In my 40 years of cooking, this cookbook has to be the most organized cookbook I have ever read. “Citrus: Sweet & Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes” by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson is definitely my go-to book from now on.
It starts with a beautiful photo of all the citrus fruits in the recipes to come, including lemon, lime, grapefruit, as well as less common citrus fruits such as kumquat and the eye-catching fingered citron. The book is certainly beautifully illustrated, with about 75 percent of the recipes accompanied by photos—a high ratio for cookbooks. I wanted to reach into the cookbook, pick up an orange, and bite into it.
To the delight of the reader, following the table of contents—the recipes are organized by type of citrus—is a list of dishes by course. So if you are looking to add to your breakfast repertoire or you want something different to drink with your meal, peruse this list.
The cookbook is also a very convenient size, neither overly tall nor thick—something very handy. I’m not sure if this was planned, but I found when I opened the book to start cooking, it laid flat. I didn’t have to keep flipping back to the recipe page.
As I started to look through the book pondering what recipes to try I didn’t get very far when I came upon the breakfast recipe I would try, Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes With Lemon Cream. I had been introduced to this fruit combination some years ago when I tried a dessert that married the two, a lemon curd bar with strips of blueberry compote running across the top.
The pancakes were delicious and the lemon cream brought out the sweetness of the blueberries. What a delightful way to begin your day! I made a double batch and my colleagues just devoured them. One young woman closed her eyes and with a smile on her face said the cream was just, “MMMMM.” Need I say more?
In no time at all the batter was mixed and ready to go and the cooking was only minutes before we could enjoy the fruits of my labor. I highly recommend this scrumptious recipe.
Next up was the Osso Buco With Orange Gremolata. I followed the recipe exactly, for it had been years since I had last made the dish and this one was a little different from my first foray into cooking veal. Veal shank (the osso buco) is a tender but rather bland meat, but the olives, onion, garlic, and thyme really brought out its delicate flavor. And the gremolata with its orange and parsley just took the dish over the top.
While this dish took more time, since it was in the oven for an hour and a half, it was not complicated. It would make a delicious Sunday dinner or an impressive dinner for guests. One of my colleagues described it best when he said, “The dish reminds me of when I was still living at home. My parents would have been cooking all day, something like pot roast, a comfort food. And we’d come home and we’d sit down and enjoy the meal.”
The last recipe I tried was the Valencia Orange Bread & Butter Pudding. Now this was a showstopper. My colleagues just couldn’t get enough. The first time I followed the recipe exactly, topping the bread with brown sugar, but I found that the top of the bread dried out in the oven. The second batch went into the oven sans brown sugar topping and this time, once the dish came out of the oven I spread some marmalade over the top of the bread and covered the dish with tin foil and let the bread absorb the marmalade. That was much better. And the dish calls for an Orange & Campari marmalade, which was easy to make. Add a little crème fraîche and the dish was just out of this world.
One thing I did find odd was that for the bread and butter pudding recipe it didn’t say what size dish to use. And since I had never made the dish before I was left looking at a loaf of bread and trying to figure out what size pan to use.
Easy to Follow
On the whole, the recipes were easy to follow and no special tools are needed to prepare the dishes. Even though the pancake recipe called for a blender, a hand mixer would have been enough to make the batter.
And this is just a reminder to those who don’t live in states where all citrus is available all year round: Make sure you check what is in season before you get your heart set on a recipe only to find the citrus isn’t available.
I highly recommend the cookbook and hope you all enjoy cooking and eating these delicious dishes as much as my colleagues and I did.
“Citrus: Sweet & Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes” by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson (Ten Speed Press, $19.99, 2015.)