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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gin & Rhubarb Sorbet


You guys. Make this. Like now. I'm serious. Go! Okay, no wait - come back! Finish reading this post and then you can go whip up your own batch. No fretting if you don't have an ice cream maker campers, I can teach you to you fake your way through the sorbet making process without one of those newfangled crazy machines.

What is sorbet? What makes it different from sherbet? Sorbet is a type of frozen treat that is made with sweetened water, fruit juice or fruit puree, and a bit of liquor or wine. Sherbet is a fruity frozen DAIRY product. Sorbet and sherbet (or sherbert) are two different things here in the United States ... I'm not sure, but I think sherbet might be a purely American thing, where as sorbet is an international kind of dessert.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the tart wonderfulness that is rhubarb. I mean. For all of you haters out there - it's okay, you keep hating and I'll keep eating your share of the world's rhubarb - you have no idea what your missing. Now my rhubarb supply (aka: LindaG's garden) is way more green than it is ruby red; it looks like a strange form of celery. This explains why I though rhubarb pie was celery pie until I was eight or nine. #nolie


And then, of course, there's the gin. So good. So little old British lady. I really am an 80 year old woman (I just look good for my age).

Sorbet is meant to pack a punch in the flavor department. Generally, one doesn't eat a lot of sorbet - it's meant to be a pallet cleanser between courses (or after the meal). It's light. It's sweet (and tart in this case). And it just screams summertime.


Gin & Rhubarb Sorbet
Adapted from Apt. 2B


Ingredients:

8 ounces water
7 ounces granulated sugar
1 lb rhubarb stalks, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 TBSP lemon juice
2 TBSP light corn syrup
2 TBSP gin (I used Tanqueray)
red food coloring (optional)

Directions:

Combine sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan and heat on medium high, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Add in the rhubarb and simmer until the rhubarb is very tender and beginning to fall apart, about 10 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes, and then carefully transfer the mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Add in the lemon juice and corn syrup. Cool thoroughly. ** At this point, if you need to / want to add the red food coloring here - drop by drop, you don't want to over do it.

If you have an ice cream maker this is where you'll pull it out and do you're thing (follow the manufacturer's instructions) - just add the gin before you start. 

Now - if you're like me and don't have an ice cream maker, let me introduce you to the cheater way to make some wicked good sorbet. First - add the gin while your sorbet mixture is still in the blender and mix it up real well. Next, pour the sorbet into a metal baking pan (9x13 ... or whatever you've got - I used a roasting pan) and pop it in the fridge. For the fun part: every 30 minutes for two hours take the sorbet out of the freezer and stir it (break it up and mush it back together). After the two hours is up, in small batches put sorbet in a food processor and process until smooth (it will become a lighter airier pink color). Tightly pack into your freezer container of choice and pop back into the fridge for at least an hour. 

Dish up. Drizzle with a bit of chilled gin to make it extra special.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Shortbread Biscuits


Ain't no party like a tea party, 'cause at a tea party the biscuity fun don't stop. Am I right, or am I right? Erm ... yeah. Having a good shortbread biscuit recipe in your back pocket is like having an extra twenty dollars hidden in a random compartment of your wallet; it just makes good sense. 

People just seem to generally love shortbread. I'm sure there are those people out there who just don't want anything to do with it, but I've yet to encounter them. If they do exist, I imagine they all live together in a special little community nestled in the rolling hills of nondescript countryside. Shortbread is outlawed. Outsiders need not apply. I have a wee bit of an over active imagination ... if you can't tell.

I like to think of shortbread as the "fancy" tea time biscuit, though I'm not sure why. Maybe because when I was a child it seemed like all the "grown-ups" in my life ate (read: loved) shortbread. Especially my grandmothers and the other old ladies in my life. In my world, shortbread became synonymous with things classy ladies ate, while doing horrible grownup things like playing canasta or bridge.


So the next time you're hosting a tea (or a real rowdy card game) don't forget to make a batch of these lovely, crisp cookies and wow your guests.

Side note: shortbread is supposed to be crisp. Crisp, I say! I recently had a soft "shortbread" cookie - and trust me, the quotes are needed because ... it wasn't really shortbread, it was something masquerading as shortbread.


Shortbread Biscuits

Ingredients:

4 ounces butter, room temperature
2 ounces sugar
6 ounces flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Mix in flour until a ball of dough forms.

Pop in the fridge for a bit, maybe ten minutes (I found that it helped if the dough was a bit cooler when it came to rolling it out).

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it's about 1/2 inch thick. From here I cut mine into rectangles, but you can make circles or squares ... basically whatever your favorite shape is, go for it.

Put biscuits on a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  Sprinkle cookies with a bit of sugar (I also use a fork and poke holes in the center of the rectangle).

Let chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Bake for 15 - 20 minutes (I have found that 16-18 minutes seems to be my sweet spot for my oven).

Let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes, remove and completely cool on wire rack.

Store in container with tight fitting lid.