Archive for August, 2011

August 23, 2011

Fresh Mango Sorbet

Fresh Mango Sorbet

I tweaked this recipe from an old Gourmet magazine article. I know I’ve already mentioned that I love my ice cream machine. It’s getting a lot of attention around here this summer. This is the second time I’ve made Mango Sorbet and I think I’ve got it down now. The longer you let it blend in the food processor, the smoother the consistency. Even though there’s no dairy in the recipe, it’s so creamy and refreshing (and guilt-free). If you’ve never tried making homemade sorbet, this is a perfect recipe to start with. Only 4 ingredients… no preservatives here! Make this once and I bet you won’t be buying sorbet from the grocery store anymore.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 mangoes (one for garnish)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Shut off the heat and let it cool down. Place in the refrigerator until completely chilled. I usually make my simple syrup the day before – then I know it’s nice and cold. If not, your sorbet won’t work.

Peel all 5 mangoes. Cut the one mango into a small dice and store covered in the refrigerator until serving. Cut the other 4 mangoes into chunks. Place half the mangoes in the food processor. Pulse to break up the mangoes and add one half of the simple syrup. Run the food processor until it’s smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat with the other half of the mango and simple syrup. Add that to the bowl and stir in the lime juice until properly incorporated. You can taste to see if it needs more lime juice… this will depend on how sweet your mangoes are.

If you chilled your simple syrup overnight you can move on to your ice cream maker now. If you’re uncertain whether it’s cold enough, stick the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours to be sure.

Next, just pour the mixture into the machine and let it do its magic. I have the Cuisinart machine and it takes about 30 minutes. You’ll know the sorbet is done when it’s the consistency of soft ice cream.  Place in a container (I use those 32oz plastic deli containers) and place in the freezer to set for a few hours.

When you’re ready to serve, scoop into bowls and garnish with the diced fresh mango.  Double mango and oh so good!

IMPORTANT TIP: the first time I used our machine I was very impatient and didn’t let the freezer bowl of the machine freeze for long enough. It says that it will take 6-22 hours depending on your freezer. That’s a really big range of time, isn’t it? Weird. Anyway, I only froze it for 8 hours or so. It wasn’t long enough. Now I keep it in my freezer all the time, so it’s ready when needed. I would recommend keeping it in there overnight before you use it the first time. 

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August 18, 2011

The Food of Spain

There’s a new cookbook in my collection. The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden. A mammoth bible exploring the delicious history of Spanish cuisine. She depicts her recipes through detailed accounts of their role in Spanish history and culture. When I think of Spanish cuisine my first thought is tapas (small plates). Then I think of spicy chorizo, lots of garlic, manchego cheese, pimenton, and creamy flan. But as I’ve learned through Claudia’s travels, there is so much more to the foundation of Spanish cooking.

After spending a few weeks as my bedtime novel, I’ve brought The Food of Spain into the kitchen. Following my usual new cookbook modus operandi, I’ve earmarked all the dishes that I think my family will enjoy and have now begun the process of cooking my way through Spain. My first venture was pollo al ajillo, castile la mancha… otherwise known as Garlic Chicken. It sounds much more impressive in Spanish. Two whole heads of garlic (yes, two!) and lots of dry sherry made this dish rich and full of flavor. The garlic mellows and becomes sweet as it simmers in the sherry – when it finally reaches the plate the cloves melt in your mouth. Marvelous!

pollo al ajillo - castile - la mancha (Garlic Chicken)

I’ve adjusted the original recipe a bit to reduce the amount of oil (and calories). When the chicken is cooked with the skin on it will release its own fat. I use only chicken thighs and breasts and remove the skin before serving. In addition, I’ve added Wondra flour right before it’s complete to thicken the sauce, making it coat the garlic cloves and chicken perfectly.

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4-6)

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 bone-in split chicken breasts (each cut in half, for 4 total pieces)
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tsp Wondra flour *

Heat a large heavy dutch oven and add the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown in batches on all sides. Remove from the pan. Drain about half the fat from the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat down and add the whole garlic cloves. Sauté on low heat until golden, being careful not to burn them. Keep the heat very low.

Add the chicken back to the pot along with the bay leaves, sherry and chicken stock. Raise the heat and simmer covered, turning the chicken periodically in the sauce until the chicken is almost cooked through, then remove the lid for the last bit of cooking time. Depending on the size of your breast pieces, they may be cooked through faster than the thighs. Check and remove them from the pan if done before the dark meat – you can return them to the pan when the thighs are done.

Once the chicken is done, push it (along with the garlic cloves) to the sides and sprinkle the Wondra into the sauce and whisk. Stir everything together and let simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes more or until the sauce thickens, turning the chicken to coat. Serve immediately.

I served this with just a salad, but it would be really good with white rice and/or crusty bread to soak up the sauce and spread the garlic cloves on.

* Wondra is a quick-mixing flour made by Gold Medal. It’s great for thickening sauces or dusting meats before braising. 

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