December 14, 2007

Sunshiny Florida Citrus

I was browsing through Florida Cuisine (1998, 49 pages) when I came across a word that was new to me.

This pamphlet was published by the Florida Department of Citrus and was used as a promotional item by Randalls, a Texas-based supermarket chain. The recipes feature the use of Florida citrus, Florida orange juice concentrate in particular, as a key ingredient.

The cover photo features a dish called Floribbean Chicken and Shrimp. At the risk of exposing my ignorance, I'll tell you that Floribbean was a term I was unfamiliar with, so I had to look it up.

I intially thought it was a made-up word created just for this recipe. Turns out it's a regional cuisine of Florida. Who knew? Perhaps my lack of awareness was a result of my not visiting Florida very often (I'll choose the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest every time). I don't really know why this term escaped my notice back in the 1990s when it first came into use in relation to food.

Wikipedia has this to say about the word Floribbean:

"Typical features of Floribbean cuisine include:
  • An emphasis on extremely fresh ingredients
  • Complex medleys of spices, especially powerful flavors that are softened by milder ones
  • An emphasis on seafood and poultry
  • Generous use of fresh fruit and juices, especially citrus and sweet tropical fruits
  • Special care in presentation, especially when seeking a more natural effect rather than an ostentatious one"
The pamphlet itself describes Florida cuisine as one that "successfully combines fresh tropical ingredients--such as Florida orange juice, grapefruit juice, oranges, tangerines and grapefruit--with healthful cooking techniques."

The introductory text refers to a technique called the citrus swap.

Here's how the citrus swap works:

"As you prepare the recipes in this book, you'll often replace or partially substitute fats and refined sugar with Florida citrus juices and frozen concentrates. This technique works beautifully, for example, in marinades, typically made with oils. By using orange juice to replace the oil, you have a flavorful, stick-to-the-meat coating for grilling, broiling or roasting. So while you're reducing fat and calories, you're also getting the added nutrition that Florida citrus naturally provides."

1 cup frozen Florida Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
12 ounces large shrimp in shells, peeled and deveined
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 small Florida Oranges, peeled
2 medium red and/or green sweet peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces

For sauce, in a small saucepan stir together thawed concentrate, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir over medium heat until heated through. Set aside 1/4 cup sauce.

Rinse shrimp and chicken; pat dry. Cut chicken into 3/4-inch pieces. Divide each orange into 8 wedges; remove seeds. On twelve 8-inch metal skewers (or six 12-inch skewers), alternately thread chicken, shrimp, and orange and pepper pieces, leaving about 1/4 inch between pieces.

In a grill with a cover arrange preheated coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above pan. Place kabobs on grill rack over drip pan. Cover and grill for 6 minutes. Carefully turn kabobs (be sure oranges turn with kabobs); brush generously with sauce. Cover; grill 5 to 7 minutes more or until shrimp is opaque and chicken is tender and no longer pink, brushing with sauce. Thin reserved 1/4 cup sauce with 1 to 2 tablespoons water or until desired consistency. Drizzle sauce over kabobs.

Makes 6 servings.

If using wooden skewers for the kabobs, soak them in water for several minutes to prevent them from burning as the food cooks.

The pamphlet addresses the dilemma of what to do with the leftover concentrate.

"After using part of a can of frozen Florida orange or grapefruit concentrate in cooking, enjoy the rest of the concentrate as a beverage by following these guidelines to reconstitute:

to 1/3 cup concentrate, add 1 cup water;
to 1/2 cup concentrate, add 1-1/2 cups water;
to 3/4 cup concentrate, add 2-1/4 cups water;
to 1-1/4 cups concentrate, add 3-3/4 cups water."
Apologies to those in the currently frozen north--living in the South does have some advantages--year-round outdoor grilling being one of the few.


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