Wednesday, October 7, 2009
It's Been Awhile...
I can't believe how the days fly by. Fall is in the air - it's all crisp and different, even here in LA. I have had the most amazing, exhausting season of work - the most intense summer/fall season I have had in several years. I feel horrible that I haven't posted more. When I first became a photographer, it meant spending my time shooting, and printing in the darkroom. We printed with enlargers if something was wrong, it usually just meant that we had to change a lightbulb...not so anymore. Now it's all computers, even though most of my work is still shot on film. Nonetheless, when I am this busy, it means hours and hours and days in front of a screen, and it's taken a toll on the blog. I feel awful, like I've neglected my friend. Things are going to start calming down a bit in the next few weeks though. In the meantime, I have a million posts in my head, waiting to come out.
Garden stuff - we had a disappointing summer. It was really foggy on at the beach this spring. We always have June Gloom, but it lasted until August, which put the kaibosh on our summer harvest. The heat came in late (and the fires came in early, which is a future post!). We are getting a nice bumper crop of tomatoes right now, just as the weather is turning cold. I wonder if they'll lose their sweetness? Hardly any squash, a few peppers - no canning.
We did, however, have a fantastic crop of Concord Grapes. They were AMAZING, and so incredibly easy to grow. Here is a great sorbet recipe I found in the cookbook "The Perfect Scoop". I bought this book over the summer, as I am determined to master ice cream. This sorbet is made with corn syrup. Perhaps I've read too many Michael Pollan books, but I am really against the whole corn syrup thing, but I made it anyway, and it was delicious. A few days after I made the sorbet, I found a recipe in Gourmet for a similar sorbet but using sugar instead, which makes me politically happier. I will post this recipe as well, even though it is untested...
Please note that I am completely devastated about the closing of Gourmet Magazine (they can, for the moment, be found online here, and the November issue will still come out). Doubtless you will hear about this over and over in future posts, as this magazine is of biblical proportions to me. I am so incredibly sad, it is a little ridiculous. Thank you, Ruth Reichl, who is the most wonderful, inspiring editor. Thank you for your grace and courage and especially for the expose on the tomato pickers of Florida. Thank you to all of the writers and the painstaking, worldwide research that changed eating and aspiring to cook into an international adventure. And finally, huge, giant, indescribable thanks to all of the great photographers and art directors who contributed over the years to this magazine - every issue was a piece of heaven to look at, and so visually inspiring to me I cannot begin to describe it. OK Enough. Onto the recipes...
Grape Sorbet, adapted from "The Perfect Scoop"
Makes About 1 Quart
Grapes that are very robust, such as Concord or Muscat, make a fine, flavorful grape sorbet. These grapes are usually at their best in autumn. If you have access to wine grapes, they produce a wonderful sorbet as well. Don't use seedless table grapes, such as Thompson and Red Flame; these make a great snack, but not a very tasty sorbet.
3.5 Pounds Grapes
3 Tablespoons Water
1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Tablespoon Vodka
Remove the grapes from the stems and cut them in half if they're large or have thick skins. Place them in a large, nonreactive pot, add the water, and cover. Cook the grapes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the skins have burst and the grapes are soft and cooked through.
Remove from the heat and pass the warm grapes through a food mill fitted with a fine disk, or press through a strainer with a flexible spatula if you wish to remove the grape solids. Stir the corn syrup and vodka into the grape juice.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
*We ate this about 4-5 hours after it was made and it was a bit runny. The following day, the texture was better just right...freeze this for at least a day before you eat it.
The Gourmet Magazine Version:
Concord Grape Sorbet, September 2009 Issue
Sorbetto Di Uva
Makes About 1 Quart
Active Time: 10 minutes; Start to finish: 5 3/4 Hours (Includes chilling)
Although Uva means "grape" in Italian, Concords are native to North America. A velvety sorbet brings out their inky, foxy intensity. It will, in fact, swing you right into autumn.
2 Pounds Concord Grapes, stemmed, divided
3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
Equipment: An Ice Cream Maker
Puree half of grapes in a blender until smooth, then force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Repeat with remaining grapes to yield 3 cups puree. Whisk in sugar until dissolved. Chill until very cold, 3-6 hours.
Freeze in ice cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up, at least 2 hours.
That's it...happy cooking.