Monday, March 24, 2008

Tart!

Seville Oranges...a love story
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Citrus season is winding down. For the next 2 months, until local strawberries are available, rhubarb will be the only gift from the earth I have to work with (and thank you for that dearest, reliable rhubarb. You are always there for me when I am antsy for summer fruit).

Around January or February, apples and pears begin to SUCK. Cranberries are gone, and if you were lucky enough to get your hands on a quince, it has long since been devoured. The next local fruit crop feels like a lifetime away.
Here comes citrus to save the day.
Oh bright, sunny citrus. I just heart you oh so much. Meyer lemons, cara cara oranges, heirloom navels, Texas grapefruit, and my hands-down absolute effing favorite: The super sexy seville orange. Grrrrrawl! They just get me all twitterpated.
Is it a coincidence that my favorite Elvis Costello song is "tart", where he paints a lyrical picture with this very orange? Or that I am literally depressed to be down to my last case of them in the walk-in, with no hope to see another one again until next winter?
No, I think I am in love. With an orange.

Here is some back story on my sad obsession: Seville oranges come from- you guessed it- Seville, Spain. They have more seeds than any citrus fruit I've ever seen, they are REALLY bitter (I would never eat one out of hand), they have a thick bright orange skin- gorgeous when candied- and are typically used for marmalade.
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The bitterness of it's juice is more of a pleasant sharpness that enhances food- sort of like a lemon. I love it paired with chocolate, vanilla bean, caramel, or all three- which is how it is currently being showcased on my menu:
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Bittersweet Chocolate Pate with Vanilla Bean Cream, Seville Orange Caramel, and Coco- nib Toffee

Unfortunately, I have never seen a seville orange at the grocery store. If you have a year round farmer's market in your area, you may see them there. Otherwise, you'll just have to take my word for it. These guys are worthy of poetry.

Seville Orange Caramel
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice

2 cups heavy cream

2 seville oranges
1/4 tsp sea salt

Zest and juice the oranges. Reserve the juice and set aside. Bring the zest and cream to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour.
Return steeped cream to the heat, bring to a boil, then strain into a measuring pitcher.
Combine the lemon juice, water, and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Cook until mixture is amber-colored and is just beginning to smoke (don't burn it!...it's a fine line- you don't want to walk away from the stove when caramelizing sugar!)
Remove pan from heat and slowly whisk in the hot cream (stand back- it will hiss and spatter!)
Stir until sugar is dissolved, then stir in the reserved juice and salt.

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3 comments:

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Thanks Norm!