A Cake Reconstruction

I am sure most bloggers want their first real post of the new year to be sublime, an impressive display, a creation to evoke jealousy in other food blogger (said jokingly of course). Well not I, nope, I bring you leftovers! But I am not doing it because I want to, I swear, it is the fault of the Creative Cooking Crew hi hi.

Our first theme for 2015 is: Repurposing Leftovers or How Many Meals Can You Get From One. I went with repurposing. I actually hosted the 25th (family) and the 31st (friends) but both were pot-lucks. Lots of leftovers but small quantities of things that did not necessarily mesh well. So I decided to layer up slices of desserts! I bring you A Cake Reconstruction!

Cake Reconstruction

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Lemonade Iced Tea Sorbet

A couple of weekends ago I invited a few friends over for a very simple BBQ. I provided burgers and hot-dogs. I told my guests to bring the rest: salads, mergez, sandwich platters and chips. I knew there were going to be a couple of desserts already but I wanted to offer my gluten and dairy free friend a sweet option.

Sorbet was an obvious choice and it was perfect for the warmer weather. Standard go-to flavors in my home are a no-no. I had to find something original. This Lemonade Iced Tea Sorbet fit the bill. It’s thirst quenching and practically doubles as the usual tea or coffee served at the end of a meal.

ice tea sorbet 04

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Secret Recipe Club: Watermelon Sorbet Served in a Lime Cup

Hey have you entered my giveaway where 2 gift baskets worth 75$ will be won. Full of neat kitchen toys and a gift certificate. And it’s open to everyone world wide. So go enter now…well after you have read this post.

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It’s Secret Recipe Club reveal day! What is the SRC? Basically you are assigned a fellow participant’s blog by the organizer and then you pick a recipe of your choice from that blog and make your version of it. But it is a secret, you cannot reveal whom you picked and what you made until the established posting date and time…. which is today! I can’t wait to see who picked me.

I have to admit I am really nervous. I feel like the new kid who just joined a new class at a new school halfway through the school year. The source of my anxiety? I asked to be switched groups, from C to A, for scheduling reasons. I have done 3 SRCs so far and I got to bond with some people from my group and started looking forward to their reveals. But now I left my friends in group C. I hope group A is nice to me! Ah well new friendships await!

This month I was assigned the cool chick Katie who is the author of This Chick Cooks. As she explains her eating habits are changing: I’m going back to the basics trying to focus on natural, whole foods and eliminate processed items such as white sugar, white flour etc. But she is reasonable too and believes in a treat: while I am trying to focus on my family’s health I also believe in moderation. Everyone deserves a little treat now and then, right?

I learned quite a few things on her blog. She has great informative posts where she discusses pesticides on fruits and veggies or the dangers of refined sugar.  And then the recipes will help you learn how to substitute bad ingredients for better ones. Looking for a the recipe I was going to make though was a breeze because the ‘coincidence’ was just to obvious to ignore. I made my interpretation of her Watermelon Desserts {lime stuffed with sherbet} because the lime cups are too cute and  just so happen to have watermelon sorbet in my freezer from my Watermelon Carving Contest Entry.

Ξ Watermelon Sorbet Served in a Lime Cup Ξ

Ingredients:

limes (1 per serving)
watermelon sorbet (or pink like strawberry, raspberry etc.)
“seeds”: mini chocolate chips or annatto seeds or black sesame, etc.

Directions:

Cut a tiny bit off the bottom of the lime, just enough so it will stand up. Cut off the top and scoop the insides out. Fill the limes with sorbet and freeze till ready to serve.  Decorating or imitating seeds is your personal choice. For my full cups I went with a knotted lime zest.

But I had the idea of cutting a slice out of the filled lime which makes it look like a mini watermelon slice with the green rind and white wall. Katie suggests mini chocolate chips to imitate the seeds. I could not find some but I had annatto seeds that work just great.

Ξ Watermelon and Basil Sorbet Ξ
from Emily Maloy

Ingredients:

4 cups pureed watermelon
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp fresh basil

Directions:

1. Puree watermelon with basil.
2. Boil 1 cup of the pureed watermelon with the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, making a syrup, and allow it to cool completely.
3. Add to remaining pureed watermelon and and process for 25 minutes in an ice cream machine.
4. Freeze for 3 hours or up to overnight.


I served this to a friend for a lunch and he was thrilled by the presentation and taste. In case you are wondering what is the stuff under my lime it is a little bit of plain sugar mixed with a couple of drops of yellow and red food coloring.



My Watermelon, my Melon Baller and I

My regular readers know how much I enjoy a food challenge. From friendly recipe challenges to figuring out what is the name of that exotic vegetable I bought at some ethnic grocery store with the illegible (to me) item sign, I have fun pushing my kitchen limits. So when I was asked to participate in a watermelon carving contest how could I resist!

Only problem is I have never carved a watermelon before. I must have a good 15 to 25 pumpkin carvings under my belt since my parents let me hold a knife, but a watermelon carving, this is a first. And the design must be original. OK time to roll-up the sleeves.

The National Watermelon Promotion Board was kind enough to supply a set of paring knives, a double ended melon baller (one round scoop and one v-shaped cutting tool) and a small watermelon. Thankfully we could get a different  watermelon then the one provided as it was too short for what I had in mind.

I had sorbet on my mind, yep watermelon sorbet. Ever since I saw Emily Maloy’s post for a watermelon sorbet recipe I have been salivating for a cold spoonful of this sorbet. Now all I had to do was come up with a way to combine a carving and sorbet. Finally I had a vision for my submission for the Watermelon Blogger Carving Challenge. How about building an art deco inspired stage showcasing the watermelon sorbet? I can almost hear Bessie Smith sing.

