Winter Citrus, Revisited. Again.

by Matt on January 17, 2013


There’s really not much left I can say about citrus. Particularly, how I feel about citrus. I’ve talked about it for years via my annual citrus round-up, and if I had my way I’d probably write a whole damn cookbook on citrus fruit. I totally would.

Matt-Armendariz-Citrus-Ring-550I think I’ve run out of words to describe the fruits of the Rutaceae family; I’ve used all the zippy and zings, tangy and tarts to last a lifetime. Besides, do you really need me to tell you what a lemon tastes like? Um, no. I’m pretty sure just about everyone knows what they taste like and how indispensible they are to cooking.  In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a cuisine that doesn’t include citrus in one way or another.

To me, it’s that citric acid that makes food come alive, but it also doesn’t need to knock you over, either. It can add balance to a dish, cause a chemical reaction, preserve, intensify and enchance, and it’s also an equal opportunity ingredient, happy in both sweet and savory dishes. To me it’s one of life’s absolutely perfect things.

So how have we been enjoying these beauties at our place? In so many ways. I thought it’d be fun to put together a few suggestions for all those lemons and limes that are their peak right now. Oh, and grapefruit and tangerines. And kumquats and tangelos. And, and…




As luck would have it, one plentiful lime tree stands smack dab in the middle of our new yard. We moved just in time to become intoxicated by the lime flower blossoms (and if you’ve ever need proof as to whether miracles exist, lean in and smell that tiny mighty flower). The blossoms gave way to fruit, so much fruit! It seems like I couldn’t give the limes away fast enough, but being the resourceful guy that I am, I opted for a giant batch of margaritas. You can keep your neon-gree fake mixes, thankyouverymuch. A real margarita could not be easier, nor more satisfying. It goes like this: lime juice, a fantastic tequila, simple syrup or any orange-flavored liqueur like triple sec or Cointreau. I’ve been known to skip the last ingredient, which is just fine if you ask me.



We recently finished an assignment for Food & Wine Magazine, and one tempura recipe included in the shot list used tempura-battered lemon slices. We were all so collectively bowled over by what happens to a battered and deep-fried lemon – it’s more amazing than you’d think! Incorporating that premise into snacktime yielded these chips with fried lemon slices tucked throughout.  You’ll want beer to enjoy with these things (they’re simply dipped in tapioca flour and fried), and if you need more zing, simply spring with an equal blend of lemon or lime zest and salt. Easy.



Oh my sweet Paloma, you are a beautiful thing, aren’t you? You make me wish I lived on a grapefruit plantation. And while this Mexican cocktail is usually served with Mexican grapefruit soda and tequila, I’m going straight to the source by mixing fresh grapefruit juice, sparkling water, along with plenty of simple syrup and crushed ice. And good tequila. Fly away, Paloma!

Update: About a day after this post went live a box of Texas Rio Star Grapefruit arrived on my doorstep. Can I tell you how amazing they are? I plan on remaking a batch of Palomas with the sweet juice of these grapefruits, which I learned are only grown in Texas. Thanks for sending, Kymberly, and hugs to everyone back in Texas!



Oh, this is cheating. Ok, let’s not be so harsh. This is doctoring.  Which I’m not opposed to doing if it’s easy, delicious, and let me bring more flavor to the party. In this case, a few teaspoons of fresh lime juice and garlic added to bottled sweet chilI sauce makes an excellent dipping sauce for grilled shrimp and squid. OH AND LOOK, THESE THINGS ARE ON STICKS! I wonder what gave me that idea. I really do.

Oh, and don’t forget squeezes of fresh lime before serving!



You may know the Vietnamese condiment made from fish sauce, sugar, chiles and lime juice as the umami-rich dipping sauce of spring rolls, bánh xèo and bánh bèo, among other things. But this FREAKING MAGIC SAUCE (yes, emphasis mine) makes an appearance at our house all the time. ALL THE TIME. Especially when meat like slow roasted pork, flank steak or grilled chicken are on the menu. I use Andrea’s recipe all the time, which can be found here.

But I don’t usually stop there. I’ll add tiny amounts to a bowl of beans, sprinkle it over pasta, and even add it to my guacamole. It’s my fave.



