Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Citrangequats and roasted kale: of thee I sing

I have a very good friend whose father grows lots of interesting things, including a wide variety of peppers and obscure cultivars of fruit trees.  Recently, she presented me with what appeared to be a lemon.  It was large, thin-skinned, and had an incredibly intoxicating spicy floral scent.  "Ah, a Meyer lemon," I commented.  "No, this is something different.  Some other lemon that starts with "s," or at least that's what I think my father said." 

It turns out that what I had was a citrangequat, a hybrid citrus fruit that was a cross between a citrange and a kumquat.  More specifically, the cultivar I had was called "Thomasville," and more specific still, this fruit was a kumquat hybrid, not a lemon hybrid.  But that golden fruit, with its deeply glowing, intensely aureate skin was already putting ideas in my head and I had plans to devour it and perfume something delectable with its heady bouquet.

How to get the most of this unexpected gift?  Since the citrangequat seemed very much like a Meyer lemon, I started to think about it from that point of reference.  And since it was such a large fruit, I could do more than just make dinner out of it.  I was expecting dinner guests later in the week, so I would reserve part of that citrangequat for pre-dinner cocktails.  The rest of if was mine, and mine alone.

So all day yesterday, I dreamed and dreamed about that fruit.  I dreamed about what I would want to eat with it.  And the recipes from last night's dinner are below:  Pan Seared Halibut with Fried Citrangequat and Salted Capers, and Roasted Kale with Toasted Garlic.  I also made a quick pilaf out of leftover basmati rice (sauteed shallot. butter, white wine and a generous pinch of Adams Reserve Citrus Seafood Rub).  I didn't serve a stupendous wine with this dinner.  Cavit Pinot Grigio is a well-balanced budget white that goes well with fish, and that's what I drank.  Hey, sometimes the food just has to shine. 

And while we're on the subject of food, let's talk about the kale.  Whatever your preconceived notions about this deep green, woody-stemmed wild and wooly relative of cabbage, they will change once you try roasting it simply with EVOO, salt, pepper and minced dehydrated garlic (that will also toast beautifully all over).  Kale treated in this way is nutty, deeply flavorful and seems to evaporate in your mouth in an explosion of intense flavor.  Not at all the nightmare of your childhood, cooked to an unattractive grey-green and tucked into your napkin at the dinner table.  In fact, roast any vegetable and you will see its true nature shine.

And the results apres un reve?  Let's just say this girl is winning the war in the battle of man-food vs. food a man will eat.

Pan-Seared Halibut with Fried Citrangequat
and Salted Capers

2 halibut fillets, approximately 6 oz. each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. EVOO
½ citrangequat (or substitute Meyer lemon), in very thin slices, seeds removed, juice reserved if possible
2 Tbs. salted capers, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs. citrangequat or Meyer lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  Dry halibut fillets with paper towels and generously season with salt and pepper on both sides.
3.  Heat butter and EVOO over medium-high heat in a medium sauté pan that is oven-safe.
4.  Fry citrangequat/lemon slices, turning to brown evenly.  Watch carefully so citrangequat/lemon doesn’t burn.  Remove to a serving platter.
5.   In the same pan, begin cooking the halibut.  Your aim is to develop a great crust on the bottom of your fish, so have the courage of your convictions to leave that fish alone for about 4 minutes.  Brush top of fish with some oil and butter from the pan.
6.  Transfer fish in hot sauté pan to hot oven to finish cooking for about 6-8 minutes.
7.   Just before serving, add capers and citrangequat/lemon juice to pan.  If necessary, add a little water to loosen the fond. Remove fish to serving platter, swirl juices and capers in pan and drizzle over fish.
8.   Arrange fried citrangequat/lemon slices on top of fish and garnish with chopped parsley.  Serves 2.

    Roasted Kale with Toasted Garlic

6 cups chopped kale, woody bottom stems removed
Minced dehydrated garlic (I used Penzey’s)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Put chopped kale in a large bowl.
  3. Drizzle with as much EVOO as it takes to coat the kale lightly; season generously with salt, pepper, and minced dehydrated garlic.
  4. Use your hands to toss and distribute oil and seasoning evenly.
  5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes on a large sided baking sheet, tossing every few minutes so that the kale roasts evenly.  The kale should appear toasted in some places, but still emerald green in others.  Sometimes I turn the oven off and leave the door ajar, letting the kale sit in the oven until I'm ready to serve it, especially if the leaves were originally very large and tough.  Serves 2, with leftovers.

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