Oranges & Spice Make Holidays Nice
with Stephanie Bullen
Chief Flavor Advisor
While much of the country is blanketed in a cold, grey sky, the trees of the tropics are beginning to burst with citrus. Throughout the 21st century, oranges were a popular stocking stuffer. It seems that this tradition has roots in the advent of the railroad and the status of tropical fruits as exotic and rare. Whatever the history, oranges bring a burst of brightness and sunshine to the winter season.
Orange Champagne Vinaigrette
One of the wonderful things about citrus is how it complements such a variety of foods and spices. It can provide an acidic tang or a bit of sweetness to everything from glazes to drinks and sides to desserts. A quick tip, when selecting citrus, choose one that is heavy for its size—this means it’s juicy! Adding orange and spice to an unrefined sugar, like maple, honey, or molasses, creates a perfect balance of acidic, warm or earthy, and sweet. You can tie your holiday meal together by creating a menu inspired by these flavors. The ideal spices to complete a flavor trifecta fall into the “earthy” category and may have a mild heat as well; a curry blend is the perfect accent for orange and maple. Start with a light salad, dressed with Orange Champagne Vinaigrette. The Park Hill Maple & Spice Pepper used in this recipe has a sweet, maple sugar base and contains many of the same ingredients as a mild yellow curry. The lightly acidic tang of orange juice and champagne vinegar keep this dressing from being too sweet or heavy and make it a great way to start a meal.
For the main course, kick up a traditional dish with our recipe for Maple Garam Masala Glazed Ham. The maple sugar replaces the standard brown sugar and the Garam Masala has many of the same ingredients as the classic Brown Sugar & Honey Ham Rub, but adds a slightly earthier flavor which contrasts nicely with the richness of the ham. For something non-traditional but a bit more elegant, try a citrus and spice based glaze. Barrier Reef Caribbean All-Purpose Glaze is perfect on nearly any type of meat, from salmon to Cornish game hens.
Smoked Serrano Cranberry Chutney
When it comes to sides, there are easy ways to maintain tradition while still amping up the flavor. Put a surprising spin on traditional cranberry sauce by using orange and chiles. The orange juice and brown sugar in our Smoked Serrano Cranberry Chutney recipe sweeten the tart cranberries, while the combination of two chiles, allspice, and ginger adds warmth and a slightly smoky flavor. Skip the marshmallows and conventional casserole this year and try Orange & Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes. The flavor options are varied as the simplicity of the recipe lends itself to a variety of seasoning options. For a more traditional flavor use Pumpkin Pie Spice, for less sweetness and more earthiness use Garam Masala, this is also a great dish to use up any leftover ham rub, and for an original spin try a curry blend like Marrakech Moroccan Spice.
Spicy Emma's Shortbread Cookies
Remember those delightful chocolate oranges that you could smack on the table and break into wedges? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the combination of orange and chocolate. Spicy Emma’s Shortbread Cookies turn the conventional cookie into a sophisticated and unique bite with the addition of chocolate chips, orange extract, and Barrier Reef Caribbean Style Seasoning. This delightful cookie has a little sweet, a little citrus, a bit of chocolate, and just a touch of heat—in other words, something for everyone! However you celebrate and whatever feast is on your table, from our Savory kitchen to yours we wish you a delicious holiday season and a very joyful new year!