Celebrating summer flavors with ice-cold treats

There are many kinds of frozen concoctions to help you navigate the summer heat.

There is the Mexican paleta, a bar of frozen juice on a stick, in tropical flavors such as mango, lime and watermelon, as well as tamarind and coconut.

Aside from their justly famed gelato, Italians also make the slushy sgroppino, a semiliquid dessert made with prosecco, a splash of vodka and a scoop of lemon sorbet. And of course there is granita, essentially chopped ice made from sweetened espresso or any number of fruit juices, sometimes spiked with grappa.

In North America, everyone wants ice cream, and most folks think two scoops are better than one. Some prefer soft-serve ice cream, twirled up tall in the cone, or root beer floats or milk shakes.But let's not forget sorbet and sherbet. Sorbets are made from just fruit and sugar (a delicious exception is chocolate sorbet), while sherbets usually contain a small amount of dairy. Both are light and refreshing, and it can be lovely sometimes to have a frozen dessert without the richness of cream or eggs.

Homemade sorbet is easy to make, though it's best made with the help of a machine, the kind with the cylinder that you keep in the freezer. At my house lately, we have been playing around with a variety of flavors. Our current favorite is rhubarb sorbet. It has the slight astringency of rhubarb and a delicate pink hue. A little Meyer lemon juice seems to bring it all together. As summer progresses, we'll move on to raspberry and plum, making it the same way.

For hot summer days I also like to make a savory sorbet from ripe tomatoes, a sort of frozen gazpacho. I use a box grater to make a raw tomato puree, discarding skins and seeds, and season it with salt and pepper, garlic, olive oil and a splash of vinegar. (It's hard to resist drinking it right away, but follow through and get it frozen.) This well-seasoned sorbet makes a spectacular first course with a salad of cherry tomatoes spooned right over it, along with a few basil leaves.

The first frozen desserts were made from flavored and sweetened ice or snow. Lo, these many centuries later, shave ice and snow cones are still popular, especially with children, mainly for the sugar rush. But I came up with something better than those odd-colored commercially made syrups. It turns out that quickly simmered blackberries make a remarkably good alternative — good enough for grownups, and visually stunning. Crushed ice never looked so good.


Rhubarb Sorbet

1 pound rhubarb, chopped

1 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice (or 2 tablespoons regular lemon juice)

1 cup water

Put rhubarb, sugar, salt and lemon juice in a nonreactive skillet. Add 1 cup water and simmer over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened.

Puree rhubarb mixture in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes, then cool. (You may prepare rhubarb puree 1 to 2 days ahead.)

Use ice cream machine to freeze rhubarb puree, then transfer to airtight container and store in freezer until sorbet is firm, about 1 hour. Remove and hold at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes about 1 quart.

Source: New York Times


Shave Ice With Fresh Berry Sauce

8 ounces raspberries or blackberries

½ cup sugar

4 to 6 cups shave ice (see note)

Put berries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Cool thoroughly.

For each serving, pile about 1 cup shave ice into an ice cream glass. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons sauce with berries over the top.

Note: To make the shave ice, put ice cubes in a heavy-duty blender or food processor and pulse until ice is crushed and flaky, but not too slushy, about 1 minute. Alternatively, use a manual ice crusher. Six large ice cubes will make about 1 cup. Store the ice in freezer for up to 1 hour.

Makes 1 cup sauce, enough for 6 servings.

Source: New York Times


Savory Tomato Sorbet

For the sorbet:

4 pounds large, ripe red tomatoes

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 to 2 garlic cloves, grated

Black pepper, to taste

Pinch of cayenne

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fruity olive oil

For the garnish:

1 small shallot, diced

1 small garlic clove, smashed to a paste with a little salt

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved, about 2 cups

Salt and pepper

Handful of basil leaves

Cut tomatoes in half crosswise and remove seeds with a teaspoon. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate tomato flesh into a bowl to make a rough puree. (Discard seeds and skins.) Push puree through a strainer to remove any extraneous bits. You should have 4 cups puree; if you come up short, add a little water or grate another tomato.

Stir together tomato puree, salt, garlic, black pepper, cayenne, vinegar and olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Use an ice cream machine to freeze tomato mixture, then transfer to an airtight container and store in freezer compartment of refrigerator until sorbet is firm, about 1 hour. Remove and hold at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

Make the cherry tomato garnish: Put shallot, garlic and vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil to make a vinaigrette.

Put cherry tomatoes in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Pour vinaigrette over cherry tomatoes and toss well.

For each serving, put 2 scoops of tomato sorbet in an ice cream glass or bowl. Spoon a few cherry tomatoes and some of the vinaigrette over the top. Garnish with basil leaves.

Makes about 1 quart, enough for 6 servings.

Source: New York Times

Celebrating summer flavors with ice-cold treats 07/07/14 [Last modified: Monday, July 7, 2014 5:48pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours