Monday, May 18, 2009

Just Desserts

Today are more recipes for the freezer, concentrating on the iced desserts, for as they always need preparing ahead, but can then be kept in the fridge for some weeks, they make the perfect dessert for a party. All we need to do to devise a similar dessert one ourselves is to read the recipe - use it as a guide, then using the base syrup, and change the other ingredients, keeping the quantities as accurate as possible and of a similar type.

First comes the descriptions of various frozen 'ices' for there are several different kinds. As several contain no cream, suitable for those on a low-fat diet, just accept they still have plenty of calories due to the sugar used. All frozen desserts normally have a 'shelf-life' of 2 months.

granita: the simplest of all water ices, as these are basically a sugar syrup that has been flavoured with a fruit juice or puree (black coffee makes a particularly good one) partially frozen, forked up as it freezes, until it resembles sugar crystals. It can then stay frozen and served in glass dishes. It thaws fairly rapidly, so serve immediately with or without cream.

sherbets: again the foundation is a sugar syrup, made in a similar way to the water ice but afters added beaten egg white to give a fluffier texture does not need 'forking up'.

sorbets: similar to sherbets but often contain a spirit or liqueur, these helping to keep the sorbets from freezing solid, and so they can often be served straight from the freezer. Not necessarily sweet, as some can be served as starters or courses as a 'refresher/cleanser' to the palate.

ice-cream: normally made with a base of custard (made with eggs and milk/cream) plus more whipped cream folded in, there are umpteen flavourings that can be added. So, rather than deal with these, will be giving a few 'different' ice-creams. One being my own 'soft-scoop' recipe (using egg whites ), and another (using egg yolks), so that both can be made the same day without having to fret about using up the whites or yolks in another dish. This 'jig-saw' cookery (as I call it) is another form of 'cost-cutting-cookery'.

It saves a great deal of time if sugar syrup has been made in quantity, then stored in cleaned, sterilised jars. It will keep almost indefinitely and has many other uses. My favourite being a way to make ginger syrup (which is lovely poured over melon and ice-creams). The way to do this is buy a jar of stem ginger, the tip the contents into a bowl. Slice the ginger, then divide between four to six small sterilized jars (that have screw cap lids). Also divide the original ginger syrup between the jars, then top up with the home-made sugar syrup. Screw on the lids, give the jars a shake and leave for a month before using. During this time the ginger will have flavoured the syrup, and if any is taken out to use, the jar can be topped up again with more syrup.

basic sugar syrup:
4 oz (100g) granulated sugar
half pint (300ml) water
Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat. Bring to the hoil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cool and use in recipes below or pot up to use later.

The first of the recipes is for an admittedly luxurious water ice, but you could omit the brandy, using more fruit juice instead, and use different canned fruits.
Peach Brandy Water Ice: serves 4 - 6 (F)
1 x 425g (15oz) can of peach halves or slices
1 quantity sugar syrup (see above)
4 tblsp brandy
3 tsp lemon juice
Drain the fruit but reserve 5 fl oz (150ml) of the juice. Puree the fruit in a blender, then mix together with the syrup, reserved juice, brandy and lemon juice. Pour into a container, cover and freeze. Allow to soften in the fridge for up to one hour before serving.

This next recipe is a sherbet as it is a water ice that has added egg white. A lemon sherbet is extremely refreshing served on a hot day, and/or after a fish course, and orange sherbet equally refreshing, and a better balance of flavours if orange sherbet is served after a beef casserole. Similarly, a sherbet made with apple would eat well after a pork main course.
lemon sherbet: serves 4 (F)
2 quantities of basic sugar syrup
zest and juice of 3 large lemons
1 egg white
Heat the sugar syrup, and stir in the lemon zest. Leave to cool naturally, then stir in the lemon juice. Strain through a sieve to remove zest, then pour into a container and freeze until mushy. Then whisk the egg white until stiff, pour the mushy water ice into a bowl and fold in the egg white, mixing thoroughly. Return to container and freeze. Cover, seal and label. thaw in the fridge for half an hour or more before serving.

We now come to the recipe for sorbet. Similar in some ways to the sherbet, but this first does not use sugar syrup and has kirsch added. As spirit helps keep the sorbets soft, these should be able to be served straight from the freezer.
Black Cherry Sorbet: serves 4 (F)
1 x 425g (15oz) can black cherries
2 tblsp Kirsch
1 tblsp lemon juice
1 egg white
Remove the stones from the cherries and puree the fruit with the juice from the can, the Kirsch and lemon juice. Pour into a container and freeze until mushy. Beat the egg white until stiff, spoon the mushy mixture into a bowl and fold in the whites. Return to container, cover and freeze until firm. Serve straight from freezer.

With the gooseberry season coming up, worth including this lovely sorbet, and as the water and sugar balance is different to the basic syrup this needs to be made from scratch. The gooseberries can be fresh or frozen, but if using canned berries, use the juice in the can and omit the sugar and water.
Gooseberry Sorbet: serves 6 - 8 (F)
2 lbs (900g) gooseberries, topped and tailed
5 fl oz (150ml) water
8 oz (225g) caster sugar
2 tblsp lemon juice
edible green colouring (opt)
2 egg whites
Put the gooseberries in a pan with the water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer until very soft, then stir in the sugar and cool. Pour into a sieve, rubbing as much of the gooseberry flesh through as you can, then stir in the lemon juice and colouring (if used). Freeze until mushy. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and fold into the half frozen mixture. Return to container, cover and freeze.

