As a child, I remember the simplest grapefruit preparation: my mom would cut a large, juicy, brightly colored grapefruit in half and sprinkle sugar over the exposed segments. She then handed me the grapefruit half, placed in a small bowl with a jagged spoon beside it (aptly called a ‘grapefruit spoon’), and that was that. I gobbled up every little piece of that ruby red citrus in all its’ glory, and I’d squeeze the remaining juice into the bowl and drink it in one large slurp, sorta like the way you drink the milk after downing a bowl of Cookie Crisp or Fruity Pebbles.
That, in a nutshell, is my experience with grapefruit. I find it odd, since I choose citrus fruits any day over berries (well, seed-bearing berries, because I hate having to maneuver around them). Why, I could eat a lemon whole and have eaten them in that fashion since learning how to from my parents’ French spades/hearts comrade, Aurora. I remember thinking she was so cool because she was the only person I knew who drank alcoholic beverages so “neatly” – by eating the entire citrus slice without changing her expression one iota, and not leaving that silly rind behind like unwanted garbage beside the cherry stem.
And no, I’m not eating grapefruit rinds anytime soon – they’re way too thick and tasteless. But, but, I did eat a shit-ton of grapefruit-containing foods! Yes, friends, the eighth installment of the infamous Iron Chef Chicago battles – those monthly (in general) gatherings involving lots of good friends who love to eat. This time, we delved into one of my favorite “eat by itself with sugar” fruits (strawberry being second on that list, which already happened).
And while many associate citrus with summer, grapefruits are now at their peak and are a great escape from all this winter squash and stew, if you’re feeling the need to get away to somewhere warmer but can’t quite make it to the Bahamas right now. Tart and tangy, juicy and sweet, these citrus rounds are loaded with vitamin C and lycopene and go well with all sorts of foods, as you can see from all these lovely dishes.
For one dish, I went for a tried-and-true new favorite of mine and made two different flavors of grapefruit marshmallows (one with cardamom and one with ginger), and then fell upon a recipe for stuffed whole fish with grapefruit vinaigrette and grapefruit butter (served with millet instead of couscous), courtesy of my DVR and Tyler’s Ultimate. We had a couple of drinks, sorbet, various shrimp and scallop dishes, cakes and even lettuce wraps & pizza. It was, as usual, quite a spread.
The top three:
- Hope’s ‘Dark Chocolate Grapefruit Cake’, a gluten-free & vegan must have. I think Jon almost crapped his pants it was so good, and this time he got to eat cake with the rest of us!
- James’ ‘Grapefruit Cheesecake’ & (yes, a tie!) Christina’s ‘Grapefruit/Pork Lettuce Wraps’. James is a newcomer (Hope’s boyfriend – he does exist!!) who really came strong during his first attempt. Christina always seems to bring strong dishes and is getting very close to a win, I suspect. The wraps were my personal favorite, with both cakes coming in next.
- My ‘Grapefruit Marshmallows x2’. Clearly, you can’t go wrong with marshmallows, can you? I love them so much I’m going to start manufacturing them (yes manufacturing) and selling them on Etsy. I’m serious. Wait for it.
And with that, it looks as if the girls are back in business with two straight wins following the guys’ run. With the 9th competition right around the corner, February’s ingredient is sure to be a great one, as long as Hope can whittle down that list of possibilities!
6 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
3/4 c vanilla soy milk (warmed)
3/4 c fresh grapefruit juice (warmed)
1/2 c very hot double strong coffee
1 T vanilla extract
14 oz pumpkin puree
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1/2 c rice flour
2 T potato starch
1 T Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 t xanthan gum
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1 T grapefruit zest (optional, if you want even more grapefruit flavor!)
grapefruit segments for garnish
chocolate sauce for drizzling
Mix chocolate pieces with hot coffee and heated milk and grapefruit until chocolate is melted. Add vanilla extract and pumpkin puree, blend. Add in brown sugar, rice flour, potato starch, egg replacer, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and grapefruit zest, if using. blend thoroughly until creamy and smooth. Pour into a 9 in springform pan lined with greased parchment paper and smooth top. Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes until middle doesn’t wiggle. Chill for a minimum of two hours. top with grapefruit segments.