Cooking With Honey – Blueberry Lavender Martinis

Lavender-Martini-300x225

I was in Chicago this past weekend and had dinner at the delightful French Bistro Aquitaine. We began with two of their lovely specialty cocktails — I had the Blueberry Lavender Martini made with honey. It was fabulous!

Here is my recreation…

Yield:  2 martinis

Ingredients:

6 large ice cubes

8 oz vodka

3 oz fresh lemon juice

4 Tbsp honey lavender syrup*

12 fresh blueberries, muddled

Directions:

In a martini shaker add the ice, vodka, lemon juice, honey lavender syrup, and muddled blueberries and place top on shaker. Shake until well blended. Pour the drink into the glasses through a strainer, and serve!

*Honey Lavender Syrup:

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup honey

2 Tbsp dried lavender

Heat water until boiling, remove from heat and whisk in honey and lavender, until honey is dissolved. Chill well before using in drinks.

Cooking With Honey – Blackberry, Mint And Honey Gin And Tonics

CinnamonBasilBlackberryGinDuo

The history of the Gin and Tonic is a fascinating one, intertwined with medicine and the expansion of the British Empire.

Let’s start with the gin. Although it is commonly known as the quintessential English spirit, it was developed by Sylvius de Bouve, a sixteenth-century Dutch physician. He created a highly-alcoholic medicinal concoction called Jenever, featuring the essential oils of juniper berries, which the physician believed could improve circulation and cure other ailments. The juniper berry had long been treasured for its medicinal properties, including its use during the plague.

Tonic water also started out as medicine.

A key component of tonic water is quinine, an anti-malarial alkaloid from the bark of the cinchona tree. Europeans first realized the value of the plant in fighting malaria during the seventeenth century, after the Spanish had conquered parts of South America. They began to call ground cinchona bark “Countess’ powder,” “Jesuit’s powder,” or simply the “fever tree.”

Adding gin to tonic water originated in India during the nineteenth century. In 1825, British officers began to mix gin with their daily ration of quinine tonic. The growing number of Brits residing in India by the late 1850s helps explain the increased demand for quinine and the rise in popularity of the gin and tonic.

No matter what its origins, the Gin and Tonic remains one of our favorite hot weather cocktails.  I submit that the fresh blackberries, limes, mint and honey in this version makes it even more “medicinal.”

Yield:  4 cocktails

Ingredients:

12 blackberries
20 fresh mint leaves
2 limes
1/4 cup honey syrup (equal parts honey and water blended over low heat until honey is completely melted)
12 ounces good quality gin
tonic water
ice

Directions:

Set out four high ball glasses.

Place 3 blackberries, 5 mint leaves, juice of ½ lime, and 1 tablespoon honey syrup in each glass and muddle together.
Fill each glass with ice, followed by 3 ounces of gin. Top off each drink with tonic water, stir and serve.

Cooking With Honey – Honey Grapefruit Margarita

grapefruit margarita

With the weather heating up, this is a delicious way to cool down!  The honey and the grapefruit combine wonderfully.

Yield:  2 servings

Ingredients

3 oz tequila

2 oz orange liqueur

2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice (2 limes)

6 oz fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (1 grapefruit)

Simple honey syrup, to taste

Salt, for rim

Grapefruit wedges, for serving (optional)

Directions

Mix tequila, orange liqueur, lime, and grapefruit juices well. Add a generous splash of simple honey syrup. (To make simple honey syrup combine equal parts honey and water and heat until honey is completely dissolved. Refrigerate after cooling to save.)

Rub one of the used lime or grapefruit rinds around the rim of two glasses and dip in cocktail salt.

Fill each glass with ice and pour in the margarita.

  • Paloma (moderndayforager.wordpress.com)

The Vernal Equinox Cocktail

strawberry smash

Celebrating the arrival of Spring!!

Yield:  1 cocktail

Ingredients

3 ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced

6 leaves of mint

1 ounce white rum

1/2 ounce honey and 1/2 ounce water, mixed until honey dissolves

2 ounces prosecco

Directions

Add the strawberries and mint to a rocks glass. Smash the strawberries and mint gently with a muddler until the berries are a pulp and the mint smells strong. Add the rum and honey mixture to the glass and give it a stir. Fill 3/4 full with ice. Top off with the prosecco. Garnish with a sprig of mint!

Irish Whiskey And Honey Liqueur

A Kerr mason jar

A Kerr mason jar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jameson's liquer

This is the way we celebrate the Day in my neck of the woods. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 Quart Mason Jar

Honey

Jameson’s Irish Whiskey or a brand of your choice

Directions

Pour approximately 2″ of honey into a clean quart Mason jar.

Fill the remainder of the jar with the Irish Whiskey.

Slowly stir with a wooden spoon until the honey is dissolved into the whiskey.

Serve neat. Don’t drive anywhere.

