From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...The heat wave that is currently smothering the Willamette Valley reminds me of childhood summers in the Midwest. Back in the day, only theaters were air-conditioned and relief from the heat was limited. There were no swimming pools, so the hose and sprinkler provided the quickest way to cool off. Afternoon heat could be intense and you could actually see heat waves shimmer, mirage-like, off the pavement. The hose was a blessing. As twilight fell, the Good Humor man began his evening rounds, and his truck was stormed, Hamlin-style, by the neighborhood kids. Double stick popsicles at a nickel apiece were the lure. The double stick was important because most of us had a weekly allowance of 25 cents and that wouldn't cover a weeks worth of flavored ices. We quickly discovered that the buddy system would allow us to have a popsicle every night, if we were willing to split the sticks. Since one was better than none we split the sticks. There is nothing quite as good as something cold on a hot day, and while I've set aside the orange and cherry flavors of my childhood, I still love something cold on a hot summer night. The creams and ices I'm featuring tonight are grown-up affairs that are as beautiful to look at as they are to taste. I know you will enjoy them as much as I do. Here is how they are made.
Key Lime Sherbet
If you share my love for citrus desserts I suspect you're ready for this tart, key lime sherbet. It's Zen-like in its simplicity and can be made without an ice cream or sherbet maker. The sherbet is easy to make, but do plan time for multiple freezings and sear the word cold into your brain. Bowls and beaters must be icy cold as you work and you'll find it's best to work as quickly as you can. The number of key limes you'll use will vary; I needed 20 key limes to make 2/3 cup of juice. If key limes aren't available, large Persian limes - about 3 of them - may be substituted. This is a wonderful way for the health conscious to end a meal. I like to frost the glasses in which I serve the sherbet. It's not necessary but it looks really nice and it makes for a great grand finale.
Key Lime Sherbet
3 cups water
1-1/4 cups sugar, divided use
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup key lime juice, strained
2 to 3 drops green food coloring (optional)
2 egg whites
1) Place water, 1 cup sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat; continue to boil for 5 minutes. Set aside; cool to room temperature.
2) Stir in lime juice and food coloring, if using. Pour into a shallow metal pan. Place pan in the freezer and freeze until solid throughout. Place bowl and beaters of an electric mixer in the freezer as well.
3) Remove pan from freezer. Quickly break up lime mixture with a wooden spoon; turn into frozen mixer bowl. Beat with frozen beaters at low speed, just until mixture is lump free. Remove bowl containing lime mixture from stand and transfer immediately to the freezer. Return beaters to freezer as well. Refreeze.
4) When the mixture is refrozen, place egg whites in a small mixing bowl. Add a pinch of salt; beat until slightly thickened. Add reserved 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites hold their shape. Set aside.
5) Remove lime mixture from freezer, Break up with a wooden spoon. Beat with chilled beaters until just smooth. With mixer set to low speed, beat in egg whites only until just incorporated. Immediately return bowl to freezer. Refreeze, folding gently from bottom to top, two or three times during freezing process. Serve firm. Yield: 6 cups.
Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream
Tonight's ice cream extravaganza continues with a figure friendly dessert that will set your tongue tingling from the combined bite of lemon and buttermilk. You may even be able to claim this ice cream is good for you. Here's why. Cultured buttermilk is lower in fat and calories than regular milk because its fat has already been removed to make butter. It's also higher in potassium, vitamin B12 and calcium and it's more easily digestible than whole milk because of its lactic acid content. The best part of all this is that there are just 2.2 grams of fat in a cup of buttermilk. So, if you have to name your poison this is probably a good one to pick. Having said all that, it means nothing if it doesn't taste good. This tastes good and it's easy to make. I like to garnish it with candied lemon zest. While the zest adds gorgeous color and intensifies flavor, it's a nice, not necessary, addition. I think you'll love the simplicity of this ice cream. It's a decade old creation from Roxanne Gold. Take a look.
Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1 quart low-fat buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1) Place sugar in a medium-size bowl. Add zest and lemon juice to sugar. Mix well. Add buttermilk and salt. Stir until sugar dissolves. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
2) Transfer to an ice cream mixer and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. If not used immediately, transfer to a storage container and freeze.
Yield: 8 (1/2-cup) servings.
Candied Lemon Zest
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar + sugar to coat zest strips
1) Wash lemons thoroughly. Trim zest from lemons using a vegetable peeler. Cut wide strips, being careful not to cut into the white pith layer below. Cut zest strips lengthwise to create thin julienne strips.
2) Place julienne strips in a small sauce pan and cover with cold water. Cook over medium heat until water comes to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 6 minutes.
3) Remove from heat, drain strips and then return them to sauce pan. Add water and 2/3 cup sugar. Bring mixture to a simmer. Continue to cook over low heat until lemon strips turn translucent. Sugar water will begin to thicken. Cooking time will be approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
4) When done cooking, remove strips from the pan and spread out on a sheet of wax paper. Separate strips on wax paper so they are not in clumps. Cool slightly. Roll in additional granulated sugar to coat. Yield: 8 servings.
Mojito Popsicles...Courtesy of the Cuban Reuben
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
3 fresh limes
1/2 cup white rum (Like Bacardi or Havana Club)
2 cups club soda
1) In a large pitcher, add sugar and mint. With a muddler or back of a wooden spoon, muddle mint into the sugar.
2) Juice limes into pitcher.
3) Add rum and the club soda. Stir well.
4) Pour into 10 popsicle molds, and freeze overnight.
5) Unmold each popsicle, and wrap in wax paper. Refreeze for 2 hours before serving.