Got Peaches? Try this “Bellini” Sorbet Recipe from Zazu

Ripe peaches and Moscato sparkling wine make a deliciously fresh and light Bellini summer sorbet.

A couple summers ago dining with friends at Zazu in Santa Rosa, I spotted this recipe on the wall. I snapped a picture of it, so I could try it during peach season.

Duskie Estes and John Stewart, the chefs of Italian inspired Zazu, are known for their way with pork and Black pig bacon. But they also make crazy-good wood-fired pizzas, seasonal pastas and desserts.

Technically, a Bellini is made with white peaches and prosecco, the light and fresh tasting dry sparkling wine from the Veneto. (Click to read more about prosecco on The Bubbly This recipe features Moscato d’Asti, another popular Italian sparkling wine that’s sweeter and less bubbly.

Since Moscato naturally and has flavors and aromas of peaches and apricots, I’m guessing that’s why the Duskie and John chose it for this sorbet. They suggest their favorite Bonny Doon Moscato del Solo, but it can be made with any good quality Moscato.

I spotted this Bellini Sorbet recipe on the wall at Zazu Restaurant in Santa Rosa.

Zazu Bellini Sorbet

1-1/4 pounds ripe white peaches
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Moscato d’Asti

Peel the peaches with a small knife. Combine the peaches, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor bowl. Process until you have a smooth purée. Stir in the Moscato. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions or freeze in a shallow pan and fluff up every hour or so using the granita method.

Recipe courtesy John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant.



Girly Bling Rings Cupcakes

These Bling Ring cupcakes - decorated with Ring Pops and Sugar Pearls - would be perfect for a girly tea or princess party.
Just like fashions in sunglasses, automobiles and handbags, there are definite trends in desserts.

The first dessert era I remember was age of tiramisu, followed by the crème brûlée epoque. Next came chocolate lava cakes, which oozed their way onto dessert menus everywhere and took their sweet time leaving.

The latter half of the 2000s has been the Era of the Cupcake, when the homemade treat made by moms everywhere was re-imagined as a designer sweet with a 3-inch beehive of frosting and a $3 price tag. As a dessert trend, I think cupcakes are pretty 2008 (read over), but creative homemade cupcakes will never go out of style. I like borrowing some inspiration from designer cupcakes and adding them to the homemade ones.

I remember being fascinated with Ring Pops as a kid and wanted to find a way to incorporate them in a girly cupcake. I baked white cupcakes in fluted petal baking cups and then frosted them with a lemon glaze. Then while they were still soft, I embedded the shank of a ring pop in each one and finished with a sprinkle of silver and white sugar pearls, plus pink and green sugar sprinkles to match the cups.

I have to admit, the cupcake making part was super-easy, as I used boxed cake mix and frosting mix from Trader Joe’s. I turned their white frosting into lemon glaze by substituting the juice of two lemons for the hot water called for on the box.

These Bling Ring Cupcakes are a bit over the top, but they’d be perfect for a tea or a princess party. And they were appreciated by girls of all ages.

Lemon Curd – Simple and Delicious

Homemade Meyer lemon curd makes a delicious topping for a toasted scone.

With Easter upon us, it’s natural to think about eggs. Some people may like their eggs scrambled, poached or fried, but I love my eggs whipped into a delicious lemon curd.

Lemon curd – in case you’ve never tried it – is like a light and gooey lemony jam or a simple homey custard that’s flavored with lemon. In England it’s traditionally eaten on scones, but I love it on strawberries and raspberries, on toast, folded into whipped cream to make a topping for shortcake or on a spoon.

Jarred lemon curd is pretty awful stuff; the light and sheer quality of a good lemon curd can’t be captured in a jar. Fortunately, it’s so easy to make lemon curd any time you have the taste for it.

A couple years ago when I had some extra time on my hands, I decided to compare the lemon curd recipes from a couple great pastry cooks: French chef Jacques Torres of Mr. Chocolate and British culinary bombshell Nigella Lawson.

I’ve met both, and it turned out their recipes matched their personalities.Torres, who earned fame for his complex creations at Le Cirque in New York, created a recipe that was careful and detailed in his book “Dessert Circus at Home”.

Nigella’s lime curd recipe in “How to Be A Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking” was breezy and quickly thrown together, the kind of citrus curd a busy mom and writer would whip up.

My ideal lemon curd recipe is a hybrid of the two: taking Nigella’s lime curd recipe and adding the step of passing the finished curd through a strainer, to make it a little more silky, like Jacques’.

Meyer Lemon Curd
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (of approximately 4 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan, add all the other ingredients and whisk to a custard over a gentle heat. Let cool slightly before passing the curd through a wire-mesh strainer over a bowl. Spoon the curd into storage container and keep in the refrigerator.
Makes about 1-1/2 cups

Adapted from “How to Be a Domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson

Scream Sorbet: A Really Good Vegan “Ice Cream” Shop Now Open in Temescal

The purely vegan Sweet Potato Coconut Sorbet is one of the deliciously creamy seasonal flavors at the new shop in Temescal.

To be honest, the word “vegan” appearing next to any food I like usually makes me groan. A vegan take on say liver wouldn’t bother me a bit. But vegan + ice cream? How could one fake the exquisite harmony of cream, eggs and sugar with coconut oil or worse?

But I’m rethinking my bias, now that I’ve tasted a few flavors by Scream Sorbet, which opened in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood about 10 days ago.

