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New York, NY, 10003

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Saffron 59 Catering is New York City's premier caterer and event planner specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine. For over 11 years, Saffron 59 has successfully orchestrated memorable affairs with attention to every detail.

Blog

Citrus During The Winter Blues

Irene Wong

If the current forecasts prevail, Florida will produce approximately 103 million boxes of oranges, and about 15 million boxes grapefruit. With this abundance of citrus fruits, why not take advantage of them, especially when they are at their peak! Given their vibrant color and refreshing zest, these substantial foods satisfy this craving, especially at this time of the year...

On my recent trip to Central America, while staying at an inn situated on an orange grove plantation and after a hike, we were served an assortment of smoothies and shakes made with mandarin oranges and tangerines. They were delicious, sweet and tangy with low acidity, but with a zesty touch of lemon added!

Whether cooked or preserved, these fruits can certainly be great comfort foods, whether served sweet or by adding ingredients to make a savory dish. After Thanksgiving season is over, the markets are literally giving away cranberries for nothing. When back home, my sweetheart made a few jars of cranberry grapefruit jam for his morning toast that will last throughout the winter. 

Neatly stacked, basket full of pomelos at the market in Yangon, Myanmar

Neatly stacked, basket full of pomelos at the market in Yangon, Myanmar

Pomelo looks like an oversized grapefruit. It originated in Southeast Asia and is said to be the larges of all citrus fruit. Pomelo are sweet, juicy and low in acidity. I enjoyed them at breakfast, but also a thirst quencher when I returned back from a day's outing They have a much thicker pith and skin, so they can last over a month if stored at room temperature. I love incorporating them with leftover roast chicken, shred the meat into thin slivers for a 'chicken salad with pomelo', add shaved green papaya and a squeeze lemon. 

During the Lunar New Year, there are an abundance of kumquats, as it is the symbol of fertility - means " golden orange" in Chinese. They 'easily pop into your mouth' as a whole, they're great candied, can be used to make marmalade and jellies, can be added to cocktails and are great with pairing with dishes like roast duck or turkey. 

One of signature chicken appetizers with lemon juice and pomelo.

One of signature chicken appetizers with lemon juice and pomelo.

I also enjoyed making mini olive oil cakes topped with candied kumquat, and as with blood oranges, thinly sliced carpaccio like fluke crudo with olive oil, lemon juice and blood orange and dash of pepper. It is an eye opener to serve as first course at a dinner party. As for the vegetarians with shaved thinly sliced fennel and roasted roughly chopped pistachios to give it extra texture.

Years ago, I remembered I was only able to get meyer lemons in Key West, Florida or in California. Now, through Amazon, my niece Stephanie ordered them and they arrived within 24 hours. She uses them in her own concoction for 'mojitos'. They taste like a cross between an orange and a lemon, they are milder, sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons.

Quinoa with lettuces and orange at Hey Hey Canteen, one of the recent restaurants I consulted.  

Quinoa with lettuces and orange at Hey Hey Canteen, one of the recent restaurants I consulted.  

My great friend Eugenia Bone has many recipes about preserving lemons from one of her books. Choose a recipe based on your favorite flavors and aromas! Turn them into marmalades or use them in flavorful tagines or a 'specialty mixed' cocktail drink. Each of these fruits has distinctive punchy citrus flavor and all are a rich source of fiber and vitamin C, both of which are best to protect our bodies from winter cold or fatigue. Choose ones that are firm and shiny and keep them at room temperature, or refrigerated. 

Having a full basket of citrus in your kitchen cheers up the room! They keep well for a week or more as your family consumes...Many types of citrus fruits, such as Cara Cara, Mandarin, Kumquats, Blood Orange and Grapefruit, are low in calories and charged with lots of minerals. Our kitchen uses them to amplify flavors, in diver scallops or wild salmon, or you can jazz up your fresh farmer's market greens paired with our signature braised short ribs.

Braised Pork Shoulder with Oranges

Serves 4 to 6

Pork loves oranges, and this dish showcases that well. It is sweet and unctuous. I like to serve this with rice, and the leftovers (if there are any) are wonderful next to a scrambled egg. The pork is marinated 12 hours but it is okay to do it for less time. 

3 pounds pork shoulder on the bone

1 tablespoon paprika (sweet, but hot, or a combination, is good, too)

1 tablespoon ancho powder

2 oranges, juiced

1 lemon, juiced

2 limes, juiced

1/2 cup white wine

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, smashed

3 sprigs parsley

1 3 - inch sprig rosemary

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Rub one side of the pork with the paprika and the other side with the ancho. Place in a large re-sealable food grade baggie.

Combine the orange, lemon, lime juice, the wine, olive oil, garlic, parsley, rosemary, and salt and pepper, in a small bowl. Pour the marinade into the bag and distribute around the meat. Refrigerate 12 hours (overnight is good), turning the bag over once or twice.