Sephardim break the fast with several refreshing beverages: sweet "milks" made from almonds or pumpkin seeds; juices of pomegranates, apricots, watermelon, or apples. American Ashkenazi Jews traditionally drink fresh orange juice, befitting a meal at which they typically serve breakfast foods. This gorgeous juice - a mixture of pomegranate and orange - combines the best of both cultures.
Pour your guests these break-the-fast beverages in fine, clear crystal to capture the swirl of colors. Serve regular sunsets in tall tumblers or water goblets; offer frozen sunsets in stemmed cocktail glasses, like frozen margaritas.
Chilled orange juice - about 4 ounces for each serving
Fresh or bottled pomegranate juice (See Cook's Note) - 3-4 ounces for each serving
Mint leaves and/or thin slices of fresh orange, for garnish
1. For regular sunsets. Pour the orange juice into tall glass tumblers or large water goblets filled with ice cubes. Gently pour in the pomegranate juice to taste (I usually combine approximately half and half proportions, but exact amounts will depend on the sweetness of the juices as well as personal preference). Colors should be marbled like a vibrant sunset; if necessary, lightly mix by swirling pomegranate juice through orange juice with a cocktail stirrer or chopstick. Garnish each glass with a mint leaf and/or orange slice. Serve right away.
2. For frozen sunsets. Fill an ice cube tray with pomegranate juice nad freeze until completely solid. Put about 8 frozen pomegranate cubes in a blender. Add 1 cup of orange juice and process until smooth. Divide between two large stemmed glasses, serve with a straw, and garnish with mint leaves and a slice of fresh orange. Serve straightaway. (If the liquid begins to separate from the frozen froth, just stir it up with a cocktail stirrer.)
COOK'S NOTE: To make fresh pomegranate juice, score just the rind of a pomegranate, as you would an orange, in quarters lengthwise. Then peel off the rind in sections carefully - it stains seriously! Scoop out the seeds and juice sacs surrounding them, breaking apart and discarding all the bitter white pith. Put the seeds and the juice sacs through a food mill, or whirl in a blender - not a food processor, which would crush the seeds - for 30 seconds, and then strain. Or rub the seeds and sacs against a strainer or colander. You can also put them through an electric juicer.
Just be sure to remove all of the acrid, mouth-puckering white pith. When I was pregnant with my daughter, the only thing that would settle my stomach was the terrific pomegranate punch served at Brownie's, an old vegetarian restaurant near me (now the site of the Union Square Cafe). One day, my insides in dire turmoil, I attempted to re-create the drink, throwing the entire peeled fruit, pith and all, in my juicer. I could have dyed a rug with it, but I couldn't drink it.
Three medium pomegranates will yield approximately 1-11/2 cups of juice. Fresh juice will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator, 3 months in the freezer.
Pure, bottled juice is available at Middle Eastern shops and many specialty and health food stores. Don't use pomegranate molasses for this recipe.