The Kitchen Prep: Blackberry-Sage Lemonade

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blackberry-Sage Lemonade

Remember when I mentioned that I am a little paranoid in the kitchen when it comes to raw meat and potential hazards? Well, over the weekend I discovered that fondue-style cooking is not the ideal preparation of a meal for a gal like me.

My parents-in-law celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary {!} and made reservations for a family dinner at a popular fondue spot. {I'm sure you know the one.} Honestly, few things sound better to me than a vat of melted cheese with assorted dippers, followed by a cauldron of melted chocolate for dessert.

What I didn't think through, however, was the entree portion of the dining experience. I mean, don't get me wrong, the process is so much fun -- sitting around a table skewering bite-sized pieces of yummy food and cooking together over chatter and, in our case, family antics. But the moment the raw meat and seafood arrived at the table, the neurotic part of me was challenged to a battle between sense of adventure and utter repugnance.

Most people wouldn't give it a second thought: Stab the meat, plop it in the simmering pot, cook and enjoy.

But clearly, I'm not that simple. Suddenly I found myself obsessing over what my skewers had touched, whether or not they'd been sufficiently boiled in the hot liquid and paying close attention to the distance between my cooked foods and my non-cooked foods. {Which, by the way, you could probably seat me at a 10-foot-long table and they'd still never seem far enough away from one another.}

On my end of the table sat some of my favorite people on the face of this planet: Steve's 90-something grandma, great aunt and great uncle. {Yes, they are ALL in their 90's! Amazing genes.} We were tasked with sharing one pot of bubbling broth to cook our food. This would have been more than fine except for the fact that, when you are a nonagenarian, your reflexes and memory are not what they used to be at times. So harpooning small pieces of meat with a sharp skewer, putting your hand near an open heat source and remembering which piece you put in and how long you're supposed to cook it can easily become a three-ring circus. {In all fairness, they did a pretty good job considering except for a few times when I'm pretty sure Uncle Mike ate raw meat. No harm, no foul.}

The problem was not with them but more so with the fact that since I'm not a red meat eater, the majority of my meal was shrimp. And shrimp cooks much faster than the hunks of filet the rest of my fondue cohorts were eating. Plus, it has way less bacterial juiciness happening than a fresh cut of beef, let's say. So, as I would nearly be done cooking my shrimp to temperature, they would all be adding RAW meat to the tub.

I'm sorry, but how is this considered sanitary?! Haha... I have to laugh at myself.

The point is, I spent more time worrying about things like salmonella and food poisoning than anything else. Except for when dessert came around -- then all bets were off. ;) I have a feeling my father-in-law was having the same thoughts on the other end of the table as he and I are similar when it comes to our finicky nature with food safety.

On the plus side, we had a wonderful time in every other way. AND I came away from dinner with inspiration for a new beverage: Blackberry-Sage Lemonade.

Since I haven't been able to enjoy any cocktails for the past {almost} 5 months, I've been super creative with fun things to drink, as is evident by all the mocktails I've been sharing lately. Isn't it great that it's going hand in hand with the rise in summertime temps?

I mean, tell me you don't want to sip on this on a sunny day.

Blend this up in a wink and enjoy a cool glass -- no neuroses necessary. ;)

Blackberry-Sage Lemonade
Inspired by The Melting Pot Restaurant
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3-4 lemons, juiced {about 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice}
6 oz. container of blackberries {save some for garnish if desired}
2-3 cups water
Fresh sage leaves

1. Make simple syrup: Combine water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; allow to simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

2. Add lemon juice, blackberries and cooled simple syrup to a blender. Process until smooth.

3. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or glass container. Add about 2-3 cups of water depending on how diluted you'd like your beverage.

4. Place 4 or 5 fresh sage leaves in each glass and muddle slightly to release some of the fragrance. Top with ice and fill with lemonade. Garnish with a few blackberries if desired.

*I tend to like my lemonade more on the tart side than than the sweet side. You can make and add more simple syrup if you'd like it sweeter.


Allie BakingAMoment said...

Dianna these photos are so gorgeous! I love your props and those plump blackberries look so tempting! This drink sounds just phenomenal...great flavors!

Dianna M. said...

@Allie - Thanks, girl! I loved the flavor combo, too. I'm not usually a huge fan of the texture of blackberries {something about the seeds} but you're right -- these looked so tempting and beautiful that I had to nibble on a few! Thanks for the compliments!

Sherri@The Well Floured Kitchen said...

Oh my goodness- I know exactly how you feel! I am the most neurotic person on earth when it comes to raw meat. I went to that restaurant once (since we had a gift certificate), and it was not the most enjoyable experience. But the apps and dessert were amazing! This drink looks super refreshing, what a creative way to use sage.

Jess @ On Sugar Mountain said...

I am in love with the idea of combining blackberry and sage in a lemonade!! It's been so freaking hot here lately; I'd seriously enjoy a glass (or three!) of this! :D

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