With the heat of August ushering in peak tomato harvest, I came up with a few recipes to get creative with summer’s favorite fruit, beginning with a rich, creamy cold soup from the Andalusia region of Spain called salmorejo. Everyone has heard of Spain’s most famous soup — the cold, refreshing gazpacho. Think of salmorejo as gazpacho’s velvety cousin: it’s rich with tasty Spanish olive oil, thickened with a bit of bread and as smooth as a perfect flan.
2 pounds tomatoes, quartered (look for the best you can find at the market)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 stalk celery, chopped
5 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
1 Serrano chili, seeded and chopped
12 ounces (1 small can) low-sodium tomato juice
½ teaspoon dry chili flakes
4 ounces white bread, torn or cubed and crust removed
⅓ cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
¾ cup good quality Spanish olive oil
Serrano ham, hard-boiled egg and chives for garnish (optional)
In a large, non-reactive vessel, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Mix well and marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, or preferably overnight for maximum flavor.
Working in batches, place the mixture in a Vitamix blender and slowly adjust the speed from the lowest to the highest setting. While the blender is running, slowly stream in the olive oil to emulsify. The color will change to a beautiful orange and the texture will become smooth and creamy. Repeat with remaining mixture.
Return mixture to the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving in chilled bowls. Top with chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped Serrano ham, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of freshly chopped chives (if desired).
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By Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts
If you are not familiar with clafoutis, please make yourself acquainted. It is one of the easiest desserts to make, not to mention an absolute showstopper.
Like a soufflé, this dessert puffs to great heights and begins to deflate moments after being removed from the oven. However, unlike a soufflé, clafoutis batter is super simple to make — just whisk the ingredients together and voila! There is no need to fret over under-whipped egg whites or over-folded batter. Clafoutis is made with whole eggs and yolks, plus some flour to bind the batter, making it foolproof to execute.
Summer is the perfect season for tucking into a freshly baked clafoutis. Many clafoutis recipes, particularly at this time of year, highlight cherries. This is because the clafoutis was first created in Limousin, France, a region celebrated for its black cherries. While I do love the classic cherry clafoutis, I find that clafoutis is even better suited for fruits with more tart and acidic qualities, like raspberries, blackberries, plums and apricots. I also enjoy topping it with chopped nuts and turbinado sugar, to give it a crunch to contrast its soft and delicate texture.
And don’t desert this fruity dessert after summer passes — it’s glorious at any time of year, particularly in the autumn when baked with thinly sliced Granny Smith apples or cranberries.
Summer Fruit Clafoutis Makes 8 servings
Softened unsalted butter and sugar (for the ramekins)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups fresh fruit, such as berries or sliced stone fruit
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
¼ cup chopped pistachios, optional
Place a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350° F. Lightly butter and sugar eight ramekins.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the eggs, yolks, cream and lemon zest and continue to whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in the melted butter.
Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins, evenly scatter the fruit over the top of the batter, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar and pistachios.
Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until puffed, set in the center and light golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). Serve warm, and with ice cream if desired.
Want to master seasonal desserts and more with Chef Jenny? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.
Soft serve ice cream is one of the true joys of summer. (On second thought, let’s be honest: we eat it year-round.) To satisfy our endless craving for soft serve, ICE Chef James Briscione shows us how to make three recipes for soft serve — each in under five minutes! As a bonus, two of them just happen to be vegan. Even better, the only kitchen equipment you’ll need is a hand blender and a jar.
First on the menu is Peanut Butter & Jelly — with raspberries and creamy peanut butter, it’s a sweet ‘n’ tasty throwback to your favorite lunchbox staple. Next is Spicy Mango Coconut, a refreshing tropical treat that gets a nice kick from fresh-cut chili. Chef James finishes with a silky Strawberries & Cream soft serve, hit with a touch of lemon zest to give it that extra je ne sais quoi.
Consider your days of ice cream truck chasing over.
You, too, can make ice cream, pastries and more like a pro — click here to learn about ICE’s career programs.
