In my opinion, blood oranges are the most gorgeous variety of citrus there is.; the deep red color the result of a mutation that appeared in Sicily's cultivated oranges during the 17th century.
Once so exotic Americans rarely saw or tasted them, this small, sweet and nearly seedless fruit is now also grown in California, Arizona and Texas, making them readily available to us in season (December-April). As for the flavor, to me it's incredible, slightly floral with sweet berry undertones. Blood oranges are great in salads and desserts and are the perfect match for pork, duck or salmon.
One blood orange has 130% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C as well as potassium and dietary fiber. Even better, it contains the same good-for-you antioxidant found in red wine.
ROAST PORK WITH BLOOD ORANGES (6 servings)
1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin, rolled and tied
6 blood oranges
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium-large yellow onions, cut into 8 wedges each
3 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves stripped from stems and
lightly chopped, plus additional sprigs for garnish
1/2 cup dry white wine (I sometimes use red instead)
1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock, divided
1 large garlic clove, pressed
Place rack in center of the oven and heat to 450 degrees. Place the pork in a large roasting pan. Rub with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Zest 3 of the 6 blood oranges, using a grater or plane. In a medium bowl, toss onion wedges, the orange zest and rosemary leaves in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange onion mixture around the pork. Roast until pork and onions are beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut one of the remaining oranges in half. Squeeze enough juice from it plus the 3 zested oranges to measure 3/4 cup. Discard the pulp. Reserve the last 2 oranges for garnish. Pour the juice into a small saucepan and add wine, 1 cup broth, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and the garlic. Boil rapidly until reduced to 1-1/4 cups, about 7 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Pour 1/2 cup of the blood orange juice mixture around the pork and over the onions, basting pork with pan juices. Continue roasting, basting often and adding another 1/2 cup of orange juice mixture until thermometer inserted into thickest part of the loin registers 150 degrees, about 30-40 minutes longer, and pork and onions are nicely browned.
While pork is roasting, with a serrated knife, peel the remaining 2 blood oranges, carefully removing the white outside pith. To make "supremes" for garnish, over a small bowl to catch the juices, cut carefully between sections, releasing the orange pieces. Set aside.
Transfer pork to a warm platter and cover loosely with foil. Place roasting pan over high heat; add remaining 1/2 cup orange juice mixture to the pan and the remaining 1/2 cup broth. Boil, stirring, and dissolving brown bits on the bottom of the pan for 3 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Taste; add a little more broth and seasoning if necessary. (If you prefer a thicker sauce, as I do, make a slurry of 2 tablespoons cornstarch in 1/4 cup cold water and whisk it in at the last minute.)
Spoon the orange/onion sauce over and around pork. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and the blood orange supremes.
Good accompaniments for this pork roast are browned fingerling potatoes or a spinach risotto.
Over the years, I've often served crostini with pre-dinner drinks or at cocktail parties, but I never thought of using them as accompaniments to soup until one of my brilliant friends did so recently at lunch. Her soup was a smooth and velvety cream of cauliflower with just a hint of curry...a perfect foil for the platter of colorful, flavorful toasts that centered the table. Here are the crostini Sarah presented with her soup but you could go on and on with this, right? Check out the apple crostini at the end.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Slice a baguette into 1/3-inch slices and place them on a sheet pan. Brush lightly with olive oil, season with some coarse salt and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Spread with some of the following toppings:
Whisk equal parts horseradish and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper and spread on toasts. Top with thinly sliced roast beef from the deli and sprinkle with minced chives.
Flake 5 ounces smoked trout into a bowl. Stir in 1-1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Spread on toasts. Top with a drift of chopped dill and crown each toast with a thin slice of grape tomato.
Olive, orange and mint
Spread Dijon mustard on toasts, then a light layer of mascarpone cheese. Top with chopped oil-cured black olives, an orange segment (pith and membrane removed) and finely chopped fresh mint.
Honey Sriracha chicken
Spread mayonnaise on toasts and top with shredded chicken from part of a rotisserie chicken from the deli. Whisk equal parts honey and sriracha (Asian chile sauce - check your supermarket) and drizzle over chicken. Top with chopped cilantro or parsley.
