Monday, December 30, 2013

rum campari punch

rum punch

If I were to sum up this year (which I won’t because I’m long-winded enough when describing a single day, it’s terrifying to consider what I could do with 365 of them), after I got past all of the good stuff — and really, it’s been a spectacular year, what with two book tours and several vacations and lots of awesome family time and dinner parties and and and… see, there I go! — I’d admit that at least from the vantage point of trying to relocate recipe ideas from my head to the kitchen to this computer and then onto yours, I’ve somewhat flopped and I have the photo IOUs to prove it. Would you like a tour?

blistered green beans

For example, I’ve been meaning to tell you about Blistered Green Beans ever since my cookbook went to print and I realized I’d completely forgot to include this as a recipe. It was meant to go as a quick-side to the flat roasted chicken. I’m sorry.

orange segments

I’ve tried more times that I’d like to admit to insert gorgeous orange segments into baked goods, only to repeatedly conclude that I just don’t like baked orange segments.

one of five egg sandwiches

I created five egg sandwich recipes for a magazine that never ran in 2012, and I’ve been meaning to tell you about them here instead. Uh, maybe in 2014?

more summer squash potato tortes

I’ve been meaning to update the Herbed Summer Squash and Potato Torte with fresh photos forever, because we make it all summer.

cherry chocolate chunk yogurt scones

I owe you some whole-wheat yogurt cherry and chocolate chunk (fine, I’ll say it: Cherry Garcia) scones.

pretzel-crusted, pickled-brined nuggets

It’s probably best that we never talked about that time I made pickle-brined and pretzel-crusted chicken tenders. (P.S. Not sorry.)

parsnip soup + brussels/apple/bacon hash

Had I not used the Grossest Store-bought Vegetable Stock Ever, that which imparts a orange hue to everything, we would have talked about this Parsnip Soup with a dreamy Brussels-Apple-Bacon Hash months ago. Now, sweet carroty baby food is all I can remember about it.

lazy meatballs

I’d wanted to tell you about my Lazy Meatballs, but I accidentally made them even lazier by forgetting the egg. I’m still on the fence as to whether this was a bad thing.

pear brown butter gf clafoutis

I tried and tried to make a Pear Brown Butter Gluten-Free Clafoutis, but never got it the way I wanted it.

big apple pancake

I’ve been trying to get the Big Apple Puffy Pancake the way I want it for several apple seasons now, but something is never quite right.

two perfect manhattans

I can’t believe we’ve never discussed my favorite fall-winter drink, The Perfect Manhattan.

kale pesto, butternut squash

I made a Butternut Squash and Kale Pesto Pizza. It was kinda weird.

frico potatoes, for the best

Have you ever had frico potatoes? Well, if you have, you’ll know that this photo — with the overhead light making a glistening horror of things — is a blessing in disguise, as it will keep people from knowing how dangerously delicious it is.

roasting vegetables, smitten kitchen-style

I’ve been meaning to do a separate post on my favorite vegetable roasting method.

that time i made strawberry jam

I still get sad when I remember the acres of perfect tiny strawberries my mother and I picked in June so I could make jam… that never set. (Though my “strawberries in syrup,” as we call it instead, is so dreamy on cheese blintzes, I’ve almost forgiven it.)

chocolate, peanut butter, few etceteras

You’re going to be mad when you find out I made this cake and kept it from you. I promise to make it right when we’re all back to eating sugar and carbs again in February, okay?

watermelon marble

I realized I’m the kind of mother who does things like this for lunch boxes. This probably only surprised me.

broccoli slaw

We still make and eat a lot of Broccoli Slaw.

wheels and broccoli and cheese

I created a quick stovetop pasta-cheese-and-vegetables for a magazine. Since I wasn’t enlisted to photograph it, I tested it with whatever I had around. Wheels and cheese may be where it’s at, people.

towering peach muffins, try again

I owe you some Towering Peach Muffins, but first I owe them to myself because in six tries this summer, I never got them right.

concord grape lemonade
whole wheat grissini

I owe you some Concord Grape Lemonade, Whole Wheat Grissini and Kale-Pecorino Popcorn from when it was our week to bring snacks to school.

eggplant parmesan tian

I owe you an Eggplant Parmesan Tian,

whole-grain parker house rolls

some multi-grain Parker House Rolls,

goat cheese souffle

a goat cheese souffle,

mediocre pecan-pumpkin rugelach

pecan-pumpkin rugelach,

an under-charred rhubarb meringue tart

and a recipe for that rhubarb-meringue tart that fell on the floor before we could eat it.

fiddling around

And since we are being honest, sometimes I thought about writing another cookbook, but then pretty much without fail, I came back to my senses.

***

what you'll need, more or less
"one sour"...

