Category: blood orange

My bloody valentine.

Listen, I know I’ve been overloading you with cutesy, Valentine-y stuff lately. I know that. I don’t really care if you like it or not, though, sorry to say. Because I love it. I actually get more pissed at the people who bitch constantly about how much they hate Valentine’s Day than I do about seeing the hearts & candies in the stores starting on New Years Eve. If it really bothers you so much, pretend it doesn’t exist. Go celebrate something else like Chinese New Year or Mardi Gras & stop complaining. Just ignore it. Football bothers me- but I understand there’s some kind of sick obsession with it in this country so I just ignore it. Which is hard, because it’s everywhere, but I manage. If you like it, then good for you. I just don’t, so I spend my winter Sunday’s baking, cooking, blasting punk rock music or watching things like Inglorious Basterds instead of watching grown men in tight pants tackle one another in hopes of not becoming the next paraplegic on the news. I spent Super Bowl Sunday shopping, then eating homemade nachos supreme & watching Downton Abbey. Now, I don’t tell everyone else not to watch it. I don’t constantly spout off about how awful & boring I find it all day, every day. I just get on with my life. Just like the Valentine’s Day haters should do.

However… I do understand that if there was a blog that I read fairly regularly that posted non-stop football crap for a month I’d be tired of it & maybe a little bit turned off.

So today I’m here to make amends. I’m posting something that’s still appropriate, but yet not quite as overtly dyed-pink & cheerful & cheeky as heart cupcakes or rose tarts: blood orange curd. There’s a special place in my heart for blood oranges.

And I’ll tell you why: Blood oranges are like the citrus family’s dark secret; like the black sheep cousin of the Navel orange, you know the one… who hangs out in a dark room, smokes cloves & listens to death metal.

And that’s sorta something I relate to. Not that I’m a black sheep per se, not within my family so much. Yeah, I’m different… but I was always accepted & appreciated. However when you’re the Agnostic punk rock short-haired bleached blonde Catholic school girl who tells your Theology teacher (a nun) that you’re pro-euthanasia & don’t quite understand why women can’t be priests, there is some level of that, somewhere. In my uniform I (sorta) looked like anyone else in school… until after school, or until you looked closely and saw the Sharpie-written lyrics on my blazer, my spike collars and dog collars, safety pins in my ears, my too-many-earrings-according-to-the-student-handbook and numerous band patches & pins on my backpack. And so I relate to that metaphor, and the blood orange. It’s sinister bloody-colored inside is almost concealed by the bright orange skin, it almost tricks you into thinking it’s just like any other orange. Maybe one that’s a bit overripe? And then you slice it- BAM! Deep, dark red flesh and a juice to match. There’s a reason they use a blood orange (not a regular orange) in the opening sequence of Dexter.

They’re right up my alley, truthfully.

And they’re also perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Conveniently, they’re in season right now. And if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a few, well then you better make good use of them. They make beautiful marmalades, gorgeous cupcakes, they’re beautiful when candied. And of course, when made into a curd, it’s a lovely pink color… which is perfect for a Valentine’s Day breakfast. It elevates your average toast to something spectacular. (heart shaped toast or English muffins not required!)

Or use it for dessert. When used as a topping for vanilla or chocolate ice cream- or even yogurt, it’s amazing. Another idea? Make it into a tart. Or using an ice cream maker, swirl it into plain homemade frozen yogurt for blood orange yogurt. It makes an amazing cake or cupcake filling too.

When you’re picking the oranges, be sure to pick ones that aren’t bright orange. The outside color is usually indicative of the color of the flesh & juice, so pick one that has a darker flesh, or even a mottled orangey-red flesh. That way you’re assured a deep burgundy flesh, and juice, and therefore a bright pinky red curd. My oranges were Moro, so they actually have a darker flesh & stronger flavor anyway, but I picked middle of the range ones that weren’t too dark, but weren’t too light. Actually the outer skin of all of mine were bright orange on one side, and a deep red on the other. I could’ve gotten ones that were so dark maroon on the outside they looked almost alien. In retrospect, I should have!

The thing that’s great about this recipe is that it doesn’t use so many egg yolks that you end up with an orange-colored curd. Orange colored curd is great, if it’s plain orange curd. But blood orange curd calls for a reddish color, doesn’t it? At the very least, a pretty rosy pink, like mine. But if you choose darker oranges you can really achieve a really bright pinkish red curd.

