The French (and Dutch, for that matter) love their flavored syrups. Mixed with water or ‘limonade’ (French lemonade, similar to Sprite or 7up), they make a very refreshing drink which is especially popular with children. This strawberry syrup is not only great in a diabolo fraise, one of my daughter’s favorite drinks, but you can also pour a little over yogurt or ice cream. Sometimes I even freeze the syrup in ice cubes and add a few to a glass of sparkling water. Feel free to try the recipe with other fruits.
Makes: 600ml fruit syrup
- 3 ½ cups strawberries, hulled
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cupl water
Roughly chop the strawberries, put them with the sugar and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Stir well, reduce heat to a simmer and gently cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to cool in the pan. Strain into a bowl, making sure to squeeze as much syrup out of the fruit as possible. Using a funnel, transfer to a glass bottle. Refrigerate before serving. To serve, mix 1 part syrup with 4 parts water.
Until recently, I had never heard of Marlene apples, a leading Italian brand of gourmet apples grown in South Tyrol. The apples carry the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) label which certifies they were grown in this beautiful region of the Alps — a region that profits from extremely favorable weather conditions (it boasts more than two thousand hours of sunlight per year!) and rich, fertile soils. This results in apples that are very aromatic, juicy and have an excellent bite. The apples are grown by approximately five thousand producers according to high quality standards.
There are seven varieties of Marlene apples, each one with its own unique characteristics and special taste. From the Red Delicious with its deep ruby color and wonderful crunch to the Braeburn with its firm flesh (excellent for pies and other baked goods). In the Netherlands, you can find the apples at specialized produce shops.
Though in my opinion apples are best enjoyed on their own as a snack or chopped into a green salad, I wanted to develop a recipe that uses two of my favorite apple varieties. I came up with a seasonal spiced apple cider using two of the juiciest apples, the tart Granny Smith and the aromatic Fuji, which also has a high sugar content and is very fragrant.
I really think you’ll like this recipe, and once you see how easy it is, you’ll be making it as soon as the colder months roll around. It’s a wonderful seasonal drink and a highly recommended alternative to mulled wine, especially if you give it a little ‘oomph’ with a hit of dark rum. Without the booze, you can even consider it a health drink as it is chock full of flavonoids which are excellent at zapping free radicals!
The only thing you will need is some patience. You will want the apples and aromatic spices to gently simmer for at least six hours and then steep overnight. After that, you strain everything well, bring back to the boil, sweeten, and add rum if desired. Cheers!
PS: This is NOT a sponsored post. I do not and will not accept money to promote brands with misleading claims. I received a press sample of Marlene apples and truly enjoyed them.
Spiced Apple Cider
- 4 large Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into eighths
- 4 large Fuji apples, cored and cut into eighths
- 1 untreated orange, studded with 8 cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 2 L water
- 3 tbsps honey
- brown rum, if desired
Put all of the ingredients (except the honey and rum) in a large pan, bring to the boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Allow the mixture to simmer very gently for 6 hours. Then, remove the pan from the heat and leave covered overnight (no refrigeration necessary). The next day, remove the orange and give everything a final mash with a potato masher. Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise. Place a large piece of cheesecloth over a large bowl and carefully pour in the mixture. Allow most to drain and then squeeze out as much as possible with your hands. Wash the pan in which you cooked the cider. Pour the cider into the pan through a fine mesh sieve and bring to the boil. Stir in the honey and serve. Add brown rum if desired.
What a difference a week makes! Those who follow me on Instagram may have rolled their eyes a few times after seeing some of my photos complaining about the weather (have I become Dutch or what?!). But how could I not? It felt like we hadn’t seen the sun in at least a month! Okay, okay… maybe I was exaggerating just a tad. All I know is I was not amused with the thick cloud cover, heavy rains and the fact that I was walking around in a bulky sweater!
I started to question whether we would have a summer at all. Kicking myself for putting so much work into a garden I wasn’t even able to enjoy (we renovated a few months ago). And yes, every time someone mentioned or posted a photo of beaches, pools, blue skies or ice cream, I turned just a little bit green. Like the weeds that were abundantly growing in my garden thanks to the damp weather. Or this beautiful mint plant, which isn’t doing too bad either…
Luckily, things are looking better this week, and if I am to believe the weather folks (which I will, for the sake of my sanity), the sun will stay for at least a while longer. Good, because I don’t mind the warmth of the sun against my skin at all. Or the long summer evenings in my garden eating good food and sipping cool wine. Or not having to have carry my umbrella everywhere.
Today we were blessed with a sultry 34C, or as they say in Holland ‘a tropically warm day’ — not so sure about the ‘tropical’ part, I’ve seen hotter when I lived in New Jersey or vacationed in France!
To celebrate (and hydrate !), I made a gorgeous and fresh, non-alcoholic cooler. No sugar, all natural and so refreshing!
This is exactly the type of drink I like to serve when I’m being angelic and laying off the wine. Hey! I’ll be in France next Friday so I’m cutting my liver a little slack for the time being!
This is hardly a recipe if you ask me though, but here’s what I did:
Squeeze two limes into a large glass jug (mine holds about 1 1/2L), add some fresh sprigs of mint, about 250g ripe red & hulled strawberries and 1/2 a cucumber (sliced). Now top with a liter of sparkling mint water (the kind with no sugar or calories, just natural mint aroma). Refrigerate for at least three hours and serve over ice!
So pretty, so easy and so deliciously cooling! Here’s to hotter days! 😀
If you’re looking for a refreshing drink (healthy too!), look no further. This pink lemonade is made with all-organic ingredients and will be perfect to serve when the weather gets warmer — or this Easter Sunday with a nice brunch. The recipe couldn’t be easier, and you can tweak it however which way you like.
- 2 lemons, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
- a piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 20g Hunan green tea (loose)
- fresh mint
- 4 tbsps honey
Put the lemon, orange and ginger in a pan and add 750ml water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in the tea, mint & honey and simmer for another five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave in the pan to cool completely. Once cooled, strain into a jug. The lemonade will be very concentrated, so add more water to taste. I added approximately 500ml of cold water. Very delicious!