• Stir It Up: Ring in the new year lightly
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     | December 28,2012
     
    Dirk Van Susteren Photo

    A sorbet made with cranberries and sparkling wine adds a festive but light coda to a New Year’s celebration.

    By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, a colleague observed, we’re all feeling “buttered out.” If the thought of producing yet another rich dessert for the celebration makes you queasy, think “ice.” As in “sorbet.”

    Sorbet is basically a frozen confection of sugar, water and fruit. It’s a dessert with a past. One version of its history is that the Roman emperor Nero invented sorbet in the first century A.D., when he positioned runners along the Appian Way to pass buckets of snow to the banquet hall, where it was mixed with honey and wine.

    This story is appealing, but it is not even mentioned in Alan Davidson’s encyclopedic “Oxford Companion to Food,” which devotes more than a page to the dish. The Nero story may be apocryphal.

    Davidson says the word “sherbet” (also spelled “sherbert”) dates from at least the early Middle Ages in Turkey and Syria. “Sharab,” the Arab word for a sweetened drink, became associated with alcoholic beverages, so a new word was needed for nonalcoholic drinks: “sharbat.” It moved into Italy as “sorbetto,” into France as “sorbet,” and into England and North America as “sherbet/sherbert.”

    Sometime in the 19th century, sorbet/sherbet became a frozen dessert, not a drink, and alcohol was often added. Furthermore, in some parts of the United States, sherbet/sherbert contains milk.

    The desserts here are all based on the classic sugar-water-fruit model, with alcohol thrown in. Call them what you will; “ice” is nice. They make a sweet, flavorful and light ending to a festive meal.

    Note: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze the mixture in a covered container overnight. The next morning, chop into chunks and puree in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Place in container, cover and freeze for at least five hours and up to one week.



    Sparkling Cranberry Ice

    Yield: 6 servings

    2 cups water

    1 cups sugar

    2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

    2 cups sparkling white wine, prosecco or Champagne, chilled

    Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)



    Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar, and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

    Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1 cup water, cup sugar and cranberries in a pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the cranberries pop and soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much pulp and juice as possible. Discard the solids, and cover and refrigerate the cranberry juice until thoroughly chilled.

    In a large bowl, combine sugar syrup, cranberry juice, sparkling wine and lemon juice. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions, or use the method detailed in the note above.

    Recipe adapted from “Jasper White’s Cooking From New England” by Jasper White (Harper & Row, 1989)



    Orange Ice

    Yield: 6 servings

    15 ounces (scant 2 cups) water

    1 cup sugar

    1 lemon

    2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 7 oranges), chilled

    2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier



    Combine water and sugar in a pan. Pare yellow peel off the lemon in large strips, avoiding the bitter white pith, and add peel to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar, and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. When ready to use, discard the peel.

    In a bowl, combine orange juice, liqueur and sugar syrup. Squeeze lemon, add juice to the bowl and stir. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions, or use the method detailed in the note above.

    Recipe adapted from “Mediterranean Cookery” by Claudia Roden (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992)



    Cider Ice

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings

    1 cup water

    1 cup sugar

    1 lemon

    3 cups apple cider (not apple juice), chilled

    cup Calvados, rum or bourbon



    Combine water and sugar in a pan. Pare the yellow peel off the lemon in large strips, avoiding the bitter white pith, and add peel to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir for a minute or two to dissolve the sugar, and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. When ready to use, discard the peel.

    In a bowl, combine cider, alcohol and sugar syrup. Squeeze the lemon, add juice to the bowl and stir. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions, or use the method detailed in the note above.

    Recipe from my own files



    Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.

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