Also… listen up. Curd is a terrible word. Let’s be honest. Everyone hates it, from chefs to home cooks to pastry chefs to bloggers. It’s horrible to say, it rhymes with turd and it turns people off completely from trying it. Although, in Southern America they call lemon curd “lemon cheese”… and as far as I’m concerned that’s not much better than curd. But I hope that doesn’t put you off from trying it. It really is something else. But here’s the deal: curd isn’t disgusting. I swear. It’s basically similar to a lemon meringue pie filling, or in this case substitute blood orange for lemon. It’s like a creamy, citrus custard. Like a citrus pudding, kind of.

BLOOD ORANGE CURD (adapted from Local Kitchen who adapted it from Rose Levy Beranbaum)

Makes slightly over 1 cup (8 oz.), it can be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium to large blood oranges, scrubbed clean and dried
  • 1 large egg and one large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • a pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Zest enough of the oranges so you end up with roughly 1 1/2 teaspoons of finely grated zest. Set aside in a medium bowl.
  2. Juice the blood oranges, making sure to get every last bit out of them! Strain the juice to get out any pulpy bits or miscellaneous sneaky seeds. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, reduce the juice to 1/2 cup and set aside to cool in a measuring cup. Be sure to stir often while it’s reducing to avoid scorching.
  3. Rinse out the saucepan and place the sugar, eggs and salt in it. Whisk them together. Add the butter and slowly whisk in the reduced orange juice.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes together and is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (roughly 15-20 minutes for me).
  5. Once thickened, strain the curd into the bowl with the zest in it. Then stir the zest into the curd to incorporate. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the curd into a clean jar. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

Here’s a secret: if ALL you’ve got is a 1/2 cup of blood orange juice, you can just use that without the reduction. It’ll still work. It won’t be as concentrated, and the color probably won’t be as amazing… but the basic product will be successful. And best of all? EDIBLE! And some people don’t like zest in their curd. I know this, but the point of the zest is to impart even more flavor & the scent of the fruit to the curd. However if you’re one of those people, I’d add the zest into the mixture while it’s cooking then strain it out. That’s a matter of personal preference, of course.

Some people have trouble with curd. I never have- it’s always come together relatively quickly & easily for me, regardless of  whatever the recipe, or whatever source it’s from. If you have trouble, and it fails, rest assured you are not the first & will not be the last. But also don’t give up! If it scorches or it doesn’t thicken, etc, these are all just steps on a ladder. Learning the way. I know it sucks to waste materials, especially if blood oranges are really hard to find near you. But you’ll get it, I promise. Maybe try it out first with a plain lemon curd; those are cheaper and easier to find.

The recipe above made one cup, or 8 ounces, of curd. You might want to double it if you’re thinking of using it for a cake filling or a large tart filling. But I find one jar is perfect for a slow, sweet, laid-back breakfast.

Enjoy your Valentine’s morning with a little burst of pink sunshine, for you & your bloody valentine. (hey! that rhymed!)

Bloody Sunday.

In no way do I mean to make light of the actual Bloody Sunday (or the many others) by using it as a title. And in no way is this blog post about violence. It’s just that this is blood orange marmalade, I opened a jar of it on a Sunday, I’m posting it on a Sunday… and it made me think of the U2 song.

Well, I guess it’s kinda about violence- against blood oranges.

But there are many references one can use when making something out of blood oranges. The TV show True Blood, for one. You see, the Tru Beverage drink that HBO sells is a blood orange-flavored soda (of course it is!) so every time I use blood oranges I do think of these cupcakes I made. And Dexter, too. Blood oranges & Dexter definitely go together; think of the opening credits. Have I mentioned my crush on Dexter Morgan yet? Anyway… moving on. All those things are reminiscent of blood oranges, yes, but when you crack open a jar of blood orange marmalade & use it on a Sunday, it makes you think of the chorus from Sunday, Bloody Sunday, despite the serious subject matter it’s really about.

So yeah. Blood oranges. Blood oranges are delicious, and beautiful. Way prettier than regular oranges (sorry, dudes). If you’ve never seen one cut open, Google some pictures of blood oranges… you’ll see what I mean.

Gorgeous, right? And who wouldn’t wanna see a jar of this in their cupboard. It’s fantastical & intriguing, makes you want to taste it. I made a small batch, obviously, because I can’t possibly store or eat 16 more jars of marmalade, plus the fact that blood oranges here are pretty rare & fleeting. So if you can get your hands on 3 or 4 large, nice ones… consider yourself lucky. I had three pretty massive ones and that gave me almost 20 ounces of marmalade total (two 8-oz. jars and it didn’t quite entirely fill one 4-oz. jar). I used the same formula that I always use to make marmalade, and it worked pretty well for me (with the subtraction of using any rind in it and the addition of a bit of Certo pectin). If you’re anti-using commercial pectin in your blood orange marmalade, then you can use one lemon in it and keep the rinds in a small muslin bag during the soaking & boiling processes. That’ll add extra natural pectin without clouding the pretty color of the marmalade with the rind. I usually keep the rind in my marmalade but for this I thought it was too pretty to leave any in. If you’re like me, and would prefer to leave the rind out of the finished product, you can always use the rind to make candied blood orange rind, which is an awesome homemade candy idea. Waste not, want not.

