COOKING ADVENTURE #76: Watermelon Shark, Shark Cupcakes, and Shark Cocktail
Ever since I learned that there was a week entirely dedicated to sharks, I dreamed about hosting a Shark Week Party, wherein all things including the food would be related to this prehistoric beast of the sea. I have been planning this party for several weeks now with colleagues from work. Including several different shark themed dishes, we would also watch the Rifftrax version of Jaws, which a few of the folks at work had never seen anymore. This throws me for a loop. This is one of the best films ever made in my opinion (my 2nd favorite behind The Wizard of Oz) and is a must-see film. I spent several hours cleaning the apartment, creating the dishes, and setting up the movie. And though several people were unable to make it in the end, we still had a blast chowing down on our left over Chinese food and other tasty treats.
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Preparing a few of these though was not going to be an easy challenge. I had to prepare to hack apart a watermelon and cut it much like a Halloween pumpkin into a shark. I wasn’t exactly sure how this was going to go. I wasn’t actually going to do anything watermelon related for the party. But at the grocery store, I found a hell of a good deal; two mini watermelons for five bucks. Got to say I was pretty excited about this. I thought back to a few photos I’d seen on Pinterest of a carved shark watermelon which fruit spilling out from its jaws. I was very tempted to try this for myself, even though I worried what it would look like. I’m not exactly the best at carving things. But thanks to the clear step by step directions found on What About A Watermelon, I was able to pull this off successfully.
The biggest difference from their shark watermelon to mine was that they had used a full sized oblong watermelon and I had a mini round one. I was going to have to cut less off the bottom than they had. The first step was to cut the bottom of the watermelon on an angle so that the watermelon leans forward. It gives the impression that the shark is jumping up out of the water or, in my case, just poking its head out. The first cut I made didn’t have enough of an angle and it looked as though it was just looking straight up, I sliced off a little more with my chef’s knife and eventually got the perfect angle with it. There are special knives that you can buy specifically for watermelon. Since I don’t eat it very often, I don’t find it to be necessary to own.
The next step was to draw an opening to cut for the mouth with a dry erase marker. I fished one out of my drawer of endless writing utensils and attempted to dry an opening. However, the marker has been in the back of that drawer for nearly ten years and it didn’t want to work very well. I decided that I was going to have to cut the mouth opening without a guideline. I used a paring knife to punch through the tough green skin and carve out the mouth. Using such a small knife allowed me to maneuver it the way I needed and after a few minutes, I pulled out the section of watermelon that would reveal the gaping maw of the beast. I then ate that section of watermelon. Waste not.
Next, I carved a shallow outline about a half inch around the opening. It was here that I realized I could have done that with the knife to do the mouth, too. But, it had turned out alright and I wasn’t going to linger on it. After making the outline, I took a vegetable peeler and carefully peeled away the half inch section of green skin around the mouth, leaving it white. Of course, the vegetable peeler is a rogue and decided to pull away uneven portions of the green rind. My kitchen utensils have it in for me, I tell you. The next step was to scoop out the watermelon inside the mouth to create a cavity. This would have been SO much easier if I’d owned a melon-baller or a mini ice cream scoop. Unfortunately, I don’t own either one… probably because I don’t eat melons on a regular basis. Even ice cream I try to stay away from much of the time. It’s very tempting, it goes faster than one would like it to, and it gives me strange nightmares. I don’t know why. Don’t ask.
I ended up scraping out the watermelons innards with a regular spoon. Not as much fun as a melon-baller and certainly not as pretty as what watermelon would look like had it been scooped by one. But eventually, after constantly scraping and draining. I had an opening… to put the watermelon back into. But before I did that, I took my paring knife and returned my attention to the white section around the mouth. I made several diagonal cuts in order to make each individual tooth. And this took some time. A little more time than I’d have liked. By the time that I was done, it looked as though the watermelon had come alive and was getting ready to take a chunk out of my neck. I took the vegetable peeler and scored the tip into a space above the mouth on both sides to create cavities for the eyes. The original directions state that you can use blueberries with toothpicks for the eyes. Because I have none, I resorted to my second best idea; chocolate chips. Not quite “like a doll’s eyes” but definitely spooky and delicious.
Lastly, I filled the watermelon shavings back into the open cavity. From the fridge, I grabbed my bag of left over gummy fish and popped a couple in the mouth among the watermelon to give it more of a haunting countenance. The last bit of the watermelon to add was the dorsal fin. That… wasn’t much fun. I tried a number of ways to try and get the piece of curved watermelon to try and stick, including several attempts with toothpicks. An idea to use marshmallow to stick it even entered my mind but feeling I was venturing a little too close to “Wile E. Coyote” territory, I resorted to propping the piece of watermelon between two toothpicks and calling it a day.
My next endeavor was to make the shark cupcakes I’d been telling everyone about since the birth of the party idea. I made some strawberry cupcakes using a boxed cake mix (3 eggs, 1/4 cup vegetable oil). I was supposed to have added water to the mix as well but forgot as I tend to do often. This caused the batter to be just a tad thicker than it should have been. I had to take a spoon and bang it against the edge of each cupcake cup just to get it in. It ended up making about 9 cupcakes. When they had fully baked and cooled off, I pulled some vanilla frosting from the fridge and let it warm up to room temperature. Then, I found my nearly empty bottle of blue food coloring and squeezed some into the frosting. I pulled the knife through it a couple times before I smeared it on each cupcake top. When I was done, I noticed that some had more blue swirls than others and some were mostly white. I decided to take the blue food coloring and squeeze a drop on each cupcake. The bottle ended up spattering blue coloring on my stove and counter tops and left the dye running down the sides of some of the cupcakes. Taking a tooth pick, I streaked the coloring through the top of each cupcake until I was satisfied with it or just gave up on it. Then, I threw them in the freezer to set.
This beautiful tropical blue cocktail is really a glorified vodka tonic. The vodka was blue raspberry flavored. Not checking the alcohol content of this, I poured a pretty hefty amount of the vodka in before adding my tonic water. My first sip was probably the most alcohol that I’ve consumed in several months. But, the flavor was unique and pretty tasty. And since it was a special evening, I decided to indulge in the one drink. I normally don’t drink very much alcohol at all. My friend had cranberry juice with a gummy fish for garnish, making our drinks well suited for the shark week theme.
I had a blast making so much shark themed food for one of my favorite weeks of the year. And while I adored doing it, I can hardly wait to out-do all of these next year for another shark week party. Should be fantastic.
Next week is the ole birthday. I’ll be turning 25, making my quarter century mark upon the world. What better way to celebrate than making a different kind of sweet something for the occasion. Black Forest Trifle is next week. Stay tuned!