As I stand on the threshold of a much-anticipated spring, looking back at last week’s preparations for a satisfying yet predictable St. Patrick’s Day, I can say with certainty that I’ve had my fill of cold weather and all of the belly busting, stick to the ribs comfort food that seems to go hand in hand with winter. Sure, the corned beef & cabbage was mouth-watering, even delectable, but let’s face it, as Chico Marx once said, “enough is too much.”

One thing I will miss about winter, though, are those wonderful Clementines that have been available for the past months, packed in small wooden crates and prominently displayed in the produce section of grocery stores everywhere. I can’t think of anyone I know who hasn’t eaten a Clementine, in spite of the fact that this tiniest variety of the mandarin orange family was made available to American consumers only a few years ago and have to be imported from either Spain or Morocco, where the climate and soil account for their particular aroma, taste and sweetness.

Incidentally, even though most people think of them as small tangerines, Clementines are a different variety entirely, indeed with a distinctive taste, and generally seedless. Like all slip-skin citrus fruit, such as tangerines and mandarin oranges, Clementines are easy to peel, making them popular with kids.

Like other members of the orange family, Clementines are usually eaten out of hand, but you might try taking four or five of them, as I did last week, and turning them into a perfectly scrumptious Clementine cake, made with a minimum of effort and without any flour or shortening. Here’s the recipe, but do it soon. The season for Clementines ends in March.

Clementine Cake

Makes one 8-inch cake

1 pound (about 4 or 5) Clemetines (or other

orange variety)

6 each large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar (1/4 cup more if fruit is tart)

2 1/3 cups finely ground blanched almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Place the Clementines in a pot and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours.

Drain and cool (you can do this a day ahead if you like).

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.

If your almonds are not already ground, grind them in a food processor and set aside.

Cut each Clementine in half (at the equator, not through the stem) and remove any seeds.

Place Clementine halves, skin and all, in the food processor (or blender) and process until finely chopped. You can do it by hand, but make sure they are finely chopped.

Line an 8-inch springform pan with buttered parchment paper and butter the pan.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar, almonds and baking powder.

Add the chopped Clementines and mix well.

Pour the mixture in the buttered pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check the cake after 40 minutes and cover with tin foil if it looks like it’s getting too brown.

Remove from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.

When cool, remove the cake from the pan and serve. It’s really better the next day and great with ice cream or whipped cream.

Join the discussion on social media!

Frank Chlumsky

Frank Chlumsky, former executive chef of Philander's restaurant in Oak Park, teaches in Chicago at Kendall College's School of Culinary Arts. In his 37-year career, Frank has owned restaurants in Michigan...