As you may have noticed, we’ve been getting a lot of our recent cooking inspiration from you. In the same autumn salad contest that prompted Merrill’s post on Persimmon Chiffon Pie, there were a couple of dressing recipes that incorporated caramelized fruit. I like citrus-based vinaigrettes but sometimes the flavor is too thin, too faint and ephemeral. So I decided to try caramelizing some citrus before squeezing the juice for the dressing. I sliced a tangerine across its belly, dipped one half in raw sugar, then pressed it into a very hot pan. It sizzled and bounced like a soft-shell crab in butter, and when a rim of caramel formed around the edge, it was done. For the vinaigrette, I whisked in a dab of Dijon, a splash of white balsamic vinegar and a shot of olive oil. Turns out: eureka! The pale sweetness of the tangerine was enriched by the caramelization, giving the dressing both body and depth. —Amanda Hesser
about 1/2 cup
small tangerine (or 2 clementines), halved through its belly
Set a small sauté pan over medium high heat. Do not use cast iron. Dip the cut side of each tangerine half in the raw sugar – you want a light but thorough coating. When the pan is hot, press the sugared side of the tangerine onto the surface of the pan. Let bubble and sizzle until caramelized; keep a close eye, you don’t want them to blacken. Remove the tangerine halves to a plate.
When the tangerine halves are cool, squeeze their juice into a bowl. Measure out 1/4 cup and pour this into a small bowl.
Whisk in a pinch of salt, followed by the mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning -- if you want more acidity, add a little fresh lemon juice or more white balsamic.
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.