Yes, the Halloween pumpkin tradition was too strong, I had to incorporate a candle in there. Unlike a pumpkin though, watermelon gives off a gorgeous neon pink glow. What a great way to show case Cheap Ethnic Eatz, or CEE. I really liked my watermelon carving experience. Perhaps you think my Watermelon Sorbet Stage was a difficult and time consuming exercise but it was actually quite simple, as long as you mentally picture the architecture of your design.  Let me walk you though the steps…

With the watermelon standing make a horizontal cut halfway up, then cut out your piece by making your vertical cut a bit further to the back then half way.

With the v-shaped cutting tool I cut out an accordion pattern which would represent my stages background, very art deco and linear. Oh and I LOVE this tool, so easy to cut.

Next I drew my letters CEE with a marker and cut them out. My first cuts where at an inward 45 degree angle so they could pop out easily. Then I cut my lines clean. I turned my watermelon around and I cut out the place where my candle would be. I fleshed out the interior with the scoop melon baller carefully to have a thin flesh layer remaining where my letters were. I adore the pink color it gives off.

Finally I added a bit of decoration with the paring knives by cutting out 2 hearts on each side and cutting a thin line below the stage to give a floating floor effect. That is it. See! It was not that difficult.

And now I have all this beautiful watermelon flesh left over for the sorbet. But before make a few pretty watermelon balls with the scoop tool.

Ξ Watermelon and Basil Sorbet Ξ
adapted from Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Ingredients:

4 cups pureed watermelon
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 tsp fresh basil

Directions:

1. Puree watermelon with basil.
2. Boil 1 cup of the pureed watermelon with the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, making a syrup, and allow it to cool completely.
3. Add to remaining pureed watermelon and and process for 25 minutes in an ice cream machine.
4. Freeze for 3 hours or up to overnight.

Place some sorbet balls on the stage, add a few melon balls and a couple of basil sprigs.

And the final touch: light the candle and dim the lights! A natural electric pink neon light!

A few watermelon health facts:

  • Watermelon has 92 per cent water content and is an excellent hydrator. So take some with you on your hike.
  • Watermelon is low in fat and cholesterol-free.
  • Watermelon is an excellent source of an important amino acid, citrulline. The human body uses citrulline to make another important amino acid – arginine – which plays a key role in cell division, wound healing and the removal of ammonia.
  • Watermelon contains high levels of the antioxidant lycopene – a 2 cup serving of watermelon contains 18.16 mg.
  • Watermelon is low in sodium and a source of potassium.
  • Watermelon is a good source of the following (per 250 mL or one-cup serving):
    • Vitamin C
    • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
    • Vitamin B6
    • Vitamin A

Thank you to The National Watermelon Promotion Board for hosting this great challenge and introducing me to the fun art of watermelon carving.

Citrus Mezcal Sherbet

After the Fruit Dropping Party I had a large amount of cut up citrus fruit leftovers. What to do? That will come in a future post but from this recipe I had still an unused portion, about 1 cup, of boiled down citrus flavored sugar syrup made with oranges, grapefruit, lemon, lime, strawberries, sugar, red wine, anise star, ginger, lemon fizz water.

What a great frozen concoction I could make with that! I had a small concern thought as I have only made ice creams up to now but never a cream-less frozen dessert. Would it get rock solid in the freezing process, what cream and eggs do prevent in ice cream? Not if you know a few tricks:

– Sorbets and sherbets often use a bit of lemon or lime juice. In this case they are the base of the syrup. An acidic juice will convert table sugar to simple sugar preventing crystallization (solid ice).

– BOOZE! Adding a touch of alcohol to your frozen dessert will help keep it a bit soft. Why? Because alcohol only freezes around -114 °C (-173.2 °F). When a bit of alcohol is mixed in well its particles will remain liquid and keep the whole mass from sticking together.

I had an unopened bottle of Mezcal that was given to me by a friend who went to Mexico. Mezcal has an intense smoky flavor, an acquired taste. However I thought the smokiness of this drink would be subdued by the citrus intensity and this frozen treat could pass for an exotic Margarita knock-off! Oh was I ever right. I adore this flavor! It’s a new favorite.

Citrus Mezcal Sherbet

1 cup milk
1 cup citrus flavored simple syrup (or what ever you have)
1/8 tsp salt
1 to 2 tbsp Mezcal (or tequilla)

Ice cream machine
– put everything in the machine at once and operate as per manual

Hand made
– Mix all the ingredients
– Pour into a shallow container and freeze until solid around the outside and mushy in the middle
–  Stir with a fork and freeze until firm

When I was coming up for my title I did not know if it was a sherbet or a sorbet, so off googling I went. Turns out it is definitely a sherbet. A sorbet will have zero milk product in the recipe and it is basically flavored iced water. Had I omitted the milk it would have been a sorbet. Sorbet can also go by the name of Granita in Italy or Agraz in Northern Africa.

But I decided to add a cup of milk so this recipe automatically falls into the sherbet category. Apparently by U.S. federal regulation, sherbets must contain a minimum of 1 percent and a maximum of 2 percent butterfat. The word sherbet derives from the Persian sharbat, an iced fruit drink. Sharbat is popular in the Middle East and in South Asia. At its base sharbat is also iced water flavored with syrup made from fruits and/or extracts of flowers and herbs.

India seems to be the first to dilute the syrup in milk, or evaporated milk. Thai Basil seeds can be added (pre-soaked in water and added) after for effect. I guess someone than decided to freeze the mixture and we have today’s Sherbet.