There’s something about the scent of Elderflower that delivers up summer sunshine even when it’s raining. The heady perfume is divine, quite literally bottled, as a cordial. Dilute for your small ones with sparkling water and for your big ones, dilute with Cava. This cordial is great for drinking outdoors with lots of barbecued chicken and thirsty friends. Alternatively, as we live in Blighty with the most unpredictable weather, serve indoors with grilled chicken Caesar salad and aforementioned friends!
Gather your flower heads, away from smelly roadsides if possible. This is a great excuse for some family foraging but hurry, because the flowers don’t hang around for long, especially with the very wet and windy weather we’ve had over the last few days. Once picked tap the heads gently as Elderflower is a favourite with creepy crawlies. (Do not do as I did, and shake the heads indoors, as I spent the rest of my evening gathering up spiders, beetles and some weird midgy things from all over my kitchen.)
You will need:
25-35 elderflower heads, strip off the large stems
1kg Caster sugar
50g Acetic acid (ask your pharmacist for this)
3/4 Lemons sliced
1.5 litres water
A large bowl to put everything in
- Add your sugar to 1.5 litres boiling water, stir to dissolve thoroughly
- Once this is cooled stir in the acetic acid
- Add your elderflower heads, pushing into the syrup mix
- Add your sliced lemons and again push ingredients down into the liquid so they are submerged.
- Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool dark place for at least 2 days. If you can wait longer do as the flavour will intensify
- When it’s ready strain the mixture through a fine tea towel or piece of muslin. Cover until you are ready to use
- Prepare your bottles for the cordial by sterilizing
- Heat oven to 100C/0.5 Gas mark
- Wash bottles and rinse thoroughly, pour in boiling water, tip away and then lie on their side in oven
- Leave in oven for 15mins.
- Turn off oven and leave bottles until cold
- Using a funnel pour the cordial into the bottles, seal, and ideally store in the fridge.
The other day I had the opportunity to do my bit for Wales. Granted this was not too arduous a task as it involved eating lots and lots of delicious food all day long.
As a judge for the celebrated True Taste Food and Drink Awards I sampled some of the very best food Wales has to offer. Some truly superb entries in all categories, it illustrated just how far Wales has come as a producer of top quality foodstuffs. With the odd bizarre exception, the entries were well prepared and of a very high standard. From salami to sirloins, and pies to preserves, it was a complete gastro-feast. These awards are an excellent opportunity for producers to showcase their talents and gain the recognition they deserve both locally, and UK wide.
This was a great experience with some very knowledgeable foodies and chefs making up the the judging panel. My entire day was spent smelling, savouring, indulging and discussing…heaven!
If you want to know more about the True Taste Food and Drink Awards please take a look at their site www.truetaste.tv
The winners of the True Taste Food and Drink Awards 2011-2012 will be announced later this year.
When a quick fix Sunday lunch is required this pork fillet is the easy way to make a special roast without fuss. The sage and juniper add great flavour and the sauce can be taken two ways. Either follow tradition with a quick reduction for gravy or add a little cream to make something more sophisticated. Serve with lots of scuffed roast potatoes and some steamed greens tossed in butter.
Pork fillet with sage and cider
You will need:
Pork fillet (allow 3 medallions per person)
Celery, Carrots, Onions roughly diced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
50g Unsalted butter, cut intosmall cubes
3 rashers of Smoked bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
2 Cox’s apples sliced
1 tbsp Juniper berries
I can Dry Cider
- Preheat your oven to 180c
- Arrange your carots, celery, onions and garlic in the bottom of a roasting tin
- Place the pork medallions on top of the veg
- Put a piece of bacon onto each medallion
- Top with the butter and a sage leaf
- Season the whole tin and sprinkle over your juniper berries
- Pour your cider over the top
- Cook for 25-30 mins
- Once cooked place your medallions onto a serving dish and keep warm
- Heat the remaining cooking liquor
- Strain your liquor, return to a clean pan
- Reduce to create a delicious gravy or if you want to go posh add a splash of cream.