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Citrus Zester: Surely, You Zest!

Updated on June 29, 2010

There are few things as appropriately named as zest. That colorful stuff on the outside of citrus fruit is nothing if not zesty. The essential oil in the peel carries a concentrated version of the fruit's flavor, underscored by a tingly sharp taste that attracts attention even when you use small quantities.

The traditional zester is basically a handle with several sharp little circles at the end. You drag it over the skin of the fruit and little curls of the peel emerge through the holes. There's also a new kind of zester available that looks like a big, woodworking rasp that may (if you're anything like me) conjure memories of junior high school shop class. Either one works fine, although the rasp is better if you need industrial quantities.

Zest can go from breakfast to dinner, salad to dessert - it works as a garnish or as an ingredient in just about anything that needs a little, well, zest.

Whether you're zesting an orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit, make sure you use only the colored part of the peel - the white pith underneath is bitter.

  • Lemon zest can be added to a wide range of desserts. Try it in cheesecake, spice cake, pound cake, crème brûlée, panna cotta, gingerbread, sorbet, or fruit pie.
  • Rub fish you're planning to grill or roast with a mixture of orange zest, chopped fresh dill, black pepper, and a little olive oil.
  • Spice up corn bread with lime zest and red pepper flakes.
  • Top pasta with a mixture of broccoli (or broccoli rabe), goat cheese, garlic, lemon zest, pepper, and a little chicken stock.
  • Create a cold salad of shrimp, black beans, and scallions, and flavor it with orange zest and a citrus vinaigrette.
  • Add orange zest and cinnamon to pancake or waffle batter.
  • Garnish fruit soup with a mixture of orange, lemon, and lime zest.
  • Add lemon zest and chopped cilantro to lemon and melted butter, and serve with grilled fish.

Citrus Scones With Berries and Crème Fraîche

Berry Topping:

1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon mint, julienned
Crème Fraîche
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Citrus Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup heavy cream, divided

For the Marinated Berries:

Combine ingredients and marinate 2-4 hours in refrigerator.

For the Crème Fraîche:

Combine ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 24 to 36 hours. Cream should thicken and take on a nutty-tart flavor. Refrigerate. Keeps up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

For the Citrus Scones:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Sift first four ingredients together.

3. Cut butter into dry ingredients until butter resembles small pebbles (do not overmix). Add citrus zest and 7 ounces of the heavy cream. Mix only until combined.

4. Roll dough out to 1-inch thickness. Cut into six 3-inch rounds and place on parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush tops of scones with 1 ounce cream.

5. Bake for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

To Serve: Once they have cooled slightly, split scones in half and place each half on a plate. Place 1 teaspoon Crème Fraîche on each scone. Distribute half of berries and juice on top of Crème Fraîche. Place top half of scone over berries. Scatter remaining berries around plate. If you like, add remaining Crème Fraîche to top of scones.


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    • kiwi91 profile image

      kiwi91 7 years ago from USA

      Zest is something I always forget about when cooking, but it does add a lot of flavor to meals.