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Spring Arrives in a Vermont Kitchen

Spring Arrives in a Vermont Kitchen

Sometimes spring takes its time settling in. We’ll have beautiful sunny days, followed by snow flurries! There is mud everywhere, loosened up by the melted snow and the spring rains. For many, it is a time to stop for a while and think about the season ahead and all its possibilities. Vermont is usually quiet this time of year; there are few tourists around, and many folks take a holiday to warmer climates to get away from grey skies. Just a week away, and we can return to blooming daffodils and some green grass.

Outside, we have a bounty of chives as spring arrives! I pick them and put them on just about every savory thing I make. Other herbs are popping up as well, and soon we’ll be cooking fiddlehead ferns and ramps.

Blood orange sorbet copy2     In the kitchen, we are using the last of the winter CSA deliveries –  turnips and potatoes, onions and carrots, and the first real crop of the year, irresistibly sweet spring-dug parsnips. They are best simply cut up into coins, steamed, and served with butter, salt, and pepper. They are also delicious roasted, almost like candy! If you are lucky enough to find some, think about making them into a spring soup. Salute and onion, add a few chopped up parsnips and a large diced potato, salt and pepper, a little ground ginger, and vegetable or chicken broth to cover by a few inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until everything is nicely soft. Puree and enjoy. You can add some cream if you like.

If you are longing for something fresh and light, scout the co-ops for some blood oranges. They are lovely this time of year, and a simple sorbet made from them is refreshing. For a get-together, fancy it up by serving it in the orange shell!

Blood Orange Sorbet in Caramelized Orange Shell

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cup blood orange juice, freshly squeezed

Zest of about six blood oranges

4 large oranges of another variety

Crystalized sugar

Mix the sugar and water together and heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool. You now have a simple syrup. While the sugar is warming and dissolving, zest the blood oranges, then squeeze them being careful not to leave any little seeds behind. You want about a cup of juice. If you are a little short, add some regular orange juice. When the syrup is cooled, mix with the juice and zest and chill for a couple of hours.

Put the mixture in your ice cream maker and process according to your machine. It will probably take around 20 minutes to thicken. Place in a covered container and put in the freezer to firm up more.

To prepare the dish, cut the top third of the oranges off and scoop out the pulp with a melon baller. Slice a sliver off the bottom if it does not stand straight. Dip the rim of the orange shell in some juice from the orange, then dip in the crystalized sugar, a nice healthy amount.

Place on a cookie sheet and pop under the broiler until the sugar starts to lightly brown. You can also do with your handy blowtorch. Let cool completely in the refrigerator!

When cooled, add a scoop or two of the sorbet, and garnish with a few grates of lemon peel or even a lovely mint leaf.