Tuesday, July 27, 2010

cucumber mint sorbet with lime shortbread

Oh, ho! It's time for a party! I'm a little bit excited that I got invited and because I'm that sort of guest, I'm bringing all my friends along too! Are you ready for Summer fest 2010?

I do agree that it's good to know all the details before you actually commit to a party, and I'll tell you what I know. You never know when you will just say yes for the hell of it, and before you know it you're in the back of someone's jeep, squeezed in between two people you barely know, and the driver who may or may not be entirely competent is speeding through the dark to some undisclosed location. This is not that kind of party, I promise you. You will not be stranded, and wishing that you never went out. (You can tell I had some traumatic experiences in high school that I haven't quite gotten over) You will actually be safe at home in your kitchen, and you will be cooking fabulous things with friends.
I know! Let's get started!
So here's how it works. For the next few weeks, we'll be cooking with a few others around here. There will of course be a theme, because who doesn't love a theme, and those themes will revolve around the ingredients that most of us gleefully have coming out of our ears these days. I'll tell you what I'm making, and I'll tell you about what other people are making too, and then, if you're feeling bold, you tell me what you're making!
I know! Can you even wait? I can't!

This week, this very first week of Summer fest 2010, we are paying homage to both of those tenacious and all-powerful garden presences: cukes and zukes.

Having been raised on far too much zucchini frittata, I just don't do the zukes. Cukes however, are an entirely different story.

I might like cucumbers even more than I like radishes. I might be able to live on cucumbers for a very long time, as long they have just a bit of salt on them. Peeled or not, cut into spears or slices, I'll eat them with glee until the vines are empty.

As I tried to figure out what to bring to this first exciting week of Summer fest 2010, I thought I'd bring something for the kids, you know, the "mac and cheese at the potluck" if you will, because I do that sort of thing. But then I had such a day with girls, and there was one too many tantrums, and I changed my mind.

I am done trying to make food that the girls will eat. I am done! Stomping my foot done!
Those girls are wild and wonderful and unpredictable. They are exploring the world with imagination and abandon. They are growing at an astounding rate, and everything is changing from one day to the next. One moment they are speaking their secret language as they set off for an adventure, and the next, I am shocked and appalled to find a a perfect imprint of Sadie's teeth on Rosie's chest. There is a shadow of a bruise as well, and Sadie explains to me that she bit her sister because she was taking too long to brush her teeth.
I am done. I just can't predict what will make them clean their plates or make them cry at the dinner table. They can forage. There are plenty of potatoes in the garden.
Today, this one is for the grownups.

It turns out that I made dessert. And although you would think that anything sweet and cold would please the littles, not so over here. They gave it a try, and they were actually quite gracious about it. There was a pucker, and a "hmm" and a "can I just have the shortbread?"

More for me.

The truth is, I loved this. It was cold, and herby, and just sweet enough, and the texture was wild and unexpected. My friend Sarah was in the kitchen with me today, and her offer to whip up the lime shortbread as I stirred the frozen cucumber ice was too good to pass up. For the grownups, this was just the right dessert, and although Joey's pickle making obsession has gotten so out of control this year that I have had a hard time getting my hands on the cucumbers in this house (20 jars of pickles!), I was very thankful for the few that I had today.

Cucumber Mint Sorbet with Lime Shortbread
(with thanks to Joey for leaving me a few cukes, and to Sarah for the shortbread)

For the Sorbet:

4 pounds cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 5-inch mint sprigs
1 5-inch tarragon sprig

For the Shortbread:

2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon rum
1/2 cup toasted roughly chopped cashews
zest of one lime

Make the sorbet-- In a small saucepan, combine the water and the sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil, and let it boil for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and submerge the mint and tarragon sprigs in the liquid. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain and discard herbs.
Puree the cucumbers in a food processor until entirely smooth. Combine the cucumber puree with the sweet herb syrup in a freezer safe dish. Place in the freezer and freeze for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

Make the shortbread--Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Butter an 8 or 10-inch springform pan. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, salt, cashews and rum, and mix just until the flour is combined. Press into the prepared pan, and sprinkle the lime zest over the top. Bake until shortbread is just dry and starting to turn golden, 50-60 minutes.

So what else is everyone making this week? It's quite a spread, so far as I can see.

Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden is talking about why size matters (smaller! not bigger!), and she's sharing pickling and freezing tips.

Michelle Buffardi over at The Cooking Channel's Devour/The Blog enlightens us on zucchini's unexpected diversity, and at Food Dish/ Food Network, she's making Paula Deen's zucchini bread.

Alison Sickelka of Food2 blog starts off the meal with a few zucchini appetizers.
On zucchini appetizers:

Elizabeth Gray at healthy eats is offering a cucumber salad and a few other ideas for our favorite cukes and zukes.

Cate O’Malley at Sweetnicks is bringing Indian Cucumber Wraps.

And my friend Paige over at the sister project is hating zucchini, and telling us all about it.

Diane and Todd, the White on Rice Couple are stuffing cucumbers with prosciutto and feta (I hope they made enough- everyone's going to want one of those!)

