Montauk Mules

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Watermelon juice is having a moment. It seems to be on every cocktail menu I’ve seen in the Hamptons this summer- and for good reason. It’s really refreshing on the sweltering days we’ve been having lately, and it’s versatile. I’ve had delicious watermelon cocktails with vodka, tequila, gin, rum, and even champagne.

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But while watermelon juice is sweet in theory, it often ends up being watery and bland, and the cocktails designed around it end up watery and bland too. They are called water-melons, after all.

These ‘Montauk’ Mules are a summer-in-the-Hamptons inspired riff on the Moscow Mule, and there is nothing bland about them. Ginger beer enhances watermelon’s natural sweetness without overpowering it and gives the drinks a little kick. Throw in some lime juice and mint – and of course, vodka- and you’ve got a perfect drink for the dog days of summer.

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If you’re lucky enough to have a store near you that sells fresh watermelon juice, you’ll save yourself a lot of time. But for more bang for your buck, puree the watermelon yourself in a blender. Just don’t forget to strain it after. One watermelon will give you a lot more juice than you need, the perfect excuse to make a giant pitcher of Mules.

Montauk Mules

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups fresh watermelon juice (see note)
  • 1 (12 oz) bottle ginger beer
  • ¾ cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 limes)
  • sprigs of mint and lime wedges, for serving

Directions

  1. Fill four tumblers with ice.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, combine the watermelon juice, ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice. Pour over ice, garnish with a sprig of mint and lime wedge, and serve immediately.
  3. Note: If you are pureeing chunks of fresh watermelon to make the juice, pour the puree through a mesh strainer before measuring the juice in a glass measuring cup.

Kale Caesar with Roasted Summer Corn and Cornbread Croutons

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Do you like Caesar salads? Do you like corn on the cob? Do you enjoy the taste of raw kale masked by a delicious, creamy dressing? If so, this salad is for you. Side salads on summer buffets are usually an afterthought- after all, how can a bowl of lettuce hold a candle to baked beans, buttery corn on the cob and big stacks of tomatoes and mozzarella? But this salad earns its spot on the table.

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Local corn at Balsam Farms in East Hampton…even the corn in the Hamptons is famous.

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The kale is cut into thin ribbons so it’s easy to eat and the dressing gets well distributed. Tangled throughout the salad are crunchy corn kernels and chunks of cornbread that soak up all that Caesar dressing as they sit, making this a great recipe to put together in advance.  There’s just something about the lemony  dressing and toasted cornbread  that makes this difficult to stop eating, which is not something I usually say about kale salads.

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Caesar dressing is traditionally made with Parmesan cheese, but I used Pecorino in this recipe because I think the sharper, saltier flavor goes really well with the slightly sweet cornbread and roasted corn. If you’re worried about using raw eggs, you can substitute mayo or Greek yogurt. And if you don’t like anchovies, you could leave them out, but I wouldn’t recommend it (unless you want to make the dish vegetarian.) A very experienced cook recently told me, “Never underestimate the power of an anchovy.” You won’t know it’s there but it gives the dressing its fundamental Caesar-ness.

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This salad is a serious crowd pleaser and an ideal dish for a big summer dinner. The recipe serves 6-8 generously, but you could cut in half if you’re cooking for a smaller group.

Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Summer Corn and Cornbread Croutons

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups diced cornbread or corn muffins
  2. kernels cut from 4 large ears of fresh corn
  3. 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  4. 3 bunches Tuscan kale
  5. Caesar Dressing, recipe follows
  6. ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  7. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and arrange two evenly spaced oven racks.
  2. Spread the cornbread and the corn onto two separate sheet pans. Drizzle the corn with the olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle each sheet pan lightly with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, tossing the cornbread and corn halfway through. Set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, chiffonade the kale: cut along each side of the rib to remove the leaves on each side. You should end up with two long strips from each rib. Roll the leaves lengthwise into “cigars” and slice them thinly crosswise to cut the kale into ribbons. Wash the kale and dry it using a salad spinner.
  4. To assemble the salad, pour the dressing over the kale and toss well. Add the corn and croutons, and the Pecorino, and toss again. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to several hours, bringing the salad back to room temperature before serving.


Caesar Dressing

  • Servings: Makes about 1 1/3 cups
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
  • 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 anchovy, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature (optional)*
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, lightly packed

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic, anchovy, egg yolk, salt and pepper. Pulse until combined. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a slow stream. Add the Pecorino, and pulse until just combined. Refrigerate in a sealed container until ready to use.
  2. *If not using the egg yolk, substitute 1 1/2 tbs mayonnaise or whole-milk Greek yogurt