Photo by Judith Hausman
I know that you probably like the cherry-flavored red ones best, but in this bleak weather (40 inches of snow in less than a month), the yellow, green and orange Life Savers are my favorites. (Actually, the Life Savers Candy Company operated a factory in nearby Port Chester, N.Y., from 1920 until 1984. The historic building is now condos.) Lemon, lime and orange liven things up—and not only in sweets. Oranges and grapefruits, clementines and tangerines, key limes and Meyer lemons are all “in season” in the winter. And even though Florida citrus was compromised this year by early cold, I look for it over California citrus, with its burden of more food miles.
Peel and carefully clean away the white membranes on two healthy-sized navel oranges. Or try 8 to 10 clementines. Slice and macerate them for about an hour in a few tablespoons of flavorful olive oil, 1½ teaspoon of kosher salt and just a little sugar. Toss them with thinly sliced radishes and red onion, 20 or so good-quality black olives, a drained can of chick peas, and torn watercress. Grind some black pepper over the salad, too.
Preserved Meyer Lemon
You won’t believe how easy this is. To capture the short-seasoned, sweetly fragrant taste of Meyer lemons year-round, just cut them up and layer them thickly with kosher salt in a tightly closing jar. If you want to, add a bay leaf, a couple of black peppercorns, and a couple of allspice berries or whole cloves. You’ll see that the lemons start juicing up all on their own. After about three weeks, you can fish out slices to serve alongside baked chicken or grilled fish or minced on top of asparagus, broccoli or rice. They last forever in the fridge.
Preserved Meyer Lemon
Lime Marinade for Meat
Mix about a half cup of soy sauce with 3 tablespoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a few shakes of hot sauce, to taste. Add about six chopped scallions and one to two garlic cloves, minced or pressed. Pour the mix into a sealed bag with 2 pounds boneless (grass-fed) sirloin steak, four (heritage) pork chops, 2 pounds (free-range) chicken parts, or four (sustainably raised or wild caught) fish steaks, such as halibut or swordfish. The steak and pork can marinate many hours before grilling, sautéing or broiling; the chicken should only sit in it for a couple of hours and the fish for only about an hour.
Citrus Rice Pilaf
Sauté three to four chopped scallions in a little oil. (You can add 1/2 a minced hot pepper, too, if you like that) Add a little salt and the rice of your choice, and stir to coat and toast it. Add in the appropriate amount of water or broth for an uncooked cup of rice (usually twice the amount of rice you used), including the juice of half a lemon. Cover, and lower heat. When the rice has absorbed all the liquid, add in sliced almonds and the rind of a lemon, key lime or tangerine. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Peel, de-membrane and dice a grapefruit. (Red is pretty but any kind works.) Add a seeded and minced hot pepper, about ¼ cup of diced scallions or red onion, a diced red and/or yellow bell pepper, and a few tablespoons of mint, cilantro or both. Add a little salt and a little honey or sugar. Some people like to add a tablespoon of olive oil and one of wine vinegar as well. Let the flavors meld for at least and hour and then serve on top of grilled pork chops, baked chicken or sautéed shrimp or fish. Oranges or tangerines would likely both make a good substitute, come to think of it.
As a long-time freelance food writer, Judith Hausman has written about every aspect of food, but local producers and artisanal traditions remain closest to her heart. Eating close to home takes this seasonal eater through a journey of delights and dilemmas, one tiny deck garden, farmers’ market discovery and easy-as-pie recipe at a time. She writes from a still-bucolic but ever-more-suburban town in the New York City ‘burbs.