Supposing the Seder menu includes fish, soup, an entree heavy in protein and fat, plus starchy side dishes and vegetables. If you think about it, often the taste from one course stays in the mouth and interferes with the flavors of the next, or makes you feel overloaded from too many taste sensations. Introduce a cold, somewhat acidic, lightly sweetened sorbet between the fish and the soup, or after the entree, and everyone will be refreshed.
Not only do the taste buds feel ready to tackle something new (and after all your work, you do want people to appreciate the food) – there’s been a break in the pace of the eating, for which the stomach will be grateful.
I plan to serve a grapefruit/mint sorbet after the entree. Recipe follows below.
- Sorbets are easy to concoct, but have to be made the night before or very early in the morning, so plan ahead. They can also be made two or three nights ahead, but start losing flavor after that, even if kept in sealed containers.
- Take your sorbet out of the freezer and place it in the fridge about an hour before you intend to serve (say, just before everyone sits down to start the Seder), so that it will be scoopable and not a frozen block when you need it.
- For elegance, serve sorbet in goblets, if you have them. And have your goblets (or bowls) ready at hand before the meal starts, so that you spend the minimum time away from the table to serve.
Pink Grapefruit/Mint Sorbet
Makes 4 cups – enough to refresh 8-10 people
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh mint leaves
2 cups juice of pink grapefruit (white is also fine)
1. Make a simple syrup by combining the water, the sugar, and the mint, stirring over medium heat till the mixture boils.
2. Simmer the syrup for 5 minutes. Cover and take off the flame. Allow the syrup to infuse 10 minutes.
3. Meantime, juice the grapefruits. It took two to make me the 2 cups of juice.
4. Place a strainer over a bowl. Strain the syrup though it.
5. Strain the grapefruit juice into the bowl with the syrup in it; mix.
6. Put the mix into a flat freezer container if you have one. It will freeze more evenly that way. A bowl also works; you have to make sure it’s well covered.
Remember to take the sorbet out when it’s reached slushy stage – one to two hours after putting it in the freezer – and stir it up well to lessen crystalization.
This herby sorbet is best as a palate refresher.
Makes 3 cups – serves 4-6 as a dessert
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 cups fresh, cleanedstrawberries
1 Tblsp. lemon juice
1. Make a simple syrup out of the water and sugar by boiling them together for 5 minutes. Allow it cool somewhat.
2. Blend the strawberries.
3. Add the lemon juice to the strawberries; stir.
4. Mix the syrup and the blended fruit together.
5. Freeze. Stir it up when it reaches the slushy stage.
Satisfactory as a light dessert, maybe with cookies or a slice of sponge cake.
Other Sorbet Ideas:
For between-course refreshers:
Basil/Mint Sorbet: Infuse 1/2 cup of fresh basil and 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves in the syrup. Strain and freeze.
Lemon Sorbet: Add the zest of 1 lemon and 1 cup lemon juice to the cooled syrup. Cover and freeze. Whizz in a food processor till its smooth again; freeze again.
Coconut Sorbet: Add 1 can of coconut milk to your simple syrup. Freeze. Serve with shavings of bittersweet chocolate scattered over each serving.
Rhubarb/Strawberry Sorbet:Cook 3 cups rhubarb with 1/4 cup water for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup sugar. Cover and cook 5 minutes till the rhubarb is tender. Allow to cool.
Purée the fruit and freeze till not quite firm. Purée again. Freeze again.
Blend 1 cup of fresh berries of choice. If using forest berries with lots of seeds (raspberries, blueberries) strain the juice through a sieve. Make sure you have 1 cup of juice. Mix this with 2 cups of sparkling white wine – Champagne is best, but a Moscato is also fine. Depends on how sweet you like your wine. Freeze the mix, stirring and freezing again as in the above recipes. Caution: wine slush can get you drunk!