“punch up” the Holiday party?
easy-to-make, elegant recipe from author and host of Top Chef Just Desserts and judge
on Top Chef, Gail
Simmons and Pure Leaf Real Brewed
- is the inspiration for a pretty -- and tasty holiday hostess punch that is
sure to welcome guests as an entertaining treat and a “get the seasonal parties
started” focal point. A party-central
An special food and drink event was held at The New York Botanical Garden’s Lillian and Amy Goldman Stone
Mill, nestled along the banks of the Bronx River, in the Garden,
hosted by Pure Leaf Tea™ featured cook and Food
& Wine contributor/director, Simmons, and home entertainment blogger, Camille
Styles. (Yes that is her tailor-made-for-her-profession moniker!) and author of
her own, self-styled book, Camille
Styles Entertaining Inspired Gatherings and Effortless Style that is
a wonderful holiday hostess gift, by the way, filled with seasonal food and
drink recipes, color photos, and tips.
The event at NYBG was designed to both introduce Pure Leaf
Tea to the uninitiated, and new ways to use the fresh-brewed tea, especially in
unabashedly confess to not being familiar with the product and hopefully forgiven
for being a bit skeptical about its lack of homegrown gravitas.
But here’s the thing.
The world of food and drink is an enduring, never-ending adventure that opens
a door to learning about new tastes and creating recipes.
So lo and behold,
Pure Leaf is well, just that. It’s made
from pure tea. Go figure… (The sugar
count clocks in at 18 grams per serving/42 grams per 18.5 ounces - that is one
full bottle/2.5 servings, as noted on the label, so be mindful. Tip: four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of
sugar). So using the tea in a punch is an effective and tasty way to use the Pure Tea.
The fresh brewed, Pure Leaf tea is made with tea leaves picked
or harvested at their peak, then hand-selected by Pure Leaf Master Tea Blenders
from plantations in India, Africa and South America to be used in the Love the
Leaves collection of flavors, including lemon, raspberry, peach, and sweet tea.
Here, in time for party planning is Gail Simmons’
recipe for Pure Leaf Lemon-Ginger Tea
The Pure Leaf Tea event presented various tasting stations. Sampling
the tea in a variety of prepared libations proved to be a refreshing and
satisfying treat that prompted, “More, please.” In addition, a DIY/craft and cooking presentation
by both Styles and Simmons, after welcoming remarks from Eric Whitehouse, Marketing
Director, Pure Leaf Tea, PepsiCo.
Whitehouse and his team are doing something right: Pure Leaf sales are
up 40 per cent this year.
“We have a
pure passion for real tea – we brew it like you would at home. Because it is,” he smiled.
Whitehouse explained, “We find people who embody our brand”
and that led them to Gail Simmons and eventually to Camille Styles. He said the brand is happy to partner with
them. “It’s a powerful thing,” he noted,
by way of explaining the link to Pure Leaf.
Simmons followed Styles, demonstrating how to make the Pure Leaf Lemon-Ginger Tea Pomegranate
It was fascinating to
watch Simmons in-person after enjoying her on the popular, "Top Chef" TV show.
Simmons is down to earth, friendly, and authentic. She readily explained in a follow-up
interview that because she doesn't have a restaurant: “I am not a chef.”
exudes that “best-friend/girlfriend” huggable personality that makes you want
to embrace her and her cooking style.
Demonstrating that friendly, chatty, BFF
-- and at the same time, unmistakable, knowledgeable authority -- Simmons
showed the guests how to create a few recipes: Shaved Fall Vegetable Salad with
Pure Leaf Tea Pickled Radishes. Pickling
the radishes was fun, too.
Simmons launched her Sparkler presentation by demonstrating
how to open a pomegranate to extract and -- essentially wash out the seeds -- a key
ingredient in her Pure Leaf recipe. It is also a good-to-know food prep technique for other recipes.
Thank you for the prep tip, Gail.
Then, she showed how to cut the pomegranate in
quarters and submerge the fruit in a bowl of cold water, “tap” the pomegranate
and to easily wash out the seeds as they fall to the bottom of the bowl. Who knew?
Then she cut fresh ginger. And finally she showed how to blend these fresh
ingredients with Pure Leaf Tea.
I wanted to recreate the recipe,
making the Pure Leaf Tea Ginger and
Pomegranate Sparkler the focus of a welcome, sparkly tablescape for holiday
First up, was to secure some holiday fashions to honor this Pure Leaf Sparkler!
