Thursday, August 28, 2014

Last Call For Summer Melons: Watermelon Dill Martini

Yes, you read that right. Dill in your martini!  Don't worry I promise you won't feel like you are drinking your garden or an over complicated craft cocktail.  This martini is super simple to make and can be made in a big batch for your Labor Day beach or backyard party.  The fresh watermelon juice is this cucumber dill infused vodka's prefect juicy, sweet companion.

Watermelon juice is a natural anti-inflammatory and great for sore muscles.  It is also super hydrating, full of antioxidants and helps with detoxing your kidneys.  So you see it's a detox on it's own and well, with my infused vodka, a retox!  Simple, fresh and  delicious!

I admit I'm trying to savor summer for as long as I can with this martini.  Don't get me wrong, I am a true pumpkin lover, forever a scarf wearer and love the warm aromas of a savory fall dish in my kitchen.  However, summer is where my heart belongs with the vibrant colors of it's fresh fruits and veggies.  Besides it's 95 degrees here and I don't see any signs of cooler weather coming our way soon.  So run and get the last of those watermelons, juice them up, and amp them up, with some lime, mint or infused vodka!

Watermelon Dill Martini

6 ounces watermelon juice (see recipe below)
2 ounces cucumber dill infused vodka (see recipe below)
1/2 small lime, juiced 
Fresh dill sprig for garnish (optional)

Pour the watermelon juice, cucumber dill infused vodka and lime juice into an ice filled shaker.  Shake vigorously until chilled.  Pour the cocktail into a martini glass. Garnish with dill sprig if desired.  Makes 1 serving.

Watermelon Juice

1 small seedless watermelon

Cut the watermelon in half and then each half into quarters.  Using a spoon scrape 4 of the 8 quarters into a blender.  Blend until liquefied.  Pour the watermelon juice into a large jar through a fine mesh sieve.  Repeat with the other 4 quarters of the watermelon.  Store in the refrigerator in an air tight container for up to one week.  Makes about 4 cups.

Cucumber Dill Infused Vodka

1/2 large cucumber, sliced
2-3 sprigs of fresh dill (you can substitute mint here)
3 cups vodka

Place all the ingredients into an airtight jar.  Seal tight and store at room temperature for 3 days.  Remove the cucumber and dill and discard.  Store the infused vodka in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.  

NOTE:  The cucumber dill infused vodka can also be used for a number of other cocktail including; a Bloody Mary, a straight up martini, or just add soda water and lemon! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Last Call For Summer Melons: Cantaloupe Bruschetta

A few weeks ago Greg and I went back to Pennsylvania for my family reunion.  The weather was unseasonably perfect with very low humidity.  This made it possible for us to sit out on my Aunt and Uncle's deck to enjoy every meal together, with wine and cocktails in between. The converstions were endless full of story telling, catching up, very loud laughter and funny banter between the cousins.

But if you know me and my family, you know that when we get together the biggest discussion is always what we are eating next.  No really, you could be just taking your first bite of your breakfast and someone at the table is already asking what we are having for lunch.  Fortunately for all of us, our long weekend together did not disappoint when it came to food.  There was seafood night which included crabs, and clams for days, some of my favorite Cambodian meals, and appetizer night made by all of the cousins.  Even the little kids helped out!  

Each couple was to prepare two appetizers to share and everyone was so creative!  We had mini shrimp tacos, two kinds of chicken skewers, pulled pork sliders that Greg will be sharing soon to kick of football season, bacon wrapped scallops, a creamy spinach and artichoke dip, a fresh tabouli salad and of course mini pizza's for the kids.  (There was more but the list would be really long!)  What stuck out to me the most that night was cantaloupe wrapped in roast beef, which in turn inspired this bruschetta.  I had forgotten how wonderful a delightfully sweet cantaloupe can pair with something salty and make such a great summer appetizer.  So while summer is ending and our vacations are over,  I thought what a nice way to remember how sweet summer was and how lovely it was to spend four amazing (slightly over indulgent) days with my family.

Cantaloupe Bruschetta

1-1/2 cups cantaloupe, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup fresh Mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 French baguette, sliced
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar, high quality
1/4 lb Prosciutto or Roast Beef, thinly sliced (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the baguette slices with olive oil.  Place the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes until warmed an slightly brown.

In a medium bowl combine the cantaloupe, mozzarella and basil.  If using the prosciutto or roast beef place half a slice of the meat on top of the toasted baguette then top with the cantaloupe mixture and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  If you are not using the meat simply top the toasted baguette with the cantaloupe mixture and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Makes about 20-25 pieces.