Orange Sherbet

workding bb favorite sherbet with spoonPicture this…

It was a Saturday morning. The skies were blue. The sun was shining, and there was zero humidity in the air. There were no sounds except for a light breeze through the trees, and little bird singing the prettiest song, because even she felt the beauty in the day.

It was a flawless summer day.
A glorious day.

I had nowhere to go…
I had nothing to do…
Well…I had lots to do, but decided that it was too beautiful to spend my time worrying about things that needed to be done. There was plenty of time for that on a day not so beautiful.

Laundry could wait.
The house could wait.

I was happy.
I was content.

Gilbert Markham, a character in Anne Bronte’s (1820-1849, British Novelist and Poet) novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall spoke these words (although he wasn’t feeling very happy, nor was he content at the moment..):

“A light wind swept over the corn; and all nature laughed in the sunshine. The lark was rejoicing among the silvery floating clouds.”

And it does… I truly believe that sunshine brings laughter, and that nature laughs in its own way…like that little bird in my yard…singing her heart out.

I took a walk around the yard, trying to find that little bird. She was content to stay where she was, out of sight, safe…and from the sound of her song, I believe that she was happy too. My guess is that she thought the same thing… her nest could wait, she had to be out enjoying, and rejoicing in that most perfect day.
wording bbb close up of sherbet
At that point in time, I didn’t think that there was anything that could make that day more perfect. Until a thought popped into my head…

Fresh orange sherbet.
The quintessence of sunshine.
The perfect way to celebrate the day.

And it was.
wording bbb cute sherbet
This sherbet is so refreshing, and so pretty, you wouldn’t think that the prep time is only minutes…and so very easy to make. The fresh orange flavor will make you wonder why you’ve been buying your sherbet from the freezer section all your life, when you could have been enjoying the real deal all along..

It didn’t take me long to realize that there are a lot of orange sherbet recipes out there…and I had to laugh that day, because as I was reading all of the recipes, I realized that they’re basically the same, except this person added a ¼ cup more heavy cream, while that person added ½ cup less sugar…and then they called the recipe their own. And as much as I’d like to, I can’t tell you who came up with the original of this most perfect recipe. But I can tell you that the recipe I used came from  The Brown Eyed Baker, who found her recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook  which I just ordered a copy for myself!

IMG_2821

Let me get off track here for one second… I ordered The New Best Recipe cookbook from Amazon.. It is about $20 brand new…. But underneath the price, there is a used book option starting at $4.99. I clicked on that… and there were quite a few of these books offered at a much lower price. Yes, they’re used…and unless you’re really bent on having brand new…then by all means…order new!  But the one that I ordered said that it has notes and sections highlighted in it. For me? That’s perfect! Why not take the knowledge of someone who has already tried a recipe in that book? I look forward to seeing what the person had to say… her/his thoughts and suggestions. You never know… they could be priceless! My cookbooks never stay pretty anyway… you will recognize a favorite cookbook in my kitchen, from the written on, worn, stained, and sometimes torn, pages!

Ok, back to the sherbet…

wording bbb spoon ful of sherbet

In the true fashion of everyone else, I changed the recipe up a bit. While Michelle (The Brown Eyed Baker) called for a tablespoon of orange zest, I added three tablespoons, minced fine. She strained her sherbet mixture, and I decided that the bits of orange zest would be an added “oomph” to the sherbet. They did. I only used ½ cup of sugar, whereas she used 1 cup. She used two cups of fresh squeezed orange juice, I used about three cups. Hers called for Triple Sec, and all I had was Chambord on hand, so I used that instead. And of course, Prudence had to make it even fatter… I added ¾ cup of heavy cream instead of her 2/3 cup!

It’s delicious. It’s more than delicious. It’s pretty, a pale orange color, it’s creamy, it’s refreshingly delicious! Deliciously delicious! And…it’s one that I plan to make over and over again. I can’t wait to try different flavors now! Maybe even a rainbow sherbet!! Stay tuned…

Life is good, it’s an “even now when I look back on that day, a calmness comes over me.. a happy remembrance of the perfect day…” kind of good.

wording bbb shertbet with three spoons

Orange Sherbet
Makes About 4 Cups

This recipe was adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker
3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (about 4-5 pounds oranges)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. finely minced orange zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. Chambord
Pinch sea salt
3/4 cup heavy cream

Place the orange juice, sugar, orange zest, lemon juice, vanilla, Chamord, and salt in a blender. Blend until sugar is dissolved. Add the heavy cream, and blend until smooth.

Place the sherbet mixture into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for at least two hours, but don’t let it freeze.

Don’t worry if the orange juice and heavy cream have started to separate. It’s fine! Just give it a good whisk, and pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. I use the KitchenAid ice cream bowl for my mixer, and it took about 1/2 hour to churn into a soft serve sherbet.

Place the soft serve sherbet into a freezer container, or ice cream container…and freeze for about 3 hours, or until it can be scooped out with an ice cream scoop.

