Tag Archives: blood oranges

Recipe: Fruity Crunchy Spring Salad with Duck

Let me just state up-front that I really do not know how to cook duck properly.  So I have no intention of telling you how to cook the duck, other than passing on the general hints given to me by the stallholder, which really very nearly almost worked.

The salad, however, was lovely and perfectly spring-like, and should be recorded.  You can eat it very happily without the duck, too.  I suspect that strips of any suitably marinated meat, or of marinated tofu or mushrooms, would be lovely with this too.

Sadly, I was having a bad photography day when creating this recipes, so I apologise in advance for the rather dubious photos.


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70 g mixed lettuce leaves
3 spring onions
150 g strawberries
1 blood orange
50 g pistachios
4 slices pasta dura bread
150 g asparagus (weight after you have snapped off the ends)
olive oil
salt, pepper
2 duck breasts


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Recipe: Fructose-Friendly Fresh Ginger Cakes with Rhubarb and Hibiscus

Another recipe from the wedding cakes I made for Rhiannon and Reed a few weeks ago!  This one was designed, with the help of the lovely Emily, to be low-fructose and dairy-free, and was thus also gluten-free and, by chance, nut-free.  I considered trying for vegan as well, but this is a soft cake at the best of times, and I’ve learned that soft cakes can generally be *either* veganized *or* rendered gluten-free, but not both, without a lot of changing.  If you want the vegan version, I recommend popping over to my Vegan Fresh Ginger Cake recipe, and making it as cupcakes with the shorter cooking time below.

This recipe is adapted slightly from two recipes by David Lebovitz in his book Ready for Dessert.  This book, along with his ice-cream book, The Perfect Scoop, is possibly the most dangerous dessert cookbook you can own, and I highly recommend it.  Absolutely swoon-worthy, and yet another set of cookbooks I must review sooner rather than later.

What’s interesting about this recipe is how hot the ginger turns out.  In the large version of the cake, the longer cooking time mutes the heat of the ginger and mellows the whole thing out, but there is nothing mellow about these cupcakes!  They are, in fact, perfect winter fare.  The filling is a blood orange and rhubarb compote that I gelled with a little bit of pectin, and I’ll be honest with you right now – I have no idea what I wound up doing for the icing.  I’m pretty sure it was a vegan buttercream, so that’s the recipe I’m providing, but I had a lot of trouble with the icing on the day, and I may have got muddled.  I will say that if dairy is an option for you, whipped cream would be the ideal topping here.

The wild hibiscus flowers are, of course, purely optional, but if you can get them (they come in jars of syrup and can be ordered here), they both look beautiful and complement the flavours of the ginger and hibiscus very well – they have a sort of rhubarb-berry flavour that really works here.

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For the cakes:
150g fresh ginger, chopped as finely as possible (the food processor is your friend!)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup treacle
1 cup canola oil
2 1/2 cups low-fructose flour mix (obviously, you can use plain flour if gluten/fructose are not issues)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup water
2 tsp bicarb of soda
2 eggs
For the filling:
1/2 cup blood orange juice (zest it first, for the icing)
50g sugar
175 g rhubarb
1/2 tsp pectin (any kind you can get is fine – you want a jammy consistency, really, but if you end up with jelly that still works)
For the icing
zest of 1 blood orange
1/2 cup tofutti cream cheese
2-3 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp of blood orange juice or water, optional
wild hibiscus flowers in syrup, glacé ginger or glacé orange, to decorate

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Recipe: Somewhat Sicilian Fennel and Orange Salad

Another quickie, but I made this last night and it was lovely, and I thought it was worth sharing.  It’s a very refreshing salad, good for cutting through a rich meal (in this case, Rosa Mitchell’s insanely good pasta al forno, of which more later), and rather nice for winter weather, when there isn’t much around by way of salad greens.  This recipe is inspired by her orange salad, which is even simpler than my version – to me, fennel and blood oranges were irresistible additions at this time of year, and I was right…

It is a bit fiddly to make, at least in my view (I’m sure there are people out there who can segment oranges efficiently, but I am not one of them), but very much worth it.

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2 blood oranges
2 navel oranges
1 large fennel bulb, or two small fennel bulbs
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
4 tbsp olive oil

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Recipe: Perfumed Blood Orange and Cardamom Cake

Tonight was our regular fortnightly dinner party with friends who live down the road, and really should have been an excellent excuse to practice wedding cakes.  The trouble is, I am currently fighting a psychological battle on the subject of wedding cakes with my more neurotic side, which is claiming – loudly – that it’s terribly unfair to only cater for each kind of allergy with one kind of cake.  Everyone should have at least two choices.  Out of three kinds of cake.  Nobody has actually suggested that I need to do this (in fact, my friends have been very kindly and consistently telling me that I am crazy to think like that), but the delusion persists, so when it came to dessert tonight, I decided to do something utterly-un-wedding-cakely with blood oranges.

