Grapefruit Campari Sorbet

dsc_0991What do you do when you serve a perfectly delicious gazpacho to your family and one person groans and calls it “g-ASS-pacho” and another complains that the shrimp in the soup look like the tails of hairless cats? Move straight to dessert. A boozy dessert.

Grapefruit Campari Sorbet is the perfect summer treat — zippy, refreshing and laced with just enough alcohol that the kids have to leave it alone. In addition to tasting like frozen sunshine, this sorbet is a spectacular pinky-coral color that most definitely needs to be O.P.I.’s next nail polish hue. That’s right, I said it. I want to paint this stuff on my toes. I’m obsessed.

Campari is bracingly bitter, but don’t let that be a deterrent. As I frequently remind my husband, cloying sweetness is bland – in both spouses and desserts. You need a little bitter to keep things interesting. He just rolls his eyes. But he does like the sorbet.

The recipe is an easy mix of grapefruit juice, Campari and sugar. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can pour the base into a glass 9×13 dish, pop it in the freezer and scrape the mix with a fork every 30 minutes until you’ve made granita. Can’t be bothered to scrape ice crystals every half hour? Pour the mix into popsicle molds instead.

Sorbet, granita or popsicle – this recipe is worth a try. It’s delicious, easy to make, and apparently much better than my gazpacho.

Grapefruit Campari Sorbet
Recipe from the ice cream king himself,  David Lebovitz

3 cups fresh-squeezed pink grapefruit juice (I was able to get almost 3 cups of juice from 4 grapefruits and then just topped it off with a splash of orange juice from the fridge)
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup Campari

Warm 1 cup of the grapefruit juice and the sugar over low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove from heat and stir the mixture into remaining grapefruit juice. Add the Campari and stir well.

Chill the mixture and then freeze according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Or make granita. Or make popsicles. Just make it.

Roxanne

photo

If you’re reading this story, it means I’ve mustered up enough courage to hit the “publish” button.  It also means that if you’ve ever suspected  I’m a big awkward dork, you’re about to learn you’re an excellent judge of character.

OK, here’s the first odd thing: I have a culinary bucket list.  Some people want to travel the world or skydive before they die, I want to learn how to make chocolate croissants and roast a whole fish.

This bucket list is why I found myself in the kitchen on a sunny afternoon, attempting to make pretzels and subsequently cross one more item off my list.  Things were going smoothly — the dough had risen and it was time to twist the pretzels.

Shaping pretzel after pretzel is kind of Zen but there’s only so much quiet reflection a girl can handle.  To help quell the monotony, I pulled up my favorite Pandora channel, hit play and settled back into my groove, quietly humming along with Michael Hutchence.

After a few more minutes, I did what any emotionally healthy, totally sane person would do: I picked a fight with myself.

Oh my God, could you be any more uptight?  You’re home alone.  Humming.  Nobody hums when they’re alone.  And nobody hums INXS.  Ever.  Live a little.

Damn, I sure told me.  Shamed into action, I start to sing along.

The next song brought about some toe tapping and head bobbing, followed by hip swaying and even louder singing.

By the fifth song, I was feeling it — music cranked as loud as it would go, I belted out Roxanne as if I was the one painfully in love with the beguiling streetwalker.  Sting tried to sing along with me but I told him to sit down and relax with the rest of The Police, ‘cuz I totally got this:

Roxanne (Put on the red light)
Roxanne (Put on the red light)

I was going for the awesome finish with an air drum solo when a flash of movement caught my eye.  I look up, expecting to see a squirrel on my deck.  Sadly, it was not a squirrel.  It was so not a squirrel.

It was a man I’d never seen before standing in my backyard, looking horrified.

I had forgotten that I made an appointment to get an estimate for a few home repairs.  I quickly weighed my options and realized that I couldn’t drop to the floor and crawl away, so I dusted the flour off my hands, turned down the music and stepped outside for what will go down as one of the most awkward conversations of my life.

