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Squeeze play takes care of oranges in a cool way


After a glut of giving, I was in the mood to receive. When a recipe for orange ice recently turned up, I was delighted to accept it.

I was unfamiliar with orange ice. It turned out to be a frozen dessert made with the juice of a trunk-load of oranges and a handful of lemons and limes.

I was familiar with its creator, Bob Talbott. Talbott is a master mixologist. A few years ago when he and his wife, Janis, operated Morton's fine food and wine shop in downtown Baltimore, I used to consult with him regularly. The other night I reached him at Wells Liquors in north Baltimore where, for a few days, he was helping the staff dispense holiday cheer.

I had assumed that his recipe called for booze. Upon hearing this, Talbott replied that not only was this orange ice recipe hooch-free, it was as wholesome as sunshine.

I later learned that Talbott's juicy enthusiasm stemmed from a trip he had recently made to Florida. There he and his wife had spent several days basking in the sun, visiting with friends, and had returned home loaded down with a supply of Florida oranges.

Surrounded by these increasingly ripe and increasingly fragrant oranges, Talbott had followed the suggestion of his wife to jump into action and squeeze his Florida booty.

So he began juicing the oranges, transforming a product of southern sunshine into a chilled dessert.

Feeling generous, Talbott wanted to share his recipe with area eaters, so he sent it to me. I spotted two points in the recipe that needed some clarification. One dealt with the size of the pot holding the liquid. The vessel, I surmised, had to be large enough to contain more than 12 cups of liquid, yet small enough to fit in the freezer section of a home refrigerator. Not necessarily, Talbott said. Veteran ice makers, he said, have been known to transfer the juice into plastic tubs that once held popcorn and then freeze them.

The second point concerned fetching the oranges. It seems to me that while fresh oranges are central to the success of this recipe, it is not essential to travel hundreds of miles to obtain them. Now that they're in season, rather than going to Florida to get oranges, it is easier to let the oranges come to the neighborhood grocery.

Bob's Basic Orange Ice

Serves 10 to 12

20 oranges, approximately

2 lemons

2 limes

4 cups sugar

tablespoon salt

7 cups water

Using a fine cheese grater, grate the zest (the colored part of peel) from enough oranges to yield 4 tablespoons of orange rind. Grate zest from the lemons and limes, too.

In a good-size pot, combine the grated orange, lemon and lime zests, the sugar, the salt and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir frequently and let simmer until all the sugar has dissolved, about five minutes. Cool.

Squeeze enough oranges to produce 5 cups of juice. If a little pulp gets in mixture, that is fine. Squeeze the lemons and limes. Pour the fruit juices into the cooled sugar mixture. Stir well and place the pot in a freezer. Before the mixture becomes solid, remove from freezer and stir, distributing the zest throughout. Or, allow the mixture to freeze solid, then remove from the freezer and let it sit until it becomes slush; then stir and refreeze. Fluff before serving.

Serve, in small balls, as an accompaniment to any chocolate dessert, such as a chocolate torte. Or drizzle small amount of orange liqueur on ice balls, or top with grated bittersweet chocolate.

Pub Date: 12/27/98

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