70 ways to discover the joy of citrus
Hudson, Ohio, cookbook author Carla Snyder is talking about her longtime zest for citrus. As a child, she said, her mother let her bust open the bag of candied citrus slices and eat them on the way home from the grocery store.
Now, with her seventh cookbook, “Sweet and Tart: 70 Irresistible Recipes With Citrus” (Chronicle, $19.95), Snyder fully embraces her lemon lust, along with the versatility of limes, grapefruits and oranges.
“I like brightness in food,” Snyder said in an interview in her home kitchen. “The easiest way to add brightness is by adding citrus.”
Flavor medleys: She’s also into medleys of flavors, as in her Lemon-Almond Cake with Basil-Honey Berries, and Cream Cheese Muffins with Spinach and Lemon. Grapefruit shows up in a custard pie, as well as chocolate-dipped citrus peel. You knew she had to include her twist on that childhood favorite.
Oranges are featured in a variety of treats, including a light and airy cheesecake made with cara cara navel oranges that has a chocolate crust. We asked her for two recipes that would be relatively easy. She suggested the cheesecake, as well as a cheese, egg and lemon tart with sun-dried tomatoes.
What would a citrus-centric cookbook be without lemon bars, one of the first citrus yummies Snyder can remember making when she was a child? She calls them Heavenly Lemon Squares in the book, and notes they have a firm, easy-to-eat-with-your-fingers crust. No drippy, messy lemon squares for her.
Adventures: Snyder wanted the book to be accessible, but that doesn’t mean unadventurous. Along with her twists on staples—including Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie—she includes such treats as Yujacha Marmalade-Filled Walnut Squares. Yujacha is a tea made from yuzu, a fruit similar to a lemon.
In one of her many “Zesty Tips” she says you can find this marmalade in Asian markets. She also notes you can substitute homemade lemon marmalade (there’s a recipe in the book) or store-bought.
Snyder began picking up helpful hints in one of her first culinary gigs, working as an assistant to chefs at Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson. She went on to teach there herself and now teaches at Gervasi Vineyards in Canton. She also writes for the Heinen’s grocery site (www.heinens.com) and her blog, http://ravenouskitchen.com.
Next fall, a vegetarian version of Snyder’s last book, One Pan, Two Plates, will be out. Neither Snyder nor her husband, a steel company executive, are vegetarians, but her publisher figured it was time for a meatless follow-up, given the popularity of the initial book.
Detailed: Sometimes the Sweet and Tart recipe directions are lengthy, such as those for the Cara Cara Cheesecake. Read and you discover that Snyder, in an effort to make the recipes as easy to follow as possible, offers a lot of cues, such as instructions on how to cook the cheesecake in a water bath to prevent cracks.
Cara cara oranges are one of her new citrus favorites. She likes their “floral, rosy quality.” And in her no-worry manner, she quickly adds that if you can’t find them, use another type of navel orange.
“I know people get frustrated when they look at recipes with ingredients they can’t access,” she said.
Sweets: Heavy on the sweets, the book includes scones, pies, crepes, cookies, cobblers and more, including a family favorite, William’s Frozen Lemon Pie, named for a country club in her hometown of Weirton, West Virginia.
Savories — such as Lemony Pesto-Goat Cheese Dip with Vegetables — get a nod in one chapter. The Summer Tart with Lemon and Sun-dried Tomatoes is there. Don’t get hung up on the title, Snyder said; it’s a perfect winter treat.
She uses Boursin, an herbed cheese available at many stores. It’s a time-saver, she said, as the herbs are already included. But if you like, use cream cheese and add herbs, she said. And you can use toppings other than sun-dried tomatoes, such as prosciutto or kalamata olives.
You can make the tart before baking, cover it and freeze for up to four weeks.
Snyder says it’s an easy appetizer. It also can be a luncheon entree, perhaps served with a salad. Maybe put some citrus in that salad.
Cara Cara Cheesecake With Chocolate Crust
42 chocolate wafers (I use Nabisco Famous Chocolate wafers)
13/4 cups sugar, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
11/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
Zest of 3 cara cara oranges, plus 1/2 cup fresh cara cara orange juice
1/4 cup Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the chocolate wafers and 1/4 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour in the melted butter and process until well mixed and evenly moistened.
Dump the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan and, using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup, press the crumbs on the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant and firm. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Beat the cream cheese and remaining 11/2 cups sugar in a mixer bowl on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn the speed to low; add the cream, orange zest, orange juice, Cointreau, orange extract, and salt; and beat until well mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Bring about 3 quarts water to a boil in a large saucepan. Line the outside of the springform pan with a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil that reaches the top of the pan. Set the springform pan inside a roasting pan and pour the filling into the cooled crust.
Pour the boiling water into a heat-proof pitcher. Pull the middle rack halfway out of the oven. Carefully pour the hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for 90 minutes or until the cheesecake puffs around the edges and the center moves just slightly when jiggled.
Remove the pan from the oven. Run a small, sharp knife around the pan sides to loosen the cheesecake and let cool in the water-filled roasting pan on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Transfer the springform pan to the rack and let cool to room temperature, another 2 hours. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (don’t let the plastic touch the top of the cheesecake) and refrigerate at least overnight, or up to 4 days. Serve chilled.
For the neatest slices when serving, cut the cheesecake with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean with a paper towel after each slice.
Summer Tart With Lemon and Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 (17.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
2 egg yolks, beaten
5 ounces Boursin or other herbed soft cheese, softened
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and julienned
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the sheet of puff pastry into an 11-by-14-inch rectangle. Transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets and cut 1-inch strips off each side, reserving the strips. Brush the edges of the rectangle with water and fit the strips on the edges, creating a border. Poke holes all over the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Repeat with the remaining pastry sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until puffy and brown. Remove from the oven and poke again with a fork. Gently push the pastry down as it will be puffy and raised. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheets on wire racks.
Turn the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
Combine the egg yolks, Boursin, goat cheese, Parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl and season with pepper. Mix with a fork until well combined. Spread the mixture over the cooled pastries and top with the sun-dried tomatoes. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is set. Let cool on the baking sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. Makes two tarts.