Tag Archives: sorbet

Flavor #30: Green Tea Asian Pear Sorbet

5 Apr

“Asian pears!” my friend’s boyfriend declared.

pears at the market

While pondering what produce to buy for a flavor for a belated Chinese New Year dinner, I spotted my friend and her boyfriend roaming through the farmers market. I described my predicament. An Asian flavor that used local produce. So no mango, no dragonfruit, no longan, no guava (as I sadly discovered guava in the United States is no match for guava in Asia) and more. I was ready to return to the blood orange sorbet, which worked wonderfully for all my tasters. Yet, I kept coming across Asian pears. Growing up, my mom bought them and filled the kitchen. After a small lunch, she would carve them into small pieces and place them in a ceramic bowl with painted blue Oriental details.

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Flavor #29: Blood Orange Sorbet

23 Mar

Blood oranges, if they were only in season during Halloween, would have been perfect for my annual zombie book club meeting. Instead, I chose pomengranates to represent the bloodinness of that time of the year. But appropriately, a (belated) anti-Valentine’s day potluck theme for my writing workshop was swiftly suggested and the blood orange idea popped up in my head. What is more anti-valentine than blood oranges?

To the uninitiated, the blood orange is a variety of orange that…just happens to have red streaks. The most common kind sold in the US is the Moro which is sweet…with a slight taste of raspberry.

Blood oranges at shop


Flavor #26: Kiwi Lime Sorbet

4 Feb

I found kiwis on sale. Five for $1! In the middle of winter. In January. A summer fruit…on sale? Why? And really the final question…why not?

At Evergreen Super Market (one of my favorite markets in my ‘hood), I purchased two bags of those brown furry things, quite certain of the sweet juicy green innards. (And you know how much I love zombies!) Fortunately, the bags were most likely on sales because the kiwis were soft and squishy. So not sour at all! Ripe, perfect for a kiwi sorbet.

kiwi fruit

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Flavor #21: Pomegranate Blueberry Sorbet

1 Jan

Pomegranates. Blueberries. A winter fruit of tricky and a summer fruit of warm nights. All mixed into an ice cold sweet dessert for a new year.

Then zombies. And my favorite kind of meal.

(Two months delayed due to travel.)

Every year for my book club, I host the Halloween event around late October/early November. Each time, the intended focus is the book (usually zombie-themed). But every single year, my creativity takes over me and I JUST HAVE TO make multiple courses of zombie-themed food.

Meat heads are tasty

This year, as a result of being fully immersed in an ice cream journey, I thought about how ice cream can be creepy. Blood-red colored surely. (Maybe black? Sesame?) With some kind of topping that is…incredibly gross.

And that’s when it came to me.


Pomegranates ready to be chopped

As a child, I recall my mom telling me to go to the backyard to break the pomegranates. Eating the fruit is a messy endeavor as each seed (as sturdy it seems on the outside) bursts with so much juice. My mom must have instructed me to wear an apron, lest my clothes be stained by the bright and unwashable colors of the pomegranate.

The seeds are interestingly shaped and encased inside a red package. Aliens bursting from within? Evidence of one’s trypophobia? (I am pretty sure that I have some of that phobia too…) A disease? Symbolic of the Rape of Persephone where she was tricked to eat four seeds?

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Flavor #17: Thompson Grape Sorbet

1 Nov

Grape sorbet

There are typically two flavors I avoid when I encounter candy. Orange and grape. Maybe because those two are the most artificial tasting. Or that their colors…aren’t as bright as yellow and blue.

When we walked through my favorite farmers market, I couldn’t help but notice the stalls carrying grapes. Green grapes, red grapes, purple grapes. Concord grapes (the most vividest), champagne grapes, Thompson grapes. At one stall, we stopped and sampled the four grapes that they sold. With eyes closed, we chose the sweetest grape. The seller watched us carefully as we jumped from box to box. It was near closing time…almost 2 pm. And we finally we made our decision.

