Thursday, December 22, 2011

Citrus Season!
Tangerines at Iovine Brothers now selling at 5/$1

Now that we're officially into winter, it's time to shift our fruity focus from pomes to citrus. Although I've got my full stock of Newtown Pippin apples in cold storage to get through January and, perhaps, February if I hoard my hoard, my fresh fruit purchases have turned to oranges and their close relations. (Alas, my statin regimen prevents indulging in grapefruits and other pomelos.)

Right now I'm working my way through Temple oranges I purchased at Iovine Brother's Produce in the Reading Terminal Market for a quarter apiece. Small navels tend to sell for the same price, as do tangerines (though this week they're featuring them at 20 cents). Large navels are 50 cents, but the gargantuan Jumanjis for over-stuffing a stocking call for a 99-cent investment.

Just eating them plain is a joy, especially the easy-to-peel temples, tangerines and other mandarins. The perfumes they exude upon peeling is right up there with good whiskey, bacon and vanilla in my olfactory Hall of Fame. After eating a spicy or rich entree, the sweet bite of citrus is a great palate-cleanser. No wonder so many Asian restaurants slip a few chunks of orange on the parting plate along with a fortune cookie.

Still, I think I'm game this season for doing a bit more than taking my oranges straight. Although I usually only make sorbets in warmer weather, the great looking juice oranges (usually the Hamlin variety) may prompt me to get out the juicer and make an icy winter treat.

Another option may be a composed salad where oranges and beets take center stage, perhaps with a sprinkling of walnuts and little bits of chevre in a plain vinaigrette (or, alternatively, using orange juice as the base of a vinaigrette to top the other ingredients).

If I'm more ambitious, there's the orange flan from Jose Garce's mom. But since I'm less ambitious there may be an orange chiffon cake in my future.

Besides orange-flavored beef, a staple at some Chinese restaurants, I'm hard-pressed to think of other meat-centric dishes incorporating oranges. If anyone has some ideas, please comment on this post.

For fish I might try Norwegian chef Andreas Viestad's variation on a sauté meunière wherein both the fish filets and orange sauce are spiked with ginger and cloves. 

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