Normally, sorbets are a combination of fruit, water and sugar. The creative confections that Scream Sorbet has sold at Bay Area farmers markets for the past few years don’t contain any dairy, but they still manage to take sorbet in a whole new direction. Scream sorbets eat like ice cream, since they have a surprisingly creamy and luscious texture that comes from a careful blend of nut milks and butters. After a bite of Scream sorbet, the palate feels clean instead of coated with fat, as often happens with dairy-based ice creams.

Owner Nathan Kurz explains that most traditional ice creams are 90 percent eggs, cream and sugar with just 10 percent flavoring like strawberries, chocolate or pistachio nuts added. But Scream pastry chef Stephanie Lau – who worked at Cafe Fanny starts with a base ingredient like locally grown sweet potatoes, pomegranates or pecans and adds just enough sugar and fats from nuts or coconut to make the recipe creamy.

Scream Sorbet's shop window at 5030 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland features lids from their many different flavors.

“You get so much more flavor out of the sorbets this way,” says Kurz, who owns Scream along with Noah Goldner. He explains the research that led them to creamy sorbets in this October 2010 New York Times Style Magazine piece.

At their storefront at 5030 Telegraph Ave., shoppers can pick up pints of sorbet for $8 to $10 apiece in a variety of Scream flavors like seasonal Pecan and Bourbon laced with Maker’s Mark, Rose Almond, Satsuma Mandarin, Coconut Thai Basil and Kettle Corn.

They’re still waiting for their final health department permit, so they can’t scoop ice cream – er sorbet – on premises yet. But it’s worth stopping by to sample of one of their ice cream sandwiches like shortbread stuffed with Meyer lemon sorbet or gingersnaps with Blue Bottle Coffee sorbet. They’re so good, I promise you’ll forget all about the v-word.

Salted Butter Caramel…Mmmm!

A tiny pool of Gale Gand's Salted Butter Caramel graced this chocolate pot de cremé.

Is there anything better than salted butter caramel?

I think not. I mean who doesn’t like the taste of sugar? But it’s even better with a bit of saltiness to make you want – no need – to take another bite. That’s why it’s so hard to put down that bag of kettle corn from the farmer’s market. Or why the addictive caramel and cheese corn mix first served at Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago is widely imitated.

Salted caramel is usually associated with Brittany in France, where it’s called caramel au beurre salé. The style is said to have been created in the 1970s by a chocolatier and caramélier named Henri Le Roux. He added some of the region’s famous grey sea salt – aka fleur de sel de Guerande – to his pot of caramel. I have tasted Le Roux’s salted caramels – which come in an assorted box with flavors like caramelized apple tatin, bitter chocolate and orange ginger – and they were worth every penny.

For some reason, I was slightly intimidated by the thought of making salted caramel at home. But Gale Gand, the Chicago pastry chef, made it look so easy when she was the special guest at the Sweet Sundays breakfast earlier this week at Epcot Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World.

I picked up a good tip: Gale dropped little spots of caramel on a white plate to judge whether it was dark enough. In just a few minutes it went from pale gold to deep maple, so it doesn’t take long.

She served it atop a Chocolate Pot de Cremé with a Black Pepper Whipped Cream, but I can imagine lots of other ways to enjoy it.

Her recipe is so simple it’s Tweetable.

Gale Gand’s Salted Butter Caramel
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup cream
1/4 tsp. fleur de sel

Boil the sugar and water until it gets to the desired shade of golden brown. When it’s there, let it cool a bit. Whisk in the cream until it’s fully incorporated and then add the salt. Voila!

Skylite Snowballs: An Icy Taste of Baltimore in the East Bay

An icy strawberry and jasmine tea treat from Skylite Snowballs' visit to Piedmont Avenue in Oakland.

I lived in Baltimore as a kid. And while I’ve indulged in local delicacies like steamed blue crab and crab salad, apparently I missed out on the icy treats that Baltimoreans call snowballs. Until today that is.

I was driving up Piedmont Avenue in North Oakland when I spotted a pale blue truck with a a row of colorful flavored syrups in the window. I parked and then walked up to the truck, just as an excited couple was approaching. They follow @Skylitesnowball on Twitter and were happy to find the truck.

Kate – the cheerful young woman who launched Skylite Snowballs on Labor Day weekend, told me snowballs are always served in a cup, unlike Midwestern snow cones. The ice is grated more finely than a snowcone, but it’s not as fluffy as Hawaiian shave ice. In Baltimore and around the state of Maryland, snowballs are an old-fashioned treat that’s sold at carnivals and from little shacks.

This article Cold Comfort from City Paper explains that snowballs are sold around the state, often for just a dollar or so. Historians trace them back to the turn of the century, when ice wagons would sell a cup of shaved ice. The most popular flavors there are egg custard, cherry and chocolate, with a dollop of marshmallow creme on top.

Kate’s are different because she makes the flavorings herself, using seasonal fruit like strawberries, and artisanal ingredients like Tcho Chocolate and Four Barrel Coffee. So hers cost $3 to 5 for a basic snowball, plus $1 more for marshmallow or chocolate topping.

I tried one with strawberry and jasmine tea flavorings and liked the way the floral taste of the jasmine mixed with the soft strawberry flavor. The whole effect was kind of mild, so I sprinkled some Stevia powder on it at home and it was just right. Next time, I’m having a classic chocolate snowball with marshmallow. If you want to try one, follow Kate @Skylitesnowball on Twitter.