By James Briscione

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.

Watermelon Cocktails

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.

Pickled Watermelon

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?)
  3. 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.
  4. Taco Tuesday – Thinly sliced or minced watermelon pickles are an awesome topping for tacos—especially grilled shrimp tacos!

Watermelon Relish/Salad

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:

  1. Spicy, Smoky Mezcal Cocktail
  2. Pickled Watermelon Rinds
  3. Watermelon and Charred Onion Relish

Recipe: Spicy, Smoky Mezcal Cocktail

Ingredients:

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)
Soda water

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. Add the triple sec, mezcal and stir. Then, stir in the watermelon juice and top with soda water if desired.

Recipe: Pickled Watermelon Rinds

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. 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!)
  2. Peel off the outer green rind with a knife or vegetable peeler and cut the rind into 1-inch cubes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Refrigerate overnight and eat within a month. Pickles must stay refrigerated.

Recipe: Watermelon and Charred Onion Relish

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve alone as a salad or spoon over grilled meat.

Ready to study Culinary Arts with Chef James? Click here for information on ICE’s Culinary Arts program. 

 

By Caitlin Gunther

Toasted-Almond and Coconut Ice Pops recipe

Recipe reprinted from In A Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Copyright © 2014 by Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. Photographs copyright © 2014 by Gentl & Hyers. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.

In celebration of Popsicle Week 2016, we’re sharing recipes for toasted-almond and coconut ice pops from In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds, by ICE chefs Cara Tannenbaum and Andrea Tutunjian. They’re so tasty you’ll gobble them up before they have the chance to melt.

Toasted-Almond Ice Pops

Ingredients

For the ice pops:

1 3⁄4 cups (14 ounces) almond milk

1⁄2 cup heavy cream

1⁄4 cup whole milk

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons almond butter

 

For finishing:

Light corn syrup (optional)

1 cup (4 ounces) crushed toasted sliced almonds

 

Preparation

  1. Place all the ingredients for the ice pops in a blender and mix well, 30 to 45 seconds.
  2. Pour the liquid into ice pop molds and set them in the freezer to freeze overnight.
  3. Remove the bars from the freezer. Working with a couple of bars at a time, remove bars from the ice pop molds.
  4. 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

Ingredients

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

 

For finishing:

Light corn syrup (optional)

1 cup (4 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

 

Preparation

  1. Place all the ingredients for the ice pops except the shredded coconut in a blender and mix well, 30 to 45 seconds.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the 1/2 cup shredded coconut.
  3. Pour the liquid into the ice pop molds and set in the freezer to freeze overnight.
  4. Remove the bars from the freezer. Working with a couple of bars at a time, remove bars from the ice pop molds.
  5. 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.

Want to learn how to make tasty desserts with our ICE instructors? Get more information about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

 

By James Distefano, Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor

Pastry & Baking Chef Instructor (and alum of NYC vegetable haven, Rouge Tomate) James Distefano shows PEOPLE magazine an unexpected way to eat not one, but two summertime treats. Watch him take you through each step in our video—then try the recipe yourself with his tips and directions below.

Looking for more recipes from PEOPLE & ICE? Click here for fried chicken sandwiches, French pastry made easy, knife skills and more.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

 

Recipe: 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

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Remove kernels from the cob and set aside. Cut cobs in quarters and reserve for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below).
  3. Spread kernels on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
  4. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
  5. Sprinkle with the sugar and season with a pinch of salt.
  6. Roast in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes or until the corn begins to color.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  8. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

Corn-Infused Heavy Cream:

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups reserved husks, silks and cobs

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in one large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Turn the heat off and steep for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
  4. After 15 minutes remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
  5. Store corn-infused heavy cream in an airtight container for at least 24 hours or up to two days in the refrigerator.
  6. 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.

Corn Ice Cream Base:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 cups corn-infused heavy cream, strained
  • 1 ½ cups roasted corn kernels

Directions:

  1. Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the corn-infused heavy cream.
  7. Whip the corn-infused heavy cream to medium peaks in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
  8. Fold one quarter of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream into the ice cream base and mix three quarters of the way.
  9. Add the last three quarters of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream along the with the roasted corn kernels to the ice cream base.
  10. Gently fold everything together until no visible streaks of whipped cream remain.
  11. Pour corn ice cream into an airtight container with a tight lid and freeze immediately.
  12. Allow to freeze for 24 hours before serving.

The ice cream will last for up to four days in the freezer.

Want more delicious dessert ideas from Chef James? Watch him stun Dr. Oz with what he can whip up, sign up for one of his recreational classes—or go pro and get more information about ICE’s professional pastry program.

http://blog.jamesbeard.org/2011/08/peach-recipes/

Summer is in full swing and the markets are filled with a bounty of delish fruit and vegetables. We’ve been spotting heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, blueberries, and tons and tons of stone fruit such as cherries, nectarines, and peaches. We were inspired to bake up a wonderful fruit pie. In the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE, students make a variety of pies including cherry, blueberry, and more. But this recipe comes from ICE Director of Pastry & Baking, Nick Malgieri’s class on Summer Fruit Pies. He says, “This fragrant almond crumb topped pie is perfect summer baking – it is fast to prepare and makes use of the best seasonal fruit.”

Ingredients
Almond Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose bleached flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sliced almonds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Pie:
Tart dough for one pie
3 pounds firm, ripe yellow-fleshed peaches, about 8 or 9 medium peaches
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose bleached flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 / 8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter More…

Subscribe to the ICE Blog