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Make Some Orange Finger Cookies

Brightening plates with a little bit of sunshine.

by Christina Arpante 

Oranges offer freshness without the tart bite that a lemon or lime might produce. Fat, cholesterol and sodium free, oranges offer vital nutrients that help maintain the body's immune system without a lot of effort. Used simply or in more complicated ways, oranges shine whether the corresponding flavors are in the forefront, like in orange peel tea, or in the background, in a pound cake or garnishing cream.

Want to add a different spin to your salads? Orange juice works well as the basis for salad dressing and marinades, like in the miso marinade below. Because of its natural sugars, orange juice makes for a perfect candidate for reduced sweet sauces and glazes, or added to butter or cream cheese, with a little zest, for an added zing to your breakfast breads or muffins. Orange segments are a delicious addition to salads, especially when tossed with avocado, or mint and a little honey.

Oranges can also come in handy with desserts. Add small fruit wedges into a batter for a small texture explosion. Brush overcooked/dry muffins or cakes with the juice to help retain and/or maintain the cake moisture. Lightly glazing the perfectly  baked layers add to the overall flavor or the cake, as well. Or, add the juice to cookie or cake batters for brightness in flavor. Do you enjoy a light glaze on your baked goods? Instead of using water or milk in a confectioners’ sugar glaze, use orange juice as the moisture that turns the sugar into a pourable finish.

Whenever or wherever oranges are incorporated into your diet, be daring and try new things. The creativity of a dish is only limited by your imagination. Don't forget, though. When you make something an orangey dish, one you’re excited about, be sure to tell us about it. We want to know.

For your sweet tooth:

Orange Finger Cookies (pictured)

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. orange blossom water or 1 tsp. orange extract
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
¾ cup  finely chopped nuts

Lightly spray a baking sheet, or line with parchment paper; set aside. 

In a bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, sugar, then add egg yolk. Pour in orange blosson water/extract and mix with until smooth. Lower the mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until just combined.

Using a cookie press fitted, or a heavy pastry bag fitted with a tip of your choice, press/pipe ribbons, on prepared cookie sheet, about ½-inch apart. Or, scoop teaspoon balls, shape, and flatten slightly before cooking.

Bake in a 350◦F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm, but not brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

In a small saucepan over simmering water (or in the microwave), melt chocolate. Place nuts in a small bowl. Dip about 1-inch of the end of each cookie into chocolate, in the nuts, then onto a waxed paper to set. Store in a covered container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 60 cookies.

For your savory palate:

Orange Miso Salmon

4 tablespoons white miso paste
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
¾ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons honey2 tsp. soy sauce
4 (8-ounce/) skinless salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the miso, vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and soy sauce. Place the salmon in a baking dish, or sealable plastic bag, add marinade, turn to coat, then cover/close. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Lightly brush a grill pan with oil, then heat over medium-high heat. Remove the fish from the marinade, and allow excess to drip off. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

Grill the salmon, until it is golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes each side, or until medium doneness.

Serve with greens and orange segments.

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