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Brighten up your winter menus with citrus

15 Recipes
A plate of strawberry-mandarinquat shortcake made using Sqirl baker Elise Fields' recipe.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

15 recipes to perk up your taste buds

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From December through April, sometimes May, the vivid oranges, yellows, greens and reds of California-grown citrus flood local farmers markets, produce stands and grocery stores. They add welcome brightness at a time of year when sunlight starts waning at 4 p.m. The acid in citrus also brightens flavors when we add it to what we are cooking.

Accustomed as we may be to using lemon and lime to balance the sweet and the salty, oranges and mandarins accomplish similar goals without the tart, powerful punch that lemons and limes often pack. Mandarins are particularly popular of late and lend subtle flavor nuances all their own. There are many varieties to choose from, so you may want to bone up on them before heading to the market.

In the article “Mandarin Dreams,” David Karp recounts how California’s mandarin production has increased more than tenfold since the late 1990s. “Know your Mandarins” is a handy mandarin primer. Former Food editor Russ Parsons adds to California’s mandarin story and clears up the what’s-the-difference-between-a-tangerine-and-a-clementine question in “Mad for Mandarins.” (Spoiler alert: Tangerines and clementines are both types of mandarins, very similar except that clementines tend to be sweeter and easier to peel.)

Now that you are itching to cook with locally grown citrus, here are 15 recipes to revitalize your winter repertoire. Let us know which ones you try. And remember, while all citrus varieties are different from one another, for culinary purposes, they are quite interchangeable. Feel free to substitute what you have.

Steamed Asparagus with Tangerine Ponzu, Daikon and Nori

Time 15 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6.

Tangerine granita

Time 10 minutes
Yields Serves four to six

Tangerine, butter lettuce and goat cheese salad

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Tangerine and thyme chocolate chip cookies

Time 45 minutes
Yields Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Tangerine ratafia

Time 1 hour
Yields Serves 18

Olive oil cake with creme fraiche and candied tangerines

Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields Serves 12

Nage's clementine salad

Time 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Citrus Marmalade

Time 2 hours 30 minutes, plus cooling
Yields Makes 6 (half-pint) jars

Fresh Citrus Olive Oil Cake

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Makes one 9-inch loaf cake

Slow-Roasted Salmon with Spiced Citrus Mojo

Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 6

Citrus-infused sake

Time 10 minutes
Yields Serves 12

Mandarin parfait with candied ginger

Time 40 minutes
Yields Serves 6

Mandarins with rosemary honey

Time 20 minutes
Yields Serves 6