December 30th, 2010 § § permalink
It’s one of my favorite lines from the BBC series “Little Britain.” It’s also the phrase that I hear frequently during this holiday season. Champagne and New Year’s Eve go together like turkey and Thanksgiving, chocolate and Valentine’s Day, eggs and . . . well, you get the idea.
Although many countries produce sparkling wines, only the Champagne region of northeast France creates the bubbly beverage known as champagne. This region has been crafting its eponymous libation since the 17th century. Unsurprisingly, the area is home to some of the oldest champagne houses including Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Moet and Chandon.
Various legends surround the origins of the first champagne. Many point to the Benedictine monk and cellar master of the Abbey of Hautvillers, Dom Perignon, as its inventor. While Perignon did develop the techniques of blending wines to improve the flavor and of tying down corks with strings or wire cages to prevent popping or bottle breakage, he did not create champagne.
Apparently, no one invented champagne. The drink’s trademark fizziness was merely a side effect of the cold climate delaying fermentation. Carbon dioxide would build up in the bottles and turn the still wine into bubbly. Voila! Champagne for everyone! It may seem a bit simplistic and unromantic but that’s reportedly how champagne was born.
When it comes time to select a champagne, consider how you like your drinks. As I prefer dry wines, I go with the driest offering, a brut. This contains little to no sugar. However, if you prefer a slightly sweeter beverage, go with extra dry. If you want something moderately sweet, reach for the sec and demi-sec. These have higher sugar contents than brut or extra dry. Should you crave sweetness of a dessert wine, choose doux.
To serve champagne, simply chill, open and pour. If you want to whip up a cocktail, be sure to use a cheaper champagne as your base. Why waste all that flavor – and money – when the drink will be altered by other ingredients?
Although I know how to stir together a refreshment or two, I’m definitely not an authority on champagne cocktails. As a result, the following recipes appear courtesy of Stuart Walton’s The Ultimate Book of Cocktails (Hermes House, 2003). However, if you’re at all like me, you’ll skip the extra ingredients and just enjoy your champagne naturally.
6 tablespoons chilled champagne
1 1/2 tablespoon calvados
1 teaspoon grenadine
cocktail cherries, optional garnish
Pour the ingredients into a champagne glass and stir gently to combine. Garnish with optional cocktail cherries.
BLACKBERRY AND CHAMPAGNE CRUSH
6 ounces blackberries, washed
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
8 ounces champagne/sparkling wine, chilled
2 tablespoons cognac
Puree the blackberries in a food processor. Push the puree through a sieve and then add the sugar and return the mixture to the food processor. Add the champagne/sparkling wine and pulse once.
Pour the cognac into two champagne glasses. Add the blackberry-champagne puree to the glasses and serve immediately.
December 22nd, 2010 § § permalink
Maybe you’re like me, an only child who grew up in a small family that quietly celebrated the holidays. On the other hand, maybe you’re like me and you have 23 friends coming over on Christmas Eve to revel in the holidays. Then again maybe you’re like me and believe that the key to any small or large holiday gathering is a wickedly good cocktail.
As I mull over my drink offerings and make last minute adjustments to Friday night’s dinner menu, I thought that I’d share a few cocktail favorites. Easy and quick, they’ll add a little sparkle to any occasion. For the most part they’ll also relieve any stress associated with the holidays and/or two dozen loved ones crammed into your overheated kitchen. So . . . mix those cocktails, spread some cheer and enjoy the company of those near and dear! Happy holidays!
PROSECCO POMEGRANATE FIZZ
Serves 8 to 10
I love Prosecco and I love pomegranate. Hence the Prosecco Pomegranate Fizz.
1 bottle prosecco or champagne, chilled
8 ounces pomegranate juice
1 1/2 ounces pomegranate liqueur
seeds from 1 pomegranate
Pour the prosecco, pomegranate juice and pomegranate liqueur into a large, chilled pitcher. Stir together. Drop a handful of pomegranate seeds into the pitcher. Place the remaining seeds in the bottoms of champagne or cocktail glasses and pour in the drink. Serve immediately and frequently.