You haven’t lived until you’ve tried a steaming bowl of moules marinières — with ample crusty bread for soaking up every last drop of the garlicky broth. Lucky for you, Chef Sabrina Sexton shared with us her recipe for preparing this classic, French dish. These simple mussels steamed in white wine make the perfect, easy weeknight dinner.
Moules Marinières Servings: makes about 4 servings
64 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
16 fluid ounces dry white wine
2 ounces shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce parsley, minced
2 bay leaves
3 thyme sprigs
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 ounces butter
Combine the white wine, shallots, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper and butter in a large, tall pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover. Cook for 5 minutes to infuse the flavors.
Uncover the pot, return to boil and add the mussels. Cover and cook until the mussels have opened, stirring once.
Serve in bowls and spoon a generous amount of broth into each bowl.
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Is there anything better than corn in the summertime? To me, corn is one of the highlights of the season’s produce. As a kid spending summers at the Jersey shore, the last thing I wanted to do was leave the beach early and shuck corn for dinner (but I did love eating it!). Now, it’s one of my favorite summer ingredients to work with, its subtle sweetness giving it the versatility to work in many dishes. What’s more: whether you’re using it in a soup, salad or simply grilled and buttered, corn is an ingredient that doesn’t need a lot of gussying up.
When thinking about fresh ways to eat corn, I wanted to highlight its sweetness by combining it with another summertime staple: ice cream. You may not believe corn and dessert go together, but consider this: while we commonly think of corn as a part of a savory dish, it’s also in plenty of your favorite breakfast cereals.
The inspiration for this homemade corn ice cream comes from a former boss of mine, Richard Leach. Rich has an amazing talent for creating and pairing desserts with uncommon ingredients. When I was a young kid working for him in the mid-90s, putting corn in a dessert was a mind-expanding notion. One day when we were talking about food, he calmly asked me if I’d ever had a bowl of corn cereal with peaches in it. “Of course, I have,” I said quickly—and then realized what he was getting at. My mind melted. Corn: it wasn’t just for dinner anymore!
The best part about this recipe is that you can make it without an ice cream maker. If I haven’t convinced you of corn’s delicious virtues as a dessert, you can try adding different flavors (see my tip below) or keep it easy by just adding the vanilla extract to the cream for a simple ice cream. Here are some pro tips to help you out:
The scoop on the scoop: To get picture-perfect scoops of ice cream, dip your scoop into a tall container of warm water. The water will warm the scoop enough to enable you to dig into the ice cream and shape it into a nice round ball without the ice cream sticking to the surface. Just make sure to tap any excess water off of the scoop before digging in to avoid any messy dripping.
Flavor-ific: If you’d like to add another flavor, such as a spice, you can whip it with your egg yolks. If you’re keen on adding something else such as chocolate chips, candy or nuts, replace the amount of roasted corn kernels with the ingredient of your choosing. If you’d like to try adding fresh herbs, mint, cilantro or tarragon would all taste delicious with the corn! Add any of the above to the batter at the end when you’re folding in the whipped cream. For this recipe, two to three tablespoons of chopped herbs should be enough.
End results: To get the best from your eggs, let them come to room temperature because they will whip up more quickly and easily and hold more air (volume). To get the best results from your heavy cream, the cream and the bowl you will be using to whip in should be as cold as possible to whip up more quickly and easily and hold more volume. When you maximize the volume of both, your ice cream will be lighter and creamier!
Bowled over: Since most of us only have one KitchenAid bowl to work with at home, I’d recommend whipping the cream first and storing it in your refrigerator while you whip up the egg yolks, followed by the egg whites. Whipped cream tends to hold its volume (the air trapped during the whipping process) longer than either whipped yolks or whites.
Whip it good: To get the most out of your whipping cream, set the speed on your mixer between seven and eight or medium-high. At this speed, as the cream is whipping, the whisk will “cut” more evenly sized air bubbles into the cream. This is important because uniform air bubbles will “pop” closer to the same rate, whereas if you whip your cream on high speed, you will have irregular sized air bubbles—some large, some small—meaning your whipped cream will deflate more quickly than you want…and nobody wants to feel deflated!
Sweet Corn Ice Cream Yield: 3 quarts
For the Roasted Corn Kernels:
3 ears corn (approximately 1 ½ cups kernels), shucked, silks and husks reserved for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2-3 tablespoon sugar
Pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 350 F°.
