Well, this is a first for Couscous & Consciousness - I'm kicking off the New Year with a beverage. You know that I like to cook along with the I Heart Cooking Clubs group, where every six months a different chef is chosen whose recipes we follow for that period. If you read here regularly then you also know that at present we are cooking with Giada de Laurentiis, and our theme for this week, naturally enough (it being New Year, and all), is "Celebrate". You know - break out the party food, finger food, nibbles and dips, cocktails, etc.
Well, right now I am on my own - my partner has just gone to India for two months - so somehow making plates of crostini or the likes just didn't seem right. I mean, really, if you're making crostini you make 24 of them, right? - not just 2!
So then I decided that a special drink to celebrate the start of the new year might be nice. Now, on the whole, I'm not that keen on cocktails or mixed drinks - I'd really usually prefer just a glass of wine or, on a hot day, a beer. I'm not that fussed on creamy concoctions and I really don't like sweet drinks of any description either - I much prefer bitter and sour tastes - so I'm more inclined to steer towards a gin and tonic or a Campari and soda, maybe even a Sangria for something fruity but still tart.
Leafing through my newly arrived copy of Giada's Kitchen I stumbled across her recipe for Pomegranate & Cranberry Bellinis. I love the tartness of cranberry and pomegranate, and I just happened to have half a pomegranate to be used up; I also had a bottle of Prosecco sitting in the fridge, so I knew this would fit the bill perfectly - serendipity.
Now I did adjust the quantities, because the original recipe is for 8-12 servings and there is only one of me remember. Also the original recipe called for mixing the Prosecco in with everything else. I didn't want to do that and end up with a big jug of cocktail that was going to go flat and be wasted. So this is what I did ...
Cranberry & Pomegranate Bellinis Recipe
Adapted from recipe in Giada's Kitchen
Serves 4-6 people
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup pomegranate juice, chilled
1/2 cup cranberry juice, chilled
bottle of Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)
strips of lemon zest (original recipe called for lime wedges)
mint leaves for garnish (if you have them - I didn't)
Firstly make a simple syrup by combining the water and sugar, in a small pot, over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and keep stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. (Makes about 3/4 cup)
Next, put a good handful of ice into a jug, add the simple syrup, pomegranate juice, and cranberry juice, and stir well.
Put a spoonful of pomegranate seeds into the bottom of a champagne flute, along with a strip of lemon zest.
Half-fill the glass with the mixture of syrup and juices, then fill to the top with the Prosecco. Enjoy - cin cin!
Now, obviously, even though I basically halved the original recipe here I still had a lot of leftovers. The beauty of not mixing the Prosecco into the juice mixture was that I used the rest of the bottle to make a jelly with fresh cherries (yes, yes, another day I promise I will share the recipe), and today I enjoyed the remainder of the juice mixture topped up with chilled soda water for a refreshing middle of the day drink. Keeping the fruit juice base in a jug separate from the Prosecco also means that if you were serving this to a crowd you could offer the option of a non-alcoholic alternative.
In summary, I really enjoyed this drink and would definitely make it again. It was tart and refreshing, and it reminded me quite a lot of Sangria. I hope you'll give it a try.
Interested in getting to know Giada a bit better? Then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all been cooking up ....
.... or check out Giada's Kitchen and many of her other titles, available from Amazon, Book Depository UK and Fishpond NZ
I'm also submitting this post to Cookbook Sundays, hosted by the lovely Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen. She's worth a visit any day of the week, but why not head over there right now and see who else has dusted off their cookbooks - you'll almost certainly find some great recipes, and maybe you'll discover a new book you'd like to add to your collection.