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Florida grapefruit is ripe for recipes

I am one of those people who doesn't think it's a curse to have a grapefruit tree in my yard, no matter how much fruit it bears. Ours is a Ruby Red, and the brilliant color of the fruit is equally matched by the aroma and taste of the sweet-tart-juicy flesh. The recent cold snap brightened the sweetness. They are perfect.

But I do get tired of grapefruit juice and halves of crimson in the morning. And, unfortunately, I am the only grapefruit eater in my family. Those warnings about grapefruit interacting negatively with some prescription drugs is a reality in our house. Several drugs that treat high cholesterol, and other maladies, are not as effective when taken with grapefruit juice. (For more information about grapefruit-drug interactions, go to peoplespharmacy.com.)

Shame, isn't it, because grapefruit is generally a healthy food. Lots of vitamin C — half a cup contains 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance — plus low in calories and no fat. And when you've got it growing in your yard or that of a generous neighbor, you can't beat the price.

Delicious Grapefruit Recipes, a new cookbook from Seaside Publishing of St. Petersburg, compiles a wide range of recipes for grapefruit lovers, or people with a tree full of fruit, be they Ruby Reds or white-flesh Duncans. The book is written by longtime New Jersey food editor and writer Patricia Mack, who has vacationed in Florida for years and now spends half the year in Cocoa. The recipes show the versatility of grapefruit, including using the juice or fruit in salads, sauces, pies and baked goods.

Mack wrote the book from her sunporch while gazing at her lovely, laden grapefruit tree. "The fruit has a lot of seeds in it, so it's been around for a very long time," she says. The grapefruit you buy in the store these days has been developed over time to have few seeds.

"Grapefruit is really an acquired taste. People who love it adore it and people who don't, hate it," she says. "It has a very astringent taste."

That acidity makes grapefruit perfect for barbecue sauces and marinades. Salt makes grapefruit sweeter, too, so its flavor is accentuated in salads when paired with salty nuts or tangy vinegar.

Think about substituting grapefruit zest and/or juice for recipes that call for orange, lime or lemon, Mack says. Grapefruit can be a bit more biting, so you'll want to consider that. Toss some zest into chocolate muffins; add the juice from half a grapefruit in place of vinegar in a vinaigrette, brighten a shrimp dish with a squeeze of grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice added to mayonnaise becomes a sauce for fish, and chunks of grapefruit segments mix deliciously with chicken salad studded with almonds.

In developing the recipes, Mack researched cookbooks from the 1930s and '40s and found they used grapefruit more as an ingredient than we do today. Strangely, she found that grapefruit is a good foil for beer. The pair mingles in her Beach Bubbly cocktail, which she says is a pretty drink thanks to the sangria-style slices of citrus bobbing in the glass. A conversation starter for sure.

And here are some ideas from the Florida Department of Citrus that don't have anything at all to do with food, but rather beauty maintenance. Think of them as tree maintenance, too, since it's important to pick the fruit before the furry critters do.

• After juicing grapefruit, save the halves to rub on dry, rough elbows. Do it daily and you'll notice a difference within a week. Store halves in zipper-type bags in the refrigerator.

• Mix the juice of half a grapefruit with warm water and use as a bracing face splash.

• To soften cuticles and whiten nails, mix 3 cups water with juice from half a grapefruit. Soak nails for 5 minutes weekly.

Even if prescription drugs keep you from eating grapefruit, you can still breathe in their aroma. And look more polished, too. For the rest of us, it's grapefruit season in Florida. Pull out your juicers!

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8586.

. EASY

Grapefruit Date Nut Bread

1 small grapefruit

1 cup chopped dates, divided use

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg, beaten

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the grapefruit glaze:

11/4 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon grapefruit zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Squeeze juice from grapefruit into a measuring cup. Fill with boiling water to measure 1 cup.

Peel squeezed grapefruit, then add flesh to a food processor bowl or blender along with 1/2 cup of the chopped dates. Process until dates become small bits. Place mixture in a large bowl along with the juice-water combination.

Combine soda, sugar, butter and vanilla in another bowl; mix well. Then stir in egg, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add to juice-water combination. Add nuts and remaining dates.

Pour mixture into a greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pan; bake for about 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on a rack.

