The local farmers markets have showcased a variety of citrus since the late fall and early winter. Satsumas, navel and Louisiana sweet oranges, blood and red oranges, Meyer lemons, grapefruit, kumquats and other citrus are available now. Before the season comes to an end, I wanted to share a few of my favorite recipes and ideas from cooking with friends who know how to use our Louisiana citrus creatively.
The Meyer lemon is one of my favorites. This lemon is supposedly a cross between a lemon and an orange or mandarin, but everyone agrees they’re softer and sweeter than ordinary lemons. Because they’re more fragile than regular lemons, they’re usually not available commercially and if you know someone with a tree, it’s likely you’ll get gifted some Meyer lemons during the winter. The juice is sweet and delicate and if you use it in recipes calling for standard lemon juice you’ll need to at least double the amount of juice or dial down the sugar. Try the juice in a lemon lavender vodka martini. My friend Marguerite makes the best Meyer lemon curd. She delivered a beautifully packaged jar of homemade curd which inspired me immediately to bake some almond and strawberry scones.
My hardy kumquat tree produced a bumper crop this season. Kumquats taste best if gently rolled between the fingers before being eaten, as this releases the essential oils in the rind. I like to eat kumquats as I would eat grapes but I also had fun experimenting in the kitchen with the abundance of kumquats this year.
My friend Keith perfected a kumquat old fashioned. My daughter Maggie and I added kumquats to a roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprout salad and made it pop with a spicy jalapeño dressing. Kumquats enhanced the bok choy with ginger I braised to serve with sautéed salmon last week . I made a batch of kumquat chutney that I shared with friends for Christmas gifts. My friend Debby Berger who is incredibly creative in the kitchen was so fond of the chutney that she used my recipe as a foundation and added her personal touch to make 20 jars of kumquat chutney as well as kumquat marmalade.
I love the versatile and simple orange salad with feta and mint. Use a combination of Louisiana blood oranges or the Louisiana red orange paired with the sweets or navels for a refreshing and colorful addition to any meal.
Share your favorite recipe using Louisiana citrus with Foodies and Friends!