Category Archives: Beverages

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

My newly-created Island Summer Blush Cocktail is packed full of flavours that speak of springtime and early summer — rhubarb, lime, clementine, elderflower liqueur, and fizzy Prosecco.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

One of the key ingredients in this drink is my homemade rhubarb cordial.  I have been making this cordial for many years and I continually find new ways to use it.  We have a good-sized patch of rhubarb and, each spring, I make batches of this cordial and, what I don’t use at the time, I freeze for use at other times of the year.  Click here for my rhubarb cordial recipe.

Rhubarb Cordial
Rhubarb Cordial

My choice of elderflower liqueur was inspired by the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018. Prior to the wedding, it was announced that the flavours of the wedding cake would be lemon and elderflower.  I combined those two flavours and developed my own recipe for a lemon and elderflower cake, the recipe for which you can find by clicking here. I then thought I would create a cocktail, using elderflower liqueur, to commemorate the royal event and thus was born the Island Summer Blush Cocktail.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Elderflower liqueur is made with the delicate starry white elderflower blossoms. It has complex notes and a somewhat seductive fragrance.  I would describe this liqueur as a layered fusion of floral, tropical, and citrus notes. It certainly has exotic character and  reminds me of a floral summer bouquet with fruity notes.  Its light, floral profile makes it a great match for sharper flavours like rhubarb and citrus fruits. It marries well with sparkling wines and lends itself to a multitude of cocktail concoctions.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

This cocktail is easy to make. Simply combine the rhubarb cordial (no substitutes), clementine and lime juices, and elderflower liqueur in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice cubes then shake the mixture for 15-20 seconds or until condensation forms on the outside of the shaker indicating the mixture is super cold.  Strain the mixture into your fancy glass of choice then add the Prosecco.  Carefully tilt the glass slightly and slowly pour in the grenadine along the side of the glass. The grenadine should sink to the bottom of the glass giving the cocktail that lovely layered look.  Garnish with a wedge of clementine.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

The beautiful natural color of this cocktail reminds me of a blushing bride so, made with my Island rhubarb, flavoured with the elderflower flavour made trendy by the 2018 royal wedding, this is my Island Summer Blush Cocktail.  A perfect spring and summer cocktail to leisurely enjoy.

Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Ingredients:

1.5 oz Rhubarb Cordial
1 oz freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2 clementines)
½ oz Elderflower Liqueur
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz Prosecco
2 tsp Grenadine

Method:

Pour Rhubarb Cordial, clementine juice, Elderflower Liqueur, and lime juice into shaker and fill with ice cubes.  Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain into glass.  Top with Prosecco.  Tip glass slightly and slowly pour Grenadine in down the side of the glass.  Garnish with a clementine wedge. Serve immediately.

Serves:  1

Island Summer Blush Cocktail

This Island Summer Blush Cocktail is a beautiful balance of sharp and sweet flavours. With a blend of rhubarb cordial, elderflower liqueur, citrus fruit juices, grenadine, and Prosecco, this is a lovely cocktail to especially enjoy in summer.

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Rhubarb Cordial
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed clementine juice (about 2 clementines)
  • ½ oz Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 oz Prosecco
  • 2 tsp Grenadine

Instructions

  1. Pour Rhubarb Cordial, clementine juice, Elderflower Liqueur, and lime juice into shaker and fill with ice cubes. Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain into glass. Top with Prosecco. Tip glass slightly and slowly pour Grenadine in down the side of the glass. Garnish with a clementine wedge. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

 

For my recipe for Rhubarb Cordial, follow this link: http://myislandbistrokitchen.com/2013/06/24/rhubarb-cordial/

 

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Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail
Island Summer Blush Cocktail

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are such a great and tasty way to eat fruit and yogurt, making them healthy choices.  And, they are very filling. They are great for breakfast, summer barbeques, as a transportable breakfast-on-the-go, or just anytime as a nutritional drink.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

I am not far from Tryon Blueberries U-Pick, a high bush blueberry farm in central PEI and, when they are in season, I have a steady diet of these blueberries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

I freeze a quantity of them for use in smoothies throughout the year.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

Basically, any fruit you like can be combined into a smoothie.  For this recipe, I have chosen to feature the local blueberries but I also add in some other fruits that pair particularly well with blueberries. These include mango, papaya, and banana.  The great thing about smoothies is that they can be made with fresh or frozen fruits. I often bag up fruits when they are in season locally and freeze them in just the right sized portions for smoothies. This makes it quick and easy to prepare the smoothies which is great because, as we all know, if something is overly laborious, well….it often just does not happen.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Smoothies are so easy to make. A blender is needed for this recipe. Simply combine all the ingredients into the blender and process the mixture until desired smoothness is reached.

