Looking over my last few posts, I have come to realize my citrus obsession. It's not that I think I'm going to become crippled by scurvy anytime soon. Perhaps citrus reminds me of warm sunny days, the kind I long for when March arrives on the calendar, a teasing reminder that spring is right around the corner but here in New England, that can still mean snowfall and raw, cold days. As Dick, a former lineman and longtime fisherman who still spends most of his days outdoors, always says, "There is no spring on the Cape!" For those of us who live on Cape Cod year round, we know this to be true. A bitterly cold April wind can chill you to the bone. Every mom who waits at baseball practice as the sun goes down on a deceptively warm May day pulls on her winter coat and gloves that she keeps in the trunk of her car along with her beach chair. If she forgot her sneakers and socks and is stuck with the flip flops she dared to wear during the warm noontime sun, she is swearing to herself and rubbing her freezing cold feet, hoping that the coach will let the kids go home early tonight so that she can finally put on some warm, fuzzy socks.
It's probably because I try and conjure up springtime, coaxing it to come along sooner that it appears to be ready that I have been whipping up lemon this and lemon that, not to mention the cutting up and drying of oranges in my food dehydrator. I have discovered that the dried oranges add a sweet/sour note when paired with cheddar cheese. People tend to be a bit timid at first to try them but once they do, all the oranges tend to be quickly devoured and those once timid people feel like they are now adventurous "foodies".
I managed to keep a few dried orange slices away from the cocktail and hors d'eouvre table and decided instead, to slather them with melted semi-sweet chocolate. The verdict: sublime with a glass of red wine after dinner and the perfect snack to pack in my lunchbox for when I am trapped at work all day, pining away the boring Cape Cod winter hours when no one is interested in coming out to shop and browse for a t-shirt during a snow storm of which we have had way too many to count (snowstorms, that is).
While the oranges proved to be a hit, my greatest feat by far this past weekend was the dessert I made for the adults to eat after Declan's birthday dinner on Saturday night. I say, "the adults" because #1 my kids would likely refuse to even taste something as seemingly exotic as what I am about to describe and #2 they were looking forward to eating the rest of the store bought (don't ask) birthday cake leftover from Declan's bowling/video game party earlier in the day. By now, many in the know have heard of Gabrielle Hamilton, the author of "Blood, Bones and Butter". I recently acquired her cookbook based on the recipes she serves in her famous NYC restaurant called "Prune". I decided that the first recipes I tried would be from the perfectly enchanting chapter: "Lunch Dessert". I paired her recipe for Buttermilk Panna Cotta with the syrup and candied rind from the Cold Candied Meyer Lemon portion of the recipe as the lemons I used were not Meyer lemons and the pith on them was a little too thick. It doesn't matter. The results were out of this world fantastic. The slight sourness of the buttermilk paired with the sweet/sour/bitter taste of the lemon syrup and rind made everyone's taste buds sing. The cold, firm yet creamy panna cotta topped with the velvety thick, sticky syrup didn't last in the crystal dessert cups for long as each one of us used our spoons and some (whose manners were a bit lax) employed their tongues to lick and gobble up the last drops of this simple yet decadent dessert.
I really can't say if I am finished for the time being with my citrus obsession. Stay Tuned.