Thursday, December 22, 2011
Citrus Salad Topped with Cracked Glass [Rhonda]
Degree of difficulty: easy to medium, depending on the weather
Time: 20 to 30 minutes prep (How good are you with a paring knife?)
This has got to be one of the most unusual, prettiest, and delightfully refreshing salads I've ever had. (Sounds like a commercial for Florida citrus growers, doesn't it?) Kate Thomas brought this to the New Albany Cooking With Friends gathering in November, and whether or not it reflects her Louisianna roots or her husband Tony's Missouri upbringing, she says it has been a Thanksgiving tradition at their house as long as she can remember.
Don't file this under Turkey Day, though, because it will stand as a beautiful side dish year-round.
Having said all that, the first time I made it for two, it was a breeze and took practically no time.
Second time was in volume for our Christmas trip to SC and I might as well have been a first-time-in-the-kitchen know-nothing. Embarassing to admit, but I finally had to google "how to peel a grapefruit" because I was struggling with pith and section skins, while sticky juice ran down my arm, onto my jeans and dripped on the floor. (There's a most helpful YouTube video with a chef who suggests you slice a little off the ends of the grapefruit so it stands up by itself, peel it with a sharp knife, removing all the white pith, then section it by slicing down through one side of the grapefruit wedge, prying the wedge loose from the other section skin. That keeps the sections in a more desirable shape, ie whole, as opposed to the mashed and mangled bits I was producing.)
The pomegranate seeds take a bit of time to extract and separate. (And yes, there were crimson splatters on the white cabinets when I was done. I told you that particular day was amateur hour for me.) You can buy a container of pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe's. Just be aware they don't keep too long.
Now, about that cracked glass. Again, first stroll out with the recipe for two took no more than a few minutes. But all the cooking for SC was done on a rainy day. My first attempt at the cracked glass that humid day sported hard knots of sugar crystallized in the amber. Tossed it and began again. Second attempt went fluffy. Really fluffy, as in fresh-powder-snowfall-at-Deer-Valley fluffy. Tossed. (By then, time was short and I'm starting to get tense...) Third time, I slowly melted the sugar over lower heat, stirring constantly to eliminate any sugar crystals, then whisked continuously as I upped the heat. It worked.
Worth the effort, too. Kristi and Alena, my 7- and 3-year-old nieces, were mightily impressed, especially with the cracked glass. "More?" Alena demanded, smiling and nodding. "L'il more?"
Citrus Salad Topped with Cracked Glass
2 pink grapefruit
2 white grapefruit
1 pomegranate, seeded
Butter lettuce for plating
Peel citrus fruit, making sure to remove all white leaving only citrus exposed; slice fruit between membranes into large bowl.
Add seeds from pomengranate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cracked Glass Topping
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, carefully stir sugar in water until the sugar melts.
Raise heat and cook until liquid turns a light amber color. Pour hot mixture to thinly coat aluminum foil and let harden.
Crack into little pieces when ready to serve.
Mix citrus well. If plating, put a leaf of butter lettuce on salad plate, add mixed citrus salad and top with cracked glass.
If serving from a bowl, line the bowl with lettuce before adding citrus. Top entire bowl with the glass topping.
Suggested soundtrack: Rockin' old schoool with Earth, Wind and Fire's "September"