POMEGRANATE WINE ICE
from Francine Segan’s “The Opera Lover’s Cookbook” (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2006)
Serves 10 to 12
I had the pleasure of testing this festive recipe for food historian and cookbook author Francine Segan. Taken from her 2007 James Beard and IACP Awards-nominated “The Opera Lover’s Cookbook,” it’s a delightful drink from an equally delightful book.
1 1/4 cups sugar
16 ounces pomegranate juice
2 cups white wine
pomegranate seeds, for garnish
16 ounces pomegranate juice
In a medium saucepan over high heat bring the sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the juice and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the wine. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Pour the mixture into a shallow baking pan and freeze for at least 12 hours. Before serving, mash the mixture with a fork until it resembles a slushy. To serve, spoon the ice into martini glasses or champagne flutes and top with pomegranate seeds.
For those who prefer an alcohol-free drink, cranberry crush will be a refreshing treat. Serve this in a punch bowl with the frozen cranberries as a garnish. Remember to keep a bottle of vodka and a shot glass nearby for those who crave a stronger beverage. These folks can spike their cranberry crush separately.
1 (64-ounce) bottle of cranberry juice, chilled
1 (32-ounce) bottle of plain seltzer, chilled
2 ounces non-alcoholic grenadine
splash of Rose’s sweetened lime juice
2 cups frozen cranberries
Pour the cranberry juice, seltzer, grenadine and lime juice into the punch bowl and stir together. Add 1/2 cup of the frozen cranberries to the bowl, reserving the rest for when the cranberry supply in the punch bowl diminishes.
Depending upon glass size, this serves at least a dozen.
Years ago my friend Elizabeth Theisen shared her family’s secret recipe for moose milk. Since then I’ve tinkered with it a bit and made moose milk a staple of all holiday celebrations. As it’s a rather stiff drink, I’d advise serving it early in the evening, alongside some appetizers.
2 quarts eggnog
1 cup vanilla or dark rum, adding more if desired
⅓ cup brandy, adding more if desired
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (Note: If using vanilla rum, you can omit the vanilla extract.)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
ground nutmeg, to taste
ground cinnamon, to taste
Place the eggnog, rum, brandy and vanilla extract in a large punch bowl and stir to combine. Add the ice cream. As I’m always rushing to make this drink, I plunk in the ice cream as a solid block. However, if you do have the time, place individual scoops of ice cream in the bowl. Sprinkle ground nutmeg and cinnamon over the top. Allow the ice cream to melt slightly before serving in punch cups or small cocktail glasses.
December 20th, 2010 § § permalink
If you’re as tapped out on celebrity chefs as I am, seeing a title by the orange Crocs-clad Mario Batali may not exactly delight you. Yet, long before “Iron Chef,” “Spain . . . on the Road Again,” Eataly, a line of cookware and a slew of acclaimed restaurants elevated him to rock star chef status, Mario Batali wrote an insightful and instructive cookbook called “Simple Italian Food” (Clarkson Potter, 1998). Featuring close to 250 recipes, his book provided home cooks with an array fresh, flavorful and uncomplicated Italian dishes. In essence it lived up to the name “Simple Italian Food.”
I picked up Batali’s cookbook when it first came out in 1998. From its broken spine and loose, dog-eared pages the book looks as though I never put it down. In some respects I haven’t. Whenever I need a little inspiration or help with a recipe, I dig out this book and start reading.
What do I find beneath the well-worn cover of “Simple Italian Food”? I discover a bounty of clean tasting, Northern Italian recipes. Familiar foods such as scampi with garlic, chiles and herbs appear alongside more exotic offerings such as grilled squab with pomegranate molasses and rabbit alla cacciatora Barese. While these dishes may seem quite different, they all share commitments to fresh, high quality ingredients and to allowing a few distinct flavors to shine through.
Along with Batali’s easy and pristine cooking I appreciate the food facts and kitchen tips scattered throughout his cookbook. In the homemade pasta portion of the “Primi” chapter he discusses the differences between homemade and store-bought pasta and points out which sauces work best with each. In the “Contorni” chapter he offers insight on selecting, storing and preparing an assortment of vegetables while in “Carne” he shares advice on grilling.
