For all of the time I find myself in the kitchen space cooking between my stovetop and kitchen counter, it’s really a wonder how many boxes of crackers I eat in a week. Crackers, that is, that I don’t have to measure, chop, saute or bake. Crackers, that is, that I don’t have to tidy up after. Crackers that I can eat quickly to satisfaction.
But… crackers do not a meal make…arguably and unfortunately.
I’ve found a healthier option to my lazy cracker obsession. It’s the can of chickpeas that live right next to the box of crackers in the pantry. Take the can, drain and rinse and turn the contents in olive oil, good parmesan, and fresh cracked black pepper.
The result is a toasty and tender, elevated bean snack that’s salty and spicy and deeply snackable! Get at this with me!
Get ready. These are my new favorite thing, and I suspect they might end up being your favorite thing too. Imagine plump, juicy, citrus segments coated in thin, crunchy, sugar shells. You bite through the crust, and the citrus explodes with a wave of sweetness. It’s a concept I wish I’d thought of myself, but it’s actually a recipe by Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen, featured in Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook. Amanda was inspired by a street food vendor in Beijing. And, it’s funny, there is a beautiful photo of her grapefruit pops in the book, but it was her description of the street vendor, and the way his slices lit up the entire street that charmed me into trying them.
A couple things to note before making these. It’s helpful to have a block of foam from a package, or the kind of foam you might use to arrange flowers. This helps your pops stay upright after you candy them. The other consideration is how hot to let the sugar get. Amanda recommends going to 275 – 300°F – or until the mixture is light brown. I like the pops that go a bit darker than that, you get a lot of caramel and molasses notes that play of the citrus in magical ways. The blood orange segments I did in the darkest sugar mixture were a complete revelation. But this is all personal preference, so experiment to figure out where you’d like to be on the spectrum. One last thing I’ll mention, if your mixture doesn’t get hot enough, the candy shell won’t set.
I found the easiest citrus to deal with was anything easy to peel, with minimal seeds, and small to medium in size. Some of the grapefruits were tricky to peel and keep intact. Kishu mandarins, on the other hand, are a dream to work with (pictured). Play around – this is peak citrus season and this make for a dramatic snack, treat, or dessert!
It’s not a diet.
It’s not a diet because I’ve never been particularly good at restricting what I put on my plate, the amount of butter I put on my toast, or the incredible amount of popcorn I sometimes eat for dinner. It’s not keto or paleo or a diet with any classification. This is an exploration.
With the new year coming into focus I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to play with in my kitchen, what I want my baking to taste like, and how I want to stretch myself and my ingredient list. But the thing is… I’m always thinking about you and your pantry, your time and your wallets when I develop recipes. I want this to be a place where the recipes feel both accessible and reliable – where you know what you’re getting yourself into.
You know by now you’re getting yourself into a lot of butter – that remains the same.
This year I’ll be experimenting more often with the following ingredients.
Citrus season is tops as far as I’m concerned. Bright spots parading by in a spectrum of pink, yellow and orange at the market. Punctuation for dreary days. With that in mind, I thought I’d round up a selection of winter citrus recipes that have caught my attention recently. A reminder of all the different ways we can enjoy citrus season while it lasts. Enjoy the sunshine on your plate! -h
1. Clementine Fennel Potatoes – (Cocoa Bean The Vegetable) Three main ingredients, none of them exotic, but likely not a combination you’ve had before. Besides being a visual stunner, there’s a strong dose of citrus juice, which rounds out the flavor of the clementines.
2. Radicchio and Citrus Salad with Burrata – (Bon Appetit / L’Oursin ) Source some nice Castelfranco radicchio and burrata and the rest of this dish comes together quite easily.
3. Blood Orange Gin Sparkler – (101 Cookbooks) A great winter citrus cocktail, you can prepare it on the light side for an afternoon brunch.
4. Szechuan Miso Bok Choy Soup w/ Tangerine – (Will Frolic for Food) I’m going to guess you’ve never had bok choy with citrus before? The contrast between the tangerine and the (purple) bok choy is A+.
5. Two Ingredient Candied Citrus Pops – (101 Cookbooks) A favorite recipe of mine, because of its simplicity. Two ingredients and you end up with a treat that is like citrus jewelry.
6. Creamy Orange Coconut Smoothie – (Occasionally Eggs) My blender is on the counter most of the time during winter months, making smoothies. This is a good vegan combination that, along with oranges, features superfood hemp seeds.
7. Instant Pot Lemon Rice – (Piping Pot Curry) A South Indian take on spiced rice, this version combines a handful of spice with a hit of lemon juice that makes this a bright, colorful side dish requiring only 4 minutes of pressure cooking.
8. Honey Rosemary Grapefruit Soda – (Fork, Knife, Swoon) Grapefruit and rosemary is a wonderful flavor combination, this soda is sweetened with honey and can be enjoyed anytime grapefruit is available.
9. Immune Boosting Winter Citrus Smoothie – (Half-baked Harvest) Love the deep, rich colors of this smoothie – break out your clear glassware.
10. Carrot Orange Turmeric Smoothie – (What’s Cooking Good Looking) This smoothie uses an interesting combination of turmeric and orange for flavor with cashews for body and texture. If you are new to adding turmeric in your diet, this is a good way to get a daily dose.
11. Emma’s Tahini, Orange & Coconut Muesli – (My New Roots / Emma Galloway) Love Sarah’s version of Emma’s recipe, which is a unique blend of seeds, tahini(!) and the zest of two oranges for brightness. As many of you know, I’m a fan of a savory breakfast. 🙂
12. Red Cabbage Orange Salad – (Occasionally Eggs) Another eye-catching, color contrast recipe, with dijon mustard playing off the citrus.
13. Winter Citrus Roasted Beet Salad – (Roasted Root) This is the salad you want to eat for lunch every day for the month of January.
14. Instant Pot Lemon Marmalade – (Chatelaine) Three ingredients and your IP! This recipe is interesting because it uses the pressure cooking mode (for the lemons) and then finishes it with sugar in saute mode.
15. Broiled Grapefruit with Honey Yogurt – (Cookie + Kate) A classic. This recipe is pure simplicity – sprinkle sugar on a grapefruit and broil.
Bonus! Vanilla Cardamom Chia Pudding + Honey Poached Clementines – (What’s Cooking Good Looking) If adding the superfood chia into your diet is a winter resolution, here’s a perfect recipe, which makes a luxe-looking breakfast (or even dessert!).