Dried hibiscus flowers have a tart cranberry-like flavor and are sometimes called “Roselle” or “Jamaica” flowers and used in sweetened drinks and herbal infusions. Karkade, made with hibiscus flowers is a popular drink here in Bahrain but is sometimes made tooth-achingly sweet and overly floral for my liking. By making your own infusions and syrups at home you have total control over the strength and sweetness. Continue reading “Hibiscus with Chilli, Orange and Vanilla | Agua De Jamaica”
The seasonal forty day north wind usually keeps June somewhat cooler and speeds the ripening of dates on the palm trees. Summer temperatures will soar and reading 45 degrees celsius and up on a car thermometer leaves you feeling drained and rather hot. Whether it’s for relaxation or re-hydration, cool refreshing drinks are always welcome and two of my favourite summer drinks are a mojito and a nojito… a mojito without the alcohol.
While waiting patiently for my lime tree to start producing fruit (I do use the leaves), I love using the small flavorsome limes that grow locally, even touching them perfumes your fingers with their wonderful scent. Also, fresh mint is so accessible here and the herbs spearmint flavour is used often in my cooking.
Making a mojito into a cocktail or a mocktail is up to you, however, extracting the flavour from the mint and lime is the “key,” so a bit of muddling is needed. Using the whole lime is important, the juice and rind have different flavours and you want all those lovely oils from the rind, as well as using the juice. Bruising the mint leaves extracts the oils, chopping the mint leaves and adding to the drink will not achieve the same results… muddling everything together is the best way of extracting all that lime and mint goodness!
Now I don’t have a specially assigned muddler but I do have a spurtle which I have used more times (up-side down) for making mojitos/nojitos than stirring porridge! You could use a large pestle and mortar if you were making up a few mojitos/nojitos, muddle together the limes, mint leaves and sugar before dividing into each glass.
I prefer to use chilled bottled sparkling water and not canned soda water for these drinks. When muddling I like to use a fine-grained sugar which dissolves quicker. The sugar also creates some friction and helps extract more flavour from the mint and lime. If I make a mojito/nojito for others I keep the taste on the sharper side and serve a small bowl of powdered sugar on the side, should anyone need to stir in a tad more sweetness to their drink. The recipe is for one serving but you can make as many as you wish and adjust the recipe according to your taste. Making up a mojito or nojito is so easy and the flavours are so clean, delicious and refreshing. I do hope you try a bit of muddling over the summer.
Mojito or Nojito
- 12 large fresh mint leaves
- 2 small limes cut into quarters, remove the pips
- 2 or 3 teaspoons white caster sugar
- 4 ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons of white rum (optional)
- chilled sparkling water
How to make: Place the mint leaves and lime quarters into a tall sturdy glass. Add the sugar and use a muddler (you might have to improvise here) to crush the mint and lime together to release the juice and oils from the lime and mint. Add the ice cubes and white rum (if using), pour in the sparkling water to fill the glass. Stir with a swizzle stick and serve immediately.
Make hosting a special dinner party for a couple of friends special by serving pre dinner Chocolate Martini’s! Having a slight sip pre-dinner whets the appetite and gets the taste buds going and personally I think pre dinner martini drinks are best served in small 3oz-4oz martini glasses! A line quoted from Shakespeare’s Henry IV play sums that up…
Falstaff said… “Come, I will go drink with you, but I cannot tarry dinner.”
Crème de Cacao is a cacao (chocolate bean) flavoured liqueur with hints of vanilla and comes in clear or dark varieties, both taste the same! This is not the same as a chocolate liqueur which is much sweeter and more syrupy! Rimming the glass with a touch of honey and chopped chocolate adds a touch of sweetness and a richer chocolate taste which counters the bitter taste of alcohol! You could also try using the clear crème de cacao and rim the glass with chopped white chocolate!
- honey, for rimming the glasses
- finely chopped dark chocolate, for rimming the glasses
- 1oz vodka
- 3oz dark crème de cacao
- a few ice cubes
How to make: Take two small plates and spread a light layer of honey on one and sprinkle the chopped chocolate over the other plate. Lightly stamp the rim of each martini glass into the honey and then into the chocolate, making sure the rim of the glass is coated with chocolate. Pour the vodka and crème de cacao into a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes and shake vigorously for a few seconds. Strain the drink into prepared glasses and serve immediately. Serves 2.