Lavender and Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria

Lavender and Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria

Summer entertaining should be simple, easy, and low stress. It’s just too hot to be mixing individual cocktails, so summer calls for a big batch of something delicious and refreshing that guests can help themselves and sip on as the sun drops lower in the sky. Rosé has become synonymous with summer afternoons and earlier in the season I had the pleasure of creating a recipe for a rosé tasting event at Maman, my favorite café in New York. Talk about a dream come true!

I was only recently introduced to Lillet Rosé by my lovely friends Josie & David, and afterward couldn’t believe I had gone so long without having it in my life. It makes a super simple aperitif – just add a sizable cube of ice and a slice of something citrusy.

Lavender and Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria

Or, take it one step further and transform it into a twist on sangria. Traditionally sangria combines wine with a liqueur or brandy, but since Lillet is already a fortified wine in my variation you get to skip that step. Score. Maman’s Provencal influence provided the inspiration to enhance the flavor by adding lavender and stone fruit. It fits the low-stress bill, and has the added benefit of being even better when it’s made in advance.

Lavender and Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria (serves 4)

Ingredients:
1 bottle (750 ml) Lillet Rosé
3/4 teaspoon (3-4 sprigs) dried culinary lavender buds
1 ripe black plum
1 ripe white nectarine
2 ripe apricots
1 medium lemon
1/4 cup (2 oz.) club soda
Ice
Garnish (optional): fresh raspberries, blackberries, strawberries

Instructions:
Pour the Lillet Rosé into a large pitcher or glass container. Lightly crush the dried lavender flowers between your hands to release the essential oils and place in a tea bell or a piece of cheese cloth tied with kitchen twine and suspend in the wine. Allow the lavender to infuse the wine while you prepare the fruit.

Wash and remove the stone from the plum, nectarine, and apricots. Slice into 1/3 inch wedges and drop into the pitcher. Thinly slice half the lemon (reserve the other half) into rounds or half moons and add to the sangria. Stir gently with a wooden spoon. Chill the sangria overnight, or at least 3-4 hours, to allow the fruit, lavender, and Lillet Rosé to steep.

Just before serving, use a sharp knife to remove large strips of peel from the reserved lemon and wipe the yellow skin of peel around the inside of each glass. Place the ice in the glasses, remove the lavender sachet from the sangria, and add the club soda to the pitcher.

Divide the sangria among the glasses making sure that the fruit goes in too – it’s delicious! Garnish with a sprig of lavender (if using) or additional berries as your heart desires. Relax and enjoy.

Original recipe created for Maman and sponsored by Lillet. All opinions are my own.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used a large pitcher, liquid measuring cup small cutting board, utility knife, wooden spoon, cheese cloth, and kitchen twine.
 

Lavender and Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria
Lavender and Stone Fruit Rosé Sangria

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry | Image: Laura Messersmith

As inspiration for more adventurous culinary efforts I’m following along with Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, in my tiny New York kitchen. Let’s see if I can keep up with the Contessa!

Episode: “Cocktail Hour”

The Set-up: Ina is helping her friend Jack navigate the rocky shoals of the cocktail party.

The Menu: Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers, Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry

0:29 – Ina’s cocktail party food Pro Tip #1: Make three, assemble three. Seriously, why do I think I need to make everything or it’s somehow cheating?

1:45 – First recipe on tap: Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers – which Ina says can be made way in advance.

2:13 – Pro Tip #2: Always use the correct measuring cups for the ingredient – dry for dry, wet for wet.

3:20 – Ina mentions that she first tried this recipe with the walnuts mixed in to the dough, but that it didn’t work well so she rolled them into an exterior crust. I’d love to hear about more Barefoot Contessa misfires – not to gloat, but to learn!

4:34 – Ina’s right - thanks to the blue cheese this dough does look bizarre and vaguely grey? Hmmm.

5:07 – As Ina does her “slice and bake” technique with the crackers she gives us Pro Tip #3: using the blade of the knife like a saw, rather than pressing straight down, prevents squishing the dough.

6:16 – Now to the question on everyone’s mind – how much to serve? Ina says three to four pieces per person, assuming your serving six different items. I suppose that means if you have ten guests it’s 6 x 3 x 10? Whoa.

9:22 – Next up, Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry and as far as I can tell Ina has concerns for humanity if they’re not interested in eating that.

10:31 – Now I see what she means – so far there is ham and mustard and puff pastry involved – yum!

11:49 – Watching Ina slice cheese (gruyere, natch) in the food processor I’ve just come to a startling realization – Ina loves efficiency! The gleam in her eye as that cheese came out perfectly sliced in about 7 seconds tells me I’m right. Kindred spirits.

12:25 – Seriously, how does Ina get her pastry to roll out just so? Mine starts in it’s nice rectangle and ends up all wonky – what am I doing wrong?

13:57 – The Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry has just emerged from the oven and it looks like heaven. Guess what I’ll be making…

14:32 – Now we’re getting into the assemble/buy part which consists of putting olives and almonds in bowls and arranging slices of cucumber and salami on a platter.

18:11 – Last app to make and Ina has decided on Roasted Shrimp Cocktail a sure winner.

19:30 – First a little prep to take the shells off (tail on to use as a “handle” for guests) and de-vein. The whole concept of dealing with shrimp was such a mystery to me until just a few years ago – this process baffled me until I tried it a few times.

20:23 – Cocktail sauce time – with the volume turned up, of course.

21:09 – I’ve actually made Ina’s cocktail sauce before and it is outstanding – no more bottled sauce for me.

22:40 – Shrimp are out of the oven and they look so good arranged around the central sauce bowl. Simple and delicious.

26:21 – Jack has arrived for lessons on setting up the bar and if the major side-eye he’s giving is any indication there’s more than a little uncertainty that he’s up to the challenge.

