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Grapefruit and mint sorbet

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I love grapefruit and was so excited when Texas Sweet sent me a half dozen Texas Rio Star grapefruits to cook with.  The challenge was not eating them all plain, peeling them like oranges and devouring the big, tart slices. And, I adore grapefruit juice.  A big glass of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice is divine in the morning.

As I perused recipes, I was hesitant to apply heat to my beloved prizes.  Then, I remembered seeing a recipe by David Lebovitz for a Grapefruit Campari Sorbet.  The recipe caught my attention because of Lebovitz’s delightful story of finding American grapefruit in the Paris shops.

I opted to skip the Campari so that I could share the sorbet with my nephew who is a devoted fan of citrus ice creams; the kid is nuts for the lemon gelato at Mandola’s Italian Market. To spice up the sorbet a bit, I decided to make a mint simple syrup with some of the bounty from my prolific mint plant. The result was a refreshing dessert with a hint of sweetness and enough tartness to tickle your tongue.  If you prefer sweeter desserts, increase the amount of simple syrup, adding it slowly and tasting as you go until you find the right balance.

As Texas’ citrus season draws to a close, consider freezing up a batch so that you can enjoy grapefruit well into the summer.

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Photo by Sandra Ramos

Grapefruit and mint sorbet

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/8 of cup of fresh mint leaves (do not chop the leaves unless you want pieces of mint in the ice cream)
2 cups of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

A few days in advance, place the cooler of your ice cream machine in the freezer to ensure that it is good and cold.

Combine the sugar and water in a pan and bring to a gentle boil.  Stir to combine the sugar and water, add the mint and lower the heat.  Simmer until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Strain the simple syrup to remove the mint leaves.  (I had to do this twice.)

Combine the simple syrup and grapefruit juice.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to cool completely.

Place the grapefruit mixture in the cooler of your ice cream maker and follow the instructions for your equipment to whip the mixture.  Place in the freezer and allow to freeze through.


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Blackberry Popsicles

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I love popsicles.  They are the one sweet I always have in the house , even in the winter.  After 41 days of over 100+ degree temperatures in Austin, my favorite treat has also become a vital survival tool.   I’ve started taking a popsicle break about  each day, just when I don’t think I can take the heat anymore.

Last year, I was given a vintage popsicle kit by my stepmother and I’ve started making my own popsicles rather than buying them at the store.  I get to use the freshest produce available and I control how much and what type of sweetener I am using.

Vintage Popsicle Set

I love my vintage pop molds, but if you prefer a speedier method, you might also consider a quick pop maker like this one featured on The Kitchn site.

You can get quite elaborate with your popsicle recipes (see links below), but a basic mixture is pureed fruit combined with simple syrup and any spice or flavoring you want to add.

I chose blackberry popsicles for my first experiment and decided to keep it simple – just fruit and simple syrup.

Blackberry Popsicles

1 pint blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Place the blackberries in a blender and process until you have a smooth puree.

Place a thin mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the blackberry mixture into the strainer to remove the seeds.  Run a wooden spoon over the mixture to force the juice through the seeds.

While the blackberry mixture is straining, make the simple syrup by boiling the sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Remove the strainer from the bowl and combine the blackberry mixture with the simple syrup.

Place the molds on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture into the molds.

Blackberry popsicles pre-freezer

Once the popsicles are frozen solid, run the molds under cool water to loosen the popsicle from the mold.  Gently press the popsicle out of the mold.  (Gently! I’ve already broken one stick.)

Blackberry Popsicle

Don’t you just love the eskimo!  I feel cooler already.

If you want to get fancy, here are a few other sites with fun popsicle recipes.  Everyone must be overheated this summer!

Mark Bittman’s popsicles four ways (sweet, savory, creamy, boozy)

Six popsicle recipes from Women’s Health Magazine

Cooking Light’s Beat the Heat with Icy Treats (not strictly popsicles)

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Hunger Awareness Dinner #5: Green chile chicken enchiladas, corn pudding & cinnamon pear sorbet

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I have had such an incredible eye-opening week during this Hunger Awareness project.  I’ve closed this week with one of my favorite meals – green chile enchiladas.  Normally, I make them with vegetables, but I am almost out of vegetables (down to beets and some lettuce) and I wanted to use the rest of the chicken I had roasted earlier in the week.

I decided to tackle my canned goods with this meal as well.  I paired the enchiladas with a corn pudding that used the canned corn and I made a cinnamon pear sorbet with the canned pears.  I added a green salad with roasted beets because I always find myself wanting something green in the meal.

The dinner was very flavorful.  I love the H-E-B green enchilada sauce and it’s inexpensive.  The corn pudding makes about 10 servings and makes a good alternative to the traditional beans and rice.  I like this recipe because it was mostly corn, eggs and milk with less sugar and flour than many of the recipes I found.  I didn’t have an onion so I substituted with roasted poblano peppers.

And, since I was tackling the cans, I decided to tackle the pears too.  I don’t like canned pears – they are mushy and mealy – so I wanted to find a recipe in which their consistency wouldn’t matter.  I went with sorbet.  I needed to keep it simple so I used cinnamon as my spice.

When I shopped for my pantry list, I found pears in heavy syrup, light syrup and pear juice.  Since I got to pick, I bought the pears in juice. I know others don’t get to pick, but you could use any of the pears in this recipe, you would just use less of the liquid, if any to sweeten the pears.  I wanted to keep it healthy so I didn’t add sugar and,  instead, used the pear juice from the cans. It may not have been as sweet as you might like, but you can add a little simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar melted together) to sweeten it up.

