TANGERINE MARGARITAS

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It’s cocktail time again, and we’re revisiting my forever favorite drink of choice: the margarita. I feel pretty lucky to live in an area where margaritas aren’t confined to the summer months, but a cocktail that can be enjoyed year round despite the seasons. I’ve noticed that when I visit places like Chicago or Portland, Maine, the cocktail menus at restaurants tend to be very whiskey or gin centric, both of which I’m not too crazy about especially since they’re pretty heavy. But margaritas on the other hand… are light, refreshing, and go down easily (a bit too easily) and are everywhere here in California.

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Lately, I had been getting bored with my go-to margaritas that I make for us at home. This includes a classic margarita on-the-rocks with a splash of pineapple as well as a blended frozen strawberry margarita (always a crowd favorite). I really wanted to branch out and try a margarita with in-season fruit that would not only be delicious, but beautiful to look at. Since we’re still in citrus season, I knew that I wanted to use a citrus that was not only a bit more interesting, but also one that could be found year round. After eliminating kumquats (they’re too rare and only around for a short period of time), I landed on tangerines. Even though tangerines are in season from about November to May, there is always the option to buy tangerine juice - Trader Joe’s tangerine juice is quite honestly the best citrus juice there is available.

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Tangerine juice isn’t the only citrus found in this margarita for there is also a bit of lemon and lime juice added. Both of these additions provide a little sourness and sweetness and therefore makes a well-rounded and delicious cocktail. And to really drive home the citrus flavor, there is also orange liqueur added. I recommend using Cointreau, because it really is the best available, but if you don’t have it nor wish to buy it since it’s a bit pricey, triple sec will work just fine.

And if you think that this will have a screwdriver feel to it, aka vodka and orange juice, believe me, it is so much more elevated than that. I had Alex be my taste-tester (he consumed about 4 cocktails within an hour, he’s a champ) and he was completely impressed since he thought it would be such a boring drink. It really is all about the three citrus juices working together that makes it so complex and leaves you wanting more. When Alex stated that he would happily order this cocktail at any bar, I knew that I had succeeded that day.

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Tangerine Margaritas

Yields 1 stiff cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. tequila, blanco, añejo, or reposado works

  • 2 oz. fresh tangerine juice

  • .5 oz. fresh lemon juice

  • .5 oz. fresh like juice

  • 1 oz. orange liqueur, like Cointreau

  • 2 tsp. agave nectar

Directions

  1. Salt the rim of your desired glass and set aside.

  2. Add all ingredients plus a handful of ice to a cocktail shaker and shake to mix. Strain into your prepared glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

CITRUS RICOTTA BUNDT CAKE W/ PISTACHIOS

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And we’re back! After taking some time off from The Vivid Kitchen, I am more than excited to be here with my (tiny) community and start 2019 with fresh content. I kind of abruptly stopped posting new recipes about halfway through December because I had to focus on baking for real life events (I baked 4 different kinds of cookies to pass out as Christmas gifts - including these and these) and then after Christmas, Alex and I went out of town to Scottsdale, Arizona for 5 days to celebrate NYE. When we returned home on the 1st, I got sick for the first time in years and now that I’m finally feeling better, here we are!

P.S. I might do a photo diary/city guide of some sort for Scottsdale soon, even though all we do when we visit is hike and cook at the house we stay at.

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For Christmas, I was very lucky to be gifted a handful of kitchen/baking-related items that I’ve been obsessing over since opening them. Some things I received were: a Shun chef’s knife (Shun is my favorite knife brand), a Hamilton Beach waffle maker that I’ve already used a couple of times and yes, there will be waffle recipes in the future, a marble phone holder for my kitchen when I’m baking and my hands are full, and a few other things. I also got a new macro lens for my Canon camera (thank you, dad!) that is incredible and is the lens that I used to shoot this recipe.

Another gift I received was a new bundt pan from Nordic Ware, and I didn’t know it was possible to be in love with a baking pan, but I guess it is! The mold is so beautiful and makes every cake look like a piece of art, but it is also just as functional as it is pretty - I had no problems with the cake sticking to the pan. This is my first pan from Nordic Ware and it’s safe to say that I will continue to buy from them in the future.

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Since we’re getting into citrus season, my favorite time of year, I wanted to make a bundt cake highlighting the season’s bright flavors. After about a month straight of eating cookies and chocolate, I didn’t want to make a very heavy or overly sweet cake, and this citrus ricotta cake is anything but those things. Olive oil and ricotta make the dish light yet super moist; the cake is sweetened with a blend of granulated sugar and honey; and the lemon/orange zests and juices brighten the cake and give it such a fresh flavor. This is actually one of the few cakes that you could eat for breakfast and not feel any guilt about it. Side note: I used my favorite orange variety, Cara Cara, for this recipe, which I highly recommend, but any orange variety will be perfect as well. You could even try using grapefruit, which I’ll probably do next time I make this cake.