Juice + eggs + sugar + butter + heat = curd. And it’s fantastic on just about everything. Cakes, scones, cakes, you name it. In this case Adam made these beautiful little citrus curd meringue tarts and well, they disappeared. INTO MY MOUTH. A very easy little shell was blind baked and cooled, then filled with lemon curd and topped with meringue.  A quick torch to brown the peaks of meringue came next, and then some blackberries finished it off. Tart, sweet, buttery, berry, oh lord these things didn’t stand a chance.



Oh really, this cannot be easier. All you need is time and a few ingredients. And thanks to Pim for the inspiration for this: simmer covered kumquats in water and sugar and a little vanilla bean and a dash of salt for about 2 hours, then uncover and reduce so that you’re left with an amazing citrus syrup. That is all. Seriously. The fruit turn soft and delicious, losing any bitterness they may have had from the long soak. Enjoy the kumquats on dark chocolate cake, on a cheesecake, or along with the syrup over vanilla ice cream.

Alrighty my friends, what’s your favorite thing to do with citrus? I’d love to know! I’m thinking 2014 already!


{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Neel January 17, 2013 at 11:09 am

Beautiful images. Awesome as always. That light blue background is magical.

The Culinary Chase January 17, 2013 at 11:47 am

Matt, I am drooling over these photos! Love the tempura-fried lemon slices – very clever. :)

Debbie C January 17, 2013 at 11:59 am

Hi Matt,
I found your site through your interview on Dave Leb’s blog. Love your photos, esp the first ones of the citrus fruits, beautiful!

Averie @ Averie Cooks January 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

What an awesome post, Matt! The images, the pops of awesome color, the fun recipes…tempura-battered lemon slices. Wow, I want to try one! Just everything about this post is inspiring. Makes the lemon bars I just made sound boring with all your fun ideas!

Amanda Skiba January 17, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Matt, I just love, love, love citrus! Now I have to try fried lemons and potato chips and a Paloma… who would think to put fried lemons with potato chips! Beautiful photos that make me want to go make each one of these recipes! :)
My dad lives in Ventura and I live in freezing Northern Nevada, he will send me Meyer Lemons from his garden and I always make lemon curd out of them!

Willow January 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm

I’m swooning over every single one of these, Matt! I also love winter citrus, but this year I haven’t used it much… which makes me sad. I did make some out-of-this-world blueberry & lemon ricotta pancakes, though!

I think I might just need to whip me up one of those Paloma’s – never even heard of that drink, but man does it sound good! :)

Kristina January 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I leave out that last ingredient in margaritas also… and maybe add more fantastic tequila in place… and I love a good paloma!

oh, Matt – PLEASE write a whole book of citrus! I would soak. it. up.

Gerry @ Foodness Gracious January 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm

I came over from reading your interview with David Lebovitz which I thought was fantastic. Great and truly quite simple advice which I lapped up!

Aunt Clara January 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Oh mine! What a beautiful post, the images are absolutely beautiful, not to mention that the foods are totally tempting.

Please write a book on citrus. Come to think of it, write a book about anything, we can never have enough Matt in our lives.

Debra Earnest January 17, 2013 at 11:58 pm

Hi Matt, just wanted to say the photos are just beautiful.Just wished we had taste-a-vision.You are just wonderful love the article also…….

Shelly January 18, 2013 at 1:57 am

My local produce stand here (Tunisia) is awash with citrus, and trucks line the streets overflowing with just picked fruit. Bergamot oranges, blood oranges, kumquats, lemons, pomelo, grapefruit, juice oranges, orange maltaise, sevilles, I could go on. This is my FAVORITE season around these parts, but I would kill for a few limes…..Trade?

marla January 18, 2013 at 4:04 am

Everything about this citrusy post is POPPING!! Stunning styling, brilliant photography & FUN recipes. I am pinning every photo & sharing on FB ~ thanks for being such an inspiration for great taste :)

John January 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

Matt, your photography is just amazing! Everything looks so fresh and appetizing. I enjoy your writing as well. Love the humor punctuating everything you write. Keep up the great work – Cheers!

Crunch a Color January 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

Sunshine on a dreary winter day! These recipes look so refreshing. My kids and I just blended up a granita made with Satsuma mandarin oranges. Clementines couldn’t come close to the color and taste of Satsuma. Thanks for the inspiration.

