A Selection of Citrus Fruits

Bitter or Sweet or Bittersweet is the song of the Citrus Fruits. Personally I can't imagine having Fish without either a bit of Lemon or Lime on a plate or Christmas without an Orange or a Mandarin, and January would loose its spring upon its steps for good year resolutions without Blood Oranges and Pink Grapefruits... But it must be my old fashion ways.

Fools' Garden Lemon Tree Song

I really do not remember the first Citrus Fruit I ever ate but it must have been a Mandarin/ Clementine/ Tangerine during Winter and the Christmas season. To this day I must confess that Mandarins and Oranges are always in my Fruit basket in Autumn and Winter, however that Lemons and Limes are seen in more abundance in Spring and Summer.


Sliced Oranges. Ready to be used.

In the morning, it is good to start with a fresh Orange Juice. I like a gentle zingy twist on Orange Juice with the simple addition of Lime Juice within it. It is refreshing.

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When I used to work for O2, I always had a small bottle of Tropicana smooth Orange Juice in my bag to drink on my way to work. It was a little bit of a get up and go.

Nowadays that the rush is no longer there, I do enjoy starting the day with half of a Grapefruit in the morning, preferably a pink, red or a Pomelo one. The addition of a spoonfull of Demerera Sugar sweetens the breakfast.

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Red Grapefruits, my favourites.

In terms of a quick Brunch, one can be had using Citrus Fruits, one I sometimes enjoy is far from glamourous but it is nutritious. It consists of making a Bruschetta. My choice of Bread to grill or toast is usually either Sourdough, Wholemeal or Pain de Campagne. It is to have the strong consistency but also that fulfilling rustic flavour as a base.

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Rye, Ale and Oats Bread, home made, rustic as per say, ideal for Bruschetta.

Now to prepare this little Brunch there are a few options or lets just things you can try out. The toasted or grilled slice of Bread is to be spread with a home made Herb Butter flavoured with Parsley, Chive, Garlic and Lemon Zest. Or you can also use a Cream Cheese with Herbs, home made or shop bought like Philadelphia.

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Making your own Butter is not that complicated. I do like having some Herbs Butter in jar in my fridges. Herbs Butter are tasty and a good way to preserve the Herbs of your Garden or pots.

After the layer of Butter or Cream Cheese, comes the one of a Fish Paté. The ones I do are either of Mackerel or of Sardines. They can also be of a different texture depending on the consistency I want during that day. It is like going all smooth and the blender way or going all rustic and going crush with the fork way... Both do work. I will say it is up to your taste but also your ability to eat at that moment in time. Sometimes I crave for the rustic style but if I want to feed myself on that particular day with something, it may have to go all smooth. It is the way it is.

Anyhow when you are making your Paté add your Citrus kick to it. I use the juice of half a Lemon usually, sometimes an entire one. It depends of how you want it to be elevated upon 'the scale of the Zing.' But it also depends on the size of the Lemon you are using.

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Our London Garden Lemon Tree. A simple source of joy. Zingy Zen.

Citrus Fruits work well with Fish. This is a fact. I would say especially Lemons and Limes do so. There is a dish with multiple variations called the Escabeche. It is well suited to benefit of the acidity of a Citrus Fruit and Wine. An Escabeche consists of a fillet of Fish with a marinade of some sort and Vegetables usually cuts in a Julienne style or matchsticks size. It makes a refreshing Lunch in Summer.

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 Asian Style Mackerel Escabeche served with Lime and Lime Juice. A dash of Rice Wine was added.

When we think upon the multiple uses of Citrus Fruits one can think of Tea Time. Personally I do enjoy a cup Lady Grey Tea. The flavour of Lemon Peel and Orange Peel within it give it a nice note to the palate. I serve it black with a slice of Lemon and a little drizzle of Orange Blossom Flower Honey. 

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The choice of a Honey does add to the Tea Time experience. A honey Bee upon my Garden Flowers.

In respect to Tea, one I do drink a lot especially when trying to recover from a cold or a flu is Lemon and Ginger Tea with Manuka Honey. I tried different brands but the one I am most happy with in terms of taste and balance is the one done by Pukka. It does soothe a sore throat.


Alice in Wonderland. One can only wonder how many Tea parties the Author Lewis Caroll attended during his time.

