If sunshine had a flavour, I would say it's a glass of orange juice.
The smell of freshly squeezed citrus is so wonderful for those of us weary of winter's grasp and, as much as comfort foods have certainly come in handy this season, I long for light and airy salads and soups, delicate desserts and citrus-glazed and grilled meats and fish.
Something about a taste of grapefruit juice, the ruby red variety, that brings a spring breeze to my senses and sometimes I spritz lemons and limes into sparkling water to make me feel like I'm enjoying a summer day.
Here's a selection of sunny and sensational citrus-inspired recipes courtesy of the Florida Department of Citrus (Floridajuice.com) that'll help you tuck into a taste of spring, even if we've been living an endless winter.
Orange Fennel Veloute with Seared Scallops
If you love licorice flavour you will adore this soup! The orange juice flavour shines through and is a perfect match for the buttery scallops.
- 2 bulbs fresh fennel
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) canola oil
- 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
- 2 cups (500 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) orange juice
- 8 large sea scallops
- 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) fresh ground pepper
Cut top fronds off fennel and reserve feather leaves for garnish. Cut fennel bulb in half and remove core. Thinly slice fennel and place in bowl. Toss with 4 tsp. (20 ml) of oil, thyme, garlic and salt. Spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast in 400F (200C) oven for about 35 minutes or until tender and golden.
Scrape fennel into blender and add broth. Puree until very smooth. Pour into a soup pot and add orange juice. Heat until steaming.
Meanwhile, sprinkle scallops with pepper. Heat remaining oil in a skillet and sear scallops over medium high heat until golden brown. Ladle soup into 4 shallow bowls and top with scallops.
Makes 4 servings.
Korean Glass Noodles with Grapefruit
This dish is fresh tasting and perfect to enjoy along grilled beef or pork. Bursts of citrus will surprise you in each bite.
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) sesame oil
- 4 oz (120 g) shiitake or button mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Half a bunch (8 oz) fresh asparagus, cut into 2 inch (5 cm) matchstick slices
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) grapefruit juice
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) soy sauce
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) granulated sugar
- 3.5 oz (100 g) very thin mung bean or rice vermicelli noodles
- Pinch salt
- 2 ruby red grapefruits, peeled and segmented
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat and cook mushrooms, onions and garlic for three minutes or until softened and starting to become golden. Stir in asparagus and carrot.
Pour in grapefruit juice, soy sauce and sugar; bring to a simmer and cook for two minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small pot of boiling water cook noodles for about two minutes or until tender but firm and drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Stir into skillet and toss to coat. Add salt and cook for one minute for noodles to absorb sauce. Remove from heat and gently stir in grapefruit segments.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Tip: Look for noodles in the international section of grocery stores. You can use mung bean for the “glass” noodles while rice noodles work equally well.
Mini Pavlovas with Orange Yogurt Cream
Perfect end to a great meal is a dessert that will become a big favourite for entertaining with friends. Make the orange cream on its own and enjoy it with your favourite angel cake and fruit for another dessert idea.
- 4 egg whites
- Pinch salt
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) cornstarch
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
- 2 oz (60 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Orange Yogurt Cream:
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) orange juice
- 1 cup (250 ml) plain Greek 0% yogurt
In a large bowl, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks and slowly beat in sugar until stiff peaks form. Beat in cornstarch, vinegar and vanilla until combined. Divide egg white mixture into eight mounds onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and using a spoon make a divot in centre of each with sides of around one inch (2.5 cm). Place in preheated 350F (180C) oven. Immediately turn heat down to 300F (150C) and bake for 45 minutes or until crisp on outside and still soft on the inside. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Orange Yogurt Cream: Meanwhile in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, whisk egg yolks with sugar and flour for about three minutes or until lighter yellow. Whisk in orange juice and cook for another three minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in yogurt until smooth. Transfer to a clean bowl and cover directly on surface with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or until cold. Spoon into pavlova shells and drizzle with chocolate to serve.
Makes 8 servings.
Tip: You can also make 10 smaller pavlovas if you have a larger crowd; just reduce the baking time slightly.