|Cranachan: The most amazing dessert in the world|
Last night we had our own little celebration for Burns night (complete with horribly mispronounced Address to a Haggis). We rounded out the meal with a quintessentially Scottish dessert; cranachan. As I’ve said before, it’s one of my favourite deserts to make because you can easily scale it up or down to suit your needs. It can be made ahead, and the separated ingredients travel well – making it perfect for pot-luck dinners and picnics. On top of all this, it looks and tastes amazing!
1 cup of rolled oats
2 tbsp heather honey
60ml scotch whisky
1 cup cream
1 cup raspberries
Scatter the oats over a baking tray. Melt one tablespoon of honey and pour over the oats.
Bake in the over for 10 minutes at 180°C. Your oats will be beautiful and golden and the honey will be all caramelised and crunchy.
Melt half a tablespoon on honey, mix with 30ml of the whisky and drizzle over the raspberries. Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours until the raspberries are whiskey-flavoured, sticky and glistening. Whisk together the cream with half a tablespoon of honey and 30ml of whisky until it’s all fluffy and dreamlike.
Once you’ve prepared all the basic ingredients all that remains is to put them together! You can let everyone help themselves, but I like to layer everything in pretty glasses. I shouldn’t need to tell you to serve it with a glass of whisky on the side… Et viola That’s it!
Three good friends and I took ourselves off to the Fat Duck last night to celebrate a couple of birthdays and generally be decadent. As a vegetarian, I was interested to see what was on offer. At the behest of many, I managed to take a photo of each course I was served and some of the meatier meals as well. The following post contains 24 photos, so click the link to read more.
Without further ado…
|Cocktail Hour | Blackberry Bramble|
Happy Friday everyone! I thought the best way to wrap up my week-long fascination with the blackberry would be to post a recipe for the classic cocktail the Bramble. The Bramble was invented by Dick Brandsell in the eighties and features a very simple and tasty combination of Gin, lemon and Creme de Mure. I have written about variations on the Bramble before, but maybe it’s time we visit the original recipe.
30ml lemon juice
20ml simple syrup
20ml Creme de Mure
Blackberries to garnish
Fill a glass with ice and add the Gin, lemon juice and simple syrup. Stir well. Add the Creme de Mure but refrain from stirring a second time. Garnish with fresh blackberries. I find they’re easier to fish out at the end if skewered on a toothpick. Find a comfortable chair and sip to your heart’s content!
Super easy , yes?
|Blackberry Mania! | Pie|
More blackberries! This time a beautiful blackberry, elderberry and brambly apple deep-dish pie.
This is perfect on cold evenings. I can attest that it is especially tasty when eaten while watching Dr Who. It’s also good for breakfast! If you’re
lazy energy efficient like me you can use store bought shortcrust pastry. If not, Epicurious has a super recipe for shortcrust pastry that you can use. You can try doing fancy latticework (My Kitchen Addiction has a really nifty how to) if you’re feeling brave. I like to cover my pie the normal way and add cut out pastry shapes on top. This recipe works fine in a normal pie dish, just cook for less.
Wild Deep-Dish Blackberry Pie
1 brambly apple
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup instant tapioca
400g shortcrust pastry
Pre heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Roll out your pastry and gently press into a greased 12 x 8 inch casserole dish. Grate the apple into a large bowl and add the juice, berries and sugar. Mix together and let sit for fifteen minutes. Mix in the tapioca and spoon the mixture into the casserole dish. Cover with more pastry; a normal pie crust or lattice crust or whatever you prefer. If you’re using a normal pie crust, be sure to cut vents so the steam can escape, or use a pie bird for extra credit! Bake in the oven for an hour, checking every fifteen minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Carefully slice and serve in bowls with dollops of cream or ice-cream.
|Blackberry Mania! | Jam|
I’ve discovered blackberries! They’re these saucy little berries that grow in abundance by the roadside this time of year. If like me you’re drawn toward the idea of relatively cheap and delicious food, and you’ve found yourself with a bucket load of blackberries then this recipe is for you!
Wild Blackberry + Elderberry Jam
600g granulated sugar
Old and squishy berries contain less pectin, which is the compound that reacts with sugar and heat to create jelly. Young berries contain heaps of pectin, but they can be hard and too tart to eat. Your best bet is to use berries that are just ripe. You can add extra pectin (easily bought from your local supermarket) if you’re not sure, or half a cup of fresh lemon juice will also help set a nice firm jam. The elderberries in this jam are optional. I added them for a bit of variety and because I had heaps left over from my last foray in the hedgerows.
