fiddlehead definition

fid·dle·head [ fídd'l hèd ] (plural fid·dle·heads) noun
Definition: edible fern shoot: the coiled frond of a young fern, often cooked and eaten as a delicacy

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh my darlin, oh my darlin...

This box of sunshine is sitting on my counter full of nectarous possibilities. Shall I make something sweet, something savory or enjoy them after peeling away nature's wrapper? If apples are the fruit mascot of winter and watermelon the mascot of summer, then clementines are certainly my talisman of winter. Packed with about the same high amount of vitamin c as a navel orange but remarkably more flavor, clementines are a delicious snack choice. First one out of the box eaten as nature had intended. But what to do with the peel? Zest!

Wait, before I get to zesty stuff I need to share a creative clementine concoction from my favorite mixologist, Jeff Jackson, who is now GM at Rosebud. An homage to Jackson's love of plaid, the Tartan is a checky mixture that softly channels the sweetness and zing of clementines. As this tall beautiful glass is set before you, you will be enchanted by the citrusy aromas that are heightened by its ingredients. The Tartan begins with clementine infused vodka (he likes that they are sweet but retain acidity in the vodka). Jackson is adept at transforming a neutral tasting liquor like vodka into an intense infusion that lends itself to his creations. Add to clementine infused vodka a cranberry shrub. Shrub, you ask?

shrub: a shrub is a drink concentrate/liqueur/cordial

made with fresh fruit vinegars and sugars.

Many are based around berries. Shrubs recipes

date back to colonial times and are similar to grog.

Here the tartan gets tarty. Jackson's last component is prosecco, whose bubbles lighten the heaviness of the sugary shrub and he mentioned something about the mineral quality (have I mentioned his discerning palate?) while I was thinking "yum." If you were lucky enough to spend an evening or afternoon at the bar chatting, eating and drinking with Jeff, you know how good this tastes. And luckily for us he will be starting Drink with Jeff again soon. I have had some wonderful adventures with wine and cheese on the patio with this outgoing oenophile. Check it out. I guarantee you will learn something.

Chicken with Clementine shallot sauce

Here is what I did:

  • salt, peppered and allspiced (just a tad) a few chicken breasts

  • sauteed both sides in olive oil

  • set aside and cover with foil to keep breasts warm.

  • deglaze pan with 1/2 or so of white wine (dry, oakey, stale, leftover from last night)

  • add chicken broth (about 1/2 cup?), finely chopped shallots, 1/2 the juice from the clementine and zest

  • boil and reduce. Whisk in thyme, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, remaining clementine juice and any needed spice.

  • cut chicken into slices, place and spoon sauce.

Easy and scrumptious! Now what to do with the leftover peel?

Here is what The Lilliputian Baking Company does with clementine peel. They candy it and sell it in cute lil jars at The Irwin Street Market.

You could either eat these sweet treats as is or dip in dark chocolate. Extra pieces would make an excellent garnish for the following recipe I found on

Chocolate Tart (photo from

For crust
Vegetable oil for greasing pan
5 ounces wheatmeal biscuits such as Carr's whole-wheat crackers, finely ground (1 1/3 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
2 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped

Special equipment: a 9- or 10-inch fluted round tart pan (1 inch deep) with a removable bottom; an instant-read thermometer

Make crust:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil tart pan.

Stir together biscuit crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl, then press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of tart pan. Bake crust 10 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack.

Make filling:
Lightly beat yolks in a small bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a 2-quart heavy saucepan and remove from heat. Add about one third of hot cream to yolks in a slow stream, whisking constantly, then pour yolk mixture into remaining cream, whisking.

Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it is thick enough to coat back of spoon and registers 170°F on thermometer, 1 to 2 minutes (do not let boil). Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate, whisking until smooth.

Pour filling evenly over crust and chill tart, uncovered, until firm, at least 2 hours. Remove side of pan and serve tart chilled or at cool room temperature.

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