Archive | Cocktail

Whisky Sour Recipe

 when Christmas was cancelled …

Besides the finger numbing painfully cold weather, I love being in Scotland around the start of the year as the Scots really know how to celebrate.  Not only do they bring in the New Year, or Hogmanay as it is called there, with great style but only a few short weeks later they are back partying hard celebrating the life and works of their most famous poet, Robert Burns. These events obviously all require copious amounts of whisky which is why this postcard recipe shows you how to make the most stupendous whisky sour cocktail.  Perfect to start your evening in style or for when you can’t drink any more neat.

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Recipe | Rum, Rye and clementine sour

The spirits of Christmas…

Did you have a very merry Christmas? I do hope so. Mine was spent nestled in Dorset trying to work my way through a leg of local ham, a fridge filled with cheese, the House of Cards box set and my favourite Gin. All of which I did exceedingly well. I am however a firm believer in the importance and benefit of a balanced diet so I also consumed a lot of clementine’s and winter kale. I admit one of which mostly in cocktails…no doubt you can guess which.  Although you never know as alarmingly on a recent visit to a bar  in London and they tried to convince me their avocado margarita was the next best thing.

Balancing out the cutthroat viciousness of Washington politics I also binged on a large helping of Nigellas cooking shows. I tell you, that woman uses almost as much butter as me!

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Recipe | Watermelon Daiquiri

Water, water everywhere, and plenty drops to drink.

Doping, prima donna like behaviour, wild drunken nights out and faking injuries aside I am always totally in ore of what training and lifestyles sports people put themselves through. (I feel free to say this as I have very few sports clients – even less after this blog post…).

One of my latest jobs took me to Toulouse then across towards the Pyrenees to cook for a group who thought it would be fun in their spare time to cycle three cols of the Pyrenees, part of the cycle route of Tour de France. Yes that’s the really tough looking steep rocky mountain parts, super tough and even more so in the heat. Again I was totally impressed though totally unmoved to try anything like that myself. My challenge was to keep them well-fed and watered pre, during and post cycle … which is not without its logistical challenges and also requires stamina and much planning.

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Recipe | Christmas Champagne Cocktail

Jingle Belles

Armed with my lists, menus, timings, recipes, dietary requirement sheets and suitcase of red aprons I was totally ready for this job. Five days of feasting and festivities for 20 people heading to the ice blue skies and rustic, rural, rolling landscape of South west France.   I was prepared for the fast and furious few days I knew it was going to be but the one big problem was… there was no one there to pick me out from Toulouse airport.

I rang the number of the contact I was given and was told by a grumpy French man that I had the wrong one. Texting base to enquire a bit more about who I was looking out for I was told he was very French, medium height, suave looking and around 50. Looking around arrivals there were about twenty men who fitted this description (worse case scenario I guess I could have gone round them all to see if they were waiting for a chef sent to cook Christmas dinner but I deduced this probably wasn’t wise).

“There are about 20 of those !” I texted back.

“….. he is afraid of cows, you could try mooing ?”

“mmmm… I think not…” maybe I will start asking.

Spared at the eleventh hour by a text with his exact location with suitcase in tow  I speedily wheeled my way to meet him. First part of the mission accomplished we now had to go and do the big shop. He cheerfully told me that he had never had to shop in his life before and under no circumstance was I to tell his wife about what I was about to make him do.

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Ignoring his raised brow and tuting at my insistence at getting two massive trollies I boldly strode into the supermarket to start my Dasher round… There would be no time for shopping once the job had begun so it all had to be got now and I knew that would take at least two and a half hours. Realising I had to keep him sweet if we were to survive this ordeal I sent him off to choose some wine for mulling and charcuterie and cheese. I was greatly relived that by the time we had got to the end of the list and had successfully negotiated the check out that  patience and moral was still intact (mine, his, the cashiers and other shoppers – waiting for multiple over flowing trollies to check out for some reason in France is really not appreciated). Car jammed full we headed back to base to get cracking.

