Saturday, 18 June 2016

Elderflower cordial

This is the first time I have recycled one of my posts but the time of year lends itself to a few short cuts and the fact that I had to dig really deep to find this recipe.  I also realise the time has come for me to change the format of the website in order to make everything easier to find.  I now have an elder tree in the garden, so this cordial is truly home grown.

20 heads of elderflowers
1.5 kg of white sugar
1.2 litres water
2 unwaxed lemons
50 g citric acid

 Shake the elderflowers to get rid of any lingering insects, and then place in a large bowl.

 Put the sugar into a pan with the water and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved.

While the sugar syrup is heating, prepare the lemons by taking off the zest and slicing, add to the bowl.

Pour over the boiling sugar syrup and stir in the citric acid.  Cover with a cloth and leave for 24 hours

Next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin and pour into clean plastic or glass bottles.  You can store in the freezer if you wish to keep through the winter.

You can also add it to ice cream  or desserts and its great with gin.  If you are not storing in the fridge, then loosen the tops of the bottles from time to time as they can ferment and burst.  

The elderflower has been well known through out the centuries for its high vitamin C content and its healing properties.  The cordial is very refreshing served with sparkling water some ice and lemon.  Its also very simple and easy to make.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Lemon and Thyme Christmassy cake

Its almost Christmas and I didn't make a seasonal cake this year which is very unusual for me.   However, I also had the urge to make something that looked a little like Christmas, and a bit different.

I adapted this recipe from a Moroccan orange cake, its very easy to make and tastes great and looks amazing in the centre of the table

4 eggs
1 1/12 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 cups of plain flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest from 2 lemons
1 teaspoon of vanilla
tablespoon of fresh thyme - small sprigs for decoration

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, grease and flour a tube cake tin, zest and juice your lemons

Beat together eggs and sugar until thick, gradually add the oil

Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and then milk, beat until smooth and mix in the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, move fast as soon as the flour is added as the baking starts to activate.

Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 40 minutes

Turn out onto a cooling tray, cool and decorate

Mix icing with lemon and drizzle over the cake.  Add fresh slices of lemon and sprigs of thyme

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Strawberry rose´ jelly

Its strawberry time, its Wimbledon and just because I feel like eating strawberries I thought I would do something different with them.  Friends were coming to dinner and I wanted to make something special for desert and also something seasonal.

I came across this interesting recipe in one of the weekend magazine supplements, so credit should go to Rowley Leigh.

1kg strawberries as ripe as possible
1 bottle (750 ml) rose´ wine
90g light brown caster sugar
6 leaves gelatin
Creme´ fraiche, yogurt or ice cream to garnish

Wash the strawberries in cold water and pick out the best 2/3 of them to reserve.
Slice up the remaining fruit and mix with the sugar and leave for about 1/2 an hour

Meanwhile heat the wine in a saucepan to the point of simmering and pour over the fruit and sugar mixture.  Mix and put back into the saucepan and simmer lightly for about 30 minutes.

Soften the gelatin in tepid water for about 5 minutes, drain and add to the wine mixture and leave for a further 5 minutes.

Strain the wine over a bowl using a fine sieve or muslin over a colander, don't force the fruit through as it will turn the jelly cloudy.  Allow to cool but not chill.

This will make enough for about 8 servings depending on the size of the dishes.  Distribute the rest of the strawberries between the dishes and fill with 2/3 of the jelly mixture.  Leave in the fridge until almost set and add the rest of the remaining jelly.  Leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours or if you are making for a dinner party you could prepare the day before as they keep well in the fridge.

Serve with shortbread biscuits and your topping of choice.


The shortbread is just made for this dish and this recipe is extra light using some ground rice or cornflour.

100g softened unsalted butter
50g caster sugar
110 plain flour
40g ground rice or cornflour

Blend butter and sugar until fluffy. Add sifted flour and rice flour and a pinch of salt.
knead gently until it forms a paste.  
Turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and roll into a cylinder about 7cm - 8cm in diameter and chill for at least 2 hours.
Line a try with greaseproof paper and cut the chilled dough into thin rounds, put on the tray and bake at 160C for about 20 minutes so the shortbread is just turning golden.  Allow to cool before moving as the shortbread will break up.  Its a really light and delicious recipe also from Rowley Leigh

Friday, 26 September 2014

Coffee and Cake in Budingen

Coffee and cake is a great institution and to have coffee and cake in Budingen in the Cafe Hexenstuchen is like stepping back in time.  It felt like being invited into the house of a friend with the luxury of having many wonderful cakes to choose from.  Certainly an afternoon of indulgence.  I know I sometimes digress from my usual cooking and recipe format but there are times when experiences like this should also be captured.

Budingen, city of frogs and good food is a showcase of German medieval history and 40 Km from Frankfurt.  This is a beautiful town with cobbled streets, coffee shops and a castle that was built in 1258

The Cafe Hexenstubchen means witches room, I am sure there must be a story here I just haven't found it yet

lets not forget the coffee

Good memories of a great day.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Muhallabiyya - a traditional Arabic dessert

Desserts based on rice, cornstarch, farina or semolina are very popular in the Middle East but are not necessarily intended as a conclusion to a meal but enjoyed when you feel in the mood for a snack.  They are fragrant with such flavorings such as cinnamon, aniseed, rose water or orange flower water and decorated with nuts and fruits.

Muhallabiyya is one such classic dessert, medieval in origin, which is both elegant and simple.  Its basically a milk pudding with rose water or orange flower water.

6 tablespoons of rice flour
4 cups milk
1/2 cup of sugar or more according to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons of rose water or orange flower water or half of each according to taste
crushed pistachio nuts or almonds

Heat the 3 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves, bring to the boil, and reduce the heat to a simmer
mix the rice flour with the remaining 1/2 cup of milk until smooth
add the dissolved rice flour to the heated milk and simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
add the flower water and let cool for a short while and put in bowls and refrigerate for a couple of hours and then decorate

There are many variations of this recipe, cornstarch can be used instead of rice flour and also 2 small mastic crystals crushed to a powder with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and added in the last few minutes of cooking

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Summer chicken salad

The weather has been very kind to us so far this year and I have spend many a warm evening sitting in the garden with a chilled glass of white wine contemplating what we are going to eat.

I do drift towards salads but the ingredients have to be  simple and easy to prepare and cook, why waste all that good weather standing in the kitchen.  This dish can be either done on the bbq or in a griddle pan the choice is yours.

Marinade strips of lean chicken breast in lime juice, crushed garlic and a little olive oil, salt and pepper  for a couple of hours and roast over a hot gridle pan until brown and tender

Prepare a selection of mixed vegetables:


Brush with oil and roast on a hot griddle pan turning frequently

add a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the vegetables and some fresh herbs,  chopped mint and parsley.  I have all my herbs growing in the garden at this time of year and I am spoilt for choice

The colours are fantastic and its hard not to start eating.  To complete the dish add the cooked chicken

or serve without the chicken and add feta

Friday, 4 July 2014

Fish and more fish at Simply Fish

Yes its Brixham again and their fantastic fish.  If you love fish then there is nowhere better.  There is such a great variety its hard to know where to start.  We chose to look for the people who catch it and cook it, so we ended up at Simply Fish, and it was.

 With such a great menu its difficult to know where to start but I love scallops so that was easy

Monkfish tails with chorizo butter and samphire

Hake with mussels and cream sauce

Turbot with Pawns Thyme and mushroom sauce

a chilled  bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a great view of the habour

There are many more amazing choices on their menu but they will all have to wait until the next time we go