Friday, July 19, 2013

Have a Happy National Daiquiri Day with ...Well, Just Take a Look at What Jennifer Did!

This challenge was a learning experience for me. I always assumed that daiquiris were born as the brightly colored, syrupy-sweet, slushy concoctions garnished with a small paper umbrella that you drink while sitting in a lounge chair next to the ocean. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of them, but about halfway through drinking one, the sweetness gets a little overwhelming for me, and I switch to beer. So I was quite pleased when I did some research and found that the original daiquiri was nothing more than rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, shaken with ice and served in a cocktail glass. Who knew? Not me. On further investigation, I learned that there is a version called a Hemingway Daiquiri. As all things googled, you can find many variations of what it actually contained, how it was served, etc. The general consensus, however, is that the Hemingway Daiquiri contained fresh lime and grapefruit juices, white rum, and maraschino liqueur.

With the Atlanta summer starting to creep in, this version sounded like the perfect drink to me - fresh and fruity, but not too sweet. I omitted the maraschino liqueur, and added just a touch of sugar for sweetness. The result was delicious. It may be my new go-to cocktail on a hot day.

Hemingway Daiquiri
by Jennifer

Juice of one lime
Juice of ½ grapefruit
1 ounce white rum
1 teaspoon sugar

Mix lime juice, grapefruit juice, rum and sugar in a glass until sugar
dissolves. Fill a cocktail shaker ½ full with ice. Pour rum mixture
over ice and shake. Serve in a rocks glass.
This challenge happened to come up right at the peak of strawberry season here in Atlanta. Rather than making the “traditional” (which I now realize should really be called the “modern” version - see my post on the Hemingway Daiquiri), I decided to make a Strawberry Granita. This would have all of the flavors of its well-known cousin, but in an icier form that would be served in a bowl in a smaller amount so as not to overwhelm with sweetness (unless you have a sweet tooth - then get yourself a bigger bowl). I chose dark rum, one of my favorites (it was also a favorite of my Dad’s - I guess I inherited it from him). And because this summertime treat is made with fresh strawberries, it’s practically health food, right?

Strawberry Daiquiri Granita
by Jennifer

1 pint strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
¼ cup dark rum

Combine the strawberries, ½ cup simple syrup, lime juice, and rum in a large cup. Blend with stick blender until smooth. Pour mixture into a shallow, freezer-proof container (I used an oval Corning Ware). Put into freezer and stir every 30 minutes until frozen through - when done, it will be a pan of flat red ice crystals. Stir before portioning into small serving dishes.

Simple Syrup:
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
I’m not a huge fan of fruit salsas, and I really don’t eat mango, but for some reason I got it in my mind to make a sweet and spicy, rum-marinated mango salsa for this challenge. It took a few attempts to get the right balance because of the varying heat of the jalapenos I used. The ones I bought for the first batch were much spicier than the second batch, so you may have to play around with the amounts in the recipe to get it to your liking (I like it on the spicy side). Serving the salsa with blackened fish balanced out the sweetness of the mango, too. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. Give it a try, even if you don’t think you like fruit salsas - this one may change your mind!

Blackened Fish with Mango Daiquiri Salsa and Coconut-Cilantro Rice
by Jennifer

For the Mango Daiquiri Salsa:
one ripe mango, peeled and diced
3-4 Tablespoons light rum
1-2 jalapeno peppers (depending on heat desired), minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons red onion, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3/8 teaspoon salt

Place diced mango in a small bowl and cover with rum. Let soak for about 20 minutes. Drain off rum (reserve to make drinks with - the rum will have soaked up some good mango flavor!). Combine mango with remaining ingredients.

For the Coconut-Cilantro Rice (I made this in my rice cooker, so I’ll give the amounts that I used. Basically, I just substituted coconut milk for about half of the water):
1 cup jasmine rice
½ teaspoon salt
one small (5.6 ounce) can of coconut milk
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Rinse rice with cold water. Place rice, salt, and coconut milk in rice maker. Add enough water to fill to the 1 cup line. Cook. When rice is finished, fluff with fork and stir in cilantro.

For the Fish:
Grapeseed or vegetable oil
Fish of your choice
Blackened seasoning of your choice (I used a pre-purchased one)

Coat fish with blackened seasoning (flesh side only if using skin-on fish).

Heat oil over high heat in cast iron pan (we did this outside on a propane burner). When oil is smoking, place fish, flesh-side down, into pan. Cook about 4 minutes per inch of fish on first side. Carefully turn fish and cook for about 5 minutes on skin side, or until cooked to desired temperature.
I became a huge fan of popsicles after moving to Atlanta and discovering King of Pops. In the past, I could take or leave a popsicle, but the King of Pops goes beyond the traditional - they use seasonal, local, and/or organic ingredients when they can to make some amazing and unusual flavor combinations.

So, I thought, why not make a “grown up” popsicle as part of the daiquiri challenge? The question then was, what flavor to make?

I always have frozen bananas in my freezer. Both my husband and I like them “right before banana bread” as we like to call it, so the rest of the bunch inevitably gets thrown into the freezer, skin and all, usually to be used for breakfast smoothies. I had also just bought strawberries from one of our Farmer’s markets. Every year I buy a large volume when they’re in season, wash and hull them, put them on a jelly roll pan, freeze them, and store them in a freezer bag (again, mostly for smoothies).

My frozen, needing to be used fruit made my decision easy - I decided to do a strawberry-banana daiquiri popsicle.

I think that by freezing the banana and strawberry, the ice crystals help to break down the fruit and make it a smoother popsicle. I will warn you that these are a bit on the “boozy” side, but unless you make one GIANT popsicle and eat the whole thing, you’re not likely to get a popsicle hangover.

Strawberry-Banana Daiquiri Popsicles
by Jennifer

1 banana, frozen
about 7 strawberries, washed, hulled, and frozen
2 Tablespoons dark rum

Partially thaw the banana- this makes it much easier to peel! Place peeled banana, strawberries, and rum in a large measuring cup and blend with a stick blender until smooth (or use a regular blender). Place into popsicle molds, let freeze, and enjoy!

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