Delicious mixed with pasta, stirred into a plain risotto at the end of cooking, topping a bowl of summer minestrone soup, or layered inside a lasagne with ricotta. It keeps for a week in the fridge in a jar covered with a layer of olive oil. Or freeze it in little plastic tubs. I always have some ready to defrost quickly for an easy pasta ‘n’ pesto dinner – so much nicer than the pasteurised shop-bought jars.
Such a classic English drink – it has to stay in imperial measures! Make this in May or June when elderflowers are at their peak. Pick on a sunny day in the morning and be fussy – you only want pleasant-smelling and perfect sprays, without a whiff of decay.
Recipes vary when it comes to the temperature of the water – some infuse in cold water and others in boiled; some then take the strained cordial to a boil and others don’t. Clearly, the more you heat the cordial the better it will be preserved, but in my experience boiling the cordial also affects the flavour. So below is my compromise version. It should keep perfectly well for a few weeks if not months. To keep it longer, transfer to plastic bottles or tubs and freeze.
This cake is so easy – you can throw it together in ten minutes. It always goes down really well when we make it in cooking classes. Rhubarb, orange and yoghurt make a delicious combination. But you could omit the orange flower water, or substitute rose water, or just use vanilla. Enjoy the cake warm or cold, at tea time or for dessert. It pairs beautifully with a dollop of creamy yoghurt. The recipe is adapted from one by Leanne Kitchen.
This recipe is just a guide – use whichever vegetables you have to hand and dressing quantities that suit your taste. This is a great way to use up those winter veg that might otherwise hang around in the fridge too long, and keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. Eating them raw makes a refreshing change, too. The rainbow colours are pretty, and the salad looks stunning served in a bowl lined with the beautiful outer leaves of a large January King cabbage, which are sea green fringed with purple.
My mother sent me her favourite pea soup recipe in time for one of my Secret Kitchen dinners, assuring me everyone would adore it. I played with it just a bit, and the result was absolutely delicious. Thank you mum!
If you’re making your own vegetable stock – simmer chopped carrots, onions, leeks and celery with bay leaves, parsley stalks, a sprig of thyme, several peppercorns and a pinch of salt for an hour or more until its flavour has really developed.
You can serve this soup hot or chilled. I like it chilled, in early summer when English peas are in season. Buy a big bag, find a friend, pour yourselves big G&Ts, and get podding. (Add the pods to the stock pot.)
If you can’t quite get round to the four-day process that is elderflower cordial or champagne, let alone deal with all those buckets and bottles, then this quick elderflower recipe might be for you. Elderflowers can be consumed whole, as they are, after a brief encounter with some batter and some hot oil.
This recipe is adapted from John Wright, the River Cottage forager. It seems like it must be difficult and prone to problems, and half-way through you won’t believe it’ll ever work, but have faith – the final product will come good and taste remarkably elderflowery.
Perhaps this should be ‘California Christmas cake’, due to the inclusion of apricots, dates and macadamias. You don’t have to use them – you can substitute pretty much any dried fruit and nuts you like. These ones worked for me, but maybe because I ate it in a log cabin near Lake Tahoe after inching my way down the freezing ski slopes. The use of two whole bottles of sherry, however, seems very British, and should work anywhere.