Guest post authored by Nasim Lahbichi.
Hi! I’m Nasim Lahbichi, and food, culture, and community are what makes me feel the most at peace. Born and raised in Brooklyn, I spent my entire childhood immersed in a melting pot of cultures. Food on any table served as a safe space for me to explore my creativity while simultaneously absorbing the diverse cultures around me. My family also used food as a lens to demonstrate tender love and care for others- inspiring my use of it today as a vessel to express my admiration to the most stubborn of fathers and the closest of friends.
Fast forward to today, my social channels have allowed me to foster a community that honors food, culture, and innovative, plant-based takes on traditional dishes. The content I create is influenced by the kind of experiences I want people to have with every bite or sip.
SEASONAL COCKTAIL RECIPES FOR LONG SUMMER DAYS
When it comes to nourishment, I’ve always looked toward seasonality - thinking of how we as a society ebb and flow through the seasons inspires the recipes I share year-round. To me, cocktails are the perfect vessel to experiment with flavors while utilizing the abundance we’re gifted with that season. The end of summer is a unique time that brings feelings of nostalgia and longing- and in my home, the end of summer tastes like a Preserved Lemon Margarita and/or a Moroccan Mint Tea Spritzer - two drinks inspired by my Puerto Rican-Moroccan heritage, full of robust, herbaceous flavors.
Image: Heidi Lee.
MARGARITA DE PRESERVED LIMÓN (6OZ)
A floral and tangy twist on a traditional Mexican cocktail.
- 2-ounces silver tequila
- 1/2 ounce preserved lemon paste
- 1 ounce orange blossom syrup
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- Splash of coconut sparkling water
- Sumac-Sugar, for rim garnish
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- Lemon slice, for garnish
- To Prepare Your Glass (optional): Coat the rim of your glass. Run a lemon wedge around rim of your glass and pour the sumac-sugar onto a plate. Dip the rim into the sumac-sugar until coated. Set aside.
- To Make The Margarita: Add tequila, preserved lemon paste, orange blossom syrup, lemon juice, and a couple of ice cubes to a shaker. Shake for about 10 seconds until combined. Give the drink a taste and stir in more orange blossom syrup if desired.
- To Serve: Fill the serving glass with ice cubes. Strain the margarita mix into the glass and garnish with a lemon slice. Serve and dive in!
To Make Orange Blossom Syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons orange blossom water
- In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar over medium heat. Simmer until sugar dissolves.
- Remove from heat and stir in the orange blossom water. Let cool and store in a sterilized airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Image: Heidi Lee.
Unlike my mother's side of the family, where margaritas are enjoyed, Moroccans often discourage alcohol consumption, following Islamic tradition in the community. Instead, Moroccan mint tea is a traditional staple after a meal. The boldness of gunpowder green tea is mellowed by fresh sprigs of spearmint and the sweetness of a sugar cube.
This mocktail also welcomes two flavors that embody the artistry of Moroccan cuisine: almonds and orange blossom water in the form of silky-sweet orgeat syrup. The result is a refreshing concentrate that is perfected with a splash of seltzer.
MOROCCAN MINT ALMOND TEA SPRTIZER (8OZ)
A Moroccan-inspired spritzer that’s equal parts effervescent and refreshing
- 8 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 16 ounces cardamom-infused Moroccan mint tea (see notes)
- 4 to 6 ounces orgeat, depending on desired sweetness
- Sparkling water, to top off drink
- Fresh sprig of mint, for garnish
- Lime twist, for garnish
- In a pitcher, combine the lime juice, cardamom-infused Moroccan mint tea (see notes), orgeat together until combined. Taste and add more orgeat if more sweetness is desired
- Optional: Salt the rim of your serving glasses by running a wedge of lime around the rim and coating in salt.
- Pour into prepared serving glass. Top off with 1 to 2 ounces of sparkling water. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime twist. Serve and dive in!
Cardamom-Infused Moroccan Mint Tea
- 5 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon gunpowder green tea leaves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 large handful of fresh spearmint leaves
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Add tea leaves to the teapot and pour 1 cup boiling water over them, swirling gently to rinse the tea. Strain and discard water, reserving the tea leaves in the pot. Add cardamom pods.
- Pour 4 cups of boiling water over the tea and cardamom, letting it steep for 2 mins. Stir in sugar and mint leaves, let steep for 4 to 5 minutes. Serve
Image: Heidi Lee.