Kelly Senyei at Just a Taste is bringing a cucumber and sesame salad, and she's giving us a special lesson in slicing cucumbers on a mandoline.

Still have more cukes and zukes?

Shauna at Gluten Free Girl made soup and soupcicles.

Tigress in a Pickle made so many pickles.

And Judy the Tuscan Diva has fried squash blossoms!

And there's more coming! I'll keep you up to date as the day goes on. How about you? No need to come to the party empty handed...


  1. I don't hate zucchini. I like zucchini. But arrggh, sometimes too much bounty is, well, too much ;-) What pickle recipe is Joey using, pray tell? So, so glad you came to this party, and I promise to never leave you stranded, at least not when I'm along, too. xx

  2. I've made a five herb ice milk that was fantastic! I love herby sorbets, so I can't wait to try this!

  3. I am going to have to try the cucumber sorbet for sure!!

    My contribution to the Summer Fest is Cucumber, Feta, & Walnut. A very yummy and refreshing combination!


  4. The cucumber ice looks like the perfect cucumber embodiment for summer. I will try this, with the shortbread!

    I love all the pickling recipe sources. Definitely bookmarked

    Joining the Summer Fest 2010 party myself! Here's the link to a recent post I did. I finally worked up a recipe for the Cucumber Wasabi Soup folks have been hounding me for for years. A summer orgy of cucumber and cultured dairy!


  5. Dang. Don't know how that pickling line got into my comment!!! Talk about non-sequiters. Yikes.

  6. Last year I made a zucchini pie--spice it like apple, you can't tell the difference.

  7. Wow, summerfest sounds like fun! I am excited to get a lot of new ideas and share some of my own. I’m a newbie blogger but really enjoying it so far!

    Please check out my Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread:

  8. Oooh! I want to play too. But I am currently wading through an abundance of leafy greens, blueberries, and apricots, so instead I will watch Summer Fest from afar. I admire your sorbet very much - I feel cooler just looking at it. Have fun!

  9. Wow! I just got in from a hot, sweaty work out and I would kill for some of your sorbet right about now. I can't imagine anything sounding any more refreshing!!

    I'm so excited to join the Summer Fest fray this year! Just posted my tangy Wilted Cucumber & Radish Salad:

    And Paula Deen's zucchini bread, also part of the Summer Fest fun, reminded me of my perfect family finger food, Zucchini Muffins, great for toddlers up to big kids (including the big kid in you!):

    Can't wait to try the other zukes and cukes recipes!

  10. I didn't get to plant cucumbers or zucchini this year. But I happily find myself receiving zucchinis grown in friends' gardens. What fun.

    I have fresh zucchini to make my favorite zucchini bread. I've used this recipe for years. I've tried others, but always come back to this Wisconsin farm-woman's recipe. Here's a link to the recipe and a story about garden-giving reciprocity. http://food-fun.wisconsinfood.com/edible_antics/2008/09/food-fun---givi.html

  11. Check out my post on Zucchini Pasta with Chicken...my favorite summer dinner!


  12. Oooh, I just received an ice cream maker, maybe I could use that for the sorbet. It looks great.
    My contribution to Summer Fest is a cucumber salad with garlicky yogurt and dill
    - http://boodely.com/2010/07/28/cukes/

  13. Thanks for the shout-out, Alana! As I mentioned on my blog, this sorbet is what I want... right now. Literally. Perfect for a summer party! Check out my Marinated Summer Squash Salad and my Cucumber Salad with Lemons and Poppy Seeds at my blog, www.thewrightrecipes.com.

    So happy to be feasting at the Summer Fest 2010 with you!

  14. I'm so excited about SummerFest! My zucchini's are going crazy so I've been constantly working on new recipes for them these past few weeks! This year, my favorites include:

    Garlic Ginger Zucchini Pickles

    Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Chunks & Ginger

    Southwestern Garden Succotash (which actually features a number of garden vegetables coming up on the SummerFest line-up)

    and, from a previous post, my favorite lentil salad which is best with fresh cucumbers and basil from the garden

    Can't wait to peruse the other recipes! I'm going to be eating our zucchini for weeks!


  15. Never would have thought of this but I will definitely make it. I am adding this great Cucumber Pineapple Salad / http://dejavucook.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/cucumber-pineapple-salad And now I think this combination might be a great sorbet too.

  16. Hooray for Summer Fest! I’d like to submit these zucchini “noodles” with avocado garlic dressing:


    As well as this refreshing cucumber sorbet:


    And some good old reliable lacto-fermented pickles (a recipe that’s really adaptable; I just made a batch with garlic, tarragon and chile pepper)


    I’m really looking forward to reading everyone’s recipes…and I’ll try to do a dedicated Summer Fest post next week ;)

    Winnie @ http://twitter.com/drwinnie

  17. Oh, the inspired ideas! I actually have something to do with the endless amount of zucchini and cukes in my fridge! I love summer fest!

  18. thank you for such a refreshing and unique recipe. It's the perfect finish to a fine Summer meal. And love your cucumber picture, the light highlighting the surface is gorgeous!

  19. This looks really good! Off to make it now
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