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As it was to be a big weekend communication was of up most importance so we set up the ‘Jingle belle’ messaging logistics and action team. Our Jingle Belle leader had gone impressively all out with sourcing Christmas decorations. Whilst rolling out the mince pies and whipping up the first batch of brandy butter in the kitchen the stash of decorations were brought through the kitchen each more glorious and dazzling than the next. Tinsel, wreathes, meters and meters of lights, table glitter, candles, sparkling table runners, live camels 😉  and perfect bunches of mistletoe and holly all came through  –  I had more boxes than I could ever dream of to play with to decorate the tables!

Christmas decorations I am well aware are a great matter of personal taste, some go for the tasteful ideal home look, some let the kids have carte blanche on the putting up (or sneakily taking down depending on their age and enthusiasm) and some go for the all out kitsch approach. I love it all ! Though personally at home I still have a thing for gold-sprayed small dinosaurs.

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With the Christmas tunes on and someone revealing themselves to be quite the Dancer, the kitchen was a solid hive of activity, fun and a few challenges. Excited children running through every five minutes, a stone coloured dog on a stone coloured floor that encouraged me to make Prancer like moves every time I went to the oven, an impressive list of dietary requirements that made menu planning like an advanced Sudoku puzzle and at one point we even had a power cut, raw Brussel sprout salad anyone? Actually I have a very nice cranberry, chestnut and raw Brussels sprout with clementine dressing Christmas salad recipe.

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There was an impressive fashion show of Christmas jumpers including ones with Christmas puddings, snowman, sparkly trees and a rather foxy Vixen. During the days of feasting there were dumpling stews, honey roast hams, pasta bake, risottos, pies, steamed puddings, two roast turkeys and some punchy Christmas cocktails that could make you see Comets!

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The top cocktail that seemed to be embraced with Cupid like love by the group was our twist on the champagne Cocktail which has made it as this weeks postcard recipe. Taking into consideration our location I replaced the brandy part with Armagnac and to give it a festive twist rubbed the sugar cube on clementine’s. Served with warm cheese swirls they were delicious and I have to say very classy (the absolute antithesis of a Jager bomb and a Donner Kebab).

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Another part of the Christmas I really enjoyed was being given their family recipes to use for the traditional Turkey feast particularly the chestnut and breadcrumb stuffing, even though I had to stand there for quite a while Blitzen the bread in order to get the right consistency.

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By the time the weekend was over everyone was really well fed, watered and festivised, my job was done and it was time for me to fly…

This week

Mince pies made 94

Brandy butter: 1.250 kilo

Clementine’s Ive eaten: 153 ( not joking I can not get enough of them)

Christmas Kitsch love: 100 %

Reindeer in blog : all 9

 

Champagne Armagnac Cocktail

Makes 8

8 white sugar cubes

2 washed and dried clementine’s

16 drops angostura bitters

200ml Armagnac

1 bottle of very cold champagne

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Rub all sides of the sugar cubes on the clementine’s to release the citrus scent, carefully drop on a dash of angostura bitters (I admit I find this bit tricky as the pourer and I do not get on well) and place the cube in the bottom of a flute.

Add 25 ml Armagnac to each glass (clearly if you want a merrier Christmas feel free to add a larger dash) then top with the very chilled champagne. Serve straight away.

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Next stop Flying home for Christmas!

(Though as Rudolf is currently busy it will have to be Easy Jet sorting the transport).

 

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Recipe | Mulled cider with cinnamon and sloe gin

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Wishing you a very merry Christmas…

Dear All,

I hope you are feeling super festive and are already in the full swing of Christmas. Here in the West country the fires are lit, the music is on and preparations are well under way in the kitchen.

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Thank you all for sharing this year’s adventures and recipes with me and for all your lovely responses and comments to the postcard recipes.

