Sunday, May 2, 2010


I made sorbet today, for the first time in quite a while. And basically sugar-free, except for about 1/2 tsp. of honey that I almost always use with fruit sorbets just to give the flavor a little kick. I made mango-passionfruit, which is pretty much Barry's flat-out favorite, sugar or not. (My three favorites are probably that one, pear-ginger, and mandarin chocolate.) It used to be tough to hunt down passionfruit, but now our splendid Orthodox greengrocer, Ouri's, almost always has it.

I recently bought myself an immersion blender, thinking to use it to puree soups like butternut squash and split pea (though soup season, at least hot soup season, seems to be drawing to a close). But it occurred to me today that I could try it on the sorbet mix, instead of schlepping down my regular blender (in a small NYC kitchen, except for the coffee maker and can opener, most appliances are stored away until needed, since counter space is so limited). This kind of blender is stick shaped and you just plug it in and put it into a pot or bowl. So I put my ingredients (cubed mango, strained passionfruit, Splenda, honey, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla) into a mixing bowl, and used the immersion blender, and it worked like a charm! Since the sorbet thing already necessitates schlepping out one appliance (the ice cream maker), it's great not have to also use the regular blender. Plus the immersion blender cleans up by rinsing under warm water, much easier than washing a big blender canister.

Speaking of lemon zest...I made some nice cold poached wild salmon the other night, with a little sauce made from low-fat mayo seasoned mostly with fresh dill, dried mustard, and a bit of dried chipotle. At the last minute, I threw on some lemon zest, since I watch Top Chef a lot and thought it would add something nice. I think it actually made all the difference, since the zest is very aromatic and the whole thing was far preferable to drowning the fish in lemon juice, which is often done by some people I'm married to. It made it lemony without extra wetness interfering with the thick sauce. I only own a lemon zester since I use zest for most fruit sorbets, but it's really worthwhile, since it's really hard to cut zest properly with a knife (unless you're a Top Chef-level chef and have an awesome range of what they always call "knife skills"). I served the fish with a salad of arugola, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and Italian olives, with a Bragg sesame ginger dressing (Bragg is a health-food-store brand).

Citrus zest is where all of the aromatic oils are, but the white pith under it is bitter, so you can't cut too deep. A zester gives you a superfine julienne of zest with no pith. I wouldn't own with if I didn't make sorbet (see = Jenn's cherry pitter), but it's not a bad thing so have if you make fish a lot, or anything with fruit (maybe a little lemon zest in apple pie?) or anything that's complemented well by a hit of citrus. (I seem to recall my brother's wife once making a sauce or dressing for asparagus which involved orange zest. Yummy.)

I'm not even sure where to buy one any more. Mine probably came from Lechter's, the housewares chain that went belly-up several years back. They were *everywhere* -- the first time I ever met Barry's parents was when we ran into them at the Lechter's on Kings Highway. (I was staying at Barry's a lot already, maybe a month or two after we met, and he was with me as I shopped for a few things his kitchen lacked.) It's hard to find a housewares store like that anymore (basically, tabletop and kitchen goods). But if you want to get one, I'd try eBay first. (That's my battle cry, "try eBay first": my immersion blender came from there, and I am awaiting a nonstick covered skillet and a new 3-in-1 printer for my computer, all from eBay.)

So tonight is chicken cutlets, on top of the stove since our oven isn't working, and I'll probably wilt the rest of the arugola and spinach with some garlic and olive oil, and cook some baby carrots (not the best veg in terms of blood sugar impact, but Barry will eat them.) And sorbet.

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