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Halibut with oranges and salsa verde

In an effort to eat more low calorie foods and lose some weight before dress shopping for my daughter’s wedding, I have been trying to cut back on the pizza, pasta and pastries and focus on fish, fruit and flavors. (I am constantly sabotaging myself and Superbowl Sunday party foods didn’t help.) Since it’s citrus season, and I can’t seem to get enough of those luscious cara cara oranges and blood oranges, I combined them with a fish that I love to order when eating out — halibut. It’s always so expensive at the fish market, making it a relative bargain on a restaurant menu. But I couldn’t resist buying some when I saw it on sale last week, and a 3/4 pound piece was enough for the two of us. It provided the perfect foil for the oranges and the salsa verde. It couldn’t be much simpler to cook either. Just dry the fish thoroughly, sprinkle with salt and white pepper and place it skin side down in a hot skillet coated with oil. I didn’t use olive oil here since the heat is cranked way up, but rather chose canola oil. You could use peanut or safflower oil, which also have a high smoking point. The skin will start to crisp up, and eventually loosen from the pan. After about five minutes, lower the temperature of the burner.

You could flip the fish over and finish cooking on the other side, or even easier, just leave it skin side down and cover with a lid. It should finish cooking in just a couple of minutes.

While the fish is cooking (or before you even start cooking the fish), make the salsa verde, by finely mincing the parsley, dill, onion, capers and jalapeño. The jalapeño is optional, but I had some candied jalapeño in the pantry and I thought they would add a nice “zip” to the salsa.

Scatter the orange sections and salsa all around the fish.

Serve with some rice and vegetables for a colorful, healthy and easy to prepare dinner that’s fit for company or just you and your partner.

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Halibut with oranges and salsa verde
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¾ lb. - 1 lb. halibut
  • 2 tablespoons canola, safflower, peanut or other vegetable oil with a high smoking point
  • 2 oranges sectioned into supremes (I used one cara cara and one blood orange)
  • FOR THE SALSA VERDE:
  • ½ cup finely minced parsley
  • ½ cup finely minced dill
  • a couple of tablespoons finely minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • a couple of slices of candied or fresh jalapeno (optional)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper
  • juice that remains in the oranges after sectioning
Instructions
  1. Let the halibut sit on the counter for about a half hour to let it reach a temperature closer to the room temperature.
  2. It will cook more evenly if it's not cold from the refrigerator.
  3. Dry the piece (or pieces) of fish, then sprinkle with salt and white pepper.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet, then add the fish, skin side down.
  5. Cook at high heat until the skin starts to loosen from the pan.
  6. (Be patient - It will take five minutes or so and it will splatter a lot of oil on your stove).
  7. At this point, lower the heat slightly, and put a lid on the pan to finish cooking.
  8. It should take only a couple of minutes to finish cooking.
  9. While the fish is cooking, section the oranges and make the salsa verde.
  10. For the salsa, combine all the ingredients and stir with a fork.
  11. Remove the halibut from the pan, drizzle the salsa on the fish and around the sides, and scatter the orange sections all around.
 

Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake

This recipe, from Jamie Schler’s wonderful new cookbook “Orange Appeal,” is originally made with blood oranges, but I used Cara Cara oranges instead. They’re really my favorite variety of orange, and ok, I admit it, I inadvertently bought two large bags of them, thinking one was a bag of grapefruits. So aside from eating fresh oranges a few times a day, I’ve been experimenting with lots of orange recipes.

Truth be told, the first time I made this recipe, it was a flop. Not that it wasn’t edible. It was. But it had a peculiar shape, due to pilot error. I used a loaf pan that was too small and caused the following chain of events: batter spilling over the sides of the pan, leaving a hollow down the center of the cake; crispy, burned bits on the bottom of the oven; smoke billowing into the kitchen and a loud alarm sounding throughout the house.

Still, that didn’t deter me from trying again. I could tell it was going to be a good cake. And remember I had all those oranges to use up. So this time I followed Jamie’s advice and used the proper size loaf pan – 9″ x 5″ by 2 1/2″. I also followed the recipe exactly, since the first time I added the oil to all the liquid ingredients rather than at the very end. Alright, I did forget to pour the syrup over the cake, but it was wonderful all the same, especially with the glaze over the top.

See for yourself, or rather try it for yourself. But make sure to read the directions thoroughly and follow the recipe and above all, use the right size loaf pan. Otherwise, get your oven cleaner ready.

Blood Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups (7 ounces/195 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) unsweetened plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 blood oranges, zested (I used the zest of 2 large Cara Cara oranges)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
  • Blood Orange Syrup:
  • ⅓ cup blood orange juice (or any orange juice)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange juice
  • 1 cup (135 g) confectioners' sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Butter a standard 9 x 5 x 2½ inch or 8 cup loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and flour the pan.
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, zest, and vanilla until blended and smooth.
  4. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined and smooth.
  5. Fold the oil into the batter, a little at a time, until well-blended and no oil has collected around the edges of the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the center of the cake is moist, but set and a tested inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Prepare the orange syrup by placing the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat.
  8. Cook until warm and the sugar has completely dissolved and the liquid is clear. Set aside to cool slightly.
  9. When the cake is done, remove from the oven onto a cooling rack that has been placed on top of a large foil-lined baking sheet and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  10. Carefully loosen the cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges.
  11. Turn the cake out of the pan, discard the parchment paper, and then place the cake upright on the cooling rack.
  12. While the cake is still warm, pour and brush the warm syrup all over the top, allowing it to soak the loaf and run down the sides. Allow to cool completely.
  13. Prepare the glaze by stirring the orange juice into the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the glaze is smooth. The glaze should be thin enough to spoon or drizzle over the cake but just stiff enough that some of the glaze will cling to the sides.