Begin by sterilising your jars and lids. Make sure they are spotless and then let them sit in an oven at 70 degrees Celsius for about half an hour. Take them out just before you bottle your jam. You can also sterilise your jars by boiling them in a pan of hot water, microwaving them, or sticking them in the dishwasher on the steam cycle.
After picking your berries and cleaning them thoroughly in cold water, add them to a large non reactive pot (i.e. one that isn’t aluminium, copper or cast iron). A gas stovetop works well for this so you can quickly control the heat if it looks like things may bubble over. Bring the berries to boil. If you like, use a potato masher to crush the berries so your finished product isn’t so chunky. Personally, I like chunky jam :)
After boiling for ten minutes, lower the heat and add all of the sugar. Stir until dissolved.
Once the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat and boil rapidly for ten minutes. DO NOT stir mixture at all at this point. If it looks like the mixture may bubble over, gently turn down the heat and wait for the bubbles to subside before returning to the boil.
After ten minutes, test the jam to see if it is ready by spooning a small amount onto a cold plate. After about a minute or so a skin will form, letting you know that your jam has set. If not, keep boiling and test again every two minutes. Once set, turn off the heat and let the jam rest for fifteen minutes or so.
Decant the warm jam into sterilised jars using a sterilised ladle or a funnel. Cap straight away. The expansion and contraction of heat inside the jars will reactivate the safety seal on recycled jars. This recipe was enough to fill four 200ml jars with a bit left over.
Add nifty labels to your jars. There are heaps of label templates out there, but I prefer to doodle my own. Be sure to include the ingredients and the date it was made.
Give a few jars to friends and keep a few for yourself. A lovely reminder of sunny Autumn afternoons. Cheap too, these four jars cost me 60 pence in sugar and nothing else!
|Cocktail Hour | Tom Collins|
The Tom Collins hoax of 1874 is infamous. A friend would greet you and ask “Have you seen Tom Collins?” and then begin to relate all the horrible things that this gossiping Tom had been telling people about you. “He’s been trash-talking you all week! But wait a second, there’s a bar just around the corner that he likes to frequent! Let’s confront him!” As newspapers of the time chronicled, this lead to many young men frantically running around town, seeking to confront the slanderous Tom Collins as a matter of honour, and seeming to act foolish in the process.
The original Tom Collins recipe dates from 1876, just two years later. Bartenders have been christening their creations after inside-jokes ever since. The Collins is made with old fashioned lemonade mixed with gin and is usually served in a Collins glass. I like mine in a high-ball with a straw. Divine on a hot day.
Tradition calls for the juice from one ripe lemon. You can use less if like. I like to chop my lemons into quarters and muddle them in glass, but squeezing them with a citrus squeezer is perfectly alright.
Aha! Remember this? Add 15ml or more of simple syrup. Change your ratio of lemon to syrup to taste. Lemon cordial is also a delicious substitute.
Add the gin of your choosing. This time, it’s good old Tanqueray Ten which is ripe with citrus and blends with the lemon to make something truly heavenly.
Top up with soda water (or tonic if your feeling sour and sassy). The 1876 recipe calls for only two cubes of ice. I say bah humbug. If you want lots of ice, add lots of ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry if you like. I find they’re too sweet for my tastes and prefer a lively cocktail umbrella instead. These things cost $2 for a pack of 12 and they make life amazing. I promise.
So, have you seen Tom Collins?
|It’s Syrup, Simple!|
There are one or two amazing little liquor shops in my town that sell wondrous bottles of hand-crafted liqueurs and boutique wines. All of them also stock Gomme. Also known as sugar-syrup, or simple syrup, it’s a water and sugar mixture used to sweeten up cocktails. Whenever I pop in to one of these fanciful stores for something tasty, I always seem to briefly consider paying $8 for what is essentailly a bottle of sugar and water. Albeit, all natural organic hand-crafted traditional sugar-syrup. All the same, I am struck by the notion that for less that $2 I could make it at home.
But the thought of labouring over a stove melting sugar and water together and waiting for it to cool just seemed fraught with alchemical difficulties. Not to mention effort and time. Besides, you can get almost the same result with cordial – lemon, raspberry and elderflower have become some of my staples. If you don’t fancy making your own, Monin produce some positively delicious syrups; Kiwi, Cucumber, Green Apple and Lavender for instance!