Enjoy!
workding bb favorite sherbet with spoon

January Calendar Fun: Butter and Almond Shortbread and Homemade Vanilla Extract

IMG_8189I have what I believe is a very fun calendar for my desk at work.  It’s this Country Cooking calendar for 2014. I normally have a cupcake calendar at my desk every year, but for some reason, I chose this one instead this year.

I like to keep the element of surprise, so I don’t look ahead at the upcoming month until the first day of that month! I have to say that I’ve never been disappointed. They’re always really good recipes.  I guess they’d have to be, you have to look at them for at least 28-31 days in a row!  Since today is February 1st, and it’s Saturday, I won’t know what February’s recipe is until Monday.

IMG_8205

For the month of January, day in and day out, I’ve been sitting at my desk staring at these cookies, and yesterday I came up with the idea  that I should prepare the recipe at the end of every month.. and then write about it. Well..I will usually try to follow a recipe to the tee, but there are times when I have a strong gut feeling that it just doesn’t sound right. This just happened to be one of those recipes…

When I first read this recipe, I was a little worried that it didn’t call for enough wet ingredients.  I thought one cup of butter, along with the two egg yolks, and  3 tbsp brandy / to five cups of flour didn’t sound like a good ratio.  But what do I know?  I’m not a baker.

So, I did a little research.

It turns out that shortbread  is made with one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour.  I did learn a little bit about shortbread… it originated in Scotland, but was made from medieval bread dough that was rolled in sugar and spice, and then twice baked into a hardened biscuit which is called a rusk.  Apparently Mary, Queen of Scots, took a liking to them with her afternoon tea, and ate shortbread flavored with caraway.   They were expensive to make, so they were considered a luxury, made only for special occasions such as Christmas or weddings.

IMG_8200

I went with my gut feeling, and decided to cut the flour down to three cups.  Instead of using brandy, I used orange juice, which gave the cookies a lovely orangey-citrus flavor.  I’m going to call my version: Orange and Almond Shortbread.

After making my own changes, this turned out to be a nice cookie recipe, one that would easily fit into your Christmas repertoire, or just to use as an everyday type of cookie. The most common shape for these cookies a circle of the dough cut into wedges named petticoat tails. They’re also popular cut into circles, or long rectangular shapes. You can use any shape, really. I chose hearts just because we’re so close to Valentine’s Day.

These cookies would be perfect for that cup of afternoon tea, or added as a little bit of dolce to go with a cheese platter and a glass of wine…

IMG_8190

My Version: Orange and Almond Shortbread
Makes 2 dozen cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp baking soda
3 tbsp orange juice
½ tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 cups powdered sugar, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To toast the almonds:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Spread almonds onto a baking sheet, and bake for 5-10 minutes.  When you can smell them baking, they’re done. Mine took exactly 7 minutes.

IMG_8161

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time. Add the vanilla and orange juice. Beat for another minute.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together.  Add to the butter mixture one cup at a time until fully incorporated.  Stir in the almonds.

IMG_8166

IMG_8168

IMG_8169

On a lightly floured surface, roll half of the dough to about an inch thick.  Using your favorite cookie cutter, press out shapes, and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining half of dough.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the cookies are set and a very light brown on the bottom.

IMG_8180

IMG_8171

IMG_8172

Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to a dish or a bowl.  As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, roll them around in the powdered sugar until they’re coated.

Let the cookies for about 15 minutes on a wire rack, and then using a fine mesh sieve, generously sift the remaining powdered sugar over the cookies until they are pure white.

Enjoy!

IMG_8200

Their Version: Butter and Almond Shortbread

225g/8oz/1 cup unsalted butter
150g/5oz/ 2/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
2 egg yolks
5 ml / 1 tsp vanilla
2/5 ml / ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda  (baking soda)
45 ml / 3 tbsp brandy (optional)
500g / 1 ¼ lbs / 5 cups all purpose flour, sifted with a pinch of salt
175g/6 oz/ 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
350g/12 oz/ 3 cups icing (confectioners’) sugar

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar, until it is light and fluffy.  Add in the egg yolks one at a time, and then the vanilla.  Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the brandy (if using) and stir into the mixture.
  2. Add the flour and salt and mix to a firm dough. Using your hands, knead lightly, add the almonds, and knead again.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350F  Cover half the dough with clear film (plastic wrap), and set aside.
  4. Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured surface to 2.5cm/1in thick.  Press out shapes, using pastry cutters. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Place on lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until pale golden.
  6. Meanwhile, sift a quarter of the icing sugar onto a plate. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, dust them generously with  icing sugar. Let them cool for a few minutes on a wire rack.  Place them on the sugar coated plate.
  7. Sift the remaining icing sugar over them. The aim is to give them a generous coating, until they are pure white.

IMG_8163
Homemade Vanilla Extract 

Make your own vanilla…  it’s so simple, and so handy to have in the pantry, and in the end much cheaper than the store bought.

1 cup vodka or 1 cup bourbon
3 fresh vanilla beans
1 bottle or jar

Split the vanilla beans lengthwise down the middle from about ¼ inch from the top.  Place the three beans into your bottle or container.  Add the vodka or bourbon.  Close the container tightly, and place in a cool dark spot for about 2 months.  Give the jar / bottle a shake about once a week.   You can add more vodka or bourbon to the used vanilla beans a second time, once you’ve used up your vanilla.

