A Refreshing Drink for a Hot Day

Elderberry shrub / ketchup an odd recipe which can be made as a savoury vinegar ‘ketchup’ or a sweet ‘shrub’ cordial.

Elderberry Ketchup (or Shrub) (G. Watson)

Although this is called ketchup it is not like the sauce we know and love but a spicy vinegar. Remove the shallots and it is a lovely drink called shrub.  Vinegar as a drink? Try it, it is really refreshing, the vinegar mellows with the sugar and sparkling water.

500ml elderberries

500ml cider vinegar

25g shallots (finely chopped or minced)

A blade of mace

A 1cm cube ginger

1 teaspoonful cloves

1 teaspoonful black peppercorns

Sugar – see method for quantities

Method

Strip the berries from the stalks and rinse in water. Put them in a large jar with the vinegar and leave for 24 hours. Strain off the liquid without crushing the berries.

For shrub - Transfer the elderberry vinegar liquid to a pan DO NOT ADD SHALLOT . Add the spices and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, for each 500ml of liquid use 500g sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then pour through a sieve to remove the whole spices. When cold bottle and label.

For the ketchup - Transfer the elderberry vinegar liquid to a pan and add the shallots and spices and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, for each 500ml of liquid use 200g sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then pour through a sieve to remove the whole spices. When cold bottle and label.

To serve, mix with sparking water. Start with 1 part shrub to 6 parts sparkling water and adjust to taste. The syrup may also be mixed with still water or used in cocktails.

Try it – you will be pleasantly surprised

Rose petal sorbet – again!

l summer is definitely here. The roses in my garden are coming into their own, the scent is outrageous and I need to make that edible treat that is Rose Petal Sorbet. Back by popular demand this heavenly recipe comes from 100 Great Desserts, Sweet Indulgence… by Mandy Wagstaff. This book stays firmly on my kitchen shelf. The book recommends roses with a sweet scent and a vibrant colour, I made this with the petals from Gertrude Jekyll roses from Terry’s garden, which are not so deep pink but are so perfumed it is heady. If you prefer your sorbet to have a lighter texture add the egg whites, otherwise just use the syrup.

Rose Petal Sorbet with Summer Fruits in Rose Syrup

110g (4oz) fragrant rose petals

570ml (1 pint) water

200g (7oz) granulated sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 egg white (optional)

225g (8oz) mixed summer fruit

Method

Trim and discard the white tips of the petals. Place the water and sugar in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, dissolving the sugar before the boiling point is reached. Boil for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and add the rose petals along with the lemon zest and juice. Stir well and leave to cool. Refridgerate overnight.

The following day, pour the syrup through a sieve lined with muslin. Reserve 6 dessert spoons of the syrup and set aside. Transfer the remainder to the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn until frozen. If using the egg white, whisk to a firm peak then add to the syrup when semi frozen. When frozen spoon into a chilled container and freeze until needed.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker put the syrup into a plastic container and into the freezer, then stir briskly with a fork every hour or so until it is frozen.

Prepare the fruit according to their type. divide them into six glasses, add a spoonful of syrup to each glass then add a scoop of sorbet.

This truly is food of the gods. Thank you Mandy.

want to see the book? click here

Daiquiri Day

Need a way to cool off? Why not celebrate Daiquiri Day. This refreshing drink was invented in the early 1900’s in a small mining town of Daiquiri near Santiago, Cuba, an engineer named Jennings Stockton Cox created a simple drink called a Daiquiri. Cox came up with this concoction in an effort to cool down during the summer month, with a simple blend of lime juice, sugar and local Bacardi rum, over cracked ice. This he found to be the best way to boost the morale of mine workers during the hot months. Such was the success of Cox’s drink not only did he received a generous stipend from the company, he also received a monthly gallon of Bacardi to continue supplying the refreshing drink.

Seasonal thoughts

One of the things I love about the allotment, and there are many, is that it really links me to the seasons.

I love the fact that in the spring that taste of the first asparagus reminds me that it is getting warmer even if it isn’t. But it isn’t just the foods, although moving from the summer glut of runner beans, courgettes tomatoes and salads to the first thoughts of roast roots and baked potatoes and warming comfort soups is permanently linked in my mind to the lighting of fires and walks in the frosty woods.

The summer brings the watering and weeding along with the fantastic glut of peas, beans, summer carrot and new potatoes and the long warm evenings (if we’re lucky) and the smells of cut grass and roses.

The preserving of the summer foods, making jams and chutneys, pickles and bottled fruit, leads nicely into fleeces and jumpers and the Community Apple Day and tidying the plot for winter.

So I’m just about to plant the broad bean seeds before it gets too cold and the planting of seeds makes me feel optimistic at any time, then I’ll eat the squashes and celeriac that are just coming ready with stewed apple and custard to follow. And it all feels so right.

So even though the winter evenings aren’t far away, a glass of mulled wine makes up for digging the frosty ground for the carrots and parsnips and there are always the plans for next years crops when Christmas is over.