Remove kernels from the cob and set aside. Cut cobs in quarters and reserve for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below).
Spread kernels on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
Sprinkle with the sugar and season with a pinch of salt.
Roast in the oven at 350 F° for 15 minutes or until the corn begins to color.
Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.
For the Corn-Infused Heavy Cream:
3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups reserved husks, silks and cobs
Combine all of the ingredients in one large pot.
Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Turn the heat off and steep for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
After 15 minutes remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
Store corn-infused heavy cream in an airtight container for at least 24 hours or up to two days in the refrigerator.
The following day, strain the infused cream through a colander to make the corn ice cream base (recipe below). You need to make sure you wind up with three cups. Add fresh cream to make up the difference if needed.
For the Corn Ice Cream Base:
4 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
3 cups corn-infused heavy cream, strained
1 ½ cups roasted corn kernels
Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
Whip on high speed until pale, thick and ribbony, make sure all of the sugar has dissolved. This should take three to four minutes. Remove whipped yolk base from the bowl and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Keep cold. Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the egg whites.
Place egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer and begin whipping on medium speed until medium peak.
Once egg whites are at medium peak, slowly add in the remaining one cup of sugar. Once all of the sugar is in, turn the machine up to high speed and continue to whip until the meringue looks like shaving cream. It will be light, fluffy and glossy looking.
In three separate stages, gently fold the meringue (egg white mixture) into the egg yolk base, only folding about three quarters of the way. This will help prevent over mixing. After the third addition of meringue has been folded in, place back into the refrigerator to keep cold.
Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the corn-infused heavy cream.
Whip the corn-infused heavy cream to medium peaks in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
Fold one quarter of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream into the ice cream base and mix three quarters of the way.
Add the last three quarters of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream along the with the roasted corn kernels to the ice cream base.
Gently fold everything together until no visible streaks of whipped cream remain.
Pour corn ice cream into an airtight container with a tight lid and freeze immediately.
Allow to freeze for 24 hours before serving.
*Ice cream will last for up to four days in the freezer.
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By Jenny McCoy — Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
The strawberry shortcake — one of the most quintessential American desserts – has seen an evolution like none other.
It started out as a dessert made in the springtime to celebrate the strawberry harvest season. Made of layers of crumbly biscuit or shortbread-like cakes, sweetened cream and strawberries, it was a simple dessert with a gorgeous composition of textures and flavors — soft and creamy, a bit crisp, a bit acidic and ever so sweet. Over time, as chemical-leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder became more popular in cake recipes, the shortcake used in some recipes became more cake-like, eventually becoming anything from a pound cake to a sponge cake.
I’ve tasted many variations on the strawberry shortcake, from a fancy entremet with precisely even layers of white chocolate cake, whipped mascarpone, strawberry gelée and strawberry sorbet, to strawberry shortcake-flavored OREO™ cookies. However, my absolute favorite of the less-than-traditional interpretations of the dessert is the Strawberry Shortcake Dessert Bar made by Good Humor. Growing up, when the ice cream truck rolled through my neighborhood, they were always my first pick. I would enjoy eating the sweet crumbly coating of the bars first, then slowly work my way to the electric pink strawberry ice cream center.
So this spring, I decided to recreate my childhood treat from scratch. Instead of the original strawberry ice cream center surrounded by vanilla ice cream, I decided to marry the two. I swirled homemade strawberry jam in churned vanilla bean ice cream. The result is downright delicious. And as for the cake part of the ice cream bar (which is actually more like cookies), I ground up freshly baked sugar cookies with freeze-dried strawberries and melted butter, to make what is almost like a hot pink cookie piecrust, and generously coated the ice cream bars by rolling them in the mixture.
What’s your favorite version of the classic strawberry shortcake — biscuits or pound cake? Or do you deviate completely from the original and love something crazy like strawberry shortcake-flavored chewing gum? Try out my take on strawberry shortcake ice cream pops and let us know what you think.
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars Makes about 8 servings
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the freezer.
Combine the cookie crumbs and strawberries in a food processor and drizzle with butter. Pulse a few times to mix. Spread the mixture on a large plate.