Most importantly Batali provides reliable recipes. Unlike with many other cookbooks, I’ve yet to encounter a recipe in “Simple Italian Food” that doesn’t work as written. Broccoli rabe crostini, monkfish scallopine and penne with spicy goat cheese and hazelnut pesto, among others, can all be executed as is. Even so, home cooks are encouraged to substitute ingredients, such as fava beans for giant lima beans, button for shiitake mushrooms, and watercress for pea sprouts. Furthermore, when Batali updates a traditional dish, he explains the logic behind his alterations. This is thoughtful, well-composed cooking.
In the end “Simple Italian Food” gives me everything that I look for in a cookbook. Well-written and tested recipes. Fresh, straightforward ingredients with suggestions for substitutions. Ample amount of background information on each food and/or dish. It’s the type of book that I want to – and do – pick up again and again.
December 16th, 2010 § § permalink
With Christmas Eve and the Italian-American “Feast of the Seven Fishes” a week away I’m in the mood to chat about fish. Truthfully, at times selecting seafood seems about as baffling as choosing a new car. There are so many questions to be answered. Should I buy farm-raised or wild? If I opt for wild-caught, is it at risk of being over-fished? If I go with farmed, how do I know which countries practice safe aquaculture techniques? And shouldn’t I be stocking up on local rather than imported seafood?
Once I tease out the correct answers, I have to determine which fish possesses the greatest health benefits and fewest health risks. Add in concerns about oil-contaminated Gulf Coast catches and I’m tempted to skip cooking and order a pizza instead.
Thankfully, healthful and eco-friendly seafood does exist. The wild European anchovy sits at the top of the Environmental Defense Fund’s “eco-best” seafood list. Although this small, omega-3-rich fish swims in all warm oceans, the most prized come from the Mediterranean Sea. Here the supply is plentiful and the risks of contaminants and unintentionally caught marine life, known as bycatch, are low.
Fresh anchovies impart a rich, buttery flavor that goes well with capers, garlic, lemon, olives, tomatoes and white wine. Oily and soft, they are perfect for baking, broiling, grilling and pan-frying.
Unlike their fresh counterparts, canned anchovies taste quite salty. As a result, they cannot replace fresh ones in recipes. Use canned to garnish pizzas and spice up salads, sandwiches and sauces.
While the over-fished Atlantic cod tops the list of seafood to avoid, the abundant, long-lived “black cod” or sablefish falls firmly into the safe category. Caught wild in Alaska and British Columbia, this firm, oily fish also serves as a good source for omega-3 fatty acids.
Sablefish has pearly white meat and a deep creaminess that favors such seasonings as honey, miso, mustard, sake, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. Juicy when cooked, it can be grilled, sautéed, pan-fried, steamed, poached, braised or roasted. Additionally, sablefish’s high fat content makes it excellent for smoking. In fact Jewish delis often sell it under the label “smoked black cod.”
Anchovies and sablefish are just two of many safe, healthful seafood selections. In a few weeks I’ll explore more. Until then, here’s a little something to serve at your feast of seven fishes or at any other holiday fete.
From “Very Swedish” by Triberg, Ranung and Hagman (Bokforlaget Max Strom, 2007)
8 medium potatoes
2 small onions
15-20 anchovies, juices reserved
6 to 7 ounces heavy cream
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter plus butter for the dish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease an ovenproof dish. Peel potatoes and cut into matchsticks. Peel and slice the onion and fry golden brown in 1 tablespoon of butter.
Spread half the potato matchsticks on the bottom of the oven dish and then the onion and anchovies, pressing down. Pour in the anchovy juices and cream. Sprinkle generously with breadcrumbs and dot with the tablespoon of butter. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the potato is soft and appealingly golden brown.