There is something joyous and at the same time comforting about Tea Time. It can be a 'Me' time: nearly the end of the day therefore I can relax a little. Or it can be convivial so a moment for sharing, Tea, Cakes, Pies, Biscuits but also gossips of the day or week around a table with Friends, Family or Guests. It can be conventional or not, but throwing a Tea Party is usually entertaining.

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Home Made Key Lime Pie.

In terms of Citrus Fruits as an Ingredient, my confession to make is that I love them in Savoury Food but also in Sweet Food very much indeed. In the three Muffins I enjoy the most is the Lemon and Poppy Seeds one (the other two being the Blueberry one and the Chocolate one). In the Cakes, again it is one with Citrus Fruits which makes it to my top three with the Lemon drizzle Cake. Speaking of Pies and Tarts, the Key Lime Pie and the Lemon Tart are also some of my favourites.


 Orange Cocktails.

This is I guess when your palate, taste buds prefer Bittersweet. But I will have to mention here of how refreshing something done with a Citrus Fruit is. Let us just say Lemonade, Limonade and a lot of Cocktail are mixed with the zingy juice of a Citrus Fruit. Because it just hit the right notes in the palate and makes it swing.

The Booty Swing by Stelar


Lemons Selection and Products
A Selection of Oranges
A Selection of Grapefruits
A Selection of Lime in its various forms.

Dare I say that one of the first things I did learn to cook was a Fried Egg. My ones are always sunny side up. I also like them a little crispy around the edges to know that the white has been rendered properly. But the Eggs still need to have that exquisite runny yellow yolk at the centre to run free upon the plate. It is a little magical moment of bliss: A little like singing along to the song "My favourite things" from the Sound of Music Film with Julie Andrews.


The Breakfast Fry Up with fried Bread, Bacon and Eggs. It is simple yet fulfilling. It is the fuel to start the day or at least one's day. An Egg takes roughly four to five minutes to fry depending on its size, sometimes more, sometimes less.

There is one thing I will confess, which is, to like a Fried Egg with rough edges. When they are done within a ring or device so they do look neat, I think it kills the charm of the good old Egg coming from a proper Farm, from a Farm where the Chicken are roaming outdoors. My Grand Parents (RIP) lived most of their lives in Bourg en Bresse and there in the Bresse area of France the Chicken graze the grass, the green green grass, and you can taste the difference with the Chicken from a battery Chicken and from a Farm Egg from a battery Egg.


A Poulet de Bresse, de Bourg en Bresse, happy roaming in a field of clovers.

There are a variety of Eggs to be pan fried but being rather conventional I tend to stay in the realm of Chicken Eggs. However I venture very often in the kingdom of the rich Duck Egg with that bountiful dark yellow Yolk. If I do poach a Duck Egg more than I do fry it, I am still doing it often for the ratio between the white and the yolk. There is less white in a Duck Egg. The star there is truly and simply the luscious Yolk. A Duck Egg is full of proteins and different vitamins which is a plus. 


 Duck Eggs are of course larger than Hen's Eggs. 

If Duck Eggs may be harder to get because they are not the normal standard Egg, they are still worth the while to have and eat. The Fried Duck Egg add a touch of luxury upon an Easter Breakfast of Grilled Asparagus, and Shaved Truffles. Garnish with a little Chives, Black Pepper and Sea Salt as a finish then now we are talking simply of very simple lush Brunch.


Pan Fried Duck Egg upon Chips served with a good dollop of Lemon Mayonnaise, seasonned and garnished with chopped Parsley. This is a satisfying simple Lunch.

However I tried my hand to cook Quail Eggs as well. Sometimes it was successful and sometimes it was not. Is it that they are too small for my clumsy fingers...? Or is it that the matter of time is seriously reduced when cooking them? Hence you do need to keep an eye upon the clock and upon the Egg. This is a balancing act which one might crack: May it be the Quail Egg or you with a smile upon your face? But Fried Quail Eggs are quaint and definitely suitable to create Canapés and Appetizers.


Home Made Crostinis with Fried Quail Eggs topped with red Herrring Roe. It is simple and a rustic Canapé to be enjoyed.

