What Inspires You? (Dragonfruit-Watermelon Sorbet)

Friday, August 1, 2008

What inspires you? Where do you get your best post ideas? Is there a special place you like to go to create?  Does it come to you in dreams? 

I get inspired at farmers’ markets, the supermarket, restaurants, magazines and of course, by my fellow bloggers. Many of my best ideas for posts come to me while I’m out and about, especially while I’m driving around in my car. This can be a problem, as it is difficult, not to mention dangerous, to write and drive at the same time! Sometimes, I’d call my home phone from my cell and leave voice messages for myself, so I wouldn’t forget my ideas. That is, until I picked up this new, fun toy.

Isn’t it cute?  It’s a Sony digital voice recorder. I’ve been using it like an old-fashioned dictaphone. When I’m out somewhere and I get an idea that I want to remember, I just tell it to this little guy he saves it for me. I also use it a lot while I am cooking, to remember what I’ve done when it comes time to write out a recipe. I can’t tell you how helpful it has been! This model also has a lot of nifty features, including allowing you to playback MP3 files and record using the MP3 file format. It also has a USB Direct Connection, so that you can plug it directly into a USB port on your computer and download files right into your laptop or PC. And, it comes in RED!

As I was strolling up and down the aisles in the produce section of the supermarket a few weeks ago, something rather unusual caught my eye. It was a bin full of vibrant magenta, oval-shaped orbs with big neon green scales, resembling flames, jutting out from them. I had never seen anything like them before and I was intrigued! The sign on the bin where they lay said “dragonfruit”. Hmmm. Dragonfruit, eh? I had no idea what a dragonfruit was or how to use one, but they were just so damned pretty, that I had to grab a few. I figured that even if they tasted like crap, they’d at least make for some gorgeous pictures.

The first thing I did when I got home with my shocking pink little beauties was Google them to find out exactly what they were. The dragonfruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya, is the fruit of the the vine of a cactus called Hylocereus. The Hylocereus is a night-blooming, climbing cactus, native to Central and South America, with spectacular large, white and fragrant flowers.

The fruit itself is sweet, juicy, and crisp and tastes like a cross between a pear, kiwi and watermelon. There are numerous varieties of dragonfruit and the color of their flesh varies as well, from deep red, to pink, to white. They all have tiny black seeds inside, kind of like a kiwi. The fruit is commonly eaten chilled and cut in half so the flesh may be scooped out. The red-fleshed fruits are said to be high in lycopene which is a natural antioxidant that is known to fight cancer and heart disease.

At this point, I had no idea which kind of dragonfruit I had. Would their flesh be red, pink or white? Resisting the urge to slice one in half right then and there, I pressed on, looking for some other ways that I could use the fruit. I found that quite a few bloggers were pretty savvy about dragonfruit. My good friends, the White on Rice Couple, have written a very informative post about them here, with lots of beautiful photos, including some of those magnificent flowers.
From cheesecakes to tea cakes, to sorbets, salads and cocktails, there were all kinds of recipes to discover using these unusual fruits. Being in the midst of a sweltering Florida summer, I decided to go for a cool and refreshing sorbet. Rachel from Coconut & Lime had a nice, simple recipe on her site for a dragonfruit sorbet served in the shell of the fruit. It looked so lovely! I really wanted to try it. So, I used it as my inspiration.

When I finally did cut my fruits in half, I saw that the flesh was white. I was slightly disappointed not to see pink or red, as I read that they tend to be sweeter, but I was still excited about making my sorbet. I had a container full of fresh, sweet watermelon chunks sitting in the fridge, so I decided to add it to my sorbet as well.

David Lebovitz has a recipe for Watermelon Sorbetto in his fantastic frozen dessert bible, The Perfect Scoop. To make my sorbet, I took elements of both David’s and Rachel’s recipes and combined them. The result was a gorgeous, pink-hued, fruity, frozen and very delicious treat! I served the sorbet in the empty fruit shells and got lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from my guinea pigs taste testers.

I’m so glad that I took a chance and bought those dragonfruit when I saw them. So many times, people are hesitant to try new and unfamiliar foods. I’ve never understood that. I have been inspired more times than I can count by picking up something at the market that I’ve never seen before. Sometimes, it turns out great and sometimes, not. But, you never know what gastronomical delights you might be missing if you don’t experiment. Lucky for me, this one was a winner!

