Tag Archives: Orange

Cuties – California Mandarins (Tangerine Tabouli)

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Cuties - California Mandarins, or Clementines, or Tangerines?
Cuties – California Mandarins, or Clementines, or Tangerines?

“So, what are you going to do with all those?”

…Carole asked, looking at the bag of little Cuties, as we tidied up the kitchen from the cookie making. “I dunno,” I answered. She told me that she’d used some in a chicken couscous dish the night before.

I just love miniature things – like the littlest star cookies we’d just made – and small plates for an entire dinner, and the little cutlery we set to go with them.  And, the mini ravioli I put into broth for a quick soup. And, miniature carrots and squashes. And, my little Mom. 

So, a bag of these of California mandarins (or clementines, or tangerines, or whatever they are called) are just too tempting not for me to get at least once in the season.

Promiscuous Fruit

Kevin West, in his gorgeous and encyclopedic Saving the Season:  a cook’s guide to home canning, pickling, and preserving, says, 

“Left to their own devices, citrus hybridize easily, even rampantly. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, and the rest–in fact all 1,036 varieties housed at the Citrus Variety Collection and untold others growing around the world–descended from just three primordial ancestors.” Those ancestors are the pomelo, the citron, and a primordial mandarin orange.

Whatever their heritage and this year’s name, I love their sweet taste and their low calories.

Using those Cuties

California Mandarins
California Mandarins

I like to include a bowl of peeled clementines at a happy hour spread, since they go so nicely with cheese, or crackers, or just by themselves.

They can always brighten up a drink, too. Last night, my husband Mark tossed a few into my white wine spritzer. Yum. 

And, of course, you can use their juice in a vinaigrette, instead of lemon  or vinegar. 


Tangerine Tabouli

Tangerine Tabouli with Sunny Mexican Chicken
Tangerine Tabouli with Sunny Mexican Chicken

I already had planned making Sunny Mexican Chicken for dinner. I wanted to make something light to go with that.

When Carole mentioned couscous, I thought of the multi-color quinoa I saw yesterday in my cupboard. (All my grains  are on the same shelf.)

I had a bunch of curly parsley, and another of scallions. An avocado on the counter had just gotten to perfect ripeness.

With the Cuties instead of tomatoes and lemons, with the quinoa instead of bulgar wheat, with the avocado instead of any feta cheese, and a few other seasonings, I’d have a Californian/South American version of tabouli: Tangerine Tabouli.

Mark said it was the first time he’d really liked quinoa.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Bad Tech Day Remedy: Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (GF)

“Did you seriously just stamp your foot? I thought girls only did that on TV.” Stephenie Meyer, Eclipse

Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free)

I was having a bad tech day on Sunday…

…caught between WordPress and MailChimp, with changes not publishing, pictures not uploading. And, then when I finally got the email sent, I saw that I’d misspelled a word. (At least I can always update the online version.)

It’s a good thing that my mother was over while I was working. In between my efforts to get the technology to work (saying words that no one should say in front of her mother, but she sat calmly and silently next to me),  we enjoyed an episode of Poirot,  ate vegetable curry and chocolate ice cream, had a few laughs over nothing. 

I’d been up since early morning, and not slept soundly, anyway. I felt like I’d been driving for hours by the time I got back from taking Mom home. Mark was still on the golf course. Should I take a nap? Take a walk? Have a cup of tea? What I really felt like doing was playing in the kitchen, discovering something new. So, I did.

Discovering Gluten-Free Orange Almond Mini-Muffins

Remember those Parmesan, Lemon, and Rosemary Mini-Muffins that I made for Christmas Eve? I’d use that recipe as the starting point (love that size), and go from there.  Besides, I still had some of the buttermilk, and it wasn’t going to last much longer.

But, now that it’s January, I wanted to make something a little healthier, even if it has carbs — less fat (“Good-bye, cheese!”), gluten-free (“Good-bye, all-purpose flour!”) — with just a little sweetness (“Good-bye, pepper!”) .

I’d use juice and all the zest from a Palm Springs orange (“Thanks, Mark and Emily!”) and keep with the 1 teaspoon sugar from the savory version. Inflate the orange flavor by using Fresh Blood Orange Olive Oil, and maybe some of the candied orange peel that Emily made , soaked in the orange juice (OK, so that’s more sugar…).

