Ring in the New Year with fresh, bright, new flavors
Didn’t we all heave a sigh of relief when the clock struck 12 last New Year’s Eve? Maybe some of us cheered, clapped, or even shouted at the top of our lungs to drive away all the bad news and negative vibes accumulated in 2020. We must have all eagerly embraced the chance to have a fresh start, a new beginning.
With renewed vigor and energy, I invite you to turn to new recipe ideas that could spark some excitement in your menu offerings this January. Let’s start by looking closely at a fruit that is inexpensive and accessible, but surprisingly underutilized in our cooking and even in desserts: the orange. Compared to the seasonal kiat-kiat and popular ponkan, the OG of their tribe is what we Filipinos call the “Sunkist” orange.
What Did Orange Taste Like Before?
When I was growing up in the ‘70s, orange juice meant a tablespoon of powdered orange crystals mixed in a tall glass of cold water. It was so sweet that one didn’t have to add any sugar. This ice-cold glass of Tang really quenched my thirst, especially after coming in from a hot afternoon of playing outside (those were the days…).
There was also the bottled kind labeled as “orange concentrate”—bright orange, syrupy sweet, and mildly acerbic. This was known as “Sunquick,” and it was usually the brand used by restaurants and bars in the ‘70s, masquerading as orange juice.
My favorite was the pyramid-shaped tetra pack (before the boxed tetra brick and doy packs), which was a staple in my grade school class field trips. I would put two in the freezer the night before, pack the solid-as-a-rock triangles in my lunch box the next day, and enjoy thawed, chilled orange juice in the school bus, happily sipping away from a skinny plastic straw. Thinking back now, I realize it was mostly sweetened water because it was so pale and thin with no real orange flavor, but it sure tasted heavenly to me.
Use the Juice
Up until the mid or late ‘80s, freshly squeezed orange juice was only for those who could afford to buy imported oranges, and having a glass at home was considered a luxury. Before import liberalization in the Philippines, apples, oranges, pears, and grapes were only sold in large city supermarkets and specialty fruit stands. Nowadays, they’re everywhere and unfortunately, sometimes cheaper than our local fruits. It makes perfect sense then for home cooks to use them more in cooking and baking today.
Duck à l’Orange is one of those classic dishes that was/is found in traditional French restaurant menus, favored for its savory-sweet, orange-laced brown gravy that perfectly complements the gamey duck meat. While chicken is more neutral in flavor, I thought a citrusy orange sauce could also go well with it. I created this BRAISED CHICKEN A L’ORANGE with a more Western approach (as opposed to the Asian flavors of Panda Express’ Orange Chicken or Chinese Lemon Chicken), using fresh orange juice and some of the rinds to add another layer of flavor.
Sweet Marmalade Memories
My first taste of orange marmalade was given by my Lola Daza, who kept a jar of Lady’s Choice Orange Marmalade on her kitchen counter. I can’t remember now whether she spread it on crackers or on toast, but I know I was impressed and intrigued that it smelled fragrant and fruity—like a perfume. I loved everything about it—the sweet orange jam coupled with bits of bitter rind.
I fell in love with orange marmalade all over again after I entered the gourmet’s paradise of Fortnum and Mason in London four years ago. Once inside, you can’t help but be intoxicated by the intermingling aromas of chocolate, toffee, biscuits, jams, and teas. Everything is just so beautiful and elegantly displayed in glass jars, tins, boxes, and all manners of packaging with bright, pretty ribbons. Drawn towards the wall of bottled preserves, I was delighted to find a line of orange marmalades laced with rum, champagne, and whiskey. I’m not ashamed to admit that I sampled them all.
Sharing here with you the recipe for ORANGE MARMALADE from the book “DK: Get Started Preserving” published by Dorling Kindersley. It was my first experiment with making marmalade and was thrilled it was successful enough that I ended up giving jars of it to family and friends last Christmas.
The Marriage of Chocolate and Orange
Early on in my career, my friend Cecille Chuachiaco (owner of Classic Chef Catering) gifted me with a pack of chocolate-covered orange peels she made herself. They were so addicting!
I recently tried making some from a recipe I found online but was not satisfied with the result—the strips of orange peel were not quite as soft-but-chewy as they should be, and the chocolate coating did not set perfectly.
No matter, it reminded me that orange and chocolate do blend nicely together. This taste memory led to my pairing of orange marmalade with chocolate-hazelnut spread, and I found another winning flavor match. Here is my recipe for NUTELLA TARTLETTES WITH BITTERSWEET ORANGE TOPPING. This recipe makes one big 9” or 10” tart, 5-6 smaller tarts, or about 40 mini boat tarts.