Amber January 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

Oh joy! You so perfectly capture the spirit of these fruits. They speak to my happy place this way, too. I love how you can capture such bright colors in such a perfect expression of glee, without your photos feeling spazzy (which is what happens when I try–which is why I will be reading your book post haste). Thanks, as always, for the inspiration!

Mary January 18, 2013 at 11:32 am

Awesome Pictures and food ideas! Can’t wait to try them. FYI! when I clicked on the link a survey came up saying you were trying to get a better feel for your clientele? So, I naturally was like okay I will take the survey. The questions started by asking my age, then hair type, then another hair question which I clicked out of the survey!

Andrea Nguyen January 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

Thanks for the thoughtful photos and post, Matt. I’m flattered that my li’l nuoc cham dipping sauce is part of your repertoire. Happy New Year!

Jo-Anne January 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Nice! All of it – descriptions, photos – everything. Now I’m hungry!

Laura Dembowski January 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm

I love citrus and would be the first in line to buy your citrus cookbook if it ever gets written. I love them all, but honeybells are my favorite.

Lizzy (Good Things) January 19, 2013 at 4:25 am

Whenever I am out of lemons or limes, I feel at odds and ends. Happy to report that I’m now growing two limes (including a kaffir lime) and two lemons (including a Meyer) in pots on my porch. Can barely wait for the fruit to ripen!

All of your citrus suggestions above look wonderful… how about those fried lemons! And, yes please, to the margarita.

Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough January 19, 2013 at 8:00 am

Oooo I want to eat and drink this entire post through the screen (especially those margs…)! YUM.

CJ at Food Stories January 19, 2013 at 8:55 am

Love your citrus roundup – especially the fried lemons :-)

Yvette ~ Muy Bueno January 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Fly away to me Palomo. Oh how I love thee! All the photos are gorgeous but that Paloma is calling my name ;)

Emma January 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

Wow! I have just discovered your blog and it’s amazing. Stunning photography. I will be trying out some of your ideas at home. Please check out the food blog I have just started Thanks!

Matt January 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thank you so much John! Thank you thank you!

Matt January 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Oh Marla, I LOVE YOU!

Matt January 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Shelly, can I please come to Tunisia? I’ll bring plenty of limes :)

Matt January 20, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Thank you Emma! I’d be happy to check out your site, thank you!

Vi January 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Nuoc cham and guacamole?! How bizarre, and yet a strangely alluring idea. I can imagine sprinkling some fried shallots on top too ;) yum. Other things I love with citrus fruits: blood orange sodas, citrus + honey dressings and marinades, sangrias, Vietnamese salted lemonade or kumquat lemonade. Thanks for this list! Great ideas.

Donna Khoo January 24, 2013 at 2:34 am

Great blog – so happy I stumbled upon it.


shelly January 24, 2013 at 10:49 pm

GOD you’re good!

Rhonda January 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I have professed and confessed my love of all things lemony, and citrus-y forever. The only thing that outweighs it, is my love for all things cheesy (including jokes and sentiments).

Can you imagine someone like me looking at this post? It’s almost too much to bear. At the very least I am having a paloma tonight. On my menu this week is a glazed grapefruit salad. I’m currently writing an article on lemonade and it’s variations so everyday is a new lemonade. Oh the joy of citrus. I could go on and on and share all my little citrus concoctions, but I’ll spare you.

I’ll be coming back to this post over and over for my citrus fixes.

Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 12:18 pm

I’m here via the rabbit-hole of David Lebovitz and Adam Roberts…and I just shared your blog with our staff photographer. Boy, is he gonna LOVE me!

Also, Bossman makes margaritas with fresh lemon juice, tequila, and tripe sec. So, so worth the extra time to squeeze ‘em fresh. Try lemons next time!

Grow Citrus January 31, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Matt yes please do write a whole cookbook on citrus fruit full of your fabulous recipes and photos.

Pej January 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm

What a great art works. I love them. Im working as a editor of cooking magazine in Iran & want to say the photos are huge…

Emma February 17, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Stunning photography. I love citrus fruits. I am very happy to have found your blog. Thank you for visiting Thanks!

shelley March 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm

it’s official: i can stop eating entirely, and live on your photos!

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