Maybe you, like me, grew up near a ice cream store, whether Swensen's or 31 Flavors or some other. Maybe you, like me, begged your babysitter to take you there after school at least twice a week. Once there, maybe you pressed your 9-year-old face to the cold glass and gazed longingly at the multitude of options inside the freezer, realizing that the decision you were about to make was momentous, and somehow would reflect your inner thoughts and tastes and desires. Occasionally you'd order what all the cool kids ordered, which was always bubblegum, and which always ended up being a disappointment. (In retrospect, what a silly flavor! How could you possibly hold on to all the gum bits to chew until the end? Unless, maybe, like Violet Beauregard, you stuck the bits behind your ear until you were ready for them.) Other times you'd stick with the old classic, rocky road. And sometimes you'd be tempted by the brilliant colors of sherbet (invariably and inexplicably pronounced "sherbert" by you and your friends, that extra "r" now ingrained in your memories and your pronunciation forevermore, leading your husband B to say to you last night, "President Bush probably grew up saying 'nuke-u-lar,' but that doesn't make it right!"), but when you chose sherbet, you were always disappointed by the slightly artificial tang of your scoop.
Until now, that is, when a completely unartificial, beautifully-colored, lovely-tasting sherbet is available for your palate. Pete Wells wrote about this version in the New York Times Sunday Magazine this week, and it's everything he promised it would be and more. It's smooth and fresh and quick and easy. Also, it takes advantage of the citrus season we're in: Meyer lemons and key limes and clementines, oh my!
Now how to get the juice? I have been told that I have a very gadget-y kitchen. I mean, my mom gave me a mozzarella slicer for Christmas last week. But it's rare, I think, for form and function to meld as perfectly as they do in the Orange-X juicer (one time, B and I were walking through SFO when we saw it as part of an exhibit on great design originating in the Bay Area). The perfect gift for the cook who has everything!
A note on the following recipe for vegetarians or those who cook for them: there are some hard-to-remember pitfalls that I have come across over the years. For example, Worcester sauce has anchovies in it (oops!). A friend once made risotto, and only when her vegetarian guest asked for the recipe did she realize she'd used chicken broth (for better or worse, she didn't tell him). Gelatin is another one that can be missed (it's made from unmentionable leftovers like hooves), and it is a necessary part of the following sherbet. No panna cotta or clementine sherbet for strict vegetarians! For the rest of us, though, enjoy the following.
Adapted from Pete Wells, The New York Times Magazine, 1/4/09
In turn, adapted from Alice Waters, Chez Panisse Fruit
Makes a little more than a pint
Time: 20 min active, 2 1/2 hours total
1/2 t. gelatin
2 T. water
2 lbs clementines, or enough to make 1 1/2 c. juice
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cream
Place the gelatin and 2 T. water in a small saucepan on the stove. Meanwhile, zest two of the clementines, and place the zest aside. Squeeze the clementines. Heat the gelatin and water until it is smooth, about 1-2 min. Then add the juice, zest, and sugar. Continue to cook until the sugar dissolves, about 2-3 min. Chill for 1 hour. Strain out the zest, add cream, and freeze orange-cream mixture according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Freeze for at least 1 additional hour before serving.