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The Downpour - Damson Vodka Cocktail July 25 2014

It's been a heady few weeks in the UK. Like a summer in Europe...scorching sun for days on end followed by glorious thunderstorms, the likes of which we haven't seen in years.

 

After a number of hot, sticky days, it poured it down in Brighton today, giving the gardens (and us) a real soaking.

Sat in the flat watching the rain fall I found inspiration for this evening's cocktail, which I will name "The Downpour".

Shake 50ml Sipsmith Damson Vodka, a scoop of elderflower sorbet (preferably foraged and homemade back in June) and a dash of Hella Bitters vigourously over ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprinkling of pink peppercorns and a grind of black pepper. 

(We picked up the peppercorns in Spain earlier this year. You can buy a little set of G&T garnishes which includes juniper berries, cardamom pods, hibiscus flowers and pink peppercorns. They make such a special addition to your G&T.)

Anyway...go and get yourself drenched in one of these!

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Elderflower Cordial Recipe May 30 2014

There’s nothing that announces the start of the summer more than the scent of Elderflower in the air. 

The season has arrived in fine fettle with a flourish of perfect white blossoms.

Gabriella of Mangia Bene Blog suggested we drive to Ditching, and after wandering around for a while, picking the odd flower head here and there, we finally found a well laden elderflower bush and set to work collecting the flower heads. 

If you haven’t found time to make elderflower cordial yet this year, make it a priority. There’s nothing tastier at this time of year than sparkling water with a hint of sweet cordial.  

Here’s my elderflower cordial recipe, adapted over the last few years of trying out dozens of recipes:

10 large elderflower heads 

1 1/2 pints boiling water

1 1/2 lb caster sugar

4 lemons, all zest removed and the lemons sliced

Remove the big bits of stalk and put the elderflower heads and sugar into a bowl or large pan. Pour the boiling water over and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Don’t be put off by the weird smell. Add your lemon zest and slices. 

Cover with a clean, damp cloth and leave in a cool, dark place for 48 hours. 

It will soon start to smell wonderful. 

Once your 48 hours are up, sterilise some clean bottles by pouring boiling water into and over them. Then empty and leave to cool a bit. 

Use a muslin lined funnel to pour the elderflower cordial into the bottles. Then enjoy! 

And if you enjoy this then you'll love our Elderflower ice cubes even more! The perfect way to pep up a gin and tonic at this time of year...  

 

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Dandelion Tempura - a quick post-gardening foraged snack April 26 2014

Dandelion Tempura are a fab little something to try when you’ve had a hard day in the garden and you know that tea is still some way off. It’s the perfect snack because it’s tempura and it’s made with ingredients which you’re bound to have in your garden and kitchen cupboard as well as being quick to make and extremely tasty. 

There are dandelions everywhere at the moment, so try to find some in a garden or a park, I feel that I should advise you to avoid picking flower heads from busy roadsides. 

As well as the dandelions, you need flour plus something chilled and fizzy. I never have chilled sparkling water in the house, but always have chilled sparkling beer (specifically those little stubby green bottles you can get from Sainsburys), so any tempura recipes in my cooking repertoire are always of the beer-battered variety.

Pick your dandelions as close as possible to the flower head (include the bit of green holding them together). I found it best not to wash them as it just makes the petals clump together. Heat some vegetable oil in preparation (you can test when it’s ready by dropping a small piece of bread into the pan and waiting until it sizzles), I tried a few different types of oil and found that ground nut oil is the tastiest (but veg or sunflower will do just fine). Start with about 50g of self raising flour and slowly add the fizzy beer until your batter is the consistency of single cream. Dip the flower heads straight into the batter then directly into the hot oil. 

They only need about 2 minutes, then out they come and place them onto some kitchen roll to soak up the excess oil. 

Best to eat them while they’re still hot with a little bit of dipping sauce and washed down with the rest of the beer. 

It’s weird because you know you’re eating flowers. But cool for exactly the same reason. Delicious. 

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