Remove each ice pop by dipping molds briefly in hot water or let stand at room temperature for a few minutes. Quickly remove one ice pop at a time from the mold and dip in crumbs, turning over to coat and pressing to adhere. Transfer the ice pops to the baking sheet in the freezer and let them set until firm, at least 20 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Pops Makes about 1 quart
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
6 large egg yolks
½ to ¾ cup strawberry jam (recipe below)
In a medium pot, bring the milk, cream, salt, vanilla bean and ¼ cup of sugar to a boil. Turn off heat and let steep at room temperature for 10 minutes; return to a rolling boil.
Whisk the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Gently temper the yolks by slowly adding hot cream mixture while whisking constantly. Once completely combined, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Place the bowl of ice cream base over another bowl of ice water and stir until cool.
Churn the ice cream base mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the churned ice cream to a large mixing bowl, layering large dollops of strawberry jam in between large spoonfuls of ice cream. Fold once or twice to swirl the jam into the ice cream. Divide the softened ice cream among ice-pop molds, insert sticks and freeze until firm, at least four hours or up to one week.
Strawberry Jam Yield: Makes about 2 cups
½ pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
1 ½ teaspoons pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and salt. Mash the berries until they are crushed. Sprinkle the pectin over the top of the mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let stand at room temperature until cool. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Sugar Cookie Crumbs Makes about 1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Divide the dough in half and roll out onto a floured surface until about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the sheet of dough to a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Bake until light golden brown and set, 14 to 18 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until room temperature. Break the dough into small pieces and grind in a food processor until crumbs. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Want to take your pastry skills to the next level? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.
By Jenny McCoy — Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
As Chef Jenny explained in her previous post, the virtues of shrubs — those trending drinking vinegars made from a combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar — are many. For one thing, they aid in digestion and keep blood sugar levels in check. They also happen to mix well with most spirits, making them the perfect, healthy-ish mixer for cocktails at your Memorial Day barbecue. That’s why Chef Jenny concocted a seasonal, dangerously tasty strawberry-rhubarb shrub — serve with your spirit of choice or a splash of soda water on ice, and feel good about your beverage choice this Memorial Day.
For the drinking vinegar base Yield: Makes about 6 servings
8 ounces strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped
8 ounces rhubarb, cleaned, leaves removed and thinly sliced
½ cup light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup white wine vinegar
In a medium pot, combine strawberries, rhubarb, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a simmer and the fruit begins to break down. Reduce heat to low, add white wine vinegar, cover and cook until the fruit has turned to mush and has released all of its juices, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the fruit pulp. Refrigerate the liquid until cold and serve in cocktail (recipe below) or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For the cocktail Yield: Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces vodka, or spirit of choice
4 ounces Strawberry-Rhubarb Shrub
2 ounces soda water
Splash of white wine vinegar
Strawberries, for garnish (optional)
In a rocks glass, fill to the top with ice cubes, add the vodka, shrub, soda water and white wine vinegar. Stir, garnish with a piece of strawberry and serve immediately.
* Since the Strawberry-Rhubarb drinking vinegar base in this cocktail has a dual flavor — strawberry and rhubarb — I like to double the ratio in my cocktail so the flavors really stand out against the spirit and soda water. Of course, if you’d prefer the traditional ratio of 1 part drinking vinegar, 1 part spirit and 1 part soda, that works, too!
Ready to learn how to create sweet dishes like the pros? Click here for more information on our Pastry & Baking Arts program.
ByJenny McCoy—Chef Instructor,School of Pastry & Baking Arts
As the summer nears its end, tables at the greenmarket abound with gorgeous fruits and veggies—produce that will be sadly missed in just a few months time. Yet in the modern kitchen, an age-old cooking technique exists to keep enjoying those summery ingredients during chillier months—preservation.