And, for dessert:
Baked apple crostini
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel, core and cut 2 pounds Granny Smith apples into quarters. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 cups unsweetened apple juice and a good sprinkling of cinnamon-sugar. Bake the apples for about 20 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
Reduce heat to 350. Mash apples coarsely until chunky. Bake the apple puree, stirring occasionally, until thick and brown, about 1 hour. Remove the apples puree from the oven and cool. Spread on toasted baguette slices and top with a tiny slice of blue cheese and some chopped hazelnuts.
There was a time when an edible food gift often meant a fruit cake, a gift that often got tucked away in the back of the refrigerator never to resurface again. But fortunately times change and now foodies can exchange a wonderful assortment of food-centric gifts. Here are a few that made our holiday list.
European-style Christmas goodies
Bit of Swiss Bakery
4333 Ridge Road
A quarter of a century ago, when Tim and Pat Foley bought Bit of Swiss Bakery in Stevensville, Hans Kottman, a Swiss trained baker from Austria and the original owner of the bakery taught them how to make stollen, a Christmas sweet bread filled with brandy marinated fruit and almond paste. Every holiday since, the Foleys have continued the tradition – a laborious process that includes making almost a 1000 pounds of marzipan, marinating Christmas fruits in brandy for a month or so and then when it’s time to begin baking, rising early in the morning (stollen making at Bit of Swiss starts at 2:30 in the morning) to begin mixing dough, blending ingredients and waiting through numerous rise cycles. In the time leading up to Christmas, Bit of Swiss, which recently was named the 2012 Retail Bakery of the Year by Modern Baking Magazine, often makes 100 stollens a day. That’s in addition to their artisan breads, pastries, torts and elaborately iced holiday cookies. Bit of Swiss ships and orders can be made online or by phone.
Forget time, how about a pear in a bottle
Black Star Pear and It’s Spirit
Black Star Farm
10844 E. Revold Rd.
Suttons Bay, Mi
In the spring, as tiny pears buds begin to appear in the orchard, the winemakers at Black Star tie bottles over the branches in hopes that in time luscious sweet pears will ripen inside. When this happens, the pears are harvested, cleaned, the bottles filled with pear brandy from the same orchard and then hand labeled for this special limited presentation. Located on beautiful Sutton Bay north of Traverse City, Black Star Farms is a unique agricultural destination featuring two winery production facilities with adjacent tasting rooms, a distillery, Inn, dining room and café as well as an equestrian facility.
Just one word says it all: Chocolate
A chocolate perfectionist (chocofectionist?), Tina Buck, owner of the Chocolate Garden in Coloma, Michigan whose decadent truffles earned the #1 position in Midwest Living magazine's “Fantasy Box of Chocolates,” recently introduced three new truffle flavors – Citrus Ginger White Chocolate, Salt and Pepper Caramel Milk Chocolate and Milk Chocolate Pomegranate – to her list of 23 plus two seasonal varieties—candy cane and holiday spice.
Perfect presents from Northern Michigan--award winning wines and cooking classes
Entice Ice Wine Brandy
15900 Rue de Vin
Traverse City, MI 49686
With its hints of sugar and spice, this rich and full bodied dessert wine--a blend of Riesling ice wine (made from grapes after the first hard freeze) and brandy aged in oak barrels, is one of many wines made at Chateau Chantal Winery and Inn on Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan. It’s a charming spot surrounded by vineyards and near the water in one of the state’s premiere wine areas.
Take a class and stay at the Chateau (not mandatory for those taking classes but not a bad idea either). The 2014 schedule s already up and includes Valentine's Treats with Grocer's Daughter Chocolates, Wine Boot Camp and Spanish food from Tapas to Paella.
