Whatever your resolution for 2022, Elisha Young (aka @elisha.eats on Instagram) has plenty of ideas for blood orange season – from cocktails to cakes
Ah, January. The most depressing month of the year. The festive season is behind us, it’s cold and dark – and if that wasn’t bad enough, people experience a collective fit of madness and make the month worse by eating healthily and taking up running.
Not that there’s anything wrong with self-improvement. If you’re brave enough to make a New Year’s resolution, I wish you the best of luck. It’s just that I’ve never been very good at committing myself to anything – especially not in the throes of winter. I like a salad as much as the next person, just not while it’s snowing outside. And if you want me to run anywhere in January, I’m afraid you’ll have to chase me.
Both visually striking and completely delicious
However, the New Year isn’t all bad – blood orange season is getting started. When we need vitamin C to stave off those nasty colds and flu, at least we have the bright sunshine of Mediterranean citrus fruit to cheer us up. If you can get past the slightly macabre name, the crimson colour and tangy, subtly sweet taste of blood orange is both visually striking and completely delicious.
Partial to a tipple or two? The zesty flavour lends itself well to alcoholic drinks. Cranes offers a cranberry and blood orange liqueur that adds a fun twist to cocktails. Or head down to St Andrew’s Street for All Bar One’s blood orange and grapefruit gintonica, featuring lemon tonic, grapefruit bitters and our favourite fruit. For something more unusual, Meadows sells homemade blood orange and hibiscus syrup that’s ideal for pouring into a G&T.
If you are trying to eat a bit more healthily after the excesses of December, it brightens up any salad, too. The citrus ingredient goes especially well with a mild, creamy cheese, like mozzarella or burrata, as well as the slight bitterness of rocket or chicory leaves. For a lighter dessert option, keep an eye on Navadhanya’s menu of seasonal sorbets, which sometimes includes a refreshing blood orange flavour.
If you’re like me and simply want to eat your feelings, then cake is the way to go. It would be remiss not to mention Grain Culture’s blood orange danishes, which grace the counter of the Bake Shop every year, and can be sought out at Cambridge stockists such as Barbarella, Kerb Kollective, Shelford Deli or Burwash Larder. However, there’s something comforting about do-it-yourself baked goods – and if you’ve resolved to pick up a new hobby, why not try baking?
There are several varieties of blood orange, but I recommend Moro, with its vivid colour and strong flavour. The easiest approach is to take your favourite lemon drizzle recipe and substitute in the zest and juice from a blood orange. Or you could get a little fancy, like I did, and bake a pound cake flavoured with the zest from two blood oranges and decorated with a blood orange glaze. This is just juice mixed with some icing sugar and a pinch of salt, but the dramatic colour is beautiful – and it tastes amazing, too.
I may not be making a resolution this year, but I can still take joy in small pleasures – whether it’s relishing a slice of homemade cake, or marvelling at the miracle of citrus in the depths of winter.
For more comforting winter recipes from Elisha, read December’s post here.