Saturday, July 21, 2012

Swapper Profile: Lea Rude + Candied Citrus Peel and Citrus and Stone Fruit Jam Recipes

It has been way too long since we've had a swapper profile, so it is with considerable fanfare {cue drums and crowd cheers} that I introduce Lea Rude. When Lea walked into the swap a few months ago, we immediately recognized each other. After some to-and-fro we narrowed it down to UC Santa Cruz days, but not the specifics. We gave up on trying to place our common past, because really it doesn't matter at all, and just feels nice that we've reconnected now through food swapping. I especially appreciated her clever name and packaging play on the famed Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce with her assorted lemon, orange and aromatic bitters at the April swap. And though I missed out on those sadly (consider this my unapologetically overt plea for her to make more), I scored some of her Vin d'Orange that was an especially big hit one late night with a gang of my girlfriends. And, she's included not one, but two recipes for your lip-smacking enjoyment. Bonus!

Lea shows off a watermelon from her CSA
Name: Lea Rude

Home / Hometown Swap: El Cerrito, San Francisco
Profession: Librarian

How did you first get involved in food swapping? How long ago?

I first heard about SF Swappers from my friend, Christina Moretta, and it sounded like it was right up my alley. We had been doing a bit of casual home-made food trading over the past couple of years and the swap sounded like a fun way to take it further. I have been to the last two swaps.

What did you make for the last food swap and what inspired your choice?

I made Candied Citrus Peel and Pickled Red Onions. I had been curious about making candied citrus peel since earlier this year when a friend served some home-made candied Meyer lemon peel at a party (along with home-made limoncello!)  I have a steady supply of Meyer lemons from our backyard tree and I had some ruby red grapefruits and oranges on hand, so it seemed like the time to do it. The red onions came in my CSA. I’m not a big fan of raw onion so I decided to pickle them.

Pickled Red Onions for the swap

What’s your favorite thing about swapping?

I really like the swap itself. The social aspect is awesome and totally unique. I love talking to new people and getting inspired by what everyone makes. It is a great way to get ideas for new ways to cook. I love the potluck aspect and all of the tasting, too. I go home stuffed and pumped up!

Who or what most influences your cooking?

My mom is definitely the biggest influence and inspiration for me in the kitchen. She is an amazing cook – she can make a tasty and satisfying meal from whatever happens to be in the pantry, but she can also go home after a meal in a great restaurant and recreate her favorite dish. Whenever I make something new or just really good I get on the phone and tell my Mom all about it, and she does the same with me - she is always turning me on to new ingredients and new approaches to cooking.

What’s your favorite kitchen tool?

I am currently working out how I can make space for a permanent spot on the counter-top for my blender. I have been using it a lot more since I started making salsas and it keeps getting pulled out lately to make aguas frescas and smoothies.

Booty from Lea's CSA box

Your current flavor or ingredient obsession?

The ingredients of my CSA box. We started getting a box from Terra Firma Farms in January and it has had a huge influence on my cooking. My approach to cooking in general has always been to use what is on hand but this has taken it to another level. Every week I have to figure out what to do with the bounty of produce that comes in, sometimes including things I have never cooked before. It is so much fun!

Garlic Scapes
Biggest food surprise?

A recent surprise was garlic scapes. I just caught word of them a couple months ago on some canning blogs, but I had never seen them before. I took a trip to Vermont last month and saw them everywhere! Farmers markets, farmers stands, and in my friends’ CSA. At the CSA farm they had giant tubs of extra garlic scapes, so we made grilled scapes and garlic scape pesto. They taste great but I think the most surprising and delightful thing is their looks. They are so silly!

If the Rapture came tomorrow, what would your last meal on earth be?

I am on a mostly gluten-free diet, so if an asteroid were going to collide with the earth tomorrow I would spend the day eating things on bread. Good butter, triple-cream brie, homemade pesto, and all the homemade preserves in the house on sweet baguette. Plus steamed artichokes and Dungeness crab with butter and garlic.

When I'm not in the kitchen… I'm sewing, reading or walking the dog.

Favorite local food experience:

Backyard BBQs with friends year round, fancy dinner at Camino in Oakland, casual lunch at Tacubaya in Berkeley.

Recipes by Lea:

Candied Citrus Peel
Candied Citrus Peel

When I decide to make the candied citrus I trolled around online and read some recipes in cookbooks. I did what worked with my schedule and used the techniques that sounded right.

Remove the peel in large strips from 2 grapefruits, 3 oranges and 6-7 lemons, about 5 lbs. of fruit. Large strips are best. Little pieces fall apart and get lost in the syrup.

Scrape or slice off any pith that is left on the peel, but keep the white part. That gives it heft and the bitterness and toughness is simmered out in the next step.

Cover the peels in cold water and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, and repeat once, then repeat again but simmer for 15-30 minutes, depending on how much time you have. Drain peels.

Combine 5 cups of sugar and 5 cups of water, bring to a boil simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then add the peel and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to touch.

Remove the peels from the syrup and place on wire racks placed over cookie sheets or platters. Try to keep the strips from touching each other. Let dry for 24 hours (a cold oven is a good place to keep them out-of-the way and dust-free).

Put ½ cup sugar or superfine sugar in a bowl (I actually pulsed regular sugar in a food processor to make it finer). Roll the peels in the sugar to coat, then let dry for another hour. These should keep for a couple of months at room temp in airtight containers.

Candied Citrus Peel packages for the June swap

Citrus and Stone Fruit Jam

I had about 3 cups of syrup left over from making the peels and I figured it would be a good base for a small batch of jam. I had cherries, apricots and a peach from the CSA, so I made this jam. It is my favorite jam ever! You can use any combo of fruit, but definitely include the lemon – it makes a perfect sour, chewy addition to the sweet jam.

Syrup left over from making candied citrus peel (above)
3 apricots
1 peach
a handful of cherries, pitted
1 Meyer lemon, quartered, seeds removed, sliced thin (keep the skin on)

Cook all ingredients for about 20 minutes. Put in a jar and refrigerate. Eat! Yum!


  1. Yay Lea! I was lucky enough to score her citrus peels at the last swap, and I'm still enjoying her orange bitters from the swap before that.

  2. I just made a batch of these peels to use in my first attempt at panettone -- thanks!