A tradition all our own

Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 4:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 4:33 p.m.

Growing up in South Florida, I ate a lot of Florida citrus fruit. A grapefruit half for breakfast, tangerine wedges in my lunchbox, after-school oranges sucked dry with a citrus straw (available online as Citra Sipper). At dinner, Granny often served Broiled Grapefruit — the '60s-chic appetizer: grapefruit halves sprinkled with a little sugar and broiled until lightly browned.

Since Christmas falls in the middle of the Florida citrus season, our relatives in New England received gifts of citrus and Santa always put an orange in the toe of my stocking. The relatives are now scattered, but we still ship citrus gifts up North and, even though the fruit in the stocking might be a tangerine, the tradition continues.

One Southern holiday tradition from my Mom's family is Ambrosia. Mom would spend what seemed like hours preparing the oranges, first using her knife to remove every speck of peel, then carefully cutting out the sections of fruit. Our recipe includes sectioned oranges, chopped pineapple, and tons of coconut; mix well and chill completely before serving.

You'll find Florida citrus at farmers' markets and roadside stands. Look for fruit with smooth thin skins and a heavy weight for its size. Since ripening times differ, the season runs from November to April with different varieties of oranges, tangerines and grapefruit, in addition to lemons and limes.

Looking for a refreshing change from tossed salad? With its pairing of two Florida favorites, Old Florida Salad is an elegant way to dress up red, white or pink grapefruit. Want to give a home-baked gift to someone special? Be sure to make a double batch of the Glazed Citrus Poundcake — that way you'll have some for yourself!

Old Florida Salad

Serves 4


2 large handfuls of salad greens

1 avocado, sliced

1 grapefruit, peeled and sectioned

2 slices of sweet onion, separated into rings

1/3 cup pecans

bottled poppyseed dressing


Arrange lettuce on plates. Layer sliced avocado, grapefruit sections and onions on the greens and scatter pecans on top. Serve the dressing on the side.

Glazed Citrus Poundcake


2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar

4 eggs at room temperature

zest and juice of 2 citrus fruit (reserve fruit juice and 1 teaspoon of zest for Citrus Glaze)

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

1 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 325 degrees (300 for glass pan). To prepare loaf pan, butter lightly and dust with granulated sugar until lightly coated.

Using a mixer, cream butter until light. Add sugar and citrus zest then mix until completely incorporated. Add eggs one at a time. Beat on high speed for one minute after each addition.

Mix salt with flour. Stir vanilla into milk. Add half the flour to the butter mixture and beat until partially combined, then add half the milk. Beat until incorporated, then repeat with remaining flour and milk. The batter should be smooth, so scrape the bowl often.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 90 minutes undisturbed. The cake rises and bakes slowly so, depending on your oven, it may take up to two hours before it is completely cooked. It will be golden, firm to the touch and probably have a small crack on the top. A toothpick will test clean. Immediately remove from pan and cool thoroughly before glazing.

To make Citrus Glaze

Whisk 2 tablespoons citrus juice (use same fruit from recipe above) and 1 teaspoon of reserved zest into 1 cup powdered sugar. Drizzle over cooled cake.

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