Tag Archives: cocktail

Pink Lychee Bellini Cocktail

7 Sep

I had never tried fresh lychee before I bought these. I thought I didn’t like them because the ones I had tried out of a tin tasted, well like tin, and syrup. Not a good combination.

So I bought these because they were cheap mainly and because The Washer Up kept trying to persuade me that they were lovely. And he was right. I don’t think I’ve ever said that before, that he was right I mean. He will be pleased.

It turns out that underneath that pink prehistoric armoured shell there is a delicately perfumed, lightly floral tasting, opalescent jewel of a fruit that is elegant, cool, sweet and delicious. Nothing at all like tin, which is nice.

I was going to make Lychee Martinis as that seems to be the lychee cocktail of choice but I saw Jamie Oliver doing Venice the other day and he was explaining the history of the Bellini that was invented in Harry’s Bar in Venice (something to do with the delicate peach colour resembling the golden glow in Bellini’s paintings) and he showed how to make an authentic one.

He used white peaches with their red skins still on (to get the light peachy colour) and he crushed the whole thing in his hand  through a sieve into a jug. He then mixed the pulp with Prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and poured it into the glass.

I tried to crush a lychee through a sieve, (there’s a first time for everything) but it didn’t work so I just pureed the fruits (without the seeds) with a stick blender. The puree is a milky white froth that I poured into the bottom of each glass and I topped it up with pink rose cava (Spanish sparkling wine) because I wanted it to echo the beautiful colour of the lychee skins. You could use normal sparkling instead for a more frosty effect.

Salud!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Watermelon Agua Fresca

9 Jul

Just a little something to quench your thirst if you are suffering like me in this unbearable heat. Sorry if you are in the rain somewhere but you can pretend it’s sunny and cheer yourself up with this refreshingly tropical drink if you like.

When it is this hot all I seem to do all day is drink water. Water is good but I do get a bit bored of it after a while. Agua Frescas are fruit based non alcoholic punches popular in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is basically just pureed fruit with water, lime juice and honey to sweeten. This is a non alcoholic version because I wanted something refreshing to drink during the day but I’m sure a little vodka or rum would make it into a lovely cocktail.

I kept the watermelon rinds to make watermelon pickle. The recipe will follow in my next post.

Watermelon Agua Fresca

Makes 1 big pitcher/jug. Vegan, gluten-free

Prep time: 20 mins

  • 2 kg (4 pound) watermelon (1 small/med)
  • 250-300 ml (1+1/2 cups) cold water
  • 1 +1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 +1/2 tsp honey
  • ice cubes, lime slices & mint sprigs to serve

Cut the watermelon into quarters then slice into inch wide triangles/wedges. Cut the flesh from the rind leaving a little pink on (if you would like to make watermelon pickle with them). Blend the flesh in four batches with about 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) of water each time until smooth.

Carefully pour the blended watermelon through a sieve into your pitcher/jug and press out any extra juice from the pulp collected in the sieve with a spatula. Continue with the rest. You may want to add a little more water to the finished juice.

Add the lime juice and honey, mix well and taste. Add more lime/honey as required. Store covered in the fridge. Serve over lots of ice with lime slices and sprigs of mint as garnish.

Keep the rinds for the watermelon pickle recipe that follows in my next post.

Salud!!

Pink Hibiscus Flirtini

26 Nov

As it’s the weekend and it is officially holiday season I thought I would share a little cocktail with you. After the success of my Golden Jasmine Martini and seeing this double page article in The Independent (The Washer Up’s dad sends me all food & drink related articles, thanks Jim!), it had to be with tea. Apparently cocktails made with tea are the next big thing.

The English summer garden party was all about people drinking cocktails out of flowery teacups. The Royal Tea cocktail created for the Royal Wedding in April was with Beefeater gin, chilled Earl Grey tea, lemon, sugar & lime.

Being more of a vodka girl myself it was a toss-up between a Flirtini and a Cosmopolitan. I chose the Flirtini because of the use of cava/champagne. I do love bubbles and it is nearly Christmas.

Continue reading

Golden Jasmine Martini

22 Sep

I walk past this beautiful jasmine plant every morning with the dog and brush past it to release it’s exotic perfume.

I’ve been thinking about what I could make with jasmine. I have jasmine green tea that I drink every morning and was exploring ideas around that. I thought about making a Jasmine Tiramisu (or tea -ramisu) because The Washer Up made an amazing Tiramisu with Darjeeling tea when we had a special menu from the region of Darjeeling in India. I still might do that but it is a lot of work (and calories).

