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    Cocktail, Dessert, Recipes

    Recipe: Frozen French 75 cocktail

    burleighs_frozen_french_75

    From the West side to the East side…

    Back when I was at university, up north, there seemed to be this weird icebreaker where they’d split groups based on where they were in the country – north of Birmingham, south of Birmingham etc.  Me being me, and generally a pain in the neck, meant I’d stick my hand up and point out that I was neither, that I was actually from Birmingham.  My friend Beccy would then join in, for she was from the East (Midlands).  It got to the point where we started a joke east/west side rivalry…but now it seems like the Midlands are (re) united, thanks to gin.

    Launched in 2014, Burleigh’s gin hails from the picturesque Charnfood Forest in the heart of Leicestershire.  The inspiration for the gin came from nearby Burleigh Wood, which is adjacent to the 45 West Distillery, where Burleigh’s gin is made.  Whilst walking through the Woods, master distiller Jamie Baxter came across silver birch, dandelion, burdock, elderberry and iris, and used these as inspiration for Burleigh’s gin.

    Whereas most gin brands prefer to keep their bottles glass and see through, the unusual dark black, textured bottle of Burleigh’s makes it stand out on the shelf and so pretty easy to spot out and about. And because we Midlanders enjoy a good tipple, I’ve spotted Burleigh’s in a bunch of Birmingham bars, including Gas Street Social, Loki Wine, Cosy Club, The Botanist, Lost & Found, 40 St Pauls and others.

    burleighs_frozen_french_75_2

    For this slushie, I took inspiration from the classic French 75 cocktail, which involves gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Champagne.  As with nearly all the good classic cocktails, no one is really very sure of the history of it – there’s a suggestion that Charles Dickens liked to give callers Tom gin and champagne cups, and one of the first recorded versions of the French 75 is found in The Savoy Cocktail Book.  But, the suggestion is that the name comes from the French army’s 75mm field gun used during World War I, so when it was developed is anyone’s guess.

    Initially I planned to make these ice lollies, but then I realised two things: one, we live in the UK and there’s probably only a need for cooling ice lollies for two weeks a year; and two, I like to make sure things are decently boozy which doesn’t always make it easy to freeze, unless you’re willing to compromise on the alcohol content.  Also, tis nearly the season and a palette cleanser which involves something fizzy and gin is a pretty winning idea.

    Before anyone gets at me, this recipe is inspired by the French 75, but tweaked because it’s frozen and I wanted to get the flavours to come through the iciness. I used the Burleigh’s Export Strength gin (47% abv) because it’s distilled using the same botanicals at their signature gin but bottling at a higher ABV gives it a different flavour, including lasting flavours of lemon and juniper, but the intensity means it works served at a cooler temperature.

    Recipe: Frozen French 75 cocktail
     
    Prep time
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    Author:
    Recipe type: cocktail, ice lolly
    Cuisine: dessert
    Serves: 2
    Ingredients
    • 50ml Burleighs export strength gin
    • 25ml fresh lemon juice
    • 62.5ml sugar syrup (2 parts water, 1 part sugar)
    • 125ml prosecco, or champagne if you're fancy
    Instructions
    1. Add all of the ingredients, give them a good stir
    2. Pour into ice moulds or a dish and freeze overnight
    3. Remove from container, bash up the ice a little
    4. Transfer to champagne glass or bowl and serve

    The people at Burleigh’s have given me a code so that readers of Full to the Brum can get 20% off purchases at their online store.  Head to burleighsgin.com/shop/ and add the code FTTB20 to get the discount.

    Cake, Recipes

    Recipe: chocolate caramel cornflake bars (no bake)

    tray bake and daffodilsSee those daffodils, that’ll give you an idea of how long this post has been sat in my drafts folder.  Why, you might ask, namely that I made these lovely caramel crispy squares, wrote down the recipe on a sticky-note and then promptly lost the note.  I stumbled across the sticky-note again recently, so I’m posting this before I lose it again, and also because I might re-make them and it’s easier than trying to find my recipe book (which was the problem in the first place),

    The story behind these goes that we put fruit and sweets out as snacks during our work-events and a bunch of the mini chocolate bars kept being left.  I maintain this was because the labels all looked a bit similar and when you’re listening to someone talk, it might be a bit hard to root around and avoid the chocolate you don’t like.  As they were starting to get a little battered about being moved from event to event, I took them home and decided to do something with them.  Effectively this recipe uses Sainsburys’ own-brand versions of Mars Bars, but they’d work too, as I expect would other own-brand versions.

