Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mandarin Orange Lanterns

I've really been getting my holiday groove on lately. Yesterday I made my fourth version of a pumpkin roulade cake with fresh pumpkin in an attempt to make it edible for Thanksgiving dinner. Uch! frustrating pumpkin cake story to come soon!

Back to the holiday spirit: at baking breaks, I've been sitting down with my You Tube Christmas Carol list a couple mandarin oranges, clementines, or what have you and munching away. A very festive trick that Gabriel's grandpa taught him was how to make mandarin orange lanterns out of the peels. When you get three lit on a simple plate, they look glorious, very Christmasy and very elegant. Martha Stewart has nothin' on Grandpa Tsanos! Here's what you do:

1 mandarin orange
1 tbsp olive oil
1 paring knife

1.)Hold the mandarin with the stem end up top and the blossom end at the bottom, like the north and south poles. Score the peel along the "equator" carefully, so as not to slice the flesh. With your fingernails, begin to carefully separate the peel from the flesh. Work off the blossom end first. Separate the peel entirely. When working with the stem end, work until you have almost reached the place where the stem was. This is where you will work off the wick. You know how sometimes when you're peeling a zipper skin mandarin orange, you'll get some of the center pith along with the peel? That what will become the wick for your lantern. When you have separated almost all the peel from the stem half of the mandarin, you should begin to break the white filaments that attach the mandarin fruit sections to the stem. If you have broken them all before pulling the peel entirely, off you will take the white center pith with the peel.

2.) Once you have 2 empty hemispheres of peel, place the stem end on a plate and allow the wick to dry a bit. The drier it is the better it will absorb the oil.
While you are waiting, cut a small circle at the top of the blossom end to allow the lantern smoke to escape and the wick to get oxygen.

3. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the wick, and into the concave peel. Turn down the lights and place the blossom end with the hole over the top. Enjoy the orangey light and the citrusy perfume! Music to anticipate Christmas by: my pop song Christmas playlist.


Blogger Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

Really interesting idea! We eat a lot of clementine so I'll have to try it :)

5:16 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Oh that's so pretty.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I love this! I bet it smells good too as it warms up the oils in the peel. Thank you for sharing such a great idea.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi everyone, You should give this a try; with a little practice, it's pretty easy.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Kimba said...

These must smell wonderful! I eat a ton of clementines - I should make a cool centerpiece with a half dozen or so.

3:46 AM  
Blogger Stelle in Italia said...

these are cute, and perfect for the holidays! great idea!


9:06 AM  
Blogger rowena said...

This is really a great idea to NOT try. I'll have to get my husband to quit eating the peel. The tiny, tiny mandarini are perfect for this!

12:47 PM  
Blogger rowena said...

So like, I just DID this (simply by melting some was into one half and sticking a wick in it). It is a FABULOUS idea! We've been buying a kilo of mandarines each week so now I can have these at the table every night. Thanks Susan!

1:42 PM  
Blogger rowena said...

oops...I meant wax

1:43 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Kimba, Yep, that's the idea, to have a group of them as an accent to a table or something. They do smell nice too.

Hi Rowena, Does your husband eat the peel after it's been candied or just fresh? i have to admit that a tiny taste of just the orange zest is soo delicious even with no sugar coating. I'm also so happy that you like this trick!

3:51 PM  
Anonymous ann said...

Oh my, that is GENIUS! I can't wait to show this trick to my mom, she'll plotz :-)

2:36 PM  

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