SATSUMA KISSES + HOLIDAY SECRETS

Satsuma Madeleines | for the love of the south

During the holidays, my grandparent’s backyard in Louisiana was home to one of my favorite treats: satsumas. Driving down the winding, gravel driveway, the smoky scent of barbecue welcomed us. Grandma waved to us from the pit with long barbecue tongs. Grandpa welcomed us with holiday cheer and glasses of sweet tea, and I made my rounds and gathered with the rest of my cousins at the shed where our beloved scooter resided.

We Louisianans are resourceful. My grandpa repaired a broken-down, abandoned three-wheeled scooter from the chemical plant he worked at, painted it fire engine red, and magically transformed it into a carriage that could hold 8 grandchildren at a time, 12 if we distributed our weight properly. It kept us occupied all day long, or at least until we ran out of gas. We peeled across the backyard, into the wooded trails, and past the fig trees. And every time we rounded the satsuma trees, we leaned to one side, stretched out our arms, and with the scooter puttering at full speed, we attempted to grab a piece of fruit. The prize for this dangerous game? Satsumas, of course!

I remember taking my rewards to my favorite place in the yard: an old, white wooden swing my grandfather built. I sat there with a pile of satsumas, admiring them as if they were spoils from a treasure trove. Rusty chains slightly creaked as I swayed back and forth, peeling my stash of jewels.

Satsumas | for the love of the south

The thin, spongy orange skin easily gave way to my tiny fingers. Citrus scented oil filled the air as I gently peeled the speckled skin away from the flesh of the satsuma. Hidden underneath was a perfectly segmented citrus fruit. Each segment stripped away effortlessly and burst with sweet juices as I bit into them. There is something special about satsumas. Shhh…it’s a secret. Hidden inside a satsuma is a tiny segment, wedged in between two larger ones; it’s called the kiss. The tradition is you share the “kiss” with someone you love. As I finished the mound of satsumas, I saved all the “kisses” in one hand, jumped off the swing and distributed the clandestine segments to members of my family. I loved watching their eyes light up with delight in the sweet, silent secret of the satsuma “kiss.”

Seasons change. The scooter, like my grandpa, has long been retired. The swing is beyond weathered and worn. Now, I live miles away, but I can’t help but think of my warm, green Christmases spent in Louisiana. As I stand close to my oven, waiting for these satsuma madeleines to bake, the citrus scent immediately transports me back to Louisiana, savoring the sweet kiss of home from the coziness of my Tennessee kitchen.

Satsuma Madeleines | for the love of the south

Recipe: Satsuma Madeleines

Makes 26 Madeleines

Note: You can substitute satsuma zest for grapefruit, orange, lemon or lime zest. If you substitute the satsuma juice for lime or lemon, decrease the amount of juice by half.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) of unsalted butter, plus more for brushing

2 tablespoons of local honey

130g granulated sugar

Zest of 1 satsuma

3 large eggs, room temperature

Pinch of kosher salt

150g of all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon of baking powder

2 tablespoons of satsuma juice

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for dusting

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook butter until browned. Take off heat and stir in honey. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar and satsuma zest. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingertips. Add eggs and whisk on a high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together salt, flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture until combined. Add browned butter, satsuma juice and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk for another minute. Transfer the batter to a large plastic bag. Chill for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 375o

Brush a madeleine pan with melted butter. Cut a hole at the end of the plastic bag and pipe the batter into the molds, filling the molds ¾ of the way. Gently tap the pan onto the counter, releasing any air pockets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden around the edges. Arrange on a plate and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE…

Christmas Fruitcake | for the love of the south

* This post is dedicated to my Great Uncle Harvey who passed the day after I wrote this story. His joy for life will be remembered this holiday season and forever in our hearts. 

There is something lovely about the anticipation of the Christmas season. We put up decorations, sweetly adorn cookies and gather with loved ones around a fire and sing Christmas carols. We ready our spirits and hearts in good tidings and joy. We smile at strangers passing by and wish them a Merry Christmas. The preparation of the season is as special to me as Christmas day itself.

Everyone has their own way of preparing for the holiday, and for some, it might come in the form of fruitcake. Every Christmas season, like clockwork, my grannie, her sister and their patient and loving husbands cleared off their dining room table to produce piles and piles of bar-shaped, bright green and red studded no-bake fruitcakes. For hours upon hours, the four of them would sit and talk and chop and package these speckled sweeties in cellophane wrappers to pass out as gifts to neighbors and friends.

So, in the honor of the anticipation of the season, here is a fruitcake, steeped in spices and floral honey, studded with winey dried fruits and fresh orange juice, then baked till the whole kitchen smells undeniably like Christmas. I’m not sure of the exact origin of fruitcake, but like all languages, traditional recipes are ever changing, ever adapting, ever breathing. I just so happen to be Southern, so I deem this cake a Southern fruitcake by way of geography. Nonetheless, wherever you are this Christmas, I wish you peace, hope, joy and love. May your holiday be merry and bright, and may your kitchen be filled with fervor, family and fruitcake!

Recipe: Christmas Fruitcake | Inspired by Nigella Lawson

Makes 1, 10-inch cake

Note: To make this fruitcake a showstopper, just before serving warm a little rum or vanilla-infused vodka in a small saucepan. Bring the cake to the table, along with the warmed alcohol and a long match. Turn off the lights. Carefully light and pour the flaming alcohol over the top of the cake. Allow everyone to coo over the cake for a few more moments before serving.  

1 ¾ cups of pitted prunes, roughly chopped

1 cup of golden raisins

¾ stick of butter, softened

½ cup of dark or light brown sugar (depending on your preference)

1/3 cup of local honey

¼ cup of strongly brewed coffee, cooled, preferably chicory

1 orange, zest and juice

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

¼ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/8 cup of all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of baking soda

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 3000

Put the fruit, butter, brown sugar, honey, coffee, orange juice and zest, cinnamon and cocoa powder into a medium saucepan on medium-low heat. Bring to a slow boil, stirring as the butter melts. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, then take it off the heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, spray or line a 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper. Wrap a piece of parchment paper around the pan that comes higher than the sides of the tin (this will prevent the top of the cake from burning.) I place my cake pan on a sheet pan and then wrap parchment around my tin and secure it with kitchen twine (this way you can get the cake in and out of the oven with ease.)

Whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a small bowl.

After the mixture has cooled for 30 minutes, add the eggs and flour mixture to the fruit mixture. Stir to combine.

Pour the fruitcake mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until the top of the cake is firm and has a shiny, slick look. I make sure to check the cake after 45 minutes though. The center will still be a little gooey.

Allow the cake to cool on a rack until completely cooled and unmold the cake from its tin. Decorate however you like! Merry Christmas!