They are plenty of ways to taste Fried Quail Eggs. I would say they are dainty but nice; that it is a taste the difference matter. Fried Quail Eggs can make a Bruschetta sing a little bit more for a nice Brunch or even Starter for Dinner time. With very little imagination, you can cover your Olive Oil oven toasted slice of Bread (Sourdough, Ciabatta or Baguette), with a Cream Cheese which is seasoned with added Ingredients of your choice (Chilli Flakes or a little pinch of Cayenne Pepper or a little Chive, or a little Dill, or a little shredded Basil, or a little chopped and roasted Garlic). On top of the whisked Cream Cheese, you can build a layer with a cured or smoked Ham (Prosciutto, Serrano, Parma Ham...even Bacon rashers). But you can also use Fish freshly cooked, smoked or cured. Then add your fried Quail Egg on top. This is an all so simple treat.


 Mini Pesto Pizza with mini Mozzarella Balls, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Fried Quail Eggs. It can make a nice Starter to an Italian theme Dinner.

Now there is something with most of Eggs you can do to fry them: It is the Scotch Egg. The recipe dates from a long time ago the 1800 plus so has evolved to be ever so different. The principle of it reside, in covering an Egg with Minced Meat then to bread the result in order to Fry it. Initially it was called the scortch Egg because it was fried but enclosed. However it became the Scotch Egg in the end. The history says that it was because Scotland was a big producer of Eggs. 


Scotch Eggs can be very dry but to have a runny yolk centre is part of the pleasure with them.

They can make a good Brunch or Lunch. Scotch Eggs are not as per say fanciful however you have a room to play there in term of cookery. Which Egg you are going to use? A Hen Egg, a large Duck Egg or a small Quail Egg...?

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Quail Scotch Eggs Salad. You can do it with Lambs Lettuce or Pea Shoots. Serve it with or without Pancetta or Lardons.  Decorate the plate with edible Flowers like Viola. A simple French dressing can accompany everything even some chopped woodland Mushrooms to give the feel of Autumn to the plate.

Then with which minced Meat you are going to wrap your Egg? A spiced Mince most certainly, it could be Sausage Meat, Lamb Mince, Beef Mince, Turkey Mince but it can also be from a Fish as well like a Smoked Salmon or Trout.

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Salmon Mousse Scotch Quail Eggs served with pickled Radishes, Lamb Lettuce and Tartare Sauce.

It can be with Black Pudding, or the stuffing for Haggis... There you have the tools to make your Scotch Egg special. Seasoning the Breadcrumbs also does play a part in the entire making of a Scotch Egg. The result of your combinations usually makes a satisfying Lunch or Starter.

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 Black Pudding Scotch Eggs on a bed of peppery Rocket Salad dressed with a grain Mustard Vinaigrette: A Lunch that is packing a punch on a plate.

Speaking of Eggs there is of course the Eggy Bread. It is also called French Toast, French Fried Bread, Pain Perdu, Gypsy Bread. The concept comes from an old tradition to not loose Bread at any cost. Even if the Bread becomes old and stale, you can revive it with a source of life which is the Egg and another Ingredient which nurtures life which is Milk. Hence the Eggy Bread was born. Then it can become a Dish in itself or a base for either Savoury Dishes or Sweet Ones.


Eggy Bread Toasts. The principle relies on mixing Eggs and Milk together in order to revive the Bread. Soaking the Bread, usually overnight (in the old days) then Frying it made it all better.

You can turn the Eggy Bread savoury for a full Brunch experience, like with a Croque Monsieur with Ham and Cheese or a Croque Madame with the addition of the Fried Egg. The Croque Monsieur is in effect a Sandwich but a Fried one. It is a bang bang two slices of fried Bread, enclosing a decent slice of Ham and a Cheese with quality of the like of Gruyére or Emmental or Comté Cheese. A Mustard Sauce is usually applied to perk up everything. It could be Dijon Mustard whisked up with a little Mayo. But the result is licking fingers delish... The history of the Croque Monsieur dates from the 1800's. 

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The Croque Monsieur in all its glorious lushness. Before becoming a Bistro or Gastro Pub Treat, it was seen, regarded as a Gentleman's Club Treat.

From the Croque Monsieur to the Croque Madame there are only a few differences. The main one is the addition of the fried Egg on the Croque Madame. The Egg is meant to represent a Lady's wide brimmed hat. Another difference is that the Sauce Béchamel which can be used for the Croque Monsieur can be élévated to the Sauce Mornay for the Croque Madame. The little stamp is the inclusion of Cheese within the Sauce. The Sauce was créated by Philippe de Mornay who also créated the Sauce Béchamel back in the 1500's.

