Back in the summer, I was sent a rather lovely looking bottle of Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin and asked if I would like to come up with a recipe for it to post here on my blog. I enthusiastically agreed (being a big gin lover AND a big rhubarb lover) but then life got in the way and SEVERAL polite reminder emails later, I found myself at Christmas and the bottle, still unopened. Thankfully, my brother has stepped in and heroically taken up the gin drinking, cocktail making mantle. I'll leave him to tell you the rest....
Meddling with the classics can be a risky business.
However, as the film director Baz Luhrmann showed in 1996 with his award-winning adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, and the car manufacturer Jaguar achieved in 2013 following the launch of the F-Type as a successor to a quintessential English sports car, its predecessor – the e-Type, experimentation is distinctly satisfying when the results are so warmly received.
Christmas in particular is a time when altering tradition can be viewed with disdain, however, then it was that upon receiving a bottle of Foxdenton Rhubarb Gin, I found myself challenged to create a delicious alternative to one of my all-time favourite drinks, a G&T.
I delved into some distant memories from working in a cocktail bar near Leeds while at university there (Suburban Style Bar in Horsforth if anyone knew it?!) – about ten years ago depressingly – and after giving the contents of my new bottle of mother’s rhubarb ruin a good sniff, decided to add two of my favourite cocktail ingredients…
After filling a (recently acquired) G&T glass (a collins glass would work equally well) with crushed ice, I poured in 70ml of the Foxdenton Rhubarb-y goodness, followed by half a 330ml can of ginger beer, a few dashes of Angostura bitters and garnished with a slice of orange.
The mixture needs a good stir, or better still, shaken over ice in a cocktail shaker before pouring over the crushed ice; and the result? A refreshingly punchy drink that works as comfortably post-Christmas dinner as it would on a summer’s evening, sat in the garden as the sun goes down.
All that’s left is to give it a name. The temptation is to be simple and go with ‘Rhubarb Gin and Ginger’ but for my money this lacks imagination. However, after drinking two or three of these, the mind’s not as sharp as it was, so I leave it to you, dear reader…send your suggestions on Twitter and mention @EatDrinkCookUK or add it to the EatDrinkCook Facebook page.
As long as I live, rock will never die.
Nick ‘the guest writer’ Nixon
Just the word ‘nibble’ fills me with a kind of girlish glee. I love the guilt free abandon of it all. Nothing that can be described as a ‘nibble’ can possibly be bad for you for goodness sake! Plus, nibbles tend to come in groups and I’m all for variety in my food. I love nuts for sure, but I also enjoy a good olive, perhaps some blini or even a crostini. Perhaps a Cheesy Prosciutto Puff?
So read on my little vol-au-vents and I shall share with you the secret (or now, not so secret) recipe for Cheesy Prosciutto Puffs (squeee!) They’re bite-sized pieces of puffy heaven that really pack a Mediterranean punch. Flaky pastry; as light as air, a slight tang of pesto with beautiful Prosciutto adding depth and Grana Padano cheese, an extra richness that makes them really elegant and completely indulgent.
I’m confident that you’ll want to make some of these little babies for your next summer gathering…and that your guests will thank you for it!
1 x 320 g packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
4 tbs pesto
1 pack of prosciutto
75 g grated Grana Padano Cheese
1 egg, beaten
I was recently sent some beautiful samples of Grana Padano cheese and Prosciutto di San Daniele. To be honest, they were both so good that very little would beat just eating them au naturel (no, I’m not being paid to say that – promise!) but that would have made for rather a dull post so I tried to come up with a recipe that would show off the beautiful flavours and allow them to compliment each other. I hope that’s what I’ve done… 🙂
I also had help from Mary Berry and her fantastic book Mary Berry Absolute Favourites, where her Cheesy Cheese Spirals gave me the idea for the recipe above.
What are your favourite summer party nibbles? Let me know in the comments below!
