Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer is here ... and so is the Watermelon Martini.

Nothing says summer like the fresh cool taste of a cold watermelon. You're probably saying, yes... you're right Lady E... Nothing is better! But you might ask, "How do I  choose a good watermelon that is ripe, rich in flavor and juicy?" And secondly,  "How do you cut the darn thing?"

Two great questions. First, you could use my Father's tried and true method of picking the perfect watermelon. First, take your pick...whether seedless or seeded melon, they both taste pretty much the same. I'd favor the seeded melon...something about those annoying black seeds that brings back fond memories. Pick a melon you can pick up. No kidding ... dropping a melon in the parking lot is no joke. If the melon is heavy.... good guess it's full of juice. Second, thump...yep, thump the melon with your thump and forefinger. If it has a deep thud ... it's more likely to be ripe and juicy. Check and check.

Or you could take the advice of the produce guy at Wholefoods who said, "... look for a melon that has a lighter shade at the bottom..". This typically means that it was grown on the ground under the sun. Which mean deep, rich and flavorful., to cut the impossible melon is easy. Ole Fashion method. Cut it in half and spoon out the center. Or, cut it into quarters, with a very sharp knife, and score cubes and shave off the bottom.

But, my preferred method is to shave off the outer shell and rind to expose the melon inside. First, cut off the bottom and top of the melon to create a flat surface. Then, run the knife between the rind and melon's core.

Kinda looks like a bran, huh?
Once all the rind is off you have a clean and crisp melon to cut into difference shapes using a cookie cutter or cut into cubes.

Like most things its easer to manipulate if it's done in stages and smaller. So, Cut the whole melon in half. Then, slices and finally into cubes. Easy, huh? Make sure you are using a sharp knife. Don't want the knife to slip off the rind and cut yourself or someone else.

Cut cored melon in half
Cut the halves into slices
Cubed melon can be frozen or juiced or put in a blender to make watermelon juice. Watermelon juice is so refreshing. Squeeze of lime and sparkling water is great for a hot midday cool down.

At this point you might be thinking...Martini. And, you'd be right. With this batch I did make Watermelon Martini's for a friends Memorial Day Barbeque.

Cut each slice into cubes. Perfect for freezing for smoothies
Put the cubed melon in the blender and whirl until liquefied, this should only take 20-30 second. Next. pour the liquid into a container and allow the mixture to separate naturally, If, you want to move things along ... strain the liquid. Pure gold...or melon in this case.

Place each cube on a platter and freeze
The watermelon does need some help taste- wise .....well, more "mellony". Acid works, so lemon or lime works. Also a little sugar to taste doesn't hurt. Salt oddly enough enhanced the natural flavor. Just a sprinkle will do. That's the way my Dad used to serve it us as kids on a hot summer day. Wedge of ice cold watermelon and just a sprinkle of salt to bring out the natural flavor and juices.

I'd avoid the flavored vodkas... the mixture ends up tasting more like cough syrup than a smooth crisp melon.
Or strain juice slowly.

Did someone say Martini?

Two all thumbs up.
After you've tasted the melon mixture ... test it with a little vodka. If you taste more vodka than melon, then pour in more mixture and a touch of water. The reason I'm not giving you a full recipe is because overall it depends on the ripeness of the melon. Too much sugar or acid and turn the recipe into a disaster. So, trust your instincts, respect the ingredients and you'll be more than fine.
Watermelon Martini

Watermelon is only here for a short time. Whether you cube it, toss it in a green salad, eat plain or blend it with vodka, gin, light rum ... or a iced cube in your sparkling wine... it's one of those rare fruits that universally we enjoy.

Remember, cooking with love makes any recipe taste better.