What is it about Portland living that has me practically obsessed with finding ways of incorporating fruit into summertime treats? It’s like I’ve made this shift from vegetables and savory dishes to fruit and all things sweet now that the sun’s out (when it’s not raining, that is). I’m wearing flip flip flops and my beloved straw hat. I’m riding my bike to and from the farmer’s markets on a regular basis. I’m buying fresh flowers for the house. And from the time I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep, I’m daydreaming about sinking my teeth into a juicy peach while sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, sipping on iced-tea out of a mason jar.
Now just hold on for a second…last time I checked I was all bundled up in blankets looking out at the snow-filled Snowmass landscape from my balcony, a bowl of Kale, Fennel and Sausage Soup simmering on the stove. Who is this summertime fiend I’ve become and where did she come from?
Case in point: cilantro lime popsicles. Now, there are two reason why I chose to feature cilantro in my popsicle. Firstly, cilantro is awesome. Second, my good friend Alice, who I have reconnected with since moving to Portland, regularly hosts an “Iron Chef” competition from her home with a dozen or so of her culinarily-inspired buddies. Each competition there is a new featured ingredient. When I first moved here, she invited me to her “Iron Chef: Avocado” competition. My simple thinly sliced avocado and Cremini mushroom with lemon parsley vinaigrette hardly stood up to the other amazing creations that night, but I filled up on delicious food and drink, great conversation, an all around awesome time, and perhaps too much- if even possible- avocado. However, this next competition is “Iron Chef Cilantro”, I’m planning on really bringing out my big guns for this one. It will be taking place in August, but I’m already deep in training. As a challenge to myself, I opted to bring a desert this time and after much inner debate settled on the always trendy popsicle. So, this batch is actually a trial run in preparation for next month’s competition and it turned out pretty damn spot-on taste-wise, with the cilantro flavor really coming through even when up against the strong notes of lime, and it just about hits THE spot on a hot summer day. Regarding presentation, I like the simplicity but also think I’ll need to step it up big-time if I’m in it to win it. You make the call, let me know what you think!
Behold my secret weapon.
Cilantro Lime Popsicles
This recipe yields about 16-18 ice cube-sized popsicles, if you’re using an ice cube tray like I did
- 2 cups granulated sugar (I used the organic light brown kind from Trader Joe’s and loved it)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup organic cilantro
- Juice of 3-4 limes, zest of one
- Popsicle sticks or other holding device
Bring sugar and water to a boil on medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. As the mixture is heating, chop the cilantro coursely (make sure it’s not too finely chopped or else it won’t strain correctly).Once boiling slightly, remove from heat, add chopped cilantro leaves and zest of one lime. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.Meanwhile, juice the limes. When syrup mix is slightly warm to room temperature, run through a fine mesh strainer to remove as much leaves and zest as possible from the liquid. Add the lime juice to the syrup and stir to incorporate. Place one cilantro leaf in each ice cube slot if desired for decoration, and pour syrup mix to fill the tray(s). Place in freezer until it begins to freeze and turns from clear to opaque . After one hour or so, remove from freezer and place popsicle sticks into each (if they don’t stick upright, you must freeze for a half hour or so more). Once popsicle sticks are in, place back in the freezer for another few hours. To remove from tray, run the bottom under hot water for a few seconds and they should slide right out.
The only way I could see it getting any better is by removing the popsicle sticks, and bringing out the blender and a few shots of tequila. Cilantro lime margaritas, anyone?