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This citrus pudding has buried treasure

Recipe: Fresh orange custard boasts old-fashioned flavors

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Orange pudding can be served in individual ramekins or dished out of a bowl. 
(Photos: Debbie Arrington)
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These oranges are fresh from the backyard tree.

If you like the flavor of fresh oranges, this old-fashioned custard is for you.

I love fresh oranges, which is a good thing: We have backyard citrus trees and a steady supply of sweet winter fruit.

In search of more ways to enjoy oranges, I recalled that my grandmother occasionally made an orange pudding that could double as a pie filling; it wasn’t chiffon, it was custard.

While that specific recipe still eludes me, this one comes close. The orange segments (an idea borrowed from “Joy of Cooking”) give it a fresh taste, added texture and a lot more orange flavor. The fruit is like buried treasure hidden under the rich topping.

Take some extra time to “supreme” the orange segments. Remove all the fibrous membranes by slicing the fruit sections out instead of pulling the sections apart. The trick is to use a sharp knife and cut along each membrane where it meets the juice sacs. Forming a wedge, cut along one membrane; do the same on the other side of that segment. Then, pop the segment out. It’s handy to work over a bowl to catch the segments and juice. Or you can use a cutting board to steady the fruit.

The orange supremes look pretty at the bottom of a glass bowl topped by the silky custard speckled with orange zest.

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Mix together the sugar and the orange zest.

Fresh orange custard
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons orange zest
1/3 cup sugar
4 oranges
2 cups low-fat milk
¼ cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

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The drained orange sections are spooned into the bottom
of the ramekins (or bowl).

Mix together orange zest and sugar. Set aside.

Over a large bowl, peel oranges with a sharp knife, cutting away the white pith and letting any juice collect in the bowl. Section the oranges supreme-style, slicing along the membranes; remove any seeds. Put the orange sections in the bowl and squeeze any remaining juice from the membranes over the sections. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, mix together milk and cream. Scald the milk (heating until little bubbles form around the edges), stirring often so it doesn’t stick.

Meanwhile, in the top of a double boiler, beat the egg yolks. Stir in the hot scalded milk.

Add cornstarch to the zest-sugar mixture; stir into custard. Stir in vanilla extract.

In the double boiler over medium heat, cook the custard until thickened, stirring often (it takes about 7 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes.

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The orange segments are visible in
the bottom of the glass bowl.

Place spoonfuls of orange segments at the bottom of a glass dish or into individual ramekins. Spoon custard over the orange segments. Chill.

Serve the custards plain or with whipped cream.

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RECIPE

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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