Friday, 4 April 2014

Spring Pitchers: Perfect for Warm Friday Evenings

It’s starting. Spring I mean. Slowly but surely the days seem brighter, the cloud slightly lifted and there is a little magical bright circle in the sky (quick! Look while it lasts).

At this time of year and into the summer, palates and ‘must haves’ seem to change too; instead of craving that spicy mulled wine or that cheeky port after dinner, we start to think more about a glass of fizz or a touch of elderflower with our gin. But, away from actually drinking, there seems to be an added pleasure of taking time walking around the house barefoot and preparing things; baking, cooking, whisking, blending, picking, all seem so rewarding with the fresh colours and flavours found at this time of year.

I usually find myself inviting friends over, making nibbles, having drinks and relaxing in a kind of post-hibernation spirit. These pitchers are simple to make, delicious and perfect for spring.

Firstly, start with this zesty homemade lemonade. This is one of life’s greatest, yet simplest pleasures - plus the options are endless! My favourites are a Mojito style pitcher, and a strawberry and Basil version - both use the same lemonade base:

Homemade spring lemonade recipe (makes one pitcher)

(If you have a sweet tooth, then keep the amounts as below, but if you like a bit more bitterness then simply reduce the amount of sugar. I really like adding a lime or two with the lemon juice. The key trick here is to dissolve/reduce the sugar before adding it. This will stop it sinking straight to the bottom.

Ingredients (it's so simple!):
  • 1 mug of lemon juice
  • 1 mug of water
  • 1 mug of sugar
  • 3-4 mugs of cold water to dilute the concentrate.

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat, stirring all the time, until the mixture turns clear. This will take a few minutes.

2. While that is warming, squeeze the lemons (and limes if you fancy them) of all their lovely juices, and mix in with the dissolved sugar/water mixture.
Photo from Dinner Series  under CCL

3. Add in the cold water to taste (you will need most of it) and add ice and lemon to finish.

And here's how to use this lemonade to make a couple of spring cocktail pitchers:

Strawberry Basil pitcher:
Add around 10-12 sliced fresh strawberries, a good handful of torn or scrunched basil (around 8 leaves), and freely pour in Tequila to taste. 
As a guide, I use about 7 shot glasses of booze for a decent sized pitcher. Add slowly and keep tasting it to ensure the tequila isn’t too overpowering for you.

Mojito Style pitcher: Gently add about 7 shots of rum (again, keep testing the mixture to check it's the right strength). Scrunch up a small amount of mint - again, base the quantity on how minty you like it, but a good handful should be enough. Add a little squeeze of lime, and a slice to garnish- and you’re good to go!

Top photo from Link Humans under CCL.

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