Weeknight Cooking

Fresh Honeydew Sorbet with Lime and Black Pepper

July 26, 2010

Fresh Honeydew Sorbet with Lime and Black Pepper

- Jenny

So often, we want our food to be geographically transformative. We want to stand in our kitchens in New York or Los Angeles or Kalamazoo and be taken via the stove to India or Tangiers or even just that really cool place in Oregon where they had that pudding thing that was so damn delicious.

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Other times, we want to taste where we live. This was the case with Fresh Honeydew Sorbet with Lime and Black Pepper. Our author, hope.thurman, sets you up for the vernacular eating experience, by telling you how she was inspired by gardenias in Bel Air and purple tulip magnolias around the UCLA campus. Here in L.A. as elsewhere, it’s the height of fruit season, so we need to work it every way we can.

I am a huge fan of all frozen desserts, but not necessarily of making them. I have curdled my share of ice cream custards in my day, and in any event while most frozen desserts need to spend the night in the fridge, most of us don’t have time midweek to prep them. But this recipe is really no trouble at all, provided you have an ice cream maker, which I really think you should, because after all you probably own a popover pan and how often do you use that space taker of a thing?

So, here is how I would like you to structure your day: Get up, make breakfast for yourself and anyone else you have hanging around the house. While you sip your coffee, make the simple syrup this recipe calls for. Put it in the fridge. Go about your business, but while you are out during the day, pick up the most lovely looking honeydew (or its closest melon equivalent) you can find, and make sure to pick up some peppercorns if your black pepper is on the wane. Grab some limes, too.

As you make dinner (or after you order it in) call your friend in some other state and gossip a little bit as you take an ice cream scoop to your lovely melon. Say things like “Really? And are you going to stand for that? ” and “I don’t know, I always thought turquoise was a great color for a kitchen.” Soon your friend will have to hang up and go back to her email.

That’s when you put your mixture in the ice cream maker and go do something else for 30 minutes. I might give my six-year-old a bath. You should feel free to spend a long time online studying cork floors. Once it is done spinning around, throw your sorbet in the freezer, and crawl into bed and watch your DVR episode of Hot in Cleveland. Feel no shame. Here is what I DON’T want you to do: leave your delicious sorbet in the ice cream maker bowl, as I did, or it will be hard as a rock when you attempt to serve it to your dinner guests the next night. Instead, remove it, transfer it to a Tupperware or some such.

That light and almost ethereal taste of honeydew will remind you of that time of night in Los Angeles when the sun is about to set, but hasn’t yet. The black pepper will be a welcome smack across the palate, like a Pacific wave rolling up on you while you were standing examining a starfish. The lime may elude you, like a parking spot in West Hollywood after 5.

My dinner party guests politely stood for the sad little scrapes they got before I wised up and transferred this to another bowl for refreezing, and proclaimed it delicious. I am sorry they could not have more. But I will enjoy it as I have so many things in Los Angeles, alone in the quiet of the dusk.

Fresh Honeydew Sorbet with Lime and Black Pepper

By hope.thurman

Makes 1 quart

  • 1 perfectly ripe honeydew melon
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Halve and seed the melon. In a blender, combine the honeydew, juice of the limes, salt and pepper. Puree until very smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and warm over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Pour in the melon puree and heat until just combined. Chill well.
  3. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once frozen, allow to harden overnight, or at least 12 hours.
By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.
Jennifer Steinhauer
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Kelsey B. July 28, 2010
What a fun recipe and column! Thanks for the tip, this recipe is perfect for the ridiculous east coast heat we've been having. I agree with you on the ice-cream maker, mine was inexpensive and I use it all summer long. Then pack it away to a closet for the winter.
Jestei August 1, 2010
don't pack it up! you might crave chocolate ice cream this december!!
Kelsey B. August 2, 2010
This is true, Peppermint Stick ice-cream at the holidays is always fun...
Midge July 28, 2010
Always enjoy your columns, Jenny, thanks. Can't figure out how you juggle this and your job and kids and I just found out you wrote a book?!
Rhonda35 July 28, 2010
You mean you have not yet figured out that she is just being a show-off?? ;-)
Valerie F. July 27, 2010
This made me fall in love all over again with my hometown of LA. And I can't wait to try this sorbet, it sounds so perfect for summer. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration!
Jestei August 1, 2010
please post to the site your results!
mrslarkin July 26, 2010
Jenny, your writing is such a pleasure to read. Thanks for pulling another winner out of the food52 archives. And thanks for the recipe, Hope!
Jestei July 26, 2010
thanks mrslarkin, aka scone lady, one of the great loyal nine. can't wait to try your scones back east.
Daphne July 26, 2010
What a fun story and a terrific honeydew sorbet! Thanks Jenny and Hope!
Jestei July 26, 2010
Thanks Daphne! For the record, I too dislike it when people are not ready to sit and eat.
Sagegreen July 26, 2010
Ingenious! And so engaging.Thank you.
Jestei July 26, 2010
thanks for your comments for for reading! xx oo
hope.thurman July 26, 2010
such an accurate description of lovely LA! great piece.
Jestei July 26, 2010
thank you and i would LOVE to have a meal with you in the city of angels
Rivka July 26, 2010
Your posts are always witty, but this one takes the cake -- so well written, a real model for the rest of us. The honeydew sorbet looks quite tasty, too.
Jestei July 26, 2010
this is so kind -- i hope you make this recipe and let us know how it comes out.
drbabs July 26, 2010
Hi Jenny. I love your writing, too. I also have been experimenting with frozen desserts (and found out the hard way not to leave the ice cream in the freezer in the ice cream maker bowl!)--with varying degrees of success. David Lebovitz has tips for keeping ice cream soft in The Perfect Scoop and also at this site from his blog: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007/07/tips_for_making_1.html

I wish you more happy days in Los Angeles, and an easy move to the east coast.
Jestei July 26, 2010
this is a great tip -- i love david's work and he is incredibly helpful on all manner of sweets!
Rhonda35 July 26, 2010
Fabulously written, as always. Even makes me pine away for LA a bit and I say that as someone who hated all of her trips to LA. But, if someone had offered me this lovely sorbet and a view of the sun setting, maybe, just maybe, I would have had a different impression. Think I will give this recipe a go - just what we need on a sweltering East Coast afternoon.
Jestei July 26, 2010
You have three weeks to join me at the ocean's edge!!