Cleaning out the refrigerator in a busy restaurant produces unique opportunities for experimentation. This may sound alarming at first hearing, but stay with me. You are probably saying to yourself "I shouldn't be paying good money to eat leftovers." In fact, cagey cooks have always tried to use every speck of whatever they have. Years ago, when homes had large families and perpetually active kitchens this happened automatically there. It still does in restaurants.
This week I had an easy Wednesday so I went to work. There were pineapples that had been served grilled with the pork ribs. There was half and half left from the cream pitchers. We had bought more blueberries than we needed. There were dried cherries and an unopened bag of shredded coconut left over from the last Lane cake. The last of the ribs became tacos for the kitchen. The leftover grilled corn went into the crab soup. Mostly I made desserts.
The blueberries were easy. They are one of the fruits that have enough natural pectin to make almost foolproof sorbet. Toss them in a large bowl with a pinch of salt and enough sugar to lightly coat them. Mash them just a little with the back of a spoon and let them sit unrefrigerated for an hour. Puree and strain them, then add a little water. You want a thick but runny base. You are also diluting the sweetness a little. This churns into a really beautifully colored sorbet.
Half and half that has been sitting out on the tables cannot be reused unless it is cooked. Hence restaurants that serve lots of coffee are also liable to serve lots of gratins, custards and ice creams. I take part of what I have and scald it with a vanilla bean and the dried cherries and put it aside to steep. I do the same thing with rest, replacing the cherries with the coconut. The pineapples are peeled, cored and chunked and also dusted with a little sugar and salt. Raw pineapple would be too icy so I simmer it on very low heat until the fruit is softened and the juice has begun to thicken. I puree this. The two batches of half and half are cooked into custards. The cherry is churned as is into cherry vanilla ice cream. The pineapple puree is added into the coconut custard and become what else? Pinacoconetta