Friday, March 23, 2012

Minted Mandarin and Strawberry Coolers
use the best of two seasons

It’s a drink that dips beautifully into two produce seasons, and it’s my official recommendation for a drink for Easter brunch.
   Minted Mandarin and Strawberry Coolers (click for the recipe) from Martha Stewart Living magazine make use of juice from mandarin oranges, which are just finishing up their season in the sun, and strawberries, whose season has just begun.
   Along with the third and final ingredient of mint, a wonderful, refreshing combination of flavors is created.
   There are three other appealing qualities of this drink:
   - There is no added sugar – just the natural sugars in the oranges and strawberries. You’d never guess that sugar hasn’t been added, though – it’s just the perfect amount of sweetness.
   - It’s non-alcoholic, good for a family gathering.
   - It’s easy to make.
   However, the recipe does require an absolute ton of small mandarin oranges to make the eight -10 drinks the recipe yields.
   The recipe says 32 mandarins are needed, but it means big mandarin oranges, not the small ones that are most typically available.
   I bought a bag of small mandarins, and juiced the entire bag to make just two drinks!
   If you do plan make this for a crowd, you’ll need a lot, and I mean a lot, of small mandarin oranges.
   I recommend using an electric juicer to juice the oranges; doing it by hand will be far too frustrating and time-consuming. You don’t need a fancy juicer, just a cheap $10 one from the small appliance aisle.
   You can get a head-start on these drinks by juicing the mandarins in advance and storing the juice in the fridge. Be sure to strain the juice through a fine mesh strainer as the recipe says.
   To make the drinks, strawberries are divided among eight- to 10-ounce glasses (I used three large berries in each glass). Two mint leaves are added, and the strawberries and mint are muddled until the berries are crushed and juicy. You can use a mojito muddler to do this, or the handle of a wooden spoon works fine.
   Ice cubes are put in the glasses, then mandarin orange juice is poured on top.

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