Tag Archives | syrups

Soda Week at Table Matters

I have spent the better part of today canning 55 pounds of tomatoes, five pounds of peaches and a few other edible odds and ends. My refrigerator is cleaner than it’s been in weeks and there’s a load of laundry gently chugging away in the other room. This can mean only one thing. I’m getting ready to head out on vacation (I can’t be the only one who feels compelled to finish all pending culinary projects before leaving town). Before I dash out the door, I want to point your attention at something I happen to think you all might like.

Recently, a team of folks over at Drexel University relaunched a website called Table Matters. It’s a daily site dedicated to stories about eating, cooking, drinking and the many delicious things that can happen around a dining table. I’m contributing to this new site on a weekly basis and my pieces are going to be about kitchen skills and from-scratch cooking, which should be a nice compliment to the canning and preserving content I write here.

This week, they’ve been running stories about soda (and who doesn’t like something cool and carbonated, particularly this time of year?). My contribution was about my love for the idea of cocktail hour paired with my unfortunately inability to hold my alcohol. The resolution? A¬†trio of recipes for homemade shrubs, syrups and herbal infusions. You’ll also find stories on root beer floats, a guide to Philadelphia’s tastiest house-made sodas and easy cocktails that use soda as their base¬†published in the name of Soda Week.

Take a little time to check out Table Matters. Though this incarnation of the site is still young, the writing is strong, the topics are fun and the recipes are seasonal and make for mighty good eating. It’s a nice addition to the food conversation and I’m quite pleased to be a part of it.

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Drink Week, Day Five: Rosemary Lemon and Lavender Honey Syrups

rosemary and lavender

Happy 4th of July! Day five of Drink Week has finally arrived! I’m a few days late in posting this one, but I think you’ll find it’s worth the wait. Make sure to check out the previous Drink Week posts, Black Raspberry Syrup, Cherry Bounce and Other Boozy Infusions, No-Cook Sour Cherry Syrup and Black Raspberry Shrub.

rosemary lemon syrup

About a month ago, the activities of my day job took me out to Talula’s Table in Kennett Square, PA. This gourmet food shop/fabulous restaurant is an wonderful place to get lunch or pick up a few to-go items (it’s one of the hardest dinner reservations in the country to get because they only do one seating for 8-12 people a night). While I was there, I discovered that they serve a rosemary latte. It’s your standard latte, spiked with a rosemary syrup and is transcendent. It instantly went on my list for drink week.

lavender honey syrup

For some people, eating lavender flavored foods make them feel like they’re eating soap. I’ve never had that problem. I gobble up lavender flavored candies, cookies and drinks. Nearly a decade ago, some friends introduced me to lavender iced tea and I spent weeks making it (half strong black tea, and half lavender-infused hot water, sweetened with honey). This syrup is a concentrated version of the lavender half of that equation and makes it dead easy to replicate the iced tea on an as-needed basis. It uses both regular sugar and honey, so that it has the flavor of honey, but with the syrup-y consistency of a sugar-based syrup.

straining the lavender syrup

It goes without saying that either of these syrups work beautifully in a glass of sparkling water, in iced tea, in coffee or in a cooling cocktail. Both recipes are after the jump.

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Drink Week, Day One: Black Raspberry Syrup

black raspberries

Welcome to the first day of Drink Week! The next five days will feature fruit and herbal syrups, boozy infusions and shrubs that will have you planning parties to feature your new specialty cocktails and mocktails (and because I’m not much of a drinker, you’ll definitely see as many virgin options as you do the spiked ones). As part of Drink Week, I’m giving away a Sodastream seltzer maker (click here to enter the giveaway).

You didn’t think you’d seen the last of those black raspberries, did you? I had a whole flat of those gorgeous little berries to use, so they may well turn up even a third time (if all things go as planned).

