Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint

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The year was 2013 when I posted a dish by the Hairy Dieters to illustrate on strange food habits. Like, for example, eating over and over again the same dish or ingredient for a whole season.  Over and over again…  The dish in question was orange and fennel salad with harissa dressing (here). Almost 2 years after, another fennel and citrus salad shows up, this time to explain that grapefruit (and avocado) are my food crazes of 2015.  Well, citrus were exceptionally good this year and any excuse was good to have them. Not trying to convert this in a head to head citrus salad competition…. this one is a more sophisticated and chefy, ideal to impress  dinner parties mobile calorie intake units guests. Also, it calls for the best ingredients you can find. There is no harissa to hide in this one. In any case, totally worth the effort.

Fennel, orange and grapefruit salad with mint (adapted from a Matthew Accarrino’s recipe found in Food & Wine Magazine)

Ingredients 

  • 2 red grapefruits
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 fennel bulbs—halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Method 

Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and white pith from the grapefruits and oranges. Working over  bowl, cut between the membranes to release the sections into the bowl. Squeeze the membranes to extract the juice. In a small bowl, stir the olive oil with the honey and lemon juice. Add 3 tablespoons of the citrus juice and season with salt. [You most likely won’t need all the juice] In a shallow serving bowl, toss the fennel and citrus sections with the dressing. Garnish with the mint leaves and ground coriander and serve right away.

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Pearl barley, orange and sesame pudding

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The mix sounds a bit odd and way too healthy for pudding, but truth to be said, it was delicious…  Not the kind of thing you would expect coming from pearl barley. The orange syrup complemented to perfection the sweetness of the barley and the sesame seeds just added a bit of complexity to it. A total foodie moment, I’d dare to add…

Pearl barley, orange and sesame pudding (adapted from Yotam Ottolengi’s column in The Guardian.)

Ingredients

  • ½ tbsp each white and black sesame seeds, toasted (or use 1 tbsp white)
  • 1½ tbsp unrefined  sugar
  • 125g pearl barley, covered with cold water and soaked overnight
  • 750ml whole milk
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped
  • Finely grated zest of ½ lemon,
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Salt
  • 20g tahini paste

For the orange syrup

  • 1 medium orange
  • 40g caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp orange blossom water

Start with the orange syrup. Shave off a long strip of orange peel, avoiding the pith, and put in a small pan. Trim off top and bottom of the orange, then cut down its sides to remove all the skin and pith. Working over a small bowl to catch any juice, cut out the segments by slicing between the membranes. Add the segments to the bowl and set aside.

Add the caster sugar to the pan with the peel and add 75ml water. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves – this should take less than a minute. Set aside to cool, then add the orange segments and juices, and the orange blossom water.

Roughly crush the sesame seeds in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of muscovado sugar, and set aside.

Drain and rinse the barley. Tip it into a medium saucepan with the remaining muscovado sugar, milk, vanilla pod and seeds, citrus zest and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally, until the barley is cooked but still has some byte: if it’s becomes very thick, add a little milk towards the end. Leave to cool for five minutes, then remove the vanilla pod and divide between four bowls. Dribble a teaspoon of tahini over each portion, spoon over the orange segments and syrup, sprinkle with sesame and serve.


Roasted pork loin with orange and apple jam

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Around 1975, long before celebrity chef storm over the global media outlets, the Portuguese Chef Silva had a very popular TV show called Tele Culinária [Tele Culinary]. Every week, all the country stopped in front of the tele to watch Chef Silva doing his creations, normally with loads of cream, double cream and different types of fat. It was such a popular TV show that it soon became a weekly magazine, with a special section for the televised recipe (apparently, first number went out on October 4th, 1976). My Mother never forgot to buy it and consistently gave a go to some of the recipes. Some of them became part of the family tradition – like the pumpkin cakes she always does on Christmas.

The roasted pork loin with orange was taken from Recipes for My Friends, a recently edited book. On the forefront, Chef Silva explains that these are the things he cooks whenever he entertains as “life tastes sweeter when friends and family join you at the table”. By the look of it, you can almost feel Chef Silva dictating from memory or looking for scribbled papers tucked away into the kitchen drawer.

Chef Silva recommends to serve the roasted pork with orange quarters. But, I thought that would be too many citruses in the same plate, and decided to go for apple jam instead. This is my Mother’s recipe, passed along in a moment of despair during a trip to the supermarket. “Why spend all that money in a sugary artificial paste, when it takes less than 20 minutes to to it home…. go and fetch some apples! You kids cannot value money and properly made food”. She was, as most of times, right.

Roasted pork loin with orange

Ingredients

  • 800g of pork loin (I used shoulder, following the butcher’s recommendation)
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper as needed
  • 50g lard (impossible to find here, I used olive oil instead)
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • cloves

Method

Poor the wine over the meat and season it with salt and pepper. Place on the tray greased with the lard and roast it on a oven set for 160oC for about 35min. Turn the meat occasionally.

In the meanwhile, prepare the sauce: heat up the sugar in a small pan and stir it with a wooden spoon until it browns (brown, not burnt, I may add. It is really important to stir it at all times). Add 2dl of orange juice, 2 cloves and thin orange peels cut into diamond like shapes (slowly, otherwise the sugar will crystallize; if it does, just keep stirring until it dissolves). When serving, stick the diamonds to the meat using cloves.

Serve the orange sauce apart.

Apple jam

Ingredients

  • 1 Kg apples (bitter apples give best results)
  • Sugar to taste
  • Cinnamon sticks

Method

Peel and cut the apples in quarters. Put in a sauce pan with about 100ml of water, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Let it simmer for 10 min or until the apples start to feel apart. Remove the Cinnamon and blend it with a mixer. Put back into the fire and let it simmer for a few minutes more, until it gets the desired consistency.  ith a mixer. Put back into the fire and let it simmer for a few minutes more, until it gets the desired consistency.