December 14th, 2010 § § permalink
Conveniently enough, I fell in love with Moroccan cuisine while visiting Morocco. All those succulent tagines flavored with tart and tangy preserved lemons and dusky olives. Accompanied by platters of fluffy couscous, these rich, aromatic stews bowled over my taste buds. Then there were the flaky, nut-filled pastries and delicate, filigreed glasses of hot, sweet, minty tea. Utterly enchanting! As soon as I returned home, I set out to recreate those fabulous meals. And what better to aid me in the kitchen than Paula Wolfert’s comprehensive guide to Moroccan cooking, “Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco” (William Morrow, 1987).
First published in 1973, “Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco” is the book that not only I but also most other cooks reach for when contemplating an authentic Moroccan meal. No other cookbook has come close to capturing the essence, culture and history of this cuisine. Similarly, no food writer has possessed as much knowledge or has written as beautifully about Moroccan cooking as Paula Wolfert.
In “Couscous . . .” Wolfert explores such quintessential North African dishes as the aforementioned tagines and couscous as well as meatball-like kefta and the coiled “snake cake” m’hanncha. She devotes separate chapters to breads, soups, savory pastries and those tiny grains of semolina that we know as couscous. The latter chapter is particularly beneficial to anyone like me who made the deranged decision to purchase, drag across the country and then lug back home a couscoussiere, the traditional, two-tiered pot that steams couscous. In that chapter Wolfert takes readers step-by-step through the process of rolling, steaming and raking thousands of semolina grains until they become light, airy and, well, couscous.
Wolfert also shares how to make such classic Moroccan seasonings as chermoula, ras el hanout and preserved lemons. Thanks to her, I can whip up my own fish marinade or spice blend and have a cool activity for my dinner guests. Just grab some unwaxed, organic lemons, sea salt and jars and start preserving!
Although it’s written as a cookbook, I tend to use “Couscous . . .” as a guide for my dinners. I’ve never followed the recipes to the letter. In fact, I’ve tinkered with them quite a bit. Yet they’ve served as the basis for many fabulous dishes. Take, for instance, my version of the meat pie bisteeya. Truthfully, I have no hankering for pigeon-stuffed bisteeya or pigeon-stuffed anything. Instead I, like most modern cooks, substitute shredded chicken, sans giblets, for the filling and phyllo for the tissue-thin warka leaves. I also alter some of her seasonings. Likewise, I cut the ingredient amounts as I rarely cook for 12.
Whether you carry out the recipes verbatim or play around with them as I do, you’re bound to learn quite a bit from this comprehensive cookbook. If you love Moroccan food, you’ll love “Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.” It’s an undisputed classic and an essential tome for anyone craving authentic Moroccan cooking.
December 9th, 2010 § § permalink
If you cook, write about food or just enjoy a good meal, chances are that you own a kitchen tool or two. If you fall into all three categories, then you may be like me — swamped with cooking gadgets. Over the years I’ve compiled a mental list of what’s fun, what’s functional and what’s foolish for the home cook. Below are some of the best that I’ve collected. Relatively inexpensive and easy to find, they’re bound to delight you and/or the food lovers in your life.
I love a little kitsch in the kitchen. Hence my delight over these quirky kitchen timers. Functional and fun, no one will mind owning more than one. Along with lady bugs and cats, chickens, cows, frogs, dogs, ducks and portly chefs all can keep track of your cooking times. How could you not enjoy cooking with these cheerful guys taking care of your casserole count down?
I can’t help it — graters are great! Although you truly only need one all-purpose, hand-held grater, I’ve ended up with five. (Needless to say, they’re excellent stocking stuffers.) While cookware shops promote graters for soft cheeses, hard cheeses, chocolate, citrus, nutmeg and, oh yes, coconut, I generally use the “Parmesan, zest, coconut” tool (pictured above at center and left) for all my grating and zesting jobs.
My first experience with an immersion blender was disastrous. Steaming potato leek soup in my hair, on the wall, my face, my shirt . … And then I received one as a gift. Much to my shock, I fell in love with this handy, hand-held blender. No more spilling soup as I transferred it from stockpot to traditional blender or cleaning up leaks from my food processor. No extra cleaning, period. Fast and easy, it’s a one of this cook’s best kitchen friends.