This next recipe is slightly more complicated, although some parts - such as the apple puree - could be prepared ahead (even frozen then thawed) before assembly. Can either be served as a starter, a between course 'refresher', or a dessert.
Apple and Ginger Sorbet: serves 6 (F)
4 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
3 tblsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
6 pieces stem ginger, finely diced
4 tblsp syrup (from stem ginger jar)
5 fl oz (150ml) apple juice
2 egg whites
Cook the apples with the lemon zest and juice until very soft, blitz or mash to a smooth puree, then stir in the sugar and ground ginger and leave to get completely cold before folding in the stem ginger, ginger syrup and apple juice.
Pour into a rigid container, cover and freeze for about an hour or until half-frozen and the centre is mushy. Scrape every bit out of the container into a bowl and beat until smooth. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold these into the apple mixture. Return to the container and freeze until firm.
Place in the fridge about half an hour to soften slightly, then scoop into chilled dishes and serve.

Two more 'savoury' herb-based sorbets coming up both making an excellent starter, or served between courses. As a between course 'refresher' can be served in small 'shot' glasses, this would serve almost twice as many guests.
Melon and Mint Sorbet: serves 6 (F)
6 oz (175g) caster sugar
5 tblsp water
good handful mint
1 large ripe melon
zest and juice of 2 large lemons (or limes)
2 egg whites
Put the water and sugar into a pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the mint, stir and leave to get cold.
Cut the melon flesh into chunks, and blend to a puree. Strain the herb-flavoured syrup into the melon and add the citrus juice. Mix well, then pour into a container, cover and freeze for a couple or so hours or until half-frozen but mushy in the centre.
Scrape the contents out into a bowl and beat until smooth. Stiffly beat the egg whites, and then fold these into the melon mixture. Return to container, cover and freeze. Place container in the fridge for half an hour before serving, then scoop into chilled dishes, garnishing each with a sprig of mint.

Tomato and Basil Sorbet: serves 6 - 8 (F)
1 x 1.2 ltr (43 fl oz) can tomato juice
juice of half a lemon
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tblsp white wine
2 drops Tabasco
salt and pepper
2 egg whites
Mix together the tomato juice, lemon juice, W. sauce, basil, wine and Tabasco. Add seasoning to taste. Freeze until mushy, then turn into a bowl and beat until smooth. Return to container and freeze for a further hour, then beat again. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the tomato mixture, return this to the container, cover and freeze. Place in the fridge half an hour before serving, to allow to soften slightly, then spoon into chilled glasses and garnish with a basil leaf.

Now we come to my Beloved's favourite ice-cream. My soft-scoop. Basically, this can be any amount of egg whites (four, when whipped is about as many as a large bowl will hold), as long as 2 oz (50g) sugar is used for each egg white. When using four egg whites, half a pint (300ml) of whipped cream is sufficient. Personally I add half cream and half Greek yogurt, as using all cream the dessert is very rich. If wishing to use fruit puree, use half whipped cream, half fruit puree (or half yogurt, half fruit puree).
Shirley's Soft-scoop Ice-cream: serves 6
4 egg whites
8 oz (225g) granulated sugar
4 tblsp water
half pint (300ml) double or whipping cream
Put the sugar in a pan with the water and heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved, then raise the heat and boil the sugar to 'soft-ball' stage (this takes about 3 minutes - and to test for 'soft-ball' drop a little of the syrup into a saucer of cold water, it should be able to be gathered up into a soft ball. If not ready, boil a little longer. When used immediately.
Meanwhile start whisking the whites really thickly, then - when the sugar is ready - and still whisking, very slowly pour in the hot sugar. When all the sugar has been whisked in , keep whisking until the mixture is very thick and cooled slightly. If possible, wrap a wet tea towel round the mixing bowl to help it cool down. When cold, fold in the lightly whipped cream and/or yogurt, fruit purees etc. Then turn into containers, cover and freeze. After several hours freezing, preferably overnight, the 'ice-cream' will still be soft enough to be able to be scooped directly from the container.
flavour variations:
mint choc chip: tint the water and/or the cream with green food colouring, and add a few drops of peppermint essence to the water and/or the cream. Fold in grated chocolate to the basic mixture before freezing.
rum and raisin: soak a cupful of raisins or sultanas in rum, drain (any rum can be beaten into the cream) and fold the fruit in after the initial folding of cream and Italian meringue.
strawberry: puree fresh fruit and fold into the cream/meringue mixture.

Zabaglioni ice-cream: serves 8 (F)
6 egg yolks
2 oz caster sugar
6 tblsp Masala or sweet white wine
5 fl oz (150ml) double cream, lightly whipped
Put the egg yolks, sugar and wine into a bowl that will fit over a pan of simmering water. Start whisking, and continue until the mixture is thick and creamy - this can take about 10 minutes - then remove bowl from the heat, and fold in the cream until well mixed together. Pour into a rigid container and freeze until solid. Put into the fridge half an hour before serving to allow it to soften slightly.

This next 'ice-cream' (not a true ice-cream as it contains no cream) can be made with different fruits such as raspberries, strawberries, ripe pears, bananas...
Fruit 'ice-cream': serves 4 (F)
1 small can evaporated milk
8 oz (225g) fresh raspberries (or other fruit)
2 oz (50g) sugar
Chill the can of milk overnight (or even longer). Pulp the fruit then sieve to make 5 fl oz (150ml) puree, and add the sugar.
Open the can of evaporated milk, pour into a chilled bowl and whip until stiff, then fold in the fruit puree. Pour into a container, cover and freeze until solid. Place in the fridge for half an hour or so to soften before serving.

Cream Cheese 'Ice-Cream': serves 6
half pint (300ml) thick cold custard
8 oz (225g) cream cheese (Philly type)
2 tblsp lemon juice
8 tblsp chilled evaporated milk, whipped
1 oz (25g) walnut pieces, chopped
Blend the cheese with the lemon juice and stir in the whipped evaporated milk. Fold in the walnuts, and finally the cold custard. Pour into a container and freeze and serve in the usual way.