Blackberry Ginger Smash

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Are you watching Orange is the New Black? If you are like me, then you burned through 13 episodes of this Netflix series as fast as you could…cause it’s pull-your-hair-out amazeballs. I mean, who else freaking wants to punch that confused, old man, Healy in the m-fing face?! He literally makes me shudder with rage and shriek at the TV and want to peel my own face off…or have a drink. He, and many other characters on that show…mostly the overly righteous, morally corrupt, prison officials and that crazy-B, Pennsyltucky. Dudes (and ladies) got no business judging, as most of them are more corrupt than a lot of the prison population they’re responsible for.  Don’t even get me started on Pornstache…this show makes my already swear-y nature even more pronounced…if you couldn’t tell. I should just calm down and opt for the drink thing, since being faceless sounds like a lot less of a fun time.

Aaaand, that’s my segue for this Blackberry Ginger Smash. Smooth…So, let’s discuss this cocktail! I did some quick internet sleuthing and found that a smash is a cocktail made by muddling mint with sugar, sometimes fruit, then you add booze and soda. I like dat.

So, I made this Blackberry Ginger Smash with juicy blackberries, spicy ginger syrup, fresh mint, bracing gin, a squeeze of bright lime, and some bubbly soda water. I added a Candied-Ginger-Mint Sugar for rimming the glass, for good measure. Maybe it’s just me, but often I find blackberries at the store to be a little tough, dry, and flavorless…this time, I found super juicy blackberries. The type whose tender skins yield at the gentlest touch, the kind I used to pick off the wild brambles every childhood summer in the Sierra Foothills. They were perfect gems and I was so excited to smash them into this drink. Oh! And to muddle, without a muddler, I used my friend Megan’s tip to use a honey dipper. That gal, she’s a smart cookie. So, if you can find the best blackberries you can and don’t know what to do with them…this drink is a good place to start…plus, it’s an excellent alternative to TV-shrieking/face-peeling.

Blackberry Ginger Smash

This is a really informal recipe, adjust the quantities to taste…even eliminate the gin for a refreshing soda. I like to layer this drink so there’s an ombre sitch happening. I find adding the ice after muddling but before adding the lime, gin, and soda, helps with this effect.

Makes 1 drink

4-6 juicy blackberries

3 big mint leaves

1/2 ounce ginger syrup

ice cubes

1 lime wedge

1 ounce gin

soda water

Candied-Ginger-Mint Sugar plus a lime wedge for garnish.

Place the Candied-Ginger-Mint Sugar on a plate. Take a wedge of lime and rub it along the edge of your cocktail glass, dip the glass into the sugar to coat the rim.

Place the blackberries, mint, and ginger syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass. Smash/muddle until the mint is bruised and the blackberries are squished. Add the ice cubes, followed by a squeeze of lime,  gin, and top of with soda water.

Ginger Syrup:

Make quick work of chopping the ginger by using a mini food processor…otherwise, get friendly with your knife.

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup chopped, fresh ginger root

1/2 cup water

In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients and heat to dissolve the sugar, bring to a boil, boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and pour into a heatproof jar, cool to room temperature, seal with a lid or cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Candied Ginger Mint Sugar:

2 tablespoons chopped, candied ginger

1 tablespoon fresh mint

2 tablespoons sugar

In a mini food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse! The end.

 

 

Honeydew Mint Ice Pops

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Guys! This weekend I’m heading to sunny Orlando for the Food Blog Forum conference with my good pal, Megan. As a girl that is usually awkward, at best, in social situations involving crowds and small talk, I’m a bit nervous…but! my horoscope for the weekend says that I’ll be inspired by people I admire and I’ll be a social butterfly of sorts, so I’m gonna take that and run with it. Who am I to argue with the cosmos?!

But, let’s get to the matter at hand…ice pops! Tis the season and I have plans to crank them out all spring and summer…maybe into the fall. Watch out!

When I was a kid I always thought cantaloupe was honeydew because it’s more the color of honey — kid brains are so interesting. My kid brain would have loved these pops because they’re a real treat and fruit was the main dessert around our house…as I’m pretty sure my mom is part fruit bat.

