Bring in the sunshine!
As luck may have it, the sun seems to be peeking out from the clouds and I don’t want it to go. Many of us are feeling that way these days and for me, it’s a matter of what on earth do I cook? I really want to be grilling outside but not sure if a wind storm will pick up quickly and blow out my flame. So some inside warm recipes are still in my mind. It’s a tricky thing to balance at this time of year because we are patiently waiting for those delicious local veggies and fruit to pop up while surrounded by many storage vegetables. They are still great to use in recipes, but I am looking to add a touch of vibrancy into the kitchen so I always like to start with ingredients I already use in my kitchen and in some cases how I can use them differently.
One of those ingredients is orange juice. It is a staple that I have in our refrigerator because we enjoy it as a refreshing beverage, but only pulp free around here please.
I have worked with the Department of Florida Citrus the last few years to create recipes that are family friendly and use orange and grapefruit juices and fresh grapefruits in different ways that perhaps weren’t thought of before. You would be surprised how that burst of sunshine seems to jump right in when you add a splash of juice into one of your dishes. I like to add some to vinaigrettes or marinades for flavour or use it to create a tasty sauce for a sweet or savoury dish. The options are up to you and how comfortable you feel in the kitchen with experimenting. Next time you make a batch of muffins or a loaf perhaps you could try using some orange juice to add a citrus flavour. Here are a few recipes that I have made over the past few weeks that tend to put a smile on friends’ faces and warm up your belly as well as your heart.
Thai Chicken Grapefruit Noodle Salad
This Thai inspired salad can be enjoyed as a tasty main dish. The Florida grapefruit juice and fresh Florida grapefruit adds a tanginess that balances out the curry paste. The crunchy red pepper and Florida grapefruit add colour and freshness to cool and refresh your palate.
12 oz (375 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
3 tbsp (45 mL) canola oil, divided
2 tbsp (30 mL) grapefruit juice
2 tbsp (30 mL) Thai red curry paste
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated fresh ginger, divided
1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) rice vinegar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) granulated sugar
6 oz (180 g) rice stick noodles
2 Ruby Red grapefruits, peeled and segmented
1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts (optional)
. cup (50 mL) chopped peanuts
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint
In a bowl combine chicken with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the canola oil, grapefruit juice, curry paste and 2 tsp (10 mL) of the ginger. Stir to coat evenly and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together remaining oil, ginger, fish sauce, vinegar and sugar. Set aside.
In a pot of boiling water, cook noodles for about 2 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse well with cold water. Drain well and place in large bowl. Add grapefruit, red pepper, bean sprouts, peanuts and green onion. Drizzle with dressing and toss well; set aside.
In a nonstick skillet set over medium-high heat, stir fry chicken for about 8 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Spoon over noodles and toss to combine. Sprinkle with mint before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Tip: Using a serrated knife cut both ends off the grapefruits. Using a sawing motion, cut skin and white pith off and discard. Cut grapefruit into segments between membranes and discard the pith and skin.
Chocolate Orange Brownies
If you love the marriage of orange and chocolate these dense, chocolaty brownies will become a favourite snack or dessert. Cut it into fingers for the kids and let them dip them into the sauce or with this intense Florida orange sauce you can serve this at the end of an entertaining meal with your favourite coffee.
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
3 oz (90 g) unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup (75 mL) orange juice
3/4 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (75 mL) mini chocolate chips
2/3 cup (150 mL) orange juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) orange marmalade
1/4 cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
In saucepan, melt butter and chocolate with Florida orange juice over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour and chocolate chips until well combined.
Scrape into parchment paper lined 8 inch (1.5 L) baking pan and bake in 350 F (180°C) oven for about 20 minutes or until tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool slightly.
Orange sauce: Meanwhile, in small saucepan stir together Florida orange juice, marmalade and sugar over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened slightly. Serve with brownies.
Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Tip: If you like cakey brownies, stir in 1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda with the flour.
Orange Infused Chicken Couscous Salad
Bright sunny flavours of chicken, orange and mint make this salad delicious warm or cold. You can serve this with or without the arugula or try baby spinach instead. Poaching the chicken in the orange juice mixture helps infuse the chicken with more flavour than just using an orange dressing.
2 cups (500 mL) orange juice
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 lb/500 g
½ cup (125 mL) chicken stock
1 ¼ cups (300 mL) couscous
1 small red or orange pepper, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped fresh mint
¼ cup (60 mL) diced dried apricots
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) seasoned rice or apple cider vinegar
6 cups (1.5 L) lightly packed baby arugula
Salt and pepper
Bring 1 cup (250 mL) of the orange juice, shallot, garlic and thyme to boil in a skillet. Add chicken breasts, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, turning once or until no longer pink inside. Set aside.
Bring remaining orange juice and stock to boil in a saucepan and add couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff couscous into a large bowl. Add pepper, green onions, mint and apricots.
Remove chicken breasts from orange mixture and chop into bite size pieces. Add to couscous. Remove thyme sprigs from skillet and bring remaining orange juice mixture to boil for 2 minutes or until almost all the juice is evaporated. Whisk in oil and vinegar and pour over couscous and chicken mixture. Toss to coat evenly and season with salt and pepper.
Divide arugula among plates and spoon couscous salad over top to serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.