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Placer County chefs share their mandarin creations

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The 18th annual Mountain Mandarin Festival kicks off Friday, Nov. 18, and chefs from Placer County and beyond will compete for the coveted Best of Show title in the festival’s recipe contest. Best of Show will win a $1,900 set of Kitchen Craft cookware, and the top-place winners of each category will receive $100. In addition, Snow’s Citrus Court will offer bonus cash prizes for entries that use their products. Categories for main dishes, side dishes including preserves and desserts are open to all ages. Dishes with completed entry forms should be delivered to the Armory Building Cooking Stage between 11:30 a.m. and noon Sunday, Nov. 20. Judging begins at 12:15 p.m. Applications with complete rules and regulations are available at www.mandarinfestival.com. “The mandarin orange is a gourmet treat in its original container – the peel,” said Ralene Snow of Snow’s Citrus Court in Newcastle. “But it is also a great ingredient, from beverages to desserts and all things in between.” Here are some recipes you can use for inspiration: Killer Kahlua mandarin cake The 2011 Mountain Mandarin Festival Recipe of the Year. One box chocolate cake mix Four eggs 3/4 cup mandarin olive oil 1 cup milk chocolate chips One (3.9 ounce) instant chocolate pudding mix 1/3 cup Kahlua or pre-made instant coffee 1 pint sour cream Mix all, pour into well-greased fluted stoneware pan. Microwave 18 minutes. Invert on serving platter, leaving pan on top for at least 10 minutes. Remove pan slowly after 10 minutes and cool. Top with drizzle. Drizzle: 2 tablespoons butter 1½ cups powdered sugar 1½ cup 4 Oranges Vodka or fresh mandarin juice Glazed sweet potatoes Snow’s Citrus Court 6 tablespoons butter 1/2 cup brown sugar 2/3 cup water 1 cup mandarin orange juice 1 mandarin orange – segmented, coarsely chopped. Save the peel Six medium-sized sweet potatoes or yams. Finely chop peel. In order listed, place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often, reduce to simmer. Cook for three to five minutes. Peel potatoes, cut into serving pieces. Arrange in a single layer in a sided baking dish. Pour prepared mixture over top. Bake at 350 degrees, basting with pan liquid every 20 minutes. Bake until tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Mandarin orange dumplings in nest of noodles Nancy Muir took home the grand prize in the 2010 contest with this entry. Dumplings 16 mandarin oranges 16 won ton wrappers One package Chinese noodles 1/4 pound ground turkey 2 teaspoons chili sauce 2 tablespoons minced ginger 2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce Four scallions, diced Four water chestnuts, minced 16 mint leaves, julienne Sauce 1 cup Newcastle Preserves mandarin preserves 1/4 teaspoon chili sauce Six mint leaves, julienne To assemble: Peel mandarin oranges and set aside six. Process 10 of the oranges in food processor. Combine turkey, hoi sin sauce, chili sauce, vegetables and 1/4 cup strained mandarin oranges. Mix in meat and vegetables. Wontons Fill wontons with 2 tablespoons of the meat filling. Use egg whites or water to fold wonton skin around the meat filling. Put dumplings in wire or bamboo steamer of boiling water, steam for 10 minutes. Sauce Combine preserves, chili sauce and six mint leaves, heat to a simmer. Noodles Cook noodles in water until done. Drain and chill. Place noodles on a plate and swirl into nests. Place wontons on top of noodles and top with sauce. ---------- Pick the perfect fruit Ralene Snow, of Snow’s Citrus Court in Newcastle, and Jan Thompson, of Newcastle Produce, offer these tips when choosing mandarins. Snow: “It should feel heavy, which means it has a lot of juice. The skin should be tight to the fruit – it shouldn’t feel puffy. It doesn’t matter if there’s a little exterior scratch or mark … if we have wind it might have a little branch mark on it, and that doesn’t affect the fruit.” Thompson: “The fruit changes during the season. The mandarin can be really good quality without being totally orange. It can have a little green on it and still be perfectly wonderful. Late in the season, even at the very end of the season, you still get fruit with some green on it, and that’s not really a sign of not being ripe. They shouldn’t be teeny-tiny, but small is good.”