• Meyer Lemon Sorbet

    Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

    Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

    Life was “in the way” last week, so it has been a long gap between posts. We get a little twitchy if we don’t get to cook, so it is nice to be back. Happily, we still have Meyer lemons on the tree. But time is running short on our favorite citrus, so we made lemon sorbet to get ourselves back on the “blogging track”. After all, if life gives you lemons, make lemon sorbet (umm….or something like that….maybe Lemondrops….whatever).

    lsorbet4lsorbet6And there are few desserts that give you this much flavor for so little effort. Lemons, water, sugar (maybe a touch of booze- we will explain). Heat, then cold. That is really it. You do need an ice cream maker (although granita is another option), but ice cream makers are cheap, most work well, and you get a good return on your investment. We think smiles make for good ROI. And with summer coming, sorbet will please just about anyone.

    lsorbet5lsorbet7But, like all good things, there are a few tips and techniques that will make your sorbet kick serious a$$ the best it can be. Sorbet is basically frozen fruit juice and extra sugar. Pretty simple stuff. But you can control the flavor and texture. For flavor, first pick good fruit. Second, if using citrus add some zest into the mixture. There is a lot of flavor in the zest, so it you want more depth, this is the way to get it. You can put the zest into the final sorbet mixture, and that is OK, but it is best to incorporate the zest into the sugar syrup to extract the most flavor. (If you are hardcore you can make an oleo- saccharum syrup– see here.) Once you get the flavor of the zest you can keep it or strain it, your call. We strain. And we add a touch of Limoncello to the sorbet, this does add flavor, but it is really about texture.

    lsorbet8lsorbet9And texture is where the action is. Good fruit gives your sorbet good flavor. But technique gives your sorbet that magically soft, yet still “icy”, texture. Happily, the techniques are easy. To start, just be sure that your mixture is well-chilled when you put it into the ice cream maker / churn. The colder the mixture, the smaller the ice crystals. The smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the sorbet. You can chill the mixture in the fridge or, if you are in a hurry, use an ice bath. But you need the mixture to be under 45 degrees. The other tip is to add a touch of booze. Alcohol inhibits freezing and ice crystal formation- so a few tablespoons of spirits (maybe of Limoncello, vodka or Sauternes if you have it), will smooth out your sorbet. You can omit this step, but it is a negligible amount of alcohol, and the results will be worth it.

    lsorbet11lsorbet13lsorbet12If you follow these steps, you will have some very tasty sorbet. It doesn’t need anything extra. But in case you want to take things to the next level, you may want to drizzle on some sour cherry syrup. Sour cherry lemonade sorbet? Oh yes. And if you really want to impress, put a scoop of the sorbet in a cocktail class and then fill the glass halfway with champagne. Oh my….

    Add some sour cherry syrup...you won't be sorry...

    Add some sour cherry syrup…you won’t be sorry…

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  • Mixology Monday LXXII Cocktail: CSA Gin

    The CSA Cocktail.

    The CSA Cocktail.

    Another Mixology Monday is here and (hopefully) we got this in under the wire. This month’s theme is “Drink Your Vegetables” and is hosted by Rowen at the Fogged In Lounge (a very good cocktail blog, worth a visit). And thanks, as always, to Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut for keeping this whole shindig going. So here are the details of the theme:

    csa2Want to get more vegetables but you’re always eating on the run?… Well then, how about a vegetable cocktail? No, not that nice little glass of red stuff Grandma put at each place setting—we’re talking something with a kick in it. You can definitely start with the little glass of red stuff and expand it to a Red Snapper-style drink like a Bloody Mary. Or how about a cucumber-scented cooler like a Pimm’s Cup, or maybe a cocktail featuring a vegetable-based ingredient like Cardamaro or celery bitters? Maybe you’ve been wondering if you can get more mileage out of that juice extractor before consigning it to the garage sale. However you get them in that glass, be prepared for the most fun with vegetables ever.

    csa3csa4So you would think that a “farm” blog would have this one in the bag, right? Not so, my friends, not so. We struggled mightily. It’s a good theme, and certainly we like our veggies, but somehow it took a bunch of time for us to formulate anything remotely original, interesting or blogworthy. And we aren’t big Bloody Mary fans, so no fallback there, either.

    csa5So what to do? Two things. Firstly, we chose to use fennel, one of our favorite ingredients (we may change the name of our blog to “Fennel Farms”). Secondly, we decided to use veggies to actually craft the base spirit and the cocktail. In this case we use veggies, fruits and spices to make “gin” and then formulate a cocktail.

    csa6And since gin often features the anise and citrus flavors we find in fennel and some gins (Hendrick’s) favor cucumber, we figured we could start with the traditional juniper and build a “gin” with veggies, herbs, citrus and spices. In the end, we used juniper berries, cinnamon (cassia), baby fennel (more citrus notes), fennel fronds, cucumber slices, rosemary, lime peel, lemon peel and Cara Cara orange peel. We muddled like crazy, then added some vodka (a good use for vodka, you could never predict how gin would respond to all these new flavors) and then muddled some more. And then it got interesting.

    csa7Right out of the shaker we got the cinnamon, cucumber and a touch of the rosemary. Good, but not like gin. So we let the mixture steep for 6 hours and the citrus and fennel stared to kick in, while the cinnamon faded. Better, but not there yet. 12 hours later we got more of the fennel, citrus and the sweetness of the cucumber. Basically, we ended up with a ligher (albeit cloudier) version of Hendrick’s. We can live with that. We had to live with that, time was running out.

    csa1Now that we had our “gin”, we made the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) cocktail. With all the flavors here, we didn’t add much. A little lime, a little agave syrup and a few dashes of Angostura. The CSA cocktail opens with  cucumber and citrus nose followed by a sweet cucumber and agave sip. Then you get the lime and finish with the fennel, rosemary (we got more rosemary than juniper, we think) and cinnamon. Not bad, and it certainly would beg the question; “is this cucumber vodka or Hendrick’s?” And that will have to do. Rowen, you made us work on this one.

    The CSA Cocktail:

    (Serves 2)

    • 6 juniper berries
    • 1/2 cinnamon stick
    • 2 or 3 rosemary needles
    • Zest / peel of 1/2 lime
    • Zest / peel of 1/4 lemon
    • Zest / peel of 1/4 orange
    • 1/4 cup baby fennel, roughly chopped
    • 1 fennel frond
    • 4 slices cucumber
    • 6 oz. vodka
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. agave syrup
    • 4 dashed Angostura bitters
    • 2 lemon twists for garnish

    Assemble:

    1. Add the juniper berries, cinnamon stick and rosemary to a cocktail shaker. Muddle thoroughly. Add the citrus peels, chopped fennel, fennel frond and cucumber. Muddle some more. Then add the vodka. Muddle again.
    2. Pour the entire mixture into an airtight container and put in the fridge for at least 6, and preferably 12, hours.
    3. Place the entire mixture in a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add the lime juice, agave syrup and bitters. Shake until well chilled and double strain (at least once, maybe twice) into a chilled cocktail glasses, flutes or coupes. Garnish with the lemon twists and serve.