Posts Tagged ‘Citrus Fruits’

Whenever I walk down the street here in Berkeley, I have this incredible urge to pick things.  Something is always in bloom year round and my neighbors have rose and hydrangea bushes and gorgeous fruit trees.  The good stuff often overhangs their fences, taunting me.  I also have some neighbors who let their very adorable cats roam around outside.  One of these days, I’m going to snap and just come home with flowers tucked in my hair, lemons and avocados crammed in my pockets, and three cats in my arms.

Thankfully for everyone, I do have some self control (and my husband has cat allergies).  And, now I can stock my house with preserved lemons so I’m not tempted to take a few next time I walk around the block.

Preserved lemons are just lemons in a brine.  The recipe is super simple and they’ll last a while in your fridge.  I’ve been dicing up the whole lemon and adding it to couscous salad.  I’ve seen recipes floating around for adding it to chicken or lamb tagines, usually with green olives.  I may need to try something like that out soon.

To make these, I followed the instructions at Simply Recipes and David Lebovitz’s blog. I didn’t add any seasoning to my first batch, though other online recipes suggest adding peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, coriander, or cloves.

Preserved Lemons

A bunch of lemons
Kosher Salt


Pour a layer of salt in the bottom of a clean jar so the bottom is completely covered.

Slice a few lemons in quarters, leaving one end in tact (see picture above).  Pour salt in the slices, about a tablespoon per lemon.

Place the lemons in the jar, dumping a bit more salt on top of each one before adding the next.  Press them down a bit, cramming as many as possible.  I got four lemons into a pint jar.

Squeeze juice out of more lemons and pour into the jar so the lemons are covered.  Screw on the top and set aside.  For the next couple days, press the lemons down and add more lemon juice if needed.  Let the lemons sit for three to four weeks until rinds soften.

The lemons will keep in the fridge for about six months.  You can rinse them off before using to get rid of some of the salt, but they shouldn’t taste too salty – more briny, like an olive.

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Last night was a late night.  We were out celebrating friends’ engagement and I woke up this morning starving.  Granola and yogurt didn’t really cut it, so when I was at the farmers’ market, I went a little crazy.  In my mad frenzy to find things to make the hunger go away, I grabbed some tortillas from Primavera and some raw milk cheddar from Spring Hill Farms.  Primavera makes these amazing white cheddar and pumpkin tamales, so I wanted to try to recreate that flavor.  And I knew from my chorizo and sweet potato tacos that their tortillas were delicious. I had  half a butternut squash in the fridge left over from the coleslaw, so my lunch was sounding pretty good in my head.  Some good looking avocados and citrus fruit were out, so those went into my backpack as well.

To make the quesadillas, I just roasted some 1 inch cubes of butternut squash, tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, at 425 for about 25 minutes.  Mashed that up and spread it on a tortilla.  Topped it with some grated cheese and another tortilla and cooked it up in a skillet for a few minutes on each side.

For the salad, I diced an avocado and segmented a pink grapefruit and a blood orange.  Toss those up with a bit of salt and pepper, and lunch was ready.


When I was finally able to eat it, I was a happy, happy girl.


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It’s a lazy Sunday here in Berkeley, and I was getting the cooking itch.  My dinner tonight is easy – meat is marinating and there’s not much left to do.  I was having a cookie craving and decided to whip up a batch of shortbread.  This recipe could not be easier.  As proof, I offer up the fact that it’s just 2 hours since I decided to whip these up, and I’m now on the couch with a couple cookies, a glass of Lemon Verbena Elixir straight from my freezer, my laptop, and a Law & Order SVU on the DVR.

Life is good.

Citrus Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious

1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Finely grated zest from a lemon and an orange
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 300°F.  Butter or grease a 9-inch-diameter springform pan.  Whisk flour, sugar, and salt in medium bowl to blend.  Add the butter and using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers until it starts to come together.  

At this point, the recipe suggests rolling it out, then pressing it into a pan.  I skipped that step and just pressed it evenly right into the greased pan.  Using tip of small sharp knife, score the into 8 equal triangles, then pierce all over with fork.   It’s a little flaky, so just do it gently and carefully. 

Bake until shortbread is cooked through and pale golden, about 40-45 minutes.  At the 30 minute mark, I pulled it out of the oven, re-scored it again to make sure it wouldn’t crumble when I cut it, and gave it a light sprinkling of sugar.

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I had never cooked a beet before, so I was really excited to find them in my CSA box on Friday. I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten beet greens before, so I really wanted to find a way to use those.

This salad turned out fantastic. The original recipe from Epicurious didn’t call for feta, but I think it makes it even more delicious. I think goat cheese would work well too. I skipped the onion and the garlic, and just used a large shallot instead. I thought garlic would be too strong, and I really liked the way the shallot tasted.


6 medium beets with beet greens attached
2 large oranges
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 large shallot, minced
Feta cheese


Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim greens from beets. Cut off and discard stems. Coarsely chop leaves and reserve. Wrap each beet in foil. Place beets directly on oven rack and roast until tender when pierced with fork, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Cool. Peel beets, then cut each into 8 wedges. Place beets in medium bowl.

Cook beet greens in large saucepan of boiling water just until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Cool. Squeeze greens to remove excess moisture. Add greens to bowl with beets.

Cut peel and white pith from oranges. Working over another bowl and using small sharp knife, cut between membranes to release segments. Add orange segments and onion to bowl with beet mixture.