To make the glaze, combine confectioners' sugar, grapefruit juice and zest, stirring until it becomes a thin paste. Drizzle over loaf.

Makes 1 loaf.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

. EASY

Florida Barbecue Sauce

4 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 cup water

4 pounds diced, fresh tomatoes (see note)

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 cup grapefruit juice

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

4 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne

2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot

Combine mustard and water. Set aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, cook tomatoes, onion and garlic over low heat for about 25 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid burning.

Press mixture through a sieve back into the saucepan or Dutch oven. Discard pulp. Return to pan and add mustard-water mixture along grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, paprika, cayenne and hot sauce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer to desired consistency.

Pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. Sauce will keep for about 3 weeks. To use, reheat slightly and brush over meats or poultry during the last stages of grilling, or serve on the side.

Makes about 3 pints.

Note: With tomatoes often more than $2 a pound, this recipe can be quite expensive. Look for tomatoes at farmers markets or experiment with canned whole, peeled tomatoes. You'll probably need four cans and strain off the juice for soup or another dish.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

. MODERATE

Grilled Red Snapper With Tartar Sauce

6 red snapper fillets (4 1/2 to 5 ounces each)

For the marinade:

3/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon grapefruit zest

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup dry vermouth

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

For the grapefruit sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon bottled capers, chopped

1/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Grapefruit segments for garnish

Place fillets in a buttered 9- by 13-inch glass dish.

Combine grapefruit juice, zest, oil, vermouth, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour over snapper fillets; marinate fillets 30 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine mayonnaise, capers, juice, mustard, salt and pepper; mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook fillets, remove fish from marinade and place in a well-greased wire grill basket or on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil that has been placed on top of the grill. Grill fish 3 to 4 inches above hot coals for 12 to 15 minutes, until fish flakes.

Remove fish to a serving platter and garnish with grapefruit wedges. Serve grapefruit sauce on the side.

Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

. MODERATE

Citrus Crab Salad

2 cups medium navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

1 medium grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

4 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained and flaked 4 cups mixed salad greens

1 (3-ounce) can chow mein noodles

For the ginger salad dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot

In a bowl, combine the oranges, grapefruit, scallions, celery, pecans and crab meat. Divide the salad greens among four salad plates. Sprinkle with the chow mein noodles. Top each plate with about 3/4 cup crab mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, horseradish and gingerroot. Serve with crab salad.

Serves 4.

Source: allrecipes.com

. EASY

Beach Bubbly

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Rind of 2 lemons and 1 small grapefruit, white pith scraped off

1 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 (12-ounce) can light beer

Lemon and grapefruit slices

Mix sugar with water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; add lemon and grapefruit rinds. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Remove citrus rinds and cool sugar water to room temperature. Add lemon and grapefruit juices. Pour into a large pitcher over ice. Add beer and fruit slices just before serving. Stir once to mix.

Serves 6.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

About juicers

There are two types of electric juicing machines, one that grinds the entire fruit or vegetable and the other a more simple appliance that simply extracts juice. The latter are sometimes called juice presses because the user holds a cut piece of fruit over a revolving reamer, pressing down to help extract the juice. Juice presses are the least inexpensive; you can buy one for less than $20. The larger juicers can cost $150 and up. They can be purchased at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and also online at various sites.

Juicers that grind whole fruit to extract the juice fall into three categories: masticating, centrifugal and triturating (twin gear). These have to do with the method of extracting and separating the juice from the pulp.

Masticating machines operate at a slow speed to chew up fiber. They can also be used to make baby food, ice cream and sorbets. They chew the fibers and break up the cells of vegetables and fruits. Omega is one of the popular brands of masticating juicers.

Centrifugal juicers grind produce, then push the material through a strainer while spinning it at a high rpm. These machines often produce more juice. Most juicers sold for home use, such as the Juiceman line, are centrifugal machines.

Triturating machines, sometimes called twin gear, turn at a slower rpm. The two-step process includes crushing fruit and vegetables and then pressing the juice. These machines are best for juicing leafy greens, root vegetables and water-dense, nonpulp produce. Omega also makes twin-gear juicers. They are mostly used commercially and can cost upwards of $500.