For sweetener, I use 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup.  This natural liquid sweetener blends better than sugar. Reduce the amount of maple syrup if you like a less sweet drink.  I also add in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds. Whole chia seeds may be used but the ground seeds make for a smoother drink and are a better alternative for those who can’t easily digest seeds. Chia is loaded with good health benefits like fibre, omega 3 fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

The yogurt I have used in this smoothie is a Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt.  Lavender pairs very well with blueberries. Don’t be put off by this flavor thinking it will be like perfume.  This yogurt is very gently flavored with lavender and it is not at all strong in either the lavender flavor or scent. It does, however, add a subtle layer of flavor to the smoothie.  Plain vanilla yogurt can, of course, be substituted but, if the lavender yogurt is available, I recommend giving it a try.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Any kind of fruit juice can be used in this smoothie.  I have made it with plain orange juice which is very good but it is super tasty if made with a mango-citrus blend of juice or a tropical fruit juice.  If possible, I try to add juice that has the flavor of at least one or more of the fruits I am blending into the smoothie.  I don’t add any ice cubes to this smoothie because I find they can dilute the flavor.  Make sure the fruit juice is good and cold and the smoothie will be just the right temperature for drinking without adding any ice.

Garnishes are optional but they do dress up the smoothie.  If using garnishes, choose fruits that are in the smoothie as I have done here with the blueberries, mango, and papaya.

Blueberry Smoothie
Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

This smoothie recipe will yield approximately 4 cups  which is about two good servings or, for smaller portions, four 1-cup servings are possible.  This really is a meal in a glass – it provides servings of fruit, yogurt, and liquid content.  This smoothie is best served as soon as it is made because it has banana in it and it can produce quite a strong flavor if left to sit and it can take over and become the predominant flavor in the drink.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
½ large banana, sliced
½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Method:

Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.

Yield:  Apx. 4 cups

Blueberry and Tropical Fruit Smoothie

Yield: Apx. 2 servings

Serving Size: 2-cup

Kickstart your day with this super tasty blueberry and tropical fruit smoothie made with lavender yogurt and mango-citrus fruit juice

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups fruit juice (e.g., mango-citrus, orange juice, etc.)
  • 1½ cups high bush blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup mango, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup papaya, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ large banana, sliced
  • ½ cup Mediterranean-style lavender yogurt
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1½ tbsp ground chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, in order given, in blender and process until well blended and smooth. Pour into glasses. Garnish with skewer of fresh blueberries, mango, and papaya. Serve immediately.
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A delicious smoothie made with a blend of blueberries, tropical fruits, lavender yogurt, and mango-citrus fruit juice

For another refreshing blueberry drink, try this recipe for Blueberry Lemonade

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur Recipe

Irish Cream Liqueur
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Making homemade Irish Cream Liqueur is very easy – it’s a matter of simply combining all the ingredients in a blender and blending on high for 25-30 seconds.  Easy-peasy.

This liqueur will keep, tightly sealed in a sterilized bottle, in the refrigerator for the length of time the fresh cream used in the recipe will stay fresh as noted on the cream carton or bottle.

It’s important to shake the liqueur well before using . This liqueur serves well over ice or mixed with eggnog (1 part liqueur to 2 parts eggnog).  Of course, it can also be used in a multitude of other ways as well, such as a flavorful coffee creamer.

Irish Cream
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Presented in decorative bottles, this makes a wonderful host or hostess gift.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Irish Cream Liqueur

Ingredients:

1 cup 18% fresh cream
1 – 300ml can condensed milk
1½ cups whiskey
2½ tbsp chocolate syrup
2 tbsp cold strong brewed coffee
2 tsp pure vanilla
¾ tsp almond flavoring

Method:
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend on high for apx. 25-30 seconds, just until ingredients are blended.  Transfer liqueur to sterilized decorative bottle.  Seal tightly.

Store in refrigerator for the length of time the fresh cream used in the recipe is “best before”.  Shake liqueur well before serving.

To serve, pour liqueur into glass and add ice.

Yield:  Apx. 1 litre

Serving Suggestion:  Pour 1 part liqueur into glass and top with 2 parts eggnog.  Add ice and serve.

Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur Recipe

Yield: Apx. 1 litre

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 18% fresh cream
  • 1 – 300ml can condensed milk
  • 1½ cups whiskey
  • 2½ tbsp chocolate syrup
  • 2 tbsp cold strong brewed coffee
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • ¾ tsp almond flavoring

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in blender and blend on high for apx. 25-30 seconds, just until ingredients are blended. Transfer liqueur to sterilized decorative bottle. Seal tightly.
  2. Store in refrigerator for the length of time the fresh cream used in the recipe is “best before”. Shake liqueur well before serving.
  3. To serve, pour liqueur into glass and add ice.
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Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

 

Irish Cream
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur

Blueberry Lemonade Recipe

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

Lemonade is a wonderful refreshing drink on a hot summer’s day.  Sometimes I like just plain old-fashioned lemonade and, other times, I like to flavor it using whatever berries are currently in season.  My latest lemonade creation uses high bush blueberries to make blueberry lemonade concentrate.  Fill a glass about one third full of the concentrate and top it up with lemon-lime soda for a tasty drink. You can, of course, top up the concentrate with lemon-flavored sparkling water instead of the soda.