Dragonfruit-Watermelon Sorbet

Inspired by Coconut & Lime and The Perfect Scoop

(Printable Recipe)

2 cups watermelon puree (seeded flesh from 1/4 med sized melon)

2 dragonfruit

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

juice of 1/2 of a lime

2 tablespoons vodka

Puree watermelon in a food processor until it turns into juice.
Remove 1 cup of juice, put in a sauce pan and mix with the sugar. Heat just to boiling and remove. The sugar should be dissolved.
Scoop out dragonfruit flesh and puree with remaining melon. Rub the inside of the empty shells with lemon or lime juice and save in the fridge.
Add the hot mixture to the pureed fruit and add salt, lime juice and vodka. Stir and remove to a bowl. Chill for several hours.
Make sorbet in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until firm.
Scoop into dragonfruit shells and serve.


51 responses to What Inspires You? (Dragonfruit-Watermelon Sorbet)

  1. On August 01, 2008 at 4:33pm, Ingrid said...

    I loved your photos in this post! The colors are so bright and gorgeous. Unfortunately I’m one of those ones that is put off by anything she’s not sure of :-( But I’m trying to get better. Thanks for helping to motivate those of us that are timid about anything new(to us).

  2. On August 01, 2008 at 4:47pm, Tanya said...

    I’ve never come across this fruit in any supermarket, but I wish I would. Your photos are gorgeous. I don’t know if I would have the heart to cut into it! The sorbet sounds wonderful. I wish you could pass some around to us over the internet!

  3. On August 01, 2008 at 5:11pm, Ann said...

    So beautiful!

  4. On August 01, 2008 at 6:33pm, [eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

    This dessert looks spectacular!

  5. On August 01, 2008 at 6:47pm, culinography said...

    That is positively stunning!

  6. On August 01, 2008 at 8:12pm, Manggy said...

    Confession: this makes an appearance all the time at the grocery but I never buy it! I just don’t know what to do with it! But based on its flavor, I just knew it would make a great sorbet– that looks fantastic! :)

  7. On August 01, 2008 at 10:20pm, Jen Yu said...

    How divine!! Isn’t it just a gorgeous and curious fruit? Love how you served it in the shell, simply beautiful.

    I’m not sure what inspires my blogging. I have this need to document things (some may think of it as a disorder) and that includes my thoughts as well as recipes as well as what I see. It’s just my food diary with some personal stuff thrown in. I love your little recorder. That is too cute. I recently downloaded an app for my iphone that allows me to record stuff on it which is great because I still have chemo brain that results in crap for memory 😉

  8. On August 01, 2008 at 10:50pm, noble pig said...

    It’s so beautiful!

    As far as inspiration, it’s just daily living. I think looking through things with a blogger’s eye helps.

  9. On August 02, 2008 at 12:47am, White On Rice Couple said...

    This is just gorgeous and a spectacular way to present dragonfruit!! You really did justice to this beauty of a fruit Susan!

    The most common dragon fruits are the white centered ones. We just started growing the red centered one and we’re looking to grow another yellow centered one. The yellow one is even more unique! The red one is still a young plant, but when it finally does fruit, you can bet that we’ll send you a couple to try!

    It’s wonderful dishes like these that are really inspiring!

  10. On August 02, 2008 at 2:01am, Cakelaw said...

    I love your sorbet – and you’re right about the colour, pink is better! I found out about dragon fruit for the first time earlier this year, and it is one of the most curious yet lovely fruits I’ve ever seen.

  11. On August 02, 2008 at 7:18am, CookiePie said...

    WOW – your sorbet is gorgeous, and I love the presentation!

  12. On August 02, 2008 at 7:57am, RecipeGirl said...

    What a fun post! I loved watching your inspiration turn into a recipe. Lovely pics too.

    I get inspired by things that I see… and by magazines too. And for some reason a good recipe title grabs me sometimes.

  13. On August 02, 2008 at 7:58am, Darius T. Williams said...

    Um, so this looks great. I’ve never had dragonfruit – but if I see it, then I’m going to pick some up and try this recipe.


  14. On August 02, 2008 at 9:21pm, Heather said...

    oh my gosh! this is utterly stunning! the photos are amazingly beautiful and this dragonfruit looks delicious! i’ve never heard of it… now i must find it!!!

  15. On August 02, 2008 at 9:52pm, KJ said...

    I always wondered what to do with this strange looking fruit. Now I know, thanks to you! :)

  16. On August 02, 2008 at 10:17pm, StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

    Thanks, Everyone, for your sweet comments! I’m so glad that you all liked the photos in this post. I have to say, those dragonfruit were just so naturally beautiful. They were such a pleasure to photograph!

