At this time of year, the farmer’s markets can be a bit bleak in the way of colorful fruits and vegetables, unless you want to eat rainbow chard with every meal, which I don’t. (Sorry chard lovers, but I don’t really even want to eat it with one meal. And yes, I’ve tried. Many times. You can have it all.)
So in the meantime, while I’m longing for the days of juicy tomatoes and sweet nectarines, I distract myself with some amazing varieties of citrus that are only available in the winter months…nature’s way of throwing us a bone, I guess.
Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are available year-round, but blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, and Meyer lemons are the gems of the winter season. With their vibrant colors and flavors, they brighten up any dish, so get them while you can…
This month I was selected to participate in the Foodbuzz 24x24 dinner event (24 different meals taking place within 24 hours). For my dinner last night, I created an entire menu of citrus-themed dishes that will get you through even the coldest winter nights.
Any good dinner party starts out with a cocktail, and this one sets the citrus tone with blood orange and Meyer lemon juices. It’s sweet and tart, very refreshing, and goes down almost a little too easily.
Sweet and Sour Champagne Mojitos
1/2 cup blood orange juice
juice of half a Meyer lemon
2 ounces light rum
16 mint leaves
Combine juices, rum and mint in a blender. Puree completely. Strain.
Pour about 3 tablespoons of juice mixture into each glass. Top with champagne.
Now that you’ve wet your whistle, here is a spicy first course of shrimp with red peppers, lime, garlic, cilantro and coconut milk. This dish has a good amount of spice but is nicely balanced by the tanginess of the lime and the creaminess of the coconut milk.
Spicy Coconut-Lime Shrimp
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup chopped red Fresno pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound raw shrimp, tails on
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sambal oelek
For marinade, combine first 7 ingredients. Add shrimp and marinate for 60 – 90 minutes.
When ready to cook, heat a drizzle of canola oil in a large pan. Sauté garlic for 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, lime juice and sambal oelek. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and marinade, stir well and bring back to a simmer. Cook until shrimp are completely cooked through (time will vary depending on size). Remove shrimp from pan and reserve. Simmer sauce for a few more minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.
Divide shrimp and pour sauce over the top. Serve with bread to sop up sauce.
Citrus juice is a perfect component in marinades. It makes even a tough cut of meat cook up juicy and tender. The grapefruit and ginger in this marinade are a perfect match; so good that I boiled and reduced it down to be used as a sauce. Top with a fresh citrus salad with creamy avocado to turn this into a company-worthy dish.
Grapefruit-marinated London Broil with Citrus-Avocado Salad
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon white miso paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 green onions, chopped
2-3 pound London Broil (top sirloin steak)
1 grapefruit, cut into supremes
1 orange, cut into supremes
1 green onion, chopped
1 avocado, diced
Combine first 6 marinade ingredients. Add meat. Marinate 24 hours.
For citrus salad, dice citrus supremes. Combine with green onion and avocado. Add salt to taste. (Make just before serving.)
When ready to cook meat, heat barbecue to 400 degrees.
Remove meat from marinade and pour marinade into a small saucepan. Boil over high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Strain out green onions if desired.) Reserve.
Barbecue meat on direct heat for 15-20 minutes, depending on size and desired doneness. (For 2-1/4 pounds at medium-rare, we cooked ours for about 8 minutes per side.) Remove from barbecue and let rest under foil for at least 5 minutes. Slice thinly.
Serve with citrus salad and sauce.
If you like Creamsicles, this panna cotta is for you. The Cara Cara orange gives this creamy treat a delicate hint of citrus that is also a perfect complement to the tart raspberry sauce. And even after a big dinner, you’ll have room for this light dessert. There’s always room for dessert, isn’t there?
Cara Cara Orange Panna Cotta with Raspberry-Orange Sauce
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon Cara Cara orange* zest
1/4 cup Cara Cara orange juice
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
6 ounces raspberries
1/2 cup Cara Cara orange juice
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
3 tablespoons sugar, divided use
1/2 teaspoon Cara Cara orange zest
For panna cotta, whisk together yogurt, zest, orange juice and lemon juice in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, pour water over gelatin. Let sit undisturbed.
In a small saucepan, combine cream and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture to dissolve, then whisk cream mixture into yogurt mixture.
Pour into ramekins. Refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours.
For sauce, combine raspberries, orange juice, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes, then push through a sieve. Pour back into saucepan and add orange zest. Taste for sweetness and add up to 2 tablespoons more sugar as needed, returning to a simmer to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To unmold panna cotta, dip the ramekins in hot water. Slide a knife around the edge and tip out onto a plate. Serve with raspberry-orange sauce.