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

This recipe begins with a simple syrup which is infused with freshly squeezed lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and blueberry purée.

I am sometimes asked if it is necessary to use a simple syrup when making lemonade.  In my view, it is essential and here is why.  Ever try dissolving sugar in cold liquid?  If you have, then you know the difficulty in getting the sugar to completely dissolve. Stir, stir, stir or shake, shake, shake and the sugar just does not want to completely dissolve and the mixture will appear cloudy. This is because sugar is not very soluble in cold liquid.  At some point, you may have experienced a drink that had a nasty gritty sugar taste and texture and you may have noticed some undissolved sugar that fell  to the bottom of the glass.  This would have been the result of sugar mixed with cold liquid.

Lemonade is meant to be a bit tart but it does need some sugar to sweeten it a bit.  So, how do you get the sugar successfully incorporated into the lemonade?  It’s simple – you make a simple syrup. And, it’s called simple for a reason.

Simple syrup is nothing more than water and sugar heated until the sugar is perfectly dissolved.  There are various formulas for simple syrup, depending on how thick you want the syrup and for what purpose it will be used. I tend to use 3/4 cup of sugar to 1 cup of water for simple syrups for beverages.  My preference is to use super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar) because its fine texture means it dissolves easier than standard granulated sugar. Simply combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat over medium heat to the boiling point, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved.  Let the syrup boil gently for about 3-4 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary so the mixture does not boil too rapidly.  Don’t boil the mixture rapidly or leave the liquid on the heat too long because you’ll lose some to evaporation.  Remove the liquid from the heat and let it cool for about 30-40 minutes before adding any additional ingredients such as lemon juice, lemon rind, or puréed berries. Easy-peasy! And, you will have a much more refined drink that has a smooth, silky, velvet-like finish than you will get by trying to dissolve the sugar in cold water. It’s all about the quality in the end result.

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

I used about 6 oz of high bush blueberries (the really nice big berries like the ones in the photo below) for this recipe and, with my potato masher, I loosely broke up the berries.

Blueberries
High Bush Blueberries

By gently mashing the berries, their juices get released quicker when they are heated. The  berries were combined with 2/3 cup of water and cooked over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, just until they were softened and their juices were extracted.  The mixture was cooled for about 30 minutes then puréed with an immersion blender.  I added the blueberries, lemon juice, and lemon rind to the cooled simple syrup and let it sit for a couple of hours so the flavors would infuse the syrup.

To get the smooth liquid,  strain the cooled mixture through a very fine mesh sieve twice to remove the pulp.

This concentrate will keep in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

[printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Blueberry Lemonade

Ingredients:
1 cup water
¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar)

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 tbsp grated lemon rind

6 oz high bush blueberries
2/3 cup water

Method:

For the simple syrup:  In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar together.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved.  Reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes).

For the blueberry purée: In pie plate, gently mash the berries with a potato masher to release their juices.  Combine the berries and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until berries are softened and the mixture is quite juicy.  Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Purée the berry mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender.

For the lemonade concentrate: Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and puréed berry mixture to the cooled simple syrup.  Stir well to fully combine the ingredients.  Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend.  Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp.  Discard the pulp and pour concentrate into a bottle.  Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

To serve:  Fill a glass approximately one-third full of lemonade concentrate.  Top up with lemon-lime soda or lemon-flavored sparkling water.  Add ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon wheel, a sprig of lemon balm, and fresh blueberries, if desired.

Yield:  Approximately 2 cups concentrate

Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

 

Blueberry Lemonade

Yield: Apx. 2 cups concentrate

This lemonade combines two complementary flavors to make a delightfully tasty and refreshing drink for a hot summer's day.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 tbsp grated lemon rind
  • 6 oz high bush blueberries
  • 2/3 cup water

Instructions

  1. For the simple syrup: In small saucepan, combine the water and sugar together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature (apx. 30-40 minutes).
  2. For the blueberry purée: In pie plate, gently mash the berries with a potato masher to release their juices. Combine the berries and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until berries are softened and the mixture is quite juicy. Remove from heat and cool for about 30 minutes. Purée the berry mixture in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  3. For the lemonade concentrate: Add the lemon juice, lemon rind, and puréed berry mixture to the cooled simple syrup. Stir well to fully combine the ingredients. Let mixture stand for at least an hour (or up to three hours) to allow the flavors to blend. Strain mixture twice through a fine mesh sieve to remove the pulp. Discard the pulp and pour concentrate into a bottle. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  4. To serve: Fill a glass approximately one-third full of lemonade concentrate. Top up with lemon-lime soda or lemon-flavored sparkling water. Add ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon wheel, a sprig of lemon balm, and fresh blueberries, if desired.
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Lemonade
Blueberry Lemonade

Strawberry Slush

Slush
Strawberry Slush

Strawberry Slush is my newest summer drink creation and it has quickly become a favorite!  Strawberries take center stage in this beverage but there is also a mix of other fruit juices that include rhubarb, pineapple, lemon and orange juices, and some pink lemonade.  The addition of Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix deepens the flavor and adds some interesting speckles throughout the slush. Because I know Epicure products may not be available everywhere, I have included this as an optional addition as the slush will still taste quite fine without it. My recipe calls for gin and any brand may be used.

