White: Move over chicken, it’s the perfect time for citrus

This is the beginning of the end of winter, although you may not think of January quite that way. I have made lots of soups, a few stews, some braises, roast chicken and chicken thighs and breasts. I love squash in almost any iterations (except for what I call summer squash, that seedy, watery yellow squash, whose only real existence is to be marinated in a little oil, lots of fresh garlic along with salt and pepper and thrown on a grill).

But now that I've used roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes, sliced Brussels sprouts and added them to the skillet with crispy bacon and salt and pepper (via Jacques Pepin's recipe), I want something sweet for an entrée, along with a dessert that isn't chocolate-y and butter-y.

What is available in the supermarket now is citrus fruit, and I just love almost anything orange. In the new issue of Fine Cooking (one of my favorite magazines and I love the fact that is produced in Newtown, Connecticut, a town that will live is our hearts forever), a feature called Big Buy includes recipes for seared tilapia with spicy orange salsa and orange sherbet for dessert. I have made both of these dishes and both are delicious.

LEE WHITE HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT RESTAURANTS AND COOKING SINCE THE LATE 1970S. EMAIL HER AT LEEAWHITE@AOL.COM.

Seared Tilapia with
Spicy Orange Salsa

From Fine Cooking, February-March 2013, page 24

Yield: serves 4

4 medium navel oranges (about 2 pounds)

½ cup small-diced red onions

½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

kosher or fine sea salt

1 fresh serrano or jalapeno chile, minced (seeds included)

4 5-ounce tilapia fillets

freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons mild olive oil (or canola oil)

Using a sharp paring knife, cut off ends of the oranges to expose a circle of flesh. Stand each orange on an end and pare off the rest of the peel including all the white pith, in strips, following the curve of the orange. Working over a medium bowl, carefully cut on both sides of each orange segment to free it from the membranes. Squeeze the membranes over the bowl to collect any remaining juice. Cut the segments crosswise into 4 pieces and return to the bowl. (I am not good at doing this, so I don't.)

Add onions, cilantro, lime juice, cumin and 1 teaspoon salt and gently stir to combine. Add enough of the chile to suit your taste and stir. Let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to meld the flavors. This salsa can be made up to 2 hours ahead. Cover and keep at room temperature.

Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Cook two of the fillets, flipping once, until brown and just cooked through, one and one-half minutes per side. Transfer to dinner plate. Repeat with remaining fillets. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish, top with salsa and serve.

Orange Sherbet

Yield: 1 quart; serves 4 to 6

10 medium navel oranges (about 5 pounds)

1 cup granulated sugar

1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

¾ cup heavy cream

Finely grate enough zests from the oranges to yield 2 tablespoons and then squeeze oranges to yield 3 cups.

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring zest, 1 cup of the juice and the sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on the zest; discard the zest. Strain the remaining orange juice and the lemon juice into the bowl and then whisk in the heavy cream. Refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.

Churn mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's direction. Transfer sherbet to an airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

Nibbles

Recently, Rob Rabine, who used to own Café Routier, e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to meet him for lunch at Morning Glory Café and I immediately agreed, since I love Rob and the adorable Morning Glory Café, which is just minutes away from my house in Old Lyme.

Rob visits the cafe often, as do I. He likes it because it is clean and we can sit at a table next to the Lieutenant River. It was also a gorgeous sunny day. We both love the Cambodian food available alongside the very American menu items. The portions are large, so we shared the Asian salad and pho, an Asian soup pronounced "fuh." The kitchen gave us two plates of salad and two bowls of pho. The light broth was filled with noodles and chicken and greens. After lunch, we felt warm and full and healthy, after having eating a bit too heavily after the holidays.

Morning Glory Café

11 Halls Road

Old Lyme, CT

(860) 434-0480

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