AGUA FRESCA: Agua de mango

As you may have noticed this year, I’ve been posting a lot of mango recipes. Mangoes are seemingly easier and cheaper to get on the West Coast, and available for a longer period of time than in Chicago where we used to live. We’ve been drinking a lot of agua de mango this year because I can’t resist buying mangoes almost every week.

agua de mango

This recipe calls for Ataulfo mangoes, which are a yellow variety known for being sweet. Close substitutes or other names for this kind of mango can include Manila mangoes, honey mangoes or champagne mangoes. Ataulfo mangoes are in peak season between March and June, but can often be found in stores all the way through December depending on the part of the country where you live.

Leave the mangoes out on the counter at room temperature for a few days if they’re firm at the time you buy them. You’ll know they’re ripe and ready to use when the skin gives a little when you press it and/or the skin starts to wrinkle slightly. If the skin is already wrinkled when you buy them, they’re ready to use immediately. This variety of mango is less fibrous than the Tommy Atkins (green with red blush) variety, and therefore is more ideal for making aguas frescas.

If you like this recipe, you may also like my agua de fresa y mango recipe (strawberry and mango)…. 

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AGUA FRESCA: Agua de mandarina

As the weather starts to get warmer, I’ve gotten an itch for making aguas frescas. This happens to me just about every year. Toward the end of the winter, I always seem to fall into a rut in the kitchen as I wait for spring to arrive. And like clockwork, as soon as we get our first day of warm weather, I head to the store looking for fresh fruits to make aguas frescas. This year was no exception, and the first fruit I spotted was a large bag of mandarinas, mandarin oranges.

I love mandarin oranges both because of the refreshing, sweet juice they produce and their portability as a vitamin-packed snack. In fact, I’ve been carrying two mandarin oranges my purse at all times for the last few weeks so that I always have a healthy snack at the ready.

But I’ve also got some cherished memories of the early days of hanging out with my cuñada, when she used to take me out for aguas frescas and where we almost always ended up with agua de mandarina, one of her favorites—and consequently, now, one of my favorites too.

This is an incredibly simple recipe, but one I’ve been asked for time and again by friends. It’s perfect for serving with any meal, and any gathering—large or small.

A few notes: my husband likes his agua de mandarina to be a little sweeter, but I prefer mine to be more natural and without sugar. My advice: try it without sugar first and perhaps leave out the lime juice. If you feel like it’s not sweet enough for your liking, you can mix about 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/4 cup of warm water to get it to dissolve, and then mix it with the remaining 1-1/2 cups of cold water.

I also like to use a handheld citrus press for this recipe because I found that my electric juicer doesn’t always extract all the juice due to the small size of the mandarin oranges.

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AGUA FRESCA: Agua de melón

Today on the Kenmore Genius Blog, I’m sharing a quick and simple recipe to make agua de melón in your blender. I especially love to drink this with breakfast.

The basic ingredients: Cantaloupe, a little sugar, water and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If your melon is super ripe, you can also reduce the sugar by half or leave it out completely for a healthier, no-sugar-added version—it’s up to you. Hop on over to the Genius Blog for more on this recipe. This recipe calls for cantaloupe, but you can also use honeydew melon (melón verde).

Agua de melón

Prep Time: 10 minutes

10 minutes

Yield: 3 to 3 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a ripe cantaloupe
  • 1/4 cup of sugar dissolved in a half cup of warm water
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • Optional: juice of half a lime

Instructions

  1. Dissolve the sugar in a half cup of warm water to create a simple syrup. Set aside and allow to come to room temperature.
  2. Cut the cantaloupe into cubes and put it into the blender with 1 cup of water until it’s completely liquified and smooth.
  3. Place a fine sieve over a pitcher and pour the contents of the blender through it to strain. Use a spoon to press any remaining juice through the sieve.
  4. Add the simple syrup to the pitcher and stir well. If you opt to use the lime juice, add that after the simple syrup.
  5. Serve chilled or over ice. Yields 3 to 3-1/2 cups of juice, depending on the ripeness of your cantaloupe. Refrigerate any juice you’re not going to drink immediately and consume within two days.
http://theothersideofthetortilla.com/2011/09/agua-fresca-agua-de-melon/

If you want to read more about aguas frescas, check out some of my previous recipes here on The Other Side of The Tortilla:

Did you like this recipe? Please share it with your familia and amigos! ¡Gracias!

