For me, summer means drinking lots of liquids. And I'm a massive fan of fruit juices and alcoholic beverages, not necessarily in that order. The "boutique" fruit juice market has expanded rapidly, with so many options in the supermarket. But for me, the Preshafruit range of fruit juices are a cut above the rest. It's not cheap, at about $5 for a litre, but I just love drinking it. I first tried them at Earl Canteen, and I've never drunk any other juices since. The juices come without pulp, which I prefer, and seem to taste almost hyper-real. How I would describe it is the juices taste almost like they are concentrated, but yet taste very "clean". That's the best I can describe it. You'll have to try it yourself. Flavours like apple and orange taste like nothing you've ever tasted. My favourite is the Apple & Passionfruit one.
So next we come to alcoholic beverages. I love to drink beers while watching live sport on TV, such as cricket or tennis. Again, there are more beer varieties on offer than fruit juices even. My favourite beers are ales and Corona normally. However, I am liking the Cascade Green Carbon Offset beer and the Strongbow Genuine Apple Cider. The Cascade Green tastes quite good, but their claim to fame is due to the environmentally friendly production. The Strongbow Apple Cider is a nice change to a normal beer, having a nice sweet flavour and slightly acidic kick to it. Perfect for summer I think. I'm not sure I'll drink it during Winter though.
Next up, I love my home made self invented cocktails during Summer. I'll just mix random things and give it a try. Sometimes they work, sometimes they taste horrible. The cocktail I'd like to introduce you to is called Summer's Blush. It's made with Martini Rosato, which I first tried at the Taste of Melbourne festival. The folks at One Green Bean were kind enough to send me a bottle of their Rosato and their Prosecco for me to try. I drank the Prosecco straight but decided to make a cocktail with the Rosato. I find Summer's Blush to be really delicious and refreshing, and it's super easy to make.
Summer's Blush Cocktail
*2 parts Martini Rosato
*1 part lime juice
*2 parts soda water
*sugar to taste
*tear a small bunch of mint leaves
serve with lots of ice
Now surely everyone eats lots and lots of ice cream during Summer right? My favourite ice cream is a Magnum Almond Vanilla one, as I find the combination of almonds, chocolate and vanilla ice cream so perfectly simple. My friend told me to try the Magnum Ecuador one, which is dark chocolate. I didn't think I would like it, but boy, I love that too. I've also found that my local Asian supermarket stocks Asian ice cream flavours. Pictured below is Guava flavour, delicious. They also have Mangosteen, Durian, Red Bean, Tropical and Green Tea, all amazingly good too. My favourite is definitely the Mangosteen flavoured one.
And finally, Summer is all about stone fruits. My two favourite stone fruits are Peaches and Cherries. Seriously, I eat about 6 peaches a day and a huge bowl of cherries a day during summer. So I was delighted to receive a box of premium cherries from Crossman Communications. I was going to make something with them but the fruits were so sweet that I decided to just eat them all instead. With the next batch of cherries I bought, I did make my favourite cheesecake, a Baked Cherry Cheesecake. I have made this cheesecake previously and I used to think that it was hard to make. That was when I first started baking. The thought of how difficult it was to make deterred me from making it for a while, but now having made it again, it was super simple and I'll be making this quite often. I've tweaked the recipe since those earlier attempts to give better quantity ratios and also make it less sweet.
The biscuit base of this cheesecake I actually made completely by accident the first time around. I had run out of biscuits so decided to improvise and put in flour and almonds. It turned out to be beautiful and I've used it ever since. I've dropped the ratio of base to filling as there was just too much base in the previous recipe and not enough filling.
The cherries for me are the star of this cheesecake. Soaking in them honey syrup gives this super amazing combination of flavours that just makes me go, wow. I've just got a new super duper cherry pitter so it only took a few minutes to pop the stones out of the cherries. If you can't be bothered to do this, canned pitted cherries also work well for this recipe.
Baked Cherry Cheesecake
*2 tbsp honey
*2 tbsp sugar
*2 tsp lemon juice
5 tbsp sugar
4 tsp lemon juice
350g cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
For the base
50g oatmeal biscuits crushed
30g almond flakes roughly chopped
30g plain flour
pinch of salt
25g butter softened
3 tbsp light brown sugar firmly packed
1 small egg yolk
1. For the base, combine the oatmeal biscuits, almond, sifted flour and salt. Stir to mix and set aside.
2. Beat the butter with brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk. Fold in the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
3. Press the dough into a greased 22cm tin. Cover with clear plastic and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge.
4. Preheat oven to 180C. Meanwhile, for the topping, combine the cherries, honey, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minuts until cherries have given off some liquid but still retain shape. Drain out cherries and continue boiling syrup until it thickens. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool.
5. Bake pastry base for 15 minutes. Remove when done and set aside to cool.
6. Beat together cream cheese, whipping cream and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and lemon juice. Cream until smooth and thoroughly blended.
7. Pour cheese mixture into cool biscuit shell. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until just set.
8. Let the cheesecake cool completely before placing cherries on top and pour over syrup
And that my readers, is Oprah's, I mean Thanh's Favourite Things of Summer. And everyone will be receiving one each of the items featured. Actually, you won't be getting them, but I hope you have learnt about a few more great food items and may want to try them out.
Do you have any excellent Summer Food Items that you can recommend for me to try?