Saturday, 18 June 2016

Flavoured vodka/gin recipes

Rhubarb Vodka

1 litre Tesco standard vodka
400g rhubarb
20ml glycerine

Trim and cut the rhubarb into smallish pieces
Cook in the microwave until slightly soft
Put in a Kilner jar with the vodka and glycerine
Shake occasionally
Pass through a fine sieve (and ideally through a coffee filter, but mine wouldn't)
Chill and serve.

Made 12/6/16.  This froze in the freezer, probably due to the lower alcohol levels.  It was fine from the fridge though.  Delicious!
Chris tells me rhubarb gin is supposed to be excellent.  I will try it next.

Elderflower Vodka

20 or so heads of elderflowers
1 litre Tesco vodka
20ml glycerine

Cut the elderflowers just below the flowers
Put in a Kilner jar with the vodka and glycerine
**Make sure the flowers are submersed in the liquid**
Strain after 48 hours
Pass through a coffee filter
Store in and serve from the freezer

Apparently the best elderflowers are those with some buds on, picked on a sunny day.  Use a sweet-smelling tree, such as the one by the blackberries at the duck pond.
Some recipes say to wash the flowers but I think will get rid of too much flavour
I haven't tried it yet with the glycerine.  It was delicious without it.
Made 12/6/16: Excellent, very clear after using the coffee filter
NB: It's 18/6 and we have only really had one or two sunny days to pick the elderflowers.  They won't last long now.  Hopefully I can still make a second batch, otherwise I could try with dried flowers.

Rose Vodka (trial 1)

10g organic red rose petals
1 bottle Tesco vodka
20g glycerine

Put the rose petals and the vodka in a kilner jar for 10 days, shaking occasionally
Strain and pass through a coffee filter

15/6/16?: Put the rose petals in the vodka.  Remember to add glycerine later.
19/6 removed from vodka as all the colour had come out of the roses.

Blackberry, Sloe and Elderberry Vodka

Remember not to keep the blackberries in the vodka for too long or it goes brown and sludgy.  I would expect 10 days would be enough.  Sloes and elderberries can cope with longer.  They settle with time though and can then be filtered.

Other ones I've tried

Passion fruit (2 passion fruit, one bottle of vodka- 18/6/16. Sieve after about 2-4 days?)
Damson- same recipe as sloes.  Delicious- lovely colour and taste.
Gooseberry- very nice summer drink, especially from the freezer.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Southern Fried Chicken and Chips 11/10/14

This was my attempt at something like a KFC, based on various recipes I found in the Internet.

By the way, I was having a one day break from my usual low carb diet, hence having this extravagence.

Mock Kentucky Fried Chicken
1 kg chicken pieces (thighs, drumsticks, half breast portions)
3 tsps table salt
Enough cold water to cover the chicken
Trim the chicken of excess fat and put in the brine for at least 2 hours in the fridge.

[Some recipes use buttermilk for this stage.] 
Enough to oil fill the deep-fat fryer Put the deep-fat fryer to 160 degrees C
150g plain flour (use self-raising?)
1tsp Anglesey sea salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp mild smoked paprika
2 tbsp cornmeal (I used my roast potato mix)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsps smoked garlic granules
2 tsps onion granules (I didn't have these)
Mix the dry ingredients together.

When the chicken has soaked, dry off and toss in the dry ingredients.
2 eggs, beaten [in a bowl large enough to take the chicken] Toss the floured chicken pieces in the egg.
Toss the egged chicken pieces in the flour again.
Place on a rack whilst finishing off (you want as few loose bits as possible in the cooking oil).
[If there is enough egg and flour mix left over you could give them, or some of them, a third coating.] 

Cook the chicken in batches for around 16 minutes.  Don't overcook but make sure the core temperature is at least 75 degrees C.

Put the chicken pieces in a warm oven for a few minutes to cool down.

These were excellent, well worth doing again.

The brining is supposedly important for southern fried chicken, although some recipes suggested buttermilk was essential.

For the chips (serves 4):
Oil- enough to fill the deep-fat fryer (I slightly overfilled on purpose!) Heat the oil to 135 degrees C
1.2 kg maris pipers, cut in 1cm thick chips Cook the chips in the oil for about 10 minutes.  You don't want them to pick up any colour!

Raise the temperature to 190 degrees C.

Cook the chips for 4-5 mins.
Drain on kitchen roll, sprinkle with smoked Anglesey sea salt (or any old salt) and serve. 
I only cooked 800g, which was nowhere near enough for 4 of us.  For 5 I would do 1.5kg if I can get them into the fryer, or do more in two batches.

Served with peas, or peas and sweetcorn.

Sausage Curry (aka Sausage Casserole with Indian Spices) 10/10/14

It struck me that although we use all sorts of meat in curries, I have never had a sausage curry.  So on Friday night, after getting the family prepared for something radically different, that's what we had.

I based it on my standard recipe for curry, this time using a mixture of two Patak's curry pastes, because that's what I had in my fridge.  I never use curry sauces for curries, only curry pastes.