Grapes at Farmers Market

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Flavor #15: Kaffir Lime Coconut Sorbet

22 Oct

coconut kaffir lime sorbet

I am notorious for not eating green things. I hate green things unless they are tinged with sugar or overwhelmed with salt.

So quite naturally, I am quite the candidate for ice cream loving. Even those flavors that are green.

A sample list of exceptions to green things that I will eat:

  • Limes (because they are like oranges and lemons)
  • Green things that can be picked out
  • Sauteed green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Juicy pear jelly belly beans
  • When I was in Vancouver, my friends and I walked through the markets of historical Granville Island and came across wrinkled green limes nestled with astringent hardy leaves. Kaffir lime is what the sign said.

    Kaffir Limes

    “You will never find this in the states,” my friend who was raised abroad in India, Thailand and Singapore announced. “Not fresh, at least.”

    At my first real job, I went with my coworkers frequently to Osha, a local San Francisco Thai restaurant. There, kaffir lime leaves permeated nearly every plate (definitely more than the Americanized Thai restaurants I was accustomed to). Spicy catfish to salmon sashimi salad to tom kha noodle soup. The leaves were always so dried, almost translucent. But they imparted an unusual taste that I associated with Thai cooking.

    When I went to the farmers market (same trip as for the passionfruit), the same stand had a box of kaffir lime leaves with deeply nestled wrinkly limes.

    kaffir lime leaves at farmers market

    Bargaining with the stand owner, I walked away with more than 20 kaffir leaves and about 6 limes.

    When I returned to my kitchen, I searched online for inspiration for ice cream flavored with kaffir limes. I came upon this excellent recipe from Serious Eats. Interestingly, the original recipe called for coconut water. The author recommended buying those pervasive bottles of coconut water (nowadays the substitute for Gatorade) such as Vita.

    However, adhering to my decision from Ohio, I wanted to use only whole ingredients as much as possible. Like any determined chef, I found myself at the local ethnic market, buying three whole coconuts. Then after bribing a fellow male (knowing my weakness in wielding a chefs knife), he chopped open the coconuts and I poured out the coconut water directly in measuring cups.

    real coconut water

    Good fact to know: each coconut (those found in grocery stores) will have approximately 1 to 1.5 cups of coconut water.

    By using unfiltered, unprocessed coconut water, the kaffir lime coconut sorbet had a strong coconut taste (especially since no water is used; only coconut water is used to balance the water/sugar content). Each bite of the sorbet finishes with a refreshing hint of the kaffir lime leaves.

    The resulting sorbet is tropically sweet, without being overpowering.


    Adapted from Serious Eats


    3 1/2 cups of chilled coconut water from retail coconut water brands such as Vita Coco or 3 fresh coconuts (not coconut milk)
    12 kaffir lime leaves, bruised and torn
    Pinch of salt
    2 pieces of star anise
    1 cup of sugar
    2 to 3 tablespoons of lime juice, to taste
    1 tablespoon of ginger, shredded on a fine grater or microplane (optional)


    Add coconut water, kaffir limes and salt to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, uncovered.

    Remove from heat. By this point, the leaves will have faded to a dull olive green. Remove the leaves. Stir in sugar until dissolved.

    Add the star anise and steep for at least 10 to 20 minutes. Depending on the intensity of the flavor, allow for more or less time.

    For best results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

    When ready to churn, stir in the ginger (optional) and lime juice, starting with two tablespoons. Check flavor and add more lime juice, to taste.

    Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. The result will be slightly soft. Freeze for at least an hour for good consistency. Top with lime zest or other Asian goodies (like sago!)

    coconut kaffir lime sorbet

    Flavor #13: Roasted Peach Sorbet

    14 Sep

    After a two week journey through Vancouver and Seattle, I learned one important lesson in ice cream making:

    Shop well.

