Winter

orangearugulasaladHomemade vinaigrettes just taste better and it's really worth the extra few minutes it takes to shake up a batch in jar.

I like to use this recipe during the winter, when there are lots of great citrus fruits to choose from in the grovery store.

Blood oranges, clemetines, or any favorite orange make a nice additiion to this simple green salad and compliment the marmalade in the vinaigrette.

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From the LA Times

lentilsAs culinary fashion continues to wind inexorably lower on the luxury scale — from tournedos to beef cheeks, from foie gras to pork belly — it was probably inevitable that we would eventually come to lentils.

Representing the lowest and plainest possible food denominator since biblical times, when Esau traded his birthright for a bowl of soup made from them, lentils have always been regarded as a food you would eat only when you absolutely had to.

Yet look at a restaurant menu today or visit an upscale grocery and you'll find lentils that come in a rainbow of colors and bear an atlas of place names.

You'll find lentils that are reddish pink, canary yellow and pure ivory. Many chefs swear by the dark green lentils from Le Puy in France, but at Mozza, chef Nancy Silverton won't use anything but the tiny tan Castelluccios from Italy's Umbrian hills. You'll even find lentils called beluga, after the ultimate in luxury foods, caviar.

I've cooked with lentils for years, but in a dabbling way. When I could find Castelluccios, I used them, and when Trader Joe's stocked lentils from Le Puy at a great price, I'd buy them. But usually I just cooked whatever the supermarket had on hand.

But with lentils becoming socially acceptable, clearly a more organized analysis was overdue.

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grapfruitfennelsaladIf it wasn't for citrus fruit, winter's selection of produce would be pretty sad and boring. Once you've had your share of squashes and root vegetables, it's time for something different. Citrus offers a welcome respite. When markets begin to overflow with oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, things finally get exciting. You may even see unusual citruses, such as blood oranges, tangelos, and pomelos. I love them all, but I particularly adore the sweet-tart flavor of grapefruits. This time of year, they replace my apple-a-day routine. But grapefruits aren't just for a dessert or snack, they shine in savory dishes, like this salad.

The classic fennel and grapefruit salad is a wonderful combination. Crunchy and sweet anise-flavored fennel goes well with the tart citrus flavor of grapefruit. This recipe reinvents the salad by adding wheat berries for a wholesome twist. The actual grains of wheat—the berries, as they are called—come in hard and soft varieties, where the hard is higher in protein and the soft higher in starch. Both work fine in this recipe. Once cooked, the berries are chewy on the outside, but tender on the inside. Enjoy them as a side dish like a pilaf or add them to any salad. They are especially nice in this recipe as they absorb the vinaigrette and grapefruit juices.

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copia-blog-citrus-bowl.jpgI know many of you love winter so I shall do my best not to disparage it. However, it’s not my most favorite time of year as I’m a creature of warm weather and open-toed shoes. But if there’s one bright shining spot to the season it’s most definitely citrus. Citrus in any form. When I begin to see the beautiful stacks of pommelos and meyers I can’t help but get excited and my mouth begins to experience sympathy pucker just looking at them.

Not many people realize this, but all citrus fruits come from over 4 million miles away in outer space and magically appear to make our culinary endeavors magical. Alright alright, I know I’m fibbing here but as far as I’m concerned that might as well be my reality. They are some of the most useful fruits on the planet. They preserve, they tang, they balance and they contrast. They do just about everything and anything you need them to do. And they’re equally at home in the savories as they are in the sweets. I told you there were magical!

It’s not unusual to find a big bowl of lemons and limes in my house at all times. I find that with a quick sprinkle of citrus zest even the most basic can be made to shine, not to mention the fact that they’re just so damn gorgeous and cheery, don’t cha think?

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ImageOh this little butternet squash tarte tatin, how much do I love you? Enough to have you three times over the past few weeks, all for the sake of “recipe testing”, you know.

And honestly, this upside-down tart is probably one of the best things I’ve had all season, if I do say so myself.

Sweet butternut squash is roasted and then placed on top of caramel in a baking pan. The whole thing is covered with puff pastry and baked, and when it’s ready you invert the whole thing onto a plate and just go for it. I’ve tried to be nice when eating this but you can’t, it just disappears so fast. It was a hit during our Friendsgiving last month, but in a quick misfire of timing and communication it landed on the table during the meal and not as dessert. You know what? It didn’t matter. It was sweet and buttery, perfect with Gaby’s stuffing and just about everything else that afternoon.

Honestly, I do think you’ll love it.

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