After the rhubarb chutney (see my previous post, July 25, 2011), I was looking for the best, most perfect, and fun way to use what was left of my gift of wild Colorado mountain rhubarb. As chance would have it, my cousin Karen Jenanyan and I, along with others at an al fresco lunch in our backyard, were discussing how much we love making yogurt from our generations-old starter and how we take pride in carrying and passing along the baton of Armenian yogurt making. Karen had been experimenting with making yogurt with fruit on the bottom, like the small containers you find in grocery stores. We got to, how’s about some fruity frozen yogurt, which you don’t much find in grocery stores? With that simple play of imagination, the centuries-old, healthful milk product born in the warmth of desert nomads’ saddlebags was transported to the modern freezer as a healthful cold dessert. In my kitchen, the idea took form as a blazing pink (from the strawberries) frozen yogurt mold dressed with a vivid red strawberry puree and topped with lustrous yellow-orange crystallized orange peels scented with rosewater.Serves 8 to 10
1 pound trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup filtered water
3 cups thick plain whole milk yogurt
1 basket sweet fresh strawberries, half very coarsely chopped and half pureed
For the crystallized orange peel:
2 thick-skinned organic oranges, quartered lengthwise, peeled, and peels sliced lengthwise into thin slivers
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon rosewater
1. To make the frozen yogurt, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
2. Puree the rhubarb mixture in a food processor. Add the yogurt and the chopped strawberries and process until blended. Transfer to a one quart mold or tube pan and freeze.
3. To make the crystallized orange peel, combine the orange slivers, sugar, rosewater, and water in a medium saucepan, stir to mix, and bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat to maintain a brisk boil and cook until the slivers are soft and almost transparent and the syrup is bubbling all across the surface and beginning to crystallize, about 15 minutes.
4. Place a length of parchment on a counter next to the saucepan. With tongs, lift out the orange slivers and transfer them to the parchment paper. Still using the tongs, spread them out a bit so they’re not all in a big clump but some still stick together in lacy formations. Set aside at room temperature to air dry and crystallize, several hours, preferably overnight.
5. When ready to serve, remove the frozen yogurt from the freezer and set it aside at room temperature until it’s warm enough to loosen away from its container but still quite frozen, about 30 minutes.
6. Place a serving plate atop the frozen yogurt and invert the plate and container together so the frozen yogurt drops onto the plate. Remove the container and spoon the strawberry puree around the top of the frozen yogurt, letting some drip down the sides. Arrange the crystallized orange peel pieces here and there and serve right away.