As a native Southern Californian, citrus is in my blood. As a kid, I’d go on calls with my dad, a large animal vet, and we’d drive past mile upon mile of citrus trees. Without fail, he’d always pull the truck over, and we’d help ourselves to some tangerines or oranges. What’s a little theft in exchange for replacing a Holstein’s prolapsed uterus?
I came up with this refreshing, aromatic compote for a cooking class. This time of year, California farmers markets are flooded with a staggering array of citrus varieties, from rosy-pink Cara-Cara oranges, to tart, briny little finger limes. Regardless of what kinds you use, this dessert is a snap, and sure to evoke sunny skies and fragrant groves, with nary a strip mall in sight.
CITRUS COMPOTE IN GINGER-STAR ANISE SYRUP
5 cups water
¾ cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4 slices peeled ginger, each about the size of a quarter, smashed
3 star anise pods
3 medium blood oranges, peel and pith removed and cut into 1/8” cross sections (be sure to remove any seeds)
1 Navel orange, skin and pith cut away (follow the contours of the fruit with a sharp paring knife), and separated into segments by freeing the sections from the membranes holding them in place with paring knife
2 medium pink grapefruit, such as Rio Star, peel and pith cut and away and segmented, as above
3 kumquats, cut into paper-thin slices
fresh mint leaves, julienned, for garnish
Combine water, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and star anise in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes, reducing heat if too high.
Strain liquid to remove ginger and spices, and add liquid back to saucepan. Bring back to boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow liquid to reduce, about 15 to 20 minutes, until a syrupy consistency that just barely coats the back of a spoon (it will still be fairly runny). Remove from heat, pour into a glass bowl, and chill for at least one hour.
To serve, add citrus to four martini glasses or compote bowls, and pour syrup over fruit. Garnish with mint.
© The Sustainable Kitchen ®, 2000.