California dreaming

Yes, I’ll say it – I loved living in Princeton, but after two of the snowiest winters on record, I am really glad to be back in California. Where February means our yard explodes with daffodils and tulips and hyacinth, the afternoons have been flirting with 70 degrees F, and the citrus – well, to say that it abounds is an understatement. Today at the market we got gorgeous cocktail grapefruits, sweet limes — and I have mentioned the lemons have I not? Oh the lemons …  But this story takes place last week, when what we found waiting for us at our Saturday morning market – the first of the year that felt crowded, people out soaking up the sun — what we found were: blood oranges.

He had cut some open and they had the rich tones of jewels in the glittery morning light. Why is citrus just so pretty? I wish I was better with the camera so you could see what we saw. The color — that deep, deep red, reaching to maroon and purple and orange – they are fruits that look “like a sunset” as Jacob proclaimed. There is something almost berry-like, more sweet and less tart than your average orange. Even the juice is garnet colored and they stain when you eat them — they stain your fingers, they stain their own peels, they stain the place mats.

Heidi Swanson did a post recently about citrus curds — bright, sophisticated, “kissed with clove” — of course they were, she is Heidi! Her curds were gorgeous, beautifully photographed, and inspired by Moroccan adventures that for now I can only dream of. But the citrus itself — on citrus access, Heidi and I have equal footing! California has its problems, but a lack of citrus on the first Saturday of March is not one of them.

So–  armed with Heidi’s recipe and our citrus bounty, Jacob and I set to work. I believe Heidi’s sous chef is a bit older and more experienced than mine – no matter. Her recipe was so simple, and Jacob was so excited about the mixer, we could have turned out curds all day. As it was, we just went for one: Heidi posted about Grapefruit and ginger … we tried it with — you guessed it — blood orange.


** J man did all the steps up to this point, and then I heated it (right in the mixer bowl! genius!). And then, we had curd!

Although we were sorry to see that we didn’t get quite the stunning color of the original juice, these are like little jars of sunshine. I think those bright orange egg yolks and the butter and — well. It’s delicious to boot. But Jacob really thinks we should leave you with a picture of oranges. So, here is the recipe, and below them … one last glittery glimpse. Enjoy!

Blood Orange Curd with Ginger
(ever so slightly adapted from probably my very favorite food blogger and blog, Heidi Swanson and 101Cookbooks.com)

1 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice, strained (we juiced and strained three year old fashion, and it was fine)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup honey  (she alternately uses 1/2 cup sugar here)
2 large egg yolks, room temp
2 large eggs , room temp
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon fresh ginger juice (press freshly grated ginger through a small strainer – we were surprised how easily ginger was juiced and how much juice it made – and, the juice was green!)

Mommy steps: Simmer the blood orange juice in a small saucepan, reducing to 1/2 cup. Let it cool a bit before you give it back to the sous chef.

Jacob steps: Cream the butter in a medium stainless steel bowl (this bowl will be a makeshift double-boiler later). Add the honey and beat until incorporated. Add the yolks, and then the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Stir in the salt, and then gradually add the blood orange juice, lemon juice, and ginger juice, stirring each bit as you go (Heidi method) – or, dump it all in at once. It will work itself out. (Jacob method)

Mommy steps: Rinse out the small saucepan you used earlier to reduce your juice, and fill 1/3 of the way full with water. Bring to a simmer, and place your stainless steel mixer bowl of curd-to-be on top of it. Stir constantly, and heat the curd slowly. This step usually takes about ten minutes. Pull the curd from the heat when it is just thick enough to coat your spoon. It will thicken as it cools.

And it keeps refrigerated for a week, or up to a month in the freezer. Great on yogurt, waffles, crackers, or just on spoons out of the jar.

Makes about 2 cups.

You’d be safe and warm, if you were here in the Bay … :)