Lemon Basil Sorbet

This recipe for sorbet is straight from our heart to yours, via Capri! This is truly and completely inspired by our trip to the Capri island in Italy. It was a hot summer afternoon and after a cruise from Amalfi early morning, we had just reached Capri. We took a funicular to reach the high street area which was at a higher altitude. When we got out of the station, it was the burning 12pm heat. What do we see next… a roadside stand with luscious Amalfi lemons hanging. We knew we were going to get our elixir of life here, and so we did. It was a lemon sorbet slush!

These are the pictures of the exact place we tried it and got inspiration for this Italian sorbet. The lemons in Amalfi and Capri are truly a sight to behold. They’re large and juicy and have the unique limone shape. They are sweet and the peels too are edible.

This is an exquisitely refreshing thing for a hot summer day during holidays. Give yourself a break… a lemon sorbet break. So, here’s recreating a memory!

This is a 3 ingredient dessert. So get in your kitchens and get going.

Take sugar and water in a saucepan and turn on the gas.

Let it bubble for a while till it turns into a smooth sugar syrup.

Let the sugar syrup cool down.

Add lemon juice, zest and a few basil leaves to it once its completely cooled down. If you can’t find basil, try it with mint leaves.

Put it in an aluminium cake tin preferably. A steel box will also do. Cover and freeze it for 5-6 hours.

Take it out once its completely frozen.

Scrape it and put it in your food processor or blender.

Put as much in the blender as can fit. Put in some basil leaves and ice. You can skip the ice if you want it softer. Blend it .

Once its churned, transfer it back to the tin. Again, cover and put it back in the freezer for 8-9 hours or best overnight.

Scoop it and serve immediately. Garnish it with fresh basil leaves or lemon twists.

This sweet and sour sorbet with an enhanced flavour of basil is truly Italian and perfect for any time of the day.

If you don’t find basil, you can also try this recipe with mint. For kids you can put it in popsicle moulds when we’re freezing it the second time.

Recipe: Lemon Basil Sorbet

Ingredients

150gm castor sugar
300 ml water
8 lemons
15-20 basil leaves / mint leaves

Method

  1. Take the sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer on medium flame for 10 minutes to get a sugar syrup.
  2. Leave the sugar syrup to cool to bring it to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile zest 4 lemons and take out juice of all 8 lemons.
  4. Mix together sugar syrup, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  5. Stir well and add a few leaves of basil (not all basil). Pour this in an aluminium tin and cover. Freeze for 5-6 hours.
  6. Remove from freezer. Scrape all the mixture and put in a blender with remaining basil leaves. You can add 3 ice cubes to keep the mixture chilled in the blender.
  7. Churn well and pour back in the tin. Remove the ice cubes if they remain un-churned.
  8. Freeze covered for 8-9 hours or best overnight.
  9. To serve scoop and enjoy immediately.

Watermelon Mint Ice – Granita

In the scorching summer all that the heart wants is ICE!! Imagine ice, dripping with a syrup of your favourite flavour (kala-khatta for me) – thats our entire childhood for most of us. If you’ve grown up in a tropical country like India, then your memories can’t be without stories of ice. Sneaking an ice tray from the freezer, eating it and being punished for it was a common thing. Although, the most enjoyable bit was dropping a few cubes down your sibling’s shirt and watching them wiggle all over the place. Aaaahhh… those joyous memories!

In the 80’s, the ice-cream experience was very different from the current times. The vendors would shave ice right in front of you, bind it together with their hands on a stick and drizzle your choice of syrup from the brightly coloured options displayed on their carts. That was a fresh, handmade and customised popsicle for each of us. It was fondly called chuski (Hindi word for sipping or slurping) or barf ka gola, which literally translates to a ball of ice. No ice-cream ever came close to that. However, we thought, in this summertime lets take a trip back to childhood. Interestingly, shaved ice is eaten in many countries in various forms. So, we’ve transformed our memories into a modern fusion recipe.

Here’s a recipe for a granita which find its roots in the very hot island of Sicily, Italy. Granitas are basically shavings of ice (big and small) and are eaten all over Sicily, although each town has its own version. Some have a smooth granita and the others, more coarse. Do it the way you like it best.

You literally need just 3 ingredients for this. A good sweet watermelon, lemons and sugar.

Cut it in pieces and try to remove the seeds. You can cut them in any shape. The size can vary. Go with whatever can fit in the jar of your blender. Cover and put it in the freezer for 4-5 hours.

In the picture above, you can see its just out of the freezer. It should be completely frozen.

Add lemon juice and mint leaves to the frozen watermelon.

Put it in the blender along with sugar and blend. If all of it doesn’t fit in one go, then do it in batches. Be quick so that it doesn’t turn into juice. We want to churn it while its still frozen.

You’ll get a sort of a slush. Transfer it straight away to an aluminium tin to freeze it. Make sure its not very shallow. Your slushy mixture should at least be 2 inches deep so that you can scoop and scrape it later. Although if you only have a flat tin, you can later scape it with a fork or knife.