Let me share a secret about myself with you. I am a sparkling water lover. Rarely does a day go by (particularly during the summer months) when I don’t pour myself a glass of fizzy water. Often I drink it plain, or with a squirt of lemon juice (one of these dehydrated lemon slices works too). Sometimes, I muddle a little bit of runny jam into my glass (it’s a great way to use up something with a less-than-perfect set). And occasionally, I make something designed just for stirring with seltzer.

three cups black raspberries in the vitamix

For this syrup, I measured out 3 cups of black raspberries and used the Vitamix to pulverize them into a delicious goo (wear an apron and keep it away from light-colored counter tops, it stains upon contact). If your kitchen happens to be lacking a fancy blender, you could also pulse them in a food processor or even just go to town with a potato masher.

I scraped the puree into a saucepan and stirred in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar. I brought it to a quick simmer and let it cook for 5-6 minutes. Because the starting puree was so thick, it didn’t need much time on the stove to come together.

straining black raspberry syrup

Using a very fine mesh sieve, I separated the syrup from their seeds. Don’t be afraid to really work the seedy bits and press firmly to remove the last bits of liquid. You’re not extracting liquid for jelly so there’s no need to be delicate or attempt to prevent cloudiness. At this point, taste your syrup. If it isn’t sweet enough, you can add a bit more sugar and return it to the saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. If it is too sweet, stir in a little lemon juice to balance the flavors.

black raspberry syrup on left, seedy remains on right

Because I hate waste, after the syrup was decanted into it’s own jar, I plopped the leftover seeds in their own vessel and topped it with 2 cups distilled white vinegar. After it spends a couple weeks imparting all that lovely black raspberry flavor into the vinegar, I’ll strain the seeds out and finally throw them away.

Sodastream fizzy water with black raspberry syrup (44)

After that, it’s just a matter of spooning a bit of the syrup into a tall glass and topping it off with a long pour of sparkling water. A couple of ice cubes and you have a refreshing summer drink. For the grown-ups in the crowd, you could add a bit of vodka or a fruity liqueur.

Because this recipe makes a cup and a half of syrup, I popped it into the fridge and skipped any processing step. However, should you be facing a massive raspberry harvest (this technique works just as well with red raspberries or even blackberries), you could make up a far larger batch and process it in pints or half pints in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Just remember that sugar is a preservative, so if you cut the sugar content drastically, the syrup will not have as long a shelf life.

Now, make yourself some black raspberry syrup and head over to enter the Sodastream giveaway!

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Ginger Syrup + Sparkling Water = Homemade Ginger Ale

ginger sugar pot

Earlier this week, I got walloped by one of those 36 hour stomach bugs. I spent a day bundling to ward off feverish chills and nursing a very tender belly. I couldn’t handle anything more than a few Saltines and a sip or two of liquid every hour.

half cup minced ginger

During my childhood, ginger ale was my mother’s prescription for any stomach trouble. We weren’t allowed to have it until the worst of the troubles were over (there’s no point in putting something in if you’re not yet capable of holding on to it) but goodness, was that first sip of sweet, bubbly soda divine.

ground ginger

Not wanting to head out into foul weather (and yikes, has our weather been terrible lately. Earlier tonight, we had a crazy confluence of snow and thunder) but needing a dose of that familiar remedy, I simply used what I had. I combined 1 cup of cane sugar, 1 cup of filtered water, 1 cup of chopped ginger and 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger to create a super concentrated ginger syrup.

steeping ginger in simple syrup

After half an hour of gentle simmering and an hour of unheated steeping, I ran the syrup through a fine mesh sieve into a pint jar. Then it was just a manner of spooning a small amount into a glass and topping it off with a pour of sparkling water (I adore my Sodastream for just this sort of thing). After a day of slowly sipping this homemade gingery ale, I felt much better. By the end of yesterday, I was even able to graduate from crackers to poached eggs over brown rice.

If you decide to make your own ginger syrup, don’t feel like you have to replicate my proportions. As you can see, my approach was just to combine equal parts fresh ginger, sugar and water. I added the powdered ginger mostly because I wanted to ensure a super gingery kick, however it’s entirely optional.

I still have half a jar of this gingery balm tucked into the fridge, and I’m continue to combine it with fizzy water or drizzle it into hot tea. There’s just nothing like ginger this time of year.

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