A friend of mine recently posted a picture on Facebook of their first BBQ of the year (yes, I’m looking at you Matt!) and I have to say, much as I love a good BBQ, I have found the weather a little too much on the chilly side to be tempted to the dust off the grill and fire-lighters just yet (and by that, of COURSE I mean, get hubby to dust off the grill and fire-lighters). That being said, I definitely feel like the season of outside eating is just around the corner, and it’s definitely not too early to start planning that first spring or summer BBQ with friends…or to start taste testing this fabulous Grapefruit Gin and Tonic Slushie to make sure it’s up to scratch. You’re such a good friend to care so much about getting it just right! 😉
Apart from the fact that it’s just more pleasant to eat a meal in the garden, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of birds singing in the trees; it also makes entertaining so much easier and somehow less formal. People can be ushered quickly through the house (before they notice you haven’t hoovered) and out into the garden, where you welcome them with a little drinky…
(I’m sorry. I had to. It was just too good).
…Which brings me to the purpose of this post. Assuming you’re not as brave as my friend Matt and you haven’t yet had your first BBQ of the year then I urge you to include these as an aperitif when you do.. They’re a (ahem) ‘citrus’ twist on an old classic and they’re both refreshing and just alcoholic enough to kick your afternoon or evening off with a pleasant buzz.
If you’re lucky enough to have an apple tree in your garden – or to have access to someone else’s then this time of year is generally filled with crumbles, pies and apple cake. Not a bad way to console yourself at the end of summer but occasionally, dare I say it? One feels the need for a bit of a change… After all, there are only so many crumbles and pies you can eat in a day. Personally, I draw the line at one of each but then I’ve always been a bit of a stickler.
The thing is, even a strict regime of a pie and crumble a day doesn’t even come close to diminishing the apple glut. Don’t get me wrong, of the gluts you could suffer, apples are probably one of the best, but it’s a glut that still needs tackling, and tackle it I will!
This spiced apple butter is rather wonderful. Firstly, there’s no need to peel the apples – a job I find quite therapeutic for the first apple or two but by number five or six, I must say it’s pretty tiresome.
Secondly, it’s a multi-purpose apple butter. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to cheese and biccies but can also be used in sweet treats such as apple tarts or turnovers.
Wait! Before you gasp in awe and reach for your preserving pan, there’s more! This sweet, sticky, spiced apple butter comes in jars and you all know the rule about food that comes in jars right?
“If it comes in a jar then it can be given as a gift.”
I’m sure that’s a Shakespeare quote … or perhaps it was Martha Stewart…
Anyhoo, I’ve heard a rumour that Christmas is just around the corner so it seems that this glut of apples, plus a recipe for them that can be put in jars and given as gifts might be rather handy?
I’ve got you covered buddy – check out the gourmet gift section of the blog 🙂
This is one of those wonderful recipes that is pure simplicity to prepare (with just 6 ingredients, how could it be anything else?), but absolutely full of flavour. It’s also a little bit different, which delights something in me which strives to be unpredictable.
‘Yes, Colette. It’s different and I don’t know when I’d ever really eat it…’
Aha! I thought I sensed you were a little unsure… let me put your mind at rest. There are loads of great ways to eat this gorgeous little pâté. You’ll soon wonder where it’s been all your life. 🙂
Once prepared, the smoked mackerel pâté can be popped into a jar and taken on a picnic to be served with crusty bread and a glass of crisp, cool white wine.
More for your picnic…. My Pesto, Chicken, Sweet Pepper & Mozarella Picnic Loaf
Why not use a pastry cutter to shape some little toast circles, then pop a teaspoonful of the pâté on top with a slice of cucumber or radish, for a delicious little nibble to serve with drinks?
The great thing is, that this is so easy to make, that you needn’t feel like you should only make it for a special occasion. Whip (pardon the pun) up a batch at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge. This makes a gorgeous lunch on the run, just slathered on a couple of slices of toast!
