Monday, January 10, 2011

Out! Out Damn Spot!

Just as Lady Macbeth was talking about the blood on her hands, i am talking about the blood in fruit! (not litterally, people! Thats just disgusting...) More specifically the blood orange. Here, I am going to share with you the many things you can do with this absolutely wonderful winter fruit. But first, lets get down to the basics..

What is a blood orange, you ask? The blood orange is a variety of orange, with crimson, blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange and its skin is usually pitted. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. The degree of coloration depends on light, temperature and variety. The skin is also considerably tougher, and harder to peel than other oranges.

Ready for a little Health class info? Check it...I have read that a blood oranges' red pigment, anthocyanin, is an antioxidant. Blood oranges may also diminish the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, and cholesterol accumulation. Additionally, they may reduce the risk of cataracts, and aid in the body's healing process. Like all citrus fruits, they are a great source of vitamin C; an average orange provides 130% of the FDA's recommended daily intake. It also provides 16% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. Oranges can also be a valuable source of folate, calcium, and vitamin A. SO EAT UP!!!!!

Now on to the more important aspects of the blood orange. What you can do with it! (well, its my fave part anyways) The oranges can be used to create marmalade, and the zest can be used for baking (like most citrus fruits can). A very simple and delicious winter salad is made with sliced (blood)oranges, sliced bulb fennel, parsley and olive oil. The recipe includes a few other things, like salt and pepper, and can be found here. Very simple, very light, very tasty!

The oranges have also been used to create gelato, sorbet and
Italian soda. They are also popular in vinaigrette-style dressings, and are sometimes used to flavour niche-market beer. (yummy yummy, right? am i right???) Also included are syrups, salads, salsas, and even candy!

They tend to get redder as the season progresses. In the United States, the season lasts from January into May or June. As for taste, that, too, varies with the weather. They tend to get sweeter later in the season. They are at their peak for only a few months each spring. That's the time of year when I juice a bunch of them, boil it down to a thick syrup, freeze it in a jar and use a spoonful at a time over the course of the year in vinegar-and-oil salad dressings. Here are recipes for syrup and other ways to use this distinctive fruit.

Blood Orange Syrup

3 cups fresh blood orange juice
9 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons grated blood orange peel or regular orange peel

1. Stir all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil until syrup is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes.

2. Refrigerate until cold. Cover and keep refrigerated for use within a few days, or freeze.

It can be used on pancakes, waffles, pound cakes, ice can even use it in mixed drinks.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette
Source: The Vineyard Kitchen: Menus Inspired by the Seasons

2 small blood oranges
1 shallot, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (up to 1/2 Cup if needed)

1. Juice and strain the blood oranges. Measure 1/4 cup of juice.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk the juice with the shallots and the sherry vinegar; season with salt and pepper to taste and let the mixture marinate for 10 minutes.

3. Whisk in the olive oil to taste. Add more olive oil if the vinaigrette is too acidic for your palette. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

It can be as simple as a handful of mescalin greens, or baby spinach salad tossed with the vinaigrette. It is very elegant looking with a little drizzled on the plate, too. Like this:

*Side Note* For any tossed salad in any kind of dressing, always use tongs to toss it around. If you try to use your hands you will toss it to roughly and make the greens mushy! eeew! (That was in one of the recent episodes of Worst Cooks In America)

Candied Blood Orange

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 blood orange, thinly sliced (you can use a regular orange also. just as good!)

1. Bring water and sugar to boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add Orange slices to skillet, arranging in a single layer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and barely simmer until the white pith of the orange becomes translucent, turning the slices occasionally, about 40 minutes.

3. Allow the orange slices to cool in the syrup, turning occasionally. Arrange the slices and drizzle with some of the syrup just before serving.

You can eat them separately or include in pies and tarts, among other things.

I believe I can squeeze in one more, don't ya think?

Blood Orange Salsa

1 blood orange
1/2 cup cubed avocado
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped mango or strawberries (optional of course, but its REALLY good!)
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Using small sharp knife, cut the peel and white pith from orange. (watch this video to learn how to properly peel an orange) Working over small bowl, cut between membranes to release segments.

2. Add avocado, onion, jalapeño, and lime juice to oranges in bowl; stir gently to blend. Season salsa to taste with salt.

You can use this salsa on top of grilled chicken. Seafood is exceptional when paired with this salsa. I love it atop a couple of grilled scallops. like so:

Like always, experiment with your own tastes. These are just the beginning of what you can do with a Blood Orange. I hope you grow to love this wonderfully delicious fruit like I have.

til next time...

1 comment:

  1. Love the new posts....Great pictures! did you take all of them or get them from the internet?

    Also, love the source info and links! I love being able to click on stuff :)