I heard a rumor from a farmer: we're supposed to have very warm weather all week. Is it possible our government planned an environmental change? To coincide with our new, nice and early Daylight Savings Plan? Hey I'm not being paranoid, if I were them I'd warm things up a bit too. To encourage people to actually spend that new hour outside, picnic-ing, giving the dog more exercise or just basking in a later setting sun.
I love the warm weather. It makes me think I live in sunny California; the one many of us imagined when our plane landed here from coasts with harsher climes.
I'm not fooled. It's not summer. In fact Spring hasn't even truly begun. (I know this because March 20th, the Official First Day Of Spring, is my birthday.) Sure I'll put on shorts and open all my windows. Maybe I'll even tempt our foggy fate and put away my long underwear.
But I'm not about to start buying strawberries. Or any other berries for that matter. I don't care that they're in season a few thousand miles away. The fruit that makes the most sense to me right now is citrus. I had the best time going to Berkeley Bowl last week. Walked down 8 foot displays of yellows, safety-oranges, ochres, deep red-oranges, chartreuses, lime greens and red- blushing pale yellow shoulders of shiny grapefruits. I bought little tangerines with pretty leaves and stems, crinkly skinned large pored seedy mandarins, dusty wax-less outy belly-buttoned Minneolas, and baseball sized navel oranges. I perused, tasted, peeled and nibbled.
Whether fruit appreciation is your own private secret, or you could shout your love from the mountaintops, Berkeley Bowl will not disappoint; it is a temple for fruit worshipping. A church where the fruit prayer is answered. A freshly gilded Mosque dome for paying homage to seeded creatures. An outdoor pagan meadow complete with ancient rocks for free-spirited fruit raves.
And what better way to refresh one's electrolytes and vitamin C cravings, than with these bright and dangerous fruits?
As a citrus afficionado I tend to like sweets that err on the puckery side. If I'm going to eat a Minneola, I'm looking forward to a swift "kapow!" of distinct flavor characteristic as well as a brief, but perceptible jolt, like the volume has been turned up loud for a nano second.
In kind, I offer Lemon Sherbet, a dessert bridging our new gift of warm weather and the fruit that is actually in season. If you don't have an ice cream maker, check out the Glazed Meyer Lemon Cake recipe in the Winter 2007 Edible San Francisco issue.
1 1/2 Cups Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
1 1/2 Cups Organic Cream (my favorite is Clover)
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
7 each Lemons Each Zested
1. In a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, whir lemon zest and sugar until the lemon scent is powerful.
2. Whisk all ingredients together and let sit overnight in the fridge.
3. Before churning, give liquid a good whisk and pass through a fine meshed sieve.
4. Churn in ice cream maker per manufacturer's instructions.
5. If you are going to make an error in the time it takes to churn Lemon Sherbet, err on the side of being under churned. If you over churn sherbet there is no saving it, as it is not an emulsion the way creme anglaise is for ice cream.
6. Lemon Sherbet is best eaten the day it is made, but like all frozen treats, it will last for an awful long time in the freezer.
7. If it becomes frozen solid, "temper" sherbet back to a scoopable consistency by placing container in the fridge until desired texture. (It's a trick we do in restaurants so that we can make perfect hand spooned quenelles.)
Happy Citrus Celebrating!
If you don't have an ice cream maker and you don't want to bake the cake, head over to Ici where Mary Canales is making some of the best citrus ice creams, sorbets and sherbets in the Bay Area!