Asparagus with Citrus and Oregano

asparagusCombining three colors of asparagus makes an interesting and appetizing display and the citrus adds a lovely bit of color. The purple asparagus will turn green with cooking, but it will be darker, richer green than the green asparagus, which take a on a bright, vivid hue with cooking. Microwaving the asparagus helps retain their bright colors and ensures crisp texture. However, if you like them cooked a bit more, you could steam them, covered, in the olive oil-water-citrus peel mixture. Use a bit more water than the microwaving calls for. For the citrus topping, you can substitute clementines or sweet Meyer lemons for the navel oranges or use a combination. Combine all the juices when making the sauce.

2 oranges, preferably navel
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/8 t hot pepper flakes
½ t dried oregano or 1 t minced fresh oregano
2 scallions, finely chopped or 2 t minced chives
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
16 stalks asparagus, green, purple or white or a mixture (about 1 lb.)

Zest oranges; set zest aside. Slice off the ends of each orange. Working with one orange at a time, set an orange on end; with a small knife, slice off and discard the peel and the white pith. Holding the orange in your hand, use a knife to cut the orange segments away from their membranes. Place segments (supremes) in a bowl and set aside. Over a separate bowl, squeeze the remaining orange pulp to extract any remaining juice. Repeat with second orange. Whisk 4 t oil, lemon juice, oregano, and scallions into orange juice and season with salt and pepper; set dressing aside.

Prepare asparagus: Bend each stalk to snap at its tender part; reserve lower half for another use. Line up all spears and trim so they are reasonably similar in length. Transfer asparagus to a 9″ x 13″ microwavable baking dish. Sprinkle asparagus with half the reserved orange zest and drizzle with remaining oil and 1/4 cup water. Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and microwave on high heat for 2 minutes. Rotate dish and microwave until asparagus is just tender, about 2 minutes more. Toss asparagus with reserved citrus dressing and season with salt. Top with orange segments and remaining zest. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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Citrus Salad with Spiced Honey

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1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 t peppercorns (black, pink or Sechuan)
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper
4 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods
3 medium-size oranges
3 mandarin oranges
2 Ruby Red grapefruit
2 limes
3 Meyer lemons
6 kumquats (optional)
Fresh pomegranate seeds
Toppings: extra virgin olive oil, fresh mint leaves, sea salt

Bring first 6 ingredients and ½ C water to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil gently – honey boils over faster than milk! – stirring often, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Meanwhile, peel oranges, next 3 ingredients, and, if desired, kumquats. Cut away bitter white pith. Cut each fruit into thin rounds. Arrange on a serving platter, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Pour honey mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer, discarding solids. Drizzle fruit with desired amount of spiced honey; reserve remaining for another use (such as flavoring iced tea). Top with a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of mint leaves, and sea salt.

Note: Salad may be made up to a day ahead. Prepare as directed; cover and chill up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature to serve.


Revenge of the Pear Crisp

dessert_pear_ginger_finale

The name of this dish comes from where we found it — on the blog Food52. The old saying goes “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” but this luscious dish is actually best served warm or at room temperature — though it’ll be good cold too. With the crystalized ginger and Meyer lemon — sweeter and calmer than conventional lemons — and a topping that includes almonds and cinnamon, this is like getting two desserts in one. It’s sublime with pears, but probably would work pretty nicely with apples too. Demoed at Brookside in September 2014. Read More


Meyer Lemon Green Beans

meyer lemon beans

Meyer lemons, a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange, are in season for just a short time across the holidays. In this recipe, the sweet-tangy flavor that is unique to these tasty lemons brings a fresh and different dimension to fresh green beans.  The breadcrumb and cheese topping complete the effect, making this one of the best sides of the season. Make extra sauce and topping and keep them in the refrigerator for other green vegetables, including broccoli and asparagus.  Serves 6-8. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Read More


Melon Cake

melon cake

Never thought you could cook melon?  Try this moist, tasty cake as a Fourth of July dessert.  The flavor is light, but rich.  The trick is to use a really ripe, perfumy melon.

3 C flour
4 t baking powder
1 C granulated sugar
3/4 C butter, at room temperature
3 eggs
2 1/4 C  puréed orange-fleshed muskmelon
1-1/4 C confectioners’ sugar
1/4 C meyer lemon or orange juice

Blueberries and chopped mint for garnish

Preheat oven to 350̊F. Sift the flour and baking powder together and set aside. Cream the granulated sugar and butter until fluffy. Then add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in two parts to the butter mixture, alternating twice with the melon purée. After each addition, stir the mixture until smooth. Be careful to clean the batter from the edges and bottom of the bowl. Then mix the batter on medium-high for about 2 min. Pour the batter into a greased and floured tube cake pan. Bake 50 min., or just until a cake tester comes out clean. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by mixing confectioners’ sugar with the lemon or orange juice until smooth. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 min., then turn it out onto a rack. Spoon or pour glaze over the warm cake.  Garnish with blue berries and chopped mint.