Saturday, February 13, 2010
. . . COOK IF I WANT TO
Appetizers for this year's birthday beach party were inspired by my recent research on blood oranges - I had plenty of them on hand. Sauce Maltaise: Where Have You Been All My Life? One of my best finds as I researched blood oranges was Sauce Maltaise, a Hollandaise classically made with blood orange juice and grated blood orange rind. Can't believe I'd never heard of it before. Since we were, after all, cabin camping, I made this version in the blender rather than going the double-boiler route. It did double duty as a dipping sauce for chilled blanched asparagus spears and as a topper for our Saturday breakfast benedict - eggs scrambled with leeks, asparagus, and Swiss cheese piled on top of thick slices of ham and toasted English muffins. The delicate sweetness of the sauce is a spectacular counterpoint to the bitterness of asparagus, and I will definitely be making it again, even if I have to use regular oranges when blood orange season is over. Who Would Put Black Pepper in Blood Orange Marmalade? Sometimes odd-sounding recipes grab my attention, as did this one for goat cheese crostini with blood orange and black pepper marmalade. Although I added quite a bit more pepper than the recipe called for, it never did taste that peppery. But this one's a keeper nonetheless. The goat cheese flavored with orange zest is a treat by itself, and the blood orange marmalade was remarkably easy, except for the time-consuming process of releasing the orange segments from their membranes. Oh, and I failed to realize the orange rind would remain in the marmalade rather than just flavoring it and being removed before serving. The strips of rind I'd made with a vegetable peeler were far too large, so I fished them out after cooking and chopped them down to more suitable size, a messy process that left my hands magenta. I spread the orange-flavored goat cheese on the crostini, then topped each slice with marmalade on one half and sliced kalamata olives on the other. Inspired by this recipe from Batali for a simple salad of blood oranges and olives and reminiscent of a tip I picked up years ago from a Spanish cooking class about brining your own olives in orange juice, garlic, and herbs, the kalamata-orange pairing is another keeper.