For ages, humans have applied a variety of methods to preserve food, through drying, curing, fermentation, pickling and salting. But in 18th century France, Nicolas Appert, a maverick chef, began researching how to preserve foods in a new way, one that would maintain foods closer to their original fresh state. Initially, he believed that removing the presence of air from stored foods would help them last longer. Though a lesser amount of air can aid the preservation process, he wasn’t quite right. Inspired by a contest organized by Napoleon as a means for feeding the military, Appert continued his food preservation experimentation. Eventually, he found a heating process that could allow foods to remain unspoiled for long lengths of time. A decade and a half of his research resulted in a method we still use today: glass jars filled with foods, then corked and sealed with wax. The jars are then boiled until hot enough to kill microbes that cause food to rapidly spoil, pasteurizing their contents. Appert is credited with the “how-to” of this technique; yet it was later that we learned why it works (thanks, Louis Pasteur). Today we have incredibly easy-to-use canning jars which have screw-top lids and rubber rings in place of cork and wax, which create a vacuum when heated, resulting in a hermetic seal (thank you, John Landis Mason).
credit: Casey Feehan
Coming back to the present day, I recently paid a visit to Grand Army Plaza, home of Brooklyn’s largest farmers’ market, and loaded up my son’s little red wagon. Courtesy of the enormous assortment grown by Phillips Farms, I did a one-stop-shop and rolled away with flats of blackberries and blueberries, more than a stone of white nectarines, pluots and Jersey peaches, Kirby cucumbers, serrano chiles and jalapeños, and enough varieties of tomatoes to warrant a separate blog post. My neighbor and I shared the bounty and eight hours of canning commenced. We deviated from the classics and made nectarine-coriander mostarda, blueberry-thyme jam and tomato-peach salsa. But we also honored tradition and made good old peach preserves with a hint of lemon and vanilla bean, garlic and dill spears, blackberry jelly, bread and butter slices, and a pack of pickled peppers. After all the gallons of water boiled and dozens of jars filled, the following recipe stood out from the rest, plus: I’ve included a set of simple steps on how to properly can using the water bath method.
credit: Casey Feehan
Recipe: Blueberry-Thyme Jam
Yield: About 4 cups
2 pints blueberries
2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
8 to 12 sprigs of fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
Pectin, as needed
In a medium saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, water, lemon zest and thyme until mixture is simmering and berries are broken down.
Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. (For faster cooking, mix 1 teaspoon of pectin with 1 teaspoon of sugar and slowly sprinkle over blueberries while stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to boil for a minute to activate the pectin.)
To test the jam for doneness, drop a small spoonful on a cold plate. If the jam develops a skin once cooled, it is thick enough. If it is too thin, continue to either reduce the jam or add more pectin and sugar until desired thickness is achieved. Can the mixture while it’s hot or let cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to can (using the below steps).
How to Hot Water Bath Can:
Sterilize your canning jars prior to filling. You can do this by placing them in boiling water for one minute (without the lids on!), or by running them through the dishwasher. Wash the lids in hot soapy water. Allow the jars and lids to air dry (do not towel dry as this will negate your sterilization efforts).
Fill your jars with hot, warm or room temperature foods (you can also can cold foods, but they take longer to pasteurize so I don’t recommend it). I suggest filling the jars with really hot foods to speed up the canning process. Also, a canning funnel will make life a lot easier. Gently tap the jars on a hard surface to remove air bubbles.
Be sure to wipe any spills or drips on the edge of the jars with a clean paper towel, as they must be clean and dry before closing. Do not use a kitchen towel or your fingers, as this will introduce bacteria into your sterilized jars. When you screw on the lids, secure them tightly—but not as tight as possible.
Set a metal rack on the bottom of a large pot. (The pot must be at least two inches taller than your canning jars.) If you don’t have a rack, fashion a ½- to 1-inch thick pad made of scrunched up aluminum foil. This helps the jars from being set directly on the bottom of the pot, which causes them to rattle around as they boil.
Fill the pot with water to a couple inches from the top and bring to a rolling boil.
Using tongs, carefully place each jar into the boiling water, allowing at least an inch of space around each jar and making sure that there is at least one inch of water above the tops of the jars. You may need to remove some water if your pot threatens to overflow. Cover the pot.
Once the water has returned to a full, rolling boil, set a timer.
For jars filled with hot foods, boil the jars for at least 30 seconds for every ounce. For example, an 8-ounce jar will boil for 4 minutes.