Mary Poppins’ Rum Punch

REMEMBER TO LIKE ROMANCING THE BEE ON FACEBOOK TO WIN PRIZES!

poppins-illustration

“Is that your medicine?” enquired Michael, looking very interested.

“No, yours,” said Mary Poppins, holding out the spoon to him. Michael stared. He wrinkled up his nose. He began to protest.

“I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I won’t!”

But Mary Poppins’ eyes were fixed upon him, and Michael suddenly discovered that you could not look at Mary Poppins and disobey her. There was something strange and extraordinary about her—something that was frightening and at the same time most exciting. The spoon came nearer. He held his breath, shut his eyes and gulped. A delicious taste ran round his mouth. He turned his tongue in it. He swallowed, and a happy smile ran round his face.

“Strawberry ice,” he said ecstatically. “More, more, more!”

But Mary Poppins, her face as stern as before, was pouring out a dose for Jane. It ran into the spoon, silvery, greeny, yellowy. Jane tasted it.

“Lime-juice cordial,” she said, sliding her tongue deliciously over her lips. But when she saw Mary Poppins moving towards the Twins with the bottle Jane rushed at her.

“Oh, no—please. They’re too young. It wouldn’t be good for them. Please!”

Mary Poppins, however, took no notice, but with a warning, terrible glance at Jane, tipped the spoon towards John’s mouth. He lapped at it eagerly, and by the few drops that were spilt on his bib, Jane and Michael could tell that the substance in the spoon this time was milk. Then Barbara had her share, and she gurgled and licked the spoon twice.

Mary Poppins then poured out another dose and solemnly took it herself.

“Rum punch,” she said, smacking her lips and corking the bottle.

Okay, there is an authentic Mary Poppins cookbook written by P.L. Travers herself.

Mary_Poppins_in_the_Kitchen

However, it’s geared to the 14 and under set. I had an inkling that many of you would be more interested in Mary’s recipe for Rum Punch.

Here it is, totally the figment of my own imagination. Made with honey, of course!  🙂

10-cocktails-romanticos-4

Yield:  4 cocktails

Ingredients

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup white rum

1/4 cup dark rum

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup orange juice

Orange slices for garnish

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher or small bowl.

Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving.

Add ice if desired.

Garnish with orange slices.

Drink and then smack your lips a la Mary!!

The Black Bee Cocktail

Reprinted from Esquire Magazine:

Cocktail of the Week: The Black Bee

“The Gold Rush is a pretty popular neoclassic drink (bourbon, lemon, honey), which comes from a Bee’s Knees (gin, lemon, and honey). I took the Gold Rush format, and I brought down the honey slightly in order to keep the refreshing nature of the drink as forward as possible. Especially because I was pairing with stout, which definitely has more residual sweetness than a lager or a brighter, paler beer like a witte. We use all tap beers — we have twenty-one taps of LA local beers — and originally I used the stout that I had brought on board there. That’s an imperial oatmeal coffee stout. It’s got a rich viscosity to it, and it’s fairly heavy, so it just overpowered the drink. We have a fantastic porter on tap, which is related very closely to stout, but it tends to be a little lighter, so I blended the two in the drink (an ounce and a half of each), and it worked quite well. That said, if people want to make it at home, they can use a pretty standard stout like Sam Smith.

“Don’t go overboard on the beer. Also, try to pour the beer down into the drink so that it mixes thoroughly. Some people make beer cocktails and try to float the foam on top for an attractive layering effect. I think they perceive the foam on top as resembling egg white, but I personally think that’s a bad way to approach it. Here, you’re not just separating texture, but also taking away from a unified flavor profile. You’ll end up getting all beer on top and all cocktail on bottom.” —John Coltharp, The Parish, Los Angeles

Black Bee

  • 2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout
  • 1/2 oz honey*

Combine ingredients (excluding beer) with ice and shake. Pour into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Chill with single spear ice cube if possible. Top with 2-3 oz. Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout (available in grocery stores nationwide). Add lemon twist on top.

*Mixed 4:1 with a little bit of water; cold-packed — Coltharp recommends Honey Pacifica Cold-Packed Wildflower Honey.

Read more: Black Bee Cocktail of the Week – Esquire http://www.esquire.com/blogs/food-for-men/black-bee-cocktail-101512#ixzz2LV1Ztc6p

St. Cecilia Society Punch With Honey

st cecilia

St. Cecilia Society Punch is named for a famously private and exclusive social organization founded in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 18th century. My Oldest Friend Mary Ann makes this punch for New Year’s Day.

It doesn’t have the firepower of Chatham Artillery Punch, but that may be a good thing. It’s every bit as delicious though!

