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Rosehip Wine

Ingredients

1 cup of fresh rose hips

1 cup  of sugar

1 tablespoonful of rose syrup

one tea bag

1 tsp powdered bakers yeast

1 screw top wine bottle

Rinse and drain the hips. Chop off the hairy end and any excessive stalk. Add a tea bag to a wine sized bottle then add the rosehips the rose syrup and the yeast. Fill almost to the top with boiling water and pour in the sugar using a jug and the rose syrup. Put the top to one side as you will need it later and support two straws in place in the mouth of the bottle with sellotape or electricians tape so the gas can escape. Move the bottle daily to agitate the contents and watch the fermentation (you can smell the gas leaving the straws!)

When you are sure fermentation has finished after 2/4 weeks  (the liquid should be almost clear) take out the rosehips and the teabag, top up the bottle with boiling water and another tablespoon of rose syrup and repeat with the straws.  When fermentation is complete (no more bubbles and a clearish liquid strain the remaining liquid through muslin and bottle – fill right to the top leaving an airlock of no more than a centimetre and close securely.  I like to add a layer of cling film under the closure if I am using recycled bottles for extra cleanliness and a secure fit. 

Tips Encase the bottle loosely in a poly bag &  place inside a box so that if fermentation has not finished and there is an explosion the mess and glass is contained.

If using recycled bottles ensure they are sterilised by adding a small amount of water to the bottom and then heating in a a microwave until it boils and forms steam or use Milton baby bottle sterilising fluid.

This is a basic recipe and will result in a palatable alcoholic drink. For more sophistication and a smoother taste refer to the many recipes on line that require a more complex process and more ingredients.

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Wild Walnuts infused with Coffee and Whisky

Wild Walnuts Infused with Coffee and Whisky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

200g Walnuts

50g butter

100g brown sugar

1 cup good quality Apple juice

½ pint Coffee (I use Paddy & Scott’s) and Adnams Broadside Liquer

 

Method

Soak the walnuts overnight in apple juice (just enough to cover the walnuts). This will help to leave a sweet flavour. Drain.

Put 50g of butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and melt gently, then add 100g of brown sugar and cook until caramelising. Add the walnuts and move them briskly around the pan to coat thoroughly.  Make up ½ pint of coffee in a  cafetiere and add some Adnams Broadside liquer to taste.  Add to the pan and cook for 5 minutes  and then bottle in a kilner jar.

Keep in the fridge for up to a month.

To serve the walnuts individually take out, drain, dry and dust with sugar.  Otherwise use the walnuts and the liquid over a plain sponge, over ice cream.

 

 

Rosehip Liquer

Rose hips come from bushes that have thorns so ensure you wear a good thick pair of gardening gloves when picking them!

Ingredients

One 70 cl bottle of vodka (remove 1/3) For a more old fashioned recipe swap vodka for brandy.

175ml wine glass full of rose hips

175ml wine glass of sugar 50/50 of muscovado and caster.

1 cinnamon stick.

1 tablespoon of Rose hip Syrup.

Peel of 1 lemon.

Method

Wash and clean the rose hips, (I do not top and tail them but I do avoid any fruit going into the glass when serving. If you do like the fruit in the glass then top and tail).  Mix with a tablespoon of caster sugar and let them stand in cold place over night.

The next day add the rose hips, sugar, cinnamon stick, and lemon peel to the vodka. (or brandy if using). For a more intense colour add the rose hip syrup (available from most Indian deli’s).

Remember to make sure the rose hips are fully covered otherwise they will ferment. Allow room for shaking.

Leave out in a sunny spot in the kitchen and shake every day for a fortnight then place in a cupboard and leave to mature for 4 weeks before  –  or it can be left for up to 6 months.  Check regularly and top up if necessary.

Dinner Party Jellies

Ingredients

1 x 135 packet Lemon Jelly

8 tbsps Rose hip Liquer

Method

Make up the jelly as per packet instructions but with 80ml less water.  If you have some blackberries or elderberries you could add to the mix for a sharper flavour and more distinct colour. Stir in the rose hip liquer and pour into 4 glasses.

Leave to set overnight in the fridge.

Serve with a dollop of thick cream.

For a savoury treat make up the jelly as above and serve with a sweetcure Suffolk ham. I prefer to go to the Suffolk Food hall and ask the wonderfully knowledgable Butchers for their recommendations.

