Sunday, May 24, 2009

Drink, Dance, Kiss - Champagne Sorbet

Generally speaking, I am not one for mixing booze with icy, frozen goodness.  I like cocktails and I like iced treats but I've never felt the need to combine the two.  However, I had to make a grand exception when I saw this sign outside of the 205 Club in the Lower East Side. 

I was so moved by the simple sentiment: drink, dance, kiss.  A good bit of the New York experience is about the drink, dance, kiss, no?  Unless you're an alcoholic.  Then it's maybe more like drink, drink, drink, dance, drink, kiss, black out, come to, wonder "Who's house is this?" followed by shame, shock, headache, and more drink.  But alas, I digress.  When I saw this sign I was charmed to the bone and had to respond with a sparkling concoction.  

Champagne Sorbet - from Ices by Sunil Vijayakar:

1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
2 1/2 cups Champagne
1/2 cup peach juice

Place the sugar in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.  Bring to a boil and remove from the heat.  Allow to cool.

Add the Champagne and peach juice to the sugar syrup and churn in an ice cream maker until just thick enough to scoop.  Serve immediately.

Et voila, the end result as seen from my fire escape. 

For more sorbets, granitas, and sherbets, pick up a copy of this book.

  Until next time - kiss, kiss, kiss!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Scoops: Congratulations, VanLeeuwen!

The perfect pints made by team Vanleeuwen were name checked by Bon Appetit magazine in their quest for the best ice creams in the US.  Nice one, BVL!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Inspired by Greenpoint: Raspberry Tea Granita

In 1990, Poland held it's first free elections.  Many absentee ballots were sent in from around the world but one neighborhood in Brooklyn accounted for 7,000 of those ballots: Greenpoint.  Did you get that?  Not 7,000 from one city or 7,000 from one borogh but 7,000 from one zip code.  This, good reader, is why I live in New York.  It's the most wonderfully diverse place on earth.

Greenpoint sits on the banks of the East River and Newtown Creek just across a short bridge from Queens.  Ten years ago you'd be hard pressed to get much more than pierogi, kielbasa, and nalesniki for food offerings.

But nowadays there are Thai and Japanese eateries alongside Nouveau American joints.  Manhattan Avenue is the established main drag but Franklin is where all the new action is coming up.  And by "new action" I mean cute bars with obscure beers and clothing stores I cannot afford.  I recommend both for a full and bountiful Greenpoint experience.  

Having lived near Greenpoint for so long, it's hard to see things anew but I for the sake of the freezer, I damn well did my best!  As you can tell from the pictures, there is a lot of red and white going on in the neighborhood.  So I went for something that would be sure to yield scarlet - raspberry tea.
I bought this tea in a deli and after coming home, decided to try my hand at granita.  This particular brand is a mix of raspberry, apple, rowan, rosehips, elderberry, and hibiscus.  I think plain old raspberry herbal tea will do.  

Raspberry Tea Granita

2 1/2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons raspberry tea
3/4 cup turbinado sugar

Steep tea in boiling water for ten minutes.  Strain into pot over low heat.  Add sugar and stir until melted.  Pour the mixture into a shallow, oblong dish (dessert guru David Lebovitz prefers plastic and if he does, I will, too).  After one hour your mixture should start to freeze around the edges.  At this time you will want to take a fork and star breaking up the frozen parts into smaller bits and raking them toward the center of the dish.  Repeat this every 30 minutes or so until you have a marvelously course consistency throughout. Enjoy!
My boyfriend took this picture.  He's sweet that way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Inspired by Chinatown part three - Kaffir Lime Pops

You can drink a martini without olives but let's be honest, without that salty infusion, it's not quite a martini.  And yes, you could eat baked french fries but they wouldn't be french fries.  They'd be some lame potato your mom tries to pass off on you in lieu of the good stuff.  Much to most folks' chagrin, grease and salt are often essential to the experience.  

Essential, that is what the kaffir lime leaf is to Thai food.  

Apparently, lots of people in Thailand grow this bush in their yards so cooking Thai food without it simply won't do.  Consider this excerpt from the poem Wild Geese by Mary Oliver:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

For Thai cooking, the Kaffir lime leaf has a distinct place "in the family of things."  It adds that light, bright, floral flutter in a sea of coconut milk or curry.  And while it is from a citrus tree, it will always be the blossom and not the fruit.  These are full-blooded siblings yet the leaf bears only a passing resemblance to it's more aggressive kin.  But what other ways are there to use it?