I was flicking through some newspaper cuttings The Washer Up’s dad had sent me. He cuts out anything to do with food and sends it to me along with any classic books he may have picked up in a charity shop, thanks Jim for keeping my brain functioning and furthering my literary education!!

In one of the clippings there was a recipe for a Rose & Lychee Martini. This got me thinking about a Jasmine Martini, an alcoholic iced tea, a Mar-tea-ni if you like. I love the golden colour it’s very elegant & expensive-looking.

Golden Jasmine Martini

serves 2, vegan, gluten-free

  • 1 heaped teaspoon jasmine green tea
  • boiling water
  • 3 or 4 ice cubes
  • 2 measures vodka (or gin) be as generous as you’re feeling, about 100 ml should do it
  • 1 tbsp 15 ml sugar syrup or honey
  • jasmine flowers to garnish

Put your martini glasses in the freezer to chill for as long as you can. Half an hour is good.

Make a cup of jasmine tea with boiling water and leave it to steep for a few minutes. Add the honey or sugar syrup and stir to dissolve it.

Put the ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and pour the tea, through a strainer (to catch any tea leaves) into the shaker and add the vodka or gin. Shake well until ice-cold and strain into the frozen glasses. Garnish with jasmine petals and enjoy.

Serve this as an aperitif before a fragrant Asian meal or with canapes to people you’d like to impress….

Cheers!!

A Watermelon Martini Granita for a Mysterious Friend

20 Jul

I’ve been watching these watermelons grow from a distance. Every morning I walk past them with the dog and look down on them. I walk on the road that goes around the top of the field, and have been taking photos from there but I wasn’t happy with them, they were too far away. I wanted to get closer so I had to scramble down quite a steep bank and quickly take some shots before anyone saw me and thought I was stealing.

Don’t you think they look strange just lying there, on the ground?

Kind of like stray, abandoned footballs, hidden in the long grass of your neighbour’s garden, that you are too afraid to ask for back.

The first thing that I think of when I see watermelon is a cocktail we used to serve at the restaurant called a Watermelon Martini. It was a beautiful pale pink colour (there was a lot of vodka in it) and it was served in a martini glass with a pink straw.

A proper girl’s drink, or so I thought.

This pretty pink drink became “The Usual” of one of our best customers who soon became a friend. I can’t mention his name (yes it’s a he) because he might have to kill me.

No seriously, he would have to kill me.

Let’s just say, he works away a lot. I don’t know what he does or where he does it. What I do know is that when he comes home he likes a nice cocktail.

 A nice pink, girly cocktail.

Now this guy is big. As in big, strong and slightly intimidating (if you don’t know him). He has a dangerous job and you’d definitely want him on your side in a fight.

To see him sitting at my bar with a baby pink martini cocktail in his (very large) hands would always completely crack me up. It still does now, and I miss it.

 So, for old times sake, you know who you are. This one’s for you. xx

I wanted to make a granita because Sawsan from Chef in Diguise and Tiffany from Como Water keep tempting me with them.  Tiffany also gave me the idea for the sugar-coated mint leaves as a garnish. The bouganvilla is from our roof terrace and is just the perfect colour to go with this.

Watermelon Martini Granita Recipe

Makes about a litre tub, 4-6 martini size glasses.

Adapted from Como Water & Alcoholic Drink Recipes

  • about 600 gr cubed watermelon, without rind
  • 2 tsp fresh lime/lemon juice
  • 55 gr (1/4 cup) caster sugar
  • 55 ml (1/4 cup) vodka, or more to taste
  • fresh mint leaves
  • sugar
  • a wedge of watermelon to decorate the glass

Remove as many seeds from the watermelon as possible, cut into cubes and put in a food proccessor or bowl with the lime/lemon juice and sugar and blend well until smooth.

Strain the puree through a sieve into a shallow pyrex dish or metal tin. Press the pulp through the sieve with a spatula to squeeze as much juice out as possible. Mix the vodka into the juice and taste. Add more vodka , sugar or lime juice to taste.

Freeze for about an hour until the edges start to freeze. Fold the frozen bits into the middle with a fork. Do this every half an hour for about 4 hours. (I know it sounds time consuming, but it’s so worth it, and you don’t have to sit there waiting for it, just set the timer and get on with something else).

