candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel

candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Table

 

Desserts are my thing, I have absolutely no shame in admitting that I love a good dessert. But sometimes, the little garnishes that go on top of desserts are worth the same or even more attention that the actual finished sweet treat gets. Garnishes are what make food stand out and I honestly don't think I've done enough justice to them on this blog. So in this post, I'm going to share one of my favorite garnishes made from one of my favorite fruits, oranges.

Since we've been fortunate to come across a bounty of blood oranges, I used them in this recipe but regular oranges and for that matter any type of citrus fruit like lemons, grapefruits or limes will be perfect here. Also, the left over sugar syrup that becomes a dark golden orange and fennel flavored glaze makes the perfect sweetener to add to drinks or tea. 

Each orange slice is infused with a simple syrup flavored with a light hint of fennel and then sprinkled with a little Maldon sea salt to make a delicious little slice packed with sweet and salty flavors.

candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Table
candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Tablecandied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Table
candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Tablecandied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these orange chips,

  • This recipe should work for any kind of citrus fruit that you want to candy such as lemons, oranges, grapefruits, limes, etc.
  • Scrub and wash the surface of the oranges well before slicing them to get rid of any grit or dust.
  • A mandolin works great to get slices of uniform thickness and I used the lowest setting on my handheld Oxo Mandoline . I also used different sized slices because they will be tasty in the end. You don't want to cut the slices to thin or they will break while you handle them.

candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel | A Brown Table

candied blood orange chips with maldon sea salt flakes and fennel

yields: 25 slices

ingredients 

2 cups tap water

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds. coarsely cracked

25 blood orange slices, thinly sliced  with seeds discarded (preferably with a mandoline for uniformity in thickness)

1/2 teaspoon maldon sea salt flakes (you can use less or more here depending on your preference)

1. Place the water and sugar together in a large thick bottomed saucepan with a lid(the more surface area the better, you want it wide enough to fit all of your orange slices in a single layer, I used a 12 inch diameter saucepan). Place the coarsely cracked fennel seeds in a spice bag and tie the bag up. Place the bag in the saucepan and bring the contents of the pan to a boil on medium high heat. Boil the liquid for 1 minute and reduce to a gentle simmer. Remove the spice bag and discard the fennel. 

2. Switch off the heat. Place the orange slices over the surface of the sugar syrup in the pan. Carefully, dunk each slice into the syrup using a spoon to wet the entire slice of fruit. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the liquid on low heat to keep it barely simmering. Let the fruit cook for 1 hour. About half way through the cooking process, open to check and make sure the orange slices are immersed in the syrup, if the liquid levels are low, add about 1/2 cup water. The slices will be done after an hour when they become completely transparent. The syrup will acquire a golden color as it cooks but shouldn't burn. 

3. Once the orange slices are completely transparent and cooked, remove the pan from the stove and transfer each slice carefully using a pair of tongs to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Allow the excess syrup to drip on to the parchment paper. (Side note: The remaining left over syrup in the pan can be used to make a pretty darn good drink, just add a little more water to dissolve the thick sugar residue and collect the concentrated syrup)

4. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200F. Randomly sprinkle the maldon sea salt flakes over the chips. Place the entire rack with the orange slices and the baking sheet in the oven and keep the oven closed for 20 minutes, then switch the oven off and allow the chips to stay in the oven for another 40 minutes. Remove the entire rack with the orange chips from the oven, they should crisp. Carefully peel the chips from the wire rack and store each chip between sheets of parchment paper, placed in an airtight container. If the chips get sticky you can always dry them up a little by placing them in an oven that is preheated to 200F, switch the oven off as soon as you place the chips in and shut the door for 10-15 minutes. The chips will be crisp and ready to use. 

blood orange curd with honey bourbon

blood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Table

Goodness, it's already the last week of January! The start to the new year has been wonderful with lots of new and exciting food and photography projects that I am really grateful and thankful for. I've also been experimenting in the kitchen with a lot of new techniques and flavor combinations, so stay tuned for some fun things in the future.

January is also a great, great time to get your hands on blood oranges! We've been buying a couple of pounds every weekend and besides guzzling their sweet bloody segments down, I've been cooking extensively with them. 

Every year I make a small batch of lemon curd but this year, I decided to switch things around a little bit and prepare a blood orange version.....with a little honey bourbon. The end result is a perfectly tangy and sweet citrus curd with a hint of bourbon flavor make it a great little dip for fresh fruit or a spread for cookies or pound cakes. To be honest, I had some fixed feelings about the final color. Though I like the pink color of the curd, I would rather have it deep and dark red just like the orange but the combination of the eggs and the butter will lighten things up. So to get around this issue, I tried adding a little beet juice in the first batch I prepared but it didn't make much of a difference with the color. By the time I ate the first batch and started on the second and third batches, the pink color grew on me and now I absolutely love it as much as I love the flavor of this curd!

blood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Tableblood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Table
blood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Tableblood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Table
blood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Table
blood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Tableblood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing this orange curd,

  • The bourbon is optional, if you don't like alcohol in your blood orange curd then skip it. 
  • If you feel like your blood orange curd is not thick enough, you whisk in a little cornstarch. Add 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed in 1 teaspoon cold water and whisk and cook until the curd is thick but do not let it boil. The addition of cornstarch gives a better glaze if you wish to use the curd as a filling in pastries. 
  • The curd needs to chill for at least 4 hours but it will taste best after overnight refrigeration. The "eggish" taste disappears and the flavors in the blood orange curd will be sweet and tangy.

My blood orange curd recipe is adapted from this recipe from Food and Wine .

blood orange curd with honey bourbon | A Brown Table

blood orange curd with honey bourbon 

yields: approximately 1 1/3 cups

ingredients

3 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar

1/2 cup blood orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained to remove pulp

3 tablespoons lemon juice 

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons honey bourbon

1. Place the eggs and the yolks in a thick bottomed saucepan. Whisk them to break the yolks and mix gently until combined. Pour in the sugar and whisk gently until combined.

2. Place the saucepan over a medium-low flame. Add the orange juice, the zests and the chopped butter. Whisk the ingredients of the saucepan constantly, scrape the sides down with a silicone spatula while the mixture is cooking for about 8-9 minutes. The mixture should be gently simmering and should never boil or the eggs will curdle. The mixture will resemble a very thick custard by the time it is done cooking. Immediately remove from stove and strain it through a sieve into a storage container. 

3. Stir in the orange blossom water (if using) and the honey bourbon. Cover the surface of the curd with cling film (this will prevent any skin formation). Chill overnight before serving the curd. 

vermicelli kheer/sevaiyan

Vermicelli Kheer Sevaiyan | A Brown Table
California winter | A Brown Table

A California winter as I'm learning is more like spring, it reminds me of that stage in DC where winter would be resistant to the changes spring tries to push our way. The evenings are chilly but the weather sunny and cool during the day, even the buds on the trees are already flowering. It does take some getting used to because my mind still expects some frost at least in the wee hours of the morning but there's nothing but dew. 

I'm breaking vermicelli and cooking this vermicelli kheer/Sevaiyan on Design Sponge. Head over to get the recipe!

Sarah has a book coming out and I couldn't be more excited for her. 

On the menu this week: this Macao fried rice gratin, kouign-amann and these snowball doughnuts

Vermicelli Kheer Sevaiyan | A Brown Table
Vermicelli Kheer Sevaiyan | A Brown Table