Minted :: Round III
And to wrap up a whirlwind of mint...shall we wash down a delectably healthful springtime meal with a bubbly fresh cocktail? This one's kind of out of this world--the perfect picnic sipper.
Prosecco Sparkler with Mint, Lavender and Lemon ::
Serves :: Makes 4 to 6 cocktails
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup mint leaves, loosely packed
3/4 teaspoon dried lavender
3 strips of lemon peel, using a vegetable peeler
1 bottle of Italian prosecco
In a small saucepan, bring water, sugar, mint, lavender and lemon peel to a simmer until all sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool and strain syrup through a sieve, discard remaining mint, lavender and lemon peel. Syrup can be made ahead and refrigerated. Will last for up to 2 weeks.
Fill small glasses or champagne flutes 2/3 full with prosecco. Add in 1 to 2 teaspoons of simple syrup depending on desired sweetness. Top off with club soda and serve.
Obsessing Over :: Rhubarb!
Rhubarb's peak season is fleeting, a couple more weeks and then poof, it's gone until next spring. Often under-appreciated, rhubarb is one of those ingredients that can make your eyes light up when spotting it at the market or featured on a menu. Versatile, vibrant and mellow in taste, it's certainly worth a test-drive if you haven't cooked or baked with it ever before. Last year, I dabbled with it's savory side, pickling it to pair with asparagus and creamy feta...totally out of this world for a stunning side dish. Strawberry-rhubarb crisp is always in the mix each spring and early summer as a not-too-sweet dessert that's crammed with fruit and topped with oats and brown sugar. Dab a dollop of brandied-vanilla whipped cream* on top and it's near heaven.
And just last week, I went the route of a rhubarb-vanilla simple syrup and compote. Shockingly quick and easy...and ridiculously tasty. Use the syrup to stir up a perfectly pink cocktail (prosecco+fresh lemon juice+rhubarb syrup or gin+rhubarb syrup+club soda+lime both come to mind) or even to give pellegrino and lime a little pop. The compote that's leftover after making the simple syrup is great to spoon into morning yogurt. It'll for sure start your day with a smile.
*quick little note on that brandied-vanilla whipped cream (cause it's spatula-licking fantastic)...add 1 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, the inside of 1/2 a vanilla bean and 2 tablespoons of brandy to a mixing bowl and either whisk with some major arm power or use an electric beater to whip until soft peaks form.
Rhubarb-Vanilla Syrup :: and Compote
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 stalks of rhubarb
½ vanilla bean, spilt in half
Bring all ingredients to a simmer until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb is soft, about 15 minutes. Strain syrup through a sieve and allow to cool. Place remaining rhubarb compote in a mason jar or air-tight container and refrigerate. Both syrup and compote can be refrigerated up to 3 weeks.
More Dishes you might like
The Negroni :: Italy on the Rocks
It's official, today marks the start of summer. And with it, ushers in a whole fresh crop of cool cocktails for hot weather...oh yes, I'm excited! Summer 2011 is officially the summer of the Negroni, as noted by last month's Manhattan Cocktail Classic and my good friend and Italian-inspired mixologist and sommelier Joe Campanale (his restaurants, L'Artusi, dell'anima and Anfora are among my fave Italian spots in the city). An old-school Italian classic (and my dad's summer sipper of choice), the Negroni brings together the herbal notes of Campari and gin, with a refreshing touch of citrus. Makes you feel like you're in Roma leisurely relaxing in the Piazza de Spagna right off the Spanish Steps.
My personal go-to summer cocktail is the Aperol spritz, which conjures up visions of Capri and the cerulean blue waters of the Amalfi coast. I haven't been back in 11 years, but a girl can dream can't she? Orangey-herbal aperitif + prosecco...bellissima!
Here's to a fantastic summer of cocktail sipping, wherever you draw your inspiration from, salute!
The Negroni :: and the Aperol Spritz
Serves :: 1 cocktail
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
1 1/2 ounces Campari
1 1/2 ounces gin
twist of orange
3 ounces Prosecoo
1 ounce Aperol
splash of soda water or Pellegrino
Shake vermouth, Campari and gin in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain over a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
Pour Prosecco, Aperol and soda water over ice, garnish with an orange slice.