NATURE’S BOUNTY

I love the countryside and have been lucky to have always lived in semi-rural places. To me, there could be nothing worse than living in a city. I need grass, trees and wild life. Having two dogs I spend a lot of time walking the local country park.

I am so blessed living where I do, perched on the side of the Pennines, two minutes from the site of a long gone country house. The grounds are open to the public and there is a variety of landscapes to explore from woodland to fields, winding pathways and the ruins of the old hall, its predecessor and the stable block. There are always amazing views over the Cheshire plain, Manchester and up towards the Peak District.

Foraged rosehips

In amongst the vegetation there is also a wealth of plants to forage. I have been walking here for the last seven years’, but it was only last Autumn that I realised I was regularly wandering past a treasure trove of nature’s bounty. It started with picking blackberries, which I have done before but then realising that there were also elderberries, rosehips, sloes, wild raspberries and apples.

Freshly picked blackberries

I started gathering the fruits and berries and looking up recipes. I made blackberry and apple crumble and a blackberry syrup for pouring over ice cream and pairing with prosecco instead of Chambord. I remembered the Delrose rosehip syrup I was given as a child to boost my Vitamin C, D and A intake, which I loved and decided to make some of that. In the end, I didn’t have enough hips, so I combined them with the elderberries. Rosehips have a wealth of health benefits besides the vitamins, especially for those of us with creaking joints. Elderberries also have great immune system boosting properties and are helpful when suffering with winter colds and coughs.

Recently the parklands’s verdant fields and hedgerows have bought forth another jewel. Blossom. Hawthorn, blackthorn and rowan trees have been heavy with frothy, tumbling blooms. The hawthorns have been particularly spectacular this year. In the last 3 weeks the white, lacy elderflowers have also appeared on the branches of the elder trees.

Elderflower blooms

I love the elderflower season because their delicate, floral taste can be used in so many dishes and drinks and it is one of the true flavours of a British Summer. It is such fleeting season, so you have to gather them quickly. But please remember, never strip a tree, leave plenty of blossom to continue to feed the insects and to develop into berries in Autumn to feed the wild life. Collect on a sunny, dry morning when the flowers are at their most fragrant. Don’t wash the flowers but gently shake to dislodge the tiny bugs. Elderflowers have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Steep as soon as possible after picking to make cordial.

Steeping the flowers

ELDERFLOWER CORDIAL RECIPE

Ingredients

½ litre boiling water
500g caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime, unwaxed
50ml of lemon and lime juice
10/12 elderflower heads

Method

Pour boiling water into a boil with the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add in zest, juice and flower heads and stir. Cover and allow to steep for 2 days. Strain through muslin and decant into sterilised bottles. Makes approx. ¾ litre. Keep in the fridge. Dilute with water and add ice for a cooling drink or even better, add a little to your G&T.

 

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Lanique – Luxury Rose Spirit

 

One of the most intriguing products I found have found recently is a rose spirit, with a very regal pedigree, called Lanique. This delicately pink-hued tipple was originally produced for a princess in 17th Century eastern Europe and contained Attar of rose petals, harvested from the Far East. It became a favourite of the wealthy and was imbibed right through to the Roaring Twenties. Sadly, it all but disappeared at the outbreak of the Second World War and the gathering Communist tide in the Eastern Bloc countries.

Eventually the recipe was rediscovered and a band of Polish bartenders arrived in the Channel Islands in the ‘80’s, bringing Lanique with them. It was soon a firm favourite with visitors and locals alike and Jersey based entrepreneur, Lawrence Huggler, who owns hotels and other businesses including Bohemia Bar & Restaurant, decided to buy the brand. He then designed a new bottle and label that would echo the majestic background of the drink. Love Drinks were brought on board to build the brand and launch it into the UK drinks market.

We first tried Lanique at this year’s Northern Restaurant and Bar show and fell in love with it. Rose to me has always been one of the scents and tastes of an English summer. Lanique is a versatile spirit and can be used in many ways. On the rocks with tonic or lemonade, with English sparkling wine or prosecco and in cocktails. The Lanique signature serve is over crushed ice, with a wedge of lime and a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of soda. The sharpness of the lime making the perfect counterpoint to the sweetness and perfume of the rose.

Lanique very kindly sent me a bottle but we decided not to just sample as a drink, although we did that too, but to cook with it as well. We wanted a recipe that encapsulated all the tastes of summer. See what we came up with below. Please give it a try and let us know how you get on.

 

Poached Strawberries with Rose Spirit Syrup and Vanilla Panacotta

Ingredients

Poached Strawberries with Rose Syrup
• 300g Strawberries, hulled and halved
• 60g of Caster Sugar
• 30ml Lanique Rose Spirit
• 30ml of Water

Vanilla Panna Cotta
• 1 Vanilla Pod
• 4 gelatine leaves (a vegetarian alternative can be used)
• 600ml of double cream
• 80g of caster sugar

Method

1. Place the caster sugar, Lanique spirit and water in a pan and bring to the simmer. Add in the strawberries and poach gently for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2. Soften the gelatine in cold water according to the instruction.

3. Bring the cream, vanilla seeds and sugar gently to the boil in a heavy-based saucepan.

4. Add the softened gelatine leaves to the pan and stir to dissolve them. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the mix to cool and infuse for about 5 minutes

5. Once cooled slightly, strain the cream through a close sieve or muslin and pour the mixture evenly into six pudding moulds and place them in the fridge to set for at least 1 hour

6. To serve. Dip the pudding moulds into a pan of hot water for about 3 seconds, then turn them upside down in the centre of a plate so that the Panna Cotta slides out. Handy tip. Place the plate upside down over the mould then flip the right way around.

7. Arrange the strawberries around the Panna Cotta, garnish with sugared rose petals and serve with a cold glass of Hush Heath Balfour Rosé English sparkling wine and Lanique. Summer time at its best.

You can buy Lanique online at Ocado, 31Dover.com, Amazon and TheDrinkShop.com. Trade enquiries can be directed through Love Drinks at info@lovedrinks.com

We were gifted the bottle of Lanique but as always, the review and opinions are our own and unbiased.

Website https://www.lanique.co.uk

Photos: © Taste Today. Do not reproduce without permission

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