Weekly Salad 17: Grilled Romaine and Parmesan

 

romaine

 

When I think of salads, I think of crisp, cool vegetables and lettuce. I don’t always think of cooking lettuce but the times I’ve tried it, I’ve realized how nice it can be. Cooking, particularly grilling lettuce seems to really bring out its sweetness and flavor. Romaine is a fairly hardy lettuce that can really stand up to the heat of the grill. It goes from being firm and crisp to tender and juicy in a matter of minutes. For this salad, I cut the romaine hearts in half lengthwise and generously brushed the cut sides with olive oil before grilling them for about 2-3 minutes until slightly wilted. After that, all they need is sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, a final drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese. Serve warm.

Bon appétit!

 

DAFFODILS AT MATTHAEI BOTANICAL GARDENS, ANN ARBOR

jonq

 

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Candied Citrus Peel – Tangelo and Pomelo

 

CandiedCitrus

 

I hit the tail end of the citrus season with a slightly frenzied and frenetic pace this year. It seemed like I was never going to have enough time to make use of all the pomelos, minneola tangelos, meyer lemons and blood oranges that I would gleefully find in the produce aisle. Their beautiful yet brief appearance at grocery stores here in Michigan was one of the few things that kept me from jumping off a bridge in mid-February. Have you noticed how folks who live in or near the tropics are so damn happy all the time? Hello – they have teh sun! I think the way the cold drags on can be downright miserable for some of us (tele-skiers being exempt, of course.)

Oh, it’s not all doom and gloom, friends. Thanks to Jen, I had the inspiration and know-how to make candied citrus peels. Instant sunshine and a little happiness — that is what they bring. What I find most appealing about making this is that it is the ultimate Recycling Addict’s recipe: the fruit is eaten, the peel is candied and the citrus-y syrup left over from the candying process can be used to sweeten lemonades, coffee, tea; for brushing the tops of sweet breads and loaves, for making meringue with citrus flavor, etc.; nothing to waste, or rien ne se jete, as Warda wrote on her post for making candied orange zest.

Tangleos make excellent candidates for candying because their peel comes off rather easy, much like tangerines. Their strong fragrance and striking, almost crimson color add a gourmet touch to any candy tray. Pomelos are a favorite fruit of mine and I was curious about how they would turn out. Luckily, they turned out just as delicious as the candied tangelos.

 

Candied citrus

Candied Tangelos

Sugared

 

I adapted Jen’s recipe to suit my tendency towards eating “less sweet” desserts. Of course, that seems a bit silly since we’re talking about candying fruit. Nevertheless, I prefer to scrape away as much of the pith after blanching the peels (before candying them) because I want to think that less pith means less matter for the sugar to adhere and attach itself to. I sliced the peels only after the blanching process was complete because I found the delicate tangelo peels fared better that way (less breakage). As a result, they were slightly more delicate and a bit more tender than regular orangettes. I think some fruit need to be blanched more than others. I blanched the tangelos three times and the pomelos five times before I felt enough of the bitterness was removed. Also, I did not dip them in chocolate as Jen did but, maybe next time. Lord knows I like to gild the lily. Besides, there’s always another fabulous winter to look forward to…

 

CANDIED TANGELOS and POMELOS

adapted from Use Real Butter

5-6 tangelo minneolas or 2 pomelos
2 3 cups (600g) sugar
2 cups (480mL) water

1 cup (200g) sugar for rolling
or
8 oz (~230g) chocolate for dipping

Harvest the peel by scoring the tangelo vertically along the center (think Earth’s Meridian). Carefully pull the peel back so that you end up with two hollow halves of tangelo peel. Repeat with the rest of the fruit. For the pomelos, score the fruit into 5 or 6 sections and peel back and separate the skin from the fruit. Because pomelos have so much pith, I used a sharp paring knife to cut some of the pith – in a similar manner as I would to fillet fish. (I don’t know if this decreased the number of times I would need to blanch the peels, but I thought it didn’t hurt.)

Place peel halves/segments in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat on high until water comes to a boil. Pour off the water. Repeat three times more (or however many times you think is enough to remove bitterness). Once the blanching is complete, use a sharp spoon to [carefully] scrape off some of the pith (as much as desired.) Cut peel into 1/4 (or 1/2) inch [~.5 or 1.5cm] strips.

Combine sugar and water in the saucepan and bring to boil over high heat until temperature reaches 230F (110C). Add peel and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until peels are translucent (30 minutes or longer). Remove peels from syrup and roll in sugar if desired, and set on rack to dry for several hours. Once the peel is dry, you can dip in tempered dark chocolate – shake off excess, and place on foil, wax paper, or baking sheet to dry. Store in a tupperware, or if not chocolate dipped, store in sugar.

Bon appétit!

 

REDBUD TREES AND THE HURON RIVER AT GALLUP PARK, ANN ARBOR

 

Redbuds and The Huron River

 

 

Poppies, Wildflowers and a Sweet Show

 

pop

 

In my opinion, part of the fun in reading blogs is getting to peak inside (or outside) the world of people you might not normally encounter or get to know. Reading food blogs is especially interesting because it opens you up to culinary ideas and concepts that you might not have considered or perhaps even shunned — like grilling food in the snow (!) or making mayonnaise without killing someone.

I also like seeing food bloggers’ world outside of their kitchen. After drooling over WhiteOnRiceCouple‘s photos, especially those from their recent trip to Antelope Valley and Jen‘s National Geographic-esque portfolio , I’ve found a bit of inspiration to photograph some purty flowers too. Below are photos of poppies off the 15 Frwy in Orange County, California and wildflowers at Joshua Tree National Park.

 

California Poppies in Orange County

2008 Wildflowers Joshua Tree

 

In other news, Pierre and I were honored to be included in the 2008 Festifools Photography Show, organized by über cool photographer Myra Klarman. A reception was held last weekend to celebrate the opening of the show. The photographs will be on display at Sweetwaters (Washington Street location) through May.

 

Sweetwaters Festifool

 

DESERT GOLD AT SUNSET, JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

JOSHUA TREE AT SUNSET