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From Zip to Zest – The Secret Ingredient That Will Change the Way You Cook

Part of an ongoing series from Britta Kramer

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In 2006, I volunteered as a part of the food and wine staff in Napa Valley, California for a classical music and culinary arts festival. One of my mentors, Sarah, a self-taught chef who at one point was the head chef at Mondavi vineyards, taught me something during that summer that would completely change the way I cooked. She taught me the importance of adding citrus to bring out flavor. I was amazed at how citrus could brighten a dish, bringing forward the complexity of each ingredient.

4 Easy Tips to Start Cooking With Citrus!

1. Bold Marinades – Looking to make your meat and poultry marinades even more flavorful? Try adding a liberal amount of freshly squeezed citrus juice to enhance your marinades. Just be sure not to marinade for longer than 24 hours or the citrus may break down your meat.

2. Extended Preservation – Use freshly squeezed citrus juice on fruit and vegetables to preserve color vibrancy and avoid oxidation on things like potatoes, avocados and apples. This is perfect for baking an apple pie or prepping apples for a salad before your guests arrive for a party.

3. Enhanced Natural Flavors – One of my favorite benefits to using citrus is it that it preserves and enhances flavor just as salt does. Try using less salt and more lemon juice. Butter and salt are typically used in restaurants to add flavor. My food philosophy is based on freshness, tasting and enjoying each ingredient in a dish and using citrus is key for creating complexity with simple fresh ingredients.

4. Zest Garnish – Zesting citrus is an easy way to add a twist to your traditional dishes. Orange zest is a great addition to baked goods, Grand Marnier whipped cream, tapioca pudding, and braised carrots. Lime zest is perfect for brightening jasmine rice and a great way to use less sodium when preparing Asian dishes. Lemon zest is delicious when used in couscous, zucchini bread, and a beautiful garnish on grilled vegetables.

Citrus Vinaigrette

Citrus Vinaigrette Recipe
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3 lemons, juiced
1 small orange, juiced
1 tbsp. finely diced shallot
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon

or chive (optional)
Pinch of course sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together zest, juices and shallots. Slowly add olive oil in a slow stream to create an emulsion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk once more.

Cover and store in your fridge for up to 3 days.

Tips from Britta’s Kitchen

Depending on what I have on hand in my garden, I like to add fresh herbs such as chives or fresh tarragon to my dressing for additional flavor. This dressing can be used on a simple green salad with radish, avocados, tomatoes, and shaved aged parmesan or drizzled over a fresh chicken salad with dried cranberries, grapes and toasted walnuts.

Strawberry Soup

Strawberry Soup Recipe
3 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons low fat, sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Dollop of ricotta cheese (optional)
Fresh mint for garnish
Lemon zest for garnish

In a blender, combine hulled strawberries, fresh orange juice, sour cream, and fresh lemon juice. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of fresh ricotta, lemon zest and fresh mint.

Tips from Britta’s Kitchen

Using a straw is an easy way to hull lots of strawberries quickly. Click here to view

After your trip to the farmer’s market, be sure to keep your fruit fresh by unwrapping any airtight plastic and storing in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Citrus fruits can last up to 3 weeks in your crisper drawer. U-Line’s refrigerator models are designed to maintain stable temperatures and are ideal for storing fresh ingredients like citrus fruits.

U-Line 2175RCG, 2275DWRC and 3024RF

U-Line’s 2175RCG glass door refrigerator received the prestigious ‘Best of Year’ award in the Kitchen Appliances category from Interior Design Magazine. Best of Year Product Design category winners were determined by a jury of leading architects and designers. With a convection cool system, glass shelves and a removable crisper drawer, this model is perfect for storing your fresh picked citrus.

Model 2275DWRC dual drawer refrigerator’s clear top organizer bin accommodates food as well as wine and two-liter bottles. The clear crisper in the bottom drawer slides out on either side of the unit for flexible accessibility. A clear glass crisper shelf provides a view of its contents and is completely removable to allow storage of tall items.

Solid door refrigerator model 3024RF has three bins designed to hold more than just farmer’s market goods. The Modular 3000 Series offers various modes that are designed to make your groceries last longer and taste better. Market Mode has a temperature range between 34° F and 40° F with a set point of 38° F which is ideal for those who enjoy fresh produce with just picked ripeness; this mode is ideal for most fruits, vegetables, berries and leafy greens. Additionally, Deli Mode, Pantry Mode, Root Cellar Mode and Beverage Mode all allow you to store your food in the precise temperature range to ensure extended preservation.


About Britta Kramer and Private Palate
Private Palate offers chef services for in-home events, private and group cooking classes for both adults and children, corporate team-building cooking classes, weekly or daily chef services, food coaching and chef consulting. Britta’s goal is to assist her clients in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and to make them aware that eating healthy doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or variety. Her clients range from single individuals to families, professional athletes and local celebrities. In 2012, Britta attended the International Culinary Center in New York City, earning a certificate in French culinary techniques. Private Palate has since expanded its business to New York and now connects clients with local chefs who share her same food philosophy.

You can reach Britta at privatepalate@personalchef.com or 414.243.7462. View an expanded bio and full description of services at www.privatepalate.com or healthy cooking tips and time saving tips in the kitchen at www.facebook.com/PrivatePalate.

About U-Line

For over five decades, and through three generations, U-Line continues to be the American leader in innovation, quality and performance in the premium modular ice making, refrigeration and wine preservation market. Delivering versatility and flexibility for multiple applications including residential, light commercial, outdoor and marine use, U-Line's complete product collection includes modular Wine Captain® Models, Beverage Centers, Clear Ice Machines, Crescent Ice Makers, Glass & Solid Door Refrigerators, Drawer Models, Freezers, and Combo® Models.

Corporate headquarters have been based in Milwaukee since 1962, a West Coast office was established in Laguna Beach, California in 2006, and European support is located in Dublin, Ireland. U-Line has shipped 115 and 220-240 volt product worldwide for several decades. U-Line continues to provide premium modular refrigeration products in North America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Design, engineering and final assembly of all products is completed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. For more information on U-Line and its products visit u-line.com