    And to stick with the own-brand theme, I also used Sainsburys own-brand cornflakes, mainly because I don’t really eat cereal and I didn’t see the point of spending loads of money on flakes of corn that were going to be covered in buttery, caramel chocolate.  I was planning on making them with Rice Crispies or something similar, but got swayed by the cornflakes.

    Recipe: chocolate caramel cornflake bars (no bake)
     
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    A really simple no-bake dish to use up leftover chocolates.
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 20
    Ingredients
    • 13 mini caramel and nougat chocolate bars (about 260g)
    • 200g cornflakes
    • 150g condensed milk
    • 55g butter
    Instructions
    1. Melt down the chocolate bars slowly - you could do this in a microwave, but I prefer to rest a glass bowl over some gently boiling water and melt them more slowly
    2. Once the bars have melted, add the condensed milk and butter and make sure everything is combined
    3. Take the glass bowl off the saucepan - be careful, it'll be hot.
    4. Add the cornflakes to the melted chocolate. You might want to do this in batches as it might be that you prefer your cornflakes squares to be stickier - alternatively you might want to add more if you think the melted chocolate can handle it.
    5. Once the cornflakes are properly coated, transfer into a greaseproof-lined tray - I used a brownie tray, but a roasting tray would work too.
    6. Spread the mixture out and pat everything down to make sure everything is nicely packed in.
    7. Transfer to the fridge and leave to cool and set - I left mine overnight, but a few hours would probably do it.

    Cake, Cocktail, Drinks, Recipes

    Recipe: Jagermeister cake and cocktail

    Jagermeister cakeOkay so I totally didn’t intend to post two recipes alongside each other, but when Jagermeister sent me a couple of bottles and challenged me to do something with them, I couldn’t help but agree.  I totally thought about just blogging a recipe for Jagerbombs, because I thought it would be kind of funny for the two people in the world who have never had one.  I mean, even my mum knows what a Jagerbomb is.  Sure she had to ask her husband, but she knew.  Frankly this just made me think I need to get my mum to try one of these next time we’re out, but I think she might write me out of the will (jokes, I’m pretty sure I managed that a while ago).

    So then I went to a more sensible plan – actually I went with two; a cake and a cocktail.  I’ve had a bit of a thing about baking with alcohol for a while and I’d been itching to try out the Jagermeister and honey bundt cake from The Boozy Baker cook book for a while.  This recipe is vaguely inspired by this, but I think I’m actually incapable of following a recipe and I realised one of the bottles was for Jagermeister Spice, which is a remixed version of the same collection of herbs and spices as the traditional Jager.  But it tastes sweeter to me, less medicinal than standard stuff and frankly if it wasn’t winter I’d have a go at making ice cream with it.  So instead I went to my favourite thing to make; cake – rather a Half Cut Cake (because that’s what I like to call boozy baking).  As the Jagermeister Spice has enhanced notes of cinnamon, vanilla and saffron, I wanted to create something comforting but a bit wintery, as a nod to its big sister’s usual ice cold serve.  The two types of flour give it a little bit of a dense texture and the added ginger gives it a bit of a kick, but not too fiery.

    Recipe: Jagermeister cake
     
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    Author:
    Recipe type: cake
    Serves: 8
    Ingredients
    • 220g muscovado sugar
    • 225g butter
    • 2 eggs
    • 110g Jagermeister spice
    • 1tsp ground ginger
    • 160g self raising flour
    • 85g plain flour
    For the icing
    • 120g butter
    • 240g icing sugar
    • 1tsp Jagermeister
    • sprinkles
    Instructions
    1. Pre-heat the oven to 180c, grease a baking tin or two
    2. Cream in the butter and sugar
    3. Add the eggs and Jagermeister and give it a good stir
    4. Add the ginger and sieve in the two types of flour
    5. Make sure everything is well mixed and then pour into your baking tin/s
    6. Cook for around 50mins if in one tin, or about 20mins in two tins - you can tell they're done if they look golden brown and you insert a cocktail stick or fork and it comes out clean
    7. Leave the cake to cool
    8. Once the cake is cooled mix together the icing ingredients (minus the sprinkles)
    9. If you're sensible (unlike me) and cooked two cakes rather than one, use about two - three heaped tablespoons and spread evenly on one cake and use the other to create a sandwich. If not, slice the cake in half and do the same sort of thing.
    10. Add the rest of the icing on the top, smooth down and use lots of sprinkles to decorate.

