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.
I love this time of year in Britain; when the weather is getting warmer and warmer but it hasn’t quite got to the muggy stage and it’s still nice and cool at night. There are flowers in the hedges and the fruit has started growing on the trees; most of my time is spent outside and as far as I’m concerned, shoes are optional. I have done plenty of cooking with elderflower in the past and it seemed an ideal time to try out something slightly different and obscenely summery: Elderflower, Cucumber and Mint Gin.
IngredientsYou will need (per drink):
You will need (I made enough for six ice lollies):
- Ice lolly mould
- Elderflower cordial (homemade or shop bought)
- Zest of 1 lemon
Make up the elderflower cordial a little stronger than you would if you were drinking it.
Put the lemon zest into the bottom of each mould and top up with the diluted cordial.
You could add the fresh lemon juice to the elderflower mix before pouring it in if you want the lemon flavour a little stronger.
Freeze, wait and enjoy!
You might have to try and convince people that it’s not just water you’ve frozen but as soon as they try them they’ll be glad they did! Elderflower is such a distinctive flavour and the lemon and lemongrass that were in my homemade cordial work so well with the added lemon zest. Shop bought elderflower cordial will work just as well, whichever you use just make sure you mix it up a little stronger than you would for drinking it. Floral, easy, zesty and refreshing, like a little piece of frozen summer.
IngredientsYou will need (to make enough for four generous servings):
- 150g blueberries
- 1 pint water and elderflower cordial, mix it slightly stronger than you would to drink
- 1 sachet powdered gelatine
- 8 tbsp boiling water (or whatever your gelatine says!)
I’m not sure why some of the blueberries sank but the majority floated; it didn’t matter at all, if anything it added a slight curiosity to the dessert. A large serving spoon is your friend when serving this up lest it wobble its way off a smaller spoon onto the table or floor. I made it in a bowl as I thought it looked pretty but you could divide it between glasses or jars as I did for my blackberry and perry jelly previously. I love the delicate colour of the elderflower jelly broken up with the little blueberries. The flavours worked really nicely together too; a light bowl of summer perfect for the warm evenings.
The recipe we used was written down in Gert’s secret black book but it was very similar to this one on the BBC Good Food site. Apart from the added ingredients below.
You will need (for around 1.5 litres of finished cordial):
- 20 elderflower heads
- Sugar – all the recipes I’ve seen vary so much in sugar quantity so it’s how sweet you like it
- 1.5 litres boiling water
- 2 lemons, zest and juice
- 50g citric acid
- 1 stalk lemongrass
Tap the elderflower heads on the side of a bowl to get rid of any insects then put them into a bowl with the sugar, lemon zest and juice and citric acid.
Pour over the boiling water and whisk everything together well.
Add everything to a sterilised jar, whack the lemongrass with a knife and add this to the jar too.
You will need (for two mini crumbles):
- 200g strawberries
- A few sprigs of mint
- Elderflower syrup
- 75g butter
- 175g flour
- 50g golden caster sugar and a little extra
Start by chopping the strawberries up into halves, quarters, slices and all sizes so that you have a varied texture when the crumble is cooked. Put the strawberries into a little dish or ramekin, until it’s just over three quarters full, then sprinkle over a few chopped mint leaves. Drizzle over a little elderflower syrup; I used around a tablespoon for each ramekin.
In another bowl mix together the flour and butter with your hands until you have a mix that resembles breadcrumbs. Then stir in the sugar. Top each little strawberry filled dish with the crumble and then sprinkle over a little extra sugar on top.
Put the dishes onto a baking tray and then into a preheat oven at 180C for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.
To make around 600ml finished ice cream you will need:
- 300ml plain yoghurt
- 300ml whipping cream
- Elderflower syrup
Whisk together the yoghurt, cream and around a tablespoon of elderflower syrup in a bowl. Give it a taste to see if it needs more syrup; it depends how strong your syrup is and how you like it. Chill the mixture in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
If you have an ice cream maker put the mixture into your machine and churn until it’s all frozen then put into a container and into the freezer until you’re ready to eat.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker put the mixture into a container in the freezer and leave until almost solid. Remove, blitz in a food processor then put back into the container and back into the freezer until you’re ready to eat.
You will need (for one pavlova, to serve 6-8 people):
- 3 egg whites
- 180g caster sugar
- 150ml whipping cream
- Elderflower syrup
- Berries of your choice, I used strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
Spoon, smear or pipe the egg white onto some greaseproof paper and then bake at 140C for one hour. Turn the oven off and then leave the meringue in the oven for another half an hour before removing and leaving to cool.
While the meringue is cooling whip the cream with a tbsp of the elderflower syrup. I ended up putting about three tbsp of syrup in but it depends on the strength of your syrup. Whip it all together until you’ve got firm peaks. Spoon the cream onto the meringue and top with berries.
As you may be aware I love a good forage; you never know what you might find. One thing you will inevitably end up with on or in your foraged goods are little critters and bugs. I’m not sure if you can eat them but it’s probably best to try and remove them. You don’t want a sea of grimacing faces when you pour them out a little beetle. I find shaking your booty (don’t confuse with bootie)* outside to get most of them off works well. To be extra stringent I then give it all another shake and wobble in a sieve; I want the assurance that it is indeed a strawberry seed in the finished dish giving that unusual texture rather than an exoskeleton.