Old Fashioned Lemonade

17 07 2011

Freshly squeezed lemonade is a great way to beat the heat!

We’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave in Southern Ontario and it’s the type of weather that calls for an ice cold glass of lemonade. A couple of years ago I featured a recipe for Tuscan Lemonade that has been quite popular. However, because it has liquor in it, obviously it’s not suitable for children. This family-friendly recipe will appeal to everyone (and you can always add a splash of your favourite bourbon, rum or vodka if you’re entertaining!).

I prefer a lemonade that is quite tart and bold – you can always adjust the amount of sugar and water slightly to taste. I used quite large lemons – if you can only find smaller ones, use a few more. Small inexpensive juicers can be found at most kitchen stores or you can squeeze them by hand but it may take a while!

Old Fashioned Lemonade

Makes about 8 cups

  • 12 large lemons (for three cups of juice)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups white sugar (to taste)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 tray of ice cubes (about 14 cubes)
  1. Juice eleven of the lemons – they should yield about 3 cups of lemon juice. Pour the juice into a large pitcher through a strainer to get rid of any seeds and pulp.
  2. Slice the remaining lemon into slices and remove any seeds. Set aside.
  3. Stir 1-1/2 cups of sugar into the lemon juice until it fully dissolves. Add the water and stir to combine. Adjust the sugar and water to taste if necessary.
  4. Empty a tray of ice cubes into the pitcher and add the lemon slices.

Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





Pomegranate Cocktails

21 12 2010

Pomegranate juice makes a great base for festive cocktails

Pomegranates are in season right now and they are ideal for making festive holiday cocktails (bonus: pomegranate juice is good for you!).  Whole pomegranates can be juiced but it’s a bit of a hassle and bottled pomegranate juice is readily available almost everywhere these days.  However, if you can’t find pomegranate juice, you can substitute unsweetened cranberry juice.

Christmas in the Tropics

This drink was inspired by a recent trip I took.  It’s a great way to use up that bottle of coconut rum you bought one summer that has been languishing at the back of your liquor cabinet.  The coconut is subtle and the pomegranate balances the flavours nicely.

Makes two drinks (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

  • 3 oz. rum
  • 1.5 oz. coconut rum (such as Malibu)
  • 6 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Ice
  • Slice of pomegranate or pomegranate berries, to garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, combine the rums, juice and some ice.  Shake well and strain into two martini or low-ball glasses.  Garnish with a slice of pomegranate or some seeds.

The Merry Maker

This unusual cocktail captures the flavours of the holiday season: warming spices, pomegranate and mandarin orange. Vodka can be substituted for the tequila if you’d prefer.

Makes two drinks (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teapsoon ground ginger
  • 1 oz. mandarin or regular orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. tequila or vodka
  • 4 oz. pomegranate juice
  • Ice
  • Orange slice or twist as garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, combine all ingredients (except garnish) and shake well.  Strain into martini glasses and garnish with an orange slice or twist if desired.

Morning Glory

Mimosas (orange juice with sparkling wine) make Christmas brunch festive.  Adding a splash of pomegranate gives it a new twist.  I sometimes juice some of the mandarin oranges or clementines that come in boxes around the holidays.

Makes one drink (can easily be multiplied for a crowd)

  • Orange juice or freshly squeezed mandarin or clementine juice
  • Pomegranate juice
  • An inexpensive sparkling wine such as cava or prosecco
  • Orange or mandarin slices to garnish, if desired

Fill a champagne flute halfway with orange juice.  Add a splash of pomegranate juice and top with sparkling wine.  Garnish with an orange slice.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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Autumn Cocktail: La Poire

2 10 2010

La Poire: A pear based cocktail with subtle notes of rosemary and pepper.

I love to incorporate seasonal fruit into cocktails. It’s a fun and easy way to enjoy the flavours of the season (check out the Drink Archives for other ideas including Peach Sangria and Strawberry Mojitos).  With a little creativity, autumn drinks can involve more than just apple cider (although I do love a good cider as well!). For those who don’t speak much French, ‘la poire’ means ‘pear’.

This recipe calls for pear-flavoured vodka.  Both Grey Goose and Absolut make pear vodkas, however, if you’d rather make your own version, you can try this recipe from eHow.com: How to Make Pear Infused Vodka.  The rosemary-black pepper syrup sounds a bit odd but it’s subtle and adds an interesting note to the drink.