    The choice of ingredients always shine through the recipes. Particularly in ice cream where the taste is based on the quality of the ingredients.

    So when the rosy peaches, juicy lemons, and cinnamon come directly from the source—unfiltered, organic, fresh—there is a profound change of taste. Yet like many home cooks, I have often taken the most cost-effective and time-efficient methods of using extracts and pre-mixed ingredients ($4 for artificial vanilla extract? Sure!).

    A few years in 2008, I spontaneously showed up to an early screening of Food Inc, which changed the way I shopped for groceries. It takes only a little more effort to use whole ingredients (e.g., substituting cinnamon sticks for ground cinnamon or fresh lemons for bottles of lemon juice. For months afterward, I shopped only at Whole Foods and at farmers markets. The latter was the most intriguing based on meeting the farmers, the colors at every food stalls, and the missing middlemen.

    In Seattle, after talking to Adria from Parfait (who talked about her culinary awakening in France where local produce was abundant and cooking with fresh ingredients is a way of life), I went to the Alemany Farmers Market with only a singular purpose: To obtain the fresh ingredients for my next batch of ice cream.

    That’s how I came upon the peach. (A big influence was observing Tracy of Social make a peach sorbet at her kitchen on my last day in Seattle.)

    The peach is the quintessential fruit of the summer. The fruit that Alice Waters lovingly serves whole, unpeeled, unpitted rolling about on a plate at Chez Panisse. The fuzz that repels people yet draws them closer and closer to the juice.

    And in my life, it is the secret ingredient that my team guessed a few years ago in August (and make several dishes based on the peach) based on these hints:

    • Currently in-season in California
    • Typically have between 35 and 40 calories
    • Associated with the “unluckiest” colony

    At the farmers market, the peaches called out to me. And also the women who called out (near closing time), “One dollar per pound! EVERYTHING IS NOW ONE DOLLAR PER POUND!” Fighting past the competitive old Chinese ladies, I grabbed an empty bag and filled it up with all the available stone fruit. White peaches first. Then some plums—purple and green. Then topping off with yellow peaches.

    After accidentally gorging on all the plums (you cannot stop yours truly from eating fruit) and some accidental peaches, all that remained were 6 white peaches and 5 yellow peaches. Curious about how the sorbet will differ for each peach, I used the same method for each. Interestingly, the skin came off easily after roasting the yellow peaches. In contrast, the skin for white peaches came off in unsightly shreds—so I eventually just pureed it skins and all.

    Results between the two? Both sorbets spoke well to their source ingredients. The yellow peach sorbet had that sour taste that I loved—it was balanced well with the hint of lemon juice. The white peach sorbet was sweeter and spoke of berries—it was very similar to the raspberry lemon sorbet.


    I can gorge on this sorbet all day, but I am trying to reserve some for my curious ice cream tasters.


    Adapted from Seattle PI:


    5 or 6 peaches (6 is ideal for this recipe to have intense peach flavor, but 5 works as well because I obviously ate 1 too many)
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    Juice of 1 lemon
    2/3 cup sugar (the original recipe calls for Baker’s sugar for easy dissolving, so I pulsed the granulated sugar a few times prior to mixing with other ingredients)
    Pinch of cayenne
    Pinch of salt


    Halve the peaches and remove the pit. Sprinkle brown sugar over the peaches. Roast for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes.

    Peel the skins from the peaches. Be careful as the free-flowing juice and peach flesh can be very hot! Roasting brings out the flavor…and technically should make the skin easy to peel. If the skin is not easy to peel, leave it on. Depending on your preference on texture, the skin can be strained out later.

    In a blender or food processor, puree with the juice of 1 lemon (or 1 tablespoon of juice) and sugar. Add more or less lemon juice to taste.

    It is possible to churn immediately (mixture will be room temperature if the ingredients are at room temperature), but for better results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Add a pinch of cayenne and salt at the beginning of churning to intensify the flavors.

