I talk a lot about how different types of foods bring back wonderful, warm memories. Whether it’s cookies my mom always made for the holidays or a simple, yet delicious recipe from my grandma, the smells and tastes are like a big hug. Comforting, reassuring and familiar. I had never experienced a food bringing up a relatively “bad” memory until a month or two ago. While why Chief Culinary Consultant’s parents were in town, they picked up a tub of orange sherbet for the freezer. One night I had put a couple of scoops in a bowl and took a taste. The cold, creamy, orange flavor on my tongue immediately stopped me in my tracks. I was instantly transported back 13 years, to Boston, to a sterile hospital room where my dad was fighting off a nasty reaction to a bone marrow transplant. It was hard for him to eat most foods, but he could put down sherbet easily. The nurses’ kitchen kept a supply of orange and raspberry sherbet, and we’d help him eat it from the cup. It’s not a pleasant memory; he never did walk out of that hospital, and I didn’t realize until last month that I’d never had sherbet since. Maybe I subconsciously stayed away from it, or maybe I just never thought to buy it since it wasn’t something I really ever ate anyway. One thing is certain – that first bite hit me like a ton of bricks.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I would then go ahead and make something that obviously had such negative connotations for me. Well, a couple of reasons. First, My Chief Culinary Consultant loves orange sherbet, and that big tub of neon orange store-bought sherbet made me cringe every time I opened the freezer. There’s just nothing better than fresh and homemade. It had to be done. Secondly, for me, making food and sharing food is about sharing love and showing someone you care. That’s exactly what I was doing in that hospital room. I may not have made that sherbet, but I was using it as a means to try to nurse my dad back to health. In a way, even though it was a bad memory, I’m glad it came to me. It comforted me that after this long, specific memories of him could still be easily triggered. My dad would never want me to write something off because of him, and he would definitely encourage me to make the best version possible, and share it with people who love it and appreciate it.
It took me a surprisingly long time to find an awesome sherbet recipe. Some didn’t include any milk or cream, which is really more like a sorbet. Some recipes called for gelatin and egg whites, which I found to be slightly strange (although I didn’t try them, so I can’t vouch for them). I finally settled on this one and it’s wonderful. I sped up my inevitable carpal tunnel syndrome by juicing all of the oranges by hand, but it was, hands-down, worth every twist of the wrist. The bright flavor of the fresh orange juice comes through in every bite, and the inclusion of softly whipped cream gives it just the right amount of creaminess.
As I enjoy the cool, creamy spoonfuls, I think of my dad and smile. He would have loved this (he was a sucker for any type of ice cream or frozen treat!), and I think he loves that I made it.
Process the zest, sugar and salt in a food processor until damp, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. With the machine running, add the orange juice and lemon juice in a slow, steady stream; continue to process until the sugar is fully dissolved, about 1 minute. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Stir in the Triple Sec, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F, about 30 to 60 minutes. Do not let the mixture freeze.
When the mixture is cold, whip the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Continue to whip constantly and add the juice mixture in a slow, steady stream, pouring against the edge of the bowl.
Immediately start the ice cream machine and add the orange mixture to the canister; churn according to the manufacturer directions. When done, the sherbet should have the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Transfer the sherbet to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.