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Food & Drink

How to make blackcurrant cordial

July 12, 2013

Last year it was cakes and buns, this year its cordials!

How to make homemade blackcurrant cordialIn our quest to avoid the aspartame (see the post here on our reasons why) I’ve scoured the books looking for ways to make some of our produce into cordials. This week I brought home a few blackcurrants from Callan community garden and made this delicious summer juice in just 15 minutes.

The refreshing recipe below (published in The Guardian recently) doesn’t make a huge amount – 400g of blackcurrants makes about 750ml concentrate cordial, but it reminded me of childhood summers and drinks as they used to taste before they became chemical cocktails. If you’re growing blackcurrants, know anyone with a blackcurrant bush or spot any in your local farmers market, it’s well worth trying and a lovely way to use the fruit.

Just a quick word of warning if you’re growing these sharp little fruit that are packed full of vitamin C in your garden or allotment, they’re prone to attack from a little caterpillar that’s the larvae of the gooseberry sawfly so do keep an eye out or you could lose them all in a couple of days.

How to make homemade blackcurrant cordialIngredients

500g (5 cups)  blackcurrants
275g (1 1/8 cups) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) water
½ tsp citric acid


Simmer the sugar, blackcurrants and water in a heavy based pan gently for 5 minutes.

Using a potato masher, break up the fruit to release as much juice as possible. Add the citric acid and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Strain the liquid through a piece of muslin and pour it into a sterilised bottle and keep it in the fridge. If you can’t find muslin anywhere, a fine sieve will strain the largest of the remaining pulp but the liquid wont be as clear.

The remaining pulp can be saved and used to flavour natural yoghurt.

If the strawberry cordial is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to trying this blackcurrant juice as a mixer in something sparkly soon… 

Food & Drink

Festive vegetable recipes

December 7, 2011

cranberry sauce recipeWe’ve been cooking this Christmas day menu for several years as we love every scrap of it! The vegetables (except the cranberries) will have been growing or stored from the garden which reduces the grocery bill considerably too.

All the recipes were taken from a selection of Good Food and Good Housekeeping magazines that have long since been recycled. There’s usually only the five of us sitting down for dinner but we love heating up the leftovers for the following day or two, which is why we cook so much.

Traditionally Christmas eve in our house is all about preparing the food for the big meal the following day. It’s the day we bake the ham so the stove is usually on for hours and the whole family gets involved baking, chopping, peeling, rinsing, stirring, decorating and tasting.

You can find the recipes for the vegetable dishes below if you’d like to try something different and I’ll post the meaty ones separately for the non vegetarians (the sprout recipe is here).

Christmas Dinner Menu


Creamy Lemon, Pancetta & Rosemary Turkey
Sausage Nut Stuffing Cake
Brussels Sprouts in Pine Nut Butter
Roast Honey Glazed
Carrots and Parsnips
Steamed Rainbow Swiss Chard
Pigs in Blankets
Bacon Wrapped Prunes
Creamy Leeks
Roast Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Bread Sauce

* * * * * * * * * *

Creamy Baked Leek Recipe

(Serves 3 – 4)

2 large leeks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
60g grated Parmesan
2 tbsp cream

Chop the green leaves off the leeks and cut the white stem into rounds and rinse well. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the leeks, thyme, butter and salt allowing them to sweat, stirring frequently. Add half the Parmesan cheese and the cream. If it looks dry add a little water. Place into an oven proof dish, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and bake for 15 minutes until browned on top.

Roast Honey Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

(Serves 8)

800g each of carrots and parsnips
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp chopped lemon thyme (if you can get it)
zest & juice of 1 lemon<
75g butter, chopped
600ml hot turkey stock

Roughly chop the carrots and parsnips, place in a large pan of boiling water and cook for 3-4 mins. Drain well. Put the honey, thyme, lemon zest and juice into a large bowl. Season and mix well, then add to the carrots and parsnips. Mix to coat. Put into a large, lightly greased ovenproof dish. Stir butter into the hot stock, pour it over the vegetables and cover with greased foil. Bake for 1 hr, removing the foil 15 mins before the end of the cooking time until tender and golden.

Not vegetable or meat but delicious….

Bread Sauce Recipe

(Serves 8-10)
600ml milk

50g butter
1 onion
6 cloves
6 peppercorns
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
100g white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp single cream or mascarpone
pinch nutmeg, freshly grated

Simmer the milk, butter, onion, cloves, peppercorns, garlic and herbs in a pan for 20 mins. Strain and return the liquid to the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and simmer for 3-4 mins. Stir in the cream or mascarpone. Add nutmeg, season and serve. (This can be made up to 3 days ahead and reheated.)