Whisk vinegar, oil, garlic, and orange peel in small bowl to blend; add to beet mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Sprinkle with feta just before serving.

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I have been wanting to try farro for a while now. I see it occassionally in magazines or on cooking shows, so last week, I finally just decided to buy a bag and see what all the fuss is about.
Oh my god, it is so good. It tastes like a cross between bulgar and arborio (risotto) rice. It’s nutty, and both chewy and creamy tasting. It’s really good. It’s expensive, but a little goes a long way. It’s also incredibly good for you, with lots of fiber and protein. Definitely check it out.
I stumbled upon this recipe by googling “farro recipes” and going for the first thing that involved items from my Friday CSA delivery. I made a couple changes because I wanted to serve the dish warm, though I think it would work cold too.
This recipe is pretty flexible, so feel free to adjust it based on what you’ve got at home. It makes a ton. I served it as a side dish for dinner, but reheated leftovers the next day for lunch without anything thing else. I’ve still got some leftover, so next time, I’ll probably just halve the recipe.
Finally, the original recipe notes that it is great with a Neanderthal diet, so serve this to your cavemen friends.
Warm Winter Greens and Farro Salad
6 Handfuls mixed salad greens, washed and dried (I used spinach and arugula)
2 Cups farro, rinsed and drained
5 Cups water (or stock)
2 Teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
1 orange, zest and juice
1 shallot, chopped
1/3 Cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 Cup good quality olive oil
2 Pinchs salt
1/2 Cup Spanish almonds, or toasted regular almonds (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Combine the farro, salt, and water in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, 45 minutes to an hour, or about half the time if you are using semi-pearled farro. Taste often as it is cooking, you want it to be toothsome and retain structure.
While the grains are simmering make the dressing. Whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, shallot, Parmesan cheese, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Salt to taste and set aside.
Just before serving, in a large bowl, toss the salad greens with a bit of the dressing. Add the goat cheese and nuts.
Remove the farro from the stove and drain any excess water. While it is still very warm, add it to the greens mixture, and add another splash of the dressing. Toss again, and add more dressing or salt if needed.
That’s it. The final dish was delicious. If you wanted to serve it cold, I’d recommend holding off on adding the goat cheese until after everything was mixed up. I just put it in before adding the warm farro because I knew it would melt anyway.
I wish I had a better picture of this, but this is what I’ve got. It’s really, really good. I may become a farro addict now.

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I first found this recipe on the food blog Smitten Kitten and was so intrigued, I had to try it. It uses the entire clementine – rind, pith, and flesh – and it uses no butter or flour. So, you can make this for your gluten-free friends.

The original recipe is by Nigella Lawson of the Food Network, and is supposed to be a cake, but I thought cupcakes would be fun for my book club meeting. The comments on the Food Network site were a little all over the map on this one, but I managed to get some good advice from them.

First, keep in mind that this is not a particularly sweet cake. The rind makes it somewhat bitter, so it doesn’t taste like a typical dessert. A five year old is not going to want this for their birthday. Second, the fruit you choose is very important. If the rind or pith are too thick, it will be too bitter. Clementines are really the ideal fruit to use, since the rind is so thin. Nigella suggests doing this with regular oranges and lemons, but increasing the sugar. You can always taste the batter before you pop it in to the oven to add a little more sugar if you need to. Finally, while the original recipe does not call for vanilla, I think it adds a nice flavor to the cupcakes, and I’d recommend using it.

I also made a little orange-vanilla glaze for them, though the recipe says you can eat the cake without it (and would be delicious plain, particuarly as a nice cake for a brunch).

This recipe makes 1 8 inch cake or about 20 cupcakes.


For the cupcakes
4 to 5 clementines (about 1 pound total weight)
6 eggs
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/3 cups ground almonds
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

For the glaze
One orange, zested and juiced
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 pod from the vanilla bean (optional)


Put the clementines in a pot with cold water to cover, bring to the boil, and cook for 2 hours. I had to add extra water at about the one hour mark, since a lot had boiled off.

If you are using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the pod, and pulse in a food processor with the sugar.

If you are planning on making a glaze, put the pod in with a cup of confectioner’s sugar, and let sit until you are ready to make the glaze.

Drain and cool the clementines. Cut each clementine in half and remove the seeds.

Puree the skins, pith, and fruit in the processor until very smooth.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the cupcake tins with cupcake wrappers, or butter and line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Mix the sugar, ground almonds, and baking powder.

Beat the eggs. Stir in the pureed clementines. If you are using vanilla extract instead of a bean, I would add it here.

Slowly pour the dry mix into the wet mix and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan or tin. I baked the cupcakes for 20 minutes. If you are making a cake, Nigella says to bake for 1 hour, covering with foil after about 40 minutes.

Let the finished cupcakes or cake cool on a rack. The cakes will keep for at least several days, and in fact, the flavor will improve over a day or two, so feel free to make in advance.

To make the glaze

Take the powdered sugar and slowly add in the orange juice, a teaspoon or so at a time. Add a pinch or two of finely zested peel. Whisk until incorporated, and add more juice as necessary. You want the glaze to be thick, about the consistency of glue. If you put a drop on the cake and it runs too much, just add a bit more sugar to thicken it up and try again.

Do not add the glaze until you are ready to eat the cake. After it’s been on the cake for 12 hours or so, it will start to absorb into the cake. While it’ll still taste good, it will look weird.

To frost, just take a small spoonful and drop it on each cupcake. It should spread out a little without too much running or dripping.

And that’s it.

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