Limitations breed creativity. That’s my motto in the kitchen, which is good. We have a long list of foods that my husband reacts to, most are allergies. One such food is citrus. Yep. You would be amazed at how many foods you eat in a day have some citrus in them. But, like all food restrictions, when one pantry door closes, another opens up – with the added bonus that the food made through substitutions keeps everyone feeling healthy! What are your options if you are citrus-free? Our favorites include:
- Sumac berries we mainly used dried ones, which are easy to find in Mediterranean markets. It’s the red spice some people sprinkle over humus. Others make a lemonade -like drink out of the fresh berries, watch for a post on that later this summer (I hope!).
- Tamarind a dried fruit concentrate that you can easily find in Indian groceries. I use this a lot in soups or stir-fries. Just cut the amount in half. If your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon lemon juice, use 1 to 1 1/2 tsp tamarind. A little goes a long way!
- Cider vinegar especially in soups or casseroles, in small quantities, can replace that sour taste without making your dish taste like vinegar.
- We’ve also been better about using herbs like parsley and cilantro, which also provide a citrus-like taste to foods.
- For large quantities of citrus replacement, I like to use pomegranate. It is easy to find in grocery stores and has tartness to it.
Which brings me to a recent cake I wanted to make. I subscribe to the Splendid Table’s Weeknight Kitchen, which is a mostly weekly email with very yummy and usually quick meals. Sometimes they throw in dessert recipes, and the French Lemon Yogurt Cake they printed from A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg seemed too tempting. Never mind that the main ingredients are lemon and wheat flour. By the time I was done with it, it was a completely different cake, but very satisfying!
I created the Pomegranate Yogurt Cake for the same dinner with friends I described in my last post. I started in on the cake about a week before our dinner, when I stared looking in earnest for ground pomegranate seeds. I’d been looking for months for them, after I had heard somewhere about their use as a sour agent in some types of cooking. I checked the Mediterranean market several times, the high-end spice store, the grocery store, and then I finally found it at the Indian Grocery. They called them anardana powder. I call them tart and slightly bitter, a nice replacement for citrus zest.
Pomegranate Yogurt Cake:
I followed the directions for the Lemon Cake, roughly well. I substituted 1-1/2 cups 4 flour bean blend for the flour called for in the recipe.
I also added in 1 teaspoon xantham gum and substitued 2 teaspoons pomegranate seeds for the lemon zest. In place of the eggs, we used 3 tablespoons ground flax-seed steeped in 9 tablespoons boiling water. Let the flax steep about 15 minutes, or until the mix is the consistency of an egg.
The recipe also called for both a syrup and an icing for the cake. When it called for lemon juice, I substituted pomegranate juice in the same amount. It baked for about 40 minutes, and came out fairly well. It was a little dense, but I have some ideas on how to deal with that. More soon, but in the mean time….Eat and enjoy!
Updated on 4/3 to accommodate my evolving understanding of copyright rules 🙂 Oh, and to fix a few typos. Cheers!