My curry recipe for 4 portions:

About 700g sausages (Tesco's traditional pork are very good), pricked and browned in a little oil or fat (I used duck fat becuase I had some in the fridge).

Once browned, transfer to a saucepan.

Fry a chopped onion to give a little colour.

After 4 mins or so add 1/2 a jar of Patak's curry paste (I was using up a mixture of Tikka and Korma but use whichever one you like- they are all great but are quite different- just make sure it's curry paste, definitely not curry sauce!) until you can really smell the spices (about 2 mins).

Add to the saucepan along with a can of coconut cream (higher fat content the better) and a small cauliflower in florets.

Simmer gently for 10 mins

After 10 mins add a handful or two of whole green beans (I use frozen ones) and simmer for another 10 mins until the veggies are only just cooked. 

Thicken slightly if needed (I use thickening granules sparingly but ground almonds but save on carbs and add to the flavour).

Serve with rice and the usual Indian accompaniments (eg naan brea/ chapattis and a raita).  My recipe for raita is Greek yog, chopped mint and cucumber- I add some ground cardamom to this as well.

I forgot that it will need a little thickening at the end. I use a minimal amount of thickening granules but there are lots of other ways too.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Perfect Rib of Beef, plus Beetroot and all the Trimmings 13/9/14

Saturday's meal was a lovely one rib of beef weighing 1.2kg with the bone in, to feed 6 of us.  I wanted to try this way of cooking the beef, which is unconventional but makes perfect sense and perfectd results, and makes cooking much easier even if you have to start much earlier.

So I also cooked some cocktail sausages, onion rings, beetroot and roast celeriac as well as Yorkshires to go with it.

The recipe for the beef I adapted from The Food Lab on Facebook:

  1. Heat the oven to 93C
  2. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper, ideally 12-24 hours before cooking.  This allows the salt to dissolve and the liquid to be reabsorbed deeper into the meat.  Better than just sprinkling it on the surface just before cooking.  Leave at room temperature for a few hours.
  3. Put the meat in the oven on a rack, fat uppermost, for 3-4 hours, until it reaches 49C (med rare), 57 (med).  [I cooked it to 53C which was perfect for me but slightly too little for some of the others.  Next time I would try 57C for a perfect medium.  1.2kg took about 3 hours to go from around 21C to 53C so expect a larger joint coming form the fridge to take much longer]
  4. Once up to heat, remove and tent tightly with foil.  [The temperature shouldn't carry on rising much- with my attempt it rose from 53 to 54, then dropped to 52 after an hour]. The recipe says to hold it like this for half an hour but I found an hour was fine.
  5. Increase oven temp to maximum (260-288C).
  6. When ready to serve, put the meat back in the oven, fat uppermost, for 6-10 mins. [I did 10 mins at 250C].  Alternatively you could brown it in a frying pan, I suppose.
  7. Carve and serve immediately.
Note- the beef was only one rib so I carved it along the grain as my knife was a bit blunt (!).  A bigger piece would have made it easier to carve across the grain.
The beauty of this way of cooking is that the meat is perfectly pink to exactly how you like it done all the way from just under the browned edge through to the middle.
One comment was that it wasn't as visually appealing. Because of the pieces of fat in the meat.  With rib you can remove the larger pieces of fat on carving, if it helps.

Roast beetroot
I also roasted some beetroot as an experiment.  Washed the whole beetroot, trimmed it to 1" at the top and fairly close at the bottom.  Tossed in oil an roasted for about 30 minutes.  I found it delicious but the children weren't so keen.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Deep-fried chips, chicken wings and celeriac chips 6-7/9/14

Having bought a deep-fat fryer, I thought I had better use it.

Home fried chips:

My first experiment was deep-fried chips, which we had with steak on Saturday night (6/9/14).  Quite straightforward- I cut 850g of maris pipers (at room temperature) into medium size chips, leaving the skin on, gave them a quick rinse and dried them with a tea towel.  This was to remove any excess starch and to minimise the water going into the oil.  (Apparently soaking them for a few hours is a good thing).

The frier took about 2 litres of oil- I used rapeseed.  I cooked the chips at 160°C for about 8 minutes, took them out, increased the temperature to 190°C whilst I cooked the steak and vegetables, cooking the chips for a further 8 minutes while the steak was resting.

The chips were absolutely delicious with Halen Môn sea salt from Anglesey, and were definitely enjoyed by everyone.  The best chips I have ever done :-)

I forgot to photograph them so here's a picture from the Web.

Next time I might have a go at Heston Blumenthal's triple-cooked chips.

Sunday night I had a go at chicken wings and celeriac chips.

