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June 2001 Issue
Orange Blossom Time
by Victoria Smith
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Russian, American and Iranian caviar.
Well, June is here, even on top of this pine-clad mountain of ours. June ... and June brides, and traditions, and orange blossoms, and ... ORANGES!

Back in the days of King Charles II (the Merry Monarch, 1660 - 1685), the place to be seen was at the theater, where the 'orange girls', including the beauteous Nelly Gwynne, one day to become the mistress of the king, wandered through the audience selling fresh and expensive oranges to the people in the crowd. People didn't brush their teeth much in those days, I'm told, and the taste of orange juice must have indeed been refreshing in a stale mouth.

A century later, when the tobacco craze from the colonies was catching on, there was even a greater demand for the taste-cleansing juice of this round golden fruit.

Even I remember my grandmother talking about the thrill of finding oranges in her Christmas stocking!

Oranges are a treat in any age or century, and some friends of ours in Florida even substitute a small orange tree for the traditional spruce Christmas tree, decorated (outside, of course, live and producing) with nature's very own round golden ornaments.

There are so many things that one can do with oranges. Here are a few of my favorites:


Fresh Florida Orange Cake with Toasted Almond Ice Cream and Strawberry Compote

  • 6 large oranges
  • 3 cups ground blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau
  • 1 1/2 quarts toasted almond ice cream
  • 1 recipe Strawberry Compote, recipe follows
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large sheet pan with butter.

Place the oranges in a saucepan over medium heat and cover with water. Bring the oranges to a boil and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove the oranges and cool. Using a knife, remove the zest and fruit. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree the zest and fruit until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add the orange puree and mix well. Pour into prepared pan and bake until the center springs back, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut the cake into 24 equal pieces.

To assemble, place one piece of the cake in the center of 12 plates. Place 1/4 cup of the ice cream on top of each piece of the cake. Spoon some of the compote over the ice cream. Place another piece of cake on top of the compote, forming a sandwich. Repeat the above process with the remaining ice cream and compote. Garnish with mint sprigs and a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar.

  • Yields: 12-24 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour


Strawberry Compote

  • 3 pints of fresh strawberries, washed, patted dry and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
In a non-reactive saucepan, over medium heat, combine 2 pints of the strawberries, sugar and liquor. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the fruit is soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, puree the strawberries until smooth. Turn into a mixing bowl, and add the remaining sliced strawberries. Mix well.
  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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