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September 1, 2015 - Radio Kitchen - Melons

It's hard to imagine a Maryland summer without melons.  This state, especially the Eastern Shore, is perfect for growing them.  We're all used to the wonderful cantaloupes and watermelons, but there are a whole lot more available now that you may not have tried.  And Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Schola Cooking School can testify the folks out there are in for a tasty treat.

One of the most popular of the new melons is the bright yellow Juan Canary. Shaped like a football, and a little smaller, these melons have a pale cream flesh and a very floral flavor.  Jerry likes the soft texture of a ripe Juan Canary.

Billy Caulk of Pine Grove Farm brought a new melon to market.  He calls it the "Mediterranean."   This melon looks like a common muskmelon but is bigger, about the size of a volleyball.  It is dark tawny orange on the outside, and pale yellow on the inside.  Its flavor is similar to a honeydew, but more intense.

The little oblong Asian melons are popular these days.  Tan with green ribs, they have a pale yellow meat that is very delicately flavored.

The Charentais melon, also known as the Cavaillon, is a small cantaloupe type melon, about the size of a softball.  The skin is pale grey-green, but the flesh is a brilliant deep orange.  When fully ripe the melon is perhaps the most intensely flavored melon out there.

Here are a couple of recipes that can utilize Maryland melons.

                Canary Melon with Mint Granita

3 cups water
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
½ cups packed mint leaves
½ cup fresh lime juice, divided
1 ripe canary melon
Whole mint leaves for garnish

Bring water and 2/3 cup sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved, then simmer 3 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and cool completely in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Purée syrup with mint and ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoon lime juice until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3-quart shallow nonreactive container, pressing on and then discarding solids.

Freeze basil-lime syrup, stirring and crushing lumps with a fork every 30 minutes, until evenly frozen, about 2 hours.

One hour before serving, cut melons into small wedges and peel. Combine in a large bowl. Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoon lime juice and 1 tablespoon sugar and pour over fruit. Let macerate, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Scrape granita with a fork, crushing any lumps. Serve melon in shallow bowls, drizzled with melon liquid and topped with granita and mint leaves.

                Casaba Melon in Coconut Milk


8 oz. coconut milk
1 lime, zest and juice plus additional zest for garnish
4 cups cubed casaba melon
¼ cup shredded coconut

Mix together the coconut milk, lime zest and juice until well combine in a large bowl.

Add the melon and stir just to coat evenly.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Place in bowls and garnish with the shredded coconut and lime zest.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.