Story and recipes by Chef Heidi Fink
The brightest spot in the winter kitchen is a bowl of colourful citrus fruits — a taste of sunshine promised inside their brightly coloured skins. With its juicy tart, sweet and bitter flavours, citrus offers a perfect contrast to the otherwise boring winter produce rotation of root vegetables and cold storage apples.
Citrus season is at its peak in the winter months; you’ll find the best quality and biggest variety from December to the beginning of March. That’s also when we can find some unusual or exotic types of citrus: satsumas, Meyer lemons, tangerines, kumquats, blood oranges and finger limes, to name just a few.
Although most of these deliciously tart and fragrant fruits are perfect for out-of-hand eating, they are easily put to work in the kitchen as well. Citrus can be used in a dizzying variety of recipes, spanning the menu from dessert, to side, to sauce, to entrée.
The following menu touches on citrus fruits’ flexibility and versatility in the kitchen: aromatic kumquats in a sweet-and-spicy chutney, jewel-like blood oranges in a salad, tart limes to infuse a juicy pork roast and Meyer lemons to add an intoxicating perfume to a light-as-a-feather dessert.
Enjoy! And, remember, the sun is on its way back to us.
Makes about 500 ml
Kumquats have a sweet and fragrant skin and a very tart interior, making them a perfect fruit to use in a complex and delicious chutney. Kumquats vary from quite dry inside to juicy, so adjust the amount of water accordingly. Serve this chutney as a fruity accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats and poultry, or with vegetarian curries of any kind.
2 cups fresh kumquats (about 225 g)
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
¼ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup water, adjust as necessary
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
8 pods green cardamom
½ tsp whole coriander seed
¼ tsp to ½ tsp chili flakes
2 slices of ginger (optional)
Wash the kumquats and cut them into quarters, removing any large seeds as you go. Place the prepared kumquats in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the sugar, vinegar, orange juice, water and salt. Place the spices (including the ginger, if using) in a square of triple-thickness of cheesecloth; fold over the cheesecloth and tie it into a little packet. Place this spice packet in with the kumquats.
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kumquats are tender (their pith will start to appear translucent) and the juices are syrupy. Add more water, if necessary, to prevent the mixture from getting too thick and sticky. Or, if the kumquats are very juicy and the mixture is too runny, continue to cook for a few minutes longer to thicken.
Remove from heat. Remove the spice packet with tongs or a fork, pressing the packet against the side of the pot to get all the juices out. Let the kumquat chutney cool completely before using. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
|Reverse seared Pork loin roast with lime crust. Don Denton photography
Reverse Seared Pork Loin Roast with Lime Crust
Serves 4 large portions or 8 modest ones
Reverse searing is one of my favourite ways to prepare a roast, ensuring meat that is evenly cooked and very juicy throughout, and with a crackling, flavourful crust.
One 4-bone pork loin roast, chine bone removed (about 4 lbs)
1½ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 tsp)
Additional lime zest, plus juice, for finishing the roast
Preheat oven to 250°F and adjust oven rack to centre position. Score the fat cap of the pork roast in a crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat.
In a small bowl, mix together salt, sugar, pepper and lime zest. Rub this mixture liberally all over the pork, pressing into the meat. Place pork roast, fat side up, in the roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast until an instant-reading thermometer registers 135°F to 138°F, about 2 hours. Remove pork from the oven and tent with foil for about 10 minutes.
Increase oven heat to 500°F. Remove foil from pork roast and return to the oven. Cook until the exterior is browned and crisp, and the internal temperature is 145°F to 148°F, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Internal temperature will continue to rise, finishing just above 150°F. Before carving, sprinkle fresh lime juice and additional lime zest over the roast for an extra boost of lime flavour.
Golden Basmati Rice Pilaf with Preserved Lemon
Makes 4-plus cups of pilaf, to serve 6 to 8 people.
This is one of my all-time favourite pilaf recipes as the flavour of the caramelized onion plays against the sweetness of the cranberries and the tart complexity of the preserved lemon for an addictive flavour combination.
1 yellow onion, quartered and sliced thin
¼ cup ghee or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cup basmati rice (Tilda is one of my favourite brands)
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp salt
2¼ cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 small or ½ large preserved lemon
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley or dill
In a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid, sauté the sliced onion in the ghee or butter over medium-low heat until the onion is dark golden brown, at least 20 minutes. Remove onion with slotted spoon to a plate. Set aside.
There should be at least a tablespoon of butter left in the pot. If not, add some more to make up the difference. Return the pot to the stove at a medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté briefly, until fragrant. Add the basmati rice, turmeric and cayenne. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until spices and rice smell toasty. Add the broth and the salt. Bring to a boil, stir to mix everything well, reduce heat to lowest setting and cover. Cook rice covered and undisturbed for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off. Remove lid, scatter cranberries over the top, replace lid and let pilaf sit for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the preserved lemon by cutting into quarters. Rinse and remove the insides, leaving only the peel. Cut the peel into very small cubes.