For jars filled with room temperature foods, boil the jars for 1 minute for every ounce. For example, an 8-ounce jar will boil for 8 minutes.
Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the jars with tongs and set them on a towel-lined countertop. Let them stand at room temperature until completely cool, up to several hours. Do not touch the lids until they are completely cooled, as you may inadvertently seal them by hand. If you hear snapping sounds, don’t worry—that is the vacuum sealing doing its job. Once the jars are at room temperature, any of the jars that did not seal properly can be stored in the refrigerator and eaten immediately. Otherwise, the rest of the canned goods can be stored in the pantry until the seasons change and you crave deliciously sweet raspberries in the dead of winter.
Want to study with Chef Jenny? Click here to get more info about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.
I’ll spare you the standard “When I was kid…summertime/hot day…watermelon juices dripping down my chin…aww, memories” introduction. Instead, I’ll proudly tell you that watermelon is the first food I ever grew myself. Okay, this might still fall under the category of a “When I was a kid” intro, but bear with me. Nearly 30 years later, I still remember digging a small hole in the sandy lot behind our house in Florida and carefully placing the seeds I had saved from a watermelon that my mom brought home from the supermarket. I also remember the excruciating patience it took seven-year-old me as I watered, watched and waited for that vine to produce my favorite fruit in the world.
Since then, my tastes have not changed. In New York City, I don’t have a backyard for growing watermelons, but you might catch me pushing a stroller down the sidewalk with a watermelon crammed into the seat next to my son (they don’t fit beneath).
While I have been known to simply crack a watermelon open and eat the entire thing with a spoon in a matter of hours, this tactic for watermelon enjoyment ignores the awesome versatility of this summertime staple. If you want to do more with your watermelon than eat it straight off the cutting board in a sloppy mess, read on and we’ll get watermelon into everything on your table, from cocktails to salads.
I had you at cocktail, right? Watermelon juice is the perfect mixer for almost every type of drink. In fact, whenever we shake up some watermelon cocktails at home, the kids get their own watermelon mocktails with soda water and a twist of lime. Watermelon juice is incredibly simple to make, but keep in mind that it should be used the same day it was made. The flavor of the juice changes noticeably after just 24 hours. Feel free to make a big batch early in the day and enjoy it that afternoon or evening. If you have any leftover (though I can’t imagine you would), finish it off at breakfast—maybe with a splash of Prosecco!
To make the juice, simply cube or scoop out the watermelon’s pink flesh, making sure to not scoop too close to the rind—the light colored flesh has very little flavor. Toss the watermelon cubes into a blender or food processor and blend on low. Puréeing the fruit at high speed can pulverize seeds making the juice bitter or break down the pulp too much, which could lead to a gritty texture. Once blended, pour through a fine mesh sieve. Mezcal gives this drink a smoky kick and jalapeño adds the spice, but if smoky isn’t your thing, mix it with tequila or vodka.
With a watermelon cocktail in hand, you might be staring at all the leftover rinds and wondering: what now? Pickles, that’s what. To make watermelon pickles, you need to trim the tough green skin from the rind. A sharp knife is the best way to accomplish this: simply shave down the side of the melon, keeping the white rind. With all the green skin removed, cut the watermelon into slices, then cube them. You’ll want a bit of the pink fruit still on the white rind. From there, make an aromatic pickling liquid and bring the cleaned rinds to a boil to help tenderize them. Then, transfer the rinds and the liquid to clean jars and cool to room temperature before covering with a lid and placing in the refrigerator. Twenty-four hours later, they’re ready to go (plus, they’ll stay good in the fridge for up to one month)! Scratching your head over how to use them? Try out your watermelon pickles with these ideas:
Thai-style salad – Cut pickles into thin slices and toss them with shredded carrots, scallions, sliced cucumbers, peanuts, cilantro and mint. Then dress the mixture with a splash of fish sauce and lime juice. Serve with or without grilled meats.
Straight from the jar – Serve pickles on a platter with cheeses, olives and charcuterie for the perfect summertime cocktail hour nibbles. (Maybe while enjoying a watermelon cocktail?)
