Friday, July 22, 2011

Pea Shell Cooler and Eastside Fizz

I have another sour cherry jam recipe to share with all of you.  It is sour cherry and petit petit wine and the combination is rich and deep.  Spooned over ice cream it reminds me of the deep, intense flavor of hot fudge.  The wine brings out the flavor of the cherries, making them more complex.  However as much as I love eating this new jam drizzled over a bowl of ice cream, even talking about making jam seems like too much for this hot humid dead air day.  So instead let me share some cocktails with you.  These cocktails are easy to make and do not rely on store bought mixes, but rather on fresh produce (and a modest amount of sugar).

Several years ago we were stopped at a rest stop in New Hampshire shopping for alcohol for our week on the Cape.  There is no tax on alcohol in New Hampshire so several of their rest stops have liquor stores with giant shopping carts, mega sized bottles of spirits, and "Don't Drink and Drive" signs on the way out of the parking lot.  Lewis looked dubiously at the large bottle of gin in our cart and told me I was on my own when it came time to drinking the gin.  More gin and tonics for me did not seem like a problem.

I have loved gin and tonics since I was six and my family went on vacation to Barbados.  There was a lime tree in the back yard of the house we were staying at and my parents felt it was important to use as much of the fruit as they could.  They would let my brother and I to take a sip of their drink, and I quickly began turning my back to them when I was taking my sip.  I hoped that they might not notice how much I was drinking if my back was turned.  So even if Lewis did not want any I would happily drink as many sips as I wanted on my own.

When I made myself a Gin and Tonic on vacation Lewis took a taste, and then turned his back so I would not see how much he was drinking.  After that he was a devoted lover of Gin and Tonics, the first one to speak up when we needed to restock any of the ingredients.  The only problem with them is the tonic, with an ingredient list that makes me shudder with its high fructose corn syrup.  I have found a homemade tonic recipe online but have not tracked down all the ingredients.  Enter the East Side Fizz and the Pea Shoot cooler, both made with fresh ingredients and a wonderful way to use some of the mint threatening to take over your yard.

The Eastside Fizz was in July's issue of Bon Appetit's.  The original recipe calls for seltzer water but I did not have any in the house, plus my frugal nature balked at paying money for bubbles.  I love it made with just plain water but you should spring for the seltzer if you would prefer.  One of my favorite parts of this cocktail is eating the gin and lime infused cucumbers at the end.  The pea shell cooler came about as we were all enjoying a bowl full of shelling peas.  I looked at the pile of empty shells and wondered what I could do to utilize their sweet flavor without having it masked by their tough stringiness.  So I tried them in place of the cucumbers in the Eastside Fizz, adding the prosescco to lighten it and play up the citrus.

Eastside Fizz
Adapted from Bon Appetit

10 large fresh mint leaves
5 thin slices of peeled cucumber
1 1/2 Tbsp simple syrup (recipe is at the bottom of the post)
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup gin
seltzer or water

Muddle mint, cucumber slices and simple syrup in a tall glass.  (Muddling means you squish the ingredients up with a muddling stick in the bottom of the glass.  This bruises the ingredients and releases the oils so the flavors infuse the simple syrup).  Add the lime juice, gin, ice and water or seltzer to fill the glass.  Stir well, allowing the ice a chance to cool down the drink.  When you are done drinking don't forget to eat the cucumber slices.

Pea Shoot Cooler
My own invention dreamed up as a use for the pea shells I hated feeding to my chickens

15 pea shells from fresh peas torn up
10 large fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup gin
1/4 - 1/2 cup prosecco
seltzer or water

Muddle the pea shells, mint leaves and simple syrup in a glass.  (Muddling means you squish the ingredients up with a muddling stick in the bottom of the glass.  This bruises the ingredients and releases the oils so the flavors infuse the simple syrup).  Strain the liquid into another tall glass and add lime juice, gin, prosecco, ice and water or seltzer water to fill the glass.  Stir well and allow to chill for a moment before serving or drinking.

Simple Syrup

1 part water
1 part sugar

If you have a cup off water you would use a cup of sugar.  Add the sugar to the water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Turn off the heat.  Now you have simple syrup!

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