This is amazing marmalade. The flavor of the blood orange is so present- not clouded by bitterness, stringy pith or too much sugar. Just pure blood orange. Just perfect.

Perfect. Something I am not. Something I am far from being. I know, I know, nobody’s perfect. Well, if you read food blogs (or fashion blogs, or any blogs I guess), you’ll be convinced of just the opposite. Perfect plates of perfectly prepared & perfectly plated food, perfectly photographed with perfect high-tech DSLR cameras in perfect lighting, photographed on perfect, neat counters or tables with just the right “ambience”; an expensive knife positioned just so, a cloth napkin folded just so, etc. And that may make you think, “Why doesn’t my jam/cupcake/roast chicken/homemade bread look like that?” I know that because I’ve thought it myself.

It’s bullshit, really. Because real life isn’t an issue of Bon Appétit or Saveur. I have no desire to impress you with my great photography skills or my awesome kitchen lighting. I live in a real house, with real lights and real counters and most of all- I do not have a $4,000 dollar camera with a light box & a huge set up just to get that perfect (there’s that word again) picture of a crumb cake. Truthfully? I use my iPhone ever since my camera broke. Yup. Just my iPhone in it’s little leopard J. Crew case. I e-mail the photos to myself, edit the pictures a bit in Photoshop a bit, and then I upload ‘em. But other than that, nope. Nothing fancy. What you see is what I see. No trickery, no optimizing, no fancy lights, no nothing. I have pets trying to jump on the table while I take photos, sometimes hungry people telling me to hurry up, and phones ringing. Sometimes I’m distracted by what’s on TV or by the music I’m playing. If it’s sunny out, you’ll see it reflected in the photo. If it’s dark, then you’ll be able to tell. My photos might have a golden cast from my artificial non-photographer approved kitchen light. Would I like a good camera? Sure. Maybe I’ll get one (not just for food photography, mind you) at some point. But honesty is why I’m here, and realness. And I’m always real with you- about my failures, my successes, my victories and my “wow, this sucks” moments. I’m here to show that ANYONE can do this. So to me, the idea of having a camera most people can’t afford so my cupcake photos look amazing, a light box set up at all times just so it’s all ready to catch just the right amount of steam coming off my soup or worse: a kitchen with lighting designed solely for the purpose of food photography… is obscene.

Everyone who has a food blog knows that chocolate NEVER photographs that well! It has a tendency to look… poo-ish?

Look, I am not Ree Drummond. I am not Rachael Ray. I am not on the Food Network. I do not have a chef’s kitchen with a Viking range. I’m a real person, with a real life, and a real-person’s kitchen. And I started this blog when people asked me to, to explain how I made homemade cupcakes so “easily”, on the premise that I’d be showing other real people how they can create these things, and that it isn’t as hard as they think it is. I didn’t start it with the idea that I would make people feel inadequate, or less than perfect, or that I would make so much money off of it that I could retire at 30. That isn’t why I’m here. So even if I get that camera, or even if I re-do my kitchen… I promise I’ll still have a stack of bills behind my jars of jam, you’ll recognize my plates from Ikea or that you’ll see my Christmas candles behind my cupcakes. I’ll never be perfect & my recipes will never be unattainably, crazily unreachable.

So just remember the next time you see a photo of something on a blog (even if it is mine!) & it makes you feel less awesome: real life isn’t staged. You’re no less awesome than you were before, & I guarantee you a DSLR & good lighting does not an awesome person make.

But in my opinion reading my blog does an awesome person make. And all of you awesome people make my plain lil ol’ boring blog worth it.

A monster mash-up of Halloween goodies!

And so here we are. As much as I can’t believe it, it’s fall. Another October, another Halloween is upon us. The air is getting drier & brisker… & yes, I do love this time of year. I’ll desperately miss my garden, fresh fruits, canning up a storm & the sunshine. This summer went by too fast & wasn’t quite as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. But there ain’t no use in moping, especially about things I can’t control. Besides, this really is my favorite time of year. The best part, though, aside from Halloween (of course) is the fall baking. Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, allspice; all those delicious, warming, spicy ingredients. Not to mention the incredible creative opportunities Halloween gives you in terms of decorations!

