Orange Appeal by Jamie Schler

Savory Orange, Onion and Olive Focaccia photo by Ilva Beretta from Orange Appeal

Orange Appeal, Savory and Sweet

Oranges are one of the fruits we take for granted, aren’t they? Thanks to their keeping qualities and a steady supply on grocer’s shelves, we expect to be able to pack a navel in our lunches whenever it strikes us. But really, oranges deserve our full attention, with their balance of juicy sweetness and bracing tartness. There are culinary possibilities galore in the blazing orange pulp and zest. These fruits are way more than juice.

All Oranges, All The Time

Just in time for citrus season, we have a new gem of a cookbook, Orange Appeal; Savory and Sweet, by Jamie Schler, Photos by Ilva Beretta, published by Gibbs Smith.

I know Jamie Schler as the brilliant writer behind the Life’s a Feast blog, where she writes evocatively about her life, food, and France. She also collaborates with talented photographer Ilva Beretta on the Plated Stories blog, and Ms Beretta did the beautiful photos for this book, as well.

Jamie Schler grew up in Florida, with all the oranges she could eat, and never tires of the sweet, tart flavor and citrusy perfume of her favorite fruit. Schler spent her childhood smack in the middle of the most celebrated citrus growing region in the World. In her home, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and other juicy citrus fruits were always on hand for meals and snacks.

But when she grew up, learned to cook, and delved into the foods of other cultures, she realized that she had been missing out. Eating fresh fruit had been enough, for all those early years, but her family had never really cooked or baked with the beloved orange.


Orange Appeal-Jamie Schler
As Jamie traveled the world, and became a professional cook and food writer, her love of oranges never waned. But she began to dig deeper, investigating the play between sweet, sour, savory, and spice. Orange Appeal is the culmination of years of creative play with the sunshine drenched fruit.
Savory and Sweet, in Every Course
Orange Appeal is a beautiful book, packed with information and unique recipes. It starts with a guide to the many varieties of orange that will be appearing in stores this winter, just in case you are a little baffled by blood oranges, or unsure as to what a sour orange is really all about.
The recipes, covering everything from sauces, dips and dressings, to starters, all the way to desserts, are sure to whet your appetite, especially with the mouthwatering photos. Vegetarians will find plenty to like here, even though fish and meats are well-represented, too. If you like the sound of Orange Rosemary Wedding Day Chicken, you can always make it with mock chicken, or even tofu, if you know your way around the kitchen.
It’s time to start seeing oranges, for the kitchen chameleons that they are. Orange Appeal will open up a whole new world of orange scented, sunny dishes that just might help you get through the winter darkness.
Try this delicious recipe, and check out Orange Appeal; Savory And Sweet.

Savory Orange, Onion, and Olive Focaccia

Makes 1 large 10 x 14-inch (25 x 35 cm) or larger rectangle

WHETHER BAKED UP THICK AND FLUFFY or rolled out thin and crispy, this focaccia highlights the delicious combination of onion, orange, and olives, making a fantastic, unusual bread for dinner, a snack, or as part of a light meal. The amount of topping you use will depend on the size of your focaccia as well as the size of your oranges and onions; just know that the flavors mellow and the onions shrink when baked. The focaccia is best eaten warm from the oven but is excellent eaten when cooled.

1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce / 7 g) active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups (315 ml) warm water, divided

4 cups (19 ounces / 540 g)  all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for kneading

2 teaspoons salt

3 oranges, finely zested, about 1 1/2 tablespoons

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 to 2 oranges

1 to 1 1/2 yellow or red onions

1 cup (100 g) cured black, green, or purple olives

Sea salt flakes, preferably smoked, coarse salt, or Orange Salt (page 22)

Freshly ground black pepper,  to taste

Fresh oregano or thyme leaves, optional

Place the sugar, yeast, and 1/4 cup (65 ml) of the water in a bowl, and let stand for 15 minutes until the yeast has dissolved and the mixture is foamy. Place 3 3/4 cups (500 g) of the flour, salt, and zest in a large mixing bowl and rub together with your fingers until blended and there are no clumps of zest; make a well in the center of the flour. Pour 2 tablespoons oil, the yeast mixture, and remaining water into the well and stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough forms; if there are any pockets of flour that won’t blend in, add 1–2 tablespoons more warm water at a time, only as needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in the remaining 1/4 cup (40 g) flour. Knead the dough for 6 minutes, dusting both the dough and the work surface lightly with more flour to keep the dough from sticking. The dough should be soft, smooth, and elastic.

Oil a large, clean mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Place the ball of dough in the bowl, turning to coat the surface of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour until double in size.

Prepare the toppings by peeling the oranges, cutting away all the white pith, and slicing across the core into 1/4-inch (1/2 cm) slices, about 6 slices per orange. If you prefer, slice each round into 4 triangles. Peel and trim the onion and slice as thinly as possible—cut the onion in half if easier—separating the slices into rings. (continued)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Scrape the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 10 x 14-inch (25 x 35 cm) rectangle. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roll and press back into shape. If you like, use wet fingertips to make indentations across the surface of the dough where a little oil can pool. Brush dough with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and arrange the oranges on the surface; pressing gently into the dough. Spread the onions evenly over the focaccia. Dot with the olives, pressing firmly into the dough, and dust with salt, pepper, and oregano. Bake for 30–40 minutes until risen and golden.