Firstly, being off colour and out of action for a week, I had no appetite and about the only thing I felt I could eat was juicy navel oranges. Fortunately, I had bought a large bag of oranges from the Di Cerbo family at the Capital Region Farmer's Market and also my fruit bowl was stacked with my friend's lemons. Those luscious sweet oranges, fresh lemon tea and the occasional spoonful of honey kept me going and really hit the spot.
Citrus fruits can be used in a variety of moist cakes and piquant desserts. Of course one of the most exquisite orange cakes is the classic flourless Orange and Almond cake. For another sensational and delicious sweet treat, blanch the thinly sliced peel of two oranges twice, in boiling water, then simmer till translucent in a syrup made up of one cup each of water and white sugar. Drain the slices well and dip into melted cooking chocolate. Refrigerate before serving.
Sprinkle citrus juice over deliciously warm, sugar-coated pancakes or fresh fruit slices. Add the grated zest of lemons or oranges to fruit compote. When juicing citrus fruits, microwave the fruit for 30 seconds on high beforehand and you'll squeeze double the juice. The juice of lemons and limes can be successfully frozen in ice cube trays and the grated zest also freezes well. Use lemon juice and zest in jam making. It will increase the pectin content and help the jam set. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to salad dressings, savoury dips and sauces. Steam an assortment of colourful vegetables till crisply tender, sprinkle with lemon juice and a little melted butter just prior to serving.
Exotic, enhancing—a splash of lime juice adds a fresh dimension, lovely scent and piquant flavour to all sorts of food and drink. A little lime juice sprinkled over fruits, such as pawpaw or banana for instance, will intensify the flavour of the fruit. As a healthy bonus, the juice of limes can be used in place of salt to bring out the flavour in vegetables, meat and fish. Lime zest is also excellent for flavouring and should be grated before slicing the fruit. Limes are a citrus fruit related to oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit. The fruit is similar to lemon—although limes are more fragrant and more acidic than lemons—and can often be substituted in recipes where lemons are listed.
The tangy flavours of citrus also marry nicely with meat, fish and poultry dishes. For a delicious difference, brush a little olive oil and lemon juice over lamb or pork cutlets before grilling. My favourite veal dish is veal cutlets marinated in lime juice and black pepper and then grilled to tender perfection. See below for the recipe and some other zesty ideas.
VEAL WITH LIME AND PEPPER
This recipe is inspired by incredibly tender veal tasted courtesy of the McKenzies of Clelands Veal, Mount Compass, during a trip to South Australia for Tasting Australia.
4-6 veal cutlets
juice of one or two limes
freshly cracked black pepper
good olive oil
Trim any fat from the cutlets. Brush cutlets with a little lime juice and olive oil. Sprinkle both sides liberally with pepper. Cook in a hot, lightly oiled grill pan until well browned on one side. Turn and brush with a little more lime juice and oil. Cook until done to your liking. Baste with lime juice during cooking. Serves 2.
HONEY AND LEMON CHICKEN
6-8 small chicken pieces
flour for coating
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Lightly dust the chicken pieces with flour. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet or fry pan. Add chicken and sauté till well browned. Combine the honey, lemon juice and stock and pour over the chicken. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 35 - 40 minutes until chicken is tender. Serve chicken hot, sprinkled with pan juices and garnished with parsley and lemon zest. Serves 4-6.
TOM KAH GAI
My version of this Thai classic, which would not be nearly as delicious without the addition of lime.
2.5 cups chicken stock
3 Kaffir lime leaves
3 pieces galangal
5cm piece lemongrass
3 tablespoons lime juice
grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 level teaspoons chilli paste
1 small chicken breast fillet, cubed
1 can straw mushrooms, drained, rinsed
2 cups coconut milk (less if preferred)
Bring chicken stock to boil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, lime juice and zest, fish sauce, sugar and chilli paste. Bring to the boil again, lower heat and simmer briefly. Add chicken, mushrooms and coconut milk to saucepan, stir. Simmer gently for five minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 6.