Normally I avoid plugging a particular brand but, as I’m so smitten with this tool, I’ll forgo that usual rule. Cheap, sharp, fast and efficient, Kuhn Rikon peelers make peeling vegetables a breeze. They’re so sturdy that I’ve even used them to shave chocolate and cheese. Available in a rainbow of colors, they’re the best $3.50 that you’ll ever spend.
Since I’m discussing inexpensive but useful tools, I can’t overlook digital thermometers. Ideal for fish, poultry and thin cuts of meat, these slender thermometers provide quick, accurate temperature reads. Plus, their plastic sheaths provide not only protection but also cooking temperature guides. So much essential information in such a simple tool.
A bit more costly but no less useful, insulated pitchers hold a special place in my heart and on my work desk. After brewing my morning coffee and heating the accompanying milk, I pour the steaming liquids into these carafes and enjoy hot cafe au lait all day. Ideal for dinner parties or just long, cold days, the thermoses keep coffee and tea hot for almost 24 hours.
Whether you’re messy, always in a rush, or like me and a bit clumsy, you’ll appreciate owning a saucepan with spouts. Pouring gravy, melted butter, warmed milk or stock becomes a snap with this type of pan. Everyone from Emeril to All-Clad offers a version of this saucepan. Prices and sizes will vary.
It goes without saying that a good quality, forged, eight-inch chef’s knife, sharp paring knife or serrated bread knife can’t be beat. Likewise, a decent kitchen scale, an electric hand or stand mixer, or food processor will always be appreciated. Mixing bowls, whisks, spatulas and the like, these are only a few of the fantastic gifts that you could give or receive this holiday season.
December 2nd, 2010 § § permalink
Sometimes it feels as though I’ve spent a lifetime rooting around jam-packed stores, searching for, but never finding, the perfect holiday gift. That’s why I’ve started giving edible presents. Who can resist a basket filled with tea, coffee, candies, cakes and breads or bottles of local wine, liqueurs and infused oils? In my case, no one. Whether homemade or store-bought, gourmet edibles satisfy everyone on my shopping list.
Giving food is not a novel idea. During the Viking Age the Norse god Odin traveled across the cold winter landscape with his reindeer to deliver fruit and corn. Centuries later Saint Nicholas took over Odin’s route and filled European children’s shoes with sweets. In Colonial times old Saint Nick brought American youth cakes and fruits while they in turn left out hay and carrots for his faithful white horse.
As a little girl, I often heard tales of how my uncle and mother would bound down the stairs on Christmas morning to find their stockings bulging with oranges, whole walnuts and penny candy. The oranges were a particular thrill as many children of the 1940′s encountered fresh citrus only at Christmas. While I don’t stuff stockings with fruit, I do now send crates of Bartlett pears, clementines and pomegranates to faraway friends.
With any edible present I try to keep the item personal as well as locally produced. For savory foods fans I toast almonds, hazelnuts, cashews and pecans and then season them with dark brown sugar, cayenne pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Spooned into sleek, rectangular, silver tins, the spicy nuts make a sexy stocking stuffer or gift basket ingredient.
With candy consumers I share my maternal family’s customary Christmas sweets: hand-rolled chocolate truffles, which are a traditional yuletide confection in France, and walnut-topped divinity. Since we all consume pounds of cookies during this season, I tend not to dole them out as gifts. However, I will sometimes slip in a box of homemade kourambiedes, tuiles or meringue wreaths, confections that you usually don’t encounter on a Christmas cookie tray.
For loved ones who dislike cooking or don’t have time to make much beyond spaghetti, I offer jars of vegetarian chili, black bean soup and minestrone. Easy to make, these hearty soups are even simpler to re-create. To enjoy a hot, homemade meal, just twist off the container’s top, pour the contents into a pan, heat and eat. Perfect present for time-pressed or kitchen-phobic family and friends. (Note: If you opt to give homemade soups, consult a canning cookbook, such as “Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving,” first. The last thing that you want to give is food poisoning.)
