The elderflowers are here and it is the best time of year. If I was more of a poet I’d have come up with a second line to go with that. I’ve been shoving elderflowers into various different things for years: cordial, gin, crumble and sugar to name a few. I wanted to try something a little different, and a bit less time consuming this time round, to get that wonderful elderflower fragrance down my neck as soon as I could. A celebration of late spring flavours my Elderflower, Cucumber and Mint Fizz is just the ticket for a sunny afternoon.
Sometimes I make something for the first time and I wonder why it’s taken me so long to get round to it. Iced tea is one of my favourite drinks, especially lemon iced tea, but other than a passion fruit and jasmine version I concocted a few years ago I’ve not made my own since. I wanted to make some to take on a recent picnic as I thought it would be nice and refreshing in the late summer sun. Considering this only uses three ingredients, I used the very best ones I could: all organic and the tea I used had the wonderfully, British, charming name ‘Georgian Old Gentleman’.
I’ve toyed with the idea of making an agua fresca for a little while. What with the focus on Brazil and South America at the moment with the Olympics I have seen a few frescas popping up on menus. But I wondered, is it worth the effort, isn’t it just easier to squeeze a bit of fruit then water it down? Well yes, but it turns out it’s just not the same. And the (what might seem an unnecessary step but take my word for it it’s definitely needed) sieving does save you from any surprise seeds making into your final beverage. I had a couple of grapefruits loitering round in my fruit bowl and thought it was now or never. So, welcome to my Grapefruit, Lime and Basil Agua Fresca.
I am very familiar with the flavour of bergamot, being an avid Earl Grey fan, but I had never seen or tasted the bergamot lemon itself. A mystical fruit that I thought was confined to tea makers and lucky Mediterranean gardens. Then I found I could order some beautiful organic ones along with my veg box; it would be rude not to. My first thought when I got them was to add a slice to some hot water, just to smell and taste them. But then I remembered I had some gin, and, you know, why not? Hello bergamot gin and tonic.
I have been so busy this year that I have run out of time to make my own sloe gin. It’s not the end of the world though as I have some of last year’s stash left and once that’s gone there are some delicious ready steeped and drained sloe gins around. As much as I enjoy a classic sloe gin and tonic there’s much enjoyment to be had mixing up something different.
The idea of smoothies and juices I really like; getting the nutrients (with or without the fibrous parts) in a convenient way really appeals. Not least because it gives me something to do with a fridge full of vegetables other than soup. The only thing that puts me off is the thought I needed another piece of kitchen equipment to be able to make my own. The publishers of Crussh, Nourish Books, got in touch to see if I’d like to try out the new book. I asked if a juicer was necessary and they said it wasn’t so I was looking forward to giving one of the recipes a try.
I like tea and I like gin. I particularly like earl grey and gin based cocktails so I thought it was about time that I got creative with my cocktail shaker and tried these two tastes together. Not for my own benefit of course, all in the name of experimenting. Whenever I make a cocktail I am always amazed at how the slight slip of a hand can affect the end taste of the drink; too sweet, too acidic, too much alcohol. Then again, you can add a bit more of this and a bit less of that depending on your tastes.
Freezer roulette, UFO night (unidentified frozen object) or whatever you call it when you select and defrost a frozen item of interest for your dinner can result in complete success or failure. I know there are those of you with very regimented and organised freezers who don’t have this issue but I know plenty of people who have chosen what they think is a delicious beef stew for their supper only to find out it used to be a chocolate gateaux. This recipe is for you; those freezer lovers who froze the summer’s berries in order to make the most of them at a later date. My frozen blackcurrant cordial recipe could easily be made of whatever berries you have; although probably best check that they are in fact berries and not spaghetti bolognese.
You will need (for a jug of basil lemonade):
- Small handful basil leaves
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 750ml sparkling water
- 125ml freshly squeezed lime and lemon juice (I used three limes and one lemon)
- Ice to serve
MethodPut the basil and sugar into a jug and bash it together with a rolling pin or muddler until the basil is well bruised and it smells lovely. Add the lime and lemon juice and stir it all together until the sugar is dissolved. Add some ice to the jug and top up with the sparkling water. Give everything one final mix then pour into glasses and serve.
Trust me on the basil for this, it gives the drink a really interesting flavour; sort of floral and quite earthy. I made this quite strong as I prefer a mouth puckering, not too sweet lemonade but you could add more or less sugar and juice to suit your taste. I have made this with flat water but I do think that the sparkling is slightly better. It’s really refreshing and ideal for a warm evening but I will definitely make it later on in the year as a citrus pick-me-up.
IngredientsYou will need (per drink):