    The result will be easy to scoop and does not freeze into ice blocks. (Yay!)

    Yellow peach sorbet

    White peach sorbet

    Flavor #12: Raspberry Lemon Sorbet

    2 Sep

    “I love raspberries,” he declared and stared at me, unleashing a magical wand at me. “You must make me a raspberry sorbet!”

    Maybe those weren’t the exact words he said or the expression he wielded. Maybe the words he said was “my favorite fruit are raspberries and it would be awesome to have something with raspberries!” I do remember saying that making such a sorbet was going against the principle of my 31 flavors: I intended to make only flavors with a twist. No vanilla, chocolate or strawberry!

    Yet, I love fruit. I love lemons. I love sorbets. And I loved the bright, juicy color of raspberries. At first, I resisted…sort of…and the rules I set…wavered.

    Whatever changed my mind, a few weeks later as we were driving to Marin, he showed me a page from his well-loved Italian cookbook (instead of a love story to Vancouver intended to help me on my first ice cream stop). He declared, “This is it!”

    I was convinced too since the custard-based ice cream was overwhelming me lately. I almost barely ate my ice cream anymore.

    Staring at the page, I memorized the ingredients:

  • 2 lemons (easy, I’ll get it from my parents’ porch)
  • caster sugar (British colloquial for powdered sugar or slightly ground granulated sugar, I later learned)
  • 2 lbs of raspberries
  • TWO POUNDS. Of an expensive product. I remember thinking that normal ice cream shops couldn’t do this—this recipe did not embody the word “cost-effective” for fresh produce.

    Initially, I thought: easy, I’ll head to the farmer’s market and drop my bills at the first sight of organic berries. Due to an inability to schedule, I missed that week’s opportunities to visit the farmers’ market. So on a Sunday afternoon, I desperately hunted through the city for viable raspberries.
    Finally, at a market out in the Sunset neighborhood, I purchased their entire stock—carefully stacking them into my green grocery basket and sheepishly grinning at the register. All 6 clamshells—amounted to nearly $20 worth of fruit. Uncharacteristic of me, I threw in a stick of candy to soothe and reward myself.

    The resulting sorbet was a luscious burst of flavor. The lemons grew on tree in the front yard of my parents’ house. Unlike lemons found in store, their FAT inside bursts with juice. Sometimes almost sweet like an orange. Each spoonful was rich with a tinge of lemon, so I cannot call this one purely raspberries, but raspberry lemon.

    Scientifically speaking, the lemon contains natural pectin allowing the ice crystals to bind together so the result scoop is smooth.

    I later served it at a dinner party (almost 2 weeks after I initially made it) and before I knew it, there was nothing left. If I had been given a whole basket of raspberries, most certainly, the same thing would have occurred.


    Adapted from River Cafe Italian Kitchen by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers


    6 clamshells or 2 lbs of fresh raspberries (each box is 6 oz)
    2 whole large (preferably unwaxed since you’ll be using the skin) lemons, washed
    1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar


    Cut one whole lemon into small 1/2 inch pieces, removing any seeds. This includes the skin and all the crazy parts of a lemon.

    In a blender or food processor, blend powdered sugar and lemon pieces until a thick puree forms. Small bits of the lemon skin (like fresh zest) will be visible. Add the raspberries in small batches so that the mixture is blended uniformly. Reserve about half of a clamshell (or 3 oz of raspberries) to use as toppings.

    Juice the second lemon. Add half of the fresh juice if a less sour taste is desired. I added the entire lemon, because we both loved the sour taste.

    It is possible to churn immediately (mixture will be room temperature if the ingredients are at room temperature), but for better results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Serve with raspberries on top.

    Flavor #10: Inca Kola Sorbet

    10 Aug

    Scoop of Inca Kola Sorbet

    Lemongrass?? Bubblegum??? Not typically served AND hard to find in the States?

