Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee

 

The weather at this time of year is often dreary, but you can bring a little sunshine into your kitchen with the many varieties of citrus fruit that are in season. I use their bright, tart flavours in all types of heavy winter dishes: I stir orange and lemon zest into stews and soups, make orange or kumquat sauce to serve with thick slabs of grilled meat, and add lemon juice to vinaigrettes to serve with bitter winter greens such as endive and radicchio. I also use citrus in many types of sweet dishes.

Lemon-lime tartlets (pictured)
The recipe for pate sucrée is adapted from one in The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

For the pate sucrée:
400 grams plain (all-purpose) flour, plus more for rolling the dough
100 grams granulated sugar
½ tsp fine sea salt
250 grams unsalted butter, chilled
2 large egg yolks, chilled
About 80ml cream, chilled
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
135 grams granulated sugar
80ml cream
60ml fresh lemon juice
55ml fresh lime juice
20ml fresh orange juice
The finely grated zest of one lemon and one lime

For the garnish:
Lime zest, removed in long strands using a citrus zester

Make the dough. Cut the butter into 1cm chunks. Whisk the egg yolks with the cream and vanilla extract and refrigerate until needed.

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend until combined thoroughly. Add the chunks of butter and process until they are in small pieces (about 3mm), then transfer the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle the yolk/cream mixture over the dry ingredients and quickly mix into a smooth, cohesive dough. If it seems dry, add more cream.

Knead the dough briefly then divide it into three portions, flatten each one into a disc then wrap in cling-film. Refrigerate for several hours. You will probably only need two pieces of dough for the tartlets; the third piece and any scraps left from rolling out the dough can be refrigerated for a week, or frozen for longer storage.

Take the dough from the fridge about 30 minutes before using to let it soften slightly, then knead it briefly until it is malleable. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until it is about 3mm thick. Cut rounds of dough that will fit into small metal tart rings with a little overhang (the ones I use are 6cm in diameter and 1.5cm high). Without stretching the dough, fit it into the contours of the rings and trim off the overhang. Place the rings on a tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Use a fork to poke holes in the bottom of the tart shells. Cut aluminium foil into pieces slightly larger than the tart rings. Press the foil into the dough-lined tart rings. Bake at 180 degrees for about 10 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for about five more minutes, or until the shells are dry on the surface and very lightly browned. Reduce the heat to 160 degrees.

Whisk the eggs and egg yolk with the sugar, then stir in the cream and the citrus juices and zests. Pour the mixture into the prepared shells and bake at 160 degrees until almost set - the centre of the tartlets will be a little wobbly. Cool to room temperature. Just before serving, grate the lime zest directly onto each tartlet.

Makes eight to 14, depending on the size of your tartlet rings.

Kumquat marmalade
This marmalade is not just for eating with toast; I also use it in easy-to-make tarts by spreading the marmalade in the bottom of baked tartlet shells, then topping with chocolate ganache, and as a filling for layer cakes.

1kg fresh kumquats
600 grams granulated sugar, divided
About 30ml fresh lemon juice

Rinse the kumquats well, then drain them. Cut each one into two pieces through the stem, then lay the halves on the cutting board and slice as thinly as possible, setting aside the seeds as you find them. Put the seeds in a disposable tea/filter bag, such as the ones sold at shops specialising in Japanese prod-ucts, and secure the end. The seeds contain pectin, which will help the marmalade to set.

Put the sliced kumquats, half the sugar and the bag with the seeds in a large, wide pan and add 500ml of water. Bring to the boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Put the ingredients into a bowl and refrigerate overnight (this seems to extract more of the pectin).

The next day, pour the ingredients back into the pan, bring to a boil and cook, stirring often, until the zest is tender. Stir in the remaining sugar and simmer until the marmalade is set - when you spoon some of it onto a chilled plate, it should hold its shape when you draw your finger through it.

While the marmalade is cooking, wash canning jars then fill them with boiling water and leave for about five minutes before inverting them onto a draining rack. Put the lids in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave them until the marmalade is ready.

When the marmalade is set, remove the bag containing the seeds.

Stir the lemon juice into the marmalade, then ladle it into the canning jars and seal tightly with the lids.

Place a folded-up tea towel in the bottom of a pot that is deep enough to hold the jars. Put the jars upright in the pot and add enough hot water so they are submerged by at least 1cm. (If the pot isn't large enough, do this in two batches.) Bring the water to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

If you want to skip this step (which seals the jars so they can be stored at room temperature) then refrigerate the marmalade.