May 182008

The scene: a beautiful summer’s evening. A gathering of friends has come together to feast on grilled halibut, lemon linguine, and flash-cooked veggies. Everything was quite delicious and fresh, and all tummies were singing with joy. But the dessert was yet to be served!

Succulent strawberries form the base of this fresh, healthy dessert
Nikon D50

Yours truly decided to serve another dish in the vein of fresh summer fare. I pulled out vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and a good balsamic vinegar and proceeded to combine them. I could tell this had thrown my guests for a loop and no one was particularly looking forward to trying this syrupy brown stuff drizzled all over their perfectly good berries and ice cream. But the moment that combination touched their lips, I could tell that I had a table full of converts.

Should you have a similar reaction to the thought of strawberries and balsamic vinegar, I ask that you recite this eleventh commandment to yourself:

Thou shalt not doubt the culinary creations of your hostess, for lo, she will not lead you astray on the path to yumminess.

Strawberry-balsamic vinegar sorbet
Nikon D50

This sorbet is in the same spirit of the combination I served last summer. This recipe really doesn’t get any easier. Sorbets are usually based on a simple syrup but even that didn’t make it onto this three-ingredient list. That’s how simple it is! It’s really delicious too – strawberries are always good, and when you add a good balsamic to the mix you get something really special. When you add the fact that it’s a frozen dessert, well, that just makes it the perfect summer dessert, doesn’t it?

Let the simple, fresh flavors shine!
Nikon D50

Strawberry-balsamic vinegar sorbet
Adapted from The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook
Serves 4-6

Your choice of balsamic vinegar is of the utmost importance in this recipe. I’m not suggesting that you to go out and spend sixty bucks an ounce for the genuine stuff that’s aged twelve years in progressively smaller barrels and is only produced in two provinces of Italy, but if you buy the cheapest stuff you find on the shelves you will get a bitter, harsh, and acidic result. I highly recommend Lucini balsamic vinegar because it is mellow and complex raw and still very pleasant when reduced to a glaze.
If good fresh strawberries are unavailable, use frozen!
If your sorbet is freezing too hard, try adding a tablespoon or two of brandy to the mixture before putting it in your ice cream maker. The alcohol will lower the freezing temperature and will help prevent ice crystals that are too large, thereby improving the texture of the finished product.
4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
3/4 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
In a blender, thoroughly combine the strawberries. Blend into a smooth puree. If you really dislike the texture of strawberry seeds, place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour in the puree, pressing against the strainer with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much flavor as possible.
Put the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, about ten minutes. Combine the balsamic reduction, strawberry puree, and honey in a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
Place the mixture in an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Freeze until ready to use, and serve garnished with sliced fresh strawberries.

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