Category Archives: drink

Looking Back: 2015

Happy new year to all! As we head into 2016 we thought we would have a little look back at all the Make, Do and spend activities over the last year…..

sharpen pencils

January 

Getting Organised

blood orange and pistachio cakes

February

Blood orange, almond and Pistachio Cakes and Rhubarb Rum

b outfit 2

March

The Big Clothes swap  & an exclusive interview with Richard III on the day of his burial

036

April

A guest Post from our Friend Holly Loves Cake & Those Doughnuts 

bluebells

May

Bluebell Woods

elderflower sugar 1

June

Elderflower Sugar & Mango Frozen Yoghurt 

Positano

July

B & E do Italy, plus Jam Tarts  & Macarons

watermelon cake 5

August 

Watermelon Cake

Nyhavn

September 

B Visited Copenhagen, E made Elderberry Vodka

rolling

October

Pumpkin & Spice Sugar Buns

November

What November?!

grown up hot chocolate

December

Amaretto Hot Chocolate

All best wishes for 2016!

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Drink: Amaretto Hot Chocolate

amaretto hot chocolate

Despite the unseasonably warm weather and a distinct lack of festive knitwear, the last few weeks have been all about getting into the festive spirit. From homemade Christmas decorations to festive baking, with a generous amount of seasonal celebrations and family gatherings thrown in. It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks.

So it was a surprise to find the final weekend before Christmas has bought with it some welcome down time. Rather than the last minute present wrapping, card writing and Secret Santa shopping that usually precedes Christmas day, this weekend’s change in pace has allowed time for wholesome activities such as wreath making and mince pie baking, and of course the opportunity for an extremely overdue blog post!

gingerbread mince pies

wreath making

I’m enjoying the calm. My job is changing/evolving in the new year so this Christmas feels different, full of new opportunities and possibilities, i’m excited to see what the new year will bring.

This recipe has become something of a tradition over the past few years, somehow it’s not really Christmas until the first Amaretto hot Chocolate of the season has been sampled! This one is definitely for the chocolate connoisseur as it’s intensely chocolatey and the amaretto adds just a little sweetness. I recommend using the best chocolate you can find, with at least 70% cocoa solids for a seriously bitter sweet drinking experience.

This is my idea of the perfect hot chocolate, Amaretto being one of my favourite liqueurs, but if it isn’t for you feel free to experiment with the flavours here. For a vegan option why not try Almond milk instead of milk and cream, for a no alcohol version try adding a cardamom pod when heating the milk and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup for sweetness.

The recipe makes two mugs of hot chocolate.

finely chop chocolate

You will need:

  • 400ml milk
  • 50ml cream
  • 100g Dark Chocolate
  • 4 tablespoons Amaretto

Warm the milk and cream together in a saucepan until almost boiling. Whilst this is heating up, finely chop/grate the chocolate. Once the milk and cream mix starts to simmer remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted and well combined, by whisking you should get a lovely light, frothy mixture. Finally stir through the amaretto. Pour into mugs and serve with toppings of your choice, I opted for cocoa nibs, meringues and just a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Marshmallows and whipped cream are always a winning combination too!

hot chocolate for two

grown up hot chocolate

Wishing all our Make, Do and Spend friends a very merry Christmas, and a happy 2016!

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Make: Elderberry Vodka

foraging for elderberries

Autumn, my favorite time of year. Not least because it brings with it an abundance of fresh produce ripe for picking. On my daily commute to work I’ve been keeping an eye on the progress of elderberries. The way nature transforms through the seasons never ceases to amaze me, the soft lacey white flowers that lined our hedgerows just a few months ago have given way to deep burgundy stalks, their heads hang heavy with berries.

So, I am happy to announce that they are now officially ready.

