Thursday, January 29, 2009

Year of the Ox

So up until last year I didn't know much about Chinese New Year except that I am year of the rat - thanks to Chinese restaurant's zodiac place mats. But since I now work for a Chinese company a whole new light has been shed. I have to say I still don't know that much about all the festivities, mythology, or superstitions, but I am pretty sure it is way cooler than the American version of New Years. What has been most interesting to me about CNY is the food! While clicking through one of my favorite blogs (The Kitchn) I saw a recipe for Blood Orange Jelly Smiles. Now I have to admit that while reading the instructions I knew this would be quite a process, but the results seemed worth it. They looked so pretty and glossy - plus they are healthy and it has opened a gateway for other jelly possibilities. It only takes 6 oranges and 1 packet of unflavored gelatin. No, I didn't get a vegetarian version of gelatin - I can't be perfect all the time. Agar is an Asian gelatin substitute that is made from seaweed. (The perfect time to use it would be in this recipe - oh well). Here are some pictures of the process.

In the instructions it says to be very careful about not puncturing the skin. You have to be gentle, I stabbed a couple innocent oranges by accident. I decided to use my handy wooden reamer from Fishs Eddy (my fav dish ware store). It did the trick, but I then used a small spoon to gently scoop out the rest of the flesh after I had squeezed the majority of the juice out. I got them as clean as possible, but I am not going to lie - it was a little time consuming and I think I had carpal tunnel by the end.

I only added a small pinch of sugar to the orange juice. I probably would add more next time. Blood oranges are more tart than navel oranges (read below for some additional info on blood oranges). I ended up with 1.5 cups of juice. Unfortunately, that was not enough to fill all the orange halves. I had 12 and only filled 8. Maybe next time I will be more persistent with the juicer. After the jellies solidified I trimmed the edges and sliced into wedges. Overall, the jelly oranges look beautiful, but next time I might just use a regular navel or a tangerine for a better flavor.

Note on blood oranges - taken from one of my favorite books Starting With Ingredients by Aliza Green. Page 657 states:

"The mutation which produced the blood orange's ruby red color probably arose in the seventeenth century in Sicily. The best-known varieties include the round, early-season Moro, and the midseason Tarocco (named for its resemblance to a child's toy), and the highly prized Sanguinaccio. These small to medium-sized fruits with moderate amounts of seeds have tangy juice that is concentrated in flavor and body. Blood oranges are imported from Mediterranean countries and are now also grown in California. They are in season from California mid-December through mid-April."


  1. Dear Samantha,

    Hi, I found your blog very interesting. Your blood oranges looked beautiful.


  2. while oranges may be easier, you cant beat that blood-orange color, sooo pretty.