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Volume 39 Issue 17 • Aug 27 - Sept 2, 2009
now in our 39th season

Keeping Cool

by Jenn Farmer
Sous Chef at Bartlett's Farm

Wow the humidity this week has been brutal!  I have not really wanted to do much cooking, or eating for that matter.  Luckily with all the lovely local produce in season, it has been easy to make scrumptious raw, or sautéed meals.  The obvious choice is of course a fresh salad.  I myself love a good chopped salad with radishes, carrots, scallions, tomatoes, carrots, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, and any other raw vegetable that I can imagine, dressed with vinaigrette.  Add some seafood, or grilled meat and a chilled glass of wine for a simple but satisfying meal. 

 Though salads are great I have to admit that we have been indulging in chilled melon soup at home.  It is an easy choice since my son loves it, and melons are now locally in season.  Plus there is nothing much more refreshing than melons and cucumbers.  Add a little mint to this recipe, and you will feel cooler instantly ( I mean temperature wise, I cannot attest to anyone’s coolness, though I would like to think that eating this soup could makes people immeasurably cooler,  but I digress).  This recipe might be a little on the sweet side for some people, so I recommend it for dessert or a palate cleansing mid-course.    

Chilled Melon and Cucumber soup

Serves about 8

  • 1 large seedless Watermelon (about 6 pounds)
  • 1 Cantaloupe (about 1 pound)
  • 1 Honeydew melon (about 1 pound)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1- 2 sprigs Mint
  • 1 oz.  Watermelon schnapps (optional)
  • 1 T. Lemon Juice (optional)

Peel and chop the watermelon coarsely, puree in blender.  Strain the pureed melon through a coarse strainer; this will be the base of your soup.  Keep the watermelon liquid chilled while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Peel and seed the cantaloupe and honeydew melons.  Small dice both melons and mix into the chilled watermelon puree.  Peel and remove the seeds from the cucumber, then small dice it.  Add to the melon mixture.  Finely chiffonade the mint leaves and add to the soup.  Add the watermelon schnapps.  If you are omitting the schnapps you may want to add some white granulated sugar or honey to bring out the melon flavors.  Taste, and adjust the seasoning.  Add a little lemon juice if you wish, and enjoy. 

Speaking of melon, I recently ate a wonderful and clever watermelon dessert.  It was basically a rum and vanilla flavored frozen dessert, but it was topped with shaved bittersweet chocolate and under it was a lovely wedge of sweet watermelon.  It was so good, and so unique.  Here is my version of this fun dish.  You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe.  If you are not feeling ambitious, go out and buy a pint of nice vanilla, rum, or even chocolate chip flavored ice cream, and serve on watermelon wedges with (or without) chocolate, it will still be very good! 

Watermelon Dessert

  • 1 and 2/3 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 T dark rum
  • 1 half  tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 /3 cup cream
  • 1 medium watermelon
  • 1 oz bittersweet chocolate shavings or shaved from bar

Make certain that all ingredients (except cream cheese) are very cold before beginning this recipe.    Combine the cheeses, milk, sugar, rum, vanilla, and salt.  Pulse them in the blender until they are combined and smooth.  Add cream and blend for few seconds.  Following the manufacturer’s directions, make the mixture into ice cream, using your ice cream freezer.  After processing, freeze the mixture until solid, this takes 4 hours or overnight.  Cut the watermelon into nice wedges, top with a scoop of the “ice cream” and add chocolate shavings.  Serves several.

My son and I have been very much enjoying the local blackberries, which are starting to ripen.  Every day we see a few more sweet dark berries on the thorny bramble bushes.  They are delightful.  Blackberries go exceptionally well with another summer fruit which is just becoming available, peaches (or nectarines)!  The peaches grown in New England are so sweet, smooth, and delicious, what a great compliment to the slightly tart, almost earthy, blackberry. 

Though I haven’t seen them yet, my favorite peach grown in New England is the white peach.  Last year they tended to be juicier and sweeter than their yellow fleshed family members (which were still delicious!).  I cannot wait for my first good peach of the season.  I really love to eat them, but there is nothing to compare to the scent of a nice ripe peach, it is fragrant, and sweet, and makes my mouth water just thinking of it.    

I love blackberry and peach crisp, crumble, cobbler, or pie.  But since it is so hot, I have avoided baking entirely, so I turn to other alternatives.  A nice green salad with slices of fresh peach and blackberries tossed with crumbled farm cheese and nice lemony vinaigrette is wonderful.  I also love to make popsicles.  They are a simple and nice healthy treat.  Just add blackberries or peaches (or both) to a compatibly flavored fruit juice and freeze in popsicle molds or paper cups with popsicle sticks. A little cream or half and half and vanilla can be added to the juice to create a creamsicle flavored popsicle.      

Blackberry and Peach Parfait 

  • 1/ 2 pint blackberries
  • 1 peach or nectarine
  • 2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt (I love Greek strained yogurt)
  • 1 cup granola

Wash and prepare the blackberries.  Cut up the peach or nectarine into bite sized pieces. Using four pretty clear glasses or cups layer the yogurt, fruit, and granola into an attractive display. I love to use Greek strained yogurt for its mild flavor, and very creamy, decadent texture.  Normally I am not a plain yogurt eater, but Greek yogurt has changed my mind, and I highly recommend its use in this recipe.  This is a good served as a healthy breakfast, snack or dessert.  Serves 4.

Another flavor combination that is wonderful is peach, blackberry and whiskey.  I make a very cooling iced tea with a little peach juice or fresh peach, blackberries, sugar, and a little bourbon.  It is refreshing, and full of flavor.  Bread pudding with fresh berries, and peaches, topped with a whiskey or bourbon glaze is another favorite from home.  It has all the right elements, and is very complimentary together.  Even putting the fruit over a little ice cream with a splash of whiskey makes for a great adult sundae in the summer.  If you enjoy whiskey, give it a try, I doubt you will be disappointed. 

So try to keep cool, and enjoy all this bountiful (albeit humid) summer has to offer.

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