Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fight the Heat, Have a Digestif

Apparently, Tom Skilling has it out for us Chicagoans.  First, he pelts us with THE record-breaking-national-news-making Snowpalooza of 2011.  Now, he is at it again with an excessive/intense level heat and thunderstorm warning.  Come on Skills, this is outrageous!!  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE fan of sweating, particularly when I am standing still or simply sitting motionless in a chair.  The only thing that would make it decidedly more relaxing is extra humidity.  So, bring on the rain.  I love living in Chicago, mostly because I get to constantly complain about the weather. However, this is crossing a line.  Let me put it this way, it is so hot that my normally hyperactive spaz of a dog did this when I asked if he wanted to go outside.  

Then, to compound this "excessive heat" matter even further, there came the age old dilemma, what to have for my after dinner snack/cocktail?  I'm a big supporter of the after dinner drink (which, up until this point, I always called an aperitif.  However, Google has informed me that I am incorrect and what I am really referring to is a digestif. Ahhh I now have to take back all the times I acted snooty in a French restaurant...  Shame.  I was told an aperitif is a drink you have with or as an appetizer.  You really do learn something new everyday) and I usually go with a “straight-up” liquor, like whiskey or bourbon.  A great digestif (sounds fancy, right?) for fall and winter but the thought of drinking something that “warms” my throat and stomach makes me want to faint.  As a snack, the usual go-to is Western Mix from Blain’s Farm and Fleet (yes, you read that correctly but don’t you judge me till you tried it) which is a mix of salty corn nuts, sesame sticks, some other kind of nuts and some indistinguishable tidbits (whatever it is, it's delicious) in a savory spicy flavor but again, I had issues with the firey throat thing.  No thank you.  To end this heat induced predicament, I had to come up with something that sounded refreshing and satisfied my cravings for an after dinner snack and cocktail.  Get ready because I think I’ve discovered a doozy… 

Watermelon and Lemon Sherbert with Chilled Patron and Lime Salt

BAM!  It is perfect because it is all cold, so very deliciously ice cold.  You have a super summer treat with the watermelon, throw in a salty component and then top it off with Patron (who doesn’t love Patron?!?!  Ok, even if you’re not a huge Patron fan, I strongly encourage you to whip up a batch of the watermelon and lemon sherbert), honestly, it works on all levels.  I found the Watermelon Sherbert recipe at Better Home and Gardens and just added the juice from half a lemon to each serving.  It is an extremely easy recipe (despite me hacking at it like a drunken pirate, which resulted in watermelon juice covering ¾ of my kitchen) and I was told that I have to make this again. 

I put the Patron in the freezer for several hours to make sure it was nice and cold and I think the only thing I should have done differently was put the shot glasses in there as well.  I wanted everything to be ice-tastic and I feel like frosted shot glasses would have been the proverbial cherry on top.    

For the lime salt, I combined 2 Tbs Kosher salt and the zest from 1 lime into a coffee grinder.  It made it a nice powder, which allowed for more coverage on the edge of the shot glass.  I juiced ½ a lime and mixed it all together.  I then placed it in a saucepan and let the mixture simmer on low to evaporate the moisture.  Make sure you keep stirring to prevent the salt from burning or sticking.  It will take a little bit but in the end, the salt should have the consistency of partially wet sand.  Once it is cool, use lime juice to rim the shot glasses and then dip them in the lime salt. (Tip: You only need a little bit of lime salt to get a lot of flavor!! Since it is ground up, the mixture is pretty dense and it might be way too over bearing if you lick off a lot at one time.  I speak from teary eyed experience.)  

I do guarantee one thing though, small sips of Patron followed by some outrageously refreshing Watermelon and Lemon Sherbert will be a welcome addition to your HOT summer nights.  

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