Simply Seasonal: Citrus wakes up winter meals in Vail |

Simply Seasonal: Citrus wakes up winter meals in Vail

Sue Barhamnewsroom@vaildaily.comVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado From December to March, Mother Nature gives us a bountiful harvest of citrus fruits to help our bodies resist against all kinds of winter ailments. Packed with Vitamin C, colorful citrus is a bit of sunshine added to your diet. The Sun Belt of the USA stretches from Florida through Louisiana and Texas, Arizona to California. Each state yields a strong crop of our national favorite, the navel orange, as well as lemons, limes, grapefruits and a multitude of specialty varieties like blood orange, tangelo, tangerine, mandarin and clementines.Clementines, often called Cuties are readily available in local grocery stores. Easy to peel and eat, sweet and satisfying, pack a few for lunch or a day of outdoor activity. Tangerines, too, are compact, crush-proof and a simple way to get healthy Vitamin C into your daily diet.Try blood oranges if you can get past their name! They look like any other orange, but when cut, yield fruit of dark crimson color. Very juicy, too, and the juice looks a lot like … well, guess what. You may have to look in a specialty grocery to find blood oranges, but the flavor is truly worth trying. Citrus fruits are a great way to brighten mid-winter dishes, said Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale. Use a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on a salad, or give a light splash to a main dish sauce. Kittelsons classic chicken piccata recipe is an easy weeknight dinner, accompanied by rice, pasta or polenta.For an elegant appetizer, try Kittelsons Nantucket scallops with citrus supremes. He uses delicate bay scallops with a variety of sweet and tart citrus segments and a drizzle of vanilla scented oil. You could turn this starter into a main dish salad by serving it on top of a mixture of salad greens, he said.Citrus has a place in many desserts such as the classic lemon tart. Avondale pastry chef Allison Helfer complements hers with tropical coconut sorbet and homey tapioca. Citrus and tropical fruit combinations are a refreshing finish to any meal, she said.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breastsflour for dredging2 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons butter2 tablespoons capers, rinsed2 tablespoons fresh lemon juicePound the chicken breasts to a uniform 1/4-inch thickness. Dredge in flour. Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add chicken in one layer to the pan (work in batches if necessary). Sear till brown on one side, turn and repeat. Remove chicken to serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm. Add butter to pan and lower heat to medium. Swirl to loosen browned bits. Add capers and crush lightly, heat through. Add lemon juice, heat through, then pour over chicken breasts and serve. Serves 4.

1 pound bay scallops1 tablespoon olive oil1 tablespoon butterSupremes from blood orange, pink grapefruit, tangerine, or any colorful assortment of citrus (supremes are the fruit segments with pith and membrane removed)Citrus-vanilla oil to taste (recipe below)Salad greens for garnish or to make a main dishSeason the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a small skillet on high heat. Add the scallops and allow to sear on one side, about one minute, turn. Add butter to the pan and sear scallops another minute to brown. Drain on paper towels. Mound mixed salad greens on four plates. Divide and arrange scallops on top of the greens. Surround with citrus supremes. Drizzle with vanilla oil. Serves 4.

1/2 cup juice from an assortment of citrus fruits1/4 vanilla bean2/3 cup fruity olive oilBring juice and vanilla bean to a boil. Reduce by half. Whisk in olive oil. Use as a dressing for salads.

Crust:1 2/3 cup flourZest of 1 lemonPinch baking powder2 egg yolks1/2 cup sugar1/2 cup butterFilling:1 1/2 cup sugar2 Tb. cornstarch3 eggs3 egg yolks1/3 cup fresh lemon juice2 tsp. lemon zest1/2 cup orange juice1/4 cup heavy creamTo make the crust, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and mix in. Mix together flour, zest, and baking powder. Add dry mixture to butter, sugar and egg mixture. Mix to combine. Press into 12 individual 3-incg diameter tart pans. Line with aluminum foil and pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees until golden. Allow to cool before filling.To make the filling, heat the cream in microwave till hot and allow to cool to room temperature. Mix sugar and cornstarch to remove lumps and set aside. Whisk together eggs, yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice and cooled cream. Whisk in the sugar and cornstarch. Pour into pre-baked tart shells. Bake at 275 degrees for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Garnish with coconut sorbet. Yield 12 tarts.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit

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