Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcome to Evil Dictator's Citrus Week!

Orange Ginger Anginettes glazed in honor of the icing we are enduring outside today
              In honor of the terrible weather today and of winter in general, I’m initiating a week long tribute to the refreshing flavors of citrus.  This is now officially Evil Dictator of Taste’s Citrus Week! 
I strongly believe in buying seasonal, local produce.  There is a distinct difference between an apple that has been shipped from upstate to my local grocery directly and one that spent months in chilled warehouses, shipped across the globe to a refrigerated truck, driven around the country to then be stored in another warehouse, and finally end up on my table.  They just aren’t the same.  Produce becomes mealy and gross.  Apples bought in February come from storage, but oranges and lemons?  They come from Florida and California.  In February, they are fresh.  I’ll wait for the perfect apple.  Now is the time for citrus.
Produce is not as consistent as other ingredients we buy at the grocery store.  Strawberries taste sweetest in the spring, apples are only firm in the fall, and oranges, tangerines and grapefruits are plumpest and juiciest in the winter.  In other words, while most things (or people) are hibernating, citrus is thriving.  This is its heyday, the only time of year when it has that perfect supple texture and juicy tanginess that citrus should have.  I’ve tried oranges in the fall, apple season, only to taste a hard, dried out, bitter fruit, hardly even reminiscent of a winter orange.  This week let’s celebrate by making use of the one thing ripening during these dark days.  Maybe oranges can lead by example and we too can flourish.
So this week I will feature many different recipes using a wide variety of citruses, and not just deserts and salads, but entrees and appetizers as well.  I will be experimenting.  Please share your tips, recipes or ideas with me and Evil Dictator of Taste community as well.
I began last night with a desert, anginettes.  These are an old world cookie from Italy, usually made around Christmas time by nonnas (Italian grannies).  They are moist and soft, but not overpoweringly sweet, almost like the American version of a scone.  Usually they are made with lemons or lemon extract, but I used oranges.  This was my first attempt and they were fun, easy and when finished, look like little moon rocks and have a light, zesty flavor.  Very cool! 
The scone-like anginettes are perfect with hot tea
      I used a basic recipe as a base, but added my own touches.  These anginettes are not only moist, lightly flavored, zesty and delicious but also low in fat, contain no saturated fat or salt, and much less sugar than most cookie recipes.  The combination of vegetable oil and nonfat yogurt in place of butter, shortening or margarine is one of my favorite little baking tricks.  Far from lessening the flavor of baked goods, this alteration generally serves to help maintain more moisture and create a lighter texture.  However, it doesn’t work for recipes where you want a crisp, buttery cookie.  For that, there is just no way around it, you must use butter.

Orange Ginger Anginettes
¼ cup nonfat yogurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup white sugar
3 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ orange, juiced
1 orange rind, grated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, beat yogurt, oil and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla, orange juice, grated ginger and ½ the orange rind.  Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda; stir into the orange mixture. The consistency will be thick and sticky.  Using a teaspoon, shape the dough into little drops and place on greased cookie sheets, about an inch apart.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Cool on wire racks.
In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice and milk until smooth.  On a small plate, mix the other half of the orange rind with about a tablespoon of white sugar.  Dip the tops of cooled cookies into the icing, and then place a little rind on top of each cookie.  Return to racks and let stand until set.
Another garnish option I’m dying to try is using candied ginger.  To do this, either buy candied ginger or make it.  Here is a link to a recipe from Food Network’s Alton Brown:
Whether buying or making the ginger, slice into small chunks and place one on top of each cookie instead of grated orange rind.
 It’s hard to think of anginettes as Christmas cookies when they taste so light and springy to me.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do! 
Special rainy Tuesday dinner, even though only a small component, the lemon wedge really added a little zing against the sage
           Last night, as I was on cookie duty, my boyfriend, Tim, made a lovely dinner.  Although it didn’t feature citrus, a squeeze of fresh lemon after preparation really caused the other flavors to pop.  It is shrimp (from the amazing Fresh Fish of Carroll Garden) wrapped, with fresh sage, in prosciutto (from G Esposito & Sons) and broiled.  Simple and clean, the earthy sage and the salty prosciutto strike a perfect balance.
Here they are being turned to crisp both sides of the proscuitto


  1. Wow - once again I love the column! The cookies are luscious-looking (and what nice pottery in your photos)! Just reading these pieces, in the midst of the freezing winter, makes everything feel right in spite of the cold outside. I am dying to try these cookies - may have to make some!

  2. Julie, Julie, Julie, I want to simultaneously bake these agnuletti cookies and come to your house for dinner. Your blog is wonderful! You are definitely on the right track. Great idea for the citrus at this time of year. Now I have something to look forward to every evening......seeing what's new from the evil dictator of taste!

  3. Yippee Julie -- I'm such a foodie -- looking forward to your recipes and evil dictation!!! xox

  4. What's amatta with winter? Nothin if it provokes you to cook this way.