If you remember, I did a post last year about making your own ricotta cheese for ricotta ice cream (still one of the best ice creams I’ve ever made) and today's recipe is pretty much the cake version of that. The flavors of citrus and pistachios work so well with the creamy ricotta cheese, so I knew that they both needed to be front and center in this cake. And of course, if you want to make your own ricotta cheese for this recipe, please do so, since it’s SO easy! But, if you don’t have the time or cheesecloth, then by all means, store-bought is A-OK with me. I recommend reaching for the whole-milk variety though.

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As for how to finish the cake, the choice is yours to make! (I did not plan that rhyme, I promise). There are a number of options: 1)a standard dusting of confectioners’ sugar, 2) a simple citrus glaze (2 cups of confectioners’ sugar whisked with 3-4 tbsp. of fresh lemon or orange juice), and/or 3) a mix of chopped pistachios with honey sprinkled all over the top. As you can see from the pictures, I chose a dusting of confectioners’ sugar as well as the pistachio/honey mixture and I thought it was perfect.

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Citrus Ricotta Bundt Cake w/ Pistachios

Yields (1) standard bundt cake

Recipe slightly adapted from Fraiche Nutrition

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese, homemade or store-bought

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • 3 tbsp. lemon zest

  • 2 tbsp. orange zest (I love Cara Cara oranges)

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

  • 2/3 cup shelled and toasted pistachios, finely chopped (mixed w/ 1 tbsp. of flour)

  • Confectioners’ sugar, chopped pistachios mixed with honey, lemon glaze, to finish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and spray the bundt pan with cooking oil spray (or you can butter and flour the pan).

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  3. In a separate smaller bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, olive oil, eggs, vanilla extract, honey, zests, and juices. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and without lumps.

  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold together using a spatula. Before the batter is fully combined, mix in the pistachio/flour and finish mixing the batter.

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

  6. Allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes before inverting onto a plate or cooling rack. Finish the cake whichever way you’d like! The cake will last in an airtight container for about a week.

UPSIDE-DOWN BLOOD ORANGE CAKE

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For those who don't know, citrus season is during the winter months, with most citrus fruits being in season from about December to April. With that said and considering what month it is (hey April), I wanted to do a citrus recipe that not only highlighted their flavor but also showed off their beauty. Enter this upside-down blood orange cake.

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I'm the kind of person who looks forward to citrus season almost more than any other season (watermelon season might be a tie though). I fully embrace the season by making anything from my favorite sangria (I'll post the recipe for that in the near future) to grapefruit loaf cakes to blood orange doughnuts. I also get so much use out of my older-than-me juicer that I inherited from my mom, and drink as much fresh cara cara juice as I can.

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Today we are utilizing blood oranges and with that I must advise not wearing a white t-shirt for the sake of not looking like you were just part of a crime scene. But besides their dyeing affects, blood oranges are incredibly beautiful fruits mostly for the reason that you can have an array of color ranging from a deep red to a lighter orange. 

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I feel like this cake is one that you whip out when you want to show off: the topping of sliced oranges is an absolute showstopper and even if it doesn't come out perfectly (i.e. some of the topping may stick to the pan), the color alone will impress whomever you baked it for, including yourself. It's also exciting and slightly nerve-racking to see what the top will look like after you flip it. If you've never flipped a cake before, don't be worried! I've done it by myself plenty of times and it's a lot easier than you think - just move quickly and swiftly and you'll be oohing and aahing at your creation before you know it.

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Upside-Down Blood Orange Cake

Adapted Slightly from Bon Appétit

Ingredients

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  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1/4 cup raw sugar

  • 2-3 blood oranges thinly sliced with seeds removed (make sure to have at least two other blood oranges for the zest and juice that will be added to the cake later)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 tsp. blood orange zest

  • 2 tbsp. blood orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a 10 in. cake pan with the nonstick cooking spray (rather be safe than sorry when flipping the cake upside down!). In an even layer, sprinkle the raw sugar on the bottom of the cake pan and then place the orange slices on top. You can place the slices whichever way you want, whether in a random fashion or layered to cover the entire pan like I did.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk, buttermilk, melted butter (make sure it's not too hot), zest and juice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until incorporated.

  4. Pour the batter over the orange slices evenly and bake it in the oven for 35-40 minutes - the top will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out fairly clean.

  5. Allow the cake to cool for about 5 minutes. In preparation of inverting the cake, run a butter knife around the edges to loosen the cake. Using your desired plate or cake stand, place it upside down on top of the cake and as quickly as possible, flip the cake over. Lift the cake pan up and if the cake is still not coming out, tap the cake pan with the butter knife. Enjoy!