A Celebration of Citrus

Citrus, the beautiful versatility of these fruits is the result of the combinations of sugar and citric acid, which create the sweet or sour tastes. Eaten alone or used in a variety of dishes, the entire fruit can be used for various culinary purposes. The rind, zest, pulp and juice can add amazing flavor to baked goods, marmalade, salads, meat dishes and cocktails.

“Taste, which enables us to distinguish all that has a flavor from that which is insipid.”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Today I want to share two ways to enjoy the citrus season and to take advantage of this bounty while it is available in the grocery stores and farmers markets.

Bringing some sunshine to the season with a Winter Fruit Salad.

Fresh Mandarin Oranges are usually available in the store starting around mid January.

Winter Fruit Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

In the winter fresh fruit salads can be made with the last of the Fall Harvest fruits such as Apples and Pears along with year round fruits that are available in the produce section like Raspberries, Bananas and Kiwi. When the height of Citrus season arrives a variety of these citrus delights can be combined to complete a bright and delicious Winter Fruit Salad.

For the Salad start by peeling and chopping 4 Honey Crisp Apples and 2 Bartlett Pears. Place them in a strainer filled with water and ‘Fruit Fresh’ to help the fruit from turning brown for about 15 minutes. Then drain and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the fruit.

Peel and slice 4 ripe Kiwi, 2 Bananas and put them in bowl. Peel and segment 8 Mandarin Oranges, and 2 Grapefruits. Rinse a carton of fresh Raspberries and allow them to drain. When your fruit is drained of excess moisture, place it all together in a large bowl. One option is to add the sliced Banana and fresh Raspberries when ready to serve.

The addition of fresh citrus to a Winter Fruit Salad adds a taste of sunshine to a cold Winter Day

Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

A mild sweet dressing with a splash of Orange Liqueur.

I added the juice from a Cara Cara Orange and the zest from the fresh Mandarin Oranges, which gives a unique combination of Orange flavors to the dressing.

3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice & Zest of 1/2 an Orange
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ounce Orange Liqueur -Optional

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. You may also place the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake well.

The Orange Liqueur is optional but you will be surprised by the added depth that it gives to the Orange flavor.

I like to keep the Winter Fruit Salad and the Orange Poppy Seed Dressing separate and serve the two combined in single serve bowls.

Keeping the dressing separate from the salad allows the fruit to hold up better for a couple of days in the fridge.

“Mindful eating is about awareness. When you eat mindfully, you slow down, pay attention to the food you’re eating, and savor every bite.” – Susan Albers

Blood Orange Thyme Bourbon Cocktail

With the produce section of the grocery store tempting me with Grapefruit, Mandarin and Blood Oranges, my thoughts instantly go to making a delicious citrus cocktail with the fresh squeezed juice.

The key ingredient to this cocktail is the fresh squeezed Blood Orange Juice.

For 2 cocktail:

1/2 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 cup bourbon
4 tablespoons Thyme simple syrup
Seltzer water
Few dashes orange bitters

For Thyme simple syrup: Add 1 cup water and 1 cup of Raw Sugar in a saucepan bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Add 5 Sprigs of fresh Thyme, cover and let cool for 15 minutes

For cocktail:
In a large measuring cup mix together fresh Blood Orange juice, Bourbon and Thyme simple syrup.
Add ice to 2 short cocktail glasses. Fill each glass half way with juice/bourbon mixture. Top with seltzer and a dash of bitters, garnish with a slice of Blood Orange.

A Cocktail to Celebrate the Citrus Season. Enjoy!

Purchasing your fruits and vegetables during their peak seasons, will not only allow you to enjoy them more, you’ll save money while maximizing their nutritional value.

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

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