Ah, blood oranges.  I have a rather strange relationship with blood oranges.  On the one hand, I love them to bits – their juice is so magnificently red, and they make everything into a chemistry experiment (basically, if you add their juice to anything alkaline, such as, oh, bicarb of soda or egg-whites, the mixture goes a really horrible shade of greenish-greyish-mould-blue, which is actually pretty brilliant, but not so good when you were hoping to serve those cakes to non-scientists).  On the other hand… they make everything into a chemistry experiment, which makes me a little wary of using them in baking.  After all, even if you cut the egg-whites out of a cake, you do generally need bicarb to make it rise, and most people will not eat bluish-green cake.  So I tend to buy huge quantities of these oranges and then dither about using them…

This cake is based on a lime and rosewater syrup cake in Cook Simple.  It’s a lovely, easy cake, which I keep adapting to all sorts of flavour combinations just because it is so good and so quick to make, and keeps really well for several days.  Blood orange seemed like the logical next step (though ordinary oranges or tangerines would work, too, if you can’t get the bloody kind – this cake was disappointingly sensible in colour), and the orange-flower water syrup was a given, with just a little cardamom to stop everything from getting too cloying.  I recommend serving this with Greek yoghurt and poached rhubarb and strawberries, to help cut the richness, though any good, acidic fruit would work.

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2 blood oranges
2 eggs
150 ml sunflower oil
250 g Greek yoghurt (or soy yoghurt if you need to avoid dairy)
200 g self-raising flour
115 g ground almonds
125 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp ground cardamom, or to taste
275 ml water
175 g white sugar (or more caster sugar)
2 tsp orange flower water, or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom (un-ground seeds would be great here, you can strain them out at the end)

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Recipe: Orange Me Up (Scotty)!

What do you get when you cross orange salad with tiramisu?  In my case, you get something a lot like a very orangey, boozy, rich, trifle.  Which I choose to call ‘orange me up’, because tiramisu means ‘pick me up’, and I find the phrase ‘orange me up’ amusing.  And I was feeling decidedly oranged-up after eating this.  Though ‘Orangey Sue’ also has a certain silly appeal.

This, incidentally, is what happens when I try to make a light, healthy dessert.  I do fine at moderately healthy fruity desserts, such as fruit crumbles or fruit pies or balsamic strawberries with mascarpone, and sometimes I even like fruit salads, but there is something about the whole fruit-in-fruit-syrup that just brings out the worst in me.  I can’t leave it alone. It’s not a proper dessert.

But… there I was, with no idea what to make for dessert, and I saw this recipe  in Cook Simple for citrus fruits in orange and rosemary syrup, and it had blood oranges (which I have from the market), oranges (of which I have a tree full), lemons (ditto), rosemary (which I have in my garden) and grapefruit (which are certainy in season)! Clearly, this was the way to go.  The recipe suggested serving it with crême fraiche and almond biscuits.  I started enthusiastically planning acts of Extreme Biscuit Baking, but realised that with guests only an hour away and dinner not really made, this would be a bad idea.  And then the supermarket had sponge fingers on special, and I thought, hey, mascarpone is better than crême fraiche, and also, mascarpone + sponge fingers = tiramisu!  Which is way, way, too rich, and moreover has coffee in it (ugh!), but oranges would cut the richness…

And here we are.  This recipe makes enough to feed at least 8 people, and would probably be better spread around 12.  I suspect it would stretch to 16, especially if you made a little more of the orange salad.

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500 ml fresh orange juice
200 ml water
175 g white sugar
3 sprigs rosemary
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 oranges
3 blood oranges
1 pink grapefruit
2 tangellos
175 g sponge finger biscuits
50 ml grand marnier
125 ml semi-sweet sherry
250 ml fresh orange juice
250 g mascarpone
250 g ricotta (the softer kind that comes in a tub)
2 tablespoons caster sugar, or to taste
50 g good dark chocolate

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Recipe: Blood orange curd cheesecake with raspberries

This recipe started as a Women’s Weekly recipe for Lemon Curd Cheesecake.  However, by the time I actually got to serving this recipe, I think it only had three ingredients in common with the original – eggs, butter and cream cheese – so I feel I can justifiably claim it as mine.  It’s really delicious, but also quite dense and heavy (as you would expect from a baked cheesecake), so share it with a lot of friends. 

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300g plain chocolate biscuits (or if you are me, the really dodgy rock-like, but nonetheless magnificently chocolatey, biscuits you made the night before)
125g + 50g unsalted butter
750g cream cheese
1/2 cup + 90g golden caster sugar
zest of about 2 1/2 blood oranges and juice of 1 1/2 (you need 60 ml of juice – drink the rest)
zest of half an ordinary orange (drink the juice from this one, too – it will sweeten the blood orange just enough)
3 eggs + 4 egg yolks (don’t forget to make meringues with the leftover whites)
1 cup of frozen raspberries, or thereabouts
citric acid (optional)

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Kitchen Chemistry – Anthocyanins and Blue Food

I’ve just been reading Green Gourmet Giraffe‘s blog post about the difficulties of making genuinely blue food.  She’s right, of course – really bright blue food is hard to come by without excessive use of food colouring (though I do believe there is a place for the excessive use of food colouring in cooking).  But her post made me smile nonetheless, because while food in a good shade of blue may be difficult to achieve, in my experience it is all too easy to create food in a highly-suspicious-looking, mouldy-verging-on-cyanotic-lips, greyish-green kind of blue  shade – using all-natural, organic and fresh ingredients!

(getting people to eat such food is a little more difficult, but fortunately I work with starving PhD students, and also with scientists)

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