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Refreshing fruit cocktails beat the heat of a long summer

A Watermelon Margarita is perfect for summer.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

A Watermelon Margarita is perfect for summer.

Let's be real: Here in Florida, we could use a fruity, frozen cocktail 10 months out of the year. But as we head into the height of summer, dips in the pool and sips from a frosted glass are necessities. � Pureed watermelon, frozen margaritas, fresh mint — they all pair well with the unrelenting heat of the Sunshine State. Fruity cocktails can get a party going and cool your guests off at the same time. Plus, fruit juices and purees are a healthier alternative to other mixers like sugary soda. So find a shady spot in the back yard (bonus points if there's a pool!) and pour something refreshing for friends and family.

Supplies

Alcohol We're sticking with lighter liquors for these refreshing drinks. Think vodka, tequila, gin and light rum.

Fresh herbs Basil and mint are must-have garnishes.

Simple syrup This mixture is a necessity for fruit cocktails. To make simple syrup, heat equals parts water and sugar together in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Let cool before using. If you're pressed for time (or lacking in creativity), you can always rely on this simple cocktail formula: A splash of simple syrup + a splash of liquor + a fruit juice of your choice. The more ice in the glass, the better.

Fun straws What's a fruity cocktail without a crazy, colorful straw? Barbershop pole-striped paper straws in a variety of colors are available everywhere from eBay to Target.

Drinks

Watermelon Margaritas Watermelon puree and ice make this refreshing.

Blueberry-Peach Mojito A different take on the typically lime-heavy mojito.

Pineapple Basil Cocktail A simple concoction with a tropical edge and fresh herbs adding a nice twist.

Food

Between all that splashing and slurping, your guests are going to get hungry. For snacks, have something light on hand that can withstand the heat. And for the main entree, go ahead and pull out the grill.

Trail mix Mix equal parts cashews, Brazil nuts, dried mango, coconut flakes and banana chips in a bowl.

Fruit Lean into the fruity theme with watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew cut into easy-to-grab slices.

Þ Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

Þ Burgers a la Pizzaiola

>>MODERATE

Watermelon Margaritas

1 teaspoon lime zest

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons coarse salt

1 lime wedge

1 cup watermelon puree (see note)

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

½ cup tequila

1 ounce orange-flavored liqueur (like triple sec)

1 cup ice

In a medium saucepan, combine the lime zest, water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature and strain out the zest. (Can be made in advance; keep in a covered container in the refrigerator.)

Chill a margarita glass in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place the coarse salt in a shallow dish or saucer. Wet the rim of the glass with a lime wedge and dip the glass into the salt, coating the top edge.

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 tablespoons of the cooled lime syrup with the watermelon puree, lime juice, tequila, orange-flavored liqueur and ice. Shake until frothy and well chilled, at least 1 minute. Strain into the prepared glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

Note: To make the watermelon puree, remove seeds from fresh watermelon and cut into large chunks. Place in a blender and process until smooth and well pureed.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: Emeril Lagasse

>>EASY

Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad

¼ cup orange juice

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ cup good olive oil

6 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry

seedless watermelon, rind removed, and cut in 1-inch cubes

12 ounces good feta cheese, ½-inch diced

1 cup whole fresh mint leaves, julienned

Whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, shallots, honey, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking constantly, to form an emulsion. If not using within an hour, store the vinaigrette covered in the refrigerator.

Place the arugula, watermelon, feta and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Taste for seasonings and serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Ina Garten, Food Network

>>MODERATE

Burgers a la Pizzaiola

4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

cup fresh basil leaves, packed

cup shredded mozzarella

¼ cup grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 ½ pounds ground sirloin beef

8 sourdough rolls, halved lengthwise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Topping suggestions: mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, sliced tomatoes, marinara sauce, olives, roasted red bell peppers, lettuce leaves

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.

In a food processor, pulse together the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, cheeses, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Process until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef and, using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until combined. Form the mixture into 8 patties, each about ¾ inch thick. Grill each side until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Brush the cut side of the rolls with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.

Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls and add desired toppings.

Serves 8.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis, Food Network

>>EASY

Blueberry-Peach Mojito

¼ cup blueberries, plus more for garnish

12 fresh mint sprigs, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon peach preserves

1 tablespoon lime juice

Ice

¼ cup rum

1 ounce club soda

1 lime, quartered, for garnish

Place blueberries, mint, peach preserves and lime juice in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add ice and rum. Shake vigorously to blend. Strain into glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with additional sprinkle of blueberries and quartered lime on top. Add additional mint sprig if you like.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: Adapted from Driscoll's

>>EASY

Pineapple Basil Cocktail

3 basil leaves, rolled and sliced into thin strips

¼ lime

¼ cup pineapple juice

1 ½ ounces gin

Ice

Club soda

Put the basil and lime in the bottom of a glass and muddle. Add pineapple juice, gin and ice cubes, and top with club soda. Garnish with a slice of pineapple, lime wedge or a sprig of basil.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: thekitchn.com

Refreshing fruit cocktails beat the heat of a long summer 06/02/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2014 5:38pm]
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