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.
I’ve been meaning to post this recipe since before Christmas but I kept making it and then eating it all before I remembered to take a photo!
It’s one of those magical dishes which requires minimum preparation (if you can even call chucking all the ingredients into your slow cooker and giving them a quick stir, ‘preparation’) but which, when left for a few hours of gentle heating, transforms into something so special, so truly treatsome (yes, that’s a word!) that it both comforts and revives at the end of a wearisome day.
Imagine yourself outside your front door. It’s dark. It’s freezing. I mean freezing. You’ve been rushed off your feet all day and you think you can feel the first signs of a cold. What’s worse, you can’t find your keys. You’re scrabbling about in your bag but it’s too dark to see anything properly and your hands are so numb you can’t make your fingers work.
After what feels like about an hour of bag scrabbling, you finally find the elusive keys and put them triumphantly into the lock. One quick turn and you’re in.
Suddenly, the cold of the day is behind you. The warmth of your home greets you like the welcoming smile of an old friend and the smell? Well, the smell of tender beef, red wine and rosemary fills your nostrils and drives out the tiredness, the cold and the problems of the day.
All that’s left to do is to grab yourself a bowl and greedily ladle it in. Then settle into your favourite chair and with a big sigh, enjoy….
Try these for size…
I’ve always loved the Crispy Seaweed that you get at the Chinese. I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty along with that satisfying crunch – plus hey, it’s one of your five a day right? So when I recently discovered that, for the most part, it isn’t actually seaweed at all, but rather, cabbage or kale, I’ve got to say I felt a bit let down.
Once I got over my initial indignation, I realised that this could actually be a good thing! It meant I could recreate one of my favourite takeaway treats in my very own kitchen (without having to take a trip to the beach first…)
Now the good thing about this dish (other than the whole ‘no need for waders’ thing above and aside from the fact that it’s bloomin’ tasty) is that it’s unbelievably easy to make. You are no more than 10 minutes away from tucking into a mound of sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will…
For the fish, I use my George Foreman grill, thanks to my lovely Mother-in-Law who recently served us some perfectly cooked salmon using her’s and so inspired me to dig mine out of a cupboard and dust it off after months (ok, years…) of neglect. If you don’t have one, then a frying or griddle pan will do just fine.
The great thing about flapjacks is that despite the fact that they’re clearly a yummy little treat; sweet and gooey like a slice of cake, they’re made from oats and so they somehow seem really rather healthy. To be clear, I’m not saying that they are (in fact, to do so would be to completely ignore the artery clogging amounts of butter and the tooth rotting levels of sugar and syrup..) – but it’s certainly easier to maintain the illusion with flapjack than with a big slab of chocolate cake.
Apple flapjacks are frankly even more virtuous. They’ve got one of your five a day in them for goodness sakes! They’re practically a health food. So what I’m saying is, in this month of over-indulgence, these flapjacks are a little something which you can enjoy without too much guilt. It’s nearly Christmas after all!
Gotta taste for apples? I’m here for you…
This recipe is a slightly more grown-up, much tastier and healthier version of the kids classic, chicken nuggets and chips. It’s for those days when you yearn for childish food. You want something simple and comforting. Something that can be eaten with your fingers, dipped into your condiment of choice and happily scoffed with guilt-free abandon.
Pretty perfect as it is, but add the tiniest hint of rosemary and the occasional hit of chilli and suddenly this crispy baked chicken gets even more exciting. Oh, an one more thing. This is baked chicken so you get all of the crunch but none of the grease!
Fan of Crispy Chicken? Try this too…
Now as you know, I’m certainly not one to be bossy, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of making this rather fabulous crispy chicken, then it seems a shame not to enjoy it with its natural bedfellow, the gorgeously gooey sweet potato fry (or rather, a whole bowl for them if possible).
You know that saying about how dogs start to look like their owners? Well, have you ever noticed that foods often tend to look like the seasons they belong to?
Not sure what I’m on about? Stay with me for a second… Think about the foods that you eat in summer. Vibrant, bright colours that match the world around them. Watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes…
See what I mean? Well in autumn, the season of golds, coppers and orange, the food very kindly obliges again. Butternut squash, sweet potato and pumpkin all reflecting this cold season of warm, burnished colours.
This recipe is a celebration of some of my favourite autumn foods. It’s actually inspired by Delia’s Special Cottage Pie from her Complete Cookery Course but with a few seasonal twists which add a subtle, but oh-so comforting sweetness.
You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sunshine all day and you feel all glowing and full of life? It can be hard to recreate that at this time of year. The combination of grey skies, dark mornings and rainy days can leave you feeling pretty lack lustre and, if things get really bad, downright depressed.
That’s when I turn to food for a spot of comfort. I’m not talking cakes and chocolate here (although I certainly wouldn’t discount them!) No, instead, why not try to replace what’s missing in sunshine and vitamin D with food that fills you with goodness and warmth on the inside?
This Chicken and Vegetable Broth is full to the brim with wholesome comfort and goodness. A steaming bowlful slurped with a hunk of crusty bread, a good book and if possible, some sort of roaring fire, cannot fail to give you that glow of satisfaction that’s so often missing around this time of year.
For more words of wisdom regarding comfort food try this…
PS – I’m currently lucky enough to be on hols in the very lovely village of Ringstead in Norfolk and can confirm that a brisk walk along the beach is another great way to get a healthy, happy glow. Said walk, followed by this Broth is pretty close to perfect.
This isn’t a recipe to attempt after work when the evening is rushed and full of chores to complete. Make this instead on those luxuriously relaxed weekends where you can afford to spend some equally luxuriously relaxed time in the kitchen.
I recommend some music (Michael Bublé is my personal favourite for this sort of activity), a mug of tea or coffee (to be substituted with a glass of wine if it’s past midday) and a couple of hours of blissfully free time to spend happily slicing, rolling and whisking…
The result? This golden, autumnal beauty! A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley. The recipe is for 6-8 people because if you’re going to put all that effort in, then you may as well make something which will serve a crowd or last for a couple of sittings!
If you love smoked haddock, then why not try my Smoked Haddock & Prawn Chowder too?