Slush
Strawberry Slush

Slush takes 2-3 days to reach the desired consistency. Be sure to store it in the coldest part of the deep freeze and stir it once or twice each day while it is freezing.  This helps to ensure that all the ingredients continue to be mixed. For other tips on making slush, visit my posting on making Rhubarb Slush by clicking here.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Slush
Strawberry Slush

Mix this slush with your favorite clear soda. There is no set ratio of how much slush to serve to the amount of soda. I use the slush to fill between 1/3 and 1/2 the glass and top up the remainder with soda. I prefer lemon-lime soda with this slush but seven up or gingerale also work well, too.

This is a lovely, colorful, and refreshing drink on a hot summer afternoon.

Slush
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Strawberry Slush

(Printable recipe follows at end of post)

Strawberry Slush

Ingredients:

1½ cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar

7 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces
Scant ½ cup water

1/3 cup pineapple juice
¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (1 small lemon)
5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
10 oz strawberries puréed to equal approximately 1 1/3 cups purée, mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1½ tbsp Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix (optional)
1½ cups gin

Strawberries, lemon slices, or pineapple chunks for garnish, if desired

Method:

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the water and granulated sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.

In separate medium-sized saucepan, combine the rhubarb and scant half cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until rhubarb has broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.

Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup.  Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible.  This should yield approximately ½ cup of rhubarb juice. Chill.  Discard rhubarb pulp.

Into a freezable container that can hold at least 8 cups of liquid, pour in the simple syrup, chilled rhubarb juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, pink lemonade, orange juice, strawberry purée, Epicure Summer Berry mix, and gin.  Stir well.

Place airtight cover on container.  Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process.  Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.

To serve, fill glass between one-third and one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime.  Garnish with a lemon wheel, strawberry, or pineapple chunk and serve immediately.
Keep remainder of slush stored in the coldest part of the freezer so it will maintain its consistency.

Yield:
  Apx. 7½ cups of slush

Strawberry and Rhubarb Slush
Strawberry Slush

Strawberry Slush

Yield: Apx. 7 1/2 cups

A delightfully refreshing drink made with strawberries, rhubarb, fruit juices, and gin.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 7 oz rhubarb, chopped into ½” pieces
  • Scant ½ cup water
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice (1 small lemon)
  • 5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen pink lemonade, slightly thawed
  • 5 oz (apx. ½ can) frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
  • 10 oz strawberries puréed to equal approximately 1 1/3 cups purée, mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tbsp Epicure’s “Summer Berry” sweet dip mix (optional)
  • 1½ cups gin
  • Strawberries, lemon slices, or pineapple chunks for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the water and granulated sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.
  2. In separate medium-sized saucepan, combine the rhubarb and scant half cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until rhubarb has broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.
  3. Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup. Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. This should yield approximately ½ cup of rhubarb juice. Chill. Discard rhubarb pulp.
  4. Into a freezable container that can hold at least 8 cups of liquid, pour in the simple syrup, chilled rhubarb juice, pineapple juice, lemon juice, pink lemonade, orange juice, strawberry purée, Epicure Summer Berry mix, and gin. Stir well.
  5. Place airtight cover on container. Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process. Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.
  6. To serve, fill glass between one-third and one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime. Garnish with a lemon wheel, strawberry, or pineapple chunk and serve immediately.
  7. Keep remainder of slush stored in the coldest part of the freezer so it will maintain its consistency.
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Slush
Strawberry Slush

 

Rhubarb Slush

Rhubarb Slush
Rhubarb Slush

I love to develop summertime drinks! This recipe uses rhubarb as the base for this tasty slush drink. The addition of a mix of freshly squeezed citrus juices, sweet pineapple juice, and frozen lemonade concentrate make this a flavorful beverage. This is an alcoholic beverage as it uses gin. There is no fixed ratio of slush to soda but I generally fill a tall glass about a third to half full of the slush and top it up with a clear soda such as lemon-lime. Serve with a lemon wheel or wedge and it’s a refreshing drink on a hot summer day.

