This is the season of citrus at its zingy best. Oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit are versatile, tasty, and low in kilojoules.
New Zealand-grown navel oranges are a one of my faves: luscious, juicy and moreish. Segments add pizzazz to winter salads. Combine them in a bowl with crunchy greens, super grains or winter fruit combos for eye-catching colour and fabulous flavour. The juice makes a wonderful low-cal dressing.
If you’re gin drinker or if you enjoy lemon-flavoured water, chop your lemons into 2cm-3cm pieces, place on a tray and freeze. Once solid, tip them into an airtight container and return to the freezer. These bites are just the thing to add to your summer coolers.
Finely grated peel — or zest— can also be frozen for bakes, garnishes or salads. Place in an airtight container and freeze. Then crumble it with your fingers to prevent it from sticking together too firmly. Re-freeze.
Citrus will keep at room temperature for some time. For longer storage place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Many citrus fruits sold commercially are coated with an edible wax to enhance the shelf life. This can be easily removed by washing the fruit with warm water then drying.
A quick classic Greek. Avgolemono is pronounced ‘ah-vo-le-mo-no’ — the ‘g’ is there, but it's almost silent. Use chicken breast from a supermarket roasted chicken, if preferred.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 (400g) skinned and boned chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped dill or
2 teaspoons dried dill tips
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and carrot until just tender.
Add rice and stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs together with the emon juice in a small bowl, until well combined.
Add the shredded chicken to the saucepan. Add a ladle of the soup to the egg mixture and stir well. Pour back into the saucepan. Stir until thickened. Season. Taste and add more lemon juice if required. Garnish with dill and serve. Serves 6.
ORANGE FIVE-SPICE CAKE
This moist cake can be kept in the refrigerator or freezer
1 orange, with skin but with pips removed
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup each: pitted dates, sugar
125g butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly grease and line the base of a 21cm round cake pan.
Chop the orange then whizz quickly in a food processor. Add the walnuts and dates. Process, until coarsely chopped. Place in a bowl.
Place the sugar, butter and egg in the food processor and mix, until smooth. Combine with the fruit mixture in the bowl, together with the milk and sifted dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
When cold, the cake can be dusted with icing sugar or spread with orange cream cheese icing.
Excellent served with meats or cheese.
3 large oranges
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 onion, diced
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tablespoons grated root ginger
1 teaspoon chilli flakes (or to taste)
2 teaspoons salt
Peel the oranges with a potato peeler. Cut into thin strips. Cut the pith off the oranges and discard. Cut the flesh into small pieces. Discard any pips.
Place the oranges, peel, apples, and onion in a large saucepan together with the remaining ingredients. Stir well.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is tender and the mixture thickened, about 50 minutes. Pour into sterilised jars and seal. Makes about 3 cups.