Tuesday, April 3, 2007

When Life Gives You Lemons...

It's an interesting experience to wander through a bridal show. The various vendors vie for your attention with eye-catching displays of flowers, cakes, and photography. Some are original, some are cheesy, some are breath-taking, and all at prices that have a mother-of-the-bride muttering under her breath, "How much?? Are they kidding? That's your college education all over again. I don't think so!"

Recently my daughter and I attended a bridal expo. She was gathering specific information so we moved quickly through the booths picking up business cards and flyers. But as we approached the exit our momentum was abruptly halted. A caterer with a beautiful booth was giving out samples, a smart business tactic that none of the competitors were using. They had darling little herbed biscuits which were fine, but it was the lemonade that stopped us in our tracks. One sip and Sarah said, "Oh, mom, we've so got to have this at the wedding!"

Thus began my search for the perfect Basil Lemonade. An internet search yielded plenty of hits - all for the same recipe. I tried it and it wasn't quite what I'd remembered. Not very sweet and not particularly lemony. So I cobbled together a recipe from a couple of different sources and came up with this keeper. After cautiously tasting, the bride-to-be said, "Oh, yes, this is it!"

You can adjust the amount of sugar depending on how sweet you like your lemonade. My husband prefers a less sweet beverage, particularly on a hot day, so I made it with the less sugar amount. The result is a complex flavor that lets the lemon and basil mingle and dance on your tongue with just enough sweetness to make you say, "Another glass, please?"

Wedding Basil Lemonade

1 to 2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups cold water (Use filtered water, not nasty tap water. You don't want your lemonade to taste of chlorine.)
1 Tbsp lemon zest in long strips (don't fret if they're not long strips, just don't chop the zest)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed into measuring cup
1/2 cup lemon juice (I used 4 Meyer lemons)

Zest your lemons. It's worth investing in a zester if you don't own one. They're inexpensive, fun to use, and don't take up much space. After measuring your tablespoon of zest, save the remainder in a small zip-loc bag in the freezer. It keeps beautifully, and you never know when you'll need lemon zest. Although, as a teaser, if you're cooking along with me in the Week of Lemons, you will need the zest for tomorrow.

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the sugar, water, and zest and bring to a simmer. Cook without stirring until the sugar dissolves and the syrup thickens slightly (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and add the basil; let cool to room temperature.

While the syrup cools, juice the lemons. Strain the cooled syrup into a 2-quart pitcher and strain the lemon juice into the same pitcher. Add 7 cups cold, filtered water. Stir, then pour into ice-filled cups. If desired, garnish each cup with a small sprig of basil.

If there's any leftover, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week. As if!


Sean said...

Sounds great. When it warms up I'll have to try it.
If only Cheney tap water tasted like chlorine. No, instead we get... nasty...

Gattina Cheung said...

sound like a very sophisticated lemonade =)
My first time to visit your blog, it's beautiful!

Anonymous said...

oh my! so much fun! I love lemonade! I'll have to try this recipe with splenda. I know it won't be the same, but unfortunately I am allergic to sugar so I have to have it in fairly limited quantities.

**doffs her cap and vanishes**

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Sean, OK, maybe bottled water...

Gattina, Thank you for the kind words. A huge complement indeed because your site is consistently amazing!

Gabe, No sugar? Oh, dear, I don't think I'd last long. Hooray for Splenda! I have no experience cooking with Splenda, so I'd love to hear how the recipe works out with the substitution.

Anonymous said...

Oh I'm so glad we got it right. It's my favorite. Now comes the fun of figuring it out in bulk!