Rhubarb Slush
Rhubarb Slush

I do have some tips to share for making this slush:

• Use the the brightest red rhubarb stalks you can find as this will give the slush color.
• Use freshly-squeezed citrus fruit juices, not bottled (fresh is always best!).
• Strain the citrus juices twice to remove all traces of seeds and fruit pulp.
• Chill the rhubarb and citrus juices, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and gin. The colder the ingredients are to start with, the quicker and better the freezing process for the slush.
• Plan ahead to make this slush as it will take at least 2-3 days for it to reach the optimal “slush” stage.
• Stir the slush 2-3 times during the freezing process to ensure ingredients remain mixed during the freezing stage. It will not freeze rock hard solid as it’s not meant to.
• For best results, store the slush in a tightly sealed container deep in a deep freeze (as opposed to a refrigerator’s freezer compartment). Otherwise, the slush may remain in a fairly liquid form and not freeze, and stay frozen, at the slush stage.
• Once mixed with the cold soda, serve immediately as the slush melts quickly.

This is a pale, pastel drink that is packed full of flavour. Sometimes, I add some lemon balm leaves and edible pansies to add color and interest to the drink. I think this would make a lovely bridal shower signature drink.

Rhubarb Slush
Rhubarb Slush
Rhubarb Slush

Ingredients:

1½ cups water
1½ cups sugar

3 cups rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks (enough to yield 1 cup rhubarb juice)
⅔ cup water

Juice of ½ pink grapefruit
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
1¼ cups pineapple juice, chilled
½ can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, slightly thawed

1 – 375 ml bottle gin (I used Beefeater London Dry Gin), chilled

Method:

Assemble ingredients.

Ingredients for Rhubarb Slush
Ingredients for Rhubarb Slush

In medium-sized saucepan, combine the 1½ cups water and 1½ cup sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Over high heat, bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally,  until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.

Making the Simple Syrup
Making the Simple Syrup

In medium-sized saucepan combine the rhubarb and 2/3 cup water.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes until rhubarb is broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.

Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup.

Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. This should yield 1 cup of rhubarb juice. Chill. Discard rhubarb pulp.

Prepare the citrus juices and strain twice to remove any seeds and pulp. Chill.

Squeezing Citrus Juices
Squeezing Citrus Juices
Straining the Citrus Juices
Straining the Citrus Juices

Into a freezable container that can hold at least 7 cups of liquid, pour the cooled simple syrup of sugar and water.

Add the chilled rhubarb, citrus, and pineapple juices along with the semi-thawed lemonade concentrate and the gin. Stir well.

Place airtight cover on container. Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process. Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.

Slush Starting to Freeze
Slush Starting to Freeze
Slush Freezing
Slush Freezing

To serve, fill a tall glass about a third to one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda, such as lemon-lime.

DSC_0297-001

Garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge and serve immediately. Decorate with a sprig of lemon balm and/or an edible pansy, if desired.

Yield: Apx. 7+ cups

Note: There may be some slight variations in colors between different photos in this posting due to different lighting used.

Rhubarb Slush

Yield: Apx. 7+ cups

A pastel-colored refreshing drink using rhubarb

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 cups rhubarb, chopped into ½” chunks (enough to yield 1 cup rhubarb juice)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • Juice of ½ pink grapefruit
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of l lemon
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1¼ cups pineapple juice, chilled
  • ½ can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, slightly thawed
  • 1 – 375 ml bottle gin (I used Beefeater London Dry Gin), chilled

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients.
  2. In medium-sized saucepan, combine the 1½ cups water and 1½ cup sugar to make a traditional simple syrup. Over high heat, bring to a boil then reduce to medium-low heat and boil gently for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar has completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then chill.
  3. In medium-sized saucepan combine the rhubarb and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to medium low and cook gently for about 10 minutes until rhubarb is broken down into a soft sauce-like consistency.
  4. Pour rhubarb and its liquid into a fine sieve/strainer placed over a bowl or large measuring cup. Let juice drip from rhubarb, periodically pressing the rhubarb pulp with the back of a large spoon to extract as much juice as possible. This should yield 1 cup of rhubarb juice. Chill. Discard rhubarb pulp.
  5. Prepare the citrus juices and strain twice to remove any seeds and pulp. Chill.
  6. Into a freezable container that can hold at least 7 cups of liquid, pour the simple syrup of sugar and water. Add the chilled rhubarb, citrus, and pineapple juices along with the semi-thawed lemonade concentrate and the gin. Stir well.
  7. Place airtight cover on container. Freeze in the coldest part of the deep freeze, stirring 2-3 times during the freezing process. Be patient as this will take 2-3 days for it to reach the desired slush consistency.
  8. To serve, fill a tall glass about one-third to one-half full of slush and top up with a clear soda, such as lemon-lime. Garnish with a lemon wheel or wedge and serve immediately.
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Rhubarb Slush
Rhubarb Slush

Lemonade

Hot, lazy days of summer always send me off looking for thirst-quenching cold drinks.

One of my favorites is old-fashioned homemade lemonade.  It’s cool and refreshing.

Making the concentrate for the lemonade is really easy and I think it tastes ever-so-much better than bought lemonade.

