Helene's blood orange luncheon stole the show!

Posted by Brenda Tullis on

I began working as Helene Beck’s personal assistant here at Beck Grove in Fallbrook, California in February and since then, I’ve been introduced to the glory and majesty of the blood oranges we grow, both the Torocco and the Moro. Since then, during my breaks, I often head straight to the blood orange trees which are still brimming with fruit. Crimson red flesh, raspberry-like citrus taste, they are incredible and delicious!

But sadly, we are nearing the end of our blood orange season. The fruits are at their sweetest right now but they’re not going to be around for long. We still have plenty of blood oranges on the trees, but the season is coming to a close so we harvest the last of our crop every year, and put away thousands of gallons of organic-blood-orange juice. We’ve just lowered the price on it also, only $5 per quart or $10 per half gallon, plus shipping.

Blood oranges have red flesh because they contain anthocyanins, a family of polyphenol pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. It is a powerful antioxidant. Anthocyanin is found in cherries, red cabbage, blueberries, cornflowers, pansies and eggplant just to name a few. Additionally, blood oranges are packed with Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin A, iron, calcium and fiber. What’s not to love about blood oranges?

Rick Bayless, host of One Plate at a Time and chef and owner of Frontera Grill was equally as smitten with the blood oranges while at Beck Grove. He said, “I have been lucky enough to spend time with Helene Beck, wandering her stunning gardens, exploring the acres of vigorous citrus groves, perusing her massive library of cookbooks, roasting and simmering in her kitchen, and, most memorably, feasting at her table. She made a Fuyu Persimmon and Blood Orange Roulade with Candied Orange Filling that I will never forget. I cut into citrus and tropical fruits I’d never had before, and my horizons broadened. Visiting Beck Grove was one of the great joys of my life . . ..”

I mirror Rick’s sentiments. The other day Helene was preparing a small luncheon for some local gals and I was invited.

The stunning luncheon began and I will list the recipes she used because I'm going to duplicate them for a future luncheon I'll be a-having.

Blood Orange Mimosa

3 cups chilled blood orange juice

1 small bottle chilled sparkly water

Next came the entrée from Helene’s book Jewels From My Grove

Lobster Corn Cakes with Blood Oranges and Avocados

“These are always a luncheon favorite,” said Helene. “They are crunchy on the outside and tender and sweet inside. Serve them for Sunday brunch, a luncheon, or a light supper and If you make the corn cakes silver dollar size, they also make great hors d’oeuvres!”


½ cup whole milk

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon dried cumin

¾ cup cornmeal

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 small cooked lobsters, meat diced

1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (from about 3 ears)

3 green onions, minced

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and minced

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for oiling griddle or skillet


Finishing touches:

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt, to taste

½ pound mixed greens

2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented

1 or 2 avocados, sliced

To make the batter, combine milk, eggs, oregano, cumin, cornmeal and flour in a bowl until well blended. In a separate bowl, mix lobster, corn, onions, and both peppers. Gently combine lobster and flour mixtures and refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes.

To cook the cakes, preheat a lightly oiled griddle or skillet to medium. For each cake, spread ½ cup batter into roughly a 3-inch circle and cook until the edges dry. Flip and continue cooking until golden brown. Transfer to a serving plate and keep warm.

In a bowl, combine olive oil, rice vinegar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Gently toss in mixed greens, blood orange segments and avocado slices.

To serve, plate lobster corn cakes and then top with a small handful of greens.

And finally, there was dessert:

Sliced blood oranges with candied ginger

Six blood oranges, skin sliced off and thickly sliced

Arrange in a beautiful plate and sprinkle with candied ginger

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