Cantaloupe Mousse with Strega Liqueur

— by Chef Luigi Diotaiuti

Nothing compares to the rich, musky aroma of a fresh, locally grown melon. Interestingly, the English word “cantaloupe” comes from the Italian Cantalupo, a papal seat near Rome, and the first place in Europe where cantaloupe was grown after being introduced from the Persian Empire.

This dessert is very easy to prepare and can be transformed into a family-style recipe by adjusting the sugar content, and omitting the alcohol if preferred. I love the style, simplicity, and pure, seasonal flavors of this recipe so much that I often make it for television cooking demos. Keep in mind that this recipe benefits from being refrigerated overnight — so it is perfect for entertaining.

Full recipe after the jump.
Serves: 6

  • 1 pound fresh cantaloupe flesh, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strega liqueur, divided
  • 4 8×3-inch gelatin sheets, diluted in enough cold water to cover
  1. Place the melon in a food processor, blender, or juicer. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the liqueur. Pulse on and off until you have a liquid puree which is completely uniform.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add the gelatin mixture and another half tablespoon of liqueur, and allow it to melt over medium heat.
  3. Add another tablespoon of liqueur and the cantaloupe puree. Stir well from the bottom and sides to avoid the gelatin from crystallizing.
  4. Transfer the mixture into six cups, and cool to room temperature.
  5. Refrigerate for a minimum of six hours.
  6. To serve, carefully unmold the containers with the help of a butter knife, and invert onto a serving dish. Serve with the sauce of your choice, chocolate and ladyfingers, if desired.

Sommelier’s Tip: Strega is an Italian herbal liqueur that has been produced since 1860 in Benevento, Italy. The presence of beautiful and distinctive saffron — and 70 other herbal ingredients, including mint and fennel, makes it the perfect partner for the flavor of cantaloupe. The word strega means “witch” in Italian, because the combination of 80 proof potency and scores of powerful herbs make it a recipe to be reckoned with.

Copyright Luigi Diotaiuti, 2013, reprinted with permission.

Gimme S’more of That

— by Dakota Marine

One night I decided I needed to spice up my life a little bit, in the sense of food, and what I was going to eat for my meals: dinner and dessert. For dinner I decided on brown rice, stir-fried roasted butternut squash and onions — tasty and easy. However, I always have more trouble deciding what to have for dessert, because I am not a huge fan of sweets.

Continued after the jump.
I opened our snack cabinet to find a box of mini graham cracker squares, mini jet-puffed marshmallows and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. Voila! I was going to make mini s’mores for dessert! But first, I had a prior commitment — a yoga class with my dad. After an hour of relaxation, the only thing on my mind was the s’mores. As we pulled into the driveway, I jumped out of the car, rushed into the house and took out a packet of chopsticks. Why chopsticks, you may ask? Well, it was a replacement skewer because these s’mores were taking place over an electric stove, rather than a smoky BBQ grill.

I stuffed two mini marshmallows on the chopstick and let the white puffs toast over the low heat from the stove, as they caught on fire and turned golden brownish-black. After about three minutes, the marshmallows were ready to be combined with the other ingredients. I placed one mini brown speckled cracker on the plate, slid my marshmallows off the “skewer” as they laid on top of the cracker, and then sprinkled 3-4 mini chocolate chips on top. To finish it off, I placed one more mini cracker on top, making it the perfect s’more sandwich.

The first bite was crunchy but gooey. The crunch from the crispness of the cracker mixed with the gooeyness of the marshmallows, as the chocolate chips melted in my mouth. I went back to roast some more marshmallows. Once I start, I can’t be stopped — I’m a sucker for roasted marshmallows. For not being a big dessert fan, it was the perfect amount of sweetness with a quick crunch, leaving me happy and satisfied.

Dakota Marine is the creator of Eat My Tailgate, where she takes us into her sorority’s kitchen.