Last weekend, C and I took a little Sunday afternoon walk. Armed with scissors and a box to collect our loot in, we had our first foraging adventure of the season. Elderberries aren’t commercially grown so the only way to get hold of them is to get out there and explore the English hedgerows

hedgerows lined with Elder

We collected around 15 heads of elder, which is the amount needed to make the below recipe. Usual foraging rules apply, always pick above waist height and leave a few heads for the birds who will also be needing these berries over the coming months.

collecting elderberries

To Make Elderberry Syrup you will need:

  • 1 litre of vodka
  • 500g elderberries, stalks removed
  • 200g sugar
  • The zest of a lemon
  • 2 x clean, sterilised 1 litre capacity bottles to store the booze in

The fastest way to separate the berries from their stems is to gently pull them away from the stalks with the back of a fork. It can get messy and elderberry is a natural dye so can stain. I recommend taking this task outside if possible.

Once ready, discard the stalks and split the berries between the two bottles.

Next divide the lemon zest and sugar between the two bottles, I used elderflower sugar made earlier in the year as I like to layer up the flavours. Vanilla sugar would work well too, if you have it to hand.

Finally, add half a litre of vodka to each bottle and, lid on, give both bottles a good shake to get the flavours going.

removing the berries from the stalks

Store the bottles in a cool dark place so the booze can infuse. shake the bottles regularly, about once a week, to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. I find it’s always worth having a cheeky taste once in a while too, just to check progress.

The booze takes around 3 months to infuse, so if made now it will be ready just in time for Christmas.

elderberry vodka

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Explore: Italy

DSC01829 Italy is seemingly the place to be this summer! Following on From B’s trip to Positano, C and I also headed to Italy this year. We went on a little tour of Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy with our friends who shall be known as Lizard and Wizard. (Their allotment featured right here a little while ago.) We basically ate our way through the region. From the hills of San Bernedetto to the street markets of Bolognia there was plenty of pizza, pasta and gelato. I’ve whittled down my photos from 600, which was quite a challenge so apologies, this is a long one, and photo heavy. (Actually, i’m not sorry at all!) DSC01680 We began our tour with four days in the restorative hills of San Bernedetto. Via the wonders of Airbnb we took a little apartment in an old stone house on the grounds of an agriturism farm with a pool, restaurant and Amerene trees in the back garden (we will talk more about these sour cherries another time, needless to say this was one of the most exciting find of the holiday!) We walked in the forest, drove along weaving mountain roads, explored nearby towns and even ventured over the boarder into Tuscany. We swam in the pool and battled it out at dominos and trivial pursuits. We cooked pasta, drank prosecco and ate alfresco. Low points, towards the end of our stay we found a scorpion in the sink and a mouse drowned in the pool so were glad to be moving on! DSC01682DSC01691DSC01747DSC01764DSC01754DSC01759DSC01799MenuDSC01826 DSC01824DSC01728DSC01838DSC01785Firenze During our stay in San Benedetto we took a train to Florence and spent a very hot day exploring the city. Along with several thousand other tourists we climbed Giotto’s Bell tower so we could view the city and the Duomo from above. This involves 414 step climb through narrow corridors so not for the faint hearted, but the panoramic views of the City are spectacular. Duomo, on the approachFlorence from aboveModena Our next stop was Modena, the home of Balsamic vinegar. Modena is just lovely. A  peaceful, elegant City with narrow streets lined with umber and pink town houses. We were here for just one day and managed to pack in a light lunch at an incredible vegan restaurant, the most amazing Gianduja gelato i’ve ever tasted and finally, diner at Massimo Bottura’s 3 star Michelin restaurant Osteria Francescana currently rated number 2 in the world. I didn’t take my camera into the restaurant as I just wanted to relax in the moment and enjoy the meal, but this was truly a once in a lifetime foodie experience. We meet Massimo, C and I were a little star struck so fortunately Lizard and Wizard were there to maintain the conversation! He wore New Balance trainers which are made specially for him by the manufacturers, so he told us. We opted for the tasting menu which featured some of Massimos famous dishes such as “Oops! I dropped the Lemon Tart” and “The Crunchy Part of the Lasagne” Italian classics re-interpreted in molecular gastronomy through Massimo’s unique creativity, wit and imagination. climbingModenapostModenaGelato GiandujaapricotsBologna Our Final stop was Bolognia, the capital of Emilia Romagna. Bolognia is a vivacious medieval city with bustling streets lined with arched colonnades. It is, as the name would suggest, the birth place of that popular ragu bolognase sauce, though traditionally this should be served with a tagliatelle or penette to allow the ragu to cling to the pasta. Spagetti bolognase is essentially a bastardised version of this classic Italian dish that has been lost in translation. There is of course quite a bit more to Bologna’s food culture also!  This was to be my second visit and I was excited at the prospect of revisiting a few remembered places, not least the cook wear/hardware shop Castaldini which sells unique pasta making equipment and a host of bakewear delights. We had been told that Bologna’s food markets were a must see, after a false start which landed us at Bologna’s rag market we finally tracked down Via Drapperie and unearthed some culinary treasures. Parmisan, pasta, buratta and Mortadella were all on the menu, all at extremely reasonable prices too. There is so much to do in Bologna that two days probably wasn’t quite enough, we went to the outdoor cinema outside the San Petronio Bascilica in the Piazza Maggiore where we watched Don Giovanni on the big screen. Bologna also boasts  not one but two leaning towers, one of which is open to the public for climbing, never one to turn down the opportunity for a panoramic view I was all for the 498 step climb though strangely this time no one else was keen, I went it alone and climbed the rickety medieval wooden staircase to the top of the tower. We also managed to cram in as much pizza as possible before it was time to head home, and a little Chianti also! Bologna tourismDSC02218Castaldinioffertarag market findsPasticceria mignon Bolognafresh vegpomidoriVia Draperietortellini freshissimiParmisanWizard + BalconyChiantiwood fire pizzaPepperoni pizza