Have wine and spirits enthusiasts on your list? The oenophiles in my life get local wines or my husband’s home-brewed Cabernet Sauvignon. Liqueur fans receive my raspberry-infused vodka or limoncello. Guaranteed to please, these gifts keep on giving throughout the year.
Makes 16 pieces
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Special equipment – candy thermometer
Grease an 8 x 8-inch pan then set aside.
Place the sugars, water and salt in a large, non-stick saucepan and cook on medium-high, stirring periodically, until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the syrup reaches 265 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer and has thickened.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. With the beaters running, slowly add the syrup to the egg whites. Beat on high until creamy. Add the vanilla and continue beating until the mixture holds its shape when dropped from a spoon.
Spread the candy into the prepared pan. Sprinkle nuts over the top and allow the divinity to cool. When it has cooled completely, cut the divinity into small squares and wrap the squares individually in waxed paper.
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TRUFFLES
Makes 25-30 truffles
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon raspberry liqueur
1/3 cup almonds, without shells or skins
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, put the chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl.
Once the cream has begun to boil, pour it over the chips. Stir the two together until the chips have melted and the ganache is smooth and creamy in texture. Add the raspberry liqueur to the ganache and stir until well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.
In a frying pan, toast the almonds until they become a light, golden brown. Place the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely chopped. Pour the almonds into a small bowl and set aside.
Remove the bowl of ganache from the refrigerator and uncover. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the chocolate. Roll it between the palms of your hands, forming a well-shaped ball. Drop the truffle into the bowl of chopped almonds and roll it around until it is completely covered with nuts. Place the truffle on a baking sheet or in a container lined with waxed or parchment paper. Repeat the ball forming and coating steps until all the truffles have been made. Refrigerate the batch until ready to use.
Note: Placed in an air-tight container and refrigerated, truffles can keep between 2 to 3 weeks. Frozen, they last for around 2 months.
Recipe courtesy of Vasiliki Kolovos
Makes 4 dozen
Whenever I see these powdered sugar-blanketed, crescent-shaped cookies, I think of Christmas in my hometown and all the wonderful kourambiedes that my friend Nickie’s mom would bake. Lucky for me (and you), Mrs. Kolovos has shared her recipe for these heavenly Greek sweets.
½ pound unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing baking sheets
¼ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla
2½ tablespoons ouzo (anise-flavored liqueur)
About 2 cups flour, sifted, divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
Grease two baking sheets and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat ½ pound butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and egg yolk and continue beating until well blended. Add vanilla and ouzo and beat until combined.
Mix 1 cup flour with baking powder and add to butter mixture. Add about another 1 cup flour, a little at a time. (Depending on temperature conditions, you may need a little more or less flour to make a dough that is supple but not sticky.)
Place dough on a flat, flour-dusted work surface and roll out ½-inch thick. To make crescent shaped cookies, use either a crescent-shaped cookie cutter or the lip of a water glass. If using a glass, place roughly half of lip onto dough and press downward. Repeat to create the crescent shape. Alternatively, use the glass to make circles or with your hands roll dough into small balls.
Put cookies 1 inch apart on greased baking sheets and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tops are light brown. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from sheets, place on cooling rack and generously sift confectioners’ sugar over.
Adapted from Marcus Samuelsson’s “Aquavit” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003)
Makes 1 quart
For the liqueur:
1 cup organic raspberries, washed
1 1-liter bottle of vodka
2 to 3 tablespoons simple syrup
For the simple syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Place the raspberries in a large, wide-mouthed, lidded jar. Pour in the vodka and seal the jar. Let the ingredients stand at room temperature for 4 to 8 weeks. When ready, the vodka will have turned ruby red and possess a deep, raspberry taste.
To make the simple syrup, place 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and, stirring, cook until the sugar has evaporated. Remove the pan from the heat and cool to room temperature. You will end up with roughly 1/2 cup simple syrup. This can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for about 1 month and can be used to flavor cold and hot drinks, among other things.
Strain the vodka into a pitcher or bowl and stir in the simple syrup. Transfer the infused vodka to a 1-liter bottle and seal it. Store in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to use.