Top | Local Flavors
(article, Deborah Madison)
It's finally hot in New Mexico, over 100 degrees every day — and steamy when it rains.
There’s an infestation of mosquitoes, which makes going outside to catch any evening breeze far less fun than it should be, unless you’re a big fan of insect repellent.
As much as I like cooking, it’s even too hot for that, unless you jump on it first thing in the morning. But morning is also the time to water the garden, exercise if that’s even a possibility, and check email in my too-hot office, all of which means I have not found myself in the kitchen as much as I might otherwise.
So what’s for supper? A salad. Cold tomato juice with lime, some avocado sliced into it. Corn tortillas spread with beans, slivered cabbage, cheese, and tomatoes. Tomato salad. Soup. Easy things that are mostly served at room temperature. Maybe a frittata.
And for dessert? (For one is deserved, after all, in this weather!)
[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Deborah's Broken Jellied Wine with Summer Fruit."]
I’d like to say a fruit tart, but I’m not even inclined to make that. We don’t have a plethora of berries here and besides, turning on the oven for anything is out of the question. That leaves a number of fresh fruit compotes, or peaches sliced into a glass of wine, or fruit simply eaten out of hand. All are good ways to go.
But I’m thinking of something else — something cool and quivery and not at all rich. Something refreshing but special. Something easy but festive. It could be an iced coffee en gelée, but I’m wanting something to which I can add summer fruit. Without a doubt, it’s going to be wine jelly, or as I call it in my book, Broken Jellied Wine with Summer Fruit.
This dessert is as refreshing as can be. There’s not a speck of cream in sight, and it goes beautifully with summer fruits. Plus, it’s pretty.
In cooler months, I’d look to a Marsala or sherry or even a robust red wine. But for the hot time of year, I go for the frizzy Portuguese wine known as vinho verde (try Gazela). A rosé would be very nice, too, or an even bubblier number, such as Moscato d'Asti, Prosecco, or other sparkling wine.
You don’t need the whole bottle, just half of it. If you opened a bottle of something with bubbles just for this dessert, save some to pour over the top of the jelly when you serve it.
Some cooks, like the chef of a Santa Fe restaurant that I like, serve their jellies (not wine, in this case) in a solid mass that’s firm and studded with fruit. It’s beautiful. But I like to make it less firm and then break up the jelly with a knife. That way it sparkles and looks as cool as a waterfall. You can pile the broken jelly in a wine glass and add bits of summer fruit as you do so.
Summer fruits might include white peaches or nectarines, sugared berries, or an aromatic melon, such as Galia, Ogen, or Passport. Slice those fruits that need to be sliced neatly into bite-sized pieces. Sweeten those that need it, and don’t hesitate to mix fruit; try white peaches and raspberries, or yellow peaches and sugared blackberries. Pour a splash of any remaining bubbly wine (if you used it) over the top, then enjoy a cool dessert that’s sure to refresh any spirit flagging from excessive heat.
p(bio). Deborah Madison is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks, including Local Flavors. She lives in New Mexico.