Chicken wings:
I needed a recipe that didn't include flour, to fit in with my low-carb diet.  So I found this one that looked good at

Ingredients I used... Method
2 lb. chicken drumsticks 1kg chicken wings, each separated into 2 and tips removed (and fed to the dog)  Place the raw chicken in a large bowl.
1-2 teaspoon minced garlic
1-2 teaspoon minced onion
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon seasoning mix (Magic Sarap)
1 egg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tbsp minced garlic and ginger
1 tablespoon Hendersons relish
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Anglesey sea salt
1 tbsp Dunn's River All Purpose Seasoning
1 egg
1 tablespoon cornflour
Add the garlic, onion, oyster sauce, black pepper, salt, seasoning mix, egg, and cornstarch. Stir until the chicken is evenly coated.
1-2 cups oil for frying c. 2 litres rapeseed oil -Heat oil in a large pot (deep fat fryer) over medium heat (to 190°C).
-When hot, drop the chicken wings, one piece at a time, in the oil.
-Fry the chicken until the skin is golden brown and crispy (I cooked them for 6-7mins).
-I cooked these in two batches.

These were very popular, particularly with George.  Next time I might try cooking the chicken for longer at a lower temperature, but these were lovely and moist inside, with crispy skin.

The original recipe was to shallow-fry these in 2 cups of oil for about 20 minutes.

I served these alongside a roast chicken with delicious roast spuds (maris pipers, boiled for 15 mins, tossed in goose fat and my polenta mix and roasted at 210°C for about an hour), my carrots and sweetheart cabbage:

Celeriac chips:

This was an experiment. I didn't give myself enough time to follow this recipe so had to adapt it:

Original recipe
1 large celeriac
2 garlic cloves, peeled
A few sprigs fresh thyme
A generous pinch of sea salt
500ml melted duck fat
Groundnut oil, for deep-frying

Now confit the celeriac for the chips. Cut off the top and base of the celeriac, then slice off the skin, following the curve of the root (you want to cut beneath the natural inner layer that surrounds the vegetable), and cut the flesh into 1cm-thick chips. Place the chips in a small pan and add the garlic, thyme and salt. Pour over the melted duck fat to cover and lay a crumpled piece of greaseproof paper on top. Place the pan over a low heat and simmer slowly for 12-15 minutes, until the celeriac is tender. Drain the celeriac (once cool, reserve the fat for roasting spuds or something another day), lay on a tray lined with kitchen paper and leave to cool.

When you're ready to cook, heat the groundnut oil in a deep-fat fryer or other suitable deep, heavy pan to 180C (if you don't have a thermometer, that's the temperature when a small piece of bread dropped into the hot oil will sizzle vigorously). In several batches, deep-fry the celeriac chips for a few minutes until they are evenly golden brown and crisp on the outside. Remove, drain on a tray lined with kitchen paper, sprinkle with a little salt and keep warm while you cook the fish.

My version:
Time was short so I cut the celeriac into chips and boiled them for about ten minutes until softish.
I let them dry off and deep-fried them at 190°C for about 8 minutes or so until seemingly crispy.

Mine were good but they did lose their crispness very quickly.  Next time I would cook them for longer and serve them straight away.  I would like to give the above recipe a go though.

World Cup Final- Germany v Argentina 13/7/14

So for the World Cup final I cooked Bratwurst, German Fried Potatoes and (Argentinian) Grilled Vegetables.

Bratwurst was from Tesco.  Instructions said to grill or fry but I had to cook them in the oven due to grill capacity.

Grilled Vegetables: Remarkably similar to the oven roast veggies I frequently cook.  I'm not really sure what made them Argentinian.

German-Style Fried Potatoes (from

Ingredients (I did about half this):
4 pounds unpeeled medium-size red-skinned potatoes
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons malt vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons lard, rendered bacon fat, or olive oil, divided
Coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons lager beer, divided
2 1/2 cups finely chopped red onions, divided
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives or green onions (green parts only)


Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender when pierced with sharp knife, about 25 minutes. Drain. Refrigerate potatoes overnight.

Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes (do not peel). Whisk oil, vinegar, and mustard in small bowl to blend for vinaigrette. Heat 3 tablespoons lard in each of 2 large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat. Add half of potatoes to each skillet; sprinkle with coarse salt. Sauté until potatoes begin to brown, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons beer, then 1 1/4 cups red onions to potatoes in each skillet; cook until beer evaporates, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and sauté until potatoes are brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Pour half of vinaigrette over potatoes in each skillet and toss to coat. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer all potatoes to large bowl. Sprinkle with chives.

These were quite nice but I'm not sure they were worth the effort.  Germany should have won 2-1 (Bratwurst and potatoes v grilled veggies) but 1-0 was close enough to my culinary prediction for me to be happy.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Venison steaks. Yum 11/6/14

Venison leg steaks- marinated in Olive oil, garlic, umami paste, crushed juniper berries and coriander seeds, plus ground chocolate and chilli. Steaks cooked on high for 2 mins either side, then buttered and rested for c.15 mins.  The thicker bits were nicely pink but the thinner ones less so. Delicious though, and even H asked for more.

Redcurrant sauce

Garlic mushrooms with Creme fraiche.

Buttered jerseys

Salad: iceberg, a coarsely chopped celery stalk, a coarsely-chopped orange pepper, mixed sprouting sprouts (?) and Tesco Caesar salad.

I had all but the spuds and redcurrant. Absolutely delicious!!