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For my short but sweet (like lark the Papillon below) Christmas blog I would like to share with you a warming festive cocktail that makes a delicious alternative to mulled wine.

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I hope you all have a very merry and delicious Christmas and I very much look forward to sharing more postcard recipes and adventures in what looks like is going to be a very exciting 2016…

 

Lots of love

Philippa x

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Mulled cider with cinnamon and sloe gin

Serves 4 large glasses

500 ml cider

250 ml best quality apple juice

1/2 apple lightly studied with 15 cloves

½ apple cored and cut into small chunks

10 cardamom pods lightly crushed

4 cinnamon sticks

1   – 4 dsp. honey

2 clementines sliced

3 cm ginger peeled and finely grated

250ml sloe gin

In a saucepan bring everything apart from the sloe gin to a simmer, cook for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.

Add the sloe gin.

Serve in large cups with pieces of the fruit and a cinnamon stick to garnish.

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Next stop, New year in Val d’Isère…

 

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Recipe | Hunters Delight

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An accent waiting to happen.

I just can’t help myself. Whenever I hear an accent I naturally seem to try and copy it. Last week I was in Dublin giving a cookery class and whipping up a birthday supper for a group of friends and family. Having spent a fair bit of time in an around Dublin (and having spent much of my childhood larking around on the stage) I found myself all too quickly slipping back into the lyrical accent and starting to use numerous fun expressions the Irish are so fond of.  This of course is fine except I find the Irish accent (or my version of one) particularly sticks with me for a couple of weeks after exposure so when I returned home my sister, who has some training in sociolinguistics, instantly picked up that I had been in Ireland. Though in a way I was pleased, as at least she didn’t ask from the way I spoke if I had just returned from Wales

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The cookery class was for a group of 10 female friends who were all rather experienced in the kitchen and were mostly looking for new inspiration. Throughout the day we whizzed up many dishes and talked through various techniques. This was in-between everyone chipping in with stories and catching up on news. I had forgotten how many conversations begin with,

“ You know your man….” And then proceed really speedily with the story.

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Of course if you don’t know whom ‘ your man’ is referring to, one can feel rather lost. Also if there are about 6 stories about various “man’s “ going on, pretty much simultaneously, you can feel completely bewildered, as I did about half way through the day. However we were all having a good time and the cooking was going ‘grand’ so I decided not to worry.

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The birthday dinner, which was the take place in the same kitchen, was to be a relaxed affair. Canapés and cocktails to start then a sharing main course and dessert to finish. The cocktail, this postcards recipe, is my current favourite and I totally urge you to give it a go, especially as we swing into the festive party season.

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No sooner though had I felt myself getting back into the Dublin vibe it was time to pack my bags, hop back across the Irish Sea and begin the journey north to Perthshire.

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This week

Every home should have: a boiling water tap.

Times ‘T’anks a million’s “ was said : a million

Candles blown out: too discreet to say.

I’m reading: I am Malala

Creatures I have been compared to: an octopus and a panther (!?).

 

Hunters delight – Mezcal, gin hibiscus, lime and fizz cocktail

A friend who has just returned form Mexico bearing gifts is the inspiration for this new party piece. Mezcal is similar to tequila but has a wonderful smoky flavour. The hibiscus flowers are mostly used to make lemonade out there but as she handed them to me with a twinkle in her eye she suggested I would probably think of something else to do with them…

300ml Mezcal or tequila chilled

300ml Gin chilled

1 x bottle Prosecco or cava chilled

1 small handful of dried Hibiscus flowers

300g White Sugar

200ml water

5 x Limes, zest and juice. Plus 6 thin round slices.

Serve 6 coups (or 2 with guaranteed top ups)

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In a pan heat the sugar, water, the lime zest and hibiscus flowers, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins. Leave to cool then strain (keep the flowers for decoration) and pop in the fridge till chilled. Once cool stir in the lime juice.