A shopping foray in
NYC’s floral markets unearthed red-themed sparkly decorations and décor to
complement the red pomegranate in the Pure Leaf recipe. The tablescape décor included snow, sleigh
bells, and “cranberries” from Williams Sonoma, and the aforementioned floral
district sparkly scores.
Over the years I have used punch recipes and seasonal ice designs
for almost every occasion: from bridal showers to garden parties and Christmas/Winter
|My niece, Lauren, enjoys her beautiful, rose-bud bridal punch|
I always thought a glamourous, signature party punch
drink avoids mixing and fixing drinks and allows the hostess to enjoy the
Then, I saw a photo essay in the December issue of House Beautiful touting the very idea of creating an artful, floating ice block in a punch. In a "back to the future" kind of moment, I was inspired to make and share my punch magic that I've used for lots of party glamour.
|The Rose Buds/Blossoms are frozen in bundt mold, melt to reveal floating floral design|
Credit the idea of punch to the 17th century when
sailors and explorers brought it back from, most likely, the Hindus. The Hindu word punch means five.
punch is a mix of five components: sweet, sour, water, spice and alcohol.
Pure Leaf made combining these five elements
easy and delicious.
Punch is a preferred welcome drink because it can be cold,
hot, and pretty. With a welcome “Hostess Punch,” guests can get right into the
There isn’t that awkward
moment when hosts ask, “What can I get you to drink?” and the guest looks
around to see what others may be imbibing.
In every season,
punch is a friendly jump-start to the party. With liquor or without.
But why not punch up the sparkle in the
holiday recipe by adding some craft spirits?
We provided this
season’s gin in a Waterford creamer pitcher next to the punch bowl so guests
can add accordingly. Perhaps all that
crystal created a “white” mood.
Simmons recommends bourbon, too, if one is to
add a spirit to her Sparkler recipe.
punch glasses keep the guests coming back for more and at the same time, help foster that party mixing and mingling.
Perfect party style.
I prefer cold punches, so the Simmons' Pure Leaf recipe was
like discovering a long-lost relative on the family tree.
The really glamorous part of any cold punch
is the opportunity to chill it out with a floating ice block inside the punch
bowl. The frozen ring can be thought of
as an added accessory adorning the delicious punch: think baby roses, nasturtiums,
or herbs, for example, to make the punch special to a season or occasion. Plus the block of ice keeps the punch from
Using distilled water, freeze half of the mold – one can use
a bundt pan, as I doe most often, or use a milk carton or one cut
in half -- or any freezable container, or any freezable flat plate or pan.
When the half is frozen, lay in the flowers
or herbs and then fill the container the rest of the way full with the
distilled water. When all is frozen and
ready to serve, place the ring in the center of the punch bowl.
punch bowl is not part of one’s entertaining collective, use any pretty bowl to
hold the punch.
The plant-infused ice
also makes for a lovely ring of happy beauty as the ice begins to melt.
Overall, there is no denying it is a festive, pretty look for
a welcome entrance, dining table or island.
The Pure Leaf Gail Simmons recipe was easy and fun to
make. I secured the Pure
Leaf Tea in two different blends: Peach and Sweet Tea and used both. Loving fresh ginger, I added a tablespoon more
than the recipe called for took the spicy flavor up a notch.
For the Pure Leaf Ginger
Sparkler ice ring, I used fresh-from-the-garden rosemary (yes, it’s
still great this time of year even in zone 6 and 7), along with market-bought pomegranate
Leaf Lemon-Ginger Tea Pomegranate Sparkler
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 cup Pure Leaf Lemon Iced Tea
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, for garnish
2 cinnamon sticks, for garnish
In a saucepan, combine the ginger and Pure Leaf Lemon Iced
Tea and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to steep,
about 10 minutes. Allow to cool in an airtight container in the fridge.
Fill two highball glasses with ice. Pour 1/2 cup
ginger-infused tea, then 1/4 cup pomegranate juice into each glass. Top each
with club soda, garnish with a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds and a cinnamon
stick to stir.
For alcoholic version, add 2 ounces gin or bourbon before
Visit Pure Leaf Website, and on Facebook
Happy, “punched-up” holidays. Be sure to add some sparkle to the holidays. Cheers.
|Pure Leaf Tea Punch pretty in day … |