Alternative light lunch… Quick Quesadillas
Always on the lookout for healthy ways to snack? Something to swap for the bars of chocolate and the packets of crisps? Well, a little bit of smoked mackerel pâté with some chopped carrots and celery for dippin’ are just what you need!
You know those meals that are are really special? The ones you spend hours preparing but it’s totally worth it because they’re such a treat?
Well this isn’t one of those.
Instead, do you know those dishes which can be whipped up in a flash but when presented to your eager diners, will be met with ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaaahs’ and ‘how lovelys!’ The reason being that sometimes the food just speaks for itself. Sometimes, beautiful, fresh and perhaps unusual ingredients can make a dish just as special (if not more so), without the need for endless toiling.
Happy days dear readers! This recipe, is one of those.
You will need:
50 ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 tbs runny honey
1 tbs chopped fresh basil
1 stale small baguette, thinly sliced along the diagonal (approx 1/2 cm thick)
1 x 120 g soft, round goats cheese
3 small figs, finely sliced lengthways (you should get about 6 slices per fig)
Fruit teas, herbal teas and green teas are a bit like blue cheese, caviar and olives. I’m not comparing them taste-wise (although in the case of some green teas, I’m not sure that comparison would be far off the mark..) What I’m saying is, you feel like you really ought to like them because, well they’re super cool right? Only, try as you might, you just don’t get it.
(Actually, truth be told, I TOTALLY dig olives – not literally – they’re picked from trees dontcha know? … but you get the idea.)
Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about fruit teas, iced tea and all that malarky, which just isn’t British. We have our tea steaming hot and in a mug (or teacup) thank you very much. A teapot is preferred, a biscuit to dunk is a treat – and don’t get me started on when the milk should be added.… it’s a steaming hot topic and no mistake.
I briefly dabbled with mint tea just after the birth of my second son – but more because of its supposed ability to settle an upset tummy than because I thought it sounded particularly tasty. I must confess, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t awful. That’s as far as I’d go. Put it this way, I had my son in February 2014 and I haven’t managed to finish that box of tea bags yet…
More recently, a friend enticed me to try more of a spiced tea – with cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. It was pretty tasty. I haven’t finished that box either.
This year, I thought I’d have a go at making my own version – Peach and Strawberry Iced Tea. I mean, iced teas are a pretty big deal in a lot of places so there must be something to them right?
As it turns out – YES!
The first step was to make a Peach & Strawberry Syrup, which by the way, makes your whole house smell amazing so if your home is on the market, then the time to make this is just before you have people coming for a viewing. Guaranteed sale. 🙂
(Makes approx 700 ml)
2 peaches, chopped
200 g strawberries
200 g caster sugar (if you have vanilla sugar then use half this and half normal caster)
500 ml water
You will need
Strawberry Peach Cordial
I haven’t put amounts here – it really depends on whether you want to just make a glass for you or a jug. The basic directions are:
PS – I don’t own one (yet) but if I did, I would absolutely serve this Peach Tea in one of these amazing clear teapots!
The fantastic thing about the Strawberry Peach Cordial that you’ve just made is that it will keep in the fridge for a week or so and can also be used for these gorgeous drinks..
Just a splash of cordial at the bottom of the glass before pouring your Prosecco and hey presto 🙂
A great one for the kids this one. Just add sparkling water.
If you’ve enjoyed this post or this recipe then please do share it with your chums and let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
I’ve purposefully posted this on a Saturday because I just knew that as soon as you saw it, you’d want (no, need) to sample it immediately. Obviously, I don’t want you getting into trouble at work so I thought the weekend was best (apologies for those of you who work at weekends – tough times ahead for you guys!)
Peaches are at their absolute best at this time of the year. Full of sweetness and of chin-dribbling juice. So I’ve been taking full advantage of them while I can – I mean you could just turn one meal into a complete peach-fest! How about Chicken & Peach Tagine to start, Peach Tart for dessert and some of this Peach Punch to drink? Too much peach? I’m not sure that’s possible.
