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August 03, 2006

Liquid Rhubarb

It's been a tough week for blogging. An abusive heat wave and a non-functioning A/C unit have conspired to make sweaty refugees of me and my ladylove for much of the past week. So while I've been out of my kitchen, the good news is that when your brain cooks, thoughts of refreshing drinks abound. It's an unfortunate irony that tonight's return to a now chilly apartment has rendered icy drinks far less enthralling, but I figured I'd work up this idea anyway in the hopes that those still on the toasty side of the front might benefit. I've been wanting to play with rhubarb for a long time, and I always feel like sweet summer drinks need some sourness to keep them crisp and refreshing, so I thought a liquado made with rhubarb and ginger might work well. It did. This particular recipe is fairly sweet... just how my ladylove likes it... but if you want to emphasize the tartness a little more, it's easy enough to just cut back on the sugar a bit. Or, if you want to go the other direction, this'd make a nice sorbet. Up the sugar to 2 C., skip the extra 3 C. water and crushed ice, and toss the mix into an ice cream maker.

Dominic Armato
1 1/2 C. sugar
4 C. chopped fresh rhubarb
1/2" fresh ginger
6-8 C. crushed ice
2-3 limes
Rhubarb-Ginger Liquados
Makes about 6-8 drinks

First off, peel and slice the ginger into 4-5 thick slices. In a saucepan or small pot over high heat, throw together 3 C. water, the sugar and the ginger and heat, stirring, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Toss in the rhubarb, and when the mixture starts to bubble, turn down the heat to maintain a simmer. You want to cook the rhubarb until it gets soft and just barely starts to fall apart, about 4-5 minutes. Pull the pan off the heat, and allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two.

Pour the mixture into a blender, and puree it until smooth. Then, run it through a chinois or another fine-meshed strainer. If you don't have a chinois... well... get one. Next to the chef's knife, it may be my favorite kitchen tool. But if you don't have one, you can use a regular strainer lined with some cheesecloth. In any case, strain the mixture and discard the solids left behind. There's no need to press it or squeeze out every last bit of liquid. You don't want a lot of pulp getting through, or your liquados will be cloudy... tasty, but cloudy. Add 3 C. cold water to the strained liquid, and your drink base is ready. Toss it in the fridge to chill.

Once the drink base is nice and cold, you're all set to blend the liquados. For each liquado, combine 1 C. of the drink base, 2 tsp. fresh lime juice and 1 C. crushed ice in a blender and buzz for 3-4 seconds. Pour it out and drink it fast before the ice melts.


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