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Vintage California Cuisine: 300 Recipes from the First Cookbooks Published in the Golden State


The Vivid Flavors Cookbook : International Recipes from Hot & Spicy to Smoky & Sweet

By Robert Wemischner

Gourmet-To-Go : A Guide for Food Professionals and Retailer's
By Robert Wemischner
and Karen Karp






Exotic Uses of Citrus Fruits

How to Poach an Orange
Uses of Orange Syrup
Poached Kumquats
Blood Orange Sauce
Citrus Sorbet
Fennel and Citrus

Robert Wemischner, a Los Angeles cookbook author and culinary arts teacher, likes to poach oranges – cooking them slowly, skin, pith and all, to tenderize them. The end reward is the syrup created in the process.

Poaching is a "very good, very unique use of the orange," Wemischner says. Tangelos are also well-suited to poaching because they are somewhat tarter than oranges, a trait that is counter-balanced by the use of sugar in poaching.

How to Poach an Orange

To poach a whole orange, wash it well. Then use a skewer or fine-pointed instrument to ream the skin all over so that the syrup penetrates and is absorbed by the orange. Use a syrup of equal quantities of sugar and water.

Cook over low heat until the orange becomes transparent. This will take about an hour at a simmer. For best results, cook the oranges over the course of day or more – cooking for half an hour, soaking and then finishing with a final half hour of cooking. This allows the mixture to macerate, says Wemischner.

When the cooking is completed, take the oranges out of the syrup and cut them in half.

Scoop out and discard the contents.

You can make use of the shells by filling them with freshly grated coconut moistened with some of the syrup. In lieu of fresh coconut, use thick shreds of unsweetened, desiccated coconut, which can be found in health food stores

Uses of Orange Syrup

The syrup left after poaching oranges can be used as a base for many things, Wemischner says. Here are three ideas:

lUse it as a sweetener in tea
lMake a mustard vinaigrette with syrup, mustard, vinegar and olive oil
lBoil hot chile peppers in the syrup for use as a sauce over chicken

Poached Kumquats

Kumquats are a springtime citrus fruit with a unique attribute. Unlike other citrus fruits, their skin is actually sweeter than the tart pulp inside, says Wemischner.

To poach kumquats, use a lighter syrup made with two parts water to one part sugar. And cook them for half an hour or until they are tender. You can also poach them in aromatic honey and ginger, says Wemischner.

Serve the kumquat syrup over vanilla ice cream with crushed toasted pine nuts, "a very Mediterranean, Spanish treatment." Alternatively, use almonds instead of pine nuts.

The syrup can also be used as a basis for an ice cream or sorbet.

Blood Orange Sauce

Given its vivid, crimson color, the juice of the blood orange is a good candidate for use in sauces and sorbets, says Wemischner.

For a classic use of the distinctive Mediterranean fruit, which is said to have descended from a spontanenous mutation in orange groves in Malta several centuries ago, make a coral colored cream sauce. This classic Maltese sauce, a light beurre blanc, is ideal for use over swordfish or asparagus.

To make the sauce, saute shallots in butter until they are tender. Add enough white vinegar to float the shallots off the bottom of the pan. Reduce the mixture to a glaze. Whisk in unsalted butter to create an emulsion. Add a few tablespoons of blood orange juice – about as much as you can extract from one small orange. Pour the sauce over swordfish or asparagus and add a sprinkling of capers or fresh chopped herbs.

Citrus Sorbet

To make sorbet with the juice of citrus fruits, such as kumquats or blood oranges, squeeze the juice, measure and add an equal amount of a syrup composed of equal parts sugar and water. Place the liquid in the freezer. Stir at half hour intervals until it crystalizes, a process that will take perhaps three hours.

Serve the sorbet by itself, with a bittersweet chocolate sauce, or with Campari or another Vermouth-type apertif.

Fennel and Citrus

"Fennel is one vegetable that you either love or leave alone. But this treatment, which combines the flavors of sweet licorice with bittersweet orange, may convert even those who find the unaccustomed anise-like note jarring in a vegetable," Wemischner writes in his first book, The Vivid Flavors Cookbook (Lowell House, l994).

"When it comes to this pale green bulb, I can never get too much of a good thing," Wemischer continues. "Believing that if one texture is good, two are better, I place crisp, raw matchsticks of the vegetable on a base of twice-cooked, ‘melted’ fennel and drizzle the whole delicate pile with a vinaigrette infused with Seville orange marmalade, fresh juice, and dried tangerine peel."

Fennel-Orange Salad

2 large fennel bulbs, with feathery tops attached (about 2 lbs. total)

The 'Melted' Fennel:
2 c. dry white wine (or 1 cup dry vermouth and 1 c wine)
2 bay leaves
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
Zest of l medium-sized lemon
12 hot dried chile peppers (ancho or serrano will do )
6 whole allspice
1 T. fruity olive oil

The Fennel Matchsticks:
Juice of l lemon, to prevent fennel from darkening

The Vinaigrette:
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of medium sized lime (about 2 T. , or more to taste)
3 T. Seville orange marmalade
1/2 c. fruity olive oil
1 T. dried powdered tangerine or orange peel (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Garnish:
Feathery tops of fennel, chopped
1 large orange, peeled and sectioned, membrane and pits removed
1/4 c. oil cured Moroccan-style black olives

1. To make the poaching liquid, bring the wine, bay leaves, garlic, lemon zest, chile peppers, and allspice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer.

2. Remove the stalks and feather tops from the fennel bulbs. Save the feather tops for the garnish. Set aside one fennel bulb. Roughly chop the other one and cook in the poaching liquid at a simmer until tender. Remove from the poaching stock and set aside. (Save the poaching liquid, sieved, for a soup base, if desired).

3. Heat the oil in a small heavy saute pan and add the poached fennel. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is very soft. Remove from pan. With a heavy knife, reduce to a rough puree. (You may use a food processor or blender here, but do not overprocess.) Set aside.

4. Slice the reserved fennel bulb into thin strips, about 1/2" wide by 2" long. Toss with the lemon juice and cover while you make the vinaigrette.

5. To make the vinaigrette, whisk to combine the mustard, vinegar and orange and lime juices. Add the marmalade and whisk to blend. In a thin stream, whisk in the oil gradually. Add the dried tangerine powder (if using) and salt and pepper to taste. The vinaigrette should have a slightly biting edge. Adjust the lime juice accordingly.

6. Center equal portions of the fennel puree on each of 4 plates. Pile the fennel on top and dress with some of the vinaigrette. Garnish with fennel tops, orange sections, and black olives. Serve the remaining vinaigrette in a sauceboat. :

Copyright 2005 Seasonal Chef