With bacon – It’s never a bad decision to add bacon. Wrap the cubes of watermelon pickles in bacon and secure with a toothpick. Then broil or grill to crisp the bacon for a dead-easy hors d’oeuvre.
Taco Tuesday – Thinly sliced or minced watermelon pickles are an awesome topping for tacos—especially grilled shrimp tacos!
I learned to make this recipe when I was working for Frank Stitt at Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham, AL. When Alabama watermelons were at their peak, we would dice them up, add grilled onions, mint, vinegar and olive oil and then spoon it over grilled steak. (Skirt steak is the best option here, IMHO.) It’s a recipe I still make today, beefing up the ingredients a bit to make it equal parts topping and salad (so no meat is required). Go ahead and make it your own by adding even more ingredients: cucumbers, arugula or some cooked and toasted grains could turn this into a full-fledged meal.
Now get out there and show those watermelons some love!
Three Ways to Watermelon:
Spicy, Smoky Mezcal Cocktail
Pickled Watermelon Rinds
Watermelon and Charred Onion Relish
Recipe: Spicy, Smoky Mezcal Cocktail
1 lime wedge
2 slices jalapeño pepper
1 oz. triple sec
1 1/2 oz. mezcal or tequila
2 ounces fresh watermelon juice (see directions above)
Place the lime and jalapeño slices in the bottom of a glass; crush with a muddler to release the lime juice and lightly crush the jalapeño.
Add the triple sec, mezcal and stir. Then, stir in the watermelon juice and top with soda water if desired.
Recipe: Pickled Watermelon Rinds
Rind from one half of a five-pound watermelon (approximately 1 pound)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
Scoop out the melon, leaving about 1/4- to 1/2-inch of pink flesh. (Use the rest of the flesh for the watermelon cocktail or salad recipes!)
Peel off the outer green rind with a knife or vegetable peeler and cut the rind into 1-inch cubes.
Bring the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, ginger, salt and spices to a boil over medium-high heat in a medium 2-quart saucepan. Hold the boil for 60 seconds and then carefully add the watermelon rinds. Return to a boil and turn off the heat. Remove the saucepan from heat and cool mixture for 30 minutes.
Remove the pickles to jars. Pour over as much of the pickling juice as possible. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with lids.
Refrigerate overnight and eat within a month. Pickles must stay refrigerated.
Recipe: Watermelon and Charred Onion Relish
2 cups diced watermelon
1 medium red onion, sliced 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick rounds
1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup olives, pitted and halved
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Brush the sliced onions with oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill until charred on both sides. Remove from the grill, let cool and dice.
In a bowl, combine the watermelon, diced grilled onion, mint, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, vinegar and olive oil and mix gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve alone as a salad or spoon over grilled meat.
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With the sun shining and the mercury rising, just the thought of baking can seem ludicrous. What’s the lover of sweets to do? The answer: break out those ice pop molds. These sweet treats on a stick have endless flavor potential and are the perfect way to indulge your sweet tooth throughout the summer.
Place all the ingredients for the ice pops in a blender and mix well, 30 to 45 seconds.
Pour the liquid into ice pop molds and set them in the freezer to freeze overnight.
Remove the bars from the freezer. Working with a couple of bars at a time, remove bars from the ice pop molds.
Dip a bar in warm water to melt it slightly, or brush it with light corn syrup. Press the bar into the crushed almonds, covering it on all sides. Place on a parchment-lined pan and return it to the freezer until ready to serve. Repeat with the remaining bars. Store the bars, wrapped well in plastic wrap, for up to one week.
Coconut Ice Pops
For the ice pops:
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut
Light corn syrup (optional)
1 cup (4 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
Place all the ingredients for the ice pops except the shredded coconut in a blender and mix well, 30 to 45 seconds.
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
Pour the liquid into the ice pop molds and set in the freezer to freeze overnight.
Remove the bars from the freezer. Working with a couple of bars at a time, remove bars from the ice pop molds.
Dip a bar in warm water to melt it slightly, or brush with light corn syrup. Press the bar into the toasted coconut, covering it on all sides. Place on a parchment-lined pan and return it to the freezer. Repeat with the remaining bars. Serve immediately or store, wrapped well in plastic wrap, in the freezer for up to one week.