I’m a huge fan of mint, but as a child I don’t recall ever having it in any other form than mint-chip ice cream or gum. I’m an adult these days, or so they say, and I LOVE fresh mint — especially with fruit, it’s just such a winner! These ice pops really couldn’t be any easier or more refreshing. They’re cool from the mint (and the freezing, duh), sweet from the honeydew, yet bright from a squeeze of fresh lime. And because I can’t help myself, I know that these would be excellent with a little booze mixed in (I love the idea of herbal gin or straight-up vodka). With or without booze, these ice pops are super refreshing, dead-simple, and sure to impress.

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Honeydew Mint Ice Pops

Makes 10 ice pops. 

Instead of pulsing the sugar and mint in a processor, you can just chop the mint and rub it into the sugar until fragrant. I made a REALLY minty syrup ’cause I like that, you can use half the amount for a more subtle flavor. Depending on how sweet your melon is, you may not need to use all of the mint syrup — taste the melon and add whatever amount of syrup you prefer.  If you aren’t a fan of honeydew, use whatever melon you’d like, cantaloupe or watermelon would be excellent! 

1/2 cup sugar

1 loosely packed cup of mint leaves

1/2 cup water

4 cups diced honey dew

juice of 1 lime

In a mini food processor, pulse the sugar and the mint leaves until the mint is finely chopped and the sugar is fragrant. Place the mint sugar into a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil to dissolve. Boil the syrup for 60 seconds, remove from heat, and strain through a fine mesh sieve.

Place the honeydew in a large bowl (or a blender, you may want to do this in batches if using a blender), along with the lime juice and mint syrup. Pulse with an immersion blender until smooth and no chunks of honeydew remain. Divide the mixture between popsicle molds, freeze 30-60 minutes, insert sticks, and continue to freeze until solid (8 hours is best).

 

Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda

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One summer during high school, I spent a week with a family friend, Bobby, while her daughter and family were out of town. Bobby was a totally fascinating lady–she attended Berkeley in the 30′s where she studied micro-biology (a lady! in the 30′s! micro-biology!)…and, she introduced me to the ice cream soda, for which I will be forever thankful.

Before, the world of ice cream sodas consisted of the standard root beer float. After, I knew that the possibilities were endless. An ice cream soda is a super simple, old fashioned, soda fountain treat. It’s a simple mixture of ice cream, flavored syrup, and soda water. Here, I’ve paired super maple-y ice cream with a fruity blueberry syrup…because if we’re talking blueberry sans lemon, then I want it with maple. It just is. Adding soda water makes this drink effervescent and mixes the ingredients to create a creamy lavender color with streaks of pale maple ice cream and bright punches of deep purple.

This Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda is SO PRETTY and….it tastes like pancakes…enough said.

Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda

There will be enough ingredients to make several ice cream sodas…so, have one today, tomorrow, and the next day, OR share! 

Makes 1 ice cream soda.

2-3 medium scoops of maple ice cream (recipe below)

several tablespoons blueberry syrup (recipe below)

soda water

whipped cream (optional)

In a tall glass layer the ice cream scoops with spoonfuls of syrup. Pour on the soda water to cover, garnish with whipped cream and more syrup. Serve with a straw.

Maple Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened

In a medium saucepan, heat maple syrup and bring to a boil. Cook, turning the heat down as needed if the syrup bubbles too much, until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream.

Pour 1/4 cup of the milk into a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to combine. Set cornstarch slurry aside.  Whisk in the remaining milk and salt with the cream and maple mixture. Return to heat and bring the maple and dairy mixture to a low boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry to combine, bring to a boil and cook, whisking until thickened–about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl (preferably with a spout for easy pouring), and mix lightly with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the hot ice cream base until combined well.

Prepare and ice bath in a clean sink or large bowl. Pour the hot maple ice cream base into a gallon-size zip top bag, seal, and chill in the ice bath until cooled completely. Process the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape into a freezer container and seal, freeze for several hours until firm.

Blueberry Syrup

1 heaping cup of blueberries, rinsed and dried

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a small saucepan, over medium-high, heat blueberries with sugar and lemon until berries burst and release their juices and the sugar is dissolve  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and press the blueberry syrup through a fine mesh sieve, discard solids. Pour syrup into a heatproof jar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.