AGUA FRESCA: Easy Horchata

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked for an horchata recipe since I began blogging. But each time I start explaining how to make it from scratch, I can see people start to lose interest around the time I mention that making horchata from scratch involves soaking rice and cinnamon sticks overnight and then grinding it and straining it. When I make it from scratch I sometimes also blanche almonds and soak them with the rice for an added depth of flavor. But the average person asking for a recipe always seems to get a frown on their face when they realize making it from scratch takes a little extra time and effort.

It was because of this dilemma of nobody wanting to take the time to soak and grind the rice that I began experimenting in the test kitchen to try to make an acceptable quick recipe substitute for those times when we just need a quick fix of a tall, cool glass of horchata. This is the simplest recipe I came up with that passed the taste test with family and friends. It beats any powdered or pre-made liquid mix I’ve tried from a variety of grocery stores. The store-bought mixes always taste either too sweet or too fake to me. I hope you enjoy this version if you’re looking for a quick but yummy horchata recipe!… 

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AGUA FRESCA: AGUA DE TUNA ROJA

I still remember the first time I saw tunas growing wild – José and I were visiting Mexico City one warm week at the end of the summer several years ago. One afternoon we were bored, so my suegra suggested that José take me on an official tour of Ciudad Universitaria. Also referred to as CU, it is home to the main campus of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (la UNAM or in English, the National Autonomous University of Mexico), the largest university in Latin America and a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007.

This year on September 22, UNAM celebrated 100 years since its founding as the National University of Mexico as it was conceptualized by Secretary and Minister of Public Instruction and Fine Arts, Justo Sierra, and inaugurated in 1910 by President Porfirio Díaz. The university is also the successor to the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico, founded by Spanish Royal Decree in 1551 – technically making UNAM one of the oldest universities in the Americas.

On the campus grounds, besides the historic buildings designed by some of Mexico’s most well-known architects, murals and sculptures by famous Mexican artists, an Olympic stadium that has hosted a Summer Olympic Games (1968) and a World Cup (1986), and an impressive number of students, faculty and staff, there exists a serene, green space that is as close to the original land’s flora and fauna as it might have grown freely during the height of the Aztec empire…. 

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AGUA FRESCA: AGUA DE PIÑA

During my last visit to Mexico City, I was a bit rushed to squeeze in my favorite places to eat since I was only in town for a few days before and after our family trip to Aguascalientes for Abuelita Ana’s birthday.

After visiting the Frida Kahlo museum with my suegra in the late morning and a quick stop at the mercado Coyoacán to pick up a few goodies to take back to Chicago, we headed to El Bajío in Polanco for lunch.

As we pulled up to the restaurant on the corner of Campos Elíseos and Alejandro Dumas, the afternoon sky turned gray and it looked as if it was going to rain. Just as we were seated it began to sprinkle and the dining room, usually bright with sunlight thanks to its large plate glass windows and a few skylights, grew a bit dim. One of the many things I love about Mexico City is how it sometimes rains in the afternoon just for a few hours and then the sun comes out shining again. The afternoon rain somehow always appears just at the right time for a siesta and reminds me to take it easy. It’s like mother nature’s way of telling us to rest and relax; to take respite from the daily grind to refresh our spirits.

Since we were in no hurry, what with the rain and all, we settled in to a cozy little table for two in the back near the beverage bar where they make the coffee and juices. We each decided to have agua de piña to drink, so when it came time to order we asked for a large pitcher to share. The pitchers used at El Bajío, and common all over Mexico, are made of a thick hand-blown glass with a cobalt blue rim. Sometimes there are little bubbles still in the glass – one of those slight imperfections that makes them so beautiful to begin with; a reminder that they’re handmade and each is unique.

My suegra has a set of these cobalt-rimmed drinking glasses as well as little tequila glasses in the liquor cabinet in the living room. I’ve always wanted to bring a set of these glasses home with me, but since my suitcase is usually full of other goodies, I never quite have the room. Someday I’ll reserve a spot in my suitcase for them to travel back with me, but until then I’ll just have to dream about it. And I’ve got many memories to choose from – every place I’ve ever been in Mexico, from Baja California Sur all the way east to Quintana Roo, I’ve been served aguas frescas in a cobalt-rimmed glass…. 

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