Meanwhile make the sugar-coated mint leaves. Tip some sugar onto a small plate, wash the mint leaves then dip the top side into the sugar. Put these on plate and freeze.

The granita mixture is ready when it forms ice crystals. Rake it with the fork and serve in chilled glasses garnished with the sugar-coated mint leaves and a wedge of watermelon.

Salud!

Things that made me smile today……..

 

Our hibiscus plants in full bloom….

With a watermelon martini granita in one hand and an hibiscus flower behind my ear, the world is a happy place!

Mint Julep Peaches via Iran

5 Jul

I’ve been saving this recipe for a long time, waiting for when peaches came into season here. There’s quite a complicated reason why I wanted to try it so much, that I will explain. But first, here are the beautiful peaches. I was so happy to see them.

  I read a book called Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Set in Iran in the late 90’s, it is a true account of a teacher and her former students, seven young women, meeting every Thursday to discuss forbidden works of Western literature.

The books discussed are Pride & Prejudice, Lolita and The Great Gatsby. Their personal stories are intertwined with those they are reading, creating a rare glimpse into women’s lives in revolutionary Iran.

Reading about these classics made me want to discover them for myself. I am particularly interested in The Great Gatsby but still have not got around to purchasing a copy, mainly because most of my time is now spent cooking, photographing and blogging about food. That leaves little time for anything else.

 Which brings me back to the peaches. I was watching an episode of Nigella’s Forever Summer when she started talking about The Great Gatsby too, this is what she said:

There’s something about mint juleps that I associate with the deep heat of midsummer. I have to say this association is an entirely literary one: I’ve never sat in the wilting sun drinking a mint julep in my life; the most I can muster is a few in cold college rooms in my cocktail-drinking student years (which certainly dates me). But there is, I always remember, I hope not erroneously, from The Great Gatsby, that pivotal scene, when they’re all sitting around in the airless heat, deranged, before everything happens, drinking mint juleps. Anyway, there is something intensely summery – leafy, fresh, spicily aromatic – about these peaches, poached in sugar-syrup and bourbon and sprinkled with mint”.

That was it, I was hooked. I had no choice but to make them. I don’t have time to read the book but I can make the Mint Julep Peaches. It’s a definite case of food over fiction at this moment in time.

In case you are interested, this is how you make  a Mint Julep:

 From drinksmixer.com

4 fresh mint sprigs
2 1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp water
Muddle mint leaves, powdered sugar, and water in a collins glass. Fill the glass with shaved or crushed ice and add bourbon. Top with more ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Serve with a straw.
 
Mint Julep Peaches Recipe
 
Serves 2 – 3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer
  • 350 ml water
  • 350 gr caster sugar
  • 125 ml bourbon
  • 4 peaches, white flesh with pink skins if possible
  • fresh mint leaves & sprigs to garnish

Put the water, sugar and 100 ml of the bourbon in a large frying pan, swirl it about to start dissolving the sugar, then put it over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Let it boil away for about 2 minutes then turn it down and let it simmer.

Meanwhile, cut the peaches in half and remove the stones if possible (you can remove them later when cooked if not). Put the peaches, cut side down, into the gently bubbling syrup and poach for a couple of minutes before turning them over and poaching for another 2 or 3 minutes cut side up.

It depends on the ripeness of your peaches as to how long they need.  You can test the cut side with a fork to see if they are tender but not too soft. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate and continue until all the peaches are cooked.

Pour any of the pink syrup on the plate back into the poaching liquid. Then measure 100 ml of the liquid into a small saucepan with the remaining 25 ml bourbon (or maybe a bit more), put on the heat and boil until reduced by a third. Don’t reduce it too much or you will get a toffee- like syrup that won’t pour out of the jug and hardens on contact with the plate (like I did)! Luckily I still had the rest of the poaching liquid to use.

Meanwhile, carefully peel off the skins of the peaches, they should come away easily. You can leave them, cut side down, on a plate covered with cling-film until you are ready to serve them.

Pour the reduced syrup into a jug and leave to cool. You can freeze the rest of the poaching liquid to use next time, just add a bit more water and bourbon and reheat.

To serve place 2 or 3 peach halves cut side down on a plate and pour over the thick pink syrup. Sprinkle over some chopped mint and garnish with a few sprigs.

Retire to a shady spot, sit back and enjoy……

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