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Summer in a bottle! I picked a few tubs of blackberries down by the train tracks, and here’s what I made with them. This winter there will be blackberry cocktails and maybe some desserts featuring this gorgeous blackberry liqueur. We already had some drizzled on ice cream, and I plan to make a blackberry liqueur-champagne drink soon . . .
This is really easy to make, but you need two days to complete the process. Most of the time is just letting the berries soak. And picking the berries – I have discovered that if you try to do this in a rush you get hurt. So many prickles! So I take my time, and it has been a someone meditative process. Being calm, picking only the berries that are ready to fall off the plant, the ripest and sweetest ones.
The amounts used are based on the fact that I had 3 cups of blackberries. Adjust the amounts if you have more or less. It’s not an exact science. I looked at a lot of recipes to get ideas about what to do here, so this is a compilation of some of their ideas for amounts and processes. I added a few sage leaves, and I’m not sure yet if they are noticeable in the finished product, and are optional for this recipe.
The first batch turned out so well that I’ve just begun another one!
Simple syrup really is simple to make. Just add equal parts water and granulated sugar to a pot, let it heat until the sugar has dissolved, and let it cool. For this recipe I used 1/2 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar.
What you need:
3 cups (750mL) fresh blackberries
2 & 3/4 cups vodka (680mL) (I used Stolichnaya)
a few fresh sage leaves, optional
1 & 1/2 cups (325mL) water
3/4 to 1 cup simple syrup (180-250mL), to taste
cheesecloth for straining
What you do:
Wash the berries and drain them. Place them in a large bowl or pot and mash them with a potato masher or the bottom of a bottle.
Pour the vodka over the berries. They should be completely covered. Put a lid or plastic wrap over the container and let it sit in a cool place for about 24 hours. (It was really hot when I made mine, so there was no cool place to put it. I just moved on to the next step a bit earlier.)
Strain the berries and vodka into another bowl, keeping the pulp. Cover the berry and vodka mixture.
Place the pulp in another container and pour the water over it. Let this sit for 24 hours, then strain it, adding the juice to the vodka mixture.
Use cheesecloth to strain the berries again, to get all the vodka and blackberry goodness out of them.
Strain the vodka and berry mixture several more times through the cheesecloth until the liquid has no pulp in it.
Bottle the liqueur. It should keep for a long time in a cool cupboard, but I’m choosing to keep mine in the fridge since I have space.
Many years ago I made some homemade Irish Cream, and used a chocolate mould to make Irish Cream chocolates. They were delicious and messy. This winter I decided to try it again, minus the chocolates; so I’d have something different to bring to Christmas parties. The recipe I used before, as most of the ones I was able to find this time around, contain canned condensed milk, chocolate syrup and instant coffee powder. This time I wanted to try a recipe that used fresh cream, home-made chocolate extract, and cold-pressed coffee. And it’s really yummy!
You need to plan a day or two in advance to make the chocolate extract and cold-pressed coffee. I have only included enough ingredients to make enough extract and coffee for this recipe. If you double the recipe for the chocolate extract you will have some left over to add to other recipes, like cakes and brownies.
The Homemade Irish Cream should keep in the fridge for about a month. I know that Bailey’s has no artificial preservatives in it, and it keeps for up to two years because the alcohol and sugar work as preservatives. Let me know how long yours lasts! I’ll be giving mine away, so it won’t last long enough to test the shelf-life.
A few things you’ll need are some bottles for storing the Irish Cream, coffee filters, and a funnel for pouring.
Some of the ingredients settle when it’s in the fridge, so you have to give it a shake before serving.
What you need:
2 tablespoons vodka or whiskey (for chocolate extract)
1 tablespoon dark chocolate cocoa (for chocolate extract)
1/2 cup coarsely ground coffee beans (for cold-press coffee concentrate)
1 cup cold water (for cold-press coffee concentrate)
Two days in advance prepare the chocolate extract: In a small container stir the cocoa, vodka or whiskey, and 1 tablespoon of water. Let this sit at room temperature for the two days, stirring once or twice a day. After the two days, moisten a coffee filter with water, then strain the chocolate mixture. It will take time to strain all the liquid out, but you will be left with a gorgeous chocolate extract.
The night before making the Irish Cream you can make the cold-press coffee concentrate: Coarsely grind the coffee beans, then pour them along with 1/2 cup cold water into a jar, making sure all the beans get moistened. Add the other 1/2 cup of the water, then seal the jar and store in the fridge overnight. In the morning you can strain the liquid using a coffee filter.
Using a double boiler over medium-low heat, or a bowl over a pot that has some water in it, place the chocolate chips along with about 2 teaspoons of cream. Stir the chocolate chips until they have melted.
In a bowl whisk the remaining cream and the sugar together. Little by little add the sugar and cream mixture to the melted chocolate, until it has all been incorporated and the sugar has dissolved.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl that has a pouring spout, or into a large jar. Use an immersion blender to pulse a few times to combine, or whisk for a minute. Add the chocolate and vanilla extracts, cold-pressed coffee concentrate, and whiskey. Pulse the blender a few more times to combine.
Use a funnel to pour the Irish Cream into clean jars.
Refrigerate, and enjoy over ice, in coffee, or on top of ice cream. Don’t forget to shake it up first!
This tasty drink is another one of the recipes I got from chef Eric Fischer at Altamar Restaurant in Tulum, Mexico. It packs a flavour punch! I finally got around to making it for friends last night, and it was a big hit (right guys?)
You can alter the spiciness to your liking by toning down (or up) the jalapeño pepper.
If you don’t have margarita glasses, no worries – a wine glass does the job!
