What do we eat in January? The reds of the summer and late fall have given way to orange and green. Citrus is pouring in from the farm box, from the market, from my sister-in-law’s orange tree. Lemons and limes are ripening in the yard. This week’s box from Riverdog Farm featured a red Kabocha squash (which is a deep shade of reddish-orange), two pounds of oranges, one and a half pounds of mandarin oranges, a couple of leeks, rapini, spinach, two celery roots and a pound and a half of potatoes.
First up, I stir-fried the rapini in olive oil with garlic and squeezed a lemon over that. We ate it with roasted delicata squash seasoned with ginger, lime and an apple cider reduction made from the last of a bottle of cider. We had a slice of heated up ham, which Mom splashed a little maple syrup on at the last minute. We each ate a slice of homemade whole wheat bread. I peeled a tangerine for dessert and Mom cut half an orange into quarters. I watched as her face puckered and volunteered to use the other half of the orange in salad dressing tomorrow.
I first saw this vinaigrette recipe in the farm newsletter, where it was reprinted from the Sun-Times. I have adapted it to use a variety of citrus and I’ll make it from now until citrus fruits fade out in the spring to be replaced by strawberries. While the original recipe called for canola or safflower oil I like to use peanut oil, which goes well with the Asian flavors of ginger, sesame, rice vinegar and tamari.
Orange Sesame Vinaigrette
Juice and zest 1 orange or 2 tangerines or 2 blood oranges or any combination into a bowl, bottle or cruet.
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
black pepper to taste
minced chives, scallions or green garlic, depending on what you have
1/4 cup peanut oil (or add it to jar and shake vigorously).
2 Tbsp sesame seeds in a skillet
Now, make a salad of winter greens: spinach, arugula, lettuce, watercress — whatever you can get. If you can’t get fresh greens, you can slice up napa cabbage on a mandoline. Add slivered carrots, cabbage, sliced fennel, radishes. Throw in roasted peanuts or almonds if you like. Segment your favorite citrus fruits. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette and reserved sesame seeds.
Food notes: You can also eat this vinaigrette on cooked greens or Brussels sprouts. If you are allergic to peanut oil, substitute another oil that you like. Tamari is a wheat-free soy sauce, not as salty as standard soy sauce.
Painting note: This painting is a little blurry because it is a photo of a photo — the original is in a private collection and is more vivid and well-defined.
January is citruslove month. Which makes sense in the Northern Hemisphere at any rate. There is a citrus love recipe posting project. The hash tag is #citruslove. More about it here.
Now, Lauren of PrinceProductions has kindly awarded me another blogging award, Food Bloggers Uncovered, just to make sure I start the New Year off right. She posted ten questions to answer:
1. What, or who inspired you to start a blog?
After struggling mightily over how to launch a website and what would be on it, I was talking to my friend Neola and she said, “Why don’t you just write about food? You could write about what vegetables you get and what you do with them.” Neola knows I am passionate about seasonal eating, that it actually pains me to see recipes containing basil and tomatoes in January.
2. Who is your foodie inspiration?
I have had the good fortune to eat at Greens in San Francisco, at Chez Panisse and Ajanta in Berkeley, and at Joseph’s Table and The Love Apple in Taos, New Mexico. The chefs at those restaurants, Alice Waters, Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” and Michael Pollan’s books have influenced me mightily. The produce from Riverdog Farm has forced me to stretch my cooking muscles, and increase my versatility and look for ways to render a variety of greens delicious.
3. Your greasiest, batter – splattered food/drink book is?
The old Betty Crocker Picture cookbook, which is where I go when I have a question about anything basic (substitutions, cooking methods, standard dishes). I like it that it has tabbed sections for yeast breads and pies as well as main dishes, meat, poultry. Read more about the cookbooks I use the most here.
4. Tell us all about the best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it, what was it?
It would have to be in Paris in the winter where I ate coquilles St. Jacques, a poached pear and the best white bordeaux I have ever tasted, perfectly matched to the food.
5. Another food bloggers table you’d like to eat at is?
I would like to dine with Susan Nye when she is cooking lobster, dine with anyone who likes to cook lamb, sit down to an Italian meal with John of the Bartolini Kitchens. Greg of Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide can make the pre-dinner cocktails and perhaps the bread pudding and you can all submit selections for the dessert cart. Are you listening, Linda? Get out the cheesecake! And I want to know what Christine of Angry Cherry is baking as well. Sally can bring the bread.
6. What is the one kitchen gadget you would ask Santa for this year (money no object of course)?
We have a KitchenAid, but I would like the heavier-duty model, please.
7. Who taught you how to cook?
Mom taught me the basics, including the pie crust, and then I started collecting recipes and techniques and ideas wherever I found them: learned to cook a few Indian and Thai dishes from college roommates, copied flavors I had had in restaurants, watched people cook on T.V., and read lots and lots of cookbooks.
8. I’m coming to you for dinner what’s your signature dish?
It depends on the season. Turkey and apple stew, perhaps, or posole (without the kale!). Served with home-baked bread and a simple pudding or pie. Or green curry of anything. Or something Indian served with cucumber raita, whole wheat tortillas and chutney: chicken biryani or Indian-style black-eyed peas from the Ajanta cookbook.
9. What is your guilty food pleasure?
My secret love of these processed foods: Cheez-Its (original flavor), barbecue chips, and Golden Grahams, which they might as well call candy.
10. Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?
I refuse to eat a number of common foods: mayonnaise (I don’t care who makes it or if you call it “aioli”), avocado, hard-cooked eggs, most organ meats, tuna. I also refuse a number of delicacies: pate, sushi, oysters, caviar, Brie.
Finally…tag 5 other food bloggers with these questions…like a hot baked potato…pass it on.
No, no. We live in a democracy. Take it upon yourselves to answer these questions, or tell your friends about them. Alright, I nominate Granny Wise of Granny’s Parlour because I want to hear how she answers the questions. Who else? You know my favorites already. There’s Eva and Betsy and John, who doubtless have all been nominated for this before. I know, let’s give another award to Jane at ArtEpicurean. Done.