After 10 minutes, remove the lid from the pilaf. Add the reserved onions (you may have to reheat them briefly in the microwave if the butter has hardened) and the prepared preserved lemon. Gently stir these into the pilaf along with the cranberries. Serve the pilaf topped with yogurt and chopped parsley or dill for garnish.
|Citrus influenced salad.. Don Denton photography
Salad of Winter Greens, Beets and Pomegranate with Citrus Vinaigrette
Nothing says citrus season more than a bright salad full of bitter greens and sweet-tart citrus. My favourite to use here is blood orange, but navel orange works well, too.
3 blood oranges OR 2 navel oranges
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed
4 small or 3 medium beets, boiled whole, then peeled and sliced
¾ lb of mixed greens (micro greens, arugula, baby kale, radish sprouts)
1 small Belgian endive, leaves separated and sliced lengthwise
¼ small radicchio, sliced thinly
Optional — ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds OR pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp very finely minced shallot
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey or sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 tsp)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tsp)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange or blood orange (about 1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed juice of orange or blood orange
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup light oil (e.g. grapeseed, sunflower)
To cut the oranges into segments start by cutting of both ends of the fruit. Place one (now flat) end on a cutting board. Use a small paring knife to cut off the skin and white pith from top to bottom, following the natural curve of the orange, and not cutting too much into the flesh. Once the skin has been cut off, pick it up in your hand and cut the orange segments out, slicing between the segment membranes with the paring knife. You should end up with a pile of orange segments that have no skin or pith on them. Squeeze the “core” you have left in your hand over a bowl. Use this juice later in the dressing. Repeat with remaining orange(s).
On a large platter, arrange the salad greens, the prepared endive and the prepared radicchio in a pleasing arrangement. Scatter the prepared orange segments, the pomegranate seeds, and the optional toasted seeds over the greens. Drizzle with half of the Citrus Dressing and serve immediately, passing more dressing at the table.
In a small mason jar, combine the shallot, Dijon, honey or sugar, all the citrus zest, all the citrus juices, salt and pepper. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well to combine, until the sugar and salt dissolves. Add both oils and shake again until well mixed.
Alternatively, make this a small bowl, whisking well to combine. Dressing will last for two weeks in the refrigerator.
|Lemon Feather Cake. Don Denton photography
Lemon Feather Cake with Meyer Lemon Cream (GF)
Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 12 people.
This recipe is adapted from one I found years ago in the pages of the Canadian Living 20th Anniversary Cookbook. Gluten free, light, luscious, lemony — a keeper for sure.
NOTE: for a dairy-free version, use the Earth Balance shortening and coconut milk to substitute for the butter and whipping cream, as directed in the recipe.
6 eggs, separated
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1¼ cup berry sugar or superfine sugar
¾ cup potato flour (potato starch), sifted
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Icing sugar, for decorating the cake
Lemon cream filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter (or Earth Balance Buttery shortening)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp finely grated zest of Meyer lemon
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed juice of Meyer lemon
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed juice of regular lemon
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup whipping cream (or solid coconut milk)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 10-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat egg yolks with the lemon zest and half of the sugar for at least five minutes, or until pale and thickened. Set aside. In a separate bowl using clean beaters, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. NOTE: It is very important that the egg whites are not beaten too stiffly. If egg whites are over-beaten, they will lose their ability to hold air when folded into a batter.
Sift one third of the flour over yolk mixture and gently mix it in. Fold in half the egg whites. Repeat steps once. Sift over and fold in remaining flour. Transfer one quarter cup of batter to a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and mix well. Fold this back into the remaining batter. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Let cool on rack.
Fill a medium pot about one third of the way with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a bare simmer and place a medium bowl directly over the pot. This is a makeshift double boiler.
Put the butter (or Earth Balance) in this bowl and melt. Add the sugar, Meyer lemon zest and both types of lemon juice. Stir until sugar dissolves.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until frothy. Slowly pour in about ¼ cup of the lemon mixture, whisking all the while. This helps temper the yolks and keeps them from curdling when they are added to the whole mixture.
Slowly pour egg yolk mixture into the bowl with the remaining lemon mixture, whisking the whole time. (The bowl should still be over the hot water.) Cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 8 minutes, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the bowl from heat and let the mixture cool completely. Refrigerate until cold.
In a separate bowl, whip cream until medium-stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon curd that is in a bowl. (If using coconut milk, use only the solid stuff at the top of the can.) Refrigerate filling until cold and thickened. It should be as cold and thick as possible when serving the cake.
To assemble cake:
Slice cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife.
Place bottom layer on a cake platter. The edges of the cake platter should be lined with 4 strips of parchment paper. Spread filling over the cake layer. Cover with top layer of cake. Sift icing sugar over the top and decorate with berries, if desired. Remove the strips of parchment paper from the edges of the cake platter.
The filling is not very stiff, so when serving the cake, make sure to use a very sharp, thin knife (serrated would work) to make the cuts, and cut with a very gentle downward pressure (more like sawing). The filling will still ooze out a bit, but not too much.
To take a cooking class with Chef Heidi Fink click here.
|Lemon Feather Cake. Don Denton photography