Genius Recipes

10 Years Later, I’m Still in Awe of This Sorbet

We’re celebrating Genius Recipes' 10th birthday with three three-ingredient sorbets, naturally.

June 30, 2021

Every week in Genius Recipes—often with your help!—Food52 Founding Editor and lifelong Genius-hunter Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that will change the way you cook.


Ten years ago this week, I started writing about Genius Recipes for Food52 and—thanks entirely to all of you—haven’t stopped since (give or take one baby).

The mission has been surprisingly constant since that first column, about The River Café’s Strawberry Sorbet, a three-ingredient marvel that tosses out what cookbooks and TV shows have been telling us for years about lemons: Instead of “take care to leave the bitter white pith behind,” it’s “toss the whole thing in.”

Happy birthday! Let's have sorbet. Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Oliva Bloch.

Back then, I wrote: Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius, too. (Yep, that tracks.)

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“Thanks to your Genius recipes (as well as A&M and all the F52 contributors) you've made me a better cook. ”
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But just about everything else has changed. Ten years ago, Food52’s audience was largely made up of experienced home cooks, chefs, and food bloggers who were eager to finally find a place to share their recipes and be inspired to make new ones for our weekly recipe contests. So, in launching the column to this group of nose-to-tailers and layer cakers, I didn’t think twice about a recipe that called for both a food processor and an ice cream maker, even though I barely had room for one of them in my own kitchen (I chose ice cream).

The original Genius Recipe, with a sunny new look. Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Oliva Bloch.

These days, happily, Food52 has grown to include a whole lot more readers (and viewers and listeners) with all sorts of interests, needs, and time crunches. I want Genius Recipes to welcome as many of us cooks as possible who want to make sorbet.

In my own life, that shift was never more forceful or clear than in working on the next Genius cookbook, which is still slow-cooking and will be done around September 2022. It was meant to be a beginners’ cookbook, a project that felt perfectly timed as I pictured the recipes I’d hand to my someday-child to get them hooked—to show how much you can do in the kitchen with little effort, time, and gear.

No-churn, barely-whisk Mascarpone Sorbet from The River Café. Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Oliva Bloch.

But as I continued to work on that book for the next three years—through the stupor of early parenthood and then the pandemic, without access to childcare or family support, and then a move across the country to start again—I realized something: how much I myself needed those recipes. Recipes that bend around whatever life hands us.

So this time, as we bring back the iconic strawberry sorbet, it has: a how-to video with tips for harnessing whatever fruit and equipment you have (or don’t have); a podcast episode with River Café co-founder Ruth Rogers and Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser that—finally—shares the origins of the whole lemon trick and why it sticks with us; and two new sorbet buddies from The River Café’s many cookbooks, which taught me new ways to do less and get more. The peach one is left in juicy-sweet chunks; the mascarpone barely needs to be whisked.

No-churn, rough-chop (!) Peach & Lemon Sorbet from The River Café. Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Sam Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Oliva Bloch.

Thank you to boss Amanda, whose brilliant idea started this whole thing, to boss Merrill for a decade of generosity and encouragement, and especially to all of you for sending in tips, cooking along, and talking to me in the comments all these years. You’ve made me a better cook, editor, sleuth, and listener. Here’s to many more.

Got a Genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
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From our new podcast network, The Genius Recipe Tapes is lifelong Genius hunter Kristen Miglore’s 10-year-strong column in audio form, featuring all the uncut gems from the weekly column and video series. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss out.

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."

22 Comments

Roberts July 4, 2021
Hello, tried this recipe out yesterday, delicious but too sweet for me. Two questions, how much can I cut back on the sugar without effecting the texture? Tips on what I can do to reblend/refreeze to bring down the sweetness of what I’ve made? Thinking of adding yogurt or buttermilk? Thanks.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Hi Roberts, thanks for reporting back—I think your idea to blend in yogurt or buttermilk sounds brilliant. You could also consider eating it in float form with seltzer or something else not-too-sweet. I haven't tried cutting back the sugar, myself. I think you'll affect the texture proportionally to the amount of sugar you cut, but it would still be very good even if it was a little icier. I would try cutting down by 25% to start.
 
Food52online July 2, 2021
All of my attention went to the big bowl at your side. We had the same one at my house and used it for EVERYTHING. My mom still uses it and ours has the same wear along the rim.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Yes! My brother loaned the mushroom bowl to me and I hope I can find one for myself (so he can get his back eventually).
 
elizabeth T. July 1, 2021
Thank you for ten years of genius.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Thank you so much, Elizabeth.
 
Barbara July 1, 2021
Why no mention of Julia Child's Strawberry Sorbet recipe which I have loved for over 60 years??? It's essentially the same as the one you attribute to a newish restaurant.
 
billy July 1, 2021
Did Julia make a strawberry sorbet with whole lemons? The only one I can find is a strawberry sherbet with lemon juice, which seems like a totally different (still excellent) thing. The whole lemon trick in this recipe is what makes it so special. 😎 If you have a similar Julia recipe, can you share it?
 
Susang July 1, 2021
Kristen! Have loved you and Genius and Food 52 since the start!
Always happy when I see a video from you.
Congratulations from Montana!!!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Thank you so much, Susang!
 
claudiaslangley June 30, 2021
I use a grapefruit soon to hull strawberries. A perfect tool !!!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Love it!
 
2tattered June 30, 2021
Easiest: Put 1 quart frozen strawberries in a food processor and chop them. Add 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Process 10 seconds. With machine running, pour in 1 cup of heavy cream in a steady stream. Scrape sides of bowl down and process 5 to 10 seconds more. Delicious! During strawberry season I freeze quarts of cut up strawberries in ziploc bags, and use them to make this all winter.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Wow, love this. It reminds me a bit of Julia Turshen's coconut "ice cream" with lime & mango that I included in Genius Desserts: she freezes a coconut milk-lime-maple mixture in ice cube trays, then blends them in the food processor.
 
SallyHuebscher June 30, 2021
Can't wait to try this. Love your stories.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Thank you, Sally!
 
traci7knits June 30, 2021
no need to hull the strawberry; it's completely edible. please try it!
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Interesting! I'd heard of infusing strawberry tops into water, but hadn't thought to eat them straight-up. Will try—thank you!
 
mcs3000 June 30, 2021
BIG congrats, Kristen! Happy 10 years and many more. Loved hearing you and Amanda talk about how it all began. Thanks to your Genius recipes (as well as A&M and all the F52 contributors) you've made me a better cook.
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Thank you so much for all your support and brilliant ideas over the years, Mary! xo
 
Panfusine June 30, 2021
Love the strawberry sorbet.. made this a couple of weeks ago with roasted berries and ginger syrup
 
Author Comment
Kristen M. July 7, 2021
Delicious!