I love oranges in winter.
Eating an orange is something that I prefer to do alone because, quite frankly, it can get messy.
Where some folks like to peel and eat the sections, neatly, one at a time, or cut them in half and spoon out like a grapefruit, I like to just cut them in half and sink my teeth into the pulp then squeeze the orange until all of the juice is gone. My grandmother showed me how to invert the rind so that I could get to any remaining pulp this way: cup the somewhat eaten half orange in your hand and push the center of the cup up toward you, causing the orange “cup” to invert and expose any remaining pulp. Yummy. And messy. And after explaining this to my editor, and seeing her reaction, I am probably the only person in the world that does this.
Anyway ... oranges, specifically blood oranges, are now in season.
Blood oranges are a unique variety of orange.
The pulp and juice shade closer to red than orange, for one thing, and the flavor is not as sweet as a Valencia or Cara Cara. Blood oranges are prefect for sweet and savory dishes and lend a beautiful rosy color to mixed drinks.
Segmented, or “supremed” as the fancy culinary-types would say, blood oranges are beautiful additions to green salads (or striking when used in the roasted beet salad recipe below) or as decoration on cakes (or floating in drinks).
Enjoy them now, they’re not too hard to find in grocery stores.
Roasted Beet and Blood Orange Salad
5 medium beets, stems trimmed, scrubbed
4 blood oranges
1 small shallot, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces of watercress or mixed baby greens
Preheat oven to 375. Wash the beets and wrap individually in tin foil. Place foil wrapped beets in the heated oven and roast until fork tender, about 40 minutes.
Remove beets from oven and let cool. Peel beets and slice into thin rounds using a sharp knife or mandoline. Divide beet slices between four plates.
Supreme the blood oranges: Using a sharp knife, trim off the top and bottom of the orange. Carefully cut away the skin of the orange, following the curve of the fruit to remove rind and pith (the white stuff). Working over a small bowl to catch the juices, cut between the membranes to remove the orange segments.
Divide the orange slices and greens between the plates.
Make the dressing by combining 2 tablespoons of the blood orange juice, minced shallot, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle over salads and serve.
Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Serves 8 to 10
Butter for greasing pan
3 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
Buttermilk or plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Honey-blood orange compote, for serving, optional (see note)
Whipped cream, for serving, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Grate zest from 2 oranges and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar.
Halve remaining orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup. You will have about 1/4 cup or so. Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently whisk dry ingredients into wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in oil a little at a time. Fold in pieces of orange segments. Scrape batter into pan and smooth top.
Bake cake for about 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up. Serve with whipped cream and honey-blood orange compote, if desired.
Poc Chuc (Sour Orange Marinated Pork)
1 1/4 pounds well-trimmed pork top loin
4 sour oranges, divided
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
Slice meat crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices on a cutting board, lay a sheet of plastic wrap over them and use the flat side of a meat mallet or other heavy object such as a rolling pin to pound the slices to about 1/4-inch thickness. Remove plastic wrap and place meat in a nonreactive bowl.
Peel 2 oranges and squeeze their juice over the meat. Add pepper, salt and garlic to make a marinade. Toss and knead meat with your hands to cover it completely with the marinade ingredients. Arrange the meat slices flat in the bowl with marinade, cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade. Grill the meat slices on a greased grill rack about 4 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.
Serve with pickled red onions: Grill slices of red onions and add the juice of 3 peeled sour oranges; refrigerate overnight