~ Broiled Ruby-Red Grand-Marnier Grapefruit 'Brulee' for Breakfast? A Romantic Start to Valentines Day! ~
Simple pleasures are the best, and grapefuit is one of my favorites. Even in my childhood, I adored grapefruit. Every February, a big bag of them got delivered to my parents door. I could be wrong, but I believe mom ordered them because they were a fundraiser for my brother's cub scout pack. Almost every morning in February, my brother and I started our breakfast off with a half a grapefruit. If you think it's hard to get school-age children to like the bitter-sweet taste of grapefruit, think again. My mom turned it into an event of sorts:
Meet the grapefruit knife and spoons from my youth (circa 1960):
"Get me the crooked knife", she'd say. That's what we called the curve-bladed knife culinarily known as a grapefruit knife. She'd cut around the inside perimeter of each half, to separate the juicy fruit from the tough skin. We loved watching her do that. Next she'd say, "get out the crazy spoons", and, we'd rush to the 'silverware' drawer to fish out our serrated-edged, weapon-like grapefruit spoons. We'd sprinkle our grapefruit half with some Sugar 'n Cinnamon (a product I keep in my pantry to this day) and attack our grapefruit half!
Meet my present day grapefruit knife and spoons (circa 2000):
February is National Grapefruit Month, and, it has been a banner year for grapefruit. Whatever happened during this years growing season, they are over-the-top juicy, flavorful and succulent. I've been buying 3-4 at a time, of all kinds, from several different markets. I don't store them in the refrigerator. I eat one a day, so, they're in no danger of spoiling, and, I think they are so much better if eaten at room temperature. Nowadays, I skip the sugar. First I slice one in half, then I eat the sections, then I squeeze every drop of juice into a glass and sip up every drip!
Yesterday, I sent Joe off to run a few errands, which included a stop at Sam's Club to pick up the things we buy in bulk, plus a couple of their thick-cut T-Bone steaks for dinner. Our local Sam's Club has a great butcher shop as well as a produce department. When Joe came home he said, "Honey, I bought you a present, a box of red grapefruit!"
A bit about grapefruit: In the fruit world, grapefruit is a child -- less than 300 years old. Historians think it was an accidental cross between a pummelo and an orange because there are no records of deliberate hybridization. It's sometimes called a shaddock, for Captain Shaddock, a 17th century English ship commander who brought pummelo seeds from the East Indies to the West Indies in 1693.
Grapefruit first appeared in the United States in 1823, when Count Odette Philippe brought seeds from the Bahamas to Florida. Because of its somewhat bitter, acidic flavor, it wasn't very popular at first. The first shipment of Florida grapefruit made its way to Philadelphia and New York in 1885, where, in these metropolitan areas, it was met with interest, and, it quickly began to gain in popularity. Before long, grapefruit farms where popping up in Texas, Arizona and California!
Once referrred to as the "forbidden fruit", grapefruit is said to have gotten its name from a 19th century naturalist who observed the fruit that grew from Shaddock's seeds and noted, "the fruit grows in clusters much like grapes"!
Choosing, storing and eating a grapefruit:
When choosing a grapefruit, choose one that feels solid and weighty with a smooth, shiny skin. That being said, do not reject one with some blemishes or scarring on the flesh (pictured here), which comes from bee stings. Bees love sweet things, so, the more stings, the sweeter your grapefruit will be. This is true for choosing other citrus fruits as well. Grapefruit will keep for a week at room temperature (65+ degrees) and 6-8 weeks stored in the refrigerator. Grapefruit is recognized for many health benefits, but, it does interact adversely with certain prescription medications, so, if you're on medication, check with your doctor!
Slicing a grapefruit:
By the 1930's a half of a grapefruit was a common start to the American breakfast in homes and restaurants. A special knife, with a curved blade was developed to loosen the sections. It was topped with honey or granulated sugar and sometimes a dash of cinnamon. By the 1950's, almost every home in America owned a grapefruit knife and a set of pointy, serrated-tipped spoons too. During the 1960's recipes for grapefruit salads, grapefruit Jello molds and broiled grapefruit desserts were popping up on menus and dinner tables everywhere. Nowadays, no breakfast buffet is considered complete without a pitcher of orange and grapefruit juice on it!
Stand each of:
2 grapefruit, any variety
up on its side with the pole ends (the top and bottom) facing left and right. Using a chef's skife, slice the grapefruit in half.
Broiling a grapefruit (couldn't be easier):
~ Step 1. Place the sliced and sectioned grapefruit halves in 4, oven-safe grapefruit bowls that have been placed on a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan lined with parchment paper, or, directly in an 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish that has been sprayed with no-stick spray.
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled (about 5 minutes)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (a sweet, orange-flavored liqueur)*
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Note: If you're serving this to kids, skip the Grand Marnier and use 4 tablespoons of melted butter!
~ Step 4. Place 6" under preheated broiler and broil until the topping is very bubbly and the sugar is caramelizing (like a brulee) and juices are starting to drizzle down the sides, about 3-3 1/2 minutes. Watch carefully, as these can and will go from golden brown to burned very quickly.
Remove from oven and allow to rest about 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Dig in, eat your way around, then, drink the syrupy juices:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; fork; curved-blade grapefruit knife or paring knife; oven-safe grapefruit bowls or an 8" x 8" x 2" baking dish; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper
Cook's Note: Since this version of eating grapefruit is quite sweet and dessertlike, I don't recommend serving it followed by something like pancakes or waffles that require something sweet to eat (like maple syrup and/or powdered sugar). My recipe for ~ English Muffins, Sweet Sausage, Eggs & Cheese: My Super-Simple, Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole ~ can be found in Categories 9, 17 or 20!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)