Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the appeal of a peel

The countdown to the big day has begun. For my holiday celebration this means hosting 25 guests for a sit down Christmas dinner on Sunday.  My little house in Queens will be bulging at the bricks. I am counting chairs and hoping for the best.

At this time of year any helpful hints are welcome. My email inbox is flooded with food related newsletters and links to food blogs and websites.  Serious Eats always has at least one or two good articles each week to check out and it is worth becoming a member of their online community to gain access to informative and often amusing articles and videos. This week's article 60+ Holiday Snacks in 20 minutes or less is definitely worth a click through if you have any entertaining to do this weekend. It offers clever, simple ideas to help keep your sanity and make you look like a pro.

Another Serious Eats article that caught my eye, this one from a few weeks ago: How to send wine back without looking like a jerk.  It is in the form of a short video and gives a reassuring strategy on how to handle what could be an uncomfortable situation. The title alone was worth a smile.

Meanwhile, I am baking and braising and boiling and even burning a few things. Some of my cookie batches stayed in the oven too long. I also burned a batch of pistachio brittle while trying out a new microwave cooking method. Next time I am returning to the tried and true stove top with candy thermometer old school approach. Burn and learn.
One fail-proof recipe I come back to, every Christmas since I first encountered it, is candied grapefruit peel. Fun to make and very pleasurable to eat these candies are part my annual gift packages. The peels are pretty and tart and you can't seem to eat just one even as you promise yourself to save a few for tomorrow.

I like to use pink grapefruits not for the skin so much, but for the ravishing color of the interiors. Choose large fruit with fleshy skin. The pink sections will make a lovely fruit salad, especially pretty if you stir in some scarlet pomegranate seeds or slices of kumquat.

To make the candy:
Cut the grapefruit skin into strips and bring to a boil starting from a pot of cold water. When the water comes to a boil let the peels boil for five minutes, then drain and repeat the process two more times. This will help get rid of some of the bitterness.

Drain the peels and weight them (my peels, from three large grapefruits, weighed just over a pound)  Put the peels in a sauce pan with an equal weight of sugar (the sugar measured about 1.5 cups. You can use this as a proportions guide if you don't have a scale without compromising the results at all). Add a little water to help the sugar melt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes until the peels become transparent.
Remove peels from the syrup with a slotted spoon and allow to drain and dry a bit on a rack.
When the peels have cooled and are still tacky, roll them in more granulated sugar and serve or package to give away as gifts. Your recipients will be very grateful!

Happy Christmas every one!


  1. OMG, that is so cool! What an amazing way to use all of the fruit. I must pass this one on to friends. Maybe they'll make me some!


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