Braised Chicken a l’Orange
1 whole chicken (1.2-1.5 kilos)
2 oranges (1 for juice and peel, 1 for orange segments)
2 Tbsps. soy sauce
2 Tbsps. orange juice
1 1/2 Tbsps. yellow mustard or Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. fine salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
First, prepare the oranges. Cut one orange in half. Squeeze and reserve juice. Using a teaspoon, scrape off as much of the white pith as you can, leaving just the orange peel. Divide each half into four quarters and cut thin slices of orange peel. Set aside. Keep the other orange for later.
Marinate whole chicken with a mixture of soy sauce and fresh orange juice for 25-30 minutes, turning once. Pour some marinade inside the chicken cavity.
After 30 minutes, pour out and discard marinade. Pat chicken skin dry with paper towels. Tie chicken legs with butcher’s twine. Set chicken on a baking dish.
Brush chicken all over with yellow or Dijon mustard, making sure to get into the crevices under the wing and bottom. Combine salt, pepper and cumin in a small bowl. Sprinkle this liberally seasoning all over the chicken.
Cover chicken with a tented foil, sealing the edges on the baking dish. Place chicken in a pre-heated 375 F oven for 30 minutes.
After half an hour, remove foil and continue to cook chicken for another 30 minutes (or more, depending on size of the chicken) until fully cooked and the skin is golden. Remove chicken from the oven and set aside.
Chunky Orange Sauce:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup orange juice
Orange peel strips
¼ tsp. fine salt
Orange zest and orange segments
1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
While chicken is roasting, make orange sauce. Take the second orange and use a fine-grater or zester to get about ½ teaspoon of orange zest. Set aside. Using a very sharp knife, slice the top and bottom of the orange. Set the orange down on a chopping board and continue to slice around the orange from top to bottom, cutting off the peel and leaving the orange “naked”. Slice orange segments by cutting through on both sides of the white membrane, revealing peeled segments. Continue all around and set segments aside. Squeeze leftover pith and add juice to the sauce.
Make the sauce. In a small saucepan, melt butter and sugar together over low-medium heat. Stir until sugar is melted.
Next, add chicken stock, orange juice and orange peels. Simmer for 20-25 minutes over low heat. Season with salt.
Taste sauce and adjust flavor with salt, sugar or more orange flavor (juice and/or zest). When flavor is to your liking, thicken sauce with cornstarch slurry. Simmer sauce until slightly thick and shiny, about 3-4 minutes.
Pour Orange Sauce into a large pot. Place roast chicken in the sauce and cover the pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat, basting chicken with the sauce every few minutes. Simmer for another 25-30 minutes.
Just before serving, add orange segments and orange zest. Simmer for another minute and then transfer to a serving dish. Serve with roasted or mashed regular potatoes or sweet potatoes.
(recipe from DK: Get Started Preserving published by Dorling Kindersley)
4 large or 5 medium oranges
*juice from oranges and lemons
4 cups water for boiling
4 ½ cups white sugar
2 cups strained liquid from boiling citrus
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
First, soap and rinse oranges and lemons thoroughly. Next, slice oranges and lemons in half.
Squeeze fruits to get about 2 cups orange juice and ½ cup lemon juice in two separate bowls. Set aside.
Reserve the squeezed orange and lemon halves. Place in a pot of water and bring up to a boil. Put the lid on and turn heat to low. Simmer citrus peels for 1 hour. Turn heat off.
Strain and save cooking liquid, reserving 2 cups for the Orange Syrup.
When peels are cooled, use a teaspoon to scrape off all the white pith from each citrus shell, reserving the peels. Slice orange and lemon peels into thin strips, about ½ to ¾ inch long. Set aside.
Prepare the orange syrup. In a large pot, combine sugar, strained cooking liquid, orange juice and lemon juice. Add the sliced peels. Bring mixture up to a boil, then turn heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour hot orange marmalade into sterilized jars, cool completely, then store in the refrigerator.
Nutella Tartlettes With Bittersweet Orange Topping
Sweet Pastry Pie Crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening (like Crisco)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. cold water
In a bowl, combine flour and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening with a pastry blender or two dinner knives. Pour in beaten egg and water. Stir with a fork to moisten flour evenly, then gather pieces to compress and form a ball of dough. Wrap dough with plastic cling wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
After dough has rested, divide dough into 4 portions. Flatten each portion into a disc in between two sheets of baking paper. Roll into a thin, even sheet of pastry with a rolling pin.
Lay dough sheets over a tart tin pan or boat tart tins. Press to fit on the tins, then release excess dough to form a new ball of dough. Repeat procedure until all dough has been used up.
Bake tart shells in a preheated 375 F oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove baked tart shells from the oven to cool.
A proud home cook and cookbook author, Nina is in love with the cooking process. She believes there's something magical about bringing random ingredients together to create a cohesive dish that's delicious, nourishing, and satisfying. She likens cooking in the kitchen to a dance, with its many movements, rhythmic sounds, and stimulating smells, all working together in perfect harmony and synchronicity.
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