    If you’ve never tried them, I hope you do it soon. How about a dragonfruit mojito or margarita? Works for me!

    Ingrid- Thank you! Don’t be shy! The worst that could happen is you won’t like something. So what! It would be worse not to try something new and never know if it is something you’d love.

    Tanya- I wish I could share it with you. It was delicious. :)

    Manggy- Shame on you! 😉

    Jen- I agree. It is gorgeous and unique.

    I don’t think it’s a disorder at all. With all you’ve been through, it is totally understandable. Documenting our lives is a way for us to it orderly and controlled. When you’re a little old lady of 85, you’ll have all your wonderful memories all in one place!

    WORC- You amaze me! I want to build a little hut in your yard and live there with all of your gorgeous fruits and flowers! I would have constant inspiration.

    I would like nothing more than to sample your dragonfruits. I know they will be even sweeter coming from you!

  17. On August 02, 2008 at 11:45pm, Proud Italian Cook said...

    Oh Wow, Thats gorgeous Susan! I love pink and green together. It almost looks unreal! I’ve never seen this at all! I wish I could taste it right now.

  18. On August 03, 2008 at 1:40am, Grace said...

    it’s a mutant fruit! i’ve certainly never seen a piece of produce that awesome in any of my local supermarkets. that does it, i’m gonna have to move. :)
    oh, and my main inspiration? definitely fellow bloggers such as yourself. :)

  19. On August 03, 2008 at 9:13am, Tom Aarons said...

    What inspires me? This post inspires me. Thank you!

  20. On August 03, 2008 at 9:25am, Mary said...

    I’m not a fruit person, but I keep trying and your photos are beautiful. And thank you for making me feel like less of a freak that I will walk through the grocery, see something I’ve never seen before and have to buy it, make something and blog about it. Right now I have a malanga root, and a boniato root. I have no idea what I will be doing with them, but they looked really interesting!

  21. On August 03, 2008 at 1:13pm, joanne at frutto della passione said...

    Wow, now I’m curious to learn more about dragon fruit, you have definitely inspired me!

  22. On August 03, 2008 at 2:07pm, Jack said...

    They certainly are an alien-looking fruit, but very attractive with it. And your sorbet looks wonderful!

  23. On August 03, 2008 at 3:33pm, Maven said...

    I get inspired in the car too. I take my camera with me everywhere and snap as I go “writing” a little commentary in my head as I travel along.

    Love your blog. I’m still drooling over the potato fritters :-)

  24. On August 03, 2008 at 3:36pm, Maven said...

    My apologies. I just went to read your blog about the potato fritter and realized what it was about. I’m new to blogger so was not familiar with Sher. Very, very sad nonetheless.

  25. On August 03, 2008 at 3:48pm, Jeena said...

    I adore dragon fruit so much. Your sorbet looks so lovely and refreshing. :-)

  26. On August 03, 2008 at 6:45pm, Heather said...

    Ha! I’m the opposite of the people scared of new things, to the detriment of my bank account. I always hafta try the new weird produce.

    THat sorbet looks like watermelon with black sesame seeds, so pretty.

  27. On August 03, 2008 at 10:31pm, Tartelette said...

    I love dragon fruit but it is rarely as flavorful as it ought to be at the grocery store,that’s why I love your idea of mixing it with watermelon. Looks wonderfully refreshing!

  28. On August 03, 2008 at 11:47pm, My Sweet & Saucy said...

    I am in love! What a gorgeous looking dessert! So fun and different!

  29. On August 04, 2008 at 12:09am, Nate-n-Annie said...

    Congratulations on this creation. I wonder how well dragonfruit would go with kiwi.

  30. On August 04, 2008 at 7:06am, Patsyk said...

    I get inspired all the time, it’s remembering my ideas when it comes time to do something with them! I love your cute dictaphone gadget, that would certainly help!

    That has to be the most beautiful and unusual fruit I’ve ever seen. If I ever do see one, I’m going to have to buy one so I can make this recipe!

  31. On August 04, 2008 at 12:36pm, Bellini Valli said...

    The “taste testers” were impressed and so am I:D

  32. On August 04, 2008 at 1:22pm, Patricia Scarpin said...

    Susan, I commute everyday and spend hours in the car. I have many ideas while I’m driving. I keep a small notebook and a pen on the seat, so when I think of something I take notes.
    This sorbet looks so beautiful – I have never tried dragonfruit, but I love its looks!

