Yesterday over at Housewife Bliss, folks were sharing their favorite summery beverages in response to a post for a fabulous giveaway that she is hosting. I chimed in with my fave, Sangria.
Of course, once I started thinking about Sangria, I couldn't stop thinking about Sangria. As in, what a great post that would make! And so my Fabulous Nest Friday post will again be "Kitchen Witch-y."
My interest in putting fruit into spirits started many years ago. My mother and I had discovered a recipe for a "rum pot" that you built over the course of several weeks, as the fresh fruit required came into season. With the image of sipping our delicious creation during the cold winter months dancing in our heads, we decided to give it a try. Mom provided the supplies (I was in university and that much rum, sugar, and fresh fruit would've paid for at least one text book) and I provided enthusiasm, stirring expertise, and on some occasions, fruit picking abilities. A (very large) bottle of amber rum, sugar, and the first of the fruit was placed into a giant 4 liter jar and we stirred it up. Every week, we added more sugar and another fruit. In turn, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, cherries and I can't even remember what all were plunged into the pickle jar with more and more sugar. It lived in our linen closet (dry and dark) until the day when, according to the recipe, we could try it out.
One of the suggested uses was to pour it over ice cream. Ice cream and rum, nothing wrong with that. We got out two bowls, filled them with ice cream, and drizzled (okay, poured) our creation over the top. And...
It was interesting. Strange things happen to fruit when they soak in liquor and sugar for that long. I'm not sure if we did something wrong, or if the test kitchen in charge didn't actually see the recipe through to the end, because we did everything they said and, while it wasn't unpleasant, it wasn't the showstopper we were imagining. The blueberries were hard and the strawberries kind of...bloaty. We finished our dessert; over the next week or two we tried a few more of the "suggested uses" but before long it was back in the linen closet.
All was not lost. Every so often, dashing out the door to a party I would grab a mason jar of the liquid to add to Sprite (that was yummy!). Munching on a boozy peach would give you a nice warm glow. I'm not sure what ever happened to the rest of it but every so often we will remember the rum pot and have a good laugh.
But back to sangria. During university, we discovered a bottled, dirt cheap "sangria" in the wine section of our liquor store that was always a crowd pleaser. We enjoyed this drink for several years, but as time went on and I got more and more into cooking, I knew I could do better. Many years had passed since the rum pot, and I was feeling ready to get back into the fruit and liquor game (also, I could now afford to bankroll my culinary experiments) And so, before one party in our early married life, I went online and found a REAL sangria recipe. This recipe, from Martha Stewart, is very similar to that one. I remember being surprised that there is actually brandy in Sangria, and while it is optional in many recipes, I strongly suggest that you add it. It really adds a certain something to the drink.
And don't leave out the sliced citrus fruit either! This is a fabulous recipe for a summer party, and it's so easy to increase the recipe. A big punch bowl of sangria in the middle of your buffet is decorative as well as delicious, so dust off your punch bowl and go for it! I'm actually on the lookout for a cool, old school punch bowl with wee little cups, but in a pinch, or for a smaller batch of sangria, a large pitcher will do just fine. Once upon a time, I had the most perfect sangria pitcher. It was a tall, Mexican mouth blown glass pitcher with a rim of brown glass at the top. It was funky and summery, and it could hold a lot of sangria. It was a favorite guest at many parties until one day it literally fell out of the refrigerator. It smashed into a million pieces on the floor, and I have never found another pitcher that could quite take it's place.
Hopefully I will find a wonderful new pitcher soon, because summer is just around the corner and I have the most perfect patio for sipping sangria with a beautiful view of the mountains. We've decided we'd like to get a Turkish brazier with a cooking grill, and I have visions of tapas nights on the patio with lots and lots of delicious chilled Sangria to accompany all those small plates! And who knows, now that I'm in BC with all the bounty of the Okanagan Valley at my disposal, maybe it's time to try the Rum Pot again!
This is a different recipe than the one I originally tried with my mom. This recipe is actually called "Rum Pot, Bluenose Style." For those of you not in the know, Bluenose is an affectionate term for a Nova Scotian, which I am. I think it would be great to make a Bluenose Rum Pot using Okanagan fruit. As you will see, this recipe explains what probably went wrong with the fruit in our first attempt. So be advised if you are doing a version that has the fruit floating in a jar, you can expect discolouration.