27:03 – First the patented Ina buffet table cloth folding lesson and glass arrangement strategy. There is a reason this woman is famous for her entertaining – what a pro!

28:15 – I feel like Jack might be a ringer sent in to ask questions for us like “How many glasses per person?” Pro Tip #4: Order 3 glasses per person from the rental company to avoid running out.

28:42 – Ina also recommends scotch, vodka, bourbon and rum in addition to soft drinks and water for the bar.

29:56 – Fast forward to the night of Jack’s cocktail party – Ina has stopped in to check on her student. Wisecracks about how “straight” the line of glasses are flow like “good bourbon” and Jack apple-polishes a little with vodka on the rocks for his professor. Extra credit.

Final Thoughts:

I really would love to hear more about Ina’s kitchen disasters & also-rans – I’m pretty sure she’s mainly self-taught and I bet there were some good learning experiences.

I need to practice that table cloth folding technique but I don’t have one quite that big – maybe a large flat sheet would work?

I’ve never thought to bribe a teacher with booze, but I bet it’s effective…

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry | Image: Laura Messersmith

Lessons Learned:

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry is a recipe almost entirely about assembly of ingredients rather than a great deal of cooking, which makes it incredibly simple and frankly the results are pretty impressive for the amount of effort it takes.

The trickiest part is dealing with the puff pastry – after defrosting a box of two sheets over night in the refrigerator I rolled out one of the sheets an inch or so in each direction. I’d highly recommend doing the rolling on a piece of parchment paper that can then just be lifted onto a sheet pan – even straight from the refrigerator the puff pastry gets sticky fairly quickly and this step saves on flouring your countertop and therefore extra clean up.

I used the (now) slightly larger sheet as the bottom layer – spread the mustard (I mixed two teaspoons each Maille whole grain and Gulden’s spicy brown), ham, and gruyere leaving a border – and placed the un-rolled second sheet of pastry on top. Having the bottom crust a little larger allows it to fold up around the filling really easily.

I came across another blogger (Joy the Baker) who made this recipe and suggested assembling ahead of time, refrigerating, and doing the egg wash and baking steps the next morning for an easy brunch dish. BRILLIANT. Pastry needs to be cold anyway, and putting the main course for brunch in the oven while still in your proverbial bunny slippers only to have it emerge golden a mere 20 – 25 minutes later makes you appear to be a domestic goddess on par with Nigella. Again, this all happens with minimal effort.

Small Kitchen Friendly?

Yes, a surprise considering that it involves a rolling pin. I also used a sheet pan, small cutting board, chef’s knife, measuring spoons, a pastry brush, fork and a small bowl. I also can’t recommend parchment paper (not waxed paper or foil) enough for this – a great help.

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry | Image: Laura Messersmith

The Verdict:

I made Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry for Mike and my parents during their visit and served it for brunch on Sunday morning. This is essentially the flavors of croque monsieur (pastry + mustard + ham + cheese = how bad could that be?) in alternate form and turned out buttery, flaky and delicious. Also, surprisingly filling despite it’s low-key appearance. We all loved it and really wanted seconds, but were unexpectedly full after relatively modest servings. I went with sweet red grapes and blueberry muffins as sides, but you could easily take this in a more “lunch-y” direction with a side salad or soup. This one is multi-tasking winner!

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry | Image: Laura Messersmith

Scouting: Global Table

Global Table UWS  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS | Image: Laura Messersmith

It only took a few weeks of living on the Upper West Side before I came across the Amsterdam Avenue location of Global Table and it quickly became one of my window-shopping destinations. After passing countless times – always glancing in to see what new temptation would be displayed – I finally had a moment cross the threshold.

The shop is deceptive - practically everything is visible from the door, yet there are still surprises and discoveries to be made. Light and airy it’s surprising how many treasures are arranged on the long, low tables and tall shelves. Good thing my afternoon was wide open because I spent more than an hour exploring the beautiful linens, brightly colored porcelain vases, and imaginative tableware.

Nathalie Smith established the first location of Global Table in Soho in 1996, the UWS location followed in 2011. When I talked with her described it as the place where her “love of food and fashion converged.” She grew up in New York and credits her French mother’s great taste, “she always set a beautiful table,” and wonderful cooking with her enthusiasm for entertaining.

Global Table UWS   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS | Image: Laura Messersmith

She further developed her eye by working as a fashion editor and stylist for magazines like Glamour and Elle. While traveling the world for photo shoots she noticed that her fellow editors would often stash great tableware finds in their suitcases and bring them back as souvenirs. When she was ready to leave the world of fashion the inspiration for her next venture was inspired by the experience.

Nathalie says she looks for clean lines, natural textures, and simple shapes eschewing anything too “design-y.” She tends to shy away from most patterns, although she says she’s becoming more open minded, and wants the pieces she offers to be both functional and beautiful calling herself “a very practical person.”

Global Table UWS   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS | Image: Laura Messersmith

Whether apartment space is constrained or not that’s an M.O. I can get behind 100%. Any of the items in Global Table would look beautiful displayed as décor, but can also be pulled down off the shelf and pressed into service. No lilies of the field here!

I had a hard time walking out empty-handed and brought home a beautiful charcoal colored bowl with a periwinkle blue interior from the store’s Middle Kingdom line. I’m already plotting my next acquisitions and future wedding, house-warming, and birthday presents. After all, I’m just taking Nathalie’s lead by “buying what I would like in my home.”

Global Table | Soho: 107 Sullivan Street, NYC | UWS: 471 Amsterdam Avenue, NYC Hours: Mon-Sat 12-7 pm, Sun 12-6 pm

Global Table UWS   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS | Image: Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS | Image: Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Global Table UWS | Image: Laura Messersmith