Elderflower Cordial

It is officially summer time (in Cumbria at least) although it must have been summer time elsewhere for some time, we are always a tad behind. The hedgerows are full of billowing clouds of elderflowers with their sweet smell and I am looking forward to gathering them for a summer treat -ambrosial elderflower cordial . Here is a very simple recipe, just a compilation of ingredients really but  there are just a few things to bear in mind before you dash out into the countryside: gather the flowers on a sunny day and look for ones that are fully out, they should have a distinct flowery smell. Also don’t pick  those along the roadsides which may be contaminated with car fumes etc. Avoid actually washing them if you can, choose clean ones.

For a delicously summery drink add the cordial to Prosecco or for a non-alcholic version dilute with tonic water and serve with lots of ice, lemon slices and fresh mint. Ideally you should be drinking this in the sunshine in a beautiful summer garden or beside a babbling brook in the shade…………………………………………..but it tastes just as lovely anywhere.


You can reduce the cordial to make it more syrupy and then pour this over ice cream or use to flavour cakes and biscuits. It is beautiful with that other fleeting summer treat, gooseberries.  Lightly cook them (just until they burst and no more) in a tiny amount of water. Add sugar and cordial and liquidise (reserving a few for the tip). When cold fold into creme fraiche or greek yoghurt and serve with a drizzle or the more concentrated syrup, the reserved gooseberries and a few elder flowers.






Pretty special gifts, mulled wine kits and florentines

Yikes…I thought all was going swimmingly on the Christmas gift and preparation front but it is a fact (possibly not actually…a fact..) that time speeds up in the week before Christmas so that however you plan you just seem to be dashing around like a headless chicken at the last minute. I’ve tried the list making (always good) and the slow, deep breathing there is still an edge of panic creeping up on me.

I was, of course, planning to make loads of edible gifts for my loved ones and some of the ideas have already been ditched but these  can be made quickly.

The Mulled wine ‘kit‘ can perk up a bottle of wine and usually falls into the gift category of ‘need to get them something but they are difficult to buy for…and I actually don’t want to spend that much’. I know you have lots of these dilemmas.

The Florentines, on the other hand fall in to the gift category of ‘I really want to give them something special that they will love and show that I have spent time (in very short supply at the moment as we have discussed) in lovingly making these gorgeous Italian biscuits. They are a pretty Christmassy mix of dried fruit, candied peel, cherries and nuts held together loosely with caramel and then dipped in plain chocolate. I only make them at Christmas and so are more special because of this. Fortunately they don’t keep very well with a tendency to go soggy so you have to eat them asap-no good for putting under the Christmas tree