    Jager-Mega-Drive cocktail

    jager-mega-drive_cocktailIf I were more witty I’d have given the cake a clever pun name, but instead I left that to the boys of Island Bar when I challenged them to come up with a simple cocktail to make at home; enter the Jager-Mega-Drive.  The grenadine and sugar rim gives the red button colour and the rest of the ingredients give it a sort of faded black.  If you enjoy this sort of geekery, I’d highly recommend checking out Island’s monthly Geek Quiz, or just heading down on a weekday for some cocktails and video games.  Thanks to Simon for coming up with this recipe.

    Jager-Mega-Drive

    • 40ml Jagermeister Spice
    • 20ml black Sambuca
    • 4 blackberries
    • 25ml fresh lemon juice
    • lemonade to top up
    • small amount of grenadine and sugar for the garnish

    To make: Pour the grenadine onto a flat surface or a plate and coat the rim of the glass you’re serving the drink in it, then dip it in sugar and leave to set whilst you make the drink.  Muddle the blackberries in a glass (squish them, use a rolling pin if you don’t have a muddler), add the Jagermeister, sambuca, lemon juice and a bunch of ice and give it a good shake (use a jam jar if you don’t have a cocktail shaker), strain into a glass with fresh ice and top up with lemonade.  And there you have it…the Jager-Mega-drive.

    Disclosure: Jagermeister sent me a couple of bottles as part of a blogger challenge and asked me to have a go at doing something a bit different – hence no jagerbombs. I wasn’t obliged to say anything nice blah blah blah… 

    Musings, Recipes, Vegan

    Recipe: Vegan Shepherds Pie

    vegan pie

    Chances are if I’m cooking something at home and it’s meat-free it’ll probably be vegan too.  I could spin you a line about the ethics of this, but really it’s just that dairy and my digestive tract don’t always get on. And if it’s not going to make much difference, I’d rather switch it out for something that isn’t possibly going to kick me in the gut and give me a hangover (and that’s the polite version).

    I have a similar view of meat really, that unless it’s the star of the show then I don’t really mind it being switched out for something else.  So after seeing some recipes for shepherd’s pie that used lentils for the filling, I figured I’d have a go at making my own vegan version.  Again, I’d like to tell you that the sweet potato was a conscious health choice, but really it was just that I had one left over, although to be fair given that I didn’t bother with cheese I hoped it would add a bit more flavour, which it did.

    Apparently this should’ve fed five people, which I think would’ve made rather generous portions and I ended up making seven – although I’m not keen on a lot of potato, so whilst the filling is enough for seven, you might want to up the amount of potato (there was more in the photo, I just ate it so you could see the lentil mix).  I used these fab little dishes from IKEA (picked up as part of the Live Lagom project) which are, in my mind, just the right size and they can go from freezer to oven which makes them really handy. I defrost my pies before cooking, but they can be cooked from frozen if needs be.  They’ve become my go to TV dinner when I’m late home from an event, but not late enough to justify picking something up en route.

    Enough blathering from me, here’s the recipe for vegan shepherd’s pie…

    Recipe: Vegan Shepherd's Pie
     
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    An easy to recreate vegan version of a shepherd's pie which can be made in bulk and frozen.
    Author:
    Recipe type: dinner, frozen, batch cook
    Cuisine: vegan
    Serves: 5-7
    Ingredients
    • 1 onion
    • 2 carrots
    • 3 sticks of celery
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 100g mushrooms (I used button)
    • a bay leaf
    • 0.5 tbsp dried thyme
    • 250g dried green/puy lentils
    • Splash of soy sauce (Worcestershire Sauce if you’re not wanting a vegan version)
    • 2tbsp tomato puree
    • 850ml vegetable stock (use about 700ml to start and top up if needed)
    For the topping
    • 1kg potato – I went for 350g sweet potato (then peeled), 650g salad potatoes with the skin on
    • 40g dairy-free margarine
    • 50ml almond milk (but any milk will do)
    Instructions
    1. Add a splash of oil into a pan and gently fry the onions and garlic for five minutes, then add the carrots and celery until everything is soft and golden – should take about 15minutes in total.
    2. Stir in the herbs, and then add lentils, give it another good stir before adding the stock. Simmer for 50 minutes until the lentils are very soft, stir in the tomato puree, then season to taste.
    3. Whilst the lentils cook it’s time to sort out the potatoes; peel and roughly chop the sweet potato. Frankly I can’t be bothered to peel the little white potatoes, so I just chop them and add them, but peel if you’re keener. Add to a pan of boiling water and cook for about 15minutes until they’re tender. Then drain the potatoes and mash with the dairy-free butter and milk (I used almond, but I think any will do just make sure it’s unsweetened) and don’t forget the salt and pepper.
    4. To make the pies divide the lentil mixture between your dishes and top with mash. Add cheese if you like (there are some vegan cheeses about). If you’re eating straight away, heat the oven to 190c/fan 170c and bake for 30minutes until the top is a bit more golden.
    5. If you’re freezing them, keep them for no longer than a couple of months and it’s best to defrost them before cooking. But if not cover them with foil and bake at 160c/fan 140c for about 30minutes – 1hr (individual pies will take about 30minutes), then uncover and cook for a further 20minutes.