La Poire

Makes 2 drinks

  • 4 oz. pear flavoured vodka
  • 2 oz. Rosemary-Black Pepper Simple Syrup (see below)
  • 4 oz. pear juice (Ceres brand pear juice is readily available at many supermarkets)
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pear slices, for garnish (optional)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, for garnish (optional)
  • Black pepper, for garnish (optional)
  • Ice cubes

Rosemary-Black Pepper Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary, about 4″ long
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

To make the syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, rosemary and black pepper.  Heat the mixture on medium-high and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.  Remove the rosemary sprig once cool and use the syrup as desired.  Extra syrup will keep in the fridge for a few days.

To make the cocktail:

  1. In a martini shaker, add a few ice cubes, vodka, simple syrup, pear juice and lemon juice.  Shake well and strain the drinks into martini or low-ball glasses.
  2. Garnish drinks with a pear slice, a rosemary sprig and a light sprinkling of fresh pepper if desired.

Enjoy!

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Strawberry Mojito

29 05 2010

Strawberry mojitos are very refreshing on a hot afternoon.

The weather in Ontario this May has been incredible – unseasonably warm (hot even!) and very dry, which is unusual.  It feels like it could be mid-July instead of the end of May.  If this is any indication of what’s ahead, we’re in for quite a summer.

When the weather heats up, naturally we look for ways to cool down.  Iced tea, ice cream, lemonade and popsicles are just some of the treats that keep us cool.  For many adults, enjoying some frosty beverages on a patio is the perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon with friends.

I was at the farmer’s market this morning and local strawberries were abundant. There were also a number of vendors selling bunches of fresh mint.  It was then that I had a light-bulb moment: hot weather + front porch + strawberries + mint = strawberry mojitos! A mojito is a Cuban cocktail traditionally made with rum, lime, mint , sugar and sparkling water.  I first learned to make them while attending a wedding in Cuba. The resort we were staying at had a demonstration one day on how to make Cuban cocktails such as Mojitos, Cuba Libres and Hemingway Specials.  The key to making a proper mojito is to muddle the mint well. There are wooden muddlers that you can buy but a wooden spoon will work just fine.

Balance is important in this drink – you don’t want to venture into Girl Drink Drunk territory.  Keep the sugar to a minimum and let the strawberries and lime add a sweet-tart note.  To keep things easy, I use simple syrup to sweeten the drink instead of cane syrup or bar sugar (a quick dissolving sugar).  It’s very easy to make and can be used in a number of cocktails.

Strawberry Mojito

Makes 1 drink – can easily be multiplied

  • 5 large mint leaves
  • 1 to 1-1/2 oz. simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • 3 large or 5 small very ripe strawberries, hulled and cut into a small dice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice – from about 2 limes
  • 1-1/2 oz. white rum
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint and a strawberry to garnish
  1. In a highball glass, add mint leaves and 1 oz. of simple syrup. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to mash the leaves in the syrup until they are broken up.
  2. Add the strawberry pieces and mash them with the spoon until they are broken up and juicy.
  3. Add ice cubes and pour in lime juice and rum.  Stir until combined and top with club soda.  Taste and add a bit more simple syrup if desired.
  4. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a strawberry.

Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is one part water, one part sugar so it can be adapted to any quantity.  For a half cup of syrup you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. In a small saucepan, add sugar and water and bring to a simmer on medium heat
  2. Stir sugar until it dissolves.  Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool before using.  Syrup can be stored in the fridge for a few days.  Extra syrup can be used in a number of other cocktail recipes.

Cheers and Enjoy!





Rhubarb Refresher

15 05 2010

A Rhubarb Refresher is a delicious cocktail made with rhubarb, ginger and rum

Local rhubarb has just started appearing at markets in Southern Ontario and other areas won’t be far behind. The bracingly tart stalks are delicious in pies, tarts, drinks or even savoury dishes, provided you sweeten the fruit a bit.

This drink is a little sweet, a bit tart and has some heat from the ginger. It pairs well with rum to make a refreshing springtime cocktail that is perfect for entertaining.  For a non-alcoholic version, skip the rum and top the rhubarb-ginger syrup with club soda and a squeeze of lemon.

Rhubarb Refresher

Makes 2 drinks

  • Ice
  • 1-1/3 cups Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup (see recipe below)
  • 3 oz. amber rum
  • A generous squeeze of lemon
  • Club soda, to top drinks
  • Lemon wedges for garnish
  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rhubarb-ginger syrup, rum and a squeeze of lemon. Shake well and strain into two low-ball glasses or martini glasses.  Top with club soda and garnish with lemon wedges.

