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What Inspires You? (Dragonfruit-Watermelon Sorbet)

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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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 [3], have written a very informative post about them here, [4] 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 [5] had a nice, simple recipe on her site for a dragonfruit sorbet [6] 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 [7] has a recipe for Watermelon Sorbetto in his fantastic frozen dessert bible, The Perfect Scoop [8]. 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) [9]

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.