……

Part of the charm & intrigue of Halloween is the fright factor. That things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-“what-was-that-sound” factor that gives you the chills- but you love it. The reason why people go on scary roller coasters or watch horror movies. That same feeling, that’s the best part of Halloween. I try to make that a part of everything I make around this time of year, not to mention I try to include the fall flavors that everyone loves. Of course, I’m biased. Like I said, this is my favorite holiday. I think some of my favorite things about it, in addition to the “scary” aspect, are all the traditions & symbols. It has such strong Celtic roots, I find the origins of the things we do today to be really interesting. Some of which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks in detail… for now:

Development of artifacts and symbols associated with Halloween formed over time. For instance, the carving of jack-o’-lanterns springs from the souling custom of carving turnips into lanterns as a way of remembering the souls held in purgatory.[5] The turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at Halloween,[6][7] but immigrants to North America used the native pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger – making them easier to carve than turnips.[6] The American tradition of carving pumpkins is recorded in 1837[8] and was originally associated with harvest time in general, not becoming specifically associated with Halloween until the mid-to-late 19th century.[9]

The imagery of Halloween is derived from many sources, including national customs, works of Gothic and horror literature (such as the novels Frankenstein and Dracula), and classic horror films (such as Frankenstein and The Mummy).[10] Among the earliest works on the subject of Halloween is from Scottish poet John Mayne in 1780, who made note of pranks at Halloween; “What fearfu’ pranks ensue!”, as well as the supernatural associated with the night, “Bogies” (ghosts), influencing Robert BurnsHalloween 1785.[11] Elements of the autumn season, such as pumpkins, corn husks, and scarecrows, are also prevalent. Homes are often decorated with these types of symbols around Halloween.

Halloween imagery includes themes of death, evil, the occult, or mythical monsters.[12] Black and orange are the holiday’s traditional colors.

I’m aware not everyone enjoys this day as much as I do, and I guess my personal opinion that they’re a bunch of boring, humorless stick-in-the-mud’s is irrelevant, but either way I think it’s fun & harmless. What could be more fun than dressing up as something you aren’t & getting free candy? I don’t know. It sounds pretty friggin’ amazing to me. So being it’s my favorite holiday, I have lots of treats for you to choose from for your spooky fall baking needs. I’ve done compilation posts before, as a matter of fact this past year, 2010-2011, I did one for every holiday, Halloween being the first. But being I did it early on each season, I excluded all the new ideas I had & implemented afterward. So this year it’s a truer compilation: all (or most) of my muffins, cupcakes & other treats; all with a Halloween or fall theme. Some are slightly more complex than others, but all of them are pretty simple when you get down to it & they really don’t take a lot of time or effort (or money, or experience really) to execute.

If you have any questions about where I bought supplies, etc, or just about the cupcakes/treats in general, feel free to comment or e-mail me.

CHOCOLATE STOUT CUPCAKES WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE BONES TRUE BLOOD ORANGE CUPCAKES WITH CANDIED BLOOD ORANGES

DEVIL’S FOOD CUPCAKES WITH CINNAMON RED-HOTS FROSTING DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN CUPCAKES

CHOCOLATE MALT CUPCAKES WITH FUDGE FILLING EERIE MONSTER CUPCAKES WITH SWEETMELT EYES

TRUE BLOOD VELVET CUPCAKES & CREAM CHEESE FROSTING BLACK LICORICE CUPCAKES & ORANGE MARSHMALLOW FROSTING

JACK-O-LANTERN PUMPKIN MUFFINS PUMPKIN STREUSEL MUFFINS WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

MARSHMALLOW BONES APPLE MUFFINS

CINNAMON VANILLA CUPCAKES & MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE FROSTING TRES LECHES COCONUT CUPCAKES

S’MORES CUPCAKES WITH MARSHMALLOW BUTTERCREAM SPICE CUPCAKES WITH BROWN SUGAR FROSTING

And of course, if you’re looking for something in particular, you can always go through the archives, specifically the seasonal ones, like the pumpkin or apple categories. Another particular favorite of mine not pictured are the infamous apple cider donuts, they’re perfect for Halloween shenanigans. You could go bobbing for apple cider donuts! And if you’re into pumpkin seeds, I have two recipes, both plain & brown sugar/spice versions. And the two recipes second to last on the list, the cinnamon/vanilla & tres leches coconut, would both be perfect for Dia de los Muertos as well (which is what I used the latter for myself).

