Perfect Pairings with Vanessa Riley: Cool Slushy Recipes to Pair With Hot Summer Reads

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Oooh. It’s hot outside. The thermometer is stuck at 90o or higher in many parts of the summer-struck globe. My mouth and quite frankly all of me, needs to cool down. When I was younger, a 7-Eleven Slurpee® would do the trick. It was everything: cold, sweet, a tangy treat to the tongue. As I think about it, this was very much in sync with my early choices of romance novels – yummy with manageable angst.

Now, that I’m older, my tastes have changed. I’m more citified, bougie-educated, grown, high-society… whatever you call it. Therefore, I yearn for a sophisticated slushy to pair with my sophisticated romance reads. So, gather around, and I’ll share my favorite slushy parings with some of today’s hottest romances.

Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean

My first perfect pairing is sweet, icy and fruity. Reading Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean will make you thirsty. The lush setting of proper society balls contrasted with the dark underside of decadent Covent Gardens left me parched. I’m hot, a little bothered, and did I mention thirsty. So, I paired my read of this first edition of “The Bareknuckle Bastards” series with Felicity’s Fig Granita.  

A granita is Italian for crunchy slushy. Well, that’s my translation. After dabbling in my kitchen, I came up with a simple list of ingredients and easy steps to create this slushy. Here’s Felicity’s Fig Granita:

The Ingredients
The Steps

Heat all of the ingredients over medium heat until the preserves and sugar are completely dissolved. Remove from the stove. While over the pot is hot, steep with the cinnamon stick for ten minutes. If you used the wine and want a less alcoholic bite: 1. Use better red wine. 2. Bring the mixture to a low boil for 3-4 minutes.

Freeze mixture for 5 hours or more in a wide container. You need the container to be wide because you will scrape the frozen treat to make the granita. I have used a metal spatula and a thick-tined metal fork to shave the ice. The fork worked the best to make the icy snow. Now scrape that ice. Scrape like you mean it, as if it’s stopping you from finishing your book.

One you’ve made snow of the concoction, it’s time to fill a glass. I’m partial to martini glasses with their wide openings. This type of stemware seems made for a spoon to dip inside and scoop the frosty goodness. Whatever glass you choose, you will have your best results by chilling it. I stick mine in the freezer three to four hours prior to serving.

Add the scraped granita to your chilled glass. Top with the chopped fresh figs, then enjoy this treat. You will love this cold slushy to cool down as you reading about Devon and Felicity’s hi-jinx in the ice house underworld.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

What about a savory slushy? I say yes. My second pairing is for A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Coles. Thesolo and Naledi – what a wonderful modern couple with a beautiful romance. To me it was Cinderella meets the Black Panther and decide to take a chance on romance. Swoon.

For this spicy hero and heroine, I refused to think of a kale inspired slushy even if a STEM girl might approve. With this summer heat, I keep thinking of Thesolo and Naledi shared icy cave. So here is Thesolo’s Tabasco Tomato Ice:

The Ingredients
The Steps

Heat all the liquids and the sugar over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. If you are going to make this alcoholic, add the vodka now. Stir well. Freeze for 4 hours or more, then use a fork to scrape the ice. Pack the shavings in a glass, a fancy chilled glass. This is savory, spicy snow that will tantalize your tongue, very much like Thesolo and Naledi’s romance.

The Prince by Katharine Ashe

My last pairing has the makings of a quiet storm in a glass. As I dove into The Prince by Katharine Ashe, I could taste all the teas shared between Libby and Ziyaeddin. Their beverage is served warm. Warmed tea is a comfort, but iced sweet tea is a southern delight. Baby, it’s hot outside and in Ziyaeddin’s art studio. So, I’ve paired this read with a slushy iced tea, a reinvention of lemonade, mint tea, and stirred with angst. Here’s Libby’s Icy Tea:

The Ingredients
The Steps

Bring the quart of water to a boil. Add the tea bags and remove for heat. Mull half of the mint to bruise the leaves and put that in the hot liquid. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain mixture and add the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. When all the sugar has dissolved, remove the mint. Add the cold water. Pour half this mixture into a pan, mix with the mint extract, then freeze for 4 hours or more.  To the remaining liquid add the rest of the lemon juice, the sliced lemons and vodka. Stir well and put it in the fridge for at least 4 hours. It needs to be good and cold. Scrape the frozen mixture. In a chilled martini glass, add the scraped ice, about two-thirds full. Then add the chilled liquid and fill your glass. Garnish with more lemon and mint. It’s ready to serve. It’s the perfect treat when reading about Ziyaeddin, the mysterious painter as he begins his greatest work of art, sketching and loving Libby.

Cheers. Hope you enjoy these perfect pairings of sophisticated slushies and hot reads. As you continue to beat the heat, let me know your perfect pairings.

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