Janet K. Keeler

. fast facts

For more information

Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack is part of the Famous Florida! cookbook series from Seaside Publishing of St. Petersburg. Easy Breezy Florida Cooking by Joy and Jack Harris has also just been published. Each paperback is $8.95. Order online at Seasidepublishing.com or call toll-free 1-888-352-2665. The books can also be found at Haslam's bookstore in St. Petersburg and chains like Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble and Borders.

>>easy

Grapefruit Date Nut Bread

1 small grapefruit

1 cup chopped dates, divided use

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg, beaten

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the grapefruit glaze:

1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar

1/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon grapefruit zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Squeeze juice from grapefruit into a measuring cup. Fill with boiling water to measure 1 cup.

Peel squeezed grapefruit, then add flesh to a food processor bowl or blender along with 1/2 cup of the chopped dates. Process until dates become small bits. Place mixture in a large bowl along with the juice-water combination.

Combine baking soda, sugar, butter and vanilla in another bowl; mix well. Then stir in egg, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add to juice-water combination. Add nuts and remaining dates.

Pour mixture into a greased 9- by 5-inch loaf pan; bake for about 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan and continue to cool on a rack.

To make the glaze, combine confectioners' sugar, grapefruit juice and zest, stirring until it becomes a thin paste. Drizzle over loaf.

Makes 1 loaf.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

>>easy

Florida Barbecue Sauce

4 teaspoons dry mustard

1/4 cup water

4 pounds diced, fresh tomatoes (see note)

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 cup grapefruit juice

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

4 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons cayenne

2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot

Combine mustard and water. Set aside.

In a 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, cook tomatoes, onion and garlic over low heat for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.

Press mixture through a sieve back into the saucepan or Dutch oven. Discard pulp. Return to pan and add mustard-water mixture along with grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, paprika, cayenne and hot sauce. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer to desired consistency.

Pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate. Sauce will keep for about 3 weeks. To use, reheat slightly and brush over meats or poultry during the last stages of grilling, or serve on the side.

Makes about 3 pints.

Note: With tomatoes often more than $2 a pound, this recipe can be quite expensive. Look for tomatoes at farmers markets or experiment with canned whole, peeled tomatoes. You'll probably need three large cans. Strain off liquid for soup or another dish.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

>>moderate

Grilled Red Snapper With Tartar Sauce

6 red snapper fillets (4 1/2 to 5 ounces each)

For the marinade:

3/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon grapefruit zest

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup dry vermouth

1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, minced

For the grapefruit sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon bottled capers, chopped

1/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Grapefruit segments for garnish

Place fillets in a buttered 9- by 13-inch glass dish.

Combine grapefruit juice, zest, oil, vermouth, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour over snapper fillets; marinate fillets 30 minutes at room temperature.

Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine mayonnaise, capers, juice, mustard, salt and pepper; mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To cook fillets, remove fish from marinade and place in a well-greased wire grill basket or on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil that has been placed on top of the grill. Grill fish 3 to 4 inches above hot coals for 12 to 15 minutes, until fish flakes.

Remove fish to a serving platter and garnish with grapefruit wedges. Serve grapefruit sauce on the side.

Serves 4 to 6.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

>>moderate

Citrus Crab Salad

2 cups medium navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

1 medium grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

4 scallions, chopped

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 (6-ounce) can lump crabmeat, drained and flaked

4 cups mixed salad greens

1 (3-ounce) can chow mein noodles

For the ginger salad dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon minced fresh gingerroot

In a bowl, combine the oranges, grapefruit, scallions, celery, pecans and crabmeat. Divide the salad greens among four salad plates. Sprinkle with the chow mein noodles. Top each plate with about 3/4 cup crab mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, lemon juice, horseradish and gingerroot. Serve with crab salad.

Serves 4.

Source: allrecipes.com

>>easy

Beach Bubbly

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Rind of 2 lemons and 1 small grapefruit, white pith scraped off

1 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 (12-ounce) can light beer

Lemon and grapefruit slices

Mix sugar with water in saucepan. Bring to a boil; add lemon and grapefruit rinds. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Remove citrus rinds and cool sugar water to room temperature. Add lemon and grapefruit juices. Pour into a large pitcher over ice. Add beer and fruit slices just before serving. Stir once to mix.

Serves 6.

Source: Delicious Grapefruit Recipes by Patricia Mack (Seaside Publishing, 2009)

Florida grapefruit is ripe for recipes 01/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 3:30am]

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