What’s the first thing you look at when you land on a blog post? Do you start at the beginning, slowly savouring each sentence as the author intended, do you skim read the recipe before deciding whether to bother reading the rest of the article, or you more of a pictures person, enjoying and assessing each image as it unfolds?
When I’m writing a post, I always try to keep all three types of reader (though these are pretty broad categories, I’m sure you could break them down into many more) in mind. Words are what come easily to me, but I also make sure to check my recipes, instructions and ingredient lists carefully, and, although I’m still very much a novice in this department, try to take as pretty and as representative photos of my food as possible.
A number of recipes have never made it onto this blog because I haven’t been happy with, or had the time or inclination to take, photos of them. Winter warmers like toad in the hole and macaroni cheese made only after dark when lighting conditions are non-negotiable, fried or fish dishes which need to be eaten instantly to retain their perfect texture and flavour, or tiered cakes transported to parties where photographs are all but forgotten in a blur of eating, drinking and celebrating: there are a lot of recipes I’ve wanted to share with you here, but haven’t felt able to.
This blood orange sgroppino almost became one of those recipes, but the oranges were too beautiful and the taste too incredibly delicious not to share. I’ve been wanting to make something with blood oranges for ages, captivated by their ruby red flesh and sweetly sharp juice, so the other evening when my Mum came round for dinner, she brought me six beautiful specimens, wrapped in a brown paper bag from the farmer’s market. Unsure how I could best use them to preserve their beauty, I took a couple of photos, then sat them on the side while I trawled recipe books and the internet in search of a recipe.
After much deliberation, I decided on a sorbet. Simple and clean, sorbet is the perfect showcase for a fruit’s natural flavours – no mucking about with lots of extra ingredients, just a light snowy shower of sugar, a minute or two of cooking, then churning into a smooth, delicate ice. Six oranges produced just 300ml of liquid, so using this David Lebovitz recipe for blood orange sorbet (but reducing the sugar as I like my sorbet a little tart), I made a small amount of beautiful blood red ice.
I’d originally intended to pack my sorbet into hollowed out oranges, something we often used to have for pudding at the local pizzeria near my parents’ house in Italy, but with such a small quantity, it hardly seemed worth it. However, thinking about Italy and sorbet reminded me of the incredible part dessert, part drink, part palate cleanser I first discovered on holiday by the Italian seaside with my family: sgroppino.
A sgroppino is an incredible Italian cocktail made from lemon sorbet, prosecco and vodka. Sometimes a little egg white or cream is also included to add to the light, frothy texture, and served in a tall, thin glass it’s the perfect palate cleanser. Taken from the word ‘sgroppare’ (to untie), it’s traditionally served as an after dinner drink, the sharp, sweet sorbet and alcohol cutting through the richness of anything you’ve eaten before to leave the stomach lightened and the tastebuds refreshed. Although it contains a generous slug of vodka, a sgroppino is light, lemony and alive with an alcoholic undercurrent that is never overpowering.
Substituting blood orange sorbet for the lemon, I served these bright little bursts of sunshine on Saturday evening when we had friends round for dinner. With just enough sorbet to make two drinks each, it all disappeared a bit too quickly and as the clocks hadn’t yet gone forward, lighting conditions meant any photos really wouldn’t have done justice to the drink. But luckily I managed to snap some shots of the oranges as I was making the sorbet, and this drink is just too delicious not to share with you.
If you’re the kind of person who reads every word of a post from start to finish, I hope you’ve enjoyed my ramblings. If you scrolled straight to the bottom for the recipe, you won’t be disappointed, it’s all there, and incredibly easy to make. And if you’re the kind of person who only looks at the pictures, I hope you can appreciate these beautiful blood oranges in their natural form, and can use your imagination to conjure up a frosted glass filled with a pale red liquid, tiny bubbles breaking on the surface and incredible flavours lurking within.
Blood Orange Sgroppino
4 tbsp blood orange sorbet, slightly softened
200ml dry Prosecco
Put two champagne flutes in the freezer to chill – you wanted a nice frosted effect on the glass so this drink stays really cold.
Whisk together the vodka and blood orange sorbet in a small bowl until light and frothy. Remove your champagne flutes from the freezer and divide this mixture between the two. Top up with the Prosecco, stir gently to combine and serve.