Once frozen it will be slightly lighter in colour because of the ice crystals.

Scoop it out with an ice-cream scoop or a spoon. A granita is not as smooth as a sorbet. Its flaky and more icy, probably for a cooler experience during the scorching heat. Serve it quickly so that its still frozen.

This is a wonderful idea for a dessert at any time. The watermelon granita has a beautiful tartness because of the lemon juice and a refreshing fragrance from the mint leaves. All the ingredients are very easily available. Its just a refreshing new way of putting them together. You absolutely must try this while watermelon is still in season.

We’re sharing this wonderful recipe to make your summer fun. Let us know in the comments how yours turned out!

Recipe: Watermelon Mint Granita

Ingredients

½ watermelon, peeled and cubed
15-20 mint leaves
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp sugar

Method

  1. Arrange the watermelon on an aluminium tray and cover. Freeze for 4-5 hours. You can also freeze the watermelon in a zip lock pouch.
  2. Add mint leaves lemon juice and sugar to the water watermelon. Put it in batches in a grinder or food processor and grind to a slushy frozen paste.
  3. Transfer the slush to an aluminium tin and freeze covered overnight.
  4. To serve scrape with a scooper or spoon or fork to create ice and serve immediately garnished with mint leaves.
  5. Adjust the sugar based on the sweetness of the watermelon. Serve immediately as it starts melting very fast.

Ricotta Mango Parfait

This is a wonderful dessert made using fresh ricotta. Its summertime and mangoes are in the season. So, we thought of making a very simple dessert with very few ingredients. You’ll find almost everything at home. You won’t have to go grocery shopping and can make this quickly for a sudden dessert craving after lunch. It’s beautiful to serve even for a summer dinner party. Make it in individual glasses or bowls beforehand and its very easy to serve.

Firstly, you’ll need mangoes and the most important ingredient of this dessert is fresh ricotta. You can make it at home using our recipe for ricotta. You can also use a store-bought one. If you’re making it at home, you’ll just need milk and lemons. The third layer for this is made using crushed digestive biscuits of graham crackers whichever you can find and butter. We will be using some lemon zest and a little bit of fresh cream or condensed milk, whatever suits your liking.

In a bowl put the chopped mangoes and add some lemon zest and lemon juice to it and keep aside. In another bowl crush the biscuits with a rolling pin and add melted butter and mix. In the third bowl take the ricotta and whisk it well to soften it. Now add condensed milk to it and mix well. If you’re using cream instead of condensed milk, add that along with very little powdered sugar. the ricotta will turn into a thick sauce like in the picture above.

Take a shallow and wide glass, or wine or martini glass. You can also take the Mumbai-style cutting chai glass. Anything that has a characteristic shape and is transparent. Put the biscuit mixture at the base.

Now spoon some ricotta cream mixture on top. Be careful not to dirty the wall of the glass because the beauty of the dessert is in being able to see the layers. Thats the reason its called a parfait. In French, parfait means perfect. Later in the 1800’s, desserts that were beautifully layered with precision, came to be called parfait. That is exactly what this is and thus we called it Ricotta Mango Parfait. And ricotta being an Italian cheese traditionally, this is a beautiful fusion of a French-Italian dessert. The two countries do share a lot of common ingredients and food influences.

Then go the macerated mangoes on top of the ricotta cream. They’ll be soft and soaked by now.

Then the biscuit mixture again. The biscuit gives it the crusty flavour that a cheesecake has. Thus, you can actually make a cheesecake with the same method. The only difference will be, you don’t multi layer it. For the cheesecake take a loose-bottom tin or a springform tin. Put the biscuit mixture and press it down to form a crusty layer that doesn’t disintegrate on un-moulding. Put a high layer of the ricotta cream mixture. Chill for a bit. Then top with the mangoes and refrigerate till set. Un-mould and et voila!

Finally, top it with a generous amount of mangoes. Mangoes taste very good in this dessert, however, you can also make this with other fruits. You can use any citrus fruit or berries – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, peaches and cherries. Comment with more ideas and we’ll tell you if that would go well or not.

Now you can actually see the layers. mangoes add a beautiful yellow to it. Thats how the layers should be , so make sure to keep the glass neat and put the mixture for various layers in the centre, then spread to the side. That way you’ll avoid messing it up.

Now put the mint leaves to garnish. They will add a refreshing fragrance, taste and colour to your parfait. Instead of the clichéd garnish of one bunch in the centre, put smaller segments of mint leaves in 2-3 places. This is because its already high in the centre and you don’t want to add more height with your garnish in this case. You just want to add colour and character.You can also garnish with pistachios or dried blueberries or cranberries.

…and TA-DA! Your start dessert is ready. Chill it in the fridge to set the layers. It also tasted best chilled in the summers.

