Monday, June 20, 2011

Blueberry Sorbet with Lemon and Cornmeal Cookies

Article first published as Blueberry Sorbet with Lemon Cornmeal Cookies on Blogcritics.

The markets are awash with reasonably priced local berries right now, so I was delighted to pick up several baskets.  I’m using them for snacks, on oatmeal in the morning, in savories sauces with pork, in salads, and for yummy, healthy desserts. Blueberries are packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, as well as just a ton of deliciousness.  Here is a wonderful and easy sorbet recipe that’s so refreshing in the summer, especially paired with some crisp yet tender lemon cornmeal cookies with a hint of ginger.  Enjoy!

 For the Sorbet:

3  cups  fresh blueberries
1/4  cup red wine
2  tablespoons  honey
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
Pinch of Sea salt

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Then pour the mixture into a blender or food processor; process until smooth.  Strain through a mesh screen into a medium bowl, and push all the juice through with the back of a spatula, leaving only the processed berry skins and larger pieces of lemon peel.  Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least an hour and for up to 36 hours.  Churn in an ice cream maker as directed for 20-25 minutes.
For the Cookies:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
6 Tbsp softened butter
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  First, in a mixer, blend the softened butter and sugar until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and beat well.  Add the lemon juice and zest – mix until thoroughly blended.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, ginger, salt and baking soda with a whisk until blended.  Add in stages to the wet mixture, blending by hand with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.  Use either a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone liner.  Transfer the batter by tablespoons to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 11-12 minutes until browned.  If you like a sweeter cookie, sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw just before baking.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.  These cookies have such a unique crispiness thanks to the cornmeal and the hint of lemon and ginger is perfect with the berry sorbet.  You could also make these with lime instead of lemon for a nice change, and pair it with mango or raspberry sorbet.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lemon Basil and Buttermilk Sorbet with Warm Blueberry Sauce

Article first published as Basil, Lemon and Buttermilk Sorbet with Blueberry Sauce on Blogcritics.

I have an embarrassment of riches in my herb garden this year! The early warming trends and abundant rain have caused my mint, basil, verbena and other herbs to take the pace over so I’m always on the lookout for new and creative uses of these summertime green treats.  I love basil and mint in sweet dishes, as well as in savory preparations and thought I’d try a sorbet with prominent basil flavors as a sophisticated summer dessert.  I paired the basil with tangy buttermilk and some lemon for a delicious sorbet and thought about topping it with some warm sauce made from fresh blueberries.  So delicious and colorful!  It really is a gorgeous dessert that wakes up all the senses, and is also a digestive aid, thanks to the basil and berries.  It’s a surprisingly healthy treat too with some calcium, loads of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber…what more could you ask for in a simple summer dessert?  Serve this as is, or aside some yummy cookies or cake as a special treat for guests.  Enjoy!

2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup sugar
¾ cup basil, cut into ribbons
4 cups buttermilk
Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Mix the water, 1 cup of the sugar and the basil in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes until reduced and syrup-like.  Cool to room temperature and then place in a food processer or blender and process for about one minute to ensure that the basil is finely chopped.  Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour and for up to 2 days.  Once chilled, mix the basil syrup with the buttermilk, remaining sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a blender. Put the mixture in the blender back in the refrigerator to chill for at least 10 minutes and up to several hours.  Place in an ice cream freezer and churn for 20-25 minutes until it has reached desired consistency.  Freeze immediately if not serving at once.  Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving.

Blueberry Sauce

2 cups blueberries
juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ cup water
splash of red wine

While the sorbet is either in the ice cream freezer or chilling in the freezer, zest the lemon and set aside.  Place all other ingredients in medium saucepan and bring to a boil.    Reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes until berries have popped and sauce is thickened.  Remove from heat and add lemon zest.  Set aside to cool slightly. Puree in a blender if desired, or leave it with the berries in tact if preferred.

Serve the sorbet with some of the warm sauce.  This is a great dessert with a bit of angel food cake, shortbread cookies or blackberry dessert wine.  You could change out the lemon for lime and play around with blackberries or raspberries in the sauce instead of the blueberries.   If you really want a foodie take on this, sprinkle the dish with just a touch of artisan salt (like fleur du sel or Himalayan pink salt) before serving.  It really does bring out the basil and the berries, and is a nice counterpoint to the sweetness. Have fun and use what is in season and/or plentiful in your backyard garden!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lemony Shrimp Pasta with Summer Vegetables

Article first published as Lemony Shrimp Pasta with Summer Veggies on Blogcritics.

I wanted to clean out my veggie drawer and thought about tossing a bunch of lightly sautéed summer-fresh veggies with some whole wheat pasta.  It turned out that I had some shrimp on hand too, so this recipe came about as a way to combine all these flavors and still come up with something fresh and bright tasting.  It couldn’t be simpler!  You just chop the herbs and veggies, sauté some bacon and then cook the veggies and shrimp in the same pan.  Then add the pasta and liquid, and finish with fresh herbs, lemon and parmesan cheese.  I lightened it up by using low sodium, fat free chicken broth, center cut (lower fat) bacon, whole wheat pasta and just a touch of olive oil, but you can be more indulgent if you want!  This dish is good hot or room temperature and fancy enough for company, yet economical, easy and quick enough for a mid-week supper.  You can omit the bacon if you prefer and just use a bit more olive oil, and you can also substitute whatever fresh summer veggies you like or have on hand.  Be creative!


6 pieces of center cut (lower fat) bacon
1 small Vidalia (or other sweet) onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small zucchini, seeded and diced
1 lb. Large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 box whole wheat or multi-grain pasta – spaghetti or angel hair is best
1 cup green peas (fresh preferred, but frozen is fine)
4 cups baby spinach leaves
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste


Saute the bacon until crisp in a large nonstick pan.  Remove bacon to drain on paper towels.  Keep drippings in pan.  If you use full fat bacon, you probably want to remove about half of the drippings at this point.  While the bacon is cooking, be sure you have your veggies and herbs all chopped and your shrimp cleaned.  Also, boil some salted water in a large pot to cook the pasta as directed to al dente. Once the bacon is removed from the pan, sauté the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes.  Add zucchini and shrimp and continue to sauté over medium heat until shrimp are opaque. Add the cherry tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth and reduce heat to low to simmer. Season to taste with a bit of salt and pepper.

The pasta should be nearly done now in the other pot.  Add the spinach and peas for the last few minutes of cooking.  When the pasta is done, before draining, take about 2 ladles of the starchy pasta water and add to the sauté pan with the shrimp and veggies.  Now add the drained pasta to the sauté pan and toss.  Crumble the cooked bacon and add to the pasta.  Finish the dish with the chopped herbs, salt and pepper, a drizzle of the best quality olive oil you can find, the juice and zest of one or tow lemon(s), and the parmesan cheese.  Toss and serve. 

We had this as Sunday supper with a luscious bottle of California Chardonnay and a radicchio and endive salad with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and walnuts.  It was perfect!  We finished up with great big wedges of watermelon for a real taste of summer!  Enjoy!!