Daiquiris remain my favourite summer cocktail. The range of fruits you can mix and match is immense making it a playground for mixologists and experimental drinkers. Greek summers are followed by a long list of seasonal fruits and who could resist to a freshly fruity daiquiri by the Aegean. Today we will try sweet apricots and freshly picked spearmint.
- 2 fresh apricots without the pit (try a sweet and flavourful variety)
- 6 big spearmint leaves
- 2 oz/shots white rum (Havana Club 3 anos preferably)
- 1/2 oz/shot sugar syrup
- 1/2 oz/shot fresh lime juice
- spearmint to garnish
- crashed ice
Add all ingredients apart the crashed ice in a blender and blend until you get a smooth paste. Add in the crashed ice approximately to cover the paste. This should be around 2 cups of crashed ice. Blend the mix until you get a nice granite. You can adjust the acidity and sweetness at this point by adding more lime or syrup according to your taste preferences Garnish with the spearmint.
Syrup comes from the Arabic “sharab” and the Latin “syropus” which means beverage. Simple syrup refers to using equal parts of sugar and water by volume (1 to 1 parts).
Simple syrup is widely used in the cocktail industry as sweetener. It brings balance when it’s mixed with sour juices like lemon or lime juice in most of the 20th century style cocktails. It is easy to make at home and has plenty of uses in the kitchen. I will use it in cooking, cocktail mixing, as a coffee sweetener particularly for cold beverages.
You can easily infuse it with herbs or spices and give a kick to the flavor. You will find thousand of recipes online. Let’s start with the basic simple syrup before going down to spiced paths.
Shopping List (approximately 1 lt of syrup)
- 1lt water
- 1kg white sugar
And now what?
Bring the water to boil and reduce to medium heat. Add the sugar and stir until it is all dissolved. Keep boiling in medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until the mixture is all clear and has a syrup-like texture. Remove from heat and let it sit until it will reach room temperature. Then poor into a glass bottle preferably and keep in refrigerator for up to a month.
In case you want to start experimenting already with spices. You may add a stick of vanilla together with the sugar while it is still boiling. Cut slightly the vanilla stick so as to free the crystals and aroma Keep the vanilla stick in the syrup for days. You can wash the vanilla stick over fresh water and use again.
- 2 shots Gin (preferably Plymouth or Brokers)
- 1 shot fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 shot simple sugar syrup
- 1/2 shot Creme de Cacao
- 2-3 dashes of orange bitters
- Crushed ice
- orange peel and basil leave to garnish
And now what?
Add all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well for 10 seconds. Strain in glass with filled with crashed ice. Garnish with basil leave and a twisted orange pill. Grate nutmeg on top.
- 1 1/2 shots Gin (preferably Plymouth or Hendricks)
- 6 fresh cherries (remove the pits)
- 2 tbs sugar syrup (lemon zest & vanilla infused)
- Cherry and basil leaf to garnish
And now what?
Muddle the sliced fresh cherries in a shaker. Add the sugar syrup, gin and top with cubed ice. Shake well and strain in a Martini glass. Decorate with cherry and basil leave.
- 2 cucumber slices
- 4-5 fresh mint leaves
- 1 shot of Hendricks Gin
- Squeeze of lime
- 2 dashes Elderflower Cordial/Syrup
- Ginger beer
And now what?
Add all ingredients (except ginger beer) in a shaker with ice cubes. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain in a glass with crushed ice and top up with ginger beer. Sprinkle with freshly grated nutmeg.
- 2 green peppers
- 2 red peppers
- 2 yellow peppers
- 1 orange pepper
- 4tbs olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves sliced
- 2tbs vinegar
- 1 finely chopped big tomato
- ½ cup parsley or coriander finely chopped
- 5-6 fresh mint leaves finely chopped
- 1 pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
And now what?
Pre-heat the oven, at 200 degrees C (approximately 400 degrees F).
Wash the peppers and towel dry. Place them in an oven tray and roast for 30 minutes or until they start getting a black skin. Turn the peppers and roast for another 20 minutes the other side.
When they are ready, place them hot in a zip-lock plastic bag . Keep them zipped in the bag for approximately 10 minutes to get moisture. This will help you remove easily the skin later.
In a heavy bottom frying pan heat the olive oil in medium heat. Add the sliced garlic until it will start turning brown. Then remove from olive oil and add the onion. Sauté onion until they will get translucent (approximately 4-5 minutes in medium heat). Sprinkle the sugar over the onion and add the vinegar.
Add the tomato and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
In the meantime remove the skin from the peppers with a knife, remove the seeds and cut in big slices. Add the sliced peppers in the frying pan together with the other materials . Turn off the heat, place in a bowl, add salt and pepper to taste and add the parsley or coriander.
You can enjoy this salad cold or hot!
Extracting cooking and recipe secrets from my grandmother Fotini sometimes feels like investigating a CIA spy. You really need to break it down to details in order to get the correct information.
Taking notes while Fotini give us instructions to make the lemonade.
She tends to hold the little details so she still makes the best whatever-she-is-cooking-thing. The idea of measurements is also missing, so when I explain her that we need to give clear instructions for the recipe so other people can make it too, she will come back to me with funny descriptions that work only as na inside-family code.
For example when I asked her what temperature the sugar syrup should have before adding the lemon juice, she naturally answered : “The same as when you add the yeast to make yogurt”.
Fotini's homemade lemonade
Summer came scorching in Athens and it’s time for some Granny’s homemade lemonade. We had Fotini my super-grandmother visiting us in Athens this weekend and we decided to pick her brain and little hidden secrets for a fresh homemade lemonade. This is an easy to make lemonade syrup that you may keep in the fridge for days. You can dissolve with water each time you want and enjoy fabulous lemonade. You can also use in cocktails.
- 2 glasses and a tablespoon white sugar
- 2 glasses fresh lemon juice (no pulp)
- 2 and 1/3 glasses water
- a lemon cup (discard the pulp)
Tip: Always use the same glass or cup or any other mean of measurement.
And now what?
Add the sugar, water and the lemon cup in a pot, bring to boil and shimmer for 5 minutes until sugar is dissolved and the lemon cup is bringing out smells and flavours. Put aside to cool down to a temperature that your finger can hold inside the liquid for 10 seconds (this is a practice they used the old times in Greece to check the right temperature to add the yeast in the yogurt), this is approximately the body temperature so if you actually have a thermometer you can measure it precisely. We prefer the old trick! Then you add the fresh lemon juice and stir to blend. At this stage you can taste and add more sugar or lemon juice depending on your preferences. Put in bottles and refrigerate.
Put ice, fresh lemonade concentrate and water in a glass and enjoy. I usually dissolve 1 to 1 part. I sometimes decorate with fresh mint leaves and a slice of lime.
Fotini emptying the lemon cup from the pulp
The lemon cup ready to boil with the syrup
Fotini giving instruction to Georgia
Boiling the sugar syrup with the lemon cup.
Mixing the fresh lemon juice with the sugar syrup, after discarding the lemon cup.
This is a very basic chili-garlic paste that you may use for cooking or as a side on the table to spice up a meal as you like. You can keep it refrigerated for a month. I use it as a topping for pizza most of the time. My favourite combination would be pizza with goat cheese, chilic paste and caramelized onions. A combination I discovered in Haiti.
So let’s make some chil-lic.
The procedure is as basic as the materials. This time I will leave the pictures to guide you. Enjoy!
- 8 chilies (red and green)
- 2 garlic cloves
- Extra virgin olive oil
And now what?
Today we all want to wish Happy Birthday to our friend Niko… May the Giafka be with you xoxoxo