To serve mix equal parts gin, mescal and the lime/hibiscus syrup and fill the coups 1/3 full.

Top with prosecco and decorate with a hibiscus flower and slice of lime.

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Next postcard from Perth’s weekend pheasant shoot..

 

 

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Recipe | Asparagus and Wild Garlic Galette AND a Rhubarb Ramos Gin Fizz

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 Paris, the city of light, love and lunch…

I confess the trip to Paris was a jolly.  It involved lots of walking to counter balance the lots of eating that always happens when I take a sojourn.  Fortunately  it is a very charming city to take a stroll around so it all worked out rather well.

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 Besides being completely romanced by the bridges, grand buildings and general Parisian chic my ever lasting memory will be my final lunch there.   I had already consumed steaks, duck legs, oysters, calves kidneys, rabbit stew, veal chops, and the odd croissant, all of which were fine.  The Breton galette though on the last day….. now that was special.

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Galettes are made from buckwheat flour which any gluten and / or wheat intolerant readers will be pleased to know is not actually a wheat.  It is in fact a seed and the plant is related to rhubarb and sorrel.  The flour has an extraordinary scent, like a snapped stalk or the freshly broken pea pod.  Galettes are traditionally from Brittany and only have savoury fillings such as cheese, ham and egg yolk.  My Galette in Paris had smoked herring, caviar, potato and sour cream and was SO good especially accompanied by some Breton Cider.

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For this postcard I HAD to try making my own galettes at home. I chose some seasonal fillings of asparagus and wild garlic which fits perfectly as their spring like flavours are allowed to shine through.  As it is traditional just to use just the egg yolk, and there is nothing worse than food waste, I thought I would also give you a recipe to use up the egg white.  A seasonal Rhubarb Gin fizz cocktail that should solve the problem and make a delightful start to any spring party.  

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Next I am off to Wiltshire where I am looking forward to cooking some delicious local pork as well using up some of the rhubarb that is flourishing in the garden.

Asparagus and wild garlic galette

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makes about 6

Pancake Batter

250g Buckwheat flour

400ml  – 500ml water

good pinch of salt

150 ml cider

5  – 6 tsp buttter

Filling

1 handful of wilted wild garlic

10 spears of asparagus, prepped, blanched and sliced lengthways

150 g gruyere cheese

a free range yolk for each pancake

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Method

1) In a bowl pour the cider then water into the flour while whisking.  You want the constancy of double cream. Keep whisking once combined for a few more minutes as apparently this helps  the mix hold together.

2)Leave to rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

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3)Heat a crepe pan or large non stick frying pan so really hot.  Add a small tsp of butter.  It will brown but this is a delicious wanted flavour.

4) Add a ladle of batter and drag it round the pan.  It should be thinnish and slightly lacy.

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5)  Once it has started to go brown and crispy flip it over.  Add a thin sprinkling of grated gruyere cheese, a little wild garlic, a few sliced asparagus spears  and the egg yolk.

6)Once the other side is cooked fold in the sides to create a square.  Then eat.

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My galette in Paris was from Briezh Cafe and now appears on my edible map France/ Paris/where to eat section.

Rhubarb Ramos Gin Fizz

A traditional Ramos gin fizz was said to be shaken for 12 minutes.  I wouldn’t go quite so far as to insist on  this but it does need a good old shake and it is excellent exercise for the arms.

 1 part gin

1 part lemon juice

2 parts rhubarb syrup ( you will need rhubarb/caster sugar and water)

1 egg white

2 handfulls ice

2 good splashes of soda water

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1)To make the rhubarb syrup bring to a simmer 1 part water to 1 part caster sugar. Add 1 or 2 sticks of chopped rhubarb for about 150 g sugar) and  cook till soft.  Leave to cool with the rhubarb in the syrup then drain retaining the syrup.  ( Eat the rhubarb)

2)Shake everything apart from the soda water in a sealable jar or cocktail shaker.  This may take a couple of minutes but you want the egg white to form a thick foam.