Before we dive into the recipe, I feel an explanation is in order for my glaring omission of the accent at the end of ‘Rose’ in the title. This wasn’t an editing error, I purposefully left it out because, although the base of the punch is rosé wine, the taste that I wanted to highlight was the delicate floral note of rose water. Too much and it becomes soapy, but just a smidge and it really adds something wonderful to the sweet peach and crisp wine.
Cloudy lemonade lightens the whole drink and makes it acceptable for daytime consumption without fear of falling asleep in a drunken heap by 5pm. Let’s not be this guy…
Now, I’m conscious that this may be a controversial subject. Many of you may already have a tried and tested recipe for Sangria and will be indignantly wondering who I think I am to be claiming the ‘perfect’ recipe. Let me just clarify right here, right now – this recipe is my perfect recipe but I don’t make any claims on the title of the perfect recipe…(although I’m fairly confident it’s pretty close…)
Sangria holds a special place in my heart. It takes me back to wonderful family holidays, staying with my Auntie and Uncle in Spain. Big jugs of it were made up as part of the pre-lunch preparations. Various nibbles would be set out and plastic garden cups assigned to all. Ah, that first, cool, sweet sip. Just pure bliss. Pure, summery, holiday bliss.
This is the Sangria that I was taught to make on those very holidays – there are no spirits and no chopped fruit (apart from oranges). It’s simple, refreshing and can be sipped gently all afternoon if one so desires, without too much danger of ill-affect!
By all means, feel free to add more chopped fruit or even spirits if you’re looking for more ‘buzz’ – but just know, none of that is necessary.
For this recipe, rather than using specific measurements, I’ve used proportional representation – that way, you can make it work for whatever size jug you’re using.
You will need:
1/3 red wine
2/3 cloudy lemonade
Super simple, super refreshing and super tasty – cheers! 🙂
Don’t you hate it when you’ve just snuggled down for the evening in your comfy clothes (or more often than not in may case, my pj’s) and the doorbell goes? It’s not so much being caught in my scruffs that I object to, it’s that I haven’t had the chance to make sure we have anything to offer in terms of libations and snacks.
This little 5 minute wonder is an absolute lifesaver! Just THREE ingredients stand between you and a fabulous little canapé to offer your grateful chums. By the time they’ve had the chance to shed their coats, nip to the loo and make themselves comfortable you will be standing triumphant with G&T’s in hand and a plate of delicious Sweet Chilli Prawns just begging to be skewered and scoffed.
I always keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer. They can be defrosted so quickly, by running under warm water, that they’re absolutely perfect for those times when you find yourself caught short with nothing left in the fridge. If you happen to have fresh prawns, then even better!
Sweet chilli sauce is another staple ingredient that I always try to keep in the cupboard. It serves as a great dip and also adds pep to those meals which turn out a little bland.
I keep a jar of sesame seeds in my spice cupboard – although I must confess, I don’t use them that often. They just add a little contrast in texture to this dish which is very pleasing – not to mention the toasty, nutty taste which compliments the prawns so well (let’s face it, we all love a bit of sesame prawn toast don’t we?)
The nigella seeds are an optional extra (which is why I didn’t formally include them as a fourth ingredient!). I love the peppery earthiness which they add, as well as the contrast in colour.
You will need:
(Serves 6 as a snack with drinks)
1 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 tbs nigella seeds
(if you don’t have these just use sesame)
100 ml sweet chilli dipping sauce
250 g king prawns (shelled)
(Serves 2 hungry people)
To turn the above canapé into a satisfying meal for 2 people (and more like 4 if you’re looking for a light lunch), just serve it with some sticky, dressed sushi rice. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions, and once it has cooled, fold in a mix of:
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs maldon salt