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!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!

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.

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





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!

Get updates from The Seasonal Gourmet on Facebook and Twitter.  Join the conversation today!





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





Aloha from Maui!

31 07 2009

 

Near Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Near Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Greetings from the island of Maui, Hawaii!  I’m currently sitting in the lobby of the gorgeous Fairmont Kea Lani hotel in Wailea, Maui, taking a short break from swimming, sight seeing and of course, eating.  The scenery and food are fantastic here and the people are the friendliest I’ve ever encountered in my travels.  We’ve been enjoying the local cuisine, which is very different from what’s local where I live. Coconut, pineapple, macadamia nuts, coffee and fish are all an important part of the Hawaiian diet and luckily, favourites of mine as well.  The cuisine draws from a variety of influences from Portuguese to Japanese and fish features prominently.  We’ve enjoyed ahi tuna, monchong (a whitefish with a meaty texture and mild flavour), shrimp, hamachi, salmon and oysters as well as excellent beef from the Maui Cattle Company.  Fresh fruit is abundant and a wedge of sweet, juicy pineapple is served with almost everything.  It’s been a wonderful week relaxing and getting inspired with new ideas for delicious recipes. In the meantime, here is a simple summery cocktail that was inspired by a poolside drink I enjoyed a couple of days ago (while unknowingly getting a terrible sunburn – the sun here really packs a punch!).  I’ll have more to report later so until then…

Mango Bellini

Makes 1 drink – can easily be doubled

If you can’t find mango schnapps, substitute the more readily available peach schnapps.

In a champagne flute or small wine glass, add:

  • 1 oz. mango OR peach schnapps
  • 2 oz. mango juice
  • Top with an inexpensive dry sparkling wine such as cava or prosseco
  • Optional: Garnish with fruit or an orchid, if desired.

Aloha and Enjoy!

 

Mango Bellini with orchid garnish

Mango Bellini with orchid garnish





Tuscan Lemonade

21 06 2009

iStock_000006261201XSmall

Welcome to summer, at long last!  This year the first day of summer also coincides with Father’s Day (and my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary – Happy Anniversary!). Now that the weather is warming up and casual entertaining is moving outdoors, a sweet-tart adult lemonade is the perfect drink to get festivities rolling.

This refreshing version of lemonade draws its inspiration from the idyllic notion of Tuscan afternoons amongst the olive and lemon groves, sipping chilled limoncello. Limoncello is a lemony Italian liqueur that is actually from the Amalfi coast in Southern Italy but it is enjoyed throughout Italy and around the world.  I have to admit to shamelessly adopting the ‘Tuscan’ descriptor to make it sound more appealing.  It’s a bit of  a joke that anything labelled ‘Tuscan’ tends to sell, whether or not it actually has anything to do with Tuscany (As an example, see  ‘Tuscan’ frozen pizzas, or an article from the satirical magazine The Onion: “Area Woman Will Eat Anything with ‘Tuscan’ in Name“).  Call it what you will, this is a great summer sipper that is perfect as an afternoon drink or pre-dinner aperitif.

 

Dream of the Tuscan countryside while sipping a pre-dinner 'Tuscan' lemonade

Dream of Tuscan sunsets while sipping a pre-dinner adult lemonade

This can be made for 2 people, or served by the pitcher for a crowd – I have given instructions for both.  You can also lighten it up by using sparkling water in place of the prosecco/sparkling wine.

Helpful tip: Use fresh lemon juice instead of the bottled kind if possible.  To get the most juice from a lemon, roll it on the countertop before cutting it open, pressing down on it so the insides break up a bit.  Keep lemons at room temperature instead of in the fridge.

Tuscan Lemonade

Makes 2 drinks – see below for pitcher proportions to serve a crowd

  • 3 oz. limoncello liqueur
  • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • About 200 to 250 ml / approximately 1 cup (8 oz.) prosecco, cava or other inexpensive sparkling wine to top drink (substitute sparkling water for a lighter drink)
  • Ice
  • Lemon slices to garnish
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add limoncello and lemon juice.  Shake well and strain into lowball glasses or small wine glasses.  
  2. Top with prosecco/cava/sparkling water and garnish with a lemon slice.  
  3. Serve with a dish of olives, if desired.

To Make a Pitcher of Lemonade:

The proportions for 2 drinks are 3:2:8 so you can adjust it accordingly for a group.  For 8 people, you would need:

  • 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) limoncello
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) fresh lemon juice
  • 32 oz. (4 cups) sparkling wine or water
  1. Instead of mixing in a cocktail shaker, just mix in a pitcher, add a few ice cubes and chill in the fridge until serving. Cut lemons into slices and toss into the pitcher.  Garnish glasses with lemon slices for serving, if desired.

Cheers and Enjoy!

 

A refreshing adult lemonade that's perfect for hot summer days.

A refreshing adult lemonade that's perfect for hot summer days.





Caesar Cocktail

15 05 2009

iStock_000005681745XSmallAlmost everyone is familiar with a Bloody Mary – a tomato juice based cocktail that is popular on brunch menus across North America.  However, there is a uniquely Canadian cocktail that is similar to a Bloody Mary but (in my humble opinion) is even better.  The Bloody Caesar (or Caesar) was invented in 1969 by bartender Walter Chell in Calgary, Alberta.  The ingredients sound a bit odd – clamato juice (clam juice + tomato), vodka, worcestershire sauce, tabasco and celery salt – but the sum is greater than the parts.  A properly mixed caesar is a thing of beauty and is perfect for a summer barbeque or brunch party.  

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the caesar’s invention, the Westin Calgary is hosting a celebration.  For $199 (CDN) a night double occupancy, you can stay at the hotel and indulge in caesar-inspired drinks and appetizers.  For those of us who can’t make it to Calgary, caesars are easy to make at home and the perfect tipple to celebrate the Victoria Day long weekend. In Canada, Mott’s Clamato juice can be found in virutally any grocery store and many liquor stores even sell pre-mixed caesars in bottles.  In the United States, clamato can sometimes be found at supermarkets or Latino markets.  Occasionally bars in major tourist areas such as Las Vegas will make caesars if you ask.  Mott’s also sells a special ‘Caesar Rimmer’ to garnish your glasses but regular celery salt works just as well.

Bloody Caesar Cocktail

Makes 2 drinks – can easily be doubled

  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 2 X 1/4 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 8 dashes tabasco sauce (more or less, to taste)
  • About 2 cups clamato juice or spicy clamato juice
  • 1 Tablespoon celery salt
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 2 celery sticks for garnish (optional)
  • Ice cubes
  1. Pour celery salt onto a small plate.  Cut a small slit in one of the lime wedges and run the wedge around the edge of two highball glasses to moisten the rim.  Dip the rim into the celery salt, turning the glass until the entire rim is coated with salt. Repeat with the second glass.
  2. Place a few ice cubes into each glass.  To each glass, add 1-1/2 oz. vodka, 1/4 teaspoon worcestershire sauce, a few drops of tabasco and top with clamato juice.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  
  3. Garnish with lime wedges and celery sticks.

Cheers and Happy Victoria Day Weekend to all my Canadian readers!