Did you ever seen a (Mango) Lassi?

This thick and sweet Indian smoothie is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day. It’s low in fat and sugar. The yogurt and lime juice give it a nice tang. I sprinkle a little Tajín, (chili powder with dried lime and salt), on top for zing and added complexity. (I buy Tajín at Mexican grocery stores). For a special treat, take a bite of dark chocolate and hold it in your mouth while sipping the lassi.

Right now there are ripe mangoes at a good price at the corner markets and produce stores. When I can’t find them I use frozen mangoes from Trader Joe’s. You can substitute sugar for the agave if you prefer.

I prefer the lassi made with dairy products, but since I’m lactose intolerant, I have to use lactose-free milk. I couldn’t find that at work the other day, so made it from coconut water and coconut milk. It was pretty good. Here are both recipes:

Use 2 ripe, soft (but not mushy) mangoes. Refrigerate ingredients before using, or add ice to cool down the drink.

Dairy Lassi:
2 cups fresh or frozen mango (2 medium or one large mango)
¼ banana (¼ cup)
½ cup 1 % milk
½ cup nonfat plain Greek or Mediterranean yogurt (I buy Karoun brand at Middle Eastern markets)
½ tsp lime juice
2 tsp agave nectar

 Combine ingredients in blender. Pulse until fruit breaks up, and then liquefy Lassi. If using fresh mango, add some ice until desired coldness is reached. If it is too thick, add more milk. Sprinkle a bit of Tajín on top.

Because the coconut water I buy has sugar in it, I don’t add any more sugar to this lassi. Drink the rest of the can for a refreshing treat!

Coconut Mango Lassi (vegan)

2 cups fresh or frozen mango (2 medium or one large mango)
¼ banana (¼ cup)
½ cup coconut water (I use canned coconut water with added pulp)
½ cup coconut milk (use low-fat for fewer calories)
½ tsp lime juice

 Combine ingredients in blender. Pulse until fruit breaks up, and then liquefy lassi. If using fresh mango, add some ice until it reaches desired coldness. If it is too thick, add more coconut water. Sprinkle a bit of Tajín on top.

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Agua de Sandia (Watermelon cooler)

This refreshing Mexican drink is a perfect accompaniment to your summer barbecue or Mexican food. I don’t make it too sweet. If the watermelon is sweet, I don’t add any sweetener, otherwise I add only couple of spoonfuls of agave nectar, which is a natural low-glycemic sweetener.  Sweeten according to your taste and the sweetness of the watermelon.

Ingredients:

seedless watermelon

agave syrup (can substitute sugar, honey or non-caloric sweetener)

Ice and water

Cut up watermelon in slices, then wedges. Remove from peel. Cut into pieces and fill blender. Add 2 tsp. agave nectar syrup for each quart.

add agave syrup

Add 1 cup water and blend. Add 1 cup ice to cool and blend again. Adjust sweetener if needed. Repeat the process for as much agua de sandia you want to make.

Meyer Lemon Bread and Blossom Tea

Meyer Lemon Bread

Any self-respecting Berkeley foodie knows the value of Meyer lemons from tasting Meyer lemon ice cream or cheese at the local farmer’s market. They are sweeter and more flavorful than plain old lemons, and ripen to a lovely orange-yellow. Back in the 50’s, when my parents first planted a Meyer lemon tree in their suburban backyard, they had no idea how trendy this fruit would become.

My mother made a delectable Meyer lemon bread, which is moist and fragrant with Meyer lemon juice and peel. It was a family favorite, and brings me back memories of crawling underneath our lemon tree to nab the ripest ones in the thorny center. I would just lie there, inhaling the delicate scent of lemons. I finally brought the bowl, heavy with fruit, to my mom. She would send me and my sister around to our favorite neighbors to give them lemons.

I now own my own dwarf Meyer lemon tree and make this recipe for my family and friends. I added a 1/2 tsp ginger powder to complement the lemon.

This recipe also works for cupcakes, but can be too sweet if you use a high sugar frosting. Try a cream cheese lemon frosting that’s not too sweet. But you really don’t need to frost it at all. The lemon syrup is delicious as is.

I also make a Meyer lemon blossom tea (recipe below.) A hot cup goes perfect with the cake.

I am going to visit my dear 90 year-old mother on Sunday and bring her a slice of Meyer lemon bread and some tea.

Meyer Lemon Bread

makes one loaf, cake or dozen cupcakes

Set oven for 350·  Generously grease a 5×9 loaf pan or 8 x 8 cake pan with butter. Or use 12 cupcake holders.

Ingredients (that is my mom’s original retro flour canister!)

ingredients for Meyer Lemon bread

½ cup butter (my mom used margarine  back in the day) at room temperature, plus at least a teaspoon for greasing the pan

½ cup milk

1 tsp Meyer lemon juice

1 cup sugar

2 eggs at room temperature, slightly beaten

1 ¼ cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp ginger powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup chopped nuts

Grated zest of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons (yellow part only)

Lemon syrup:

Juice of one large or 2 small Meyer lemons

2 Tb sugar

Add lemon juice to milk. This will make the milk curdle for a more delicate crumb.

Cream butter with 1 cup sugar. Mix in eggs and scrape bowl and mix again.

Sift flour with baking powder, ginger powder and salt. With mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture. Mix in the nuts and lemon zest.

alternate flour and milk in batter

Bake the loaf for one hour. Cupcakes should take approx 20 minutes. While it is baking, juice the lemon and stir it with 2 Tb sugar. When you remove cake from the oven, poke a bunch of holes in the top with a fork. Pour in lemon syrup. Spread a few teaspoons of what’s left on the top like a glaze. Enjoy!

lemon blossoms

My Meyer lemon blossom tea has a delicate natural sweetness. I’ve added a squeeze of lemon juice, fresh mint and lavender for a complex taste. Try the different combinations. You won’t need much sweetener, unlike regular lemonade.  Serve it iced with your picnic.

lemon blossom tea

Lemon blossoms are fragrant and sweet. If you don’t use too much lemon juice, you won’t need much sweetener.

Pick about 10 lemon blossoms and buds and rinse. Steep in hot water for at least half an hour. Add a squirt of lemon juice and agave nectar or honey to taste. The longer you steep it, the more flavorful.  Serve hot or  iced.

Lemon blossom – mint tea

mint leaves

Prepare as above with 2 sprigs of mint per glass.

lemon blossom mint tea

Lemon blossom-lavender tea

lavender

Prepare lemon blossom tea adding 2 lavender blossoms. Don’t steep this tea too long or the lavender will overpower the other herbs.

lavender lemon blossom tea