Here’s a little “word association” game that has no wrong answers. If I say “lemons and rosemary”, what’s the first thing you think of?
I have an almost knee-jerk reaction to this flavor combination, and I will tell you unashamedly that the first thing I think of is “chicken”. From there I think of lamb, capers, olives, wild asparagus, maybe mint, garlic, tapenade of course… the whole (mmmmm) “Mediterranean” gamut.
What does not immediately spring to mind, for me at least, is sorbet. At least, not until now!
It’s all Anne Willan‘s fault. Well, her fault and mine, I guess as I have no resistance when it comes to cookbooks. See, I just stopped by the library bookstore for a few minutes to enjoy their air conditioning and free wifi. I wasn’t really shopping, and I certainly don’t need (I tell myself firmly and frequently) any … more … cookbooks!!
But I couldn’t resist. I flipped through the first few pages of “LaVarenne Pratique” just out of curiosity. I liked the layout and photos, but when I got to page 19, in her section on “robust herbs” (don’t you love it?), she got me. There, with a beautiful photo (a glass bowl lined with thin slices of lemon, housing 3 perfect balls of sorbet with a tiny spring of rosemary in the center… ahhhhh….) of the finished product, was a recipe for Rosemary and Lemon Sorbet.
It sounds too easy and too wonderful. I haven’t finished it yet, but my ice cream machine’s insert is in the freezer as we speak. And, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can do a “granita” sort of thing. It takes a bit more commitment, but it should work just fine. Just remember to scrape it regularly or you will have a giant frozen-solid block of yumminess. Not bad, but challenging to eat without an icepick! Then again, this might make amazing ice cubes to use in, say, hibiscus ice tea… I’ll have to think about that!
Oh, and I used regular “grocery store” (organic) lemons this time, but wait until my Meyer’s are ripe! Mmmmmm…..! And if you need any rosemary, please stop by – I’m drowning in the stuff!
In any event, here’s an only slightly reworked version. You know me, if one lemon is good, two must be better, right? And, since she calls for two…
(mostly) Anne Willan’s Rosemary and Lemon Sorbet
5 cups water
1-1/4 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of 3 lemons
3 2-inch tender rosemary sprigs
In a medium saucepan, heat the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve and boil for 2-3 minutes. Carefully (boiling “sugar water” is really hot) pour or ladle half the syrup into a second pan. Add the lemon zest to one pan. Barely simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add the lemon juice and let cool.
Immerse the rosemary springs in the second pan of the syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce to just under simmering and infuse for 10-15 minutes.
Strain the rosemary syrup into the lemon syrup, check for taste (add more sugar if you like, or even more fresh lemon juice). Chill, then process either in an ice-cream maker or in trays if using the granita method.
This could be served between courses of a meal as a “palate cleanser” or as a dessert, at afternoon “tea” or as you like!
I have never met Anne Willan, and I am not here to sell her books. I just want you to know that if you want to peruse my copy, plan to stay a while – I am not lending this one out! I hope she won’t mind me sharing her recipe, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll get to take one of her classes! (Dreaming is still free, right?) Mmmm…