Kaffir lime leaves at Bangkok Center Grocery

My extremely close friend BVL (and by "extremely close friend" I mean, "I paid to meet the guy once"), suggested that I make a sorbet from the leaves, but true to nature, I went lowbrow instead.  Behold, the Kaffir Lime Pop:

Kaffir Lime Pops  

12 Kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
2 cups of water
1 c sugar
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

Boil lime leaves with water and sugar.  Let simmer for five minutes.  Remove from heat and let steep for ten.  Strain the syrup retain the lime leaves in a separate bowl.  Let cool to room temperature.  Add the lime juice and enough water to make three cups of liquid.  Replace half the lime leaves, if desired.  Pour in moulds and freeze.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Inspired by West 13th Street - Red Clover Sorbet

West 13th Street in Manhattan sits on the fine line that divides Greenwich Village from The Meat Packing District. Personally, I have no idea where one begins and the other ends. However, taking up most of West 13th between Greenwich and 7th Ave is the Integral Yoga empire and I'll bet you $20, no, $20,000 bucks that I know what those folks call it. "The Village" is just a so much more yoga-y than a big ol' side of beef.

For those who do not live in NYC, let it be known that Integral is not merely an exercise studio but a book store, a natural food market, a spiritual center, and an apothecary. It's a peaceful place full of incense and leggings but I hardly ever go there. The first time I went to a class, I did all the physical movement just fine but before we could get it going, there was chanting. Not a little "om shanti" sprinkled here and there but like a whole lost scroll's worth of sanskrit. I don't know about you but I don't speak sanskrit. Perhaps in a past life but not in this one so, you know, I was a little lost.

Thankfully, there's no harmonic convergence required to shop at their market where I recently I bought a bag of dried red clover. I was going to steep it and drink it as a tea but I guess I just have to admit I'm weird and I try to sugar up and freeze everything. Whateves.

West 13th Red Clover Sorbet

5 cups boiling water
2 cups sugar
3 cups red clover tea
4 tablespoons ginger
6 table spoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons lemon peel

Pour boiling water over tea and let steep for one hour. Strain, return to pot over medium heat. Stir in sugar and ginger. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain liquid into large bowl. Discard half the ginger and replace the rest.

Return liquid to same saucepan. Add lemon and lime peels. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in lemon and lime juices. Cool completely. Pour mixture into a large glass baking dish. Cover and freeze until solid, about 6 hours.

Scrape from pan so it has a nice grainy texture then store in an air tight container.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Inspired by Chinatown part two

So, back to the jaunt that I took in Chinatown a few weeks ago.  As I mentioned, I was at Bangkok Center Grocery where I bought Thai tea, a can of lychees and a packet of Kaffir lime leaves.  I didn't have that clear of a direction on the lychees or the lime leaves but I love Thai food and figured I could do something with them.  As you would imagine, Bangkok Center sells cans of lychee, rambutan, and other fruits that are super popular in Asia.  

So, how did this:

become this?

I Googled a recipe for lychee sorbet, duh!  

This one comes from Recipezaar.  I don't know why, but this recipe was really fun to make.  I think the bright, pinky-white color just looks so refreshing that it gives you a nice feeling.  It reminded me of a light rose champagne, Pink Lady apples, white peaches, or sunlight tempered by a tulip tree.  

In the end, the sorbet had a beautiful floral nose, a great texture, and lovely color but for my personal taste, I am sorry to say, it was a tad too sweet.  I would like to try this one again down the line but would either use fresh lychees or alter the part where you add the syrup from the can.  Fresh lychees are available May through July so I'm sure I'll see them on the fruit carts of Chinatown and minute now.  I have not lost hope!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Scoop: Haagen Dazs + Bees = Free Scoops!

The countdown in on!  On May 12, all Haagen Dazs locations will be giving away free scoops of ice cream from their Bee-Built line.  To learn more about the plight of the honey bee, click here.  

Friday, May 1, 2009

Defining Gelato

Gelato recipes usually include more egg yolks, more milk and less cream. Technically, the difference between ice cream and gelato comes down to the amount of fat and air. Ice cream tends to have more of each: It contains at least 8 percent butterfat. Ice cream makers then aerate the mixture as it freezes, adding 10 to 25 percent volume to the mix. Gelato typically begins as a custard base of eggs and milk or cream. But these days, many gelaterias use stabilizers to mimic that custardy texture. Gelato contains anywhere from 3 to 10 percent butterfat and very little air, making it denser.

Defining Sorbet

Sorbets are frozen concoctions that are all about fruit. They depend only on sugar, lemon juice and fresh fruit for flavor.  Everyone loves sorbet.  Everyone.