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!





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!





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!





Frozen Mango Margaritas

5 05 2009

istock_000008878094xsmall

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Cinco de Mayo (“Fifth of May”) is a day for celebrating Mexican heritage. For those of us who are not Mexican, it’s still a great excuse to whip up some margaritas and break out the chips and salsa.  We happen to be in the middle of mango season right now so why not celebrate with some mango margaritas?  They are simple to make and quite delicious, especially when paired with your favourite Mexican snacks like guacamole.

There are a number of different types of mangoes available at the supermarket, including hadens, altaulfos and alphonsoes. Hadens are a popular choice but you can choose whichever kind looks ripest.  To learn how to easily peel and dice mango, check out these helpful step-by-step instructions: How to Cut a Mango.

Frozen Mango Margaritas

Makes 4 servings

  • Fruit from 3 ripe mangoes (about 2 cups of fruit)
  • Juice from one small lime, about 1 oz.
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • Sea salt or other coarse salt for the rim of the glasses (optional)
  • Orange or lime slices for garnish (optional)
  1. Put mango, lime juice, ice, tequila and triple sec into a blender.  Puree on high for about one minute or until all ice is broken up and the margarita is smooth.
  2. If using salt for the glass rims, place salt on a small plate.  Moisten the rim of each glass and dip the edge into the salt, turning the glass until the rim is evenly coated.  
  3. Pour drinks into margarita glasses, martini glasses or tumblers and garnish with fruit slices if desired.

Enjoy!





Icewine

28 01 2009

 

A sample of ice wine at Peller Estates

A sample of icewine at Peller Estates

 

 

The expression “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” may be a bit of a cliché but when it comes to Canadians and winter weather, it’s an apt metaphor for what we do.  Except instead of lemonade, we’re making icewine.

Icewine was first made in Germany, where it is known as ‘eiswein’.  It involves leaving grapes on the vines to freeze which concentrates the sugars.  When pressed, the grapes yield a sweet, viscous nectar that is reminiscent of fruit and honey.  While Germany may lay claim to icewine’s roots, Canada has become a top producer with Canadian wineries regularly winning awards at international competitions.  To learn more about how Ontario icewines are made, visit www.ontariograpes.com.

Each winter, the Niagara wine region in Southern Ontario holds an icewine festival and this year I had the pleasure of attending some of the events.  A number of wineries hosted special tastings with activities and entertainment.  The main street of Niagara-on-the-Lake was blocked off to make way for a number of booths featuring samples from local winemakers and small bites from area restauranteurs.  

An outdoor ice bar

An outdoor ice bar

 

Our day got off to a late start but it’s only a short drive to the Niagara region from Toronto (just over an hour, if traffic is good). We stopped at Flat Rock Cellars and sampled a couple of their vintages.  They were also selling icewine marshmallows for toasting over the outdoor fire and their pond had been cleared for skating but unfortunately the ice conditions were poor so no one was out.  We moved on to Peller Estates who were hosting their tastings at an outdoor ice bar.  They featured icewines made from three different grapes: cabernet franc, vidal and riesling.  Like Flat Rock, Peller was also offering icewine marshmallows on sticks for toasting over fire pits. The toasted marshmallows were certainly better than anything you can buy in a bag but they were extremely sweet!  To finish off, Chef Jason Parsons was offering his signature icewine infused white hot chocolate.  It was the perfect drink to warm up with on a cold day.

Icewine marshmallows, ready for toasting over the fire

Icewine marshmallows, ready for toasting over the fire

 

Finally we went into town for the main event.   At the Fallsview Casino Icewine Lounge local restaurants were offering up small plates of their fare and icewine was flowing freely.   Tokens were for sale at the entrance and samples typically cost between one and three tokens.  There was entertainment and ice sculptors were wielding their chainsaws, producing temporary works of art.  The most popular booth was the 20 Bees martini bar, which featured icewine martinis poured down an ice chute, ensuring the drinks were ice cold by the time they hit your glass (see recipe for the cocktail below).   The food offered was very hearty including pork and beans, squash soup and a Provençal duck stew. 

Icewine martinis are poured through an ice chute

Icewine martinis are poured through an ice chute

 

The festival is held each year and runs for two weekends.  For information on planning a trip next year, visit www.niagarawinefestival.com.  It’s a unique way to experience wine country in the off-season.   A weekend of fine dining, great wine and perhaps a visit to the casino or a spa is the perfect way to chase away the mid-winter blues!

 

 

An ice sculptor at work

An ice sculptor at work

 

Entertainment at the festival

Entertainment at the festival

 

If you aren’t able to make it to the festival, you can still get into the spirit at home. Niagara icewine is available around the world (I once saw some in a wine shop in Rome), although it’s not cheap.  However, on occasion it’s an indulgent treat that’s worth the splurge.  For more icewine cocktails, click here: Peller Estates Icewine Cocktails.

Icewine Cocktail

As featured at the 20 Bees booth at the 2009 Niagara Icewine Festival

Makes 1 (strong) drink, can easily be doubled.

  • 2 ounces Skyy Vodka
  • 1 ounce 20 Bees Icewine

Chill a cocktail shaker in the freezer.  Combine a scoop of ice cubes, the vodka and icewine.  Shake well and strain into a chilled wineglass or martini glass.

An ice wine martini

An icewine martini

 

Icewine Jelly

This makes a great accompaniment to a cheese plate.  

Makes approximately 3/4 cup of jelly

  • 1 cup icewine
  • 1 package Certo pectin
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine icewine and pectin.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil on high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, until jelly begins to thicken.  Pour into a container and refrigerate until jelly cools and sets, at least 1 hour.
  3. Serve with cheeses, foie gras, etc.

 

Ice wine jelly with Comfort Cream cheese and crackers

Icewine jelly with Comfort Cream cheese and crackers

 

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!