Citrus season is nearing its end here in southern California, and my favorite time of year is coming up soon . . . orange blossom season! Have you ever smelled orange blossoms? They don't smell like the fruit themselves. They smell like . . . orange blossoms. L'Occitane sells an Orange Blossom Home Perfume, but I have never smelt it and can't tell you if it smells like the real deal. If it does, I'm going to buy a case of it, so maybe I should go find out. :D I mentioned earlier that we haven't found a way to make the sour orange/lemon (or whatever it is) fruit on our hybrid citrus tree edible (although I believe our Mindi is working on that), but happily its blossoms smell just like pure orange blossoms. Hooray. It doesn't have any blossoms yet, but when it does, I'll take a picture and you can look at it and then spray your L'Occitane around and pretend you're here with me and we're enjoying the orange blossoms together.
Anyway, to celebrate the noble orange, I thought I'd share my three favorite orange recipes with you. (I've shared the Sunshine Pie recipe before.) It's so funny because I hated oranges when I was little. Yay for growing up.
This is my standard dish to bring to brunches. I've been making it for about ten years, and it never fails me. I call it "Sunshine Pie" because it seems so California-y to me, but it is actually called "Morning Pie" and comes from The Blair House Bed & Breakfast Inn in Friday Harbor, Washington. I got it out of this wonderful cookbook. It's egg-based, and everyone is always surprised when they bite in and find that it's sweet. :) It really has delicious, layered orange flavor. Make sure that if you use a cookie sheet under your pie dish to catch drips, it is a regular cookie sheet and not one of those air-filled ones designed to keep cookies from burning. Your pie won't cook in the middle if you do, and instead will be yucky runny raw egg. (I correct my previous statement that it has never failed me. It failed me when I used an air-filled cookie sheet.) If you have a Microplane Zester Grater it's the perfect thing for grating the zest.
2 cups cottage cheese (I've used both regular and low-fat. Both taste good, but regular mixes better.)
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 t. grated orange rind
1 T. orange juice
1/4 t. orange extract
9-inch deep-dish pie shell, thawed if frozen
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat cottage cheese with an electric mixer on high speed for 1 minute. Add eggs, sugar, flour, orange rind, orange juice, and orange extract; blend well. Pour into pie shell and bake for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Refrigerate overnight; serve chilled the next morning.
You probably know that sangria comes from the Spanish "sangre," which means blood, and this drink is traditionally made with red wine. However, I prefer it with white because it's more refreshing. We go through a lot of this in the summer . . . it's so nice to sip outside on the patio. It's a good accompaniment to chicken and guacamole. I've been making this for 12 years, and it has never failed me, either! :D There are different ways to make sangria, but they all involve wine, fruit, and a sparkly drink. This recipe is from the good old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Their version calls for two tablespoons of brandy, which I leave out. Start making this about an hour before you'll want to drink it.
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 750-millileter bottle dry red or white wine, chilled (I often use Chardonnay)
1 to 2 cups carbonated water, chilled
1. Cut lemon and orange into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the 4 end slices from the lemon and orange in a saucepan; set aside remaining slices. For syrup, add the sugar and the 1/2 c. water to the saucepan. Bring to boiling, stirring till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool for 30 minutes. Squeeze juice from cooked fruit into the syrup. Discard cooked fruit.
2. In a pitcher (this is a really pretty drink, so serve it in a clear glass pitcher) combine remaining fruit slices, syrup, wine, and carbonated water. Serve over ice.
Makes 10 servings for imaginary cookbook people, and about 3 servings for real people. :)
Bitter Orange Ice Cream
This recipe is from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Bites cookbook. Have you made it before? I just love this stuff. What's not to love? It's a bunch of yummy whipped cream! I've been making this for about five years and it's never failed me yet. :D Half the fun of a Nigella recipe is her brainy, interesting, and funny commentary, which I'm leaving out here. I should mention I've never used Seville oranges, and don't even know what they are, but she prefers them if you can find them. Again, if you have a Microplane Zester Grater, it's the perfect thing for grating the zest. :)
3 Seville oranges, or 1 eating orange and 2 limes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
wafers to serve (optional)
If using Seville oranges, grate the zest of 2 of them. Squeeze the juice of all 3 and pour into a bowl with the zest and sugar. If you're going for the sweet orange and lime option, grate the zest of the orange and one of the limes, juice them and add to the sugar as before. Stir to dissolve the sugar and add the heavy cream.
Whip everything until it holds soft peaks, and then turn into a shallow airtight container (of approximately 2 quarts) with a lid. Cover and freeze until firm (from 3 to 5 hours). Remove to ripen for 15-20 minutes (or 30-40 in the refrigerator) before eating. Serve in a bowl, in cones, with wafers—however you like.