I must admit that I don’t own a lot of single subject books but I’m always intrigued by them – especially now as I’ve been through the book writing/ recipe developing process myself, I’m in awe of people who can come up with a whole collection of recipes featuring one ingredient. Orange Appeal, by Jamie Schler (full disclosure – she’s a good friend!) is a fabulous new cookbook featuring all things orange. But unlike the book you might expect to open and peruse, this is NOT all desserts (although Jamie’s desserts are delectable, it could easily be filled with them!). No, in fact it’s a really refreshing (no pun intended) take on the humble orange with a lot of great ways to incorporate them into both sweet and savoury dishes.
Jamie’s the perfect person to write this book because she grew up on Florida’s Space Coast where citrus is king! The introduction includes memories of a childhood where her family was “never without citrus” and despite the fact that they were inundated with pamphlets from the citrus growers’ associations touting new and innovative ways to eat citrus,
Rarely, though, did citrus find its way into our kitchen other than sliced or peeled and pulled apart in sections of juiced. My parents never considered baking a soufflé or a cake with oranges, and we kids didn’t have the patience to wait or the desire to taste anything but the pure unadulterated fruit.
Though she still consumes oranges “as is” to this day (getting her daily dose of Floridian sunshine now that she lives in France), Jamie has developed recipes proving that the orange is extremely adaptable to both sweet and savoury recipes – an “extraordinary and indispensable ingredient, a versatile and remarkable flavoring in the kitchen”. This book is great place for everyone to start discovering that versatility.
The book is organised into chapters based on courses: Sauces, Dressings, Dips and Relishes; Soups, Salads, Starters and Sides; Main Dishes; Bread (Quick and Yeast); Cookies and Treats; Cakes and Desserts. It’s a nice balance of sweet vs savoury in what could honestly just be a book full of the gorgeous desserts and sweet treats! The Introduction contains a lot of great information about oranges – talking about everything from specific varieties to how to make your own homemade orange flavourings (orange powder, orange sugar, orange salt and orange extract). The Essential Information includes sections on orange sizes (and yields), how to prepare oranges in different ways for use in the recipes and basic information about weights and measures and equivalents. It’s a short but sweet section with a ton of useful information. The recipes are written paragraph style (i.e. not numbered steps) but they are short, sweet steps that are easy to follow. The book is beautifully laid out with a lot of clean, white space, simple fonts and beautiful images every few pages. It’s really a lovely looking book.
I knew this book would be beautiful (because, with pictures by Ilva Beretta, it can’t be anything BUT gorgeous!). I knew the recipes would work and be well written (I was briefly a recipe tester for Jamie before I was working on my own book and I’ve been following her blog and writing for years) . But I was really curious to see the selection of dishes that would be included. What I really love is that the orange flavouring is not always front and centre (the soup below is a perfect example – you get a hint of it but it’s not overtly “orange”) and that there are really innovative takes on classics – roasted chicken with an orange-soy gravy and orange-braised Belgian endives, for example. There’s a lovely balance of those classic recipes along with recipes from Jamie’s adopted county, France, as well as a few recipes with Middle Eastern influence. It’s an eclectic mix of recipes with something for everyone. It’s a book you’ll turn to for inspiration when you get overly enthusiastic purchasing citrus but it’s a book you’ll turn to when you want to make something a little different too.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from cover to cover (recognising some of the recipes I saw in their testing stages) but I’ll admit that I’d love to have read more of Jamie’s personal stories (she’s a master storyteller with at least another book – or two – in her!) but that’s just personal preference 🙂 I know that those who buy this book will seek out Jamie’s writing and recipes after they’ve read this one which makes me happy because everyone should read her words.
Jamie’s publisher has generously allowed me to republish one of her recipes and I chose this simple Spiced Red Lentil and Carrot Soup because it’s a perfect dish for chilly October (and beyond!) nights. I’ve had lentil soup before but never with orange – such a lovely bright flavour!
Spiced Red Lentil and Carrot Soup
- 1 cup (6 ounces / 170 grams) red or coral lentils
- 3 carrots (8 ounces / 225 grams) sweet carrots
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 3 1/2 cups (875 ml) light vegetable stock or water
- 1 cup (250 ml) orange juice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons dried coriander leaves or 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 dried ñora pepper, split in half up to the stem, white seeds removed, optional
- Greek yogurt, to serve
- Chopped fresh coriander, to serve
Rinse the lentils under cool running water, drain, and set aside.
Trim, peel, and chop the carrots and the onion, and mince the garlic.
Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and sautée the chopped carrots, onions, the minced garlic, and the orange zest until the carrots and onion soften and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the lentils, the water, orange juice, spices, dried coriander leaves, salt, and the dried ñora pepper, if using, to the pot, bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer until the lentils are cooked and the carrots are tender, 20–25 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and purée the soup either in a blender or with an emulsion blender, adding a bit more water if you like a thinner soup.
Heat the soup gently before serving if made ahead of time. To serve, ladle the soup into 4 bowls, swirl a tablespoon or 2 of Greek yogurt in each bowl and top with chopped fresh coriander.
Recipe from Orange Appeal by Jamie Schler, reprinted by permission of Gibbs Smith.
Canadian readers: Win a copy of Orange Appeal! Details: http://bit.ly/WinOrangeAppeal
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Disclosure: I was provided with a digital copy of “Orange Appeal” from the publisher for review purposes but I also purchased a hard copy for myself. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.