Ingredients

2 medium lemons, thinly sliced

3/4 cup brandy

3/4 cup honey

2 tea bags green tea

3/4 cup dark rum

1/2 small pineapple, peeled, cored, sliced 1/2 inch thick, and cut into small wedges

1 750-ml bottle Champagne

6 cups sparkling water, chilled

Directions

Put the lemon slices in a large bowl and pour the brandy over them. Let macerate at room temperature overnight.

In a small saucepan, combine the honey with 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the honey dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, and steep for 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the tea bags and let the syrup cool.

At least 3 hours and up to 6 hours before serving, combine the lemons, brandy, syrup, rum, and pineapple in a large pitcher or bowl. Chill in the refrigerator.

Just before serving, pour the punch into a large chilled punch bowl with a block of ice. Add the Champagne and sparkling water, and gently

Holidays With Honey – The Winter Solstice Cocktail

winter-solstice

The pomegranate has been used throughout history and in almost every religion as a symbol of humanity’s most fundamental beliefs and desires, including life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity. Almost every aspect of the pomegranate has come to symbolize something . . . its shape, color, seeds, juice.

It’s very fitting that the Winter Solstice cocktail should feature pomegranate juice.

Ingredients

2 oz vodka

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz pomegranate juice

1 oz honey

Orange wedge

Directions

Add vodka, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and honey to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a short or highball glass with ice. Garnish with an orange wedge. Drink up and repeat!

Holidays With Honey – What The H—- Is A Wassail?

wassail

Here We Come A-Wassailing

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

We are not daily beggars
That beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors’ children
Whom you have seen before
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Wassailing refers to the charming English custom of going from house to house singing the above song while drinking plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoying oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.  Fun!!

Probably because it is so much fun, few holiday traditions have endured as long or seen so many variations. Wassailing’s origins are unknown, but it is mentioned in texts dating as far back as the Fourteenth Century. In one such text, the leader of a group took a bowl and, raising it to the crowd, shouted “Wassail!” an Old English term meaning “to your health” in the same way one might say “Cheers!’ today.

There are three main types of Wassailing. One is the filling of a common bowl or cup often referred to as a Loving Cup and passing it around to be shared.

Another variation is when a bowl is taken around to individual houses in a village so neighbors can partake as friends.

The third is a celebration of the apple harvest and the blessing of the fruit or trees.

In the earliest known days of the practice, the Wassail was poured on to the orchards after harvest as a libation or offering to bless the fields for the coming spring and to ward off evil.

Like many practices devoted to the defense against evil, Wassailing has always been seen as a festive activity and has always been associated with partying and making merry.

In the last couple of hundred years Wassailing has been more about good cheer and well wishing than the blessing of the crops although the practice of “tree blessing’ has seen something of a revival in rural areas. These days it is sometimes accompanied by a bonfire party and the firing of guns.

The actual ingredients in a traditional Wassail bowl are widely disputed.  This could be attributed to the fact that festive bands of people who traveled from home to home would often replenish their Wassail bowl with whatever was available. While one home might offer apple cider or ale another might have mulled wine or even spirits. Needless to say, after an hour or two of enthusiastic Wassailing most Wassailers were not particularly picky!

Wassail was sometimes called “lamb’s wool” due to its frothy appearance. Pieces of toast were floated in the drink to give it extra flavor, and it was considered a sign of good luck to find one in your own cup. This is thought to explain the origins of “toasting” someone today.

Alcohol definitely played a major part in Wassailing’s history, but some argue it is not essential. They (somewhat unconvincingly) claim the continuance of the custom has little to do with the drink and is all about the good will and friendship that Wassailing generates.

While interpretations of Wassailing differ, the concept clearly lives on both in spirit and practice. As ever, the Oxford English Dictionary provides the most inclusive definition – “Make merry with much alcohol” – an activity to which a great many of us can aspire this festive season.  A tasty Wassail recipe follows (minus the toast…)

A happy Wassail to you all.

A Traditional Shropshire Wassail Recipe – for hardened Wassailers!

10 very small apples

1 large orange stuck with whole cloves

10 teaspoons honey

2 bottles dry sherry or dry Madeira

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3 cloves

3 allspice berries

2 or 3 cinnamon sticks

2 cups castor (superfine) sugar

12 to 20 pints of cider according to the number of guests

1 cup (or as much as you like) brandy

Core the apples and fill each with a teaspoon of honey. Place in a baking pan and cover the bottom with 1/8-inch of water.

Insert cloves into the orange about 1/2″ apart.

Bake the orange with the apples in a 350° oven.

After about 30 minutes, remove the orange and puncture it in several places with a fork or an ice pick.

Combine the sherry or Madeira, cider, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice berries, cinnamon, sugar, apple and orange juice and water in a large, heavy saucepan and heat slowly without letting the mixture come to a boil.

Leave on very low heat.

Strain the wine mixture and add the brandy.

Pour into a metal punch bowl, float the apples and orange on top and ladle hot into punch cups.

Makes enough for 15-20 people