School Lunches

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Vanilla Beans and Blood Oranges

To continue my theme of using citrus to pretend that it's not still winter, I decided to feature blood oranges today. Can we all just take a moment to notice just how beautiful a blood orange is? With something that beautiful, you know good things are coming...

I shouldn't complain too much about it being winter. I've lived in Iowa all my life so I'm all too familiar with what the season brings. However, today was in the 40s! That may not be exciting to you, but to those of us who just experienced negative 20 and 30 degree weather, 40 degrees feels like spring! 

Today the sun was shining, the snow was melting, and I was day dreaming of warm days ahead. Days that I will be outside grilling and sipping a margarita. So, that is what I'm making today. The absolute best margarita. There is nothing quick about it. But, perfection takes time. 

First I juiced a few blood oranges. Then I stopped to appreciate that beautiful color. Then, I squeezed a few limes. Instead of throwing them away I filled a mason jar with a few of the juiced halves.

I made a simple syrup (equal parts water to sugar, I used 1 cup of each). Bring to a boil. After it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and add vanilla bean paste (I don't measure, I just pour a little it - I would say 2tsp is a good place to start). Allow the syrup to cool for a couple minutes before pouring into the jar filled with fruit to create a vanilla bean citrus infused simple syrup. 

I reserved a bit of the vanilla bean syrup for a separate use. I know I promised you a margarita, but while my citrus infused simple syrup cools, let me take a minute to show you what my real favorite drink is... 

I always keep a bottle of vanilla syrup on my counter. While it would be perfect for coffee, I am not a coffee drinker. However, I AM a Coke drinker. I am known for ordering lunch regularly just so I can have a fountain Coke deliver. However, what is better than a fountain Coke? A glass bottled Coke.  

And what is better than a glass bottled coke?

A vanilla coke. Not the vanilla coke from those fancy flavor fountain pop machines. (And yes, I'm in Iowa and it is 'pop' here. You will not find me saying 'soda', 'soda-pop', or anything other than 'pop'.)

I'm talking about vanilla coke made from a vanilla bean syrup and glass bottled coke poured over ice in perfect harmony.

How refreshing does that look?

Okay, back to the margarita...

Blood Orange Margarita

2 ounces tequila
1 ounce orange liqueur 
1 ounce simple syrup (I used vanilla bean citrus infused simple syrup)  
1 ounce freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

It's like summer in  glass. 

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