Cool, refreshing homemade lemonade
Cool, refreshing homemade lemonade

Lemonade Concentrate

Ingredients:

1 cup water
¾ cup super-fine sugar (aka caster sugar)
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (apx 3-4 lemons), strained
1-2 tbsp grated lemon rind

Lemon-flavored sparkling water to top up

Method:

Squeeze lemons and strain juice.

Assemble ingredients.

Boil water and sugar for 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and cool for apx. 30 minutes.

Add lemon juice and grated lemon rind. Stir.  Let sit at room temperature for at least 3-4 hours to allow flavour to strengthen.

Strain lemon rind from concentrate.

Pour into bottle.

To serve: Pour ½ to ⅔ cup of lemon concentrate into tall glass and top up with lemon-flavored sparkling water.

Add ice cubes or crushed ice if desired and decorate with a sprig of mint and a slice or two of lemon.

Keep concentrate refrigerated.

Yield: Apx. 2 cups

Lemonade is a very versatile drink – it’s great for picnics, sitting on the front porch,  at afternoon tea, at the beach, or anywhere for that matter.

Is lemonade part of your summer?

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Rhubarb Cordial

Oh, those lazy, hazy hot days of summer!   They sure can work up a thirst.  One of the most refreshing summertime drinks in my repertoire is Rhubarb Cordial.  Not only is it refreshing, but it is tasty and a very showy drink with its bright orange/red color.

Rhubarb Cordial
Rhubarb Cordial

Making Rhubarb Cordial is also another great way to use up rhubarb from the garden but make sure you pick the brightest red stalks as that is what gives this drink its superb color.

Making the concentrate for the Cordial is a bit time-consuming but the end result is worth the time and effort.

Here is what you will need to make the Cordial:

6 cups red rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

3 cups water

(This will yield about 5 cups of rhubarb juice)

1 cup sugar

1 – 295ml can frozen pink lemonade, thawed

juice of 1/2 pink grapefruit

juice of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 orange

(These three citrus juices together will yield apx. 1/2 cup liquid)

Lemon-lime soda (or 7-Up, Sprite, or Gingerale)

Yield:  Apx. 7 – 7 1/2 cups (depending on the water content of the rhubarb used as well as how much juice is extracted from the citrus fruits)

Method:

Cook rhubarb and water for apx. 15 minutes, until rhubarb is soft and mushy.

Strain rhubarb through a fine sieve into a large pot to extract the juice.  Discard the rhubarb pulp.  You should have about 5 cups of rhubarb juice from this process.  I like to strain the juice a second time to refine it further and remove any traces of rhubarb pulp.

Squeeze and strain the grapefruit, lemon, and orange juices.  Discard fruit pulp.  Add the citrus juices to the rhubarb juice.

Stir sugar into rhubarb and citrus  juice mixture.   Heat over medium-low heat to dissolve the sugar.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Strain lemonade concentrate into the juice.  Chill.

Pour into large pitcher if serving immediately or pour into sterilized bottles, seal, and freeze for later use.

Mason jars also make good containers in which to store the Rhubarb Cordial.

To serve:

For individual servings, fill glass 1/3 full of chilled Rhubarb Cordial.  Fill remaining 2/3 glass with chilled lemon-lime soda.  Stir.  Add ice cubes and a sprig of mint.  Decorate glass with rhubarb curls if desired.

To make multiple servings, such as in a punch bowl, for example, follow the 1 part Rhubarb Cordial concentrate to 2 parts soda rule.

This is a great drink to sip on a warm, sunny day while sitting under the cover of the front verandah or on the back deck.  It also makes a great picnic beverage as well.

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Rhubarb Cordial
Rhubarb Cordial

 

PEI Juice Works Ltd. Produces High Quality Wild Blueberry Juice

PEI Wild Blueberries

It’s late August and wild blueberry season on PEI.  These wonderful little indigo-colored berries grow wild in certain parts of the Island – in particular, in the Tignish area in the Western part of the Province and in the Morell-St. Peter’s area in the Eastern end of PEI.  While it may be wild blueberry season for most people, for the folks at PEI Juice Works Ltd. which produce wild blueberry juice, it’s wild blueberry season year-round.  Today, I’m in Bloomfield, near Alberton, PEI, in the Western part of the Island, visiting the PEI Juice Works Ltd. production plant.  My tour guide for the day is Ryan Bradley, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing.

 

Juice Works Logo

 

Fresh PEI Wild Blueberries Arrive on PEI Juice Works Ltd.’s Loading Dock…ready to be processed into Wild Blueberry Juice

As I arrive mid-morning, a local farmer from Tignish, about a half hour away, has just arrived with a truckload of fresh wild blueberries for processing and is backed up to the loading dock unloading large containers of berries.  One taste of these sweet little wild blueberries and there is no comparison to the larger cultivated ones that, while they have great presentation, I find so often lack flavour.  No doubt about it, wild blueberries are tastier and sweeter than the cultivated high bush variety and, as an added bonus, they also have a much higher antioxidant profile.