    Disclosure: As part of the Live Lagom project IKEA let me have a few of these glass dishes, but I also bought some myself, because I am a little obsessed. IKEA don’t know I’m writing this so they definitely didn’t ask me to be nice about anything.

    Cake, Recipes

    Mincemeat, Pear and Honey Tart

    pear and mincemeat tart

    If the local press are to be believed there was supposed to be a dusting of snow this morning, although sadly I didn’t see any.  Any which way, I thought it was a good excuse to show off this mincemeat, pear and honey tart, because the icing sugar dust is probably as close as I’ll get to snow today.

    The recipe is actually Brian Turner’s Mincemeat, Pear & Honey Tart, although I made a few modifications.  Firstly, due to the lack of sensible sized baking tray and not being very good at cutting things out (I blame being left handed but really I’m just not very good at making pretty things), I made mine rectangular instead of circular.  I also didn’t bother with the egg and egg yolk wash on the borders and just went for the one egg, which I don’t think made much difference, personally.

    I really liked this recipe for a couple of reasons; firstly it was really tasty and secondly it meant I could use up mincemeat.  And by use up I mean find a legitimate way of eating mincemeat post-Christmas because the supplies of mince pies seem to dry up and this is a winter recipe…look I even added wintery decorations to make it so!  Although I’m also thinking it could be time to break out Wizzard to Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by having a go at making individual versions because I think it would be fun and then I won’t feel so bad if I eat a couple, rather than half the tart.

    You can find the recipe over on the Stoves website, and for once I’ve not modified it enough to warrant re-posting my version here.  Happy New Year mincemeat eating folks!

    Disclosure: Stoves gave me a supermarket voucher to buy my ingredients to recreate this recipe, but I wasn’t obliged to say anything nice. I may have bought a couple of jars of mincemeat ‘just in case’.

    Meat, Recipes

    Recipe: Chorizo and beef meatballs

    beef_chorizo_meatballs_tapas
    I seem to have been on a bit of a meatball kick recently.  I made a bunch of turkey meatballs and filled my freezer with them, and just as I was beginning to finish off the last batch I was itching to try out another version.  Because it’s more economic to keep your freezer full, right?

    This time round I wanted to make something a little different.  Usually when I make meatballs I add breadcrumbs to make them a little softer, but this time round I wanted to make something that was dense and meaty, with a sauce which was packed full of flavour.  As I tend to freeze most of what I make, I wanted something with some big flavours which would improve with time.

    alhambra_beer_tapas_crate

    Spanish beer brand Alhambra were nice enough to send over a case of their beer so I figured I’d use it as inspiration.  If you want to try it yourself, I’ve spotted it on sale in a few places in Brum, most notably Amantia on Bennetts Hill – or check the competition at the end of the post.

    Alhambra Reserva 1925, named after a palace in its home town of Granada, is a Spanish lager with 6.40% abv, making it fairly strong compared to most typical lagers.  It’s best served cold, a sort of bittersweet drink, with plenty of history so I wanted to create a tapas recipe which would use traditional Spanish flavours like smoked paprika in chorizo and sherry.  And so, chorizo and beef meatballs is what happened…

    Chorizo and beef meatballs
     
    Author:
    Recipe type: Tapas, Dinner
    Cuisine: Spanish
    Serves: 30 meatballs
    Ingredients
    Meatballs
    • 500g beef mince, 5% fat
    • 225g chorizo sausage, deskinned
    • 1 red onion
    • salt and pepper
    Sauce
    • 3 garlic cloves
    • 500g passata
    • 500g passata with onion and garlic
    • 3tbsp sherry vinegar
    • 2tsp sugar
    • 1tsp salt
    Instructions
    For the meatballs
    1. Pre-heat the oven at 200c
    2. Chop up the onion finely (I used a mini food processor), keep half for the sauce
    3. Peel and de-skin the chorizo and cut into small pieces - I chucked this in my mini-food processor to make things quicker
    4. Add the onion and chopped chorizo into a bowl with the minced beef and mix together well
    5. Shape the mixture into small balls - I made them so they fit in the palm of my hand and this made about thirty meatballs.
    6. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes
    For the sauce
    1. Chop the garlic finely and add to a large pan along with the onion and a splash of oil. Cook on a medium heat until softened.
    2