Strawberry Watermelon Rehydrator

After a brief summer-fun filled hiatus, I've returned to the blog with a refreshing drink recipe that's perfect for enjoying before, during or after a frolic in the hot summer sunshine.  But first, let me tell you what I've been up to these past few months.  

At the end of May I spent two lovely weeks in France; first with friends in the south-west countryside, and then with my family in Paris.  I gratefully filled my face with baguette de campagne slathered in cultured french butter and mild, fragrant radishes.  I enjoyed vibrant salads topped with thick slices of fresh smoked salmon, nutty cave aged Comté cheese and sculptural pastries adorned with edible glass and tiny fraises du bois.  In June I baked popcorn cookies and s'more cookies (a flavour for each kid) and made orange scented rhubarb compote and homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream to celebrate the start of summer and the end of another school year.  Then July arrived with a colourful explosion of ripe seasonal vegetables at the local markets.   So  far my favourite homemade eats have been quinoa salad with roasted veg tossed in a harissa dressing (inspired by this recipe), creamy, sweet steamed new potatoes with butter, sea salt and garden chives (no recipe, just do it), tomato salads of all sorts and this perfect "rehydrator"  that was inspired by one of my favourite UK chefs and cookbook authors, Anna Jones.  

I bought Anna's cookbook A Modern Way to Cook a few months ago after watching her make a citrus rehydrator (basically an all natural energy drink) on Jamie Oliver's Food Tube.  I loved it so much that I went on to purchase her other, first cookbook A Modern Way to Eat, and noticed  a different rehydrator recipe that called for strawberries.   Well it just so happened that I had some in my fridge, along with a bunch of chopped up watermelon.  So I whizzed it up with a bit of mint and a handful of ice.  My son and I drank the entire blender-full sitting outside in the late afternoon sun and it was exactly what I needed to provide me with enough energy to sauté some shrimp in fresh garlic, make a salad and call it dinner.  

This drink is perfect in hot weather, after a workout or in the morning after a night of gratuitous libations because the salt and maple syrup help to  restore electrolytes and the lemon provides a massive dose of vitamin C.   It's also delicious, feels special and is relatively low in sugar compared to juice, soda... or a glass of rosé, which also has its time and place.  

Strawberry Watermelon Reydrator
inspired by Anna Jones

500 ml cold water
Juice of 3 lemons
1 handful of chopped strawberries
1 handful of chopped watermelon
2 tbsp. maple syrup, agave or honey
pinch of sea salt

Put everything in the blender and whizz up until smooth.  Serve over ice garnished with mint, if you have some.  

I have also made this with limes instead of lemons and blueberries as my main fruit. There are endless possibilities, but the key is lots of citrus juice, a pinch of sea salt and a couple of tablespoons of natural sweetener.    





Fish Stew with Fennel and Baby Potatoes (a.k.a. Pirate Stew)

At our house, this fast and fancy little number is also known as "Pirate Stew", a name inspired by one of my favourite children's books,  The Troll written by Julia Donaldson,  author of the beloved Gruffalo franchise. In it, a hapless Troll desperate to eat a goat (à la Three Billy Goats Gruff), is captured by a gang of fish-loving pirates with poor culinary skills.  The Troll is saved from jumping the plank when Pirate Peg Pokadot discovers his cookery book and frying pan. Sick of their own bony, briny, slimy cooking, the Pirates spare the Troll's life and make him the ship's cook.   Sadly for the Troll, when he turns to his "favourite page in his cookery book" a recipe for a nice goat stew, the incredulous Pirates inform him that he will be cooking fish and only fish, because that is what pirates are supposed eat.  

As someone who has many favourite pages in many cookbooks,  I feel terrible for the poor old Troll who will never realize his lifelong epicurean dream of cooking and eating a goat stew.  So as comfort, I imagine that at least if he's destined to a life full of fish stew, it is something  akin to this perfectly creamy, white wine and dill scented dish that appeared in Bon Appétit a couple of years ago.       

This stew takes under half an hour from start to finish, and it's elegant enough to feel special, but simple enough to make any old night of the week.  It's a cozy bowl full of fragrant chowder-like broth studded with bits of  fennel and satisfying chunks of fish and potato.  I enjoy sopping up the broth with a thick slice of buttered wholegrain bread, so as not to waste a drop.   This is undoubtedly a meal to warm the cockles of the heart - even the cockles of pirates, trolls, picky children and tired adults.  

From Bon Ap
1/4 cup olive oil
8 oz baby potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 medium bulb of fennel, finely chopped
2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups of broth or water
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 lbs skinless white fish,  cut in 2 inch pieces (I used local pickerel)*
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Cook potatoes until beginning to soften, around 3 minutes.  

2. Add fennel, garlic and season with salt and pepper.   Cook for 2 minutes, until fennel is soft, stirring occasionally.

3. Add wine, bring to a boil and reduce until almost evaporated.  Pour in 2 cups of broth.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, until potatoes are soft.  

4. Stir in fish and crème fraîche and simmer for 4 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through.   Sprinkle in the fresh dill, and more salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve with lemon wedges, if desired (the recipe calls for this, but I actually prefer it with out the lemon) 

*I haven't tried it with anything but white fish, as per the recipe, but I think it would be just as delicious with other types of fish including trout, cold smoked trout or salmon, or even shrimp.  

Serves 4