In the days before air freight, I impatiently waited for summer fruit season. First, green grapes, followed by berries, cherries, peaches, and melons. Most of the time, I simply ate the fruit plain, or enhanced it with a bit of yogurt and honey. Then I went through phases of crisps, smoothies, and even clafoutis. This summer’s series of heat waves in Boston have made turning on my oven about as tempting as drinking hot tea.
In search of something easy and unfamiliar, I went back about 250 years to George Washington’s time. In the Mount Vernon Cookbook (Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, 1984), I found a wine-blueberry sauce for cantaloupe. The recipes in the book don’t specifically come from the Washingtons but they do contain ingredients available to 18th century cooks. The appeal of fresh fruit – and sweet wine – is timeless. Enjoy this on a hot day!
Cantaloupe a la Mode with Wine-Blueberry Sauce (1700s)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 thin lemon slices
- 3/4 cup port wine
- 2 cups blueberries (use frozen if fresh are unavailable)
- Vanilla ice cream
- 1 cantaloupe, peeled and sliced into rings
- In a small saucepan combine the sugar, cornstarch, lemon slices, and wine. Simmer about 5 minutes or until the liquid is clear. Remove from the heat.
- Remove and discard the lemon. Add the blueberries and chill thoroughly. (Note: I found the sauce turned a bit sticky as it chilled).
- To serve, spoon the ice cream into the melon rings and top with chilled blueberries.