Scraped Knees and Apricot Sherbert

I am soo happy to see that Apricots have now joined the other organic fruit on display at our neighborhood groceries.

I remember my Mom giving me a leg-up to get into the Apricot trees in our orchard in Lebanon, and me picking the red-cheeked, juicy ones that were too high to reach from the ground, and gently tossing them onto a folded blanket that Mom spread under the tree.

For every few I tossed down, I ate one, until both the baskets and I were filled to the top! My nephew or cousins would be in other trees, and sometimes I felt it my duty to turn the basket filling into a contest. Our fruit picking trips always included a picnic featuring tasty Lebanese mezza dishes (appetizers) that Mom made the day before... Tabboouleh, stuffed Grapes leaves, homemade Arabic bread, Hummus or Baba ghannouj, cheeses, olives, fresh veggies, and a watermelon for dessert.

As a skinny preteen, I usually had scraped knees and was often found in trees or sitting top of the many 6-foot tall stone walls in our home town. I'm not so found of climbing into trees anymore, unless they are low to the ground!

Yesterday I brought Apricots home of course, and after eating 3 or 4, I decided to cook some up into jam and sherbet. Below is the dairy-free Sherbet recipe.

Recipe

  • 2 lb. ripe Organic Apricots (12-15)
  • 1/4  c. Water
  • ¾ c. Almond or Soy Milk
  • ¾ c. Xylitol or 2-3 packets Stevia (to taste)
  • 3 drops Almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp. Orange Blossom Water (Whole Foods or Middle Eastern market)

Split apricots and remove pit. Cut each into 1/6’s.

Reserve 1 Tbs. of the apricots.

Cook apricots with water in a medium non-reactive saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 10 mins. Add milk.

Remove from heat and stir in sweetener.

Let cool to room temp.

Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the extract, orange water and rest of the apricot pieces.

Chill thoroughly, then freeze in ice cream maker, or pour into Popsicle molds.

~ Sahtein! (double health)

The Most Delicious Ice Cream You'll Meet!

I'd like to add two fantastically yummy words to your vocabulary today: ASHTA and MASTIC GUM.

Ashta..

a word that will make most Lebanese people swoon.  Ashta is the creamy foundation of many Lebanese Desserts. It is made with either dry milk, or for a richer flavor half and half.

Ashta is used as a filling for cannelloni-like soft shells, shredded phyllo 'bird's nests', and between layers of syrup laden pastry...drool... But WAIT!... what am I doing?? This is a blog about healthy, only good-fat, no sugar recipes!

Remember Houdini?  (What brought him here?) He did the impossible, that's what brought him here.  And I am determined to do the same. To attempt to offer you some decadent delicious dishes served on a plate labeled "Approved for Good Health"!

Well, pull up your shorts and get ready for a taste sensation...

Ashta Ice Cream is heaven on earth. Lebanese ice cream is made with mastic gum, which lends it a gelato-like texture. It comes in many flavors and is served in narrow cones.

Thanks to Anissa's blog for photo.

Mastic Gum

This is a resin made from the pistacia lentiscus tree. The mastic plant originated in the Mediterranean nations in the south of Europe, northern portions of Africa, and the Middle East. The gum has a variety of uses in cooking, art, and alternative medicine.

For cooking, mastic gum requires boiling in hot water or another liquid, because the hardened resin will not dissolve in cold water. It comes in little 'crystals' and can be crushed into a powder to add to puddings.

One of Mom's trademarks was chewing mastic gum, which is quite prevalent in the Middle East.  It wasn't until very recently that I found out that chewing  mastic gum prevents tooth decay, and is an ingredient in some toothpastes and mouthwashes.

If you chew the crystals, add a tiny bit of beeswax to soften the gum. (Mom would nibble at the end of a candle!)

Back to the business of ASHTA and dessert!

Since milk products are off our list (for you vegans and cancer survivors).. we will use non-dairy ice cream as the base.

1 pint Vanilla flavored soy, coconut or rice milk Ice Cream 1/4 c. Orange Blossom water ( Mazaher) 1/4 c. Rose water ( Maward) 1 c. finely chopped Pistachios 1/2 tsp. crushed Mastic gum

Crush the Mastic gum in a mortar and pestle till it becomes very fine (almost powdery).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfer ice cream to a bowl.  Add the flavored waters, mastic and 3/4 of the pistachios.

Mix well, but don't over melt ice cream.

Transfer to a round cake pan. Sprinkle remaining pistachios on top of ice cream. Cover with wax paper and freeze for 2 hours or overnight.

Take out of pan and store in a freezable container.  Serve in plain cones or individual cups.

~ Sahtein!