A few weeks ago, my husband came home with a prized dinner invitation. One of his colleagues, a physics professor from India, had asked us over for a home-cooked Indian meal. Because I adore Indian food but rarely cook it, I was beside myself with excitement.
When we RSVP'd, I asked if there was anything I might do to help. The host hesitated, then proposed I bring dessert, explaining that although he enjoyed cooking his country's celebrated entrees, he was not "a dessert person." A sweets aficionado, I enthusiastically volunteered to bring a confection to end our meal.
I knew that because the night's offerings would be piquant and robust, something refreshing would work best as a sequel, and after poring through my files, an idea came to mind. I would make a sauce by simmering red wine and sugar with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, then marinate peeled and sliced oranges in some of this mixture.
For serving, the orange slices would be arranged on dessert plates, garnished with scoops of vanilla ice cream, then drizzled with the remaining sauce.
The dinner, which included an array of curried dishes from southern India, was delicious, and the vibrantly hued orange slices drizzled with the deep-red wine sauce made a delectable and cooling finale. However, don't think that this dessert should be used exclusively with menus from the subcontinent.
Several days ago, the oranges made a fine finish for a tapas class I taught, and they would be equally tempting as a conclusion for a savory Italian or Moroccan menu. And, if you're wondering what to serve after bowls of hearty chili, these oranges are the answer!
Betty Rosbottom writes for Tribune Media Services.
Companions for an Orange Dessert
Try these dishes with Fresh Orange Slices in Spiced Red Wine With Vanilla Ice Cream:
Curried dishes from southern India
Italian or Moroccan entrees
An assortment of small plates
Fresh Orange Slices in Spiced Red Wine With Vanilla Ice Cream
5 large navel oranges
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
4 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/2 pint good-quality vanilla ice cream
4 mint sprigs for garnish
With a sharp knife, preferably a chef's knife, cut a thick slice from each end of an orange. Stand the orange upright on a cutting board, and starting at the top, slice downwards following the contour of the fruit, cutting away all of the skin and all of the white pith beneath. Repeat with the other oranges. Slice the peeled oranges into 1/4 -inch-thick rounds. Remove and discard any seeds. Arrange the orange slices slightly overlapping in a shallow, nonreactive dish.
Place the red wine, sugar, orange zest, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon stick halves in a medium, heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir to mix and bring mixture to a robust simmer. Cook until mixture has reduced to 3/4 cup and is slightly thickened, about 7 to 8 minutes. (Watch carefully, as cooking time can vary.) Strain the mixture. Pour half of it over the orange slices. Marinate, uncovered, at least an hour but preferably 2 to 3 hours, at room temperature.
To serve, reheat the remaining wine mixture just until warm. Arrange a fourth of the orange slices in an overlapping circle on each of 4 dessert plates. Garnish the center of each with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle some of the remaining sauce over the ice cream and garnish each serving with a mint sprig.
Note: This recipe can be doubled easily.
Per serving: 253 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 55 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 15 milligrams cholesterol, 26 milligrams sodium
Recipe analysis provided by registered dietitian Jodie Shield.