Summer Refresher Course

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect meal to help our family cool off this summer.  Following are a few fail safe Mexican-inspired recipes that will not only satiate your appetite, but make you pretty popular with your family and neighbors.

Martha Stewart’s Honeydew Agua Fresca – Tired of the tried and true mint lemonade and peach iced-tea recipes? Don’t be bored by your summer beverages — enjoy this refreshing traditional Mexican fruit drink in just a few minutes.

Serves 10

14 cups honeydew melon or cantaloupe (from a 5-pound melon)
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 limes)
Ice
2 cups raspberries

Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a large pitcher or jug. In batches, in a food processor or blender, puree melon until smooth. Pour melon puree through sieve, pressing on solids with a rubber spatula (you should have about 4 cups juice).

In a small bowl, combine superfine sugar and fresh lime juice; stir until sugar dissolves. Add lime mixture and 4 cups water to melon juice and mix well. Adjust sweetness with more sugar if desired. (Mixture can be refrigerated, up to 2 days.) To serve, add plenty of ice and 2 cups raspberries.

101 Cookbook’s Summer Corn Salad – Fresh corn is easy to find in the summer at the farmers’ market and this tasty salad is quick to make and a big hit with adults and children, alike.

Serves 6 or more.
Prep time: 10 min

6 ears of corn
1 large shallot, minced
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
v. scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g toasted pepitas
3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g toasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Shuck the corn and use a knife to cut the kernels from the cobs. Place the kernels in a medium bowl with the shallot while you make the dressing.

Combine the lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a small bowl or jar. Gradually add the oil, whisking vigorously until the dressing comes together. Taste, and adjust with more lemon juice, salt or sugar, if needed. This dressing should be on the sweet side, not overly tangy.

Just before serving, add the seeds to the bowl of corn along with 2/3 of the dressing. Toss well, really get everything well coated. If you want more dressing, add more to taste. Crush the oregano between your palms and let it shower down on to the salad. Toss one more time and serve.

Epicurious’ Fresh Fruit Ice Trio: Lime, Watermelon & Pineapple (by Lourdes Castro, Simply Mexican) – Having lived in Los Angeles, I’ve had the great fortune of savoring the Mexican street vendor fruit cocktail. This ice cold dessert is inspired by the plastic bag-fruit-concoction and is a perfect way to end a meal.

Serves 6

Lime
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)
Finely grated zest of 3 limes

Watermelon
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
4 cups chopped seedless watermelon (about 3 pounds whole fruit), rind removed
Juice of 1 lime

Pineapple
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, chopped (about 3 cups)

LIME
Prepare a Simple Syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Add the Lime Juice and Freeze. Pour the simple syrup and lime juice in a 9 by 11-inch nonreactive baking pan and stir in the lime zest. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. After 1 hour, stir the mixture well, using a fork. Return to the freezer for another hour, then stir again. Allow the mixture to freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight (it is not necessary to continue stirring after you have done it twice).

Serve. Remove the pan from the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the fruit ice and serve it in a small bowl.

WATERMELON
Prepare a Simple Syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Puree the Watermelon and Freeze. Puree the watermelon chunks (it is fine if small seeds are still attached) in a blender until smooth. Pour the simple syrup, lime juice, and watermelon puree in a 9 by 11-inch nonreactive baking pan and stir well. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. After 1 hour, stir the mixture well, using a fork. Return to the freezer for another hour, then stir again. This time allow the mixture to freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight (it is not necessary to continue stirring after you have done it twice).

Serve
Remove the pan from the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the fruit ice and serve it in a small bowl.

PINEAPPLE
Prepare a Simple Syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Puree the Pineapple and Freeze. Puree the pineapple chunks in a blender until smooth. Pour the simple syrup and pineapple puree in a 9 by 11-inch nonreactive baking pan and stir well. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. After 1 hour, stir the mixture well using a fork. Return to the freezer for another hour, then stir again. This time allow the mixture to freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight (it is not necessary to continue stirring after you have done it twice).

Serve
Remove the pan from the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the fruit ice and serve it in a small bowl.