Rhubarb-Ginger Syrup

Makes about 1-1/3 cup

  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces (about 3 to 4 stalks)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, to taste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2″ piece of fresh ginger (about the diameter of a nickel), peeled and grated
  1. In a saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Mash fruit well with a spoon.  Strain into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to extract as much juice as possible (the leftover fruit solids are delicious to eat).
  3. Let syrup cool and use as desired.  It will keep covered in the fridge for a few days.

Cheers and Enjoy!





Hot Chocolate

11 12 2009

 

Homemade hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and grated chocolate

 

Even though it’s still officially fall for another ten days, winter has arrived in most parts of Canada.  We finally got our first snowfall and the temperature has plunged. As soon as the weather turns cold, I start to crave hot chocolate.  I’ve tried all of the big coffee chains and a few independent places but nothing quite suits my tastes. I prefer a cocoa that is dark and chocolaty but not too thick. I find most coffee shop hot chocolates tend to be too sweet, too milky or too artificial tasting.  The logical solution to this quandry?  Make my own!

It’s very easy to whip up some homemade hot chocolate and you can adjust it to suit your taste.  If you prefer it thicker, use some cream or evaporated milk.  Prefer it sweet?  Add more sugar.  You can also add flavourings or liqueur to your cocoa to dress it up (see below).

The key to good hot chocolate is to use a good quality cocoa powder.  I use a mix of Valrhona 100% Cacao Gastronomie and plain old Fry’s Premium Cocoa which can be purchased at any grocery store (the Valrhona is a little intense by itself).   Scharffen Bergen, Green & Black’s, Droste and Callebaut are other popular brands.  Top your cocoa off with a marshmallow or dollop or whipped cream or try one of the variations below.  If you’re interested in a bit of history, you can read about France’s King Louis XV’s love of hot chocolate, which he would sometimes prepare for himself: Chocolate at Versailles – Louis XV’s Favourite Drink.

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Makes 2 large mugs of cocoa

  • 5 Tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups milk – low fat or whole
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a mug or glass measuring cup, add cocoa powder and sugar.  Pour in ½ cup of the milk and use a fork to whisk the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2-1/2 cups of milk on medium-high heat.  Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.  Heat milk until barely simmering – do not bring to a hard boil.
  3. Pour cocoa mixture into the warm milk and whisk to combine.  Heat mixture until hot and serve.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream or marshmallows. Or try one of the variations below:

Variations (for adults only!):

Irish Hot Chocolate –  Add a shot of Bailey’s Irish Cream to each mug of hot chocolate

Mexican Hot Chocolate – Add ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons Kahlua to the hot chocolate.  Add a dash of cayenne pepper if you really want to spice it up!

Mint Hot Chocolate – Add ½ teaspoon mint extract or 2 Tablespoons of crème de menthe.  Garnish with a candy cane.

Chocolate-Orange – Add a shot of Grand Marnier to each hot chocolate.  Garnish with a candied orange peel.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Peach Sangria

22 08 2009

 

Baskets of peaches at the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Baskets of peaches at the St. Lawrence Market, Toronto

Peaches are at their peak right now and I’m fortunate to live about an hour from the Niagara region, a major peach growing area.  The peaches I picked up early last week were a bit firm but flavourful and their taste and texture improved after leaving them on the counter for a day or two.  

This sparkling sangria is a fun and refreshing way to enjoy fresh peaches and their juice.  I call for peach schnapps, which I enjoyed in my early twenties but hadn’t given much thought to in recent years, thinking it was too sweet and juvenile. However, I find a little bit adds a nice peachy flavour without being overly cloying. For peach juice, you can either puree and strain some fresh peaches or use a good quality bottled juice.

Peach Sangria

Makes 4-1/2 cups of sangria

  • 1 750-ml bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine such as a cava or prosecco
  • 1/2 cup peach schnapps
  • 1 cup peach juice
  • 1 large ripe peach, pitted and diced
  • Ice cubes

In a large pitcher, pour in the sparkling wine.  Mix in the peach schnapps and peach juice and stir together.  Add ice cubes and the diced peach.  Use a spoon when pouring to control the peach pieces in each drink.

Enjoy!

 

Ice cold peach sangria - the perfect refreshment on a hot August afternoon

Ice cold peach sangria - the perfect refreshment on a hot August afternoon