Thursday, December 29, 2011

Winter Sunshine Recipes

Hello, hello from the cold but sunny North!  I hope everyone who celebrates the December holidays has been having beautiful ones.  Mr. Magpie and I have been busy visiting loved ones near and far, and now it is our turn to host some of our favorite folks as we welcome the New Year.  In the midst of all this revelry, I have been putting more salted nuts, heavy cream, and chocolate in my mouth than I care to think about.  All of it was and is scrumptious, but I'm in some serious need of light, healthy food.  For me at this time of year, the simplest, most delicious way to make this happen is to buy armfuls of citrus fruits and have them in every meal.

At breakfast, this usually means pink grapefruit.  My favorite way to serve it this time of year is to slice it and sprinkle a teaspoon or two of brown sugar--light brown, dark, demarara, whatever you've got--on each half.  If you like, you can also sprinkle on a little bit of sea salt.  This sends it over the top!  Then I pop the halves on a foil-lined baking pan and pop them under the broiler.

After a couple of minutes, the result is a lacquered grapefruit that's sweet, but not too sweet.  It's also wonderfully warm on top with a skim coat of bruleed sugar, while underneath it's still cool and tart.  I first ate grapefruit this way about 20 years ago at a bed and breakfast here in Maine, and I've preferred it this way ever since.

My go-to citrus recipe for the rest of the day is a jar of liquid sunshine that I pour on top of nearly everything . . . and use as a dipping sauce for nearly everything else.  This mojito sauce recipe comes from Daisy Martinez, and you can find it here.  I originally made this a few years ago as a dipping sauce for tostones (fried plantains), and I love it for that, but now I use it on rice, to marinate meat and vegetables, as a salsa for chips, stirred into spicy beans--you name it.  I tend to make a double batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days, using it as needed craved.  

Last, but definitely not least, I want to share a little salad I made the other night for just the two of us when we were in between holiday visits.  We needed something light--a palate cleanser of sorts between rich, heavy meals--so I combined two favorite winter flavors, pomegranate and citrus, with a third favorite, fennel, to make this salad:

The Magpie's Winter Salad
Serves 2 as meal, 4 as a side salad.

Juice of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/4 grapefruit
Splash of red wine vinegar
Small dollop dijon mustard
Small dollop honey
Olive oil to taste
Tablespoon or so of fresh, chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a lidded jar (So that's what all those Bonne Maman jars I saved were for!) and shake well.  This recipe makes extra dressing to use for a couple of days--YUM!

1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce, washed and chopped
1 small head radicchio, washed and chopped
1 fennel bulb, thinly shaved
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons pomegranate seeds
A few oil-cured black olives (optional, but they really add a wonderfully salty kick--I added mine at the last minute, after I'd taken the photo, and I was so glad I did!)

Toss lettuces together in a pretty bowl.
In a small bowl, marinate fennel and red onions in a little of the dressing for about 15 minutes, then toss in with lettuces.  
Top with the rest of the ingredients and drizzle on dressing.  
Finish with salt and pepper to taste.

Hope you enjoy these recipes, my friends!  Wishing you plenty of sunshine in the New Year!