Making it Gluten-Free

If I take out the all-purpose flour, I’ll need something else besides the cornmeal for bulk and structure (that’s what gluten gives). I had a bag of coconut flour, plus some almond meal left over from some turkey burgers I’d made a few months ago.

But, when I added it to the bowl of cornmeal and coconut flour, I couldn’t tell whether those dark bits were almond skin or some kind of critter, so I tossed it all out and started again. Better to have a fresh bag of almond meal or to grind my own in the coffee grinder that I keep only for herbs and spices, which is what I did. Besides, that gives some nice, bigger, crunchy bits, too, for texture.

I also find that “gluten-free” can often mean “moisture-free”, making dense little stones that are healthy only because you don’t eat them. I wanted these to be delicious, too. So, I doubled the eggs to bring moisture and structure, plus boost leavening… or so I hoped.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Just a couple of bites…

By the time Mark got home, the muffins were out of the oven cooling and the kitchen was nearly cleaned up. He was ready for a taste, having smelled then from the elevator.

I was totally de-stressed and refreshed… how I love working out a culinary mystery! It’s so centering, working with my inner and outer senses, the physicality of it all. And, the best part is, you get to eat it!

Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Mini-Muffins for Freezer

Mark and I each had one and they passed the test.

I put the rest in the freezer. For full details, see Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free).

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Orange Almond Mini Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free)
Orange Almond Mini-Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Makes about 36 muffins


Dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup whole raw almonds, ground to a meal
  • 1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Wet ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Fresh Blood Orange or D’Luscious Lemon Olive Oil, or extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • Optional – 1 -2 Tablespoons candied orange peel, broken up and soaked in orange juice

Preparation (Chef's hat)Preparation

1 – Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C). Line three 12-cup mini muffin tins with mini paper cups, OR, if non-stick baking tins, spray each cup well with coconut oil.

2 – If using candied orange peel, break it up and let it soak in the orange juice.

3 – In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients thoroughly.

4 – In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.

5 – Stir in the wet ingredients to the dry, just until mixed.

6 – Using a 1-Tablespoon scoop, filled level, or two tablespoons, fill each cup, taking care to wipe away any drips from around the cups.

7 – Bake at 350˚F (180˚C) for 15 – 17 minutes (or until just firm), rotating tins within the oven racks halfway through baking.

8 – Remove from oven and let cool in tins for 5 minutes. Serve warm or cool.

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com

©2016 Barbara Newton-Holmes

Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Happy New Year!

For Orange Agave Gin Fizz
For Orange Agave Gin Fizz


Gwen, my friend Barbara’s daughter, kindly brought us back a bottle of Agave Syrup from Rancho La Puerta.


I’d never used it before, but I knew that it is a natural sweetener, from the sap of the same cactus that tequila is made from. It hasbeen used in traditional medicine since Aztec times for dressing wounds and as a balm for skin infections.

Today, it is getting more popular in the US as a healthy and vegan sweetener, an alternative to processed sugar that’s about 1 1/2 times as sweet — with only 1/5 the glycemic index.
Gwen said that it was great for making cocktails, since it dissolves so easily at room temperature.

With that, my mixologist husband Mark grabbed the last of our oranges from Palm Springs and made us a refreshing aperitivo, an Orange Agave Gin Fizz. Great before dinner, and great for ringing in the new year.
Happy New Year!!!

Have a beautiful and delicious day! - Barbara
Have a beautiful and delicious day! – Barbara
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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Orange Agave Gin Fizz

For Orange Agave Gin Fizz
For Orange Agave Gin Fizz





  • 3 orange slices
  • Ice cubes
  • Juice of 3 juicy oranges (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons agave syrup
  • 4 1/4 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • Sparkling water — about 8 or 9 oz.

Chef's hat icon smallerPreparation

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker about 2/3 full with ice.
  2. Add the orange juice, agave syrup, and gin. Shake vigorously.
  3. Pour out drink and ice into 3 tall glasses.
  4. Top up each glass with sparkling water.
  5. Garnish each glass with an orange slice.
Questions? Contact barbara@CulinaryOracle.com
©2017 Barbara Newton-Holmes
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