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 Croque Madame. Croque in French means to actually bite into something that has a crunch: Hence Fried Eggy Bread with a difference. 

Then you do have the Croque Mademoiselle: it is an evolution or a variation as per say of the original Croque Monsieur juste like the Croque Madame is a variation as well. This time the main difference is the inclusion of Vegetables within the 'Croque'. It can be totally vegetarian or a bit of a mix. It could be made with the essential Eggy Bread slices but also with sandwiched in between Asparagus, Parma Ham and Parmesan. It could be made with fried Courgettes, melted Mozzarella, Oregano and Espelette Chilli. It is up to the inspiration of the moment. The Croque Mademoiselle is a volatile fried Sandwich. To be blunt it is up to anyone's interpretation apart that it does need to contain a green Veg: Cucumber, Zucchini, Asparagus... For it is the Veg option out of all the Croques.

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Croque Mademoiselle with layers of fried Aubergines, Courgettes, roasted Red Sweet Bell Pepped, Cottage Cheese served with a fried Egg on top just like a Croque Madame. It had a Med Feel to it.

French Toast are not all savoury for some are sweet as well. Different combinations are there to be appreciated. A favourite one is served with fresh Berries: Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries... but also with a Jam or Preserve or Compote which could be made with Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries and the Eggy Bread will be accompanied with Custard. It is a yummy number.

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Eggy Bread with Berries. It can be a small tea time treat but it is still special. Another version is made with dried Apricot and fresh ones, (It could be done with Nectarines and Peaches too). The addition of Apricot Jam traditionally done with Almond kernels renders everything lush. Toasted Almonds can add to the decoration in that case.

Similarly Bruschetta is a toasted slice of Bread usually it will be made with Pain de Campagne, Sourdough Bread, Ciabatta or Baguette as a base. The slice will be rubed with Garlic but also dipped in Olive Oil. Then it can be fried within a frying Pan or grilled. The toppings of the Bruschetta are up to you. The traditional ones are with chopped Tomatoes. But additional Ingredients can be added like Basil and, or Organo for Herbs, Capers and, or Olives for a little saltiness, even Anchovies could be considered. Chopped Preseved Lemon could be considered as well. Another combination is the chopped Tomatoes, chopped roasted Sweet Bell Peppers, crispy Shallots with the addition of Mozzarella Pearls or even a little slice or cubed Goat Cheese. 


Tomato and Sweet Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta with Basil and a little grated Parmesan. It can be a simple Brunch, an Appetizer or a Starter/Entrée. The addition of Kalamata Olives, or Olives stuffed with Anchovies can bring this Bruschetta to another level.

Concerning Dough you do have plenty which we do Fry which are sweet. During my childhood one of my favourites treats were the Croustillons. They came by 6, the dozen or 24. It was just little balls of Dough fried then sugared. They were ever so nice. We could have them and share between us three kids only on the Thursday and Saturday at the Market in Cherbourg. I can tell you that we were looking out for that Van and the Croustillons. They are from Northern Europe especially the coastal areas, from Holland, Belgium and France. 


Croustillons are like mini Donuts.

Then there is of course the Doughnut also spelled Donut. It feels like Homer Simpson dreaming of Donuts. I must confess to be partial to Sugared Ring Doughnuts. Although I am not a sweet tooth Fried Dough does it for me. For Tyn he loves his Jam Doughnuts. The matter of fact is that Doughnuts are versatile as per say as you can top them up the way you want to but also fill them up the way you like.


Sugared Ring Doughnuts. One Treat I can't escape from.

In France, a similar Fried Dough is called Beignet. They come in different shapes filled up or not. A Popular one is the Apple Beignet: Le Beignet aux Pommes. My Mum used to do them usually on the Saturday afternoon. It was a treat especially since Oil was expensive, it was important to do the most of it. Hence Fritters (Beignets) were the way to go. Beignets (Fritters) are dipped in French culture and the Italian one but also in the USA, from Louisiana (which was colonised by the French back in the days). It goes with the flow. 

The fillings for Beignets or Fritters are rather varied. Apple is a very popular one coming from areas in France who produces a lot of Apples like Normandy. Pineapple Fritters have their origins from Asian countries like Indonesia (Indochina). French colonists can be blamed for it as well. Then in the Créole Cuisine there are the Banana or, and Plantain Beignets/Fritters.