Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Blueberry Flavors

I've been delving into the world of food blog events over the past week. I used to do similar types of things with pizza with a small group of people online, but that's almost a decade in the past now and I miss it. So I've chosen two events to enter in the next couple of weeks: Hay Hay It's Donna Day #13 and Waiter, there's something in my...dumpling.

I was telling this to a colleague last night, saying that I really needed some cooking challenges because cooking in Isolationville is challenging, but not in a fun way. He responded that I must not be taking advantage of wild foods, and named one in season now. I challenged him to point to one spot where said food was available, and he admitted that you'd have to hop a plane to get there. I felt vindicated.

Don't start thinking that Isolationville is full of jet-setters. Not at all. It's just that the size of our isolation requires a lot of air travel.

I considered doing a fruit dumpling, but I have moved on to better ideas for that one. Fruit will definitely play into the sorbet treat for Donna Day #13, though, and today was a day for flavor experimentation. Last fall, I picked gallons of wild blueberries and froze about two-thirds of them. That's my base. I was cooking some up for Baby Girl's next food puree, and made a bit more than would fill the ice cube tray so I could play with some flavor combos.

There were several things I either wanted to try originally but didn't have on hand or now want to try because one of the combos I thought wouldn't work, did. If that makes any sense whatsoever. I would have liked to try honey, but mine was all sugared and no amount of play changed that and I got rid of it. I also thought about trying it with coconut milk, but I'm not sure how well the packets will keep once opened (I do powdered because of the shipping costs for canned goods). There were some combinations I didn't need to try because I know they work, but none of them were in the running for this particular purpose.

I tried the following, all with a little sugar and some with a little lemon juice:

Cloves: too strong and the flavors didn't complement each other at all.

Cayenne: I liked the heat. Husband felt it didn't add much interest.

Pine nuts: Again, I liked it, didn't love it, Husband really didn't like it. This was the combo that made him request a water chaser/palate cleanser.

Ginger: I liked it, didn't like it enough to carry a spoonful to my test audience, who doesn't like ginger anyway.

Salt: Specifically, pink Hawaiian salt. Or red. I don't know which it claims. I have to admit that this was a bit gimmicky. I do love sweet-salty combos, but part of this experiment was simply for the visual. The flavor was good, but it's not going to be added to lists of classic sweet-salty combos any time soon. It did look cute together! I was picturing miniature sorbet sandwiches with a rim of pinky-red salt. Won't happen now.

There were two other flavors I tried that I won't describe because one of them is going to be featured in my sorbet. One, I thought had a better-than-50% chance of being really nice. And it is. Really nice. Husband agreed. The other, I thought wouldn't work. I tried it just because it was there and I figured I shouldn't ignore it. I was very, very wrong. A lovely combo and it could well be the winner. Or I might make both. Again, this might not make a lot of sense, but I think the two flavor combos would be nice in the same bowl, but not in the same scoop. Strange that it should work that way, but I think it's true. I'd like alternating bites of the two different sorbets, but not the two flavors in the same bite.

We'll see how much time Baby Girl gives me when it's time to make the sorbet.

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