While citrus maybe refreshingly associated with hot summers, an entire family of citrus fruits including different varieties of oranges and grapefruits are abundantly available in the market during the winter. I asked a person at the fruit section of my local store if citrus was in fact seasonal to the winter, and if so, why? He wasn’t sure why but he did agree about the seasonality. There are at least two culinary books organized by the seasons, one written by an acclaimed chef and another by an acclaimed preserve-maker that feature citrus prominently in recipes seasonal for winter, and sometimes only for winter.
Dessert creams are usually associated with being chill, and so my first encounter with the warm and foamy Italian cream, zabaglione, during winter, always stands out. As does my memory of eating grapefruits for the first time in the US, which unlike other citrus fruits, originated in the West, and is widely cultivated in the US.
Here’s a method to make a grapefruit zabaglione:
Calvados or any good brandy
Use about one-half to three-quarter part sugar to one part egg yolk. Beat eggs and sugar until smooth and creamy using a wooden spatula. Add a good mix of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and brandy, or just use brandy. Whisk continuously over a low flame using a curved bottom pan, or a double-boiler making sure the eggs don’t coagulate to form lumps. Adjust heat accordingly, or take pan off-heat frequently while whisking until a warm, creamy foam is obtained. Serve warm and as is or over freshly cut grapefruit.
The concept of cooking egg yolks with wine dates back to 14th century France1, and is also seen in 15th century England and Italy1 although whipping this mixture to incorporate air bubbles as it is being cooked seems to be a much later development appearing at least in a 1927 French cookbook. The zabaglione is one of the few if not only dessert that uses warm egg yolks as opposed to the whites to trap air as bubbles in order to create a foam.
With or without bubbles, Happy New Year!
1. On food and cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen by Harold McGhee