I was kind of bummed when I realized there were so many things we didn’t get to this year, and decided to make the last item on my December Wish List — a holiday rum punch — happen, no matter what. Trust me, this was no hardship to undertake.

simple syrup
plus some fizzy

Can we talk about rum punch for a minute? If you are like me, you probably just assumed that rum punch = fruit juice + rum. You may have not have known that Bajan (Barbadian) Rum Punch and Planter’s Punch, the two best-known rum punches, date back over a century, and even have their own rhyme ["One of Sour, Two of Sweet, Three of Strong, Four of Weak."], I like to imagine so that no matter how many you’ve had, you won’t forget how to make more. However, how you define these elements needs only to be limited by your imagination. While the “sour” element is usually lime juice, it may also be lemon or another citrus juice, and I imagine that both pomegranate and cranberry juices would mix in well. The “sweet” part is usually simple syrup, a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water, heated until it dissolves and cooled. The strong should be good island rum, preferably dark, and the “weak” can be water or club soda, sometimes it’s ice and sometimes it’s more juice, like pineapple. (In my opinion, rum punch made with pineapple juice is always 200 percent better than those made without it.) Rum punch can either be mixed in a shaker with ice, a dash or two of Agnostura bitters and a pinch of nutmeg (though I’ve seen versions with everything from cayenne to grenadine and vermouth in them), or served in a big punch bowl, with a ladle.

you can make dramatic ice with anything
rum punch, with campari

While I was bent on coming up with my own spin on rum punch for you, Tasting Table rendered this completely unnecessary last week, sharing a recipe from Brad Farran, formerly of Brooklyn’s Clover Club and now head bartender at Garland in Raleigh, NC with the curious addition of the bitter, red and citrus-y aperatif known as Campari (the primary ingredient in Negronis) and we just had to make it. This is not your ordinary rum punch, the intensity of the Campari is surprising at first but quickly becomes the best part of it and I can’t think of a better excuse to bring down the vintage punch bowl down from the top shelf in your parent’s house (as I did last night, though sadly after I’d already taken these photos). I think punch is overdue for a comeback: it’s pretty, it doesn’t demand that every single ingredient is top shelf, it’s forgiving of any adjustments you need to make and it serves a crowd. And, if you want to get a head start and make it today, you’ll find that it gets (admirably) even mellower and more harmonious with age, even if you (understandably) do not intend to.

ladled
stashed away for the party

One year ago: Fromage Fort
Two years ago: Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze
Three years ago: Milk Punch
Four years ago: Creamed Mushrooms on Butter-Chive Toast, How to Host Brunch (And Still Sleep In!), Spinach and Cheese Strata (I’m making this on New Years Day again!), Parmesan Cream Crackers, Walnut Pesto and Spicy Caramel Popcorn
Five years ago: Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Six years ago: Caramel Cake
Seven years ago: Coq au Vin

Rum Campari Punch
Adapted from Brendan McHale, Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Don’t fret if you don’t have a punch bowl. Any big bowl + soup ladle + small cups will do. Icing down the punch bowl or chilling it before you use it will help keep the drinks cooler longer. You can make a dramatic ice boulder for the center by freezing a Tupperware-like container full of water the night before (ever the New Yorkers, we used a take-out container; Brad Farran of Garland in Raleigh, NC smartly noted to TT that the lid will keep you from spilling water as you move it into the freezer, I should have listened). Finally, one of the best things about punch is that it ages well; a day or two later, the flavors are more mellow and harmonious. We made this over the weekend (FOR PRACTICE, okay?) and can’t wait to bring it to the New Years party, you know, all two hours that we are there before going home to put this little dude to bed. Just put the fizzy stuff in when you’re ready to serve it so it doesn’t get flat.

The adjusted recipe below is a little sweeter than the original and uses slightly less rum, as 3 3/4 cups are called for but that would require that you had a full bottle plus 1/2 cup from another; it was plenty strong even with the missing rum. Cruzan Black Strap Rum was recommended, but we were unable to find it, a bummer as it is dark black in color and would have made this all the more stunning. [Updated to note: Based on some of your responses, Cruzan Black Strap Rum was not the dream many of us hoped it would be here -- many found it to yield a dark/less pretty/murky color punch with a strong molasses flavor. So, if this sounds appealing, definitely seek out this rum; if not, just use a regular dark rum, as we did. Hope that helps.]

Yield: Just shy of 4 quarts; you can ladle 30 1/2-cup servings from it

Punch
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups cold water
1 1/4 cups lime juice
3 3/4 cups pineapple juice
1 3/4 cups Campari (or less, to taste)
1 750 ml (about 3 1/4 cups) bottle dark rum
1 750 ml (about 3 1/4 cups) bottle sparkling wine

Garnish
1 giant ice cube
1 orange, sliced thin
1 lime, sliced thin
or thick peels of zest from 1 lime and 1 orange

Heat the sugar with 1/4 cup cold water until it comes to a boil and sugar dissolves. Pour in remaining cold water; let cool before using. This is your simple syrup.

Mix cooled simple syrup with lime juice, pineapple juice, Campari and rum in a chilled bowl, or chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

To serve: Add sparkling wine, a large ice cube and citrus garnishes. Serve with a ladle into small cups.


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