Crate of Wild Blueberries, Fresh from the Field

 

PEI Juice Works Ltd. began producing juice from wild blueberries just two years ago when four shareholders from the agricultural sector decided to do something with the wild blueberries growing in their area to add value to them other than shipping them as raw food to be used or processed into a product elsewhere.  The production facility is located in the Bloomfield Industrial Park just outside Alberton and presently employs seven staff year-round.  The company has worked closely with Bio Food Tech in Charlottetown to develop the proprietary process PEI Juice Works Ltd. uses and Ryan tells me that Bio Food Tech set up a small scale plant in their lab to test and help PEI Juice Works Ltd. get the best wild blueberry juice product possible.   The food production industry is heavily regulated and food safety standards are strictly adhered to by PEI Juice Works Ltd.  In fact, on my visit, I could only view their production facility from a window as only authorized personnel are allowed in the room where the juice is being produced.

PEI Juice Works Ltd. Production Facility and Test Kitchen

 

 

Two Flavours of PEI Juice Works Ltd. Wild Blueberry Juice

Currently, the company produces two flavour blends of their signature wild blueberry juice – Wild Blueberry and Tart Cherry and Wild Blueberry and Rhubarb.  Ryan tells me that their most popular flavour is Wild Blueberry and Tart Cherry (and it’s my favourite, too!).  He tells me there is over one pound of wild blueberries in every 375ml bottle they produce and the product contains no preservatives – so it is the goodness of an all-natural product!  When you think of how small the low bush wild blueberries are, that’s a lot of blueberries!  Their product comes in one-size, a 375ml bottle, that has a two-year shelf life, unopened.  After opening, the product will maintain its quality for about three weeks, refrigerated.  Ryan tells me the juice can be drunk cold or at room temperature but he says the flavour will be more intense if it is consumed cold.  PEI Juice Works Ltd. recommends a daily serving size of 2 oz/60ml of the wild blueberry juice which is about ¼ cup.  Following this recommended serving, one 375 ml bottle will last you just about a week.

Wild Blueberry Juice
Recommended 2oz/60ml Serving Size of Wild Blueberry Juice Per Day
PEI Juice Works Ltd. Warehouse

To the extent possible, PEI Juice Works Ltd. uses local product.  In this way, it provides a ready market for local Island wild blueberry growers.  In the off-season, PEI Juice Works Ltd. buys its supply of wild blueberries from a sorting facility to which local growers have sold their crops and where the berries have been quick frozen.  So, how is wild blueberry juice made?  Ryan tells me PEI Juice Works Ltd. uses an ancient European process that was originally developed by Mennonites in Eastern Europe over 100 years ago.  This involves a heat process to break down the skin membrane of the wild blueberries that will release the dark, rich pigments that give the juice both its color and flavour.  The solids are then separated and filtered out and the blending of other fruits – either the cherries or rhubarb – then occurs.  For consumer safety, the product is pasteurized and bottled, hot, which gives it its two-year shelf life.

Currently, the juices are sold in all four Atlantic Provinces (check the “Where to Buy” section of the PEI Juice Works Ltd. website for locations in those areas) and the 375ml bottles retail for around $10. each.  However, no worries if you are not in the Atlantic Provinces because, through FoodiePages, you can now order PEI Juice Works Ltd. products online.  The company is currently exploring markets around the world and have participated in trade shows and trade missions at home and farther afield.  In February, 2012, they attended a food show in Japan and, in March, were at the Canadian Health Products Show in Vancouver, BC.  In September, they are travelling to China as part of the PEI Premier’s trade mission.

The farmer delivering the wild blueberry shipment to PEI Juice Works Ltd. on this day graciously agreed to allow me to follow him to his blueberry field to see how they harvest the crop because I think it is important to see where our foods come from and how they are harvested. 

Wild Blueberry Harvesting Process

I learned a fact I did not know before and that is that a wild low bush blueberry field will only yield a maximum harvest every second year so the field they are harvesting today will not be harvested again until the year after next.  Wild blueberries, of course, cannot be planted so are completely dependent on Mother Nature as to where the wild blueberry barrens are and the fruit they yield.  I asked if, this year being a very dry year on the Island with very little rain, provided good growing conditions for wild blueberries.  The farmer told me that it is not and he showed me some berries that, in fact, just dried up and did not yield useable fruit because of the dry conditions.  Using the machine in the photograph above, the farmer can harvest over one acre of fruit per day.  It is from this field that today’s production of PEI Juice Works Ltd. wild blueberry juice is being made.  It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

In recent years, there have been a number of studies conducted around the world with regards to the health benefits of wild blueberries, often dubbed a superfruit, which have steadily been gaining a reputation for their health benefits.  Wild blueberries are low in fat and sodium and provide a good source of fibre and both Vitamins C and K.  While research and testing on the health benefits of wild blueberries continue on an ongoing basis, the berries and their products, such as wild blueberry juice, are reported to have positive health benefits.  High in antioxidants, wild blueberry juice is reported to have properties that may improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, inhibit urinary tract infections, and combat diseases like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.  There is even some research that suggests wild blueberry juice may slow the aging process!  So, with the chances of improved memory and learning functions, slowing down the aging process, and combating a number of other diseases, what’s not to like about wild blueberry juice!

