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From Undies to Ice: The Tale of a Sorbet Maker

By Kelley Lavin.

That Julia Child was so smart it’s almost eerie. She couldn’t have been more astute when she wrote “In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men’s underwear.”

How could she have predicted that I would go in to buy underwear for my husband yet leave with a sorbet maker? Luckily she never went on to foresee my “great electronic bone yard,” my collection of unused appliances like a bun warmer, a milk frothing wand or something I still can’t figure out why I bought it – a quesadilla maker.

However, my sorbet maker has a place of honor in my kitchen. It has made me famous for a culinary specialty that my dinner guests have come to expect: fabulous and fanciful sorbets. Similar to a fine wine, I pair my homemade sorbet with the menu, complementing the meal’s flavors or piquing the palate with just the right note of fruit or spice. Sometimes I serve sorbet as an intermezzo between two courses, other times it is the perfect finish to a great meal. Regardless when it’s served, my sorbet has made me a much talked-about home chef.

Nothing could be easier than using this just over-$40 machine. The canister is small enough to keep in your freezer most all of the time. Making simple syrup really is simple; it’s just water and sugar brought to a boil. Mix the cooled syrup with your choice of fruit, vegetable, herb or spice and pour into the machine. Thirty-five minutes later, you have sorbet.

Some of my favorite cuisine sorbet pairings are:
Mexican with coconut sorbet
Asian with ginger sorbet
American BBQ with strawberry or watermelon sorbet
Or just about anything with tangerine and Prosecco sorbet

I recommend the Cuisinart 1-½-Quart Automatic Ice Cream maker, which is readily available at department, mass and specialty stores as well as on Amazon (no tax and it ships free!) Make sure to get The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks, And More by Bruce Weinstein, also found on Amazon. This paperback book will soon become your indispensable guide to making spectacular sorbets. Also, by simply Googling “sorbet,” hundreds of recipes will come up along with some great tips. One of my favorites is to add a small amount of alcohol to your sorbet. Since it doesn’t freeze, it gives the sorbet a smoother, less grainy texture. If you don’t want any added flavor, use vodka or if you do, the taste possibilities are endless.

This summer, don’t wait until you have to buy your husband some undies to buy a sorbet maker. I will guarantee it will last a lot longer than the briefs! Recipes from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks, And More by Bruce Weinstein, 1990, William Morrow & Company

Coconut Sorbet
1 cup coconut water (available at most groceries in the Latino food section)
¾ cup sugar
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

Combine the coconut water and sugar in a small saucepan. Place over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Allow the syrup to cool completely. Stir in the coconut milk. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Stir the chilled mixture, then freeze in 1 or 2 batches in your ice cream machine according the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished your sorbet will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer sorbet, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze at least 2 hours.

Cantaloupe Basil Sorbet
1 small ripe cantaloupe
¼ cup orange juice
¾ cup superfine sugar
½ teaspoon salt
4 large fresh basil leaves

Remove the rind and seeds from the melon. Cut the flesh into ½- inch cubes. You should have about 2 heaping cups of fruit. Place the cut-up melon in a blender with the orange juice, sugar, salt and basil leaves. Blend until the melon is pureed and the sugar has dissolved, about 30 seconds. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Stir the chilled mixture, Then freeze in 1 or 2 batches in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When finished your sorbet will be soft but ready to eat. For firmer sorbet, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze at least 2 hours.

(Kelley’s note: Unlike many sorbet recipes, this one does not call for boiling the liquids to dissolve the sugar.)

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