Saturday, June 24, 2006

grapefruit sorbet: summer comfort food I

Elizabeth came by yesterday to make a recipe of Grapefruit Sorbet. Elizabeth is just about the most amazing cook in the world, but I own a Fabulous Blender. She loves me for my blender?

In a favorite, deeply troubled movie, Time Bandits, several characters find themselves in a quest for The Ultimate Object in the World, and the Ultimate Object turns out to be a game show kitchen equipped lavishly. I’m certain my blender is in that kitchen.

I purchased this Fabulous Blender years ago when my daughter needed a dairy-free diet—I hoped to make our own soy or rice milk, but I never stumbled upon the right recipe for that. Or I ran out of patience for it, or the dairy products no longer seemed the culprit of her stomach upset. Meanwhile, I made loads of baby food, smoothies, soups, and ice cream.

And Grapefruit Sorbet. Grapefruit juice, ice, and a simple syrup.

My children were scheduled to go out to the beach, but they adore Elizabeth and insisted on staying to cook with her.

“Can he stir?” she asked of Brendan.

“Yep. He’s good at the stove.”

“Okay, he can stay then.”

If you find good Ruby Red grapefruit juice (Elizabeth brought fresh Odwalla juice, really top of the line) at the grocery and two nice grapefruit, bring them home with some crushed ice. (I don’t need crushed ice because my blender crushes anything.) Now you have two choices, depending on your time frame: you can either pour grapefruit juice into ice cube trays and freeze it for a few hours, then blend, which will give the most potent flavor to your sorbet, or mix juice and crushed ice for a faster, lighter sorbet. We used the lighter, faster method..

Wash the grapefruit and use a vegetable peeler to remove only the colorful zest of the peel, in long strips if you can-- leave the white part. Save the partially-peeled grapefruit in the refrigerator for another day. Cut the strips into matchstick-width strips with the tip of a knife. Boil one cup of sugar with one cup of water, and toss the peel into the pan when the sugar melts—boil for a minute or so until the peel is translucent. You have made a “Simple Syrup” infused with grapefruit— the scent is irresistible! Let it cool in the pan for a moment.

Pour the grapefruit juice into the blender with ice—less ice than juice to begin with—and blend. Scoop a half cup of simple syrup with peel into the blender, and add more ice. Blend again. Stop and taste, and check for texture. (It should stand up a little or look exactly like sorbet, if you have a fabulous blender.) If it needs more sweetness, add more syrup, but this time pour it through a metal sieve, then park the sorbet in the freezer to solidify a bit more. Pour sugar into a shallow bowl and place the remaining Candied Grapefruit Peel into the sugar, one or two pieces at a time. Serve the sorbet topped with three or four strips of candied peel. (Or more.)

You now have four delicacies: Grapefruit Sorbet, Candied Grapefruit Peel, Grapefruit Simple Syrup, and Fruited Sugar. Freeze the peel on a cookie sheet or plate, then scoop it into a Ziploc bag to store in the freezer. Put the fruited sugar in a jar with a tight lid and keep it near your tea, or in humid weather, store in the refrigerator. Might you like a hint of citrus when you sweeten strawberries? Or atop muffins? Maybe a sprinkle with cinnamon, on toast— anyplace you’d use sugar, anyway. If you haven’t included all the simple syrup in your sorbet, refrigerate it in a jar with a tight lid—add it to iced tea, or make another batch of sorbet, later!

If you are not serving the Sorbet immediately, you will need to thaw it twenty minutes or so before attempting to scoop, as it will get very hard. Even if it’s a lot of work to scoop it, you will not be sorry for the effort. It’s a pretty dessert in glass bowls. Enjoy!

Elizabeth had some good laughs with my adoring children-- it's great to see someone else boss them around playfully for awhile (cooking at a stove requires a little bossing, just for safety.) She loves me for more than my blender, certainly, but if it's a blender that brings her to my house on a hot summer afternoon, then maybe it really is The Ultimate Object in the World, especially when filled with a light, refreshing dessert I will serve after my dinner, too.

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