I was pretty pleased with how my mostly canned dinner turned out and it was a great way to end this adventure.  I learned many lessons during this challenge:

  • In my effort to create meals that could feed a family, I cooked way more in a week than one person could ever eat.  Five dinners later, my freezer is PACKED and I’m out of storage containers.  I didn’t cook my intended sixth meal of salmon croquettes and beet pancakes because if I did, I wouldn’t have any place to store it or anything to store it in.  I’ll cook it this week.
  • I bought too much protein and not enough vegetables with my “food stamp” allotment.  Again, I got so focused on making interesting meals family that I didn’t buy enough vegetables for me for the week.  
  • I will never eat the flavor packet in a “Helper” box again.  Next time, I’m winging it and making my own rather than eating that nasty MSG-ridden sauce.  Yuck.  I really hated that I wasted my yummy broccoli in that meal.  
  • I have quite a few things left in my pantry: 3/4 of the spaghetti, all of the oatmeal, 1/2 of the cheerios, 2/3 of the potatoes, 3/4 of the rice, 1 ham hock, 1 can of enchilada sauce, most of the juice, most of the jalapenos and 1/2 the cheese. And, of course all of the leftovers.
Here’s the cost of the final supper:
$ 1.75    1 cup of mozzarella cheese (for topping the enchiladas)
$ 3.00    1/2 the chicken
$   .45    10 corn tortillas
$   .99    1 can enchilada sauce
$   .25    part of a can of sliced jalapenos
$   .59    2 poblano peppers
$  1.89   3 cans of corn
$   .50    1 cup of milk
$   .67     4 eggs
$ 2.48     4 cans of pears
$12.57    Total
All in all, it was a great week.  I loved exploring recipes and be reminded of how blessed I am.  I hope you enjoyed the journey, just remember that it doesn’t end here.  It doesn’t end until we end hunger in Central Texas.  We have quite a bit of work to do.
from Bon Appetit April 2010 via
Note: I substituted 2 roasted poblano peppers instead of the onions so I also used one less tbsp of butter.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided, plus additional for dish
1 cup chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 15- to 16-ounce cans corn kernels, drained, divided

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes; cool in skillet.

Whisk milk, eggs, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons butter in large bowl. Scrape in onion mixture. Add 2 cans drained corn. Puree remaining 1 can drained corn in processor until smooth. Add puree to bowl with custard mixture and stir to blend well; transfer to prepared dish.

Bake pudding until set in center and beginning to brown on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve warm.

50310_4Pear and Cinnamon Sorbet

4 cans of pears in their own juice (if you want sweeter, buy light or heavy syrup), reserve the juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place the pears in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Slowly add juice from the cans while you continue to blend until you get a very smooth consistency.  You want it to be thinner than apple sauce.  I used about 1 1/2 cans.  Add cinnamon and blend again.

Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and follow the machine directions to process to the desired consistency.  If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can place the sorbet in a long pan to harden, remove and reprocess in the food processor and then refreeze. Repeat the process until you get the texture you desire.

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How on earth am I going to eat all this melon? Sorbet!

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I should never buy an entire watermelon unless I am taking it to someone else’s house. They just always look so good. And, cold watermelon is so refreshing. And, it’s been so hot. I’ve got to learn to walk away, but I just couldn’t.
090709_1No matter how much watermelon I think I can eat, I never finish one. I’ll have watermelon with breakfast and another serving as a snack later in the day thinking that I’ll keep that up all week, but I never make it past a day or two.
Two watermelons ago, I gave half to my neighbors. This time, I not only bought a watermelon, I also bought a canary melon. Clearly, I have lost my mind.
After staring at the melons for a few days, putting off cutting them open so I didn’t have to make a decision about what to do with them, I found a solution – sorbet. It would keep for a long period of time and, unlike most desserts, I like sorbet.
Never having made sorbet, I started doing some research and immediately ran into a road block. I don’t have an ice cream freezer. Hmmm… I knew someone in Twitterland would know what to do, and sure enough, I had an answer in 3 minutes. Thanks @Eilenbug.
You can make sorbet without a freezer using the scrape and process method. You freeze the sorbet in long trays, scrape it out, put it back in the food processor to give it volume and refreeze it. You repeat this process a couple of times until you get the texture you want. It’s not a speedy process, but it does work well.
090709_2A few notes – the watermelon sorbet is pretty sweet, which the folks at the Slow Food Austin potluck seemed to enjoy, but it was a little sweet for me. Next time, I will use a little less simple syrup and a little more lemon juice to give it a tarter flavor. The other recipe was originally for honeydew melon, but I substituted canary melon. I think it would also work well with cantaloupe.
The experiment ended with several delicious tubs of watermelon and canary melon sorbet. I think I found my new standard for what to do with the other half of that melon I just can’t resist.

Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

Place the sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool syrup to room temperature. Use immediately or refrigerate indefinitely in a covered container until needed.
Watermelon Sorbet
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 cups cubed (1 inch) watermelon, seeds and rind discarded
1 cup simple syrup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Puree the watermelon cubes in a food processor. Measure 4 cups of the puree and place in a bowl. Add the Simple Sugar Syrup and lemon juice and stir well. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can place the sorbet in a long pan to harden, remove and reprocess in the food processor and then refreeze. Repeat the process until you get the texture you desire.

Canary Melon & Mint Sorbet
Adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine

1 canary melon, seeded and rind removed
1 cup simple syrup
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Cut melon into 1/2-inch cubes to measure 2 1/2 cups. In a blender puree all ingredients until smooth. Chill puree, covered, until cold, at least 1 hour, and up to 6. Freeze puree in an ice-cream maker. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can place the sorbet in a long pan to harden, remove and reprocess in the food processor and then refreeze. Repeat the process until you get the texture you desire.

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