Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Delectable Drinks

As promised.....  A few recipes for drinks that I have been making over the past few weeks.  Unfortunately, not many photos.  Was so busy making that forgot to stop and pick up camera.  Ooops.

I have so many cookbooks and cooking/food magazines.  Watch a lot of food tv and talk about food with all my friends and the marchands at the marche constantly.  Yes, I am a little obsessed with food and cooking or preparation of food.  

I love having people come for dinner and to make everything from scratch.  In Paris I could cook almost everything in our small appartement, but did not have the room to do any brewing of beverages.

Now of course, things have changed and we are living in a lovely big house in the countryside.  The garden is overflowing with produce and I have a huge cave to store my goodies in.  Life is good!

One of the first things I made when spring finally arrived was strawberry ratafia.  It is basically strawberries macerated in alcohol till the alcohol has all the flavour and colour and the strawberries are a colourless mush.  You can use eau de vie or grain alcohol to do this.  I am a vodka kind of girl, so I used a decent vodka.  Not the cheap and nasty one that strips paint, but not the top shelf one either.  Just a vodka that you would be happy to drink.  I used gariguette strawberries.  You want the most perfumed and flavourful berries you can find - in perfect shape, no bruises!  Then the fun begins....

Strawberry Ratafia
A large sealable glass jar (I use the ones with a rubber ring and metal lock)
Half to three quarters of the jars volume in strawberries
Bottle of vodka

Make sure berries are very clean and remove calix (green bit at top).  Weigh them and figure out what one fifth of their weight is in white sugar.
Mash strawberries roughly with sugar and leave to rest overnight. You do not want a puree! Chunks please.
Place in dry sterilised jar
Pour in vodka till strawberries covered by a few centimetres
Seal jar and place in a cool dark place

Every few days give jar a gentle shake and tip upside down to redistribute fruit and get the vodka moving

When vodka is dark pink and berries are pale pink almost white, you are nearly done.  This should take a week or so.

Gently decant into a strainer with a very fine mesh, or a strainer lined with filter paper or muslin.  Pour into sealable bottles and leave in a cool dark place for a few weeks before enjoying.

We drink it mixed half and half with lemonade which is very nice on a hot day.

After reading many recipes for this drink, I worked out a recipe that I liked.  I do not like sweet drinks very much and love anything lemon flavoured, so I reduced the amount of sugar and upped the amount of lemon.

Large sealable glass jar
Rinds of 4 lemons (as little pith as possible as it is bitter)
approx 2 cups of vodka

Place lemon rinds in dry sterilised jar and cover with vodka.
Leave in cool dark place for 2 weeks or so.  Every few days give jar gentle shake and tip upside down to redistribute the lemon in the liquid

When liquid is yellow and rinds looking a bit pathetic, 

Bring one and a half cups of white sugar and 2 cups of water to the boil.  Gently boil for 5 mins till thick and syrupy but do not let burn or colour!  Allow syrup to cool
When syrup is cool add to lemon rind and vodka, seal jar and give a gentle shake.
Let this mixture steep for another 2 weeks, gently shaking jar every few days.

After 2 weeks strain the mix and pour into dry sterilised bottles.  Chill in fridge or freezer and serve straight up as an aperitif.

That is all for now.  Will post Rhubarb recipes end of next week.  Am off to the Jura for a geology trip now.  More on that at a later date.