Winter Citrus

Winter Citrus

photo Marina Oliphant

Citrus must be the perfect winter crop. All that freshly squeezed vitamin C, just when we need it the most. In winter, citrus can be used in many different ways to add some zing to your cooking. The next time you roast a chicken, simply stuff a whole lemon into the cavity. The aroma will fill the kitchen and delicately flavour the roast and the gravy. Some grated rind, mixed with herbs and softened butter, stuffed under the skin, is delicious. Add some preserved lemon rind to your next casserole. Its subtle and complex flavours are completely different from fresh lemon. Remember to scrape away the flesh as you only use the rind. Gremolata is traditionally added to osso bucco. Made from finely chopped parsley, garlic and grated lemon rind, its vibrant fresh flavours provide contrast and balance to the rich stew. An old classic, Duck a l’orange makes a comeback with my simplified recipe. The rich meat contrasts well with the slightly bitter Seville marmalade: a simple and smart dinner for entertaining. But surely, one of the best ways to enjoy citrus in winter is a lemon delicious pudding. Quick to whip up, this old fashioned dessert has no fancy ingredients. During cooking, the pudding cleverly makes its own creamy, lemony sauce beneath the soft, cakey topping. And if you’re lucky enough to have a cumquat tree in the backyard, why not harvest the fruit and make some preserves? Whilst marmalades are more difficult than jams, cumquat marmalade is easy. No need to worry about separating the pips and tying in muslin bags. I find that they dislodge during the rapid boiling, making it easy to scoop them out at the end. A jar of homemade marmalade is like sunshine in a bottle, so stock up for winter.

Easy Duck a l’orange

photo Marina Oliphant

Duck a l’orange makes a comeback with this simple recipe. For a slightly different flavour, you can substitute cumquat marmalade in the sauce.

Serves 4

4 duck Maryland (or duck breasts)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 oranges

4 tablespoons honey

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

4 shallots, finely diced

4 tbsp Seville orange marmalade

400ml chicken stock

steamed miniature asparagus to serve

green salad to serve

Method: How to make Gordon’s duck a l’orange

Preheat oven to 200C fan forced.

Using a sharp knife, lightly score the skin of the duck, then season with salt and pepper. Place on an oven tray and cook for 15 -20 minutes, until cooked through. Remove, cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest.

Peel the zest from both oranges then cut into matchsticks. Blanch the zest in boiling water for 3 minutes. Segment the oranges and reserve the juices.

Heat the honey in a large heavy-based frypan over moderate heat. Add the vinegar, shallots, reserved orange juice, marmalade, stock and blanched orange zest. Return to low heat and allow to simmer gently to reduce for 6-8 minutes.

Place the cooked duck, along with any juices, in the pan and heat through, turning to coat both sides. Add the segmented orange pieces to the orange sauce.

Serve the duck with a crisp, green salad and steamed asparagus.

Cumquat marmalade

photo Marina Oliphant

This is a good marmalade for beginners, as it isn’t too fiddly. I find it easy to leave all the pips in (as they contain pectin, which helps set the marmalade). Simply remove the pips with a slotted spoon, whilst the marmalade boils, or at the end. It is important to cook preserves over a high heat so they boil rapidly. Use the biggest hotplate you have. A wide, heavy based pot is ideal.

1 kg cumquats

5 cups water

2 tablespoons lemon juice

5 cups sugar

Cut cumquats in quarters. Place in a large bowl with water, cover with cling film and stand in a cool place overnight.

Transfer mixture to a large saucepan and stir in lemon juice. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes until cumquats are soft. Add sugar, stir over heat without boiling until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil over high heat, then continue to cook, uncovered, without stirring for about 20 minutes or until marmalade jells when tested. To test if the marmalade is ready, place a teaspoon of marmalade onto a cold saucer and place in freezer for 2 minutes. Remove from freezer and press your finger gently against the marmalade to see if it wrinkles and has formed a skin. If not, keep cooking the marmalade for another five minutes, then retest. When ready, remove from heat and allow to settle for 10 minutes. Scoop out any pips at this stage and discard. Pour into hot sterilized jars and seal.

Makes 7 cups.

To sterilise jars – wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Rinse. Place upside down on tray in warm oven for 20 minutes. Useful to keep in oven whilst making the marmalade

Lemon and lime delicious

photo Marina Oliphant

Reacquaint yourself with this old fashioned favourite. Just what you need when the weather turns chilly. It is so simple and easy to make.

60g softened butter, plus extra for greasing dishes

1 ½ cups caster sugar

3 eggs, separated

4 tbs self raising flour

1 ½ cups milk

zest of 2 lemons

juice of 1 ½ lemons

zest and juice of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 180C.

Butter small ramekins, place in a large baking pan and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add egg yolks.

Add flour and milk alternately to make a smooth batter.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into batter.

Stir in combined juice and zest.

Pout into prepared dishes.

Place dishes in baking pan and pour in hot water to come halfway up sides of dishes. Bake in oven until set and browned, for 30 minutes for individual dishes and up to one hour for a large dish. Carefully remove from water bath before serving.

serves 6.

Lemon tartlets

Lemon curd:

275ml lemon juice

Grated rind of 3 lemons

5 large eggs

200g unsalted butter

500g sugar

Tartlet pastry:

170g flour

80g icing sugar

2 tablespoons ground almonds

100g chilled butter, chopped

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon chilled water

method:

  1. To make lemon curd, place juice, rind, butter and sugar in the top of a double saucepan and simmer over moderate heat until melted and combined.
  2. Beat eggs and strain through a  sieve into lemon mixture.
  3. Cook gently until mixture thickens, stirring continuously.
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
  5. To make pastry, process flour, icing sugar, ground almonds and butter in a food processor until well combined.
  6. Add egg yolk and water and process until pastry just begins to hold together.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.
  8. Roll out pastry thinly and cut into circles to line tartlet tins.
  9. Blind bake at 190C for 10 minutes until pastry is pale fawn and crisp.
  10. When cool, place spoonfuls of lemon curd in each tartlet.

Makes about 24 tartlets.

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