June 06, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet in Ice Bowls

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.

These bowls are extremely satisfying to make because they always turn out looking pretty, no matter what you put in them or if you think you didn't do them quite right. You can't make an ugly ice bowl, it's not humanly impossible. You can use your irresistible bowl to serve sorbet or ice cream on a hot summer day, it will keep your frozen treats from melting too fast. 

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
Berries: raspberries, blackberries, red currants, wild strawberries, gooseberries

June 01, 2012

New York, New York

Photo Courtesy of Ang Snaps
Dear New York, it's been really, really nice to meet you. 

Life is full of fun contradictions sometimes, like going from shovelling manure compost in your muddy rubber boots one day, to drinking cocktails in your best dress at a swanky New York party the next day. Not that I would trade that gorgeous composted manure ("my precious" as Farmer Tom calls it in his best Smeagul voice) for all the cocktails in the world, but last night was the Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards soirée and I decided to get my ass down to the Big Apple and live it up for a couple days. After all, I've been working hard on the farm and spending an evening mingling with the crème de la crème of the food blogging community is not something to pass up. The amazing team at Saveur Magazine put on a stellar awards night including an array of mouthwatering hors d'oeuvres created by Sensi Executive Chef Royden Ellamar and his team who came down from Las Vegas for the event. The morsels of delight included: 
  • Shime Cobia, Wild Ramp, and Olive Escabeche
  • Smoked Skuna Salmon and Everything Wonton
  • Tartar-ki Roll
  • Sweetbread and Morel Pot Sticker
  • Foie Gras Dumpling in Pho Broth
  • Banh Beo (Vietnamese steamed rice flour cake)
Photo courtesy of Ang Snaps
Photo Courtesty of Ang Snaps
Yum. Yum. Ya-ummm.

One of the highlights of the evening (other than the exciting draw for a Bellagio trip to Las Vegas which was won by the very deserving Lottie and Doof, winner of the best overall cooking blog) was receiving ginormous razor-sharp cleavers with the names of our blogs engraved into them. Thankfully, Saveur is shipping them to us (could have been awkward scene at the airport!)

What an honour it was to meet all these fabulous fellow bloggers!

If you haven't checked out this year's Saveur awards finalists and winners, you should do so (click here) because they are all incredibly talented and creative! Here I am goofing off with the lovely Jen Che from Tiny Urban Kitchen who made this super fun video about learning to make hand-pulled noodles.

Photo courtesy of Ang Snaps
Today I was a wee bit hungover from all of last night's irresistible cocktails, so my day of sight-seeing was somewhat less ambitious than I had planned... but I did manage lunch at ABC Kitchen, which came highly recommended by Saveur's Helen Rosner. 

ABC Kitchen with Jean-Georges is the winner of the James Beard Foundation award for best new restaurant of 2011. It offers a seasonal menu that is locally sourced, organic and GMO-free (yay!!), celebrating sustainability, artistry, and global diversity. Chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichtenl and Daniel Kluger offer an impeccable menu that is fresh and bursting with flavour. I had the raw kale salad with lemon, serranos, and mint (for my own take on raw kale salad, click here) followed by a spice-encrusted monkfish served with green pea puree and carrot vinaigrette, which were exquisite. I haven't had fish that good since I was in my host mom's kitchen in Tunisia! The mint and spices took me right down memory lane. 

So farewell dear New York. It was fun and my belly is happy. I enjoyed your vibrant, contagious energy. There is such a sense of purpose and accomplishment in this city that just being here for 2 days, I feel like I might have absorbed by osmosis a little bit of that New Yorker ambition to think big and pursue your wildest dreams with passion and determination. So New York, let's do it all again soon, shall we?