Tag Archives: blood oranges

Green Salad with Blood Oranges, Apples, and Hazelnuts

I have a page torn from the October 2010 issue of Cooking Light that has been in and around various rooms in our house.  I see it most when I’m not interested in it, wedged between food magazines stacked at the end of the sofa, sticking out from between the pages of one of the cookbooks I’ve been leafing through, or inserted next to the telephone with take-out menus and reminders of dentist appointments.  The now wrinkled page is from The Hungry Traveler section and sports a recipe on each of its sides, but I have paid little attention to one of them because the salad is what originally caught my eye.  It had all the right flavors in it for what I thought was a special occasion salad — one served on a holiday.  I suppose it caught my eye because I’d been making a salad somewhat like it for years, but there was a bit of a different spin on this one, and so I tore it out before tossing the magazine in one of my manic magazine thinning moments.

I’ve never been able to completely understand how this happens.  So many bits and pieces of our lives are tucked here and there — or not — and are so much more important, yet are lost.  We took the time to put them in a special pile of special things so we could put a finger on them in  a second when needed, priding ourselves for our organizational skills.  But when we need them, we can’t find them.  Clearly, a file folder isn’t our idea of being organized.  Perhaps I should rethink the entire thing, allowing the important things to also slip between magazines or beneath the sofa, trusting that when needed, they’d miraculously appear.

So why this salad?

I think it was the dressing.  I’m always ready to try something light and flavorful, but different than our usual citrus vinaigrette — if you can call it that.  We squeeze citrus over our salads before drizzling extra virgin olive oil and call it dressing.  But once in a while, I do enjoy actually making dressing and this one included dried apricots.  When I first read it, I thought the apricots were mixed into the salad because that’s what I’ve done over the years — their bit of sweetness mixed with the other ingredients is wonderful.  I was wrong, and when I finally looked carefully realized the apricots are blended in.

What a delicious difference.

I suppose I should be thankful the torn page has not been lost or I’d have never realized my mistake.  And I’d throw it in the trash at this point, but the recipe on the other side has finally gotten my attention, so I know I’ll have to make that soon to relieve  the poor page from its duty.

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Mini White Cakes + Citrus Curd + Mousseline Buttercream

My sister is coming from Virginia with her oldest daughter in a couple of days.  They used to be California types like us, but life’s necessities took her family to the East Coast for a few years before they were able to return to the Golden State, and then, opportunities not available here saw them back in Virginia.  Forever.  We stay in touch on Facebook, with occasional emails, and like a few mornings, ago phone calls from the grocery store while she was looking for cake flour.   My lovely, svelte sister is not a baker.  Lucky woman.

I miss her quite a bit these days, wondering if I’m suffering from the realization of not having taken advantage of her being closer when she was here.  There were quite a few years when she and I were each raising a house full of children and like most families, found time to get together for barbeques on birthdays and holidays, but we both had careers, so life was quite busy then.  I have three boys, and she, three girls.  She wanted a boy, and I a girl, but that wasn’t what happened, so I always thought I might get my fix of girls from spending time with hers — as in have sleep overs.  Tea parties.  Dressing up and painting toenails lots of crazy colors.  I guess one of my biggest flaws is idealism.  Silly me.  One can’t exactly have a tea party unless one invites a few tea party goers, can one?

Her youngest daughter– the last of our six boys and girls — is just finishing high school and so both my sister and I are facing very different times in our lives.  Mine has been focused on learning to live in a very quiet house newly void of boys since seeing my youngest off to college this past fall.  She is preparing for a wedding — her oldest daughter is to be married this coming summer.

As much as I missed many chances to get to know her daughters better than I have over the years, I was pleasantly surprised — humbled actually — to have my bride-to-be niece call late last year and ask if I might consider making her wedding cake.

Really?

Sure, I’ve made cakes.  Lots of them. But I’ve never made a wedding cake.

Ever.

I’ve never made anything with fondant, either, choosing instead to watch from afar as others work wonders with it.

The cake is to be round, not square.  Three-tiers of lemon with vanilla buttercream for 100 guests.  White fondant with varied shades of  yellow teardrops cascading down the sides.  Clean, sleek, simple.

And I have to figure out how to get it to L.A. where the wedding will be held.

Thankfully, I have many baking friends willing to share their experiences with fondant with me, as well as other great resources I’ve been learning from.  I’ve also buried myself in my favorite cake book, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible.  I enjoy it because of the way the recipes are organized including both weight and volume in the ingredients list.

Since we’ve had an amazing variety of citrus to enjoy this winter, I decided to use that to begin my first experiments in wedding cake baking.  Three types of citrus curd and buttercream filling six little square cakes covered with a reasonably edible fondant may seem a bit over zealous for a first attempt, but I have a tendency to be that way in general.  It pushes my thinking while I make an enormous mess in my kitchen.

My next practice session begins today so my niece and sister can sample the flavors when they arrive, then I’ll make necessary adjustments and practice a few more times before the real cake is baked in July.

Wish me luck, and by all means, if you’ve done this before and have any recommendations, I will be more than happy to listen.

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California Cuties: Citrus Tian Dessert

Blood Orange Tian

It’s nearly April, and with Spring having done its annual thing, the Acer on my patio is finally beginning to leaf out, I’ve replenished my sadly neglected herb box, and it seems everything is in riotous bloom.  The season has had a positive effect on me as well, because I actually completed a Daring Bakers Challenge within respectable time of its March 27 reveal date.  Will wonders never cease?

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.  Oh the possibilities for this particular challenge.

If you’ve not heard of a tian before, it’s a layered dessert comprised of a pate sablee, marmalade, flavored whipped cream and fruit — and in the case of this month’s challenge — oranges.  Living in the Golden State, or Southern California in particular, citrus is plentiful.  At this time of year, there are  lemons, Meyer lemons, Persian limes, key limes, pink grapefruit, yellow grapefruit, cara oranges (they’re pink inside), Valencia oranges, blood oranges, and Cuties.

Cuties are California mandarins.  They’re tiny, compact orbs of sweet, segmented deliciousness — especially if you want something for a healthy snack.  And since they were on sale at Henry’s, I decided they’d become the base of my dessert.  Thanks very much to Jennifer for this challenge.  A tian is a dessert that can be made ahead of time in parts, then assembled right before you’d like to enjoy it.

Wait — have you ever made marmalade?

Ah, well.  Therein lies the rub.

Cuties
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