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Tag: grapefruit

On Sweetness & Life: Grapefruit-Tarragon Poundcake

Upon reflection, I’ve recently copped to the fact that I am a total cake-pusher. To my mind, there is no occasion that is not improved by the addition of cake. Not just birthdays or weddings, though there’s little I love more than coming up with just the right birthday confection for a friend. And I maaay have bullied at least a few couples into having cakes at their weddings that would otherwise have forgone this sweetest of nuptial traditions. (“Think of the pictures!” I say, and I mostly mean it.)

But beyond those obvious events, cake should still always be welcome. Whether a humble loaf that lengthens a quiet afternoon tea with a friend or a grandiose, beglittered tower shining over a swanky soiree, cake is the sweet exclamation point to so many of life’s adventures, big or small.

This cake, flavored with tarragon and grapefruit, is a perfect harbinger of spring. But I’ll always think of it as engagement cake. Like my recent engagement to the lovely (and long-suffering) Mr. T, this cake also took a while to come together, but was ultimately very worth it. How, though, are they related?

Well, I popped the question to a (relatively) unsuspecting Mr. T the day he became an American citizen, which happened to fall on the week of our 11th anniversary and Valentine’s Day. (So trite I promise you it was an accident…) After our celebratory dinner we came home to a box of Recchiuti chocolates, our traditional Valentine’s Day indulgence.

As we generally do, we each selected a chocolate and cut them in half to share. Our favorite new piece was the tarragon ganache topped with a piece of candied grapefruit peel. Even in the chocolate, both flavors were pure and strong and really, really good together. I resolved to recreate the the pairing in some other form as soon as possible… which, of course, wasn’t till last week. In my defense, though, researching wedding venues is no small chore, and I also had to candy some grapefruit peel to start with.

Having candied the grapefruit peel a few weeks ago (here’s my take on candied orange peel, just use grapefruit instead), I finally got my act together to bake the actual cake last weekend. I wanted to serve it as an accompaniment to the grapefruit-lemon honeycomb I had planned for our secular spring chocolate bunny luncheon (you know the one…). The pairing proved a winning one, but the cake is quite amazingly good on its own.

As with the chocolate that inspired it, the cake’s combination of flavors is unusual and invigorating. The tarragon’s sweet, grassy, anise notes provide a dynamic counterpoint to the grapefruit’s bittersweet citrus tang. Delicious uniqueness aside, this is a perfectly behaved tea cake as well–moist and long-lived–and it pairs perfectly with an afternoon cuppa.

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Winter time, citrus cake time

MeyerLemonBloodORangeCitrusCake

With Christmas came many new cookbooks for my collection. Chief among them? This tiny little jewel, Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. A book about seasonal fruit desserts broken down by season? Bring it!

The following cake capped off a dinner party I hosted for some very dear friends visiting  from South Africa. I made it with Meyer lemons (I hoard these during the winter months), blood oranges (another winter favorite) and Indian River grapefruits.

With olive oil being the dominant ingredient here, it’s important to select one that’s of high quality with a deep fruity taste. You want to avoid grassy, strong-biting olive oils. Take a little bit of the citrus and mix it into a small amount of oil and taste. Both flavors should compliment. One should not announce itself over the other.

Perfect for dessert or as a nice breakfast which I enjoyed for the next few mornings.

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Salad for a New Year; A Vinaigrette for All Times

grapefruitAnd I’m back. Yay! Sorry for the radio silence, campers. The demands of not feeling so hot and the excitement of celebrating the holidays Johnson-style with Mr. T, the Wonder Twins, and other assorted relatives of delight have kept me away. But no longer! It’s a new year, a new decade, and time for a salad, yes? Yes, indeed. It’s also peak time for most citrus, and in the spirit of freshness, I present my very favorite fennel and grapefruit salad with a super-awesome grapefruit vinaigrette.

While the salad is definitely a lush and delicious company-worthy combo of crunchy-sweet fennel, bitter greens, bright grapefruit, meaty pecans and tangy goat cheese, I am most pleased with the vinaigrette. Tonic, a former neighborhood haunt of ours, had the most lovely, intensely lemony salad dressing. It was just… lemony; it didn’t have any bitter pithiness to it, nor was it harshly acidic, and I still don’t know quite how they did it.

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My, What Big Guns You Have! The French 78 / French 75

French78I was rooting around in some old bartending books in search of something special to serve at my birthday last year and I was quite taken with the French 75.  So named by American GIs in WWII after the 75mm Howitzer because of its considerable kick, the blend of gin, lemon, simple syrup, and champagne sounded nearly perfect.

NEARLY perfect, however, doesn’t quite cut it, and I wanted something special for my special birthday–one ending in a zero, *sigh*.  I  ultimately arriving at the grapefruit version I dubbed the French 78 in honor of my natal year.  Grapefruit–being astringent, floral, woodsy, and citrusy all at once–really compliments gin’s herbal profile in a way that lemon’s less sophisticated bite doesn’t.  Both are delightful and will get you and your guests totally trollied in record time–they are quite potent.  FYI, the vodka version is called the French 76, but as with all gin cocktails adulterated by vodka, it should just be called “crap”.

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