    Being the hipster that I am, it was the latter statement that made sure I would drink a lot of Inca Kola while in Peru a few years ago (Yes by the way, I HAVE learned living in the Mission in San Francisco means that Inca Kola is quite plentiful).

    There’s something particularly playful in the fluorescent neon gold color. It calls upon memories of day-glo wear of traffic attendants in school, the big fat highlighters of my youth, and the taste of sour Jelly Belly beans. Like sodas of the old, it is served in glass bottles throughout Peru. When we drank, the restaurant proprietors rushed over to confirm the collection of the bottles. And of course, the novelty of Inca Kola on our flights from Lima to Cusco… was so appealing.

    Arroz frito con Inca Cola

    On the way back from visiting the cloud forests of the Amazon, our driver stopped in a small village. In broken Spanish, he gestured toward a chifa where my sister and I ordered fried rice (Peruvian style) and of course, a bottle of Inca Kola in a glass bottle.

    So throughout the trip in Peru, “Inca Kola, por favor!” we chorused in unison (when my other favorite drink chicha morada wasn’t available).

    Inca Kola bottle

    Of course, nobody in the world would think of making Inca Kola as a frozen confection (although there’s a flavored popsicle floating somewhere in Peru), so I improvised using the essence of Inca Kola while highlighting the herb-like flavors with lemongrass.




    1 liter of Inca Kola (use half of a 2 liter bottle)
    1 cup of sugar
    Bunch of fresh or dried lemongrass (fresh is most likely better, but I had only dried on hand)
    1 cinnamon stick


    In a medium pot, heat up the Inca Kola to a simmer. The goal is to boil down the Inca Kola to a concentrated Inca Kola liquid. Simmer for about 30 minutes with the pot uncovered. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add lemongrass and cinnamon stick. Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes to let the lemongrass steep the mixture. Strain out the lemongrass and cinnamon stick from the mixture.

    Chill completely overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Scoop of Inca Kola Sorbet

    Flavor #4: Watermelon Mint with Tequila Sorbet

    10 Jul

    “Ok, we can slice it up!” I said eyeing the two halves of the watermelon.

    “No!” he declared. “I show you!”

    As we were about to start the movie, he put one half of the watermelon on a single plate with a spoon. He held the spoon downward and moved it around in circles ending with scooping motions.

    “That is how I eat it.”

    For years afterwards, we would cut up the watermelon into two halves. One half would be his. One half would be mine. If we did not finish, we put the halves back into the refrigerator. Then we would eat the watermelon until all that was left was a bowl made out of rind.

    (I did learn that there was another method to eat watermelon.)

    And so that was the word when I woke up and declared that it was watermelon sorbet to be made! I had read online that alcohol made the sorbet texture less icy. Yet alcohol is typically not in my cupboard—so I snuck some of the Mezcal from my roommate. It was the only alcohol in my kitchen that was clear.

    To my surprise although there was so little alcohol, I could taste it with every lick of the sorbet. I don’t like the taste of alcohol so this was my least favorite so far. However, to the 10+ smiling faces I served in the next week, they loved this one the most. Lesson learned: a little alcohol goes a long way.

    Watermelon! Mint! Alcohol! They all cried in delight.

    Adapted from Cookie and Kate:

    4 pounds of watermelon, seeded and scooped into big chunks
    1 tablespoons sugar
    3 limes, juiced
    1 tablespoon of tequila
    1 cup of packed mint
    pinch sea salt

    Blend the watermelon chunks, sugar, lime juice, and tequila in a blender. If the watermelon cannot fit at once, blend in parts. Pureé the watermelon until there are no solid chunks left. Add mint to the mixture. Blend until the mint is thoroughly chopped.

    Stir in a bowl if not everything can fit into the blender at once. At a pinch of sea salt and mix to combine.

    Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

    Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The sorbet will be very soft in the machine so let harden in the freezer for a few hours before serving.