Then in 2008 I went to a tequila tasting hosted by Brown-Forman where our guide showed us how to make sugar-syrup. It was so fricking simple! People, this is how the professionals do it. You don’t need a stove, or even hot water. For those of you, who like me, had no idea – here’s how:
Now go forth and enjoy all those sweet cocktails your soul has been yearning for!
|New Years Eve Feast|
I thought I’d post some of the photos from the rest of our NYE feast!
We started with mini tarts containing caramelised onion and heirloom baby tomatoes. The lovley Elle gave me the hint about using puff pastry with caramelised onions. These cute lil’ tarts went down a treat. (I’ve always wanted to say that!!)
The first course was battered zucchini florets. I stuffed these suckers with roast pumpkin and ricotta. Mmm.
Mr K decided to have lamb and bacon-wrapped tomatoes and mashed potato. He’s a big fan of roast meat of some kind with bacon-wrapped tomatoes and mashed potato. Especially if there’s gravy involved. The boccolini is just a garnish…
I opted to have potato gnocchi in sage butter. Sage leaves fried crispy in butter is the most amazing thing you will ever put in your mouth. I promise. I mashed up some roast pumpkin and added flour till it was workable. But these dumplings ended up being way to chewy. Gnocchi definitely needs potato to work. The sage was lovely though.
Dessert is the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Vegetarians don’t get to have jelly very often and so I thought I’d have a go at making the vegetarian-friendly kind. But it needed to be adult jelly. Not that cheap-tasting raspberry stuff. I mixed a bottle of sparkling white wine with half a cup of sugar, 80ml of Saint Germain, a quarter of a cup of raspberries and one large tablespoon of agar agar powder. The jelly was served chilled with lychees, raspberries and a Saint Germain, vanilla and ginger syrup. Oh yes.
What could be a better finish to our meal than a whisky tasting flight out of Mr K’s quaich? I was giddy by the time midnight rocked around. I wouldn’t spend my New Years Eve any other way!
|Cocktail Hour | Hendrick’s Gin Martini Amuse-Bouche|
We celebrated New Years with a fancy dinner party for two. I knew that I wanted to serve an Amuse-Bouche that had something to do with cucumber and thought that cute cucumber cups (like the ones made by Monika at Vegetarian Surprises) would do the job. But what would I fill them with? I made a simple chilled cucumber and dill soup that I thought I could serve in the cups. Maybe I could add some honeydew melon somewhere? But then we went to the bottle shop and I saw the miniature bottles of Hendrick’s Gin. I was more excited than any person has a right to be in public. A light bulb went off in my head. Why didn’t I see it before?!
Hendrick’s Martinis in Cucumber Cups
1 Lebanese cucumber
50ml Hendrick’s Gin
Honeydew melon to garnish
Cut the cucumber into 4cm rounds. Peel skin and scoop out flesh leaving a 1cm layer at the bottom. These keep in the refrigerator for a few hours if you want to make them ahead of time. If you’re using the 50ml Hendrick’s botttles, chill them in the fridge or freezer beforehand. Otherwise, shake or stir the Hendrick’s Gin with ice and pour into the cucumber cups. Add any aromatics, such as cocktail bitters or a dash of rosewater. To garnish, use a melon baller (I used a tiny measuring spoon) to scoop out little globes of honeydew melon and style on a toothpick, like you would with a martini olive. Enjoy!
They ended up being delicious! I served the chilled cucumber soup alongside the martinis. It made for a refreshing start to the meal.
Chilled Cucumber Soup
1 Lebanese cucumber
8 springs of dill
1 cup vegetable stock
Place everything in a food processor and blend till smooth. Strain through a muslin and serve chilled. Also makes a great base for savoury cocktails!
|Cocktail Hour | Champagne Cocktail|
My Grandfather used to work on a cruise ship. He said that when they made fancy Champagne cocktails for the first class passengers in the ship’s bar they would use cider instead of Champagne and no one could tell the difference! The traditional Champagne cocktail was garnished with a cherry or twist of lemon, but the orange works well, especially if you want to be fancy and add a dash of Cointreau or Grand Marnier.
I love Champagne cocktails, they’re the perfect way to spice up a bottle of cheap sparkling white wine. Here’s my no fuss four step recipe.