Friday, July 25, 2014

Fruity and Boozy and (Hopefully) Cool

I am so happy it is summer as it felt like a long time coming, but it has been too...darn...hot! My body has not been able to handle the heat and humidity of the city this year. Maybe it would be different if I was leading a life of leisure, lounging from hammock to hammock, but these last few months have been crammed with work and events, which means a lot of commuting and constant running around. I'm amazed at how fellow asphalt dwellers appear to be in a sweat-free state, as if they were gazing off a balcony in Capri, white wine spritzer in one hand, while I look to be unsuccessfully climbing the slopes of Mount Doom to rid myself of an evil ring. Even the Orcs look more relaxed and comfortable than LuRuSo.
Basically me in NYC, late May-early September

Once I've returned to my non-AC apartment, I must take all measures to make my surroundings chiller, as my Scandinavian/Irish roots inherently crave. Thus, the oven stays off and I'm focused on creating cooling and hydrating treats that take little effort to produce and offer maximum satisfaction. I can think of nothing more appropriate as the combo of fruit and booze. In college, I could often be found with a "flavor injector" in my grasp, trying to sauce up some strawberries or pump a watermelon full of vodka.
Sober Watermelon

As often is the case, The Baker Chick seemed to be reading my mind and posted a refreshing and slightly boozy seasonal dessert the same day I was battling the summer sauna.
Minty Mojito Fruit Salad

This fruit medley was incredibly easy to throw together. You can cater to your own fruit preferences, with berries, melons and tropical options all pairing well with the rum. As written, the alcohol really just gives a hint of flavor, so if you want to bring out the mojito side of the recipe, get a little heavy handed with the bottle.

Years ago, I worked at a summer stock theatre in Vermont that had a cute counter cafe directly across from campus (RIP, PK!). I owned a car at the time and after the show had opened, I'd spend my mornings driving aimlessly until I found some source of nature (not too hard to do in Vermont). Once I'd reached a destination, I would explore til exhausted and then have a private picnic at the end of my journey where I'd read the recently released final Harry Potter book and eat whatever I had picked up from the cafe. Not long into this routine, the counter person suggested I try their double berry shortcake with Chantilly cream. Well, if you know me you know they didn't have to offer twice. And after tasting the mighty scrumptious dessert, that was my lunch every single day. I was lucky the show only ran two weeks...

This is my homage to that counter cake with a little more fruit and a little more kick.
Triple Berry Rhubarb Shortcake with Grand Marnier Chantilly Cream

That's a mouthful. Not only the title, but the actually dessert. I used THIS recipe for easy drop biscuits, but you could take it to the next level and bake actual shortcakes. For the berries, I mixed strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in a bowl and let them macerate with a spoonful of sugar (depending on the tartness of said berries) and the juice of half a lemon. The Chantilly cream is simple: split a vanilla bean and scrape the "caviar" into a bowl of 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Add sugar to taste (1-2 Tbsps) and a couple splashes of Grand Marnier and beat until it resembles whipped cream! Try not to eat it all straight out of the bowl, if possible. Listen, I don't even like whipped cream that much, but this stuff is heaven. I think I'm going to start putting it on my kale and quinoa. The last component was a strawberry rhubarb compote that I smeared across the biscuits, but that step is optional. Assemble as you wish, and enjoy.

Sangria. I was thinking of changing the name of this blog to More Sangria Please. I really...I mean, I don't even know how to explain my love for sangria. It's perfect. I have a basic go to red RECIPE that is always a crowd pleaser, but lately I've been fiddling with various incarnations - rosé with berries, cherry-infused ruby red, and sparkling white grapefruit. I used THIS Peach and Strawberry Sangria recipe as a base for one July version. It was sweet yet refreshing and everyone was digging to catch every last fruit morsel in their drinks.

But wait - there's more.

This sangria kept on giving. Somehow, we managed not to finish the entire carafe in one sitting and later on the next day, we all had a craving for some more sangria. Since this was a sweeter variety, thoughts went to dessert, and a new concoction was born:

A Sangria Float!
(just add a generous scoop of really good vanilla ice cream)

The next time you are feeling a little overheated, I suggest you turn to any of these creations in order to instantly feel cool, calm, and collec--er...well, maybe just those first two.

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