If you've been listening to Ask Martha, Martha's call-in show on Sirius Radio, then you know that I've become somewhat of a fixture lately. I can't seem to resist calling Martha with the most trivial of questions, and why? Because I CAN! I can literally pick up the phone and get advice straight from the queen once a week, as long as I'm willing to do it on the air.
So the other day, I called because I'm gearing up for a dinner party this weekend where the main attraction will be Cassoulet. I've never had Cassoulet before, but just looking at the recipe, I can tell that it's a pretty distinctive, all-encompassing kind of meal. And my question for Martha was: What do you serve around Cassoulet? Her advice -- actually, their advice (she was working in tandem with a special cohost - Anna Last, editor of Everyday Food) was: green salad before, citrus dessert after.
Martha went on to talk about Lemon Cream, but my mind went straight to Lime Sorbet, since this is something I still need to tick off my master list.
Lime Sorbet (p. )
The first few sorbets I made, I stayed absolutely true to the recipe, no extra-added flavors or ingredients. But I reread the sorbet "lesson," and it seemed that Martha was encouraging me to be adventurous, try some interesting combinations.
So then I moved into my experimental sorbet phase, which brought such treasures as a pineapple sorbet with apricot/ginger/cinnamon syrup (leftover from the Poached Apricots recipe) and my recent orange "Christmas" sorbet, both pretty great.
Since the Cassoulet meal is going to be very Frenchy, I thought I'd swing out by Frenching up this sorbet with a splash of Pernod (still making my way through that bottle I bought for Bouillabaisse). I've read that adding liqueur to a sorbet can give it a better texture, so that might be an added bonus. Plus, I'll be serving fennel puree with an hors d'oeuvre, and it'll be cute to bookend the meal with anise flavored dishes.
Martha estimates that eight limes will generate two cups of juice, but she must be talking about some special jumbo limes, because it took me more like . Just to drive home the limey citrusiness of it all, I steeped the syrup with a few strips of lime zest. I couldn't really taste a whole lot of extra limeyness in the syrup, but who knows? Maybe it'll come forward once frozen.
I mixed the juice with the syrup, did the infamous egg test (perfectly balanced) and then splashed in about two tablespoons of Pernod. (I did the egg test again, just to make sure I didn't screw anything up.) It tasted fine, maybe not the most spectacular flavor combination, but interesting. Not sure about the sourness, though. Seemed pretty sour.
I chilled the mixture, then froze it in the ice cream maker. Still tastes pretty sour. I'm feeling even less confident about the flavor combo.
After a night in the freezer, I tasted it once more. OK. Now I'm sure: I can't serve this for dessert on Saturday. It's not that it's terrible, it's just not right for that meal. For the record, there was a significant texture improvement - the sorbet was scoopable right out of the freezer. It's amazing that such a small amount of alcohol could make that much of a difference. Too bad it tastes so weird... Maybe I could serve it as a kind of bizarre, between-courses palate cleanser? Nah.
I'm now making what I'm sure is going to be a beautiful Lemon Curd Tart (taking the Pâte Sucrée recipe and filling it with Lemon Curd instead of Panna Cotta). See, I'm learning to mix and match!
It must be noted that this degree of analysis about dessert appropriateness is a completely new phenomenon.
Jeff: B (maybe I should have tasted lime juice and Pernod before contaminating a whole batch)
Martha: B (eight limes = two cups of juice? oh, eight elephant limes...)
Until we eat again...