This time last year I was gazing open-mouthed at the sight below, thinking, “I can’t believe I’m here.” Tonight is the one-year anniversary of the first time I
tasted what became First Night in Florence Spaghetti. Since the time I posted the recipe on Food52, it has garnered over 6,500 views, and more than 200 people have saved and enjoyed it. It has been one the most oft-viewed recipes here, as well. One morning last week I signed on to see that one person in Russia and another in Italy had taken a look at it. I love hearing from people how much they have liked it. Though nowhere near as hot here and now as it was there and then (96 degrees in the shade; I just checked), I continue on my quest to make and consume as many cold foods as possible during this very hot summer.
I came across not one, but two, cans of lychees
when cleaning out a cupboard recently. The first one was a pleasant surprise; the second one provoked a, “Huh?” I have no idea where they came from, and given the state of that cupboard it is entirely conceivable that they generated themselves spontaneously, but I earmarked them both for frozen desserts. Here is the first.
Makes about 1 quart
When I think of lychees, the first thing that comes to mind is their incomparable soft, tender texture. They’re canned in a heavy syrup which I think overly sweetens them. So I tarted them up, so to speak, with a generous dose of fresh lime, a handful of fresh mint, a hot japonés dried chili pepper, and finished with a splash of sake to keep it all interesting.
- 9 ounces water
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 3 ounces Karo Syrup
- 1 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
- 1” knob of ginger, peeled, thinly sliced, roughly chopped
- 1 dried japones chili pepper, crushed with your fingers
- 15 ounce can lychees, drained and rinsed
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 ounces Sake
- Measure water, sugar and Karo Syrup into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the mint leaves, ginger, and chili pepper. Cover the pan and let everything steep for 20 minutes.
- In a food processor, purée the lychees, lime juice, and Sake.
- At the end of the steeping period, hold a strainer over a mixing bowl and pour the sugar solution through it. Discard the solids.
- Stir the lychee mixture into the sugar solution. Place over an ice bath and chill, stirring occasionally, to at least 40 degrees before spinning in an ice cream machine.
- Spin according to the directions for your machine. Be sure to follow the sequence of (1) set the dasher in place in the frozen cylinder, (2) secure the lid, (3) immediately turn the machine on, and (4) pour in the sorbet solution. My sister once had a dasher break when it had sat for a bit of time (not long) in the frozen cylinder. When she turned on the machine, the dasher broke because it had sat long enough to freeze to the side of the cylinder.
- When you start the sorbet spinning, set your freezer container into the freezer. Scraping the finished sorbet out into a chilled container will keep things moving in the right direction.
- When done, after about 20 minutes, scrape the sorbet out into a freezable container, and store in the freezer. Sorbet should chill in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving. Ideally, plan to let it freeze overnight, but if it’s just too hot for you to wait that long, scrape it out into a broad, shallow container, and it will freeze much faster.
- Wash the cylinder with soap and cool water, especially if you need it to chill down again rapidly. Don’t ever put it in the dishwasher; the excessive heat compromises the freezing ability of the gel between the two walls. I store mine in the freezer. That way it’s always ready. Oh, and upside down. The cylinder, not the freezer.
- If your kitchen is, uh, warm, chill serving bowls in the freezer before scooping sorbet into them.