3) Serve with a sprig of mint and a good splash of soda water.

 

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Recipe | Reach for the Skye a.k.a. Whisky Raspberry and Mint Cocktail

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A  bonnie trip……

I knew I had reached West Coast  Scotland. Sun, rain and mist battled to be the prevailing weather, all within ten minutes. Dark and glistening burns tore through the moody purple heather that carpeted the craggy rocks and my mobile phone signal became as rare and elusive as a golden eagle.

 

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My destination was the Isle of Skye, one of Scotland’s most stunning west coast islands. A place brimming with opportunity to do strenuous activities such as walking, climbing, fishing and boating – I just came for the food.  There were several renowned restaurants that I had been longing to try and the local venison, scallops and wild mushrooms had been begging me to eat them. The trip also provided the opportunity for me to visit my first whisky distillery.

 

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I will try and write about the process of whisky making but it is hard to relay the truly magical bits to you.  The Goliath noise the handsome machinery makes when grinding the malted barley into grist, the divinely scented warm air that fills the factory as the brewing process begins or the excitement of watching the bubbles rise in the gigantic tubs of pine wood  as fermentation takes over the wort ( the sugary juice produced by soaking the malted barley in unfiltered water ‘aff the hill’ ).

 

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Only after these stages does the beery alcoholic liquid pass into the distillery room  — which looks like a mix of the old Moscow sky line and Willy Wonka’s experimenting rooms.

 

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The stills ( large copper vessels) used for boiling  the liquid to separate the water from the alcohol are a different shape for each distillery, each apparently helping to add their unique flavor to the whisky ( I have it on good authority that this is romantic tosh, though I cant help but like the idea).  The liquid is distilled twice in Scotland and passed through an eccentric looking spirit safe  during  each distillation to measure alcohol content.

 

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The spirit  is then poured into barrels and left to rest for a legal minimum of three years to be called whisky although most single malts are left for at least 8 – 10 years and others even longer.  The longer it is aged in the barrels the more mellow and complex the flavors become and of course the greater the price.  The barrels are usually second hand American bourbon ones , these are cheaper to get than other barrels as legally bourbon must be stored in a new barrel so there are lots of them.  Whisky can also be stored in other wood like sherry, Maderia or claret.

 

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During storage in the earth floored locked warehouses, 1 – 2 % of the whisky is lost through the barrels by evaporation and this they call the “angels share” .  If you consider the amount of barrels aging whisky in Scotland at any given time thats one big continuous hangover for the angels.

 

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I am going to give you a cocktail in honor of my new found deeper appreciation for whisky, try it before the summer is over to make the most of the juicy raspberries.  At great expense to my head I tried it with various whiskies and found the west coast peaty /smokey ones like Laphroig or Talikser went stunningly with the raspberries and mint.  I am anxious that Scotland may not let me back in if I start sloshing their single malts into cocktails but maybe I could persuade them if I made them one of my ‘Reach for the Skyes”

 

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”Reach for the Skye”

Serves two – twice!

Sugar syrup

100g caster sugar

100g water

 

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool

200 ml whisky – a smokey single malt if you dare.

juice of one lemon

juice of two limes

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In a shaker  (I used a kilner jar) add the cooled sugar syrup, whisky, lemon and lime juice,  16 ripe raspberries  – or there abouts, 10 bruised mint leaves (rub then briefly between your hands) and 8 pieces of ice.  Close the lid and shake for at least 30 seconds.  The aim is to muddle the raspberries with the rest of the ingridiants to get a crimson liquid.  Pour over ice placed in your chosen drinking glass and add a few fresh raspberries and mint leaves to garnish.

 

 

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Well its back to work for me and I am heading to the  Languedoc Roussillon region for what promises to be a fun week of cooking…..

 

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