Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eat the Grapefruit! All the Grapefruit!

My sister's darling husband is from a town in South Texas near the Texas/Mexico border. They have the best grapefruit in the world there. And, even better, they sell it before it's waxed and artificially colored for grocery stores. At Christmas, I asked my sister to bring me a bag o' grapefruit back. Be careful what you wish for because eighteen pounds is a lot of grapefruit.
Eighteen pounds of grapefruit.

So I got busy. Using a recipe from Canning for a New Generation, I made one million jars of grapefruit marmalade. Lest you have taken leave of your senses and fancy me some sort of kitchen goddess, let me disabuse you of this notion. My marmalade sucked. It was really bitter, and once I canned it, it didn't set up. Sigh. After glaring at it every time I opened the pantry door for about a week, I finally sucked it up, broke into all those jars, dumped it all back into a pot, and doctored it with brown sugar and pectin until it had no other choice but to submit. 
The ensuing mess after I decided to re-can all the marmalade.
But, it's better now. The bitterness seemed to have mellowed while it was in the pantry, it finally set up, and I hope we will live happily every after. It's a good thing because there's a lot of it.
On the day that I decided to re-can the marmalade, I decided to also re-do some especially poor watermelon jelly. It hadn't set well either, and honestly, it tasted like a watermelon that had lingered far too long in a dirty back alley. So I resolved to fix it. I opened all the cans, threw the crap jelly into a pot and added a bunch of good balsamic vinegar, a pinch of vanilla, and some more pectin. And guess what? Watermelon and balsamic FOR THE WIN. It was vastly improved, which is a good thing because it was about ten seconds from being poured down the sink. What's the saying? "Behind every good canner is a pantry full of crap that didn't turn out right," or something similar? It's certainly true for me. But the good thing about canned food, especially jelly, is that it's usually sturdy enough for a retry. 

Anyway, on with the grapefruit. I peeled what seemed like forty grapefruit and cut the peel into triangular sections. 
Using this recipe for candied grapefruit, I, well, candied the grapefruit, except that I use the mint sugar I made a couple of months ago for the end sugaring. It's so pretty!  
Dear God, there was still a lot of grapefruit left. Thank goodness I have a kick-ass grapefruit pie recipe, courtesy of my sister's mom-in-law. 
For the crust, use my Granny's recipe or a store-bought crust (Granny's is about one hundred times better, but we all get desperate from time to time). Now, for the filling. My sister's m-i-l uses room temp cream cheese. I like the cream cheese whipped with goat cheese, brown sugar, and some fresh vanilla bean. However, this time, I was really on a mission to clean out my fridge, I didn't have any cream cheese, and I was not down for a trip to the store. I had 2/3 of a container of Cool Whip and one small container of plain Greek yogurt that needed using. So I whisked them together with some brown sugar and vanilla. IT WAS A MIRACLE IN MY MOUTH. For the grapefruit layer, I made a variation of my fruit compote, which is really more of a jelly for this recipe. I sectioned out two grapefruit, just like I do when I eat them for breakfast (cut them in half, cut all the way around as near to the pith as possible, and then on either side of each section membrane, and scoop them out with a spoon). Put the grapefruit  to strain over a bowl, collecting the juices. The juice makes the basis for the "compote" or sauce. For this one, I used the grapefruit juice, white wine, a bit of water, honey, brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and saffron. With this sort of sauce, you just have to keep tasting it until you like it.

While the sauce was reducing down a bit at a gentle simmer, I dissolved one and a half packages of gelatin into about 5 T. of cold water. When I was satisfied with the sauce, I added the gelatin and took it off the heat.

Now, bake your pie crust until it's done, as you won't be cooking this pie. Use pie weights or beans in the crust to keep it from getting giant bubbles in it. When it has cooled and your sauce is now room temperature, you can layer in your creamy filling (about halfway up). Evenly distribute your grapefruit chunks on top of the cream filling. Pour the sauce over the grapefruit and immediately place the pie in the freezer for ten minutes. You want the gelatin to set up fast so your crust doesn't get soggy. After ten minutes, move the pie to the refrigerator and keep it there until it completely sets. Enjoy!

Now, while I liked the Cool Whip/yogurt mix better taste-wise, I did find that it made for a less attractive pie. Bits and pieces of it broke off and floated to the top, which marred the pretty pink surface of the gelled sauce a bit. The cream cheese/goat cheese later is heavier and does not do this. Luckily, this is not a recipe that you have to strictly adhere to (like the ratios for baking a cake), so you can experiment a bit.

Recipe after the break...


Grapefruit Pie

  • Pie Crust (either store-bought or from my recipe)
Creamy filling
  • 1 package cream cheese, room temp
  • 3-4 oz. goat cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla

OR

  • 1 container plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup Cool Whip
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
Remember, I found this second version to be a bit tastier, but it did float a little bit, making for a slightly less attractive pie.

  • 2 large grapefruit, cut into bite-size pieces, drained (retain the juice)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 t. saffron threads, crushed
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla 
  • 1 1/2 packages gelatin, dissolved in water
Bake your pie crust, using pie weights to keep it from bubbling up. Set aside to cool. 

Section out your grapefruit, avoiding pith and peel. Reserve all juice. 

Whip together the ingredients for the creamy filling you'll use and refrigerate. 

In a saucepan, combine grapefruit juice, wine, water, and honey. Let gently simmer for 10 minutes. Add in saffron, salt, and vanilla. Taste your sauce. Add in brown sugar a little at a time until it tastes good to you. Remember, the grapefruit sections will add tartness to the pie, so let the sauce get just a bit sweeter than you like in general to balance each other out. When you like it, add in the dissolved gelatine, let it completely combine, and take the sauce off the heat. Let it come to room temperature. Put it in the refrigerator while you assemble the pie. 

In your prepared pie crust, smooth your creamy filling. It should come about halfway up the pie crust wall. Then position your grapefruit chunks evenly on the creamy filling. When your sauce is cool (but not cold--don't let it set in the fridge), pour it over the grapefruit pieces. Immediately place pie in the freezer for 8-10 minutes. The trick here is to get the sauce to set up before it makes your crust soggy. Move the pie to the refrigerator until it completely sets. 

The original recipe I have for this pie uses strawberry jello in place of the sauce I've described, and you can use any flavor of jello if you'd rather. However, I like the wine and saffron flavors better. You can try any combination!