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Green gin & tonic

1 Sep

Green gin & tonic – a celebration of Spring! Photography & styling by Tasha Seccombe. Recipe & preparation by Ilse van der Merwe.

 

Spring is here and I feel it needs to be celebrated with a proper drink!

To me, gin tastes like holidays and mischief. It brings a smile to my lips, like the anticipation of flirting with an old flame (single ladies, you go get them). Instead of a glass of red wine, a gin & tonic is the perfect winding-down drink on warmer evenings.

There are few things that I love more than the addition of a thin cucumber slice to my gin & tonic. But for this recipe, I’ve gone slightly over the top with some greener than green cucumber juice (strained from grated fresh cucumber) and a few basil and mint leaves. It’s almost like drinking an alcoholic non-dairy tzatziki, but way better.

See it as an unforgettable aperitif to a longer night of festivities, and follow it with your choice of chilled bubbly or ice cold sauvignon blanc.

Cucumber juice, mint and basil – ready for your gin, ice and tonic. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

Ingredients: (makes 2, adjust as needed)

  • 1/2 English cucumber
  • a few basil leaves
  • a few mint leaves
  • ice blocks
  • 2-4 shots good quality gin
  • 2 x 200 ml good quality sparkling tonic water

Method:

  1. Place a clean kitchen towel (open) over a wide bowl. Roughly grate the cucumber over the towel, then roll up the towel and wring out the juice into the bowl. Discard the dried out gratings and keep the juice.
  2. In 2 cocktail glasses, divide the juice. Add some basil and mint to each, then top with ice. Pour the gin (1-2 shots in each glass), then top up with tonic. Serve immediately.

Real hot chocolate

15 Aug

Delicious hot chocolate with melted marshmallows, made with real dark chocolate and fresh cream. Photography by Tasha Seccombe.

 

When I watched the movie Chocolat back in 2000, there was one scene that mesmerized me completely: Juliette Binoche poured a cup of devilishly dark hot chocolate with a pinch of hot chilli pepper for Judi Dench.

That cup of hot chocolate has been in my dreams since that day. I’ve tried to recreate it numerous times, and my conclusion is that you really need to go overboard with the chocolate content in order to get it that dark and that glossy. Almost like 100% melted dark chocolate and very little milk (or no milk at all). Of course I’d be able to drink that kind of thing (with my decadent appetite), but most people won’t. And it would cost a fortune to make a liter.

There are purists who believe that hot chocolate shouldn’t contain milk or cream at all, adding some water instead for the right consistency. I can appreciate that, but I do love the silky texture of cream and milk with hot chocolate (especially because I know that my daughter and husband are such dairy lovers).

So I decided to create a hot chocolate that would come as close as possible to that of Juliette Binoche, without being totally over the top. The right amount of sweetness, bitterness, creaminess, spice and texture. It is  made with real chocolate, cocoa powder, brown sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, spices and just a teaspoon of corn flour for a luxuriously thicker texture. Pour into mugs, add marshmallows and let it melt for a few minutes before serving.

Nothing can beat this on a cold winter’s evening. Happiness in a mug!

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 150 g dark chocolate, chopped (at least 55 %)
  • 30 ml cocoa powder
  • 5 ml corn flour
  • 15-30 ml brown sugar (to taste)
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • a pinch of ground nutmeg
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of ground chilli powder
  • marshmallows, to serve

Method:

  1. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan until very warm (not boiling). Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted completely.
  2. In the meantime, mix the cocoa powder and corn flour in a cup. Add some of the warm milk mixture and mix to form a smooth runny paste.
  3. Add the paste to the warm milk, along with the brown sugar, vanilla and spices. Stir with a whisk over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and comes to a boil and thickens slightly.
  4. Remove from the heat and pour into mugs. Top with marshmallows, allow to melt for a few minutes, then serve immediately.

Save

3 Festive Bubbly Cocktails with Poetry Stores

28 Dec

My three easy bubbly cocktails on the video set at Bartinney Champagne Bar in colaboration with Poetry Stores (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

We’re in the middle of silly season, entertaining family and friends almost daily and celebrating a few days off work before the start of a new year. I’m at the beach with my family and we’re in the habit of pouring a casual festive drink every evening at sundown.

If you’re a lover of bubbly, you’ll love these three easy cocktail recipes that I wrote for Poetry Stores. No special gear required, just pour and enjoy. It’s such a stunning way to welcome guests for a festive occasion! Thank you to Poetry Stores for this fun collaboration. Watch the video:

 

Mango Tango: one part thick mango juice, two parts ice cold bubbly, one basil leaf (photography by @Tasha Seccombe)

Ruby Rage: ice cold bubbly, a squeeze of fresh pomegranate juice plus some pomegranate seeds, and a squeeze of lime juice (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Watermelon Fizz: bubbly, a scoop of watermelon sorbet, fresh mint (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Tasha and I had a lot of fun filming this video with the team of Skript.tv! Here are some behind-the-scenes pics of the shoot, as taken by Tasha Seccombe.

Caught in the act – sipping bubbly before lunchtime was part of the job (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Bernard and Rob from Skript.tv (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Action! Bernard from Skript.tv (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Loving what I do, doing what I love! (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Getting my game face on at Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Shooting at Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar in Stellenbosch with Skript.tv (photography by Tasha Seccombe)

Pink iced tea

15 Dec

tpbtff_icedtea_01My sister has two boys aged 8 and 10. They live on a farm and she is very consistent in providing them with nutritious, balanced, delicious meals every day (unlike most of us, although we have the best intentions). After realising that they were going through about 3 litres of apple juice per day (these boys get super thirsty from playing outside in their big yard all afternoon), she decided to try her hand at making iced tea for them instead.

In the beginning they missed their daily dose of juice (always mixed with water), but after a few days they took to the iced tea like ducks to water. She sweetened the tea lightly with honey and sometimes added a few aromatics and infusions like cinnamon stick or fresh prunes. Upon visiting them, we also enjoyed the iced tea and it now is a staple in my home and when I cater for functions.

Although my sister makes many different versions of iced tea, I want to introduce you to the prettiest pinkest one – in line with one of the Pantone colours of 2016: rose quartz. It is made with Woolworths’s Pick-Me-Up Cranberry Cinnamon & Apple Tea – I use about 4 teabags on 5 litres of water.

You can brew it on the stove top in a large pot, then add a few fresh slices of cucumber, grapefruit or mint when it has cooled down. Remember to only add honey when the tea is lukewarm and not while it is boiling hot. But if you’re adding sugar as a sweetener you can add it at any stage – easier to dissolve while the tea is hot.

Use any tea that you like – rooibos (for a deep orange tea that is caffeine free), honeybush, early grey, green tea – the possibilities are endless. The tea will last in your fridge for at least 3 days.

Ingredients: (makes 5 liters)

  • 5 litres fresh water
  • at least 4 tea bags  – I’ve used Woolworths’s Pick-Me-Up Cranberry Cinnamon & Apple Tea (use any tea that you love if you don’t specifically want pink tea)
  • honey or sugar, to taste
  • sliced grapefruit, as garnish
  • ice, to serve

Method:

  1. Pour the water in a large pot, add the tea bags and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, then let it stand to infuse until it reaches room temperature. If you are using sugar to sweeten, add it now and stir to dissolve. If you are using honey to sweeten, add it when the tea is luke warm and stir well.
  3. Pour into containers (large glass jars or bottles work well), screw lids on and refrigerate.
  4. Serve cold, with grapefruit/lemon/cucumber/mint and lots of ice.

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