, and then her happy encouragement that I spit the seeds as far as I could. (They’d be sprouting like weeds the next summer!) If seed-shooting was what watermelon-eating was still about, I’d probably still be eating it. I’m not sure when and how it happened that watermelons lost their favor with me.  But rhubarb endures. I’ve learned over time that if ever life combines sweet with tart, it makes me deliciously happy.

Those long red and green rhubarb stalks are beginning to appear in our local markets. And with plump, heavy-with-juice navel oranges stacked high, it was time to break out the canning gear. If you’d rather just put jars in the freezer, you can avoid the canning piece.  Seeing these color-filled jars (and others like them) lined up on pantry shelves gives one a sense that all is well, and that (to me) seems worth the effort (even if it’s only an illusion.)

On fresh bread toasted, or (even better!) on buttery brioche, or on a bagel with its thick slab of cream cheese, or spooned over breakfast yogurt, parfait-style, it’s a tart sweet treat.

Rhubarb and Orange Jam

  • 2 navel oranges
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserving the squeezed hulls and seeds)
  • 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed of any green or soft areas, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 9 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar

Prepare for water-bath canning. Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot. Put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heat-proof bowl.

Use a vegetable peeler to cut the outer zest from the oranges, then stacking the slices, cut them into thin julienne strips. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, segment the orange. (If you’d like tips on how, see here.) Reserve the membrane. Put the membranes and any seeds, along with the reserved lemon hulls and seeds, in a cheesecloth bag and tie the bag closed. (Pectin appears naturally in these parts of the fruit and will result in the thickening and setting of the jam.)

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Orange Almond Cake

17th of February – we’ve made it more than half way through winter now. The last of these winter days seem to creep though, slow and dark towards Spring. There’s hope of it, and there are signs. Brilliant green soft points of daffodils are pushing through the wet earth near our front door. I put my nose close to a tree’s branches this morning and saw the tiniest swellings of buds. I was in need of seeing them there. I find comfort knowing that tightly folded leaves are tucked safely beneath those leathery coverings until the sun is high enough in the sky to warm this winter air. Weeds, opportunistic and first-comers always, are springing up in our herb garden. It’s time I put my rubber boots on and got after them.  All good signs. I count each one. So while I can know that Spring is inching closer, with bright green leaves and clusters of blossoms only just beneath the surface, I’m still missing the sun very much these days.

It’s about this time of year that I go piling my basket with oranges, and grapefruits, Meyer lemons and limes. Is it the same for you too? We’re craving the citrus. Maybe it’s the wisdom housed in our bodies telling us we need those extra stores of vitamin C to fight the last chill and bugs of winter. Maybe it’s the very shape and color we crave, round and warm. Most irresistible to me though, of all the beautiful citrus this time of year, is this brand new crop of freshly-picked oranges. To me they are

s u n   in  a  winter  sky

and when we lift them to our mouths it’s like eating sunshine. They grew with their juices inside warmed and multiplied by the sun. Our very sun is beneath those peels, in each plump segment, and in each tiny puckery pouch within those segments.

A whole bag of the most beautiful heirloom oranges came home with me the other day. Some of them found their way into a not-too sweet dessert that manages also to be gluten free. No flour here. No butter either. Mostly just oranges, eggs and almonds, ground to a fine flour. After baking, the cake is doused in a delicate orange syrup, laced with a bit of Grand Marnier. It’s optional, but you’ll see it here decked with candied thin slivers of peels, every last bit of bitter removed, their color a glimmering translucent orange. Serve alongside some whipped cream, lightly sweetened, and if you have it on hand, a touch of fragrant Orange Flower Water, from the very flower that becomes the fruit.

For this cake, including the candied zest, you’ll need a total of 5 oranges. Because you’ll be using the zest as well the juice, it’s best to use non-sprayed organic oranges. If you can’t find them, wash the oranges very well before zesting. 

