June 17, 2011

Roasted Strawberry Sorbet

Two weeks ago, my good friends Bekka and Jon visited Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Maryland to load up on you-pick strawberries. Last year they came home with probably 20 pounds of berries that deliciously overwhelmed the freezer and fridge, so this year I was sure to sign up for a share of their lode. The berries from last summer were enormous, blood red, and exactly what you’d want for an eating berry, but this year’s have been like small ruby jewels that are slightly sour and much more floral—perfect for cooking, in other words. Growing up I mostly ate strawberries in things, or specifically, slathered with whipped cream, drowned in heavy cream, macerated and saturating a shortcake that was also slathered with whipped cream—they’re a blank canvas for dairy products, y’all. But Lipitor is in my future and I’m reining in my wanton use of fat-full dairy, which leads me to this sorbet: it is amazing. 
Most of the sorbet recipes that I consulted consisted of just berries, sugar, and lemon juice, which is sort of plain, especially for one who is accustomed to the righteous richness of strawberries in things. So, taking a cue from 101cookbooks, I roasted the bejeezus out of these berries and then churned the results into my honestly new favorite frozen dessert. Roasting the berries seriously transforms their flavor, almost caramelizing them, and the extra "work" (it's so easy!) is totally worth it. Mom is still going to cram me with strawberries and cream when I go home, and I’m sure that I’ll eat a river of strawberries if the next ones that Jon and Bekka bring home are as far out as the ones from last summer, for now and maybe forever, this roasted strawberry sorbet is my jam.
Roasted Strawberry Sorbet
Taking a cue from Heidi Swanson's recipe for roasted strawberries

Heidi's original recipe is for just roasted strawberries, and she suggests pairing them with an array of sweet or savory foods (goat cheese and graham crackers!). The recipe below deviates from her original proportions quite a bit and leaves out the port wine she suggested. All this in the name of killer sorbet. If you're interested in her original, and you should be, check out her amazing book or feature over here.

Get Yr Roasted Strawberry Sorbet On
Yields about five cups sorbet

Two pounds (32 ounces) little strawberries, hulled, and halved if they're larger (trimmed, my berry weight came to 1 pound, 14 ounces)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 tablespoons natural sugar
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, to your preference

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Hull your berries, halve if they're large, and toss with maple syrup, olive oil, and salt in a large bowl. Spread out in a single layer across two rimmed baking sheets or in casserole dishes; you want to use a receptacle that will reserve the juices! Rotating the pans halfway through, bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the berry juices start to thicken; don't let them burn. Heidi counsels us to check the edges of the pan for tell-tale signs of imminent burning. 

2.  Remove berries from the oven. Working in batches, carefully pulverize the hot berries and syrup in a food processor or blender until totally smooth (my mixture did not need to be strained). Stir in the sugar and balsamic vinegar to taste, and chill puree in the fridge for at least three hours and ideally overnight.

3.  Churn the puree in an ice cream maker according to your manufacturer's instructions. This sorbet is the best eaten straight from the mixer or after firming up in the freezer for 20 minutes. If eating after the sorbet has spent a long period in the freezer, allow sorbet to sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before scooping. Enjoy!

*Update:  If you don't have access to an ice cream maker, check out this post written by David Lebovitz explaining how to churn by hand. 

June 14, 2011

Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata

When I was approximately seven, my grandmother's tipsy humor had us in stitches when she took a jab at her sister (not present) during a game of Balderdash. The word in question sounded something like “pompelsnell,” and grandma joked that it was “the sound you make after eating Eloise’s rhubarb cobbler.” She was not wrong! This is both my first memory of snark and my first memory of rhubarb, which I seem to recall being stewed without sugar and slumping under a deflated layer of cooked oatmeal.* I have a friend now who has never had rhubarb because it was verboten at his dinner table as his grandfather had grown up in orphanage eating rhubarb pie every day, and another friend who avoids it because her parents used to boil rhubarb (without sugar!) and serve it alongside rutabagas -- so very World War II. I cannot imagine a more un-Tanglewood way to spend a meal. 

People go on about rhubarb being tart and sassy, but until recently, I really wouldn’t have known because my tendency was to sweeten the shit out of it, add strawberries, and bake it inside of buttery pastry dough. It is so good that way, but then my sister’s main dude made her a rhubarb-only birthday pie a couple of weeks ago -- the first pie he has ever made! -- and it was so tasty and new. Maybe Eloise was on the right track. I’m not quite interested in going bare-bones with the ‘barb yet, but having it on its own helped me divorce it from strawberries -- and right on time because I was growing bored of it that way and thinking I would just forget about rhubarb this season. But this tart is so good, and it will revive your rhubarb pie repertoire for certain. And if you’re looking for a spin on rhubarb that isn’t at all “pompelsnell,” well you should start right here. Now quick, quick! Get some rhubarb before it disappears until next season.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata
Spotted on Lottie + Doof, adapted from Karen Demasco in Bon Appetit

The only major change I made to this was swapping out the cornstarch in favor of tapioca starch. I once read that some people detect a gritty mouth feel when eating filling made with cornstarch. This has never been a problem for me, but

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour 
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cubed 
1 large egg
1 tablespoon whole milk

1/4 cup tapioca starch
4 cups 1/2″-thick slices rhubarb (about 1 1/4 lb.)
6 oz. fresh raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, beaten
Raw sugar
Sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (for serving)

1.  For crust:  Pulse flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor to blend. Drop cubed butter over the top, and pulse a few times until butter is the size of peas. In a separate bowl, whisk milk and egg to combine, then pulse into the flour-butter mixture until it creates moist crumbs. Dump mixture into a shallow bowl, and quickly press into a ball with your hands; flatten into a thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 1/2 hours and up to two days. 

2.  For filling:  Mix tapioca starch and 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl to dissolve; set aside. Combine rhubarb, raspberries, and sugar in a large, heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and fruit starts releasing its juices, about four minutes. Stir in tapioca mixture and bring to a boil; rhubarb slices will still be in tact. Transfer to a bowl and chill filling until cool, about 30 minutes.

3.  For crostata:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured parchment to a 12-inch diameter; brush with beaten egg. Mound filling in the center, then spread out evenly, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Gently fold edges of dough over filling, pleating as needed; brush border with egg and sprinkle with raw sugar. Slide parchment paper onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes. You might choose to line pan with aluminum foil as well to catch seeping juices. Transfer crostata to a baking rack, and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if so desired. Will keep covered for a few days, but truly is best eaten the day of or from the fridge.

* Well, my mom, sister, and I all have a different memory about this night. Sister insists that it was a mincemeat pie and that Eloise made them all the time. My mother is certain that it was pumpkin pie. They both say that it was Thanksgiving, which means that my memory of it being rhubarb is likely wrong, and my memory of it being cobbler even more so, but still! The point is that this crostata will never cause anyone to ridicule you during Balderdash.