 

 

Seasonal Blackberry Chutney

 

Blackberry Chutney

The season of mellow fruitfulness is upon us so this month’s recipe looks at preserving for the winter. The recipe this month comes from Soups, Savouries and Sweets by A Practical Housewife (Mrs Taylor) Published in 1889.

Ingredients

1 kg of blackberries, 2 large onions (finely chopped), 1 ½ cups of brown sugar, 2 cups of red wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Method

Place all the ingredients in a preserving pan. Stir over a medium heat without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1 – 1 ½ hours until it thickens
. Pour into sterilize jars.

Beautiful dark red chutney to go with cold meats and cheese.

My Favourite Bean Dish

A great dish for the summer with the fresh baby broad beans coming through.This comes from In One Pot by Blanche Vaughan, a great book with dish after dish that I want to try.

Broad Bean and Dill Pilaf 

250g basmati rice

20 unsalted butter

1 large onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves. sliced

1 teaspoon ground allspice

250g broad beans, podded

20g bunch of dill, chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Soak the rice in plenty of water with a pinch of salt while you are preparing the other ingredients.

In a heavy-based pan, melt the butter over a low heat. Add the onion along with a pinch of salt and fry gently for at least 5 minutes. Once the onions are soft and sweet, add the garlic.

Drain the rice.

Turn up the heat and add the allspice and rice the the onion mixture. Fry for a minute, stirring so that the rice is coated with butter. Season well and add the broad beans and dill.

Pour over enough cold water to just about 1cm over the surface and cover with a piece of baking parchment and then the lid.

Turn the heat under the pan to medium and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until the rice is soft and the water absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

This isexpecially good served with tahini yoghurt or cucumber raita. I have also used fennel when I can’t get dill.

Rose Petal Sorbet – It doesn’t get more summery than this

Well summer is definitely here. The roses in my garden are coming into their own, the scent is outrageous and I need to make that edible treat that is Rose Petal Sorbet. This recipe comes from 100 Great Desserts, Sweet Indulgence… by Mandy Wagstaff. This book stays firmly on my kitchen shelf. The book recommends roses with a sweet scent and a vibrant colour, I made this with the petals from Gertrude Jekyll roses from Terry’s garden, which are not so deep pink but are so perfumed it is heady. If you prefer your sorbet to have a lighter texture add the egg whites, otherwise just use the syrup.

Rose Petal Sorbet with Summer Fruits in Rose Syrup

110g (4oz) fragrant rose petals

570ml (1 pint) water

200g (7oz) granulated sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 egg white (optional)

225g (8oz) mixed summer fruit

Method

Trim and discard the white tips of the petals. Place the water and sugar in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, dissolving the sugar before the boiling point is reached. Boil for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and add the rose petals along with the lemon zest and juice. Stir well and leave to cool. Refridgerate overnight.

The following day, pour the syrup through a sieve lined with muslin. Reserve 6 dessert spoons of the syrup and set aside. Transfer the remainder to the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn until frozen. If using the egg white, whisk to a firm peak then add to the syrup when semi frozen. When frozen spoon into a chilled container and freeze until needed.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker put the syrup into a plastic container and into the freezer, then stir briskly with a fork every hour or so until it is frozen.

Prepare the fruit according to their type. divide them into six glasses, add a spoonful of syrup to each glass then add a scoop of sorbet.

This truly is food of the gods. Thank you Mandy.

want to see the book? click here

Summertime and the living is fruity

This is such a good summer for fruit, the berries are falling off the bushes, the plums are hanging off the branches and the apples are swelling. There are dishes that can only be eaten at certain times of the year, Christmas pudding, simnel cake and for me Summer Pudding. It can only be made from fruit straight of the bushes or if you haven’t a garden straight from the greengrocers. At this time of year I can’t get enough of it. Here is a recipe from Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking, but it is that kind of dish which can have many variations depending on the fruit you have at the time. Try any mix of raspberries, red/black currants, strawberries, gooseberries, blackberries, loganberries. I sometimes make little mini versions.

Summer Pudding

1lb/500g raspberries

1/4lb/125g red currants/black currants

about 1/4lb/125g sugar (to taste)

Thin sliced bread with the crust removed. (slightly dry so that it absorbes the juice)

Method

Stew the fruit and sugar gently for around 2-3 minutes until the juice runs, taste and add more sugar if you prefer. Leave to cool. Line a deep dish (a pudding bowl or souffle dish) with the slices of bread. Make sure it is completely lined with no gaps. Fill with the fruit but keep a little of the juice. cover the top with a layer of bread.

Put a plate or saucer on the top then a weight. Leave overnight in the fridge or cool larder. Then when you are ready to serve, turn it over and pour over the remaining juice.

Serve with a good dollop of cream, cream fresh, yoghurt or ice cream.

enjoy – think about putting a fruit bush or two in the garden. Raspberries are so easy to grow.