Cantaloupe and Mint Sorbet

cantaloupe 3 8.24.13The freezing cylinder part of our ice cream maker had been in residence in our freezer for several months. Placed there in anticipation of an ice cream-making session that never happened, it had remained chilled and ready.

From this, you can gather that I don’t make ice cream often! But…sometimes I do. And all because friends thought to give us an ice cream maker years ago as a Christmas gift.

Very low-tech. No electricity involved. You slip the frozen cylinder into an outer case, slide in the center paddle, pour in whatever you’re freezing, put on the lid, attach a handle, and turn!

With a wedge of cantaloupe left in my refrigerator, it seemed a good time to pull that cylinder out of the freezer…and give sorbet a try. Puréed fruit, sweetened, frozen.

I cubed the cantaloupe, and puréed it in three batches in the blender, so as not to jam up the works. I even tossed in the few slices I had left of cantaloupe and cucumber from last week’s post. (I don’t think the cucumber added anything to the flavor, but contributed to the green specks throughout!)

About three and a half cups of cubed cantaloupe became just over two cups of puréed cantaloupe. I added a quarter-cup of honey, one tablespoon at a time til I had the amount of sweetness I wanted. And to that I stirred in finely chopped mint, about four or five leaves’ worth.

That’s it: cantaloupe, mint, honey. Put it in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours, though one hour would be enough. It just needs to be good and cold before going into the ice cream maker, so it’s got a good head start.

Just before pouring the mix into the cylinder, I added a couple splashes of white wine to it. I couldn’t help myself. Crisp white wine just seemed a good idea. (Did I taste it later? Well, in one of my bites, I could’ve sworn I did! Maybe I just wanted to taste it!)

Turned the crank a few times every two or three minutes for 20 minutes, and watched the purée begin to freeze and get firmer. Then container and emerging sorbet into the freezer to firm up a little more.

A leisurely process. Even allowed me time to sit at my desk and knock off several items, intermittently tending to sorbet-making.

A wonderful treat at the end of the day.

Cantaloupe and mint made a very tasty, light sorbet, with the sweetness of the honey rounding it out. And maybe a back note of wine?

Cantaloupe and Cucumber

cantaloupe 3 8.17.13The melon in my fridge this week was a cantaloupe. I had chopped half of it to put in a bowl to snack from, which we did. The other half, orange exposed, sat in the fridge waiting its turn. It was really just the colors, seeing that orange whenever I’d open the refrigerator door, and then seeing the cucumber, that made me put them together. Very simply.

Sweet, orange cantaloupe slices. Crispy, pale green cucumber slices. Chopped basil and marjoram sprinkled over top.

A light snack while my husband and I talked, sitting at the kitchen table.

Watermelon, Mango and Basil Smoothie

watermelon 1 8.10.13Because I had frozen cubes of watermelon in the freezer, I wanted to make a smoothie. A straightforward Pavlov’s dog reaction.

This is why.

Several years ago, my younger daughter gave me a book named, simply enough, Smoothies. It was for my birthday…which is in February. In anticipation of summer, I think, and that I might then make her smoothies! I’m sure I did.

It’s a colorful book, both the pages and the recipes, with useful tips at the beginning on techniques and preparing fruit. Two tips in particular have been my guide, whether I’m following something specifically from the book, or putting something together from what I have on hand.

One is to blend ingredients by starting with the liquids and adding the solids, to help prevent ingredients getting clogged at the bottom of the blender. One of those little common-sense things that you see in writing, and think, “Oh. Of course!”

The other is to prepare fresh fruit and freeze it, so that you don’t need to add ice later (or less of it), therefore not diluting the fruit’s fresh flavor.

A few years ago, on a beach vacation, we stopped at a fruit market along the way and bought melons, berries, bananas. probably plums or peaches, just a nice assortment. I thought it would be fun to have cold smoothies on hand in the fridge all week after a hot day on the beach. And you know, it was. That first day, I cut up the fruit, and put it on a flat tray and into the freezer (to individually freeze and not freeze in a lump), and then into resealable bags. Along with yogurt and juice, sometimes a little honey for some additional sweetness, I’d mix whatever combo seemed good at the moment. And when that pitcher was done, I’d put together a different combo.