  33. On August 04, 2008 at 2:09pm, The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

    Those are pretty. I want some.

    I bought a yellow watermelon yesterday. It tastes pretty much like a regular one, but it was fun to cut it open. I love making fun new food discoveries like that.

    I do get inspired when I see new foods like that. Sometimes I don’t know what to make for dinner and I’ll just browse the aisles until I see things that interest me.

    I also get very inspired by other blogs.

  34. On August 04, 2008 at 2:27pm, Snooky doodle said...

    wow great photos and really creative ideas. :-)

  35. On August 04, 2008 at 3:44pm, Kevin said...

    That sorbet looks great! What a nice colour.

  36. On August 04, 2008 at 6:40pm, Debbie said...

    I have never seen that fruit before but it is beautiful. I am inspired by my love of sweets and fellow food bloggers. The beautiful photos of cakes, pastas, etc make me want to challenge myself to see if I can make something so gorgeous and tasty too!!!

  37. On August 04, 2008 at 10:24pm, Jescel said...

    wow.. i should be more adventurous like you! whenever i fly cathay pacific going to philippines via hongkong, the plane always serves a little fruit salad with dragonfruit in it, the white flesh like the one you have. i love it. your sorbet looks so good.

  38. On August 04, 2008 at 11:14pm, Erinn said...

    That is so gorgeous it doesn’t look real!
    Oh, I’m at a loss for words, and that never happens!
    Loving your photos….

  39. On August 05, 2008 at 1:45am, Mochachocolata Rita said...

    i love sweet dragon fruit…and for summer, we cud never go wrong with watermelon, aye? this is my idea of “refreshing”! :)

  40. On August 05, 2008 at 3:28am, Helen said...

    Hi Susan. I always get my idea when I’m on the bus! I just take a notebook with me and scribble them down. I tried dragon fruit once and I have to tell you , I was really disappointed. Not much flavour! Maybe I had a different type. Jenn (from the leftover queen) had the same experience and even wrote a whole post about her disappointment! I love the idea of combining them with waterlemon though and I must admit this does look very tempting! Maybe I will give them another go.

  41. On August 05, 2008 at 9:45am, Cookie baker Lynn said...

    That does look like a winner. Beautiful photos!

  42. On August 05, 2008 at 10:11am, The DeLadurantey Sisters said...

    Wow that is so neat!

  43. On August 05, 2008 at 12:29pm, Mike of Mike's Table said...

    This looks wonderful! I never would have thought of the watermelon pairing, but in retrospect, this seems like the perfect match. Plus, the appearance is great, even right down to the seeds (which work for the watermelon, too). Definitely sounds like an appropriate FL summer treat. 😉

    I thought I had will-power–day 1: I saw dragon fruit at the grocery store. My impulse is to buy whatever new and exotic fruit I see, but it was pricey, and I resisted. Success.

    Day 2: I wonder if I’ll ever see dragon fruit again. I shouldn’t pass it up. Maybe I should buy it. I hope they still have it. I’ll check. Yup. Still expensive–won’t buy it. Success.

    Day 3: I could probably take some decent photos of these things. I sure hope they still have them. But I shouldn’t. Whoa! $0.50 price drop? I guess I should buy it. lol. Some will power!

  44. On August 05, 2008 at 12:35pm, Trish said...

    What an interesting liitle fruit! I will have to look for them.

  45. On August 05, 2008 at 1:03pm, Maggie said...

    The finished sorbet is gorgeous!

  46. On August 06, 2008 at 3:46am, canarygirl said...


  47. On August 06, 2008 at 12:19pm, Deborah said...

    I get most of my inspiration from blogs, cookbooks, magazines, tv…just about everywhere!!

    I’ve actually seen dragonfruit at my grocery store before, but they are $10 each!! I’ve never wanted to splurge that much!

  48. On August 07, 2008 at 12:10am, Rachelle said...

    I wish I could find Dragonfruit around here. I would love to try it. Anyone know where in San Diego to find some? Your sorbet looks so delicious, and I love it served in it’s skin.

  49. On August 08, 2008 at 9:04pm, Kristen said...

    That is the most amazing piece of fruit I have seen. Gorgeous!

    I love your creation and the photo using the shell as the bowl. Very creative!

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  51. On August 19, 2008 at 9:10pm, Ginny said...

    I love dragonfruit!!! It is so tasty and pink… as for inspiration…I wish I knew…sometimes I sit on pictures for awhile waiting for something to write!

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kiss the cook!

Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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