A little while back, I was asked by Valerie Howes, the food editor at Reader's Digest to write an article about frozen desserts for the magazine's July issue. Right away, I knew what I wanted to write about: homemade ice bowls filled with berry sorbet. I've been making these bowls for years because they are quite magical. They're lined with flowers, berries, and herbs which you can see through the ice.
Valerie wrote about our lovely afternoon making ice bowls on her blog, Open Kitchen, which I've been following with admiration for a long time. We spent a splendid few hours together, sharing stories about food, farming, love and life. And then we ate bowls of strawberry rhubarb sorbet in the late afternoon sunshine. Now that's what I call the beginning of a wonderful friendship!
I don't remember where I originally got the ice bowl bug (I'm certainly not the genius who came up with the idea!) but I've been making them since I was a teenager. I used to whip them up them whenever we had summer guests and to this day, even though it was 20 years ago, my beloved Mami (who appears in this video I did on her birthday last summer) still talks about the time I made blackberry sorbet served in lavender-filled ice bowls. These bowls have always made me think of Mami because they are delicate, elegant and graceful, just like her!
As for the strawberry rhubarb sorbet recipe I'm sharing with you today, it is naturally rich and creamy even though it's made up of only 3 ingredients: strawberries, rhubarb and sugar. It's dead easy to make, you won't even need an ice cream maker.
I hope you enjoy making these as much as I do. May they help keep you cool on hot summer days.
STRAWBERRY RHUBARB SORBET (Adapted from Canadian Living)
3 1/2 to 4 cups chopped rhubarb
2 cups chopped strawberries
3/4 cup cane sugar (this is for a tart, not too sweet sorbet, if you prefer sweeter, use 1 cup)
Optional: 1 tbsp. finely ground chia seed (aside from being super healthy, these give a creamier texture to sorbets)
Cook the rhubarb with a little water (about 1/4 cup) until soft, around 10 minutes. Add the sugar and simmer for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Puree the rhubarb with the strawberries in a food processor and freeze in a shallow pan for about 4 hours. Break up the frozen mix into chunks and return it to the food processor. Puree until very smooth and velvety. Return to the freezer for an hour to two, or until serving time.
-4 medium and 4 small plastic bowls, with a 2–3 cm difference in height and width (yoghurt containers also work fine for this)
-1 pitcher of ice-cold water
-Around 4 cups of small edible flowers, berries and herbs (see suggestions below)
-Small heavy objects to use as weights, such as rocks or coins
1. Pour water into the 4 medium bowls so it covers about 2 cm at the bottom of each. Put the bowls in the freezer until the water is frozen solid. Be sure to keep them level so that the water doesn’t freeze lopsided.
2. Remove medium bowls from the freezer, working on just one at a time so the water doesn’t melt. Place a smaller bowl on top of the ice base inside the medium bowl, making sure it’s centred. Fill the smaller bowl with a layer of heavy objects to keep it anchored down. In the gap between the small and medium bowls, drop a handful of flowers, herbs, and berries of your choice. Try to make them fill the space vertically as well as horizontally by squeezing the larger flowers, herbs, or berries into the gap so that they are held in place between the walls of the bowls and do not all float to the top. Pour water to fill this space so it reaches 1 centimetre from the rim of the bowl. Tuck in any leaves or flowers that are sticking out of the water. Freeze.
3. Remove the ice bowls from the freezer. Run a little hot water on the outside and inside of the plastic bowls, being careful not to touch the ice, then unmould the bowls. Fill with scoops of sorbet or ice cream and serve immediately.
Suggestions for decorating your ice bowls:
Edible flowers: pansies, violets, roses, lilac, lavender, borage
Herbs: mint, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, fennel leaves