I don’t actually make smoothies often, but because I made a point of it that trip, set it all up for myself, it kind of crossed over from a small production to more of just something to quickly throw together.

I often have bananas in the freezer, so now it’s no big leap to pull them out, and, with some yogurt and juice, have a smoothie in a few minutes.

And that’s why, when I cut up a watermelon from the farmers market the other day, and the cubes filled two bowls, I had the instinct to go ahead and freeze one bowl’s worth. And with those cubes frozen, the next natural thing to do was to make a smoothie.

In the book Smoothies, they have a recipe that uses watermelon, lemon sorbet and mint. I had a little mango sorbet left, a mango in the fruit drawer, and lots of basil in the garden. So I went with a watermelon, mango and basil combo.

Into the blender:

  • 1/2 cup mango sorbet
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice (the juice of one lime)

watermelon 2 8.10.13Add and blend in:

  • 1 diced fresh mango (when diced, it equaled about a half-cup)

To that (a few cubes at a time to allow them to be more easily blended), add:

  • 3 cups frozen, diced watermelon cubes

Stir in:

  • 4 basil leaves, finely chopped

If anything gets clogged, just stop the blender and use a wooden spoon to break it up.

I’ll tell you, this smoothie is worth it for the color alone! A gorgeous peachy shade.

And the bonus is that the taste lives up to the gorgeous color! Bright watermelon, floral mango, a little tartness from the lime. And then, minty basil.

Plus, I got to treat my daughter to a smoothie, inspired by her gift, before she heads back to school again!

A Cabbage Divided

cabbagepasta 2 8.3.13I was out of town last weekend, and, though it was just for a couple of days, I had things in my fridge that I couldn’t be sure would last til we got back. I found myself with a nice block of free time a few days before, and decided to devote it to cooking. Not only would I save my produce before it hit the point of no return, but there’d be food at the ready…so helpful because the several days leading up to the weekend were full, too.

And among the several things I wanted to be sure to use was the three-quarters of a head of purple cabbage (in case you were keeping track!) I still had remaining from the two heads of cabbage my friend had given me a few weeks ago, and which I have already reported on here twice.

So here’s my third entry, which actually is a two-for-one.

I prepared the cabbage one way, and then used it in two ways. I shredded it to about a 1/2″ width, tossed it into a bowl, and microwaved for six minutes. I checked it every two, because I didn’t really know how long it would take. Six minutes gave me limp and crunchy.

A third of that I used in a potato salad, and the rest in a pasta dish.

Here they are.

cabbagepotatoes 2 8.3.13For the purple cabbage and potato salad, I cooked 1 1/2 pounds of small yellow potatoes, cut bite-sized, til firm, and then drained. I tossed them with 1 1/2 tablespoons of rice vinegar, seasoned with salt and pepper, and let them cool. Then I combined that third of the cabbage I’d set aside; the potatoes; 1 tablespoon of capers, 6 or 7 basil leaves, shredded; 1 clove of garlic, minced; and a generous handful of diced white onion. I stirred in a little canola oil to coat for a light flavor. Salt and pepper to taste. Really liked the tang of the vinegar and capers.

cabbagepasta 1 8.3.13For the purple cabbage and pasta, I checked my cupboard to see if I had anything like a fettuccine. I didn’t. What I had was three-quarters of a 9-ounce box of no-boil lasagna noodles. It would do. I wanted something to echo the ribbony lengths of cabbage, so I broke the lasagna sheets lengthwise. Or attempted to. Some looked more like shards, but no matter! I already had a pot of water on to boil, because I’d also been cooking off artichokes and corn!, so I tossed the pasta in, brought it back to the boil, and cooked til ready, between 4-6 minutes. Drained and rinsed to cool.

I combined the remaining purple cabbage with the noodles, and added 1 clove of garlic, minced; a generous handful of white onion, diced; several basil leaves, torn into smaller pieces; and a good handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. I stirred enough canola oil in to coat, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Fresh. Colorful. Delicious.