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Gardens around here seem to be giving up their bounty, and the break room table at Pottery World is often full of veggies from our employees’ gardens with a sign reading, “Help Yourself!”. Our culinary team has incorporated some of these garden-fresh goodies into our Cafe’s seasonal specials, but there are always some left over. A great way to use up what your garden produces is by creating refreshing summer drinks. Here are some recipes that will cool and delight your palate, both with alcohol, and without.
PROBLEM: I HAVE MORE CUCUMBERS THAN I KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH!
Cucumbers are a prolific and delicious summer vegetable but have many more uses than just salads, the crudité platter, and eventually, pickles. Here are two ways to use this cool veggie in a refreshing drink.
CUCUMBER BASIL MOJITO
5 to 6 basil leaves
2 ounces white rum
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
3 thin slices of cucumber for garnish
Small sprig of basil for garnish
- Place cucumber into a cocktail shaker and muddle.
- Add basil, white rum, lime juice and honey syrup and fill the shaker with ice.
- Shake and double strain into an ice-filled highball glass.
- Top with soda water.
- Garnish with the cucumber slices and sprig of basil.
SPARKLING CUCUMBER LIMEADE
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 cup of water
1 cup of lime juice
1 medium English cucumber, sliced
2 cups of sparkling water, chilled
- Combine the sugar, lime zest and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Combine the syrup with the lime juice and cucumber.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, add in the sparkling water. Serve over ice.
PROBLEM: MY MINT PLANT IS OUT OF CONTROL!
Anyone who has cared for a mint plant knows that it will easily take over your whole garden. Planting the mint in a pot before placing it in the ground seems to be a good way to keep the plant manageable. The more you harvest the leaves, the better the plant will do. It’s best to harvest right before the leaves flower. After you have a nice big clump of mint here are some recipes to take advantage of your harvest.
LIMONCELLO MINT COCKTAIL
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for dipping Champagne flutes
Lemon peel strips from 1 lemon
1 cup (about) chilled Champagne or sparkling wine
1/4 cup limoncello
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice plus 1 lemon wedge
- Place mint, limoncello, 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon strips in blender.
- Blend until mint is finely chopped (lemon peel will be coarsely chopped), 10 seconds.
- Strain into small cup; discard solids.
- Run lemon wedge around rim of 2 Champagne flutes.Dip rims into sugar.
- Divide limoncello mixture and lemon juice between flutes.
- Top with Champagne.
WATERMELON MINT SPARKLER
1 medium watermelon, cut into chunks
1 bunch mint leaves
sparkling water or lemon-lime soda
- Pulse chunks of watermelon with an immersion blender or stand blender.
- Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve to reserve juice.
- Pour watermelon juice into glass and add fresh mint.
- Slowly pour sparkling water or soda over the watermelon juice