Forager’s Mushroom and Beer Pate

Ingredients

3 cups of roughly chopped mushrooms

½ cup Adnams Gunhill Beer

1 cup of onions (fried in butter until slightly caramalised)

1/4 cup of coriander or herbs of choice

Tablespoonful of capers

Cream cheese

Beetroot slices (pink are my favourite from Home Farm Nacton)

Method

Lay the beetroot slices in a dish, spray with a generous amount of water, put a plate over the top and cook for a couple of minutes (adjust as required) just until they lose the fibrous texture but are not soft.

Fry the onions and set aside.

Put the chopped mushrooms in a microwave proof bowl and add 3 tablespoons of beer.

Put a plate over the top and microwave and cook the mushrooms.

Drain off the excess liquid.

Add the onions to the bowl and half the herbs and half the capers.

Blend with a hand blender to a rough texture (not smooth).

An hour before serving (do not do it too far in advance otherwise the pate takes on a “dull dirty” appearance use a spoon to fold in the cream cheese and the rest of the herbs and capers (reserve a small amount for decoration).

To serve – lay a beetroot slice on each plate and season with sea salt (if you prefer more flavour spray them with a little balsamic). Add mushroom pate on top and finish with a few capers and herbs. Use balsamic glaze in strokes on the plate.

Serve with artisan bread (I always serve the Suffolk trencher) from the Woodbridge cake shop.

1940’s Thrifty Fruit Cake

I adapted this recipe for my cooking demonstration at this years Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival. Based on a 1940’s fruit cake recipe – usually made at Christmas time during WWII when supplies were rationed and not available for regular types of fruit cakes.

Of course they would not have had the luxury of soaking the raisins in cider or the seed mix but I used it to add more flavour and consistency to the cake.

Ingredients

1 cup seedless raisins

½ cup windfall plums (chopped).

2 cups Aspalls Premier Cru Cyder (You can use water if preferred).

½ cup Hill Farm extra virgin Rapeseed Oil (Vegetable oil works well too).

1 ¾ cups Flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1 tsp Nutmeg

1 cup Sugar

1tsp Cinnamon

½ tsp Salt

½ cup Munchy original or omega sprinkle seed mix

1 x egg beaten

Method

Set the oven to 160 oC.  Place the raisins and the cider into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the Rapeseed oil and allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Sift all the dry ingredients together and add to the pan . Stir in the chopped plums and the seed mix. Finally add the beaten egg.

Pour into 2 greased loaf tins and bake for 45mins – 1 hour

Boost your Health with Brassicas

Brassicas are vegetables containing a powerhouse of immune boosting nutrients. In recent years they have undergone close scientific research and revealed special compounds known as glucosinolates that trigger detoxifying enzymes to help eliminate carcinogens. They are also antiviral, antibacterial and are natural weapons against disease. Their properties can enrich the blood and remove drug and other toxic deposits from the body. To get the broadest of health benefits choose differing colour vegetables as this naturally represents a wider variety of nutrients.

Some of the more readily available brassicas include:

Cabbages, Cauliflowers, Kale, Broccoli (including Tender Stem and Calabrese), Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Pak Choi, Mustard, Cress, Radish, Kohlabi, Horseradish and Wasabi.

They don’t just have to be plain boiled additions to a traditional meal. Soups, salads and stir frys are ideal for all of the above.

Red Cabbage Winter Salad

Mix red cabbage with walnuts, chopped fennel, apples and grated celeriac. Cider vinegar, freshly squeezed orange juice, honey and any available fresh herbs make a delicious oil free dressing for the salad. For a further low-fat health boost you could also add protein rich legumes, grains and nuts or even quinoa (a high protein grain similar to rice containing all 8 essential amino acids).

Cruciferous Coleslaw

Mix together different varieties of chopped cabbage (red, white, savoy and chinese) and add some raw brussels sprouts, turnips, pak choi and thinly sliced kohlrabi including the leaves. For extra kick add some grated ginger and horseradish. For the dressing use extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. This is great served with cold smoked salmon or mackerel – both high in Omega 3.

Chinese Stir Fry

All the brassicas can be used to make a flavoursome stir fry. All chopped peppers and spring onions for a vitamin C boost. Heat some light olive oil or a few drops of sesame oil in a wok or non stick frying pan and when very hot add all the chosen vegetables at once. Fry for a few minutes making sure you keep stirring to avoid burning the vegetables and to give them an all round flavour. Next add some dark soy sauce. There is no need to add salt or any other seasonings. Cook for a maximum of 3 minutes to ensure that the dish retains a healthy crispness in the vegetables. Best served with chicken breasts that have been steamed, or poached in low-fat coconut milk and spices such as coriander and lemon grass.