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Visit: Borough Market

served here

Last weekend C and I headed down for an overnight stay in London. The whole day and a half basically consisted of eating, drinking and hunting down some foodie havens both old and new. Notably we visited La Fromagerie for a cheese based lunch and a nose around their cheese cave, then on to Nopi for dinner. Nopi is one of my favourite restaurants ever but I did get a little over excited with the cocktails on this particular visit, hence no photos. Our last stop on our adventure was breakfast at Borough Market. I called on the help of fellow foodie and regular London market frequenter Holly for a few tips as to where we should visit. With so many amazing things to see and taste I wanted to make sure I didn’t fill up on the first sausage roll I clapped eyes on and Holly pointed us in the right direction for the best coffee in London and, most importantly, life changing doughnuts.

So here’s a little taste of what we saw, and of course, what we ate

somewhere on the northern linelady with flowerswindow sceneflower potspatisseriepatisserievietnamese chicken curryjuicevegmushroomsvegetablesDSC0440flowerscactiflowers

Ok, let’s get down to business. Here’s what we ate:

sausage roll from the ginger pig

A sausage roll from the Ginger pig for C who declared this “a meaty bastard” I was allowed a little bite and can confirm this was the case

salt beef sandwich

A salt beef sandwich on rye from Northfield Kitchen, complete with pickles and nose ticklingly hot mustard. This is a mere half of the sandwich, I could not physically hold and photograph the sandwich in it’s entirety. 1 word, fab-u-lous.

monmouth coffee

Early starts require coffee and at 9.30am on a Saturday morning there was quite a queue forming out of the doors of Monmouth coffee

bread ahead doughnuts

Last but by no means least, I simply had to try a doughnut from Bread Ahead. Holly described them as life changing and I’ve pretty much been dreaming about them ever since. With an array of flavours on offer I had a tough time deciding what to have, eventually opting for Crème Caramel with salted honeycomb. Amazing, though I’m dying to go back and try the cassia and bay offering. Perhaps I’ll have a crack at some of my own.

So here ends out Borough Market adventure, shortly afterwards we were back on our way home to Leicester, Truffle and the sofa for an afternoon nap/food coma.  Perhaps a diet is in order now.

Where’s your favourite spot to eat in London?

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