January 25, 2012

Citrus season: Time to practice tart arts

It's prime time for lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits, so add a little sunshine to your cooking.

By MARY-LIZ SHAW, McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

Citrus with food
click image to enlarge

Clementine slices cook on the bottom of this clementine cake, but the finished product is then inverted, showing off the candied citrus, and slices are topped with a dollop of cheesecake cream.

McClatchy Newspapers

The citrus season runs from early November to April or May, depending on the fruit. Some varieties bear fruit as late as July.

Oranges left on the tree will not overripen.

Citrus fruit is believed to be native to Southeast Asia. The Greeks and Romans were early cultivators of citron, a sour citrus fruit. Columbus brought orange, lemon and citron seeds on his second voyage to the Caribbean.

Except for Key limes, which come from South Florida, virtually all of the limes sold in the United States come from Mexico. The main U.S. transfer point for Mexican limes is McAllen, Texas.

The word "ascorbic," from ascorbic acid (vitamin C), means "no scurvy."

Only 10 mg of vitamin C per day will prevent a vitamin C deficiency, which leads to scurvy. But most nutrition experts recommend up to 200 mg per day for optimum health and to prevent chronic disease. One medium orange provides 70 mg of vitamin C; a medium grapefruit provides 56 mg. An 8-ounce glass of orange juice contains about 100 mg of vitamin C.

A compound in citrus, limonin, has been found to prevent several cancers, including cancers of the mouth, pharynx (directly behind the tongue and nasal cavity), larynx, esophagus and stomach.

RUBY RED GRAPEFRUIT CURD TARTLETS

Servings: 6

1¼ cups flour, plus more for rolling

5 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

Generous pinch of salt

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

1½ ounces good-quality dark chocolate, finely grated

Grapefruit curd and garnish (see recipe)

½ cup whipping heavy cream

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

In food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar, orange zest and salt and pulse to blend. Add butter and pulse 10 to 15 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse about 15 times, or until dough starts to come together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more water if necessary.

Scrape dough onto work surface and shape into a 5-inch disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze or refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 6 pieces and shape each into a disc. On lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece into a 6-inch round. Fit each round into a 4½- or 5-inch tartlet pan. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line each tartlet shell with foil and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Remove foil and weights and bake 8 to 10 minutes longer or until pastry is golden brown.

Transfer tartlets, on baking sheet, to wire rack and immediately sprinkle about 1 tablespoon grated chocolate over bottom of each tartlet shell. Let stand about 1 minute to melt chocolate and then, with back of a small spoon, spread chocolate evenly over bottom of each shell. Let cool completely.

Make grapefruit curd and garnish and let chill at least 1 hour.

In medium bowl, combine cream and granulated sugar and beat until firm peaks form. Gradually fold whipped cream into grapefruit curd. Spoon about 2 mounded tablespoons of curd mixture into each tartlet shell. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until curd is set. (Tartlets can be refrigerated up to 1 day, loosely covered.)

Just before serving, place 2 to 3 reserved grapefruit sections on each tartlet.

GRAPEFRUIT CURD AND GARNISH

2 large ruby red grapefruits (divided)

4 large egg yolks

(Continued on page 3)

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