Stephen’s Homemade Five-Spice Sorrel Jam and Drink

For most people in the Caribbean, Christmas isn’t the same without a glass of sorrel, chilled to perfection, especially when made with a shot or two of “festivity” (read: rum). But these exotic, crimson red sepals can also be enjoyed in other forms. Here’s a simple but divine recipe for my all-natural, no-preservative-added sorrel drink and jam with cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pimento. (This recipe puts nothing to waste since the jam is made from the leftover pulp after the juice has been extracted to make the drink).

sorrel

Sorrel drink – what you’ll need:

  • 2 lbs fresh sorrel (washed)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 6-8 slices of fresh ginger
  • 12-15 pimento seeds (allspice)
  • 5-6 cardamom seeds
  • 5 cups brown sugar
  • 10-12 cups water (about 3 quarts)

sorrel jam and sorrel drink

Method:

  1. Pour water into pot and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, pimento and cardamom and allow to come to a boil.
  2. Add sorrel to boiling water and continue boiling the mixture for about 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 8 hours. Overnight is best.
  4. Using a strainer, separate the liquid from the pulp. Discard the cinnamon sticks and set pulp aside.
  5. In a large jug, stir in sugar to sweeten. Adjust sweetness if necessary.
  6. Store in bottles and refrigerate. (The mixture is best when left to refrigerate overnight so the flavours can further develop).

Stephen's homemade sorrel jam

Sorrel Jam – What you’ll need:

  • pulp from 2 lbs sorrel (No need for additional spices as the pulp would have retained the pimento seeds, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and the flavour from the cinnamon sticks. However, I’d suggest removing most of the ginger as it tends to make the end product a little fibrous.)
  • juice of one lime
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 oz Appleton rum (or your favourite rum) – optional

sorrel jam

Method:

  1. In a blender, purée sorrel pulp until a smooth consistency is achieved. (You may need to add water accordingly)
  2. Add puréed mixture to a large pot over high heat and stir in water, sugar, rum, and lime juice.
  3. Allow mixture to come to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
  4. Adjust sweetness as desired.
  5. After mixture is reduced to jam-like consistency, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Pour in sterilized glass jars and store in refrigerator.

sorrel jam and sorrel drink

You can enjoy your jam with crackers, on bread, with peanut butter, or one of my faves; with cream cheese spread on warm bagel. You’ll never buy another jar of jam again.

Happy holidays,
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Maintaining Healthy Habits During the Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching, you may (should?) be worrying about maintaining the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to develop during the year. Never-ending Christmas dinner parties and free booze make it rather challenging to stay focused on low-carb diets and high-cardio regimes. For me, and possibly everyone else, Christmas is the time families are united over a dinner spread fit for a (ravenous) king. Moreover, who wants to be that guy who refuses the fruitcake and wine? Psshhh.

The holidays will throw every bit of temptation in your face, and sure as hell it’ll be delicious, but you can still stay winning. Here are a few tips how:

1. Be True To Yourself

If you’re planning to lose pounds during the holidays, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, try to maintain your current weight and fitness level. You’re not off the hook so easily; you have to make time for some amount of exercise. It may not be your ideal 40-60 minutes uphill sprint, but a quick 20 minutes maintenance run should do the trick in burning that extra glass of Merlot you managed to gulp down while saying your goodbyes. (C’mon, I know I’m not the only one who does this. Right?)

2. Pre-game Before Heading Out

No, I don’t mean to gulp down booze, (actually, you may want to skip this), but actually to snack on something light and healthy (some veggies, a pack of nuts, fruit) before storming out to that Christmas dinner. This will avoid being too hungry to think when you’ve arrived and not caring about what makes its way to your mouth, and ultimately to your thighs (or in my case, everywhere but).

3. Portion Control 

Portion control should be part of your regular yearlong regime, and it’s no different during the holidays. In fact, it’s even more important now that calories abound, masked by delicious and free. Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you can’t feel your ribs. Take a stroll around the buffet before you start loading your plate with every item. Choose wisely. I usually skip carbs and head straight for meats and veggies. But be careful, those too can pack a caloric punch. If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next. Portion control should also be extended to beverages, both alcoholic and not. A glass of your favourite drink can pack more calories than a dinner plate.

4. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is probably the simplest (not necessarily easiest) strategy here. And there are a few reasons why this is important. Firstly, the body often-times confuses hunger with thirst as the symptoms (i.e. feeling weak, dizzy and cranky) are pretty much the same. Also, for people like myself whose inhibitions for booze consumption is rather minuscule during this period, staying hydrated is really vital. As a rule of thumb, to avoid dehydration for every cocktail you consume, drink a glass of water.

5. Get some Zzz’s

With all the festivities and frolic, it’s very easy to lose track of the hours and a good night’s rest. The good thing is that being the holidays, you are able to sleep in late. Nonetheless, don’t make this a habit. Your body needs a good, undisturbed 7-8 hours of sleep in order to rebuild cells and maintain a healthy immune system. Lack of proper sleep is a main cause for a host of ailments, including weight gain.

Christmas is a time for fun, family, and certainly food. But it doesn’t have to mean regret and frustration come January. Neither should it mean denying yourself your favourite holiday foods. Just be smart about it.

Happy holidays,

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Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Coffee-Flavoured Honey

Following the success of the recipe in my previous post, I was determined to find yet another that starred my beloved gorgonzola cheese.  Between my ADHD and uncanny ability to wake up just in the nick of time, I am always looking for quick recipes that don’t sacrifice taste and quality. And I didn’t have to search far.

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

For my version of this time-tested recipe, I used whole wheat bread, gorgonzola cheese crumbled straight from the block, and HoneyKist’s Blue Mountain Coffee Honey. (see my previous post on this line of gourmet flavoured honey here)

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices whole wheat bread, cut in half diagonally
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces gorgonzola, sliced/crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons HoneyKist’s Blue Mountain Coffee Flavoured Honey

Method:

  1. Brush bread slices with olive oil.
  2. Toast in a toaster oven for 6-8 minutes or until bread is golden and crisp.
  3. Remove bread and top with gorgonzola slices/crumbles, return to toaster oven, and bake until cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drizzle the toasts with honey. Enjoy immediately

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and HoneyKist Blue Mountain Flavoured Coffee

This was supposed to be two servings but I couldn’t stop myself. If you’re a lover of sharp cheeses then you’ll definitely fall for this recipe. The first bite instantly awakens your tastebuds to the pungency and saltiness of the gorgonzola, then just as immediately comes the flowery sweetness of the honey. Oh wait, what’s that?? That, my friend, would be subtle, almost unidentifiable notes of coffee. Just, wow.

Go try it. Thank me later.

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