What you need for one serving:
1/2 measure tamarind concentrate (I used Deliciosa brand)
1 measure tequila plus a dash more
1/2 measure Grand Marnier
1/4 measure simple syrup
1/2 measure Cointreau
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
1/2 banana pepper
jalapeño pepper, to your liking – start with 1/4 teaspoon
juice of 1/2 lime
plenty of ice
What you do:
Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until all the ingredients are well combined and the ice becomes slushy.
Dip the rim of the glass in lime juice, then salt (or skip this step and just drink it). Garnish with a wedge of lime.
Here’s a recipe for Limoncello, a summery liqueur that is easy to make at home. It is typically served to sup on, icy cold, as a digestif after dinner. For more options, this site has tons of mixed drinks you can make using your homemade Limoncello.
Do-it-yourself liqueurs are great because you can control the amount of sugar that goes into them, and it’s fun to make them. I read a lot of recipes online, and most were similar, so I did what seemed right to make this one. I had some of the simple syrup left over, since I didn’t want to add too much sugar; it tastes sweeter when it is cold. You can always add more sugar later, or for individuals with more of a sweet tooth.
For this recipe you’ll need a large jar for the first part that sits for a week or two, then some bottles for the finished product. It’s best to buy organic lemons for this recipe, since the peels are what flavours this drink.
What you need:
zest of 4-5 organic lemons
1 litre 80-proof vodka
3 & 3/4 cups water
2 & 1/4 cups sugar
What you do:
Wash the lemons well and dry them.
Peel the yellow part of the lemon rind – it is important that you don’t use even a trace of the white part of the rind, as this will give your Limoncello a bitter taste. I used a very sharp vegetable peeler, but you could also do this carefully with a knife. Alternatively you can use a zester to grate the peel.
Place the lemon zest in a large jar and top it up with the litre of vodka. Tighten a lid on the jar and put it in a cool, dark place for a week or two. I covered mine with a tea towel.
Wait. Give the jar a shake every other day.
After a week or so you should see that the vodka has turned yellow. Strain the lemon zest out of the vodka.
Combine the water and sugar in a pot and heat it gently on the stove. Let the simple syrup cool to room temperature. (When I make this again I will use less water in the simple syrup so that I can store it in the freezer.)
Add some of the simple syrup to the vodka and taste to see if it needs more. I used about equal parts of each, maybe less of the simple syrup.
This drink is best served icy cold out of the fridge (depending on how much simple syrup you used, this may contain too much water and turn into a slushy, and possibly break the bottle), and keeps indefinitely.
I used to make this recipe a lot, and even made dozens of batches of it for a wedding once. It was always a recipe that I could count on the be stored safely in my brain; now I realize that might not be the best place to store something. So this brings me to last week, when I did my best to recreate that old faithful red sangria recipe. I think this pretty close to the original recipe…
In Vancouver there used to be a Spanish restaurant called La Bodega, where they served a delicious red wine sangria. A friend once told me the secret to their awesome sangria was, surprisingly, adding orange pop. And, yes, it does make a delicious drink!
What you need:
1 bottle red wine, chilled (nothing fancy)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Triple Sec or Cointreau (or 1/4 cup triple sec and 1/4 cup brandy)
a few strawberries (optional)
1 can of orange pop
lemon or lime slices for garnish (optional)
What you do:
Cut the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Combine the Triple Sec and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the fruit to this and let it sit for about 1/2 an hour, up to a few hours ahead of time.
Combine the chilled wine, orange pop, and the fruit concoction. Add ice if you wish. If you are using the citrus fruit, cut into slices to place in the sangria.
This is what you need if you’re suffering from nausea, or a touch of the flu as I have been. I was drinking ginger tea, but my stomach didn’t seem to like the hot drink. Likewise, cold drinks weren’t working for me, so I made this one room-temperature. I didn’t want to buy ginger ale, because I know there isn’t any real ginger in most of them, plus I don’t want all that sugar. Even though there is no added sugar in this, it seems to have a natural sweetness of its own.
This is a drink you can sip throughout the day, making more as you need it. It will keep you hydrated, and hopefully the ginger will help to ease the nausea a little.
You could just use flat water, and you can add a little lemon if you want.
I keep a knob of ginger in my freezer, so I always have some on hand to cook with if I need it.
I think I’ll be drinking this even when I’m feeling better, because it tastes so good, and it’s easy to make.
What you need:
fresh ginger, sliced
sparkling or flat room temperature water
What you do:
Pour about 2 cups of tap water into a pot (unless you live somewhere tap water that is not safe to drink).
Add about a dozen slices of ginger to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Let the ginger liquid cool down a bit, then put a small ladle-ful into a glass and top it up with sparking water. Taste to see if you want to add a little more ginger water.
Sip it, and refill throughout the day.
You can add more water to the ginger if you start running low; the ginger has more goodness to give if you cook it a second time.
This grapefruit cocktail is spiced up a little with a black peppercorn simple syrup. It’s quite easy to make, and it’s got a unique flavour – sweet, tart, and a little hint of spice. And it was made with my parents’ 60’s era cocktail shaker.
What you need for the cocktail:
1.5 ounces black pepper simple syrup
1.5 ounces vodka
3 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
What you need for the black peppercorn simple syrup:
1/4 cup crushed black peppercorns
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
What you do:
In a small pot bring the peppercorns, water and sugar to a boil, stirring a few times. Once the sugar has dissolved remove it from the heat and allow to cool. Leave the peppercorns in the syrup until you are ready to use it, then strain them out.
Combine the simple syrup, vodka and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker that is filled with ice. Shake for a minute, then strain into an ice-filled glass.