Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Sea of Citrus

Citrus fruits of all sizes are threatening to take over my kitchen table and my refrigerators (kitchen and garage), and quite possibly my efforts in the kitchen in the upcoming week. There are kumquats, tangerines, oranges, blood oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes-and I must use them up before they spoil. Though I already possess an abundant supply, it is market day again, and I find it so very difficult to resist the pull of these sunny orbs, and even though I shouldn't, I will bring even more home to crowd my fruit basket and produce drawers.

I'm planning on freshly squeezed orange juice and lemon poppy seed muffins for breakfast, and perhaps making some more of that amazing tangerine sherbet for dessert. Margaritas should use up my limes....and I saw an amazing recipe for blood orange curd tart that I will try as well. That just leaves the kumquats, the funniest little citrus fruit of all. They are extraordinarily tart, yet equally sweet, and eaten whole, skin and all. When first bitten, the sourness from its skin bursts forth, followed by a mellow flavored, juicy pulp. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that when I bit into one for the first time this year, I promptly spit it out--it was much too sour for my sensitive taste buds. But I persisted and have been able to chomp down quite a few lately. My son compared them to warhead candy, so sour at first they are almost inedible, but they quickly sweeten in the mouth. Though I need to find a recipe to use up those little kumquats (I think my sister-in-law makes them into a marmalade) for now, I will concentrate on whittling down my lemon supply with these sunny little muffins, a perfect treat for a not-so-sunny Sunday morning.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 t sea salt
1/4 C melted butter
1/2 C milk
1/2 C plain yogurt (a bit less than a cup)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 t vanilla extract
1 t lemon extract
zest from 1 lemon, finely minced
1 rounded T poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease cups of a muffin tin. In a large bowl sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Stir the poppy seeds into the dry mix. In a separate bowl whisk together the butter, milk, yogurt and extracts. Add the citrus zest to the liquid ingredients and whisk together. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, just until combined.

Fill each muffin 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and pass the "toothpick test." If desired, make a glaze by mixing 1/2 C powdered sugar with the juice from 1/2 a lemon.

Updated to add: My poppy seeds were rancid so I had to throw them out. Be sure to store yours in the refrigerator.

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