Do you cook or bake with grapes? I never have. I don’t know why, but I guess I’ve never thought of them as an ingredient. OK, I’ve gone so far as to toss them into a salad, but that’s about it. To me, grapes were for snacking.
Thanks to my gardener, there’s a Glenora grapevine growing on the arbor over our patio table. It’s about 3 years old now, and it provides shade and a romantic atmosphere for our alfresco meals. And for the first time, it’s providing loads of gorgeous purple grapes.
Glenora grapes are juicy and intensely flavorful, like grape bubblegum with a hint of spice, and they have a most satisfying snap when you bite down on them. In fact, they’re so good, they’ve sparked an attitude adjustment in this cook—grapes deserve to be the star of a dish, not just the fruit group in a sack lunch. They are every bit as good as any berry and ought to be treated with the same reverence in the kitchen. Though I can hardly resist eating them out of hand, I’m inspired to transform them into dessert. I made a grape consommé (which the husband insists on calling grape juice), but there are still lots of grapes hanging on that vine. I wonder what else I should make with them…Do you have any suggestions for me? And don’t you just love being inspired by ingredients?
Red Grape Consommé with Lemon-Honey Sorbet
For the sorbet:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey, preferably orange blossom honey
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1 2/3 cups water
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the consommé:
3 pounds stemmed red grapes
1 cup sugar
1 cup blackberries
Make the sorbet:
Combine the sugar, honey, lemon zest, and water in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let cool. Stir in the lemon juice. Chill over an ice bath until ice-cold. Transfer to an ice cream maker and churn until frozen. Transfer to a container and freeze for 4 to 6 hours before serving.
Make the consommé:
Combine the grapes and sugar in a large, heavy pot. Lightly crush the grapes using a potato masher. Heat to a bare simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool. Juice in a food mill using the finest disc. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and chill.
Ladle the consommé into individual bowls. Add a scoop of the sorbet to each bowl and divide the blackberries among them. Serve immediately.
Yields about 3 ½ cups of sorbet and 1 quart of consommé, serving 8. I used leaves of lemon balm and jasmine blossoms for garnish in addition to the blackberries. The clarity of the grape consommé is, by far, best on the day it’s made.