Recipe: Ricotta Mango Parfait

Ingredients

250 gm Fresh Ricotta
3 mangoes, Peeled and cut into cubes
150 gm digestive biscuits, crushed
50gm Amul Butter
4tbsp Amul Mithai Mate/ Condensed Milk or AmulFresh Cream
2 Lemons
Mint leaves for garnish

Method

  1. Zest 2 lemons over the cut mangoes. Then put the juice of 1 lemon in the mango . Mix well and keep aside.
  2. Crush the biscuits using a rolling pin. Melt the butter and mix it well with the crushed biscuits.
  3. Using a whisk just beat the ricotta a little. Mix the condensed milk with the ricotta to get a thick sauce.
  4. In a glass start by putting a little amount of the biscuit mix. Over that layer 2 spoons of the ricotta cream and then a layer of the lemony mango.
  5. Repeat with biscuit, ricotta cream and finishing with the mango.
  6. Garnish with mint leaves and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Enjoy chilled.
  7. If you want to make a pie or a cheesecake out of this you can spread the biscuit mixture in the pie dish or cheesecake mould. Then press the biscuit mixture firmly. Over that spread the ricotta cream and then finally the mangoes. Chill this in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. If making a cheesecake make sure the ricotta cream is not very runny but a little thick.
  8. You can also do the above in a regular flat glass dish for a big party and let it set by chilling in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

Fresh Ricotta

Ricotta is a fresh and soft Italian cheese… and truly delicious! It has a soft grain and light texture. Traditionally, ricotta was made with milk and whey left after making other cheeses. Thats how it got its name “ricotta” which literally translates to re-cooked. However, ricotta is now very sought after because of its slightly sweet taste and its ability to hold its consistency. Thus, its widely used in desserts and Italian cuisine. Its best use is to add it to the filling for lasagne, ravioli, cannelloni and conchiglie.

You literally need just two ingredients to make fresh ricotta at home. Milk and lemons, thats all!

You can use any milk for this, but the result could vary a bit. We have used regular whole milk. You can use skimmed milk too but you might end up with a lesser quantity of ricotta (which is fine). So, using whole or full fat milk would be better, but even others work well.

Put the milk to heat in a pan. We want hot milk but DO NOT BOIL THE MILK. Now, this is very important. You want to heat it only till you start seeing the bubbles on the edge of the pan. As soon as that happens, turn off the flame. Keep your lemon juice ready and after you have turned off the flame, add it to the milk. Stir very delicately to make sure its mixed.

Let it stand for 10-20 minutes and the soft cheese will start to curdle and separate from the whey. Whey is that thin watery liquid that separates from milk while making cheese or curd. If the milk has still not curdled, be patient. If it still doesn’t, add 1 tbsp lemon juice and it should curdle.

Be sure, not to stir it too much or too vigorously, otherwise you will turn it into cottage cheese. There is a very fine line between ricotta and cottage cheese!. On stirring too much, it will become firmer, and we’re looking for a soft cheese.

When you stir very gently, the cheese will start to show… almost as if emerging from the milk-whey liquid.

It will finally look something like this. Such a beauty!

Keep a pot ready with a big sieve on top. Place a cheesecloth or a muslin cloth on top of the sieve. Make sure there’s enough distance between the sieve and the base of the pot, so that when we leave it to strain, the cheese is not touching the strained liquid whey.

This is what it will look like. At this stage, leave it to drain the excess liquid. The draining time is directly proportional to the firmness of cheese. If you let it stand longer and let more liquid drain out then you will get a firmer ricotta. Alternately, if you don’t leave it for very long so that it retains some moisture, then you will get a softer cheese.

This really depends on the purpose of use.
Soft Ricotta: for, cakes, tarts, cannoli, puddings, mousse and other desserts
Firm Ricotta: for ravioli, cannelloni, conchiglie, lasagne, tortellini and the likes.
Ricotta doesn’t melt on baking and thats why its the first choice for the filling of stuffed pastas.

Its ready to use when cooled. You can store it in the refrigerator for upto a week.

Recipe: Fresh Ricotta

Ingredients

1 litre milk
2 lemons

Method

  1. Take milk in a sauce pan and heat it to just before it comes to a boil. You will start seeing a few bubbles on the edge of the pan.
  2. Meanwhile juice 2 lemons and keep aside.
  3. Line a soup strainer with muslin cloth or cheesecloth and place the strainer over a big pot.
  4. As soon as you see bubble on the edge of the milk turn off the flame and add the lemon juice. Stir it delicately to ensure the lemon juice is mixed well with the milk.
  5. Let it stand for 10-20 minutes. You will see that the soft cheese would curdle and separate leaving behind the whey.
  6. If the milk doesn’t not curdle completely just add an additional 1 tbsp of lemon Juice. Over stirring will make the cheese harder so stir less to get a soft cheese.
  7. Drain the cheese over the cheesecloth and let it stand from anywhere between 20-50 minutes. For a fresh and  light ricotta, drain it for a short time and for a more dense ricotta drain it for a longer period.
  8. This amount of milk will yield ricotta between 260-220gm depending on the amount of drainage time. Use fresh or store in the refrigerator for 6-8 days.