I recommend making two bottles at a time, so that you have a second bottle waiting in the wings for when you’ve gone through the first bottle twice, so that you don’t have to wait a full 8 weeks for it to steep.   Once it’s emptied, make another batch of vanilla, so that it can steep while you’re using up your other bottle.

Cranberry Pancakes

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is relaxing and delicious…

IMG_6813

My daughter Katie and her boyfriend Ryan inspired me to make the recipe that I’m about to share with you…. Cranberry pancakes…. And they gave me their blessing to post about them.

Every year my mom will make a double batch of her cranberry relish a couple of days before Thanksgiving. And then the day before Thanksgiving, she and I will start preparing the stuffing, bake the pies, etc… and we will sneak a spoonful of her cranberry relish here and there while we are cooking. On Thanksgiving, she will put it in a pretty dish for dinner, and then afterward, she will split the cranberry relish for the both of us and put my half in a jar to take home. I love to bring that jar home, it’s readily available for me to just take a spoon and eat right out of the jar when the mood strikes me, which is pretty much all day long!

IMG_6808

But last year…Katie and Ryan came along and announced that they love it too. And then… they took it one step further…

It was a few days after Thanksgiving last year when I received a text from Katie. She and Ryan were making pancakes for breakfast one morning, and they decided to add some cranberry relish to the batter.

Cranberry Pancakes?!
Genius.

IMG_6824

I didn’t get to taste them, but Katie talked about them all year long, and just how delicious they were. I could only imagine, because I love cranberry anything.

And then….

A couple of weeks ago, she informed my mom that she would like to take a jar of the cranberry relish home too, so that they could make the pancakes again.

Ok….What??
I mean, seriously?
You’re treading on my territory, Kathryn.
Yes, you’re my daughter, but I’M supposed to get that jar of cranberry relish….

My mom always comes to the rescue…

My parents made a five gallon bucket (I exaggerate, it was more like four batches..) of the relish to meet the needs of her one and only daughter, and her eldest granddaughter. I do have the recipe, which I’m about to share with you… but you know, nothing tastes as good as your mom’s cooking… and this relish is high up there in the food rankings of one Marcia Bucolo.

For the record…I would have given my jar to Katie without a second thought… but I think you already knew that..

I do believe that this is a common recipe, but this is the one that my mom has been making ever since I can remember, pretty much all of my life…

IMG_6784

The Cranberry Relish
1 – 12 oz package cranberries
1 large orange cut in wedges
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Blend cranberries in food processor till chopped. Add the orange wedges and process till finely chopped. Pour into a bowl and add sugar to your taste.
And then Marcia says: Add nuts and enjoy!

IMG_6788

The Pancakes
This recipe will make about 8 to 10 large pancakes.

When I asked Katie how they made them last year, she told me that they made a basic pancake recipe, and then added a spoonful to the top of the pancakes while they were cooking. I made them with my own pancake recipe for the first time this past Monday night. Of course, my laziness compelled me to stir the cranberry relish into the batter, rather than add it to the pancake while it was cooking. Yeah, it didn’t work. The pancakes were really dense rather than the light and fluffy texture that they usually have.

IMG_6812

So tonight, I tried them again. This time I followed Katie’s advice, and added a spoonful to the raw side of the pancake while they were cooking. They turned out so light and fluffy…absolutely perfect!

If you know me, then you’ll know that I started building on this recipe with a ton of last minute thoughts… While I was cooking the pancakes the other night, I started thinking that it would be really delicious to have cranberry syrup to pour over the pancakes. Better yet, wouldn’t it be really delicious to have cooked cranberries to pour over the pancakes? And…wouldn’t it be really lovely to have some orange butter to melt over the top? While we’re at it, let’s just add a little whipped cream to top it off.

IMG_6827

Honestly? The pancakes are perfect for any holiday breakfast!!

3 cups cake flour
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup vegetable oil

Vegetable oil for greasing pan

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk and vegetable oil just until the ingredients are moistened and blended. If you want really fluffy pancakes, don’t over mix the batter.

Grease the frying pan with a little bit of vegetable oil, and heat over medium-low heat. It’s ready when a drop of water dances when splashed onto the pan. For each pancake, add 1/3 cup pancake batter to the pan. Sprinkle two teaspoons of the cranberry relish on the raw top of each pancake while it is cooking. When the top of the pancake begins to bubble, it’s ready to flip. Cook for about another minute and a half. Remove from the frying pan to a dish. Repeat until the batter is gone.

IMG_6779

The Cooked Cranberries
1 – 12 oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Add the cranberries, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until thickened into a jam type consistency, about 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat, and pour into a bowl to cool. Serve this cranberry sauce cool, or while it’s still warm with the pancakes.

IMG_6831

The Orange Butter
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ tsp orange zest

In a small bowl, mix the butter and orange zest until well blended. Serve with the pancakes.

The Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, whisk or with a hand mixer beat the heavy cream until peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla, and mix until blended. Serve a dollop with the pancakes!

Enjoy and Stay Safe this Holiday!!

IMG_6797