Midori and Lemon Sorbet

Time saver: Summer’s on its way, cool down with a refreshing sorbet.

Midori and lemon sorbet - in shotglassesThis is a variation on the classic lemon sorbet. The sweet melon flavour of the Midori complements the tartness of the lemons, while also adding a little colour. Although I’ve used Midori, you can probably get away with any of your favourite liqueurs/spirits.

Your freezer needs to be quite cold when making sorbet (or you’ll have to wait a long time for it to freeze). If you leave the sorbet too long without beating it (particularly before the first round of beating) the syrup may freeze solid. if that happens, just leave it to thaw for a few minutes, then beat and return to the freezer.

Midori and Lemon Sorbet

If well beaten, this recipe makes just shy of 1 litre.

  • 2 c water (use filtered/bottled water if the tap water is chlorinated)
  • 1½ c white sugar
  • 1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 6-8 lemons, more if they’re small)
  • 3 Tbsp Midori Liqueur
  1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan, heat on a hot element, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved.
  2. Let it come to the boil, and simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat.
  3. While the syrup cools, juice the lemons. Strain the juice through a sieve into the saucepan of syrup, add the Midori, and mix well.
  4. Pour the syrup into a shallow freezer proof bowl and place bowl in the freezer. (I normally just use an old 2 litre ice cream container.)
  5. Leave to freeze for a couple of hours, then retrieve the bowl and beat with electric beaters/stick mix. After beating, return to the freezer.
  6. Repeat the beating process a couple more times, with hour long intervals. The more you beat it, the lighter and smoother the sorbet.
  7. Serve in chilled glasses. For a palate cleanser, use 40ml shot glasses, for dessert use larger chilled martini glasses.

Midori and Lemon Sorbet - in cocktail glass

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Mushroom, blue cheese and pesto pizza redux

Time saver: Phil repeats himself, cat still isn’t interested.

Cooked pizzaMy wife’s back, so I told her about this pizza and then tried to impress her by making it. This time around I used home-made pizza dough, and rolled it out to a 12″ base, then scaled the recipe up to fit. I think this size is probably more practical (well, it fed two hungry people, the 9″ base wouldn’t) and the home-made dough gives a much better pizza. I’m planning on writing a post to fill you in on the wonders of five minute artisan bread, but basically, it’s a dough you can make really quickly, then keep in the fridge for when you need it. Unlike most other bread doughs, it requires no kneading whatsoever, you literally pull a lump of dough out of the bowl/container you’re keeping it in, shape it, let it rise a little, then bake it. One of the other wonders of this dough is that you can grab a lump of it, roll it out and use it as a pizza base immediately, and it delivers a great result. That’s what I did this time around. Conveniently awesome.

Pizza baseI took a few photos this time, so you can check out the end result. One small note, we didn’t have any pesto this time around, so I used a few pine nuts instead and I’ve updated the recipe to include those. (I think the pesto is better, but we make do.)

Mushroom, blue cheese and pesto pizza – 12″

  • 12″ pizza base (preferably hand-made – I recommend 5 minute artisan bread)
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove or ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • 1-2 c grated cheese (125g is roughly 1 cup when grated) (this time around I used 2 cups, but for a more stylish contemporary pizza you could use less. As before, I used Edam cheese, if you’ve got mozarella by all means use it)
  • 125g mushrooms, sliced (could use more if you can fit them on)
  • 30-40g blue vein cheese (I used Kapiti Kikorangi if the cheese is not very strong you could use more)
  • 3 Tbsp basil pesto or 10g pine nuts
  1. Pre-heat oven to 230°C (about 450°F). If you’ve got a pizza stone, use it, otherwise just put one of your trays in to heat.
  2. Roll out pizza base to a 12″ circle, then place on a sheet of baking paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, olive oil and garlic, mix well.
  4. Spread tomato paste over pizza base, going right to the edges.
  5. Crack some black pepper and salt over the base, then cover with cheese.
  6. Spread mushrooms over the cheese – they’ll shrink a lot, so cover the whole thing.
  7. Crumble the blue vein over the pizza, distributing in small pieces. If you’re a fan, feel free to use more.
  8. With a teaspoon, dollop some basil pesto around in a stylish fashion. Alternatively, sprinkle pine nuts over pizza.
  9. Put the pizza in the oven (with baking paper) on your pre-heated tray/pizza stone. Cook for 14 minutes or so, until the base is cooked and the cheese is melted and golden.

Pizza slice

Lemon sorbet

Time saver: Phil cleanses your palate, and proves he doesn’t own an ice cream maker.

I used to make this all the time, until I started feeling guilty about all the sugar in it. Whatever, it’s delicous and surprisingly easy to make…

Lemon sorbet

If well beaten, this recipe makes just shy of 1 litre.