Orange Almond Cake

(makes 8 to 12 servings)

  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup (155 g – 5¼ oz.) sugar
  • Zest of 3 oranges
  • 1½ cups (200 g, 7-1/8 oz) finely ground almonds (almond flour)

For the syrup

  • Juice of 3 oranges
  • ½ cup (95 g – 3½ oz.) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier  (orange liqueur) – optional – but strongly advised 😉

For the candied zest

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup (200 g – 7 oz.) sugar*

For serving

  • Whipped cream, lightly sweetened – with an optional bit of Orange Flower water sprinkled in

* If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar, keep in mind that this cupful is making a syrup that candies the peels – but the bulk of it is tossed after the peels are finished.

Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9- or 10-inch (23 or 25 cm) springform pan, and line the bottom of it with a circle of parchment paper.

For the cake, separate the eggs into two large bowls. Beat the yolks with the sugar and zest until very thick, pale, and ribbony. (You’re looking for the mixture to run from the whisk in a steady ribbony stream, one that can write on the surface of your batter.) Then stir in the almond flour.

Beat the whites to stiff peaks.

Stir a spoonful of the whites into the yolk mixture to thin it a bit, then gently fold in the rest. The loft for this cake all comes from the air you’ve whisked into the batter, so be gentle not to deflate it. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until set, about 45 minutes, but check after 40. Allow the cake to cool slightly, then un-mold it onto a serving platter.

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Orangettes – Candied Orange Peel Dipped in Chocolate

 Orange and dark chocolate! A show of hands – who loves this combination? For me, it ranks up there with the best of sweet culinary marriages!  I do want to warn you before we get started though that this is not something you’ll want to do if you’re in any way pressed for time; or if you’re one who shuns repetitive activities, (some prefer the word boring.) Every once in a while, some of us (with a higher tolerance for things slow) like to put on some happy music and wile away some hours playing in the kitchen with food. I had a day like that recently, and this is what came of it:

If I’d had some company, we could have danced a bit and the play would have been far more enjoyable – but then there would have been a witness to the “mistakes” that would mysteriously disappear.  So, you take the good with the bad. And these are good!

Orangettes – Chocolate-dipped Candied Orange Peel

This recipe can easily be halved, and for your first batch, you may be happier doing that. But once you’ve tasted them…a whole batch will do just fine. I’ve discovered that if you can draw the process out over two days, the final result will be improved. I candy the orange peel and roll in sugar the first day and let them dry overnight. The next day, it’s all about the dipping, and the cleaning up your mistakes.


candying the oranges:

  • 6 large navel oranges (always when you’re using the peel of any fruit or vegetable, it’s far better to use organic or unsprayed produce!)
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup orange juice  (either store-bought or from the flesh of the oranges put through a strainer)
  • for rolling:
  • 1/2 up of regular granulated sugar or turbinado sugar (you decide – or choose both)
  • for dipping:
  • 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate

Preparing the oranges: Read more

Salmon with Asparagus and Blood Oranges

I located the recipe for the grilled salmon in Joanne Weir’s wonderful book – Wine Country Cooking –  healthy, scrumptious recipes inspired by the bounty of California’s wine country. Simple, fresh, and pretty straight-forward, where the beautiful ingredients get all the attention. It’s the way we like to eat.

Salmon with Asparagus and Blood Oranges

(to serve 6)

  • 1 navel orange
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbl. white wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 3 blood oranges (usual navel oranges if you can’t find them)
  • Salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • 1-1/2 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 6 salmon fillets (6 oz. each)

Grate the peel of the navel orange to make 1 teaspoon of zest. Place the zest in a small bowl. Juice the navel orange and add it to the zest along with the ginger, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside, but don’t chill.

Cut off the tops and bottoms of the blood oranges. With a knife, remove all of the peel so that no white pith remains. Slice the oranges crosswise into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Remove and seeds as you go. Set aside the orange slices.

Heat a ridged grill pan over medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Brush the salmon lightly with oil.

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil over medium-high heat until tender yet crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. (It will continue to cook after it’s removed from the heat.) Drain and set aside. (If it goes to room-temperature, that’s just fine.)

Grill the salmon, skin side-down, until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the salmon, season with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until done, 2 to 3 minutes more.

To serve, place 1 piece of salmon in the middle of each plate. Place the asparagus and orange slides around the salmon. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salmon, asparagus and oranges, distributing evenly, and serve immediately.

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