“I, uh, rang the doorbell several times but I think your music was too loud.”

“Oh, ha ha.  Yeah.  I’m making pretzels.”

As if that explained everything.

Somehow Baby can get away with, “I carried a watermelon,” but “I’m making pretzels” just doesn’t cut it.

We stumbled through a conversation, he gave me a price quote and I sent him on his way, probably scarred for life.  Neither of us spoke of Roxanne.

★★★

I may have been crushed, but the pretzels were pretty awesome.  Here’s the recipe if you’d like to make them.  It’s not hard to do and it’s even kind of fun — just be sure to keep the music at a respectable volume.

Roxanne’s Soft Pretzels
A modified recipe from the King Arthur Flour web site.

pretzel dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water*

pretzel bath
6 cups boiling water mixed with
2 tablespoons baking soda

Place all of the dough ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough (by hand or with a dough hook) for about 5 minutes, until it’s soft and smooth.

Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly coated with olive oil, cover with a clean kitchen towel  and allow it to rest for 30 minutes

Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat mat.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide it into eight equal pieces.

Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Bring 6 cups of water to boil and add 2 tablespoons baking soda.  Stand back, the mix will bubble big time.  Leave the mix simmering on the stove.

Roll each piece of dough into a long, thin rope (about 28″ to 30″ long), and twist each rope into a pretzel shape.

Working with 4 pretzels at a time, place them in the pan with the simmering baking soda/water mix, spooning the water over their tops.  Cook for 1 minute, then place pretzels on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle pretzels with coarse kosher salt.

Bake the pretzels for 8 to 9 minutes, or until they’re a deep golden brown color.

The Kale Whisperer

I’ve made quite a reputation for myself lately.  I’ve been approached on the playground, queried via email and stopped in the grocery store.  I’m considering investing in giant sunglasses to wear whenever I go out since I’m kind of a big deal around here.

I wish people were asking me where I got my fabulous haircut or how I managed to raise such angelic children or stay knowledgeable on current events, but I’ve had no such luck.

Instead, I’m known as the chick who eats kale – and likes it.

By now, everyone’s aware of kale’s status as a superfood.  We all know that it should have a permanent spot on our weekly grocery list.  The problem is that it takes a little coaxing to make the leafy green taste good.  Lucky for my legions of students in Kale Studies, I’ve got a great recipe to try: Kale Pesto.

I adapted this recipe from Dr. Andrew Weil’s new cookbook, True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure.  I bought the book last week and the two recipes I’ve tried so far have been winners.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

This pesto is a great way for the uninitiated to flirt with kale.  The flavors are very similar to traditional basil pesto except that it has a little more heft and depth of flavor.  My husband liked the kale version even better than the original.  My kids just heard “pesto” and happily tucked into their plates of pasta.  Give it a try and let me know what you think… but please, no autographs.

Kale Pesto
Adapted from True Food by Andrew Weil

2 large bunches of kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 large handful (about 2/3 cup) of finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
about 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
2 pinches of kosher salt (taste after the first pinch)
a shake or two of hot red pepper flakes

Blanch the kale in a pot of rapidly boiling salted water for three minutes.  Drain and immediately plunge the kale into a large bowl of ice water to stop it from cooking and help retain its bright green color.  Let it cool for a couple of minutes in the ice water and then squeeze dry — no need to strangle the kale, a little water still on the leaves will mean adding less olive oil later in the recipe.

Put the kale, cheese, pine nuts, garlic, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper flakes into a food processor and using on/off pulses, chop to a coarse mixture.  Then, with the motor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream.  Honestly, I don’t measure my olive oil, I just add enough until the consistency looks right.  Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and/or red pepper flakes if needed.

This makes about two cups of pesto.  We mixed the entire batch with a pound of fettuccine to make a generously sauced pasta, just the way we like it.  If you’re like most normal people, start with one cup of pesto per pound of pasta and go from there.