Monday, February 2, 2015

Orange You Glad

Every grandchild learns this knock-knock joke early in life:

"Knock, knock. Who's there? Banana. Banana who?

Knock, knock. Who's there? Banana. Banana who?

Knock, knock. Who's there? Banana. Banana who?

Knock, knock. Who's there? Orange. Orange who?

Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"

Which takes me to oranges as a wonderful enhancement to dishes you may have not considered. Since few of us in the Midwest bother with raising oranges as a house plant, we must buy and envy our southern friends who may have them in the backyard. But either way, oranges are our friends.

My new orange favorite is with chocolate. Those long orange jelly candies covered in dark chocolate started this craving. I then started adding to other confections. I use both fresh juice and zest (the orange layer of the skin.) If I have some left, I store it in a zip lock bag in the freezer for next time.

I have some great orange flavoring from "Uncle Billy's" in Galesburg and "Farm King" in Kewanee. There are alcohol based, alcohol free or oil based, and bakery emulsion. All have a place and all are subtly different. Look for those without any chemical ingredients if you want the best flavor. Chemically developed flavors tend to leave a strong bitter aftertaste whereas natural flavors leave a clean fresh taste.

They used Blood Oranges in this one.
I especially like orange icing on chocolate cakes and cookies.  Orange seems to pull the chocolate flavor into a better realm.

Orange also brightens the flavors of berries and other fruit.  Mix a little zest into a pie and the other fruit flavors expand.  Don't over zest or it can mask the other fruit's flavor.

Orange juice as well as any acidic food can be used as a meat tenderizer.  Realize it will impart some of the orange flavor into the meat unless it's only a portion of the overall marinade.  It's especially flavorful for meat in Asian dishes.

A bit of orange zest and juice will brighten the flavors of vegetable dishes.  Green beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, kale and other leafy greens are some of the best.  

Oranges are often used in punches and as mixes for wine sangria, martinis and some cocktails.  Here's one of the fascinating ones currently "The Rage" in high end bars:

Whiskey Sour
From:  Martha Stewart

This would serve at least 20 in coupe glasses 
or 10 in larger glasses

1 Cup - fresh lemon juice
4 Cups - fresh orange juice
Maraschino Cherries, drained
1 Cup - Triple sec
2 1/2 Cups - Whiskey (most use Bourbon)
Very thin orange slices

Mix lemon and orange juice with ice until very cold.  Add Triple sec and whisky.  Stir to mix. Take out ice using slotted spoon.  You don't want this mixture to sit with ice melting.   Pour into glasses.  Add a few fresh ice cubes.  Garnish with cherry and orange slice. 

Orange you glad to know this? 

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