Hearty Warming Dishes

Try and substitute family favourites with the more unusual brassicas. Instead of potatoes for bubble and squeak try turnip and kohlrabi and try it with kale and brussels sprouts. When the vegetables are cooked and combined add a pinch of nutmeg and an egg. Once fried sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Goes well with Italian salami and fresh cherry tomatoes.

Brassicas can reward you with some amazing and versatile meals. It’s about time they left the ‘meat and two veg’ category and stepped into the Super Food status! Enjoy!

Nettles

The person responsible for the misconception that stinging nettle was brought into this country by the Romans lies at the feet of a man called Camden who in the 16th Century produced a book on the history of England called Britannia. In which he says… ‘ The Romans brought seeds to the nettles to which they sting themselves to keep themselves warm.’

That seems to have translated over the years into all nettles seem to have been brought by the Romans into this country. It is not true because deposits of stinging nettle have been found in archaelogical contexts going back thousands of years.

We have nothing written or handed down to us that goes beyond the Anglo Saxon period. About 1100 AD there is the first insight into the written material about stinging nettle being used as food.

At 1150 Hildegard Von Bingen writes about nettles being excellent food for humans. They continue being used right up to the 1700’s where there are references to gruel to which nettles are added and actually being quite well known as food.

In the 1870’s in Lancashire there were nettles sold in markets for use in making beer and for making nettle porridge. In Northern Italy nettles are sold in markets for human consumption and some cultures use nettles on a regular basis like spinach.

Until the start of the 20th Century nettles were valuable food in institutions. In two work house manuals, one from 1911 and the other from 1913, both mention nettles as a food source for the work house inmates. Arguably this is where the nettle stigma orginates. If work house inmates were eating nettles at the beginning of the 20th Century then they were considered poor man’s food.

In Hans Andersons fairy-tale of the Princess and the Eleven Swans, the coats she wove for them were made of nettles. Indeed nettle fibres, like hemp and flax have been used for textiles. A quaint old superstition exited that a fever could be dispelled by plucking a Nettle up by its roots, reciting thereby the names of the sick man and also the names of his family. Called “wergulu” in old Wessex in the tenth century, nettle was one of the nine sacred herbs, along with mugwort, plantain, watercress, chamomile, crab apple, chervil, and fennel.

 

FACTS ABOUT NETTLES:

  • Flies dislike nettles and a bunch of them hung by the door will keep them out.
  • Nettles are high in Boron. The Rheumatoid Disease Foundation recommends getting 3 milligrams of Boron per day.
  • Replace coffee, tea and sodas with nourishing herbal teas, especially stinging nettle, oat straw and comfrey.
  • Leftover nettle tea also makes nutritious houseplant water and leaves or dregs can be sprinkled on potted plant soil to boost mineral content.
  • Finely crushed dried nettles can be used in place of dried parsley for adding enlivening colour to soups, stews or any dish calling for a sprinkle of greenery.
  • Strongly brewed nettle tea and powered plant are noted for having power to stop haemorraging, internal bleeding and excessive flow from wounds and cuts.

 

USING NETTLES FOR COOKING:

Alternative to Spinach

Gather a  big colander of nettle tops. Sweat with a little butter, pepper and nutmeg. Or cook with garlic, leeks, butter and cream. Simple, and just as good as spinach.

Nettle Omelette

Blanch and roughly chop up the nettle tops. Finely chop some wild garlic leaves if you have some. Grate a small amount of parmesan cheese. Briefly whip some free-range eggs, make an omelette in the usual way. Then while the omelette’s centre is still cooking away, fold in the nettles, garlic leaves and cheese.

 

Nettle Soup

Roughly chop two onions, fry them gently in olive oil in a large saucepan. Add a clove of crushed garlic, a couple of spuds (diced) and a litre of water. You could use a veg or chicken stock for extra richness, but plain water will do.

Boil slowly until the potatoes are soft, add a generous bowl of nettle leaves, boil for another 10 minutes.

Add a glug of cream or milk, then blitz in a liquidiser to the smoothness you prefer – perhaps with a bit of raw parsley to give a vivid green colour. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

You could also try adding some blanched and chopped nettles towards the end of a stew or fish chowder.