An enduring tradition that gets the job done
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
The origins of KitchenAid’s classic stand mixer date back to 1908 when an engineer from Troy, Ohio watched baker mix bread dough with a heavy iron spoon and decided there had to be a better way. Six years later the Hobart model H, an 80-quart capacity giant mixer was introduced and quickly became a success. In 1919, the Hobart model H-5, a home mixer with the unique planetary mixing action that is a KitchenAid exclusive, was introduced. When wives of Hobart executives tested the H-5, one remarked, “I don’t care what you call it, it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had”. From that day forward, that brand name has been the KitchenAid trademark. But the cost was high-- $189.50 or about $1900 in today’s dollars. Retailers were hesitant to make that inventory investment so Hobart sent a sales force mostly comprised of women home to home, lugging these 65 pound machine and an easy payment plan of $150.00, with 10% down and 10% a month for ten months. Fast forward to the 21st century. Still the warhorses of mixers, they now come in a variety of colors—tangerine, Green Apple, Empire Red, Onyx Black, Gloss Cinnamon and Majestic Yellow to name a few as well as 12 attachments including food grinders and pasta makers.
How easy can it be?
KitchenAid Hand Blender
KitchenAid’s Hand Blenders seemingly do it all, blending, mixing, crushing, chopping, whisking, puréeing and frothing a multitude of ingredients, foods and beverages with one do-it-all appliance. Hand Blenders are available in three speeds and are accompanied with attachments as interchangeable Bell Blades which include covers to prevent the scratching of metal and plastic cookware and a removable 13” Blending Arm for blending or pureeing in deeper pots and bowls. Another plus--these sleek gadgets also take up a minimal amount of counter space.
Middle Eastern cuisine by way of London
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Ten Speed Press $35
In this book by Yolam Ottolenghi, author of Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi and the award winning Jerusalem: The Cookbook which he co-authored with Tamimi, the two team up again, culling 140 recipes from the four London Ottolenghi restaurants—each a patisserie, bakery, deli and restaurant combined. The recipes such as Pistachio and Rose Water Meringues, Honey Cilantro Lamb Chop, Cauliflower Fritters with Lime Yogurt Dipping Sauce and Figs with Young Pecorino and Honey and Honey Cilantro Lamb Chops are inspired by the diverse culinary traditions of the Mediterranean.
Cupcake cookbook with an attitude for the non-traditions chef
ROBICELLI’S: A Love Story, with Cupcakes…with 50 Decidedly Grown-up Recipes
Allison & Matt Robicelli
Viking Studio, $35
Robicelli’s Bakery in Brooklyn is known for its adult cupcakes. No, that doesn’t mean porn themed goodies but instead cupcakes made with adult tastes in mind—figs, friend chicken (yes, fried chicken) and whiskey. Though some of the recipes in this witty book which also includes the couple’s take on life are the sweet if not traditional variety such as Brooklyn Blackout Cake-- chocolate cake with chocolate custard buttercream, dipped in homemade fudge and rolled in chocolate cake crumbs but others almost border on the savory like the fresh fig cake topped with goat cheese buttercream, fig balsamic gastrique, and crisp prosciutto flakes and Chicken ’n’ waffles cupcakes. This is a very fun cookbook for home cooks willing to look beyond classic cupcakes and explore new flavors and ingredients.
Sweeten ice cream, rescue abused and abandoned animals
13686 Red Arrow Highway
Butterscotch, once a starved and beaten dog, now graces the label of Butterscotch Schnapps Dessert Topping since being rescued by Charlie Moore, a rescue dog adopted by Charlie Moore, owner of Seasons Harvest, a specialty foods producer in southwest Michigan. Moore’s company does private labels for such food emporiums as Williams-Sonoma and so it was a simple step for Moore to create a rich and thick butterscotch with a kick topping. Seasons Harvest gives rescue shelters including the Michiana Humane Society their own label and a deep discount to sell the toppings as a sweet fundraising product. Butterscotch’s topping along with their pasta sauces, salsas, salad dressings, marinades, condiments and a long line of other products is also available online and at their retail store in the lakeside town of Harbert. Visitors there also get to meet Butterscotch who now is the store’s greeter.
Sechler’s Fine Pickles
5686 State Road 1
St Joe, IN
Fall in love with these flavorful pickles, made in the traditional way since the company was founded nearly a century ago. With 54 products (personal favorites are Candied Sweet Orange Strips, Horseradish Chips—beware of their kick, Sweet Jalapenos, Apple Cinnamon Chunks and Mango Salsa) using locally grown fruit and vegetables (okay maybe not the mangos, but definitely the pickles as well as cauliflowers for the jars of sweet cauliflower and peppers for the Sweet & Mild Hungarian Pepper Relish. Gift packs are available.