I’m back in Pittsburgh for a little bit, before heading back up to Maine. While in town I’ve picked up running again, have been spending time with old friends and making new ones, working in the kitchen at this tasty place, and doing lots and lots of walking. I’d be happy to walk at anytime of the year, but the weeks leading up to spring are some of my favorites.Bright colors are starting to peek out of the brown backdrop. Everyday I notice something different. Today it was a petite lilac-colored butterfly, skimming the top of the newly lush grass. The seemingly bare tree the day before is now starting to bud. New bird songs mix with what previously was just the lone robin’s. All sorts of critters are out in full force, filling up after the winter. I saw a black squirrel in the park yesterday, and a groundhog on the way to the library.
One thing I haven’t been doing a lot of is cooking for myself. I’ve been enjoying my Mom’s cooking, and any cooking I’ve done for myself has more been assembling the leftovers from the previous day into new delicious combinations. This is starting to change though, I’m getting the itch to get back into the kitchen.
I’ve made bread a few times, and some scones. Yesterday I went to the market and was inspired by a bunch of rainbow carrots, which led to a dinner of baked fish tacos with spicy kale and cumin rainbow carrot slaw. The real winners though had to do with oranges, if you couldn’t tell already by the all the citrus photos gracing the page.
I made orangettes, and while they sound and look particularly fancy, they were quite easy to make. You start by loping the top and bottom off of an orange, and then proceed to cut the rind off into long, thick strips. You then cut the rinds into shorter strips. These go into a pot of boiling water, to boil away for a few minutes while you clean-up your fragrant citrus mess of a cutting board and maybe eat a few orange slices.
Drain your orange slices, and rinse them and the pot well. Boil the slices once more, drain, and rinse once more. This helps remove some of the bitterness. I like my orangettes with a bit of the bitterness remaining to compliment the sugar added in the next step, but if you’d like you can repeat the boiling step once more to remove it more so. Now is time to make a simple sugar syrup, which is equal parts sugar to water. Bring the syrup to a simmer and add the orange peels. Simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all of the liquid has evaporated. While the orange peels are drying on a wire rack, dark chocolate is melted in a double boiler. The sweetened peels are then dipped in chocolate, and set to harden.The rest, well we all know what to do with them once they are set! The play of slightly bittersweet orange peel and dark chocolate is perfect with a cup of tea for a small sweet treat after lunch. The vibrant orange peel sticking out of the chocolate reminds me of the world outside!
While I can tell you how I’m enjoying spring, I cannot tell you how it went from winter to spring in a blink of an eye for me. It’s hard to believe when I left Maine three weeks ago, we had just had two feet of fresh snow. Before I head back north, I hope to write up how the rest of the season went for me with one of my favorite recipes from the winter!
- 4 large organic oranges
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 12 ounces dark chocolate
- Slice the top and bottom off of the oranges. Cut the peels off the oranges vertically into wide strips, then slice peels into thin strips.
- Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Place the peels in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse the peels, and repeat the process again using fresh water.
- Rinse the pot out. Place 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in the pot to make the simple syrup. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. When the syrup begins to simmer, add the peels and continue to simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the peels and set on a wire rack to cool and dry slightly.
- Rinse the pot out once more and prepare a double boiler by filling the pot with a few inches of water. Bring water to a simmer and place a heat safe bowl over the pot, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Place the dark chocolate in the bowl, stirring occasionally, to melt. Once melted, dip each orange peel into the chocolate, using the side of the bowl to scrape off excess chocolate. Set to harden on wax paper, and repeat with all of the orange peels.
- Store the orangettes is an air tight container. Orangettes will keep well at room temperature for about a week. Makes about 70 pieces.