Growing up, my family's favorite cookbook was Betty Crocker’s Cookbook (my sister and I would get so excited when we saw my mom pull out that tattered red cookbook! We knew something delicious was not far away). Not just any Betty Crocker cookbook though, it was a 1981 edition, which of course is now considered vintage (funny how times change, isn’t it?). The thing about this cookbook is that it’s designed not only to hold recipes, but to actually teach the average modern day home cook how to cook.
It has sections devoted to explaining herbs, describing cuts of meat (including where they come from, what they look like, and what they’re used for), and even sections showing how to make pretty edible flowers out of vegetables. A real sign of the times when this book was published is the section in it devoted to TV dinners; it not only gives recipes for TV dinners, but also gives information on how long they can be stored, how to reheat, and how to fashion your own foil TV dinner plate.
A couple of our all-time favorite recipes from this book (that we’ve easily made at least 50 times) are crepes, molasses crinkle cookies, and taco shells, but in reality, the recipes from this book that we didn’t try are few and far between. As any good cookbook tends to be with age, my mom’s copy of this cookbook was batter-splattered and dog-eared. A few of the more frequently used pages had fallen out and others had stuck together. It had definitely seen better days. Last year I found a like-new copy on eBay and was able to give it to my mom as a gift; she loved it and of course I couldn’t put it down. Despite my love for Cooking Light cookbooks, this one is still my favorite, holding only not only delicious recipes and a wealth of information, but also a very special place in my heart.
I found the recipe for candied grapefruit peel in this book and thought it would be the perfect favor for Christmas Brunch. Before eating it, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as taste goes. It turned out to be more fantastic than I had even imagined; its flavor was bright and refreshing and its chewy texture reminded me of jelly candy. Mike, who said it reminded him of Arabic nougat, loved it just as much as I did. We had friends over for dinner and served this candy as dessert and it was literally gone within a matter of minutes. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
(Yield: About 9 oz candy)
2 large grapefruits (or you can use 3 oranges)
2 ½ to 3 c sugar, divided*
Step 1: Score the peel of each grapefruit into 4 sections and remove the peel in 4 pieces.
Step 2: Use a spoon to scrape the white membrane off the back of the peel (the peel will appear porous when held up to light after the white membrane is removed).
Step 3: Cut the peel lengthwise into strips ¼-inch thick.
Step 4: In a 3-quart pot, bring peel and 8 c water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes; drain.
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 three times.
Step 6: In a 3-quart pot over medium heat, bring 2 c sugar and 1 c water to a boil, swirling the pot to help the sugar dissolve.
Step 7: Add peel to boiling sugar/water; simmer uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain.
Step 8: Roll peel in remaining ½ to 1 c sugar and spread on wax paper to dry.
*I know it looks like there’s a lot of sugar in this recipe, but it isn’t all absorbed into the candy (don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying this is a low sugar recipe, lol!). Two cups of sugar is mixed with water as a simple syrup and used to simmer the grapefruit (this is where the candying takes place), but then the grapefruit is drained and the simple syrup is discarded, no longer needed for this recipe. If you want, you could probably use the grapefruit-perfumed simple syrup in another recipe instead of wasting it. (There are many desserts that use simple syrup – baklava and knafeh to name a few – or you could use it to sweeten hot or cold tea.)