Friday, May 4, 2012

For this delicious strawberry and mint
punch, leave the sparkle behind

It’s not very often that I recommend dropping an ingredient from a recipe (except cilantro – I always, I always drop that one).
   But for Strawberry-Mint Tea Punch (click for the recipe) from Fine Cooking magazine, I advise that you leave the sparkle behind: Don’t use sparkling water, club soda, champagne or sparkling wine in it as the recipe directs.
   After trying the punch one evening with club soda, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the taste.
   The next morning, I had the punch for breakfast and didn’t use the club soda. The drink was better. My husband agreed.
   Without the sparkle, the punch has a clear iced-tea type of taste that rings with strawberry and mint. Fizz just seems to drown out those tastes.
   So subtract an ingredient and a step. It will just make an easy-to- make drink even better and more delicious.
   The recipe calls for mint tea bags, and warns against buying an herbal tea mix. You want real, honest-to-goodness mint tea for his recipe. I used peppermint tea.
   The recipe makes a lot – 20 five-oz punch cup servings – so be sure to halve it if you don’t need that much.
   Hulled and halved fresh strawberries are processed in a blender or food processor with sugar, lemon juice and salt. The mixture is refrigerated until needed.
   In a small saucepan, water is brought to a boil and mint tea bags are added. The saucepan is removed from the heat and the bags left to steep for 15 minutes.
   Sugar (I used Splenda instead) is put in a heatproof container. The tea bags are removed from the saucepan, and the tea poured over the sugar. The mixture is stirred for the sugar to dissolve.
   At this point, I put the tea in a pitcher and added the required cold water, stirring to mix. I chilled the tea until cold as the recipe says.
   To serve, the strawberry puree and the mint tea are mixed together. The two mixed together will keep nicely for about one day.

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