Thursday, January 17, 2013

Citrus Sensation

Let's face it... everyone could use a little sunshine this week. After an endless stream of rain and clouds everyone is seeking a bit of orange. While it didn't come through the clouds, a box of summer arrived at my doorstep this week. My dad actually started the tradition of getting me 'Fruit of the Month' a couple of years ago. While it might sound lame, I seriously think it is the best gift out there. Just when things look drab at my local market, a box of something delicious like these naval oranges arrive at the door. 

Next month it will be premium pears and I am already excited about the Hawaiian pineapples that will ship in May. The goods are all products of The Fruit Company, harvested from the best crops around the world and shipped fast to your door. If you have anyone you want to treat with a spectacular surprise, this is a gift that truly keeps on giving.

I was pumped about the arrival of the oranges and since there are quite a few, try to find ways to really utilize them to their full potential by coming up with a list of ideas to incorporate them into everyday dishes. They are truly spectacular just peeled and eaten in segments, but getting creative is part of the fun. To add to the mix, I found some amazing Meyer lemons in season at The Fresh Market and picked up as many as my basket would hold. This sweet lemon is a great compliment to orange and only available for a couple of months each year. 

Once armed with a 'double citrus whammy' I went to work on how to get the most out of having such great produce on hand:

Making a citrus salad dressing with orange, lemon zest/juice, olive oil and spices. So refreshing on salads and doubles as a marinade or dipping sauce for fish.

Creating a yogurt and protein smoothie by blending a bit of Greek non-fat with protein powder and orange segments, squeezing a bit of the juice from the orange for great mixing. Yummy and healthy.

Creating a stir fry with chopped veggies, organic chicken and spices coated with fresh squeezed juice from orange segments. The flavor is so intense that all you need for punch is a pinch of pepper and a small amount of soy sauce for an amazing meal.

Make Barefoot Contessa's lemon bars. They are seriously the most delicious treat. And, a welcome burst of sunny flavor this time of year. 

And of course, there's the list of cocktails that just beg to be made with these citrus wonders. I love to pour a bit of vodka in a full glass of ice and top with Perrier with segments of oranges and/or lemons squeezed in for flavor. I also adore a mimosa with fresh orange flavor topping my bubbly. But, the best drink I've had thus far using this month's fruit is the Orange Splash. It's like a taste of summer when I need it most.

        2 ounces Grey Goose vodka
        1 ounce Cointreau
        1 splash Meyer lemon juice
        2 splashes fresh orange juice
        Sugar and Orange slice for garnish

        Take a piece of orange and rub around rim of a cocktail or wine glass. Dip the glass into a bit of 
        Sugar in the Raw on a paper towel. Shake loose excess. Fill the glass half full with ice. In a 
        shaker, mix the liquors and juices. Pour into glass over ice and serve.

What fruit do you miss most during the winter season? I would love to know and to hear how you enjoy it in your favorite recipes. Please do share here, and sign up to get email updates on posts from the Southern Sophisticate