Citrus. The word is as zippy as the flavor. I like to say it over and over and over, just as I tend to unwrap clemintine after clemintine this time of year. Citrus is a vibrant collection of recipes compiled by LA-based writer and food stylist Valerie Aikman-Smith. The photography, as bright and sharp as the book’s subject, was produced by Victoria Pearson.
The book covers new uses for common citrus flavors (orange, lemon, lime, etc.), which makes for a nice read. But Valerie didn’t want to make just a nice book. She goes further, encouraging the use of lesser known fruits like Buddha’s hands, kumquats, and yuzu.
What strikes me most about this book is the care that was taken by Valerie to discover which ingredients and flavors highlight certain citrus fruits best. Anyone with some kitchen experience knows that a dusting of zest livens up most dishes, but the beauty of Citrus comes through upon seeing that every dish isn’t pasta with a shaving of lemon peel or cake with orange juice. Valerie has clearly tested each recipe featured profusely, noting that lime and chili powder work well with candied almonds; Meyer lemon juice is well suited in a burnt sugar tart; orange peel best highlights the lovely bitterness of Campari in marmalade. Further, she knows that certain varieties of the same fruit complement some dishes better than others: a tart ruby grapefruit will cut through spicy Szechuan shrimp and noodle salad, while scallops are better suited to be served with a cream made from Oroblanco grapefruit, which is less bitter and gentler to the mild seafood.
I decided to make citrus salt from this book, as I rarely infuse salts and it seemed like fun to break out the mortar and pestle. You can use literally any zest you make have hanging about your fridge (I bet grapefruit would be slammin’.) I used a combination of lemon, lime, and orange because I was feeling festive. And just FYI, this is a perfect gift idea for anyone you know who likes to cook/mix cocktails, as infused salts tend to be v pri¢ey. So why not just make your own in giant vats this holiday season and give it out to friends and coworkers in cute little jars?
Swap this for regular salt in recipes that need a little boost and/or use it to rim cocktail glasses. I wish it were still 95 degrees out so I could make Valerie’s Icy Blood Orange Margaritas and serve them in citrus salt-rimmed glasses. Actually, I might just do it anyway! Who’s with me?
Citrus Salt (from Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes; makes ~1/2 cup)
1/2 cup flakey sea or kosher salt
3 tablespoons citrus zest
In a small bowl, combine salt and zest with your fingers (or use a mortar and pestle.) Spread mixture evenly onto a plate and let dry overnight. Transfer to a glass container with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature for up to three months.