Jasmine Bellinis: A Recipe
It’s Friday. There’s a Blue Moon tonight. Let’s all have a drink, shall we?
I made these jasmine bellinis for my Austin book event at the amazing Bookpeople. I brought the jasmine-infused peach purée. They provided the bubbly. We mixed them on the spot, glass by glass, 1/3 purée to 2/3 wine. Part of what that meant was that as people walked in and greeted each other you could hear the staff popping corks in the background. A most celebratory sound. The reading went well and no one seemed to mind waiting in the line for signing books. I give these all the credit.
Unfortunately, I had no recipe to share with you all because I made the purée on the fly, the day of the reading, without measuring anything. It wasn’t until this past weekend that I finally had a chance to scale down the amount of purée to match (more or less) a single bottle of wine. I brought it along to my friend Erin’s house. That’s her hand up there (and her table). Erin is a talented graphic designer and when I told her I needed to take a few pics for this post she immediately began art directing the shot. Too bad she wasn’t behind the camera, too.
A few notes on the ingredients: Like most simple recipes, bellinis were invented to celebrate a season, a moment when perfect ingredients become ripe and plentiful and we have to do something with all that abundance. In an ideal world, I would have made my purée from the fresh, exquisitely fragrant white peaches I told you about here. But friends, we do not live in an ideal world. That is why we have cocktails. And freezers.
Did you know you can freeze peaches whole on a cookie tray, neatly protected from freezer burn by their very own skins? Me neither. But so it is. (Put them in a ziploc bag once they’re completely frozen for longer term storage.) When you are ready to use them, cut a shallow X in the skin with knife and run some cold water over the fruit. The skins will slip off in seconds, leaving you with a perfect naked peach.
Jasmine absolute is another kind of preservation–a way to distill the ephemeral scent of a flower into something that will last. Mine is grandiflorum, and it came from Mandy Aftel. It’s not cheap, but it is amazing stuff and so potent that it has lasted me forever–I’m going on two years with this 5 ml bottle. If you adore the scent of jasmine I don’t think you’ll be sorry for the expense. If you are nervous about money and commitment–and really, who isn’t?– you can purchase smaller amounts and/or a sample from Enfleurage. The cheaper stuff labeled “jasmine” at your local health food store is almost certainly diluted and/or hasn’t been stored properly. Use at your own risk. I wouldn’t.
I find it difficult to work with absolutes and essential oils in their pure form when cooking. They are so potent, the difference between one drop and two can spell disaster. That’s just too finicky for an improvisatory cook like me. So I diluted my jasmine in vodka at 10%–20 drops of absolute to 200 drops of vodka. It’s not a perfect solution–you have to keep shaking it up–but it works. I could easily have diluted it to 1%. I measured my drops with the plastic pipette pictured below, but you can use an eyedropper or, if you have a steady hand and some serious nerve, a cocktail straw.
1 bottle good quality inexpensive dry bubbly–Cava or Prosecco work well.
10 oz pkg frozen peaches, best you can find, or your own frozen or fresh equivalent
1 1/2 cups peach juice. I used Looza. It has sugar in it, but is all peach juice and has a truer flavor than the peach+apple or grape juice brands I tested.
1 tsp orange flower water (keeps the drink bright and floral, and provides a bridge between the growl of the dark animalic jasmine and the fruit)
1 1/2 drops jasmine absolute, or 15 drops of absolute diluted to 10% (see above)
Purée the frozen peaches with the juice. Add flower water and absolute and purée again to make sure it is thoroughly mixed. Wait a moment for the absolute to infuse. (This is crucial, I am always amazed by how much stronger it gets after a few minutes.) Smell/taste the purée. The jasmine should be noticeable, but not overwhelming or bitter.
To serve, mix with with chilled wine approximately 1/3 puree mixture to 2/3 wine in individual glasses. Pour the wine slowly–violent fizzing will occur–and stir gently before drinking. (I imagine you could do a non-alcoholic version with seltzer or fizzy lemonade, but haven’t tried it. I also imagine this would still taste delicious, though less exciting, without the jasmine.)
Note: Since the jasmine absolute is so precious and so strong, you may want start with less of what you think you need, then taste and adjust. If you overdose, simply add more juice. And buy more wine. And invite a few more friends…
P.S. Don’t forget you can still enter to win a sample of Botrytis through Tuesday. Have a good weekend and see you then!