A zest for life

Try a little citrus in your holiday dishes – from lemon to pomelo and even etrog!

By
October 4, 2015 13:58
Candied orange peel

Candied orange peel. (photo credit: AMY SPIRO)

Citrus fruits provide a punch of flavor to just about any dish, from savory to sweet.

From lemons to grapefruits, oranges and pomelos, every citrus variety has its own unique taste, but they share in common a bright tang. And this time of year, you can get the one citrus variety that isn’t available the rest of the time: etrog! While usually thought of as part of the Four Species – the bundle that religious Jews shake in synagogue on Succot – the citron also has culinary applications.

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Unlike most other citrus fruits, though, it doesn’t have a lot of juice or flesh inside, so it’s best in recipes that call for its zest or rind. Now that you’ve finished using it for the holiday, put it to great culinary use – it’s particularly well-suited to the candied peel recipe.

In fact, you can wander around to your neighbors asking for their etrogim at the end of the holidays – most people will be happy to have it go to good use. Some people like to use theirs to make etrog vodka or etrog jam – it’s a shame to let it go to waste! THIS TANGY citrus salad calls for oranges and grapefruits, which balance each other, as oranges bring sweetness and grapefruits a touch of bitterness. The orange juice in the dressing also adds tons of citrus flavor, and works in perfect harmony with the honey, mustard and apple cider vinegar. Of course, you can add all sorts of vegetables to your salad, but I kept things simple with lettuce, citrus and pomegranate.

“Supreming” a fruit is a technique that removes the citrus in slices perfect for a salad. Start by trimming off the top and bottom of the fruit, so it can sit upright without moving. Then carefully slice the skin away from the flesh, following the natural curve of the fruit.

Then, make cuts on either side of the white membrane, and the pieces of fruit should fall away easily.

The recipe for candied orange peel can be applied to just about any citrus fruit, and is in fact perfect for etrog. It takes a little time until it is ready, but every step is simple and easy to follow. Try not to leave too much of the white pith of the orange attached to the peel, as it adds to the bitterness.

One of the things that I like most about this recipe is that it takes something you would usually throw away and turns it into a tasty treat. So here’s another tip to reduce waste: After you toss the citrus in the sugar in the final step, you’ll likely have some sugar to spare.

Store that sugar in a tightly sealed container and use it in your next baking project for a little citrusy kick.

While the first two recipes are simple, the lemon crumble tart requires a bit more effort, but it’s worth every step.

A buttery crust, a tart-sweet creamy filling, and a crumbly, crunchy topping – all of its parts can be prepared in advance and assembled right before serving to make things easier. The tart dough can be made up to two days in advance and stored in the fridge, and the baked crust can be made a day in advance. The lemon curd can be made up to five days in advance and stored – with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against its surface – in the fridge. The crumble can be made up to two days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Then assembly is a cinch! If you really want to wow your guests, you can make individual tartlets, but a large 23-cm. tart will have them licking their lips regardless.

TANGY CITRUS SALAD

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
1 head iceberg lettuce, washed and chopped
2 oranges, supremed
2 grapefruits, supremed
1 cup pomegranate arils

Dressing:

²⁄3 cup apple cider vinegar
¹⁄3 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey

Mix together the lettuces, pomegranate, orange and grapefruit.

In a separate container, whisk together or shake together the dressing ingredients.

Pour over the salad (you may not want to use all of it), toss to combine and serve immediately.

CANDIED ORANGE PEEL

3 medium oranges
3¾ cups sugar, divided
3 cups water

Wash and pat dry the oranges. Slice off the top and bottom of the oranges. Score the outside peel in four pieces and peel off the skin. Eat the orange. Offer some orange slices to your friends.

Slice the peel into even strips, about 0.3 cm. each.

Bring a pot of water to boil, and add the strips of peel. Boil for 15 minutes, then drain and rinse well.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and 3 cups of sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the orange strips and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, checking occasionally, for 45 minutes. Keep at a low, uniform simmer; the syrup should not turn brown.

Drain the peel, do not rinse.

Spread the peel out on a piece of foil, and sprinkle the remaining ¾ cup sugar on top. Toss until evenly coated.

Here you can take two routes: Spread the peel on a baking sheet and stick it in the oven on the lowest setting (for me it is 76º). Bake, tossing every 5 minutes, before about 20 minutes, until the pieces are dry to the touch.

Or leave out on a baking sheet for 24 hours until dried.

LEMON CRUMBLE TART

Crust:

2½ cups (300 gr.) flour
1 cup (200 gr.) butter or margarine
½ cup (100 gr.) sugar 1 large egg

Filling:

½ cup white sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
½ cup fresh lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
4 tsp. lemon zest (1 to 2 lemons)
3 tsp. butter or margarine, melted

Crumble:

¾ cup (170 gr.) butter or margarine, melted
2 cups (180 gr.) rolled oats
²⁄3 cup (85 gr.) flour
¼ cup (50 gr.) brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt

For the crust: Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat to combine, then add the flour and mix until no streaks remain. Gather the dough together into one cohesive ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling, which will also need to be refrigerated before using.

Whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth.

Add in the lemon juice and zest and whisk to combine.

Stir in the melted butter until smooth.

Microwave on high, stopping to stir every minute, for 3½ to 5 minutes, or until it coats the back of a spoon. Refrigerate in a sealed container – with plastic wrap pressed against the surface – until cold.

While that’s chilling, make the streusel topping.

Mix together all the crumble ingredients until well combined. Spread the dough out onto a greased or foil-lined baking sheet in an even thickness. Bake on 190° for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool completely, then use a knife or your fingers to break up into little crumbly pieces – like the consistency of granola.

Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll out on a well-floured surface (and continuously reflouring) until about ½ centimeter thick. Use to cover either a large tart pan or smaller ones. For a large one, roll the dough to 5 cm. larger than the pan, gently drape over it, fit the dough into the corners, then trim the edges.

For little ones, use a cutter that is big enough to cover the bottom and sides of your tart pans, cut as many circles as possible from the dough and fit into the molds, re-rolling as necessary.

Prick the bottoms of the shells with a fork several times and put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Cover the shells with parchment paper, then fill with pie weights or uncooked beans. Then bake the shells at 190º for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown. Let cool.

When the curd is cold, stir vigorously with a fork, then pour into the shell (or shells). Immediately before serving, top with the crumble.


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