Sneak Peak at Food Gift Love Cookbook & a Celebratory Cocktail: Sparkling Elderflower Punch

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I still can’t believe I wrote a cookbook.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before but I grew up wanting and wishing to be a writer. I went to journalism school, I wrote for actual print magazines, I was even the editor of my high school newspaper. And next month, I’ll have been writing a blog for nearly eight years. Still, I tend to introduce myself as a food business owner. Of course, as soon as I say it, someone will say, “she’s also a cookbook author” and I’ll remember that…

… I spent two years assembling a guide to making, wrapping, and sharing more than 100 of my favorite food gift recipes.

… Every moment of writing and creating this book felt like Christmas + Thanksgiving + pure fun. It was hard work, but the kind that feels like fun, all the time.

… I actually said “eh, I don’t know” when my someday editor asked if I wanted to write a cookbook in front of 200 food publishers, authors and writers. Gosh, what was wrong with me?!

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I wrote the proposal for this cookbook in 2013 and by Thanksgiving of that year, I had sold the publishing rights to the wonderful Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. And now flashing forward, I am thrilled to say that in almost exactly three short months, Food Gift Love: More Than 100 Recipes to Make, Wrap, & Share will finally be printed and in my eager-gimme-gimme hands (and hopefully, yours, too).

In the months leading up to the release on Tuesday, October 13, I’m planning a cookbook tour; designing a creative way to share this cookbook’s message with you; choosing folks to help us spread the Food Gift Love word (we’ll make a major announcement in a few days!); prepping for demos and cookbook signings; and even setting up a cookbook release party in Boston on Friday, October 16 — I hope you can come!

They say these three months are gonna fly by… and I say, bring it. I want to get this cookbook out into the world. I want to share the stories that made the recipes, my best tips from shipping food gifts all over the world, and all the beautiful pictures. You must see these pictures.

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Over the next few months I’ll preview the cookbook by sharing a recipe or two on this site, along with silly, behind-the-scenes gossip from the photo shoot and all the interesting (and sometimes unbelievable) things I learned from the actual process of writing a book. As an eager-to-learn-and-grow business owner, I always take a moment or two to review previous decisions with a critical eye, sifting through actions and outcomes for wisdom to apply to future decisions. I did the same thing with this cookbook and learned a ton about myself. I’m hoping some of these lessons will help you?!

Let’s start by digging into my Five Lessons Learned From Writing Food Gift Love and then I’ll share a delicious recipe for your weekend.

Five Lessons Learned From Writing Food Gift Love

1) I’ve learned so much about the food gifts that get you seriously excited. For example, cookies always make you happy, jams are an easy win for a faraway friend, and chocolate takes the cake (and sometimes is the cake). I funneled these lessons and more into 100+ easy recipes for the most popular types of Eat Boutique food gifts and for my favorite food gifts (the ones I gift again and again).

2) I love being creative, even if I am a business owner who likes strategy + analytics. My publisher gave me the space to act a little like a creative director for Food Gift Love. With my food stylist and photographer, I created this book from scratch way before Houghton Mifflin Harcourt carefully (and beautifully) strung it together into a full-color, hardcover book. I am so touched that they had that faith in me. Even more so, I am delighted that I had some faith in me, too. You need a little inner faith to take on a big project!

3) Good work, the kind that fully aligns with your heart and mind, is so much fun. Writing this cookbook was pure pleasure. I worked what felt like a zillion jobs at once, but the moment I escaped to the kitchen to develop, write and finalize recipes, life was fun. The entire process sparked some of the most joyful moments and memories of my life, for sure.

4) Saying “no way, I can’t do that today” is actually the only way to get your job done. It’s hard work to write a cookbook and it’s also hard work to keep stress levels in check while writing a cookbook. The organization required is immense and I kept my sanity by scheduling everything and being super realistic about what I could achieve. This may be the most important lesson of all: remember to say “no” frequently if you want to finish your “yes” list now.

5) Hmm, this may, in fact, be the most important lesson of all: lemon + vanilla + elderflower + sparkling wine are a winning combo when mixed into a big bowl. My Sparkling Elderflower Punch is one of my favorite “Spirited Gifts” in my cookbook and I got to drink it a ton. Now, you can too.

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Along with your first big sip, here’s a little disclaimer: I’m probably going to talk about Food Gift Love about a million times leading up to its release. Maybe more. And, with so much gratitude and respect and enthusiasm, I am asking you to share Food Gift Love with everyone you know so that its message reaches the right people, reaches folks who order it and even pre-order it (like now). You can pre-order it from any of your favorite shops (they’re all listed on the Cookbook page), including the Eat Boutique Shop.

As for this spirited food gift, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. The base is a vanilla and lemon simple syrup that has countless uses—topping fruit salad, drizzling over teacake. It keeps in the fridge up to 2 weeks. To make the punch by the glass, simply add 2 tablespoons of the syrup and 1 tablespoon elderflower liquor to a flute and top with a few ice cubes, sparkling wine, and a lemon slice.

I use St. Germain elderflower liqueur and sparkling wine here, but you could replace both with nonalcoholic elderflower syrup (sold in some international food stores and online) and sparkling water, respectively. I hope you also make those ice cubes (no recipe required, just place lemon pieces and water in an ice cube tray and freeze); they’re so great in this cocktail and work nicely in tall glass of water, lemonade or ice tea.

Sparkling Elderflower Punch

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup elderflower liqueur
  • 2 medium lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle dry sparkling wine
  • About 4 cups ice, for serving
Special Equipment
  • 1 (2-gallon) glass jar, transportable pitcher, or punch bowl

Directions:

  1. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine the lemon juice, water, sugar, and vanilla bean. Cook until the liquid reaches a low boil and the sugar dissolves, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and let the syrup cool to room temperature.
  2. To your large glass jar, add the elderflower liqueur, lemons, and the cooled syrup. Transport, as is, to a potluck; add sparkling wine and ice just before serving.

Materials

  • Glass jar with airtight lid
  • Box
  • Sparkling wine
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Pour the cooled syrup, elderflower liqueur, and lemons into a large jar. Wipe the rim and seal. Place the jar in a box along with the sparkling wine. Transport with a bag of ice and assemble at your destination.
Photos styled by Catrine Kelty and taken by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio

Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

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