Food for Friday — Cantaloupe Cooler
When I first stumbled upon this recipe that the creator was calling Cantaloupe cooler – I immediately thought it was something alcoholic (like this) – which it isn’t.. but don’t you almost wish that it was? Yes, I’ve hit that stage of the reno: the part where coming home to a bottle of wine or maybe some cocktails sounds like the best idea EVER. Hopefully, you guys aren’t totally tired of hearing about it yet. The guys worked pretty hard this week and from what I hear all of my cabinets should be installed today and that the whole project except for the counters will be done in a week or 2 more. The counter installation might take another 3 weeks. I’m assured that a plywood substitute will work wonders in the meantime and then we’ll have a mostly functional, if strange looking, kitchen for when my in-laws arrive.
So, yeah, we’re still focused on simple recipes for the next little while. As promised, this week I’m delivering a banana-free smoothie. It can be dairy-free too, if that’s your thing. It is mine, in this particular situation – in which case, I’d call it a “cooler” instead of a “smoothie”. I won’t belabor the point — it’s exactly what you’d expect: refreshing and delicious. I think anytime you put mint and lime together, you’re well on your way to fantastic-town. That’s actually my recommendation here: pretty much take any really refreshing melon, add mint and lime, and you’re in business. And, ok fine, the mint can be optional too. It adds a lot to the whole thing, but I get it. Because, come on, how often do you have sprigs of fresh mint lying around and some days, you’re just in a hurry to use up that melon from the CSA box that’s about to go rotten. Ahem.
Since this smoothie is banana-less, we needed to find some other way to sweeten it. Granulated sugar just doesn’t have the right texture for a smoothie: it never really dissolves or distributes all that well. The best sweeteners to use are liquid. I’ve recommended honey for this recipe (Day of the Honey Bee is May 29th
) which is the liquid sweeter we have around most often and it works well. However, given that bees and therefore honey are getting harder to come by
, I thought I’d mention a couple of other options you could try. The first, is Agave Nectar
. It’s a liquid sweetener made from the agave plant – the same place that tequila comes from – and it’s a really excellent substitution for honey.
The other option is simple syrup. I like to keep simple syrup on hand in the summer months when I’m making a lot of cold drinks. Simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in water but it’s done in such a way as to get the maximum amount of sugar in the water. You get a liquid sweetener that isn’t going to water down your drink. The trouble of course, is that it requires you to make it ahead. To prepare it, you dissolve 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar in 1 cup of water by bringing it to a boil, stirring every so often. Once it’s dissolved, let the whole thing cool to room temperature and then pour it into a seal-able container (these are great
) and store it in the refrigerator.
1/2 medium cantaloupe, seeds scooped out and rind peeled
1 1/2 tblsp lime juice
1/4 cup mango juice (orange could work too)
1 tbsp honey or other liquid sweeter (as mentioned above)
1/4 cup of plain yogurt, optional
6 mint leaves, optional
Add all ingredients to the blender, liquids first, and blend. Adjust sweetener to taste. Adjust liquid as necessary. Pour over ice or into frosted glasses and enjoy.
I prefer this drink a bit more pourable than my thick PB and banana one from last week
. That’s why there’s so much additional liquid. You can also try omitting the yogurt, cutting back on the juice a little, and then mixing the cooler half and half with soda water or some gingerale. Then you’ve got something that more resembles a mocktail. In it’s original formulation, you’ve got something more like breakfast on the go!