  • 2 c water (use filtered/bottled water if the tap water is chlorinated)
  • 1½ c caster sugar (plain white sugar also fine)
  • 1 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (around 6-8 lemons, more if they’re small)
  • (optional) zest of 1 or 2 of the lemons
  • (optional) 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  1. Put water and sugar in a small saucepan, and heat on hot element, stirring frequently until sugar is dissolved. If using zest, add this to the saucepan too.
  2. Let it come to the boil, and simmer for a minute or two, then remove from the heat.
  3. While the syrup cools, juice the lemons. You want around 1 c of juice, but if you’re a bit over/under don’t worry too much. Add juice to the saucepan of syrup and mix well.
  4. Pour the syrup into a freezer proof bowl – I normally just use an old 2 litre ice cream container. If you’re using zest, you could strain some or all of it out at this point.
  5. Put the bowl in the freezer. Come back in a couple of hours time, retrieve the bowl and beat with electric beaters. You can also use a stick mix quite successfully – and this will work better than beaters if you’ve over-freezed it. After beating, put it back in the freezer.
  6. Repeat the beating process a couple more times, with 30 minute to an hour long intervals, depending on your freezer. Over this time the syrup should transform to slush and then sorbet. If I’m making it overnight, I’ll generally beat it a couple of times at night, and then return in the morning, using the stick mix if it’s too frozen. (Being ice you can always just leave it out for a few minutes to melt if it’s too hard to beat.) The more you beat it, the lighter the sorbet.
  7. Lots of recipes would now have you beat an egg white through the sorbet. Doing so will make it smoother, airier and add body. It’ll also mean you have raw egg white in your sorbet, it takes all sorts.
  8. Serve in chilled glasses. For the degustation I used chilled 40ml shot glasses. If you’re serving it as the main dessert, chilled martini glasses work very well and look the business.

Mushroom, blue cheese and pesto pizza

Time saver: Phil comes up with a pizza topping combo no self-respecting kid would ever think of eating – so you can have it all to yourself. (Not that I have any kids, but the cat definitely wasn’t interested.)

It’s funny how what I intend to write about doesn’t get written, yet I can somehow find time to write about a pizza most people won’t like. My wife’s been away for a couple of days, and I’ve been living off leftovers and the kindness of friends, so I haven’t done much in the way of cooking. That all changed tonight though, when I finally succumbed to my hunger and whipped up this pizza. No photos unfortunately, I destroyed the evidence rather quickly. (I intend to fix that some time soon, but no promises.)

Just a quick word about pizza bases: tonight I cheated and used a bought one, if you want to do a home made base it’ll be 10 times better. Just remember that the area of a circle = Pi * r² and adjust the topping quantity appropriately. Piece of cake.

Mushroom, blue cheese and pesto pizza

Since pizzas are pretty robust, the quantities here are really just a guide. You’re free to increase/decrease the amount of any of the ingredients according to your taste and judgement, and I’m sure the result will still be good. For most of you, just the title itself is probably all the recipe you need.

  • 9″ pizza base (for a 12″ pizza you’ll need to almost double the quantity of topping, and for an 18″ pizza you’ll need four times the quantity)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ clove or ½ tsp crushed garlic (could use whole clove if it’s small)
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • 1¼ c grated cheese (125g is roughly 1 cup when grated) (I used Edam, if you’ve got mozarella by all means use it)
  • 75g mushrooms, sliced
  • 20-30g blue vein cheese
  • 2-3 Tbsp basil pesto
  1. Pre-heat oven to 230°C (about 450°F). If you’ve got a pizza stone, use it, otherwise just put one of your trays in to heat.
  2. Put pizza base on a sheet of baking paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste, olive oil and garlic, mix well.
  4. Spread tomato paste over pizza base, going right to the edges. (If the base doesn’t look saucy enough, just add a bit more tomato paste and olive oil, if it’s too saucy, just spoon some off.)
  5. Crack some black pepper and salt over the base, then cover with cheese.
  6. Spread mushrooms over the cheese – they’ll shrink a lot, so cover the whole thing.
  7. Crumble the blue vein over the pizza, distributing in small pieces. If you’re a fan, feel free to use more.
  8. With a teaspoon, dollop some basil pesto around in a stylish fashion.
  9. Put the pizza in the oven (with baking paper) on your pre-heated tray/pizza stone. Cook for 15 minutes or so, until the base is cooked and the cheese is melted and golden.

Practical cooking?

Time saver: Phil is a hypocrite and tries to impress you with a fancy menu.

After claiming to be pragmatic and a fan of simple, tasty food, I have to go and make this my first real post… before I get into all that normal food though, I want to start with my best meal ever.

This time last week we had a couple of friends over for dinner. I felt like going a bit overboard, so laid out a set menu of restaurant style food. The theme was a tribute to Retour, my favourite restaurant in Christchurch, now sadly closed because of damage from the earthquakes. I borrowed heavily from my memories of eating there, and came up with this menu:

Retour Degustation – A Tribute

Everything went amazingly well, it took over 3 hours to get through it all, but the food turned out brilliantly, the wine flowed, and the company was excellent. Over the next few days I’ll be posting and linking recipes for each of the courses.

Before you go getting the wrong idea, I won’t be cooking that much food again in a hurry…