Almost any cupcake recipe or cookie recipe can be altered or decorated to fit in with Halloween. Use your imagination… you never know what you may come up with. If worse comes to worse, and you’re stuck for ideas, ask a kid! Kids have the best imaginations and come up with the best stuff, especially for Halloween. A kid’s brain works on a totally different level, they’re practically un-offended by everything, which is perfect.

And stay tuned this month for many more creepy (& not so creepy) fall-appropriate recipes & ideas.

True “blood-orange” cupcakes.

If you follow my site at all, you know I’m a big vampire fan. Some people are into zombies, I’m into blood suckers. Not so much Twilight, those movies are absolute shit (the books were marginally better, as is always the case)… but definitely Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles & definitely True Blood. I was into the books before I watched the series, but the series has me (& my mom!) hooked. Of course, he was my favorite character in the books but after seeing the show, the actor that plays Eric doesn’t hurt matters any. I even went as a Merlotte’s waitress for Halloween.

Anyway, season 4 of True Blood starts June 26th, and it just so happens to be that my favorite book (or one of ‘em) in the series was book 4, or Dead To The World. So while that may be almost a month away, I felt the need to come up with some cupcake-y way to celebrate this, and also use some of the fresh fruit that’s available now that the weather is warmer. Back in October, I made some True Blood Velvet cupcakes and they went over so big, the official Tru Beverage website actually wrote an entire post about them and linked to me! In case you missed all that, here’s my little blurb about it from back then:

Before I get started on this post, I want to say how awesome it is that on October 13th the official Tru Blood Beverage website wrote a post about my True Blood Velvet cupcakes on their news page! So exciting, especially for me, I’m a huge fan of the show True Blood & the Sookie Stackhouse books. It was really spiffy that they noticed me & my lil’ ol cupcakes. I really geeked out over it for a while, truth be told (and still am, kinda). If you missed the post, and can’t find it, don’t worry. If you check out my press page, you’ll see a screenshot of what was written.

So using that as inspiration, I decided to go with blood oranges for my cupcakes. The True Blood Tru beverage is flavored blood orange, so I thought that would be absolutely perfect! Of course, finding the blood oranges weren’t as easy as I thought, but I managed to find ‘em!

Blood oranges, in case you’re wondering, are:

a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) with crimson, blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange; its skin is usually pitted, but can be smooth. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits.[1] The flesh develops its characteristic maroon color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.[2] Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The skin can also be tougher, and harder to peel than other oranges.

While all oranges are likely of hybrid origin between the pomelo and the tangerine,[3] blood oranges originated as a mutation of the sweet orange.[4]

Within Europe, the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia (Red Orange of Sicily) has Protected Geographical Status.[5]

They’re gorgeous. They look just like oranges, but when you slice them, the inside is a deep blood-red color, and so is the juice. How appropriate, right? It looks normal on the outside, but inside… muahaha.

I decided to do a blood orange cupcake, and frost it with some very lightly flavored vanilla buttercream, and then top them with a candied slice of blood orange. The slices became almost stained-glass like, which gave a lovely look.  Black liners are from Bake It Pretty (but I can’t seem to find them on their site now, so they might be sold out).

TRUE “BLOOD – ORANGE” CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, separated and whites beaten until stiff
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup blood orange juice
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • dash of orange food coloring
  • dash of red coloring

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin tins with liners.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until stiff. Set aside. Cream butter, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla in a mixing bowl until fluffy.
  3. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder together in a separate mixing bowl, and do a quick sift with a whisk. Add dry ingredients to creamed ingredients a little at a time alternating with adding portions of the orange juice to the creamed mixture. Add two dashes of food coloring until the batter is desired color (remember, it’ll get lighter once the egg whites are folded in!)
  4. Fold in beaten egg whites gently, one half at a time. Spoon batter into cupcake liners.
  5. Bake  for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For those of you who aren’t True Blood fans (THE HORROR!) or if you want to make them for a summer party or picnic, you can make ‘em plain blood orange cupcakes too. The orange liners are also from Bake It Pretty.

 

CANDIED BLOOD ORANGE SLICES (thanks to 52kitchenadventures.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 blood orange, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Slice the blood orange as thinly as you can manage. Bring water and sugar to a simmer in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add blood orange slices and keep on a low simmer, turning them over after 30 minutes. Simmer for a total of 45-60 minutes, or until the peel on the slices starts to become translucent.
  2. If you want to make more oranges, simply increase the amount of water and sugar (such as 1 ½ cups of each for 3-4 oranges).

So all you Trubies out there… make these on June 26th, crack open some Tru Blood’s and GET PSYCHED.