Mid-to-late August is hands-down my favourite time of year for cooking – the Farmers’ Market puts me into a practical frenzy – zucchinis are flying; tomatoes are being hoarded like it’s nobody’s business; yep, that’s me happily chattering to myself while squeezing plump cherries; and don’t get in my way, because I’m bringing home ALL.THE.PEACHES.
When I return with my bounty, I am (1.) tired from the vast excitement of the Farmers’ Market experience and (2.) anxious to get back outdoors to enjoy the sunshine, so I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen.
Happily, throwing together fresh, simple-but-elegant meals is easy after selecting the best produce – because beautiful, farm-fresh ingredients just speak for themselves. I go for minimal preparation, but finish with polish – such as a showering of lush herbs and a drizzle of your best olive oil. It’s the culinary equivalent wearing luxe red lipstick with an easy, worn-in cotton sundress.
Today, I used my fresh-from-the-orchard finds to bring you two more beautiful winetails to celebrate summer. They’re easy, and casually chic. The first one might blow your mind. It’s a winesicle! I’m so hooked.
I blended Ecco Domani Merlot – a soft, smooth red – with fresh, pitted cherries and poured it into popsicle molds for a frozen wine cocktail. They’ve got serious style, and I’m sure they’d be a hit at parties – not to mention a great conversation starter. And so easy!
The fresh cherries really play up the wine’s own ripe cherry flavour.
Because of the alcohol content, these popsicles won’t freeze as hard and will melt faster than other ice pops. Run them under hot water until they release easily, or they might break.
Serve them with cloth napkins to catch drips – don’t bother ironing them, I love the rumpled casual-but-still-classy look of natural cotton or linen.
The second winetail is a stylish-but-approachable sangria. Ecco Domani Merlot is stirred with ripe plums and peaches, a splash of brandy, and topped up with ginger beer.
The smooth, fruit-forward wine is a perfect canvas for a juicy, stone-fruit cocktail.
The recipe is for two servings, but to make a pitcher, just triple the recipe (one bottle of wine is 3 cups).
Some easy, elegant summer food pairings include:
– Oven-burst cherry tomatoes tossed with linguine, garlic and olive oil, finished with parmigiano reggiano and lots of fresh basil.
– Grilled steak topped with reduced-merlot compound butter (reduce ⅓ cup merlot to 1 tbsp in a small saucepan, cool, then stir into ½ cup softened butter with minced shallot), finished with lots of fresh parsley.
– Grilled lamb kebabs drizzled liberally with a fresh, garlicky, cilantro-parsley chimichurri.
Have you entered the “Hang on to Summer” giveaway yet? You don’t want to miss it – Ecco Domani is generously giving Foodess readers a beautiful, hand-picked (by me!) selection of gifts that I am really excited about – like… a KitchenAid stand mixer, a Le Creuset dutch oven, Anthropologie kitchen goodies, premium cocoa, luxurious vanilla beans, an ice cream machine, POPSICLE MOLDS (hint, hint)… it’s kinda crazy-awesome, isn’t it??? Entry couldn’t be easier, so don’t miss your chance, here: bit.ly/EccoDomaniFoodess
- 1 ½ cups Ecco Domani Merlot
- 1 ½ cups fresh cherries, pitted
- 6 oz simple syrup
- Combine merlot, cherries and simple syrup in blender and blend until completely smooth, about 30 seconds on high speed. Divide between 9 popsicle molds. Insert sticks and freeze completely, about 6 hours. Run molds under hot water to release winesicles and serve immediately.
- 1 ripe peach, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 ripe plum, pitted and thinly sliced
- 1 cup Ecco Domani Merlot
- 2 oz E&J Brandy
- 3 oz simple syrup*
- ½ cup ginger beer
- Combine peach, plum, merlot, brandy and simple syrup in a large spouted measuring cup or pitcher; let stand at least 15 minutes (or up to 12 hours). Divide between two ice-filled glasses and top up with ginger beer.
- *To make simple syrup, heat ½ cup granulated sugar with ½ cup water until sugar is completely dissolved. Store extra syrup in a sealed container in the fridge.