Grapefruit, white of course!

By | Bitter | No Comments

When it is -20C outside, colder if you factor in the wind chill, you need something to cheer you up. Nothing grows in Ontario in this weather, but citrus fruits are everywhere in the market. They arrive from warmer climes. Seville oranges stay for only a brief moment, don’t miss them, and the cédrats/ citrons from Sicily (more about them next week) are here too. Grapefruit, always available in these days of jet setting fruit, are at their best at this time of the year.

The grapefruit is a relatively new addition to our fruit bowl, (mid 18th century) and it’s the only citrus fruit that doesn’t originate in Southeast Asia. Citrus trees hybridize easily and grapefruit are the result of an accidental cross between an orange and the largest of all citrus fruit, the yellow, thick-skinned pomelo. Today growers believe we prefer the sweet pink and red grapefruit developed at the beginning of the last century, I do not. Thankfully white grapefruit are back at my local market and I’d like to think I’m partly responsible after my promotion of them in Bitter. White grapefruit have a bitter edge that makes them much more interesting to cook, especially when making a dessert.

A friend bought me a bottle of Suze, back from Montréal so as well as drinking it I decided to make the Suze Sorbet recipe from Bitter. It’s freezing outside and I am making sorbet, yes. It’s the perfect end to a meal of rich, fatty cassoulet and the recipe couldn’t be simpler –

1 1/2 cups / 375 ml freshly squeezed and strained grapefruit juice (about 3 medium)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice, from about 1 ⁄ 2 lemon
3 1 ⁄ 2 ounces / 1 ⁄ 2 cup / 100 g superfine (caster) sugar
1 ⁄ 3 cup / 75 ml Suze

Stir the grapefruit and lemon juices together with the sugar and Suze until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate the mixture overnight. Also, place a container for the sorbet in the freezer to get cold.

The next day, remove the sorbet mixture from the refrigerator, stir again, then churn in an ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the sorbet to the cold container and freeze until ready to serve.  You will have about 2 cups / 5oo ml enough for 6 to 8 serves.

Reprinted with permission from Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC

The colour is a soft yellow and the taste bitter-sweet. The digestive powers of gentian, the main ingredient of Suze, help digest the cassoulet.

Suze Sorbet

White Asparagus Part 2

By | Paris, white asparagus | No Comments
As I said in White Asparagus Part 1, I’d always just boiled my white asparagus. Well this asparagus season we went to Spring restaurant in Paris. My favourite taste in the meal was the grapefruit jelly for many reasons, but the white asparagus were delicious too and a revelation. Obviously  chef Daniel Rose shares my opinion that white asparagus should be big and fat, look at these beauties in the photo. You can read about Daniel and his restaurant in an article written by my friend Lesley Chesterman.
The asparagus at Spring were roasted, you can see their brown colouration and served in a shellfish sauce with sorrel leaves and toasted buckwheat. It was a great combination, however it was the idea of roasting them that hooked me. Of course I’d roasted green asparagus in the oven and even put them on the barbecue, but that was before I became an asparagus snob.
I talked to a couple of Parisian friends who pointed out that this was how Alain Passard cooked them at L’Arpège. I’ve eaten there twice, but never in the spring and perhaps never again, given the prices. Well I began with a heavy cast iron pan and butter. My husband did the trimming and peeling and I could only fit 6 fat asparagus in my pan. I added butter to the pan with a drizzle of olive oil and when the butter melted I added the asparagus. I “roasted” them turning them in the pan until they were nicely coloured, with the heat on medium. It took about  12 minutes. At this point my asparagus weren’t completely cooked, so I reduced the heat to low and covered the pan. After another 5 minutes or so, my asparagus were cooked, I tested them with a cake tester. I seasoned them with salt and pepper, added more butter to the pan, and when it began to melt, I served them with the butter and pan juices.
They were delicious, so much so I’m going to have to buy a bigger pan so I can share this treat with friends. And I guess I really pan-roasted and steamed them, if we want to be exact.