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Somehow, slices of winter’s citrus becomes an acceptable dessert for guests when showered with vanilla bean syrup. At least no one complained at our 24th annual World Christmas – Cuba style. Dr. April’s beansand baked rice (recipe coming), a helping hand from the famous Porto’s Bakery, three batches of mojitos using this wacky tool, a Cubano roast pork recipe from Saveur – made up for not roasting a whole suckling pig (face roasting = stomach turning), a jicama slaw, and grilled pineapple/avocado salad filled every last corner of our plates.

It seems wrong that citrus fruits are at peak juiciest in the winter – quite a welcome pack of sunshine to yank us out of our root vegetable rut. With this easy 3-ingredient syrup, you can take already sublime fruits to dessert status in moments.

If you consider yourself an almost-cook, then chances are you don’t have vanilla beans hanging around your pantry. Could I encourage you to pick up a jar at your grocer or online if I said they keep for a long time and have many uses from baking to flavoring porous foodstuffs like sugar and salt and vodka and who can resist a waft of fresh vanilla? With a little knife trickery to making orange slicing and vanilla pod scrapingeasy, this dessert comes together in a pinch – just in time for celebrating our revitalized commitment to real food. Are we on our diets yet? Perhaps after the four movies, replete with theatre popcorn, that I will see before break ends. Happy New Year.

citrus wheels

winter citrus, vanilla syrup

preptime: 30 minutes serves 6

  • 3 1/2 lbs citrus fruits (I prefer cara cara oranges, blood oranges, navel oranges, and Texas Red grapefruit
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean split, seeds scraped out and reserved
  • 4 whole allspice berries (worth investment, or 1/4 tsp ground, or omit, you still have your vanilla flavor)
  • zest of 1/2 lime
  1. In a small saucepan, heat sugar with 1/2 cup water, vanilla seeds and allspice berries over high heat until sugar dissolves. Remove pan from burner to cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, peel and slice fruit about 1/4″ thick.
  3. Place citrus wheels onto a platter and drizzle with 1/3 of vanilla syrup and top with lime zest. Serve with remaining syrup.

recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com


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