Visit the Juice Works website to find out more about their blueberry juice products.

While the wild blueberry juice is wonderful to drink on its own I decided to try some recipes using the juice as an ingredient.  The first recipe is for Steamed Mussels with Blueberry Vinaigrette.  You can find the recipe for this appetizer on the Saltscapes magazine website. Traditionally, on PEI, we serve steamed mussels with melted butter; however, this recipe sees the mussels drizzled with a blueberry vinaigrette which can also be used as a dressing on a green garden salad or on a watermelon, goat cheese, and basil salad.  For the vinaigrette, I chose PEI Juice Works’ Wild Blueberry and Rhubarb Juice and I also used PEI-produced maple syrup.  Adding the syrup gave the dressing a touch of sweetness and it paired well with the mussels in the appetizer and the watermelon in the salad.

Steamed Mussels with Blueberry Vinaigrette

 

Steamed Mussels served with Blueberry Vinaigrette

To make the watermelon, goat cheese, and basil salad, I simply cubed watermelon, added some crumbled goat cheese, red onion, and a sprinkle of fresh basil and parsley.  Since we had a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes in our garden this year, I included some of those as well.  Drizzled with a wild blueberry vinaigrette, this is a refreshing and colorful summer salad.

Watermelon, Goat Cheese, and Basil Salad Drizzled with a Wild Blueberry Vinaigrette

My third recipe is one I developed —  a Blueberry Juice Sangria (recipe follows).

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Blueberry Sangria

I hope you will try PEI Juice Works Ltd. wild blueberry juices.  They are a tasty product, good for you, and made right here in Prince Edward Island.  It’s a true flavour of the Island!

My Island Bistro Kitchen's Blueberry Sangria

By Barbara99 Published: August 29, 2012

  • Yield: (3-4 Servings)
  • Prep: 1 hr 30 mins

A refreshing drink made with PEI Juice Works' Wild Blueberry Juice

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Assemble all ingredients.
  2. Chop lime, lemon, and orange into quarters. Into medium-sized glass pitcher, hand-squeeze fruit. Drop in the fruit. Add blueberries, if using.
  3. Add sugar and a small sprinkle of fine sea salt. Let sit, at room temperature, for about 30 minutes to release juices from the fruit.
  4. Add blueberry and orange juices, wine, and brandy. Stir. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill.
  5. Add soda at time of serving.
  6. Serve chilled, over ice, in tall glasses and garnish with a slice of orange or lemon. Enjoy!

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Sangria on the Verandah on a Saturday Afternoon in July

“Island Sangria”

It has been some years since I have had sangria.  The last time would have been in London, England.  I have never made sangria before but the gift of a couple of bottles of a friend’s homemade Pinot Noir prompted me to make it and it has now become my 2012 signature summer drink.

Sangria is really nothing more than a wine punch.  It is typically associated with Spain, Portugal, and Mexico but is also popular now in other areas of the world as well, particularly as a summer time drink.  While it can be made with white or rosé wines, classic sangria is made with red wine.  A small amount of brandy is also a common ingredient.  Chopped fruit — often citrus —  is also a usual ingredient and what you add to it basically consists of what you have available.  Lemonade or orange juice can also be added and the addition of a sweetener, such as sugar or honey, is included in the list of ingredients, too.  These ingredients get mixed together and left for an hour or two to allow the flavours to blend.  Sangria can be drunk without the addition of a carbonated soda but adding lemon-lime soda, Sprite, 7-Up, or gingerale, certainly adds fizz and spark to the drink and I think makes it more refreshing.

Sangria – A Refreshing Summer Drink

Mix the sangria in a lovely glass pitcher so that you can enjoy the deep burgundy-red color of the drink as well as the mixture of fruits floating in the punch.  I like to serve the sangria over ice in tall pedestal flutes.

Glass of Island Sangria

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Island Sangria

By Barbara99 Published: July 14, 2012

  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Prep: 1 hr 30 mins

A deep, rich burgundy-red wine punch

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Chop fruit. Set aside.
  2. Pour wine, orange juice, and brandy in to a glass pitcher. Add sugar and salt. Stir.
  3. Add chopped fruit. Let stand for at least an hour at room temperature to let flavours blend. Then, refrigerate for 30-60 minutes to cool. Add the carbonated soda at time of serving. Serve over ice in pedestal flutes. Enjoy!

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