Hors d'oeurve Soupe Poisson Viande Entre Salade Dessert Fromage

Cucumber and Pear-Calvados Sorbets

Serves 4

200 mL simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)
3 cups cubed cucumber, peeled and seeds removed
large pinch salt

250 mL simple syrup
3 Comice pears, peeled and cored
1/2 cup water
25 mL Calvados
1 lemon, juiced
pinch salt
1/4 cucumber, hollowed and sliced on bias
2 mL sesame oil
7 g lightly toasted sesame seeds
20 mL rice wine vinegar

  1. For cucumber sorbet, prepare simple syrup by combining equal parts sugar and water in a sautoir. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Pour into robot coupe or Cuisinart, add cucumber and salt and puree until very smooth. Strain through a chinois. Yield should be 270 mL cucumber puree.
  2. For pear-Calvados sorbet, peel and core pears and immediately cover with lemon juice to prevent oxidization. Prepare simple syrup and pour into robot coupe or Cuisinart, adding pear, water, Calvados and salt. Puree until very smooth and strain through a chinois. Yield should be ~ 470 mL puree.
  3. Process sorbets according to ice cream maker's instructions.

  1. Slice cucumber on bias, then remove a very thin slice from bottom, so cucumber is stable.
  2. Remove seeds and scoop out most of the cucumber flesh. Drizzle with rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and sesame seed. Using a melon-baller, insert 2-3 scoops of each sorbet.
  3. Garnish with apple-mint and julienne Winesap apple, poached in simple syrup.



This dish is a story of failed attempts...

But it just goes to show that if you're stubborn enough, you can make just about anything work.

One of my best friends in London makes a wonderful Japanese Cucumber Salad. To this she adds Bosc pears, sesame seeds, and rice wine vinegar. This dessert is an adaptation of that dish. On my first attempt, I tried to reduce rice wine vinegar to make a glaze, which I could spoon around the base of the pear and cucumber sorbets. The taste was too sharp, so I tried champagne wine vinegar and then added lemongrass, in keeping with the Asian theme. Unfortunately, it was far too sweet, nearly resembling corn syrup.

I also wanted to temper the sweetness of the sorbet with a bit of salt--in this case, a parmesan sesame tuille. However, the cheese tended to exude too much while baking and the coloring of the tuille was very uneven.

I also experimented with texture, which I consider just as important as flavor. About four months ago, I recall Chef Susan talking about a dish garnished with "fennel powder". This got me thinking about wine--merlot and pinot noir--and how I might change the "texture" of wine by changing it into a powder form. I started by baking slowly on sheet pans, but the wine simply turned viscous and eventually burned. Then I turned to the Yellow Pages in search of companies that freeze dry food. This was unsuccessful, so I tried taxidermists. The taxidermists, although cordial, were a bit confused (and amused) to hear my predicament... ("Hello, my name is Lisa and--well, this is a rather long story--er, I'm experimenting with sorbet recipes..."). The taxidermists (who obviously didn't want to cross over to new markets) enthusiastically persuaded me to try Plan B. Looking for the path of least resistance, I chose another approach. I had seen a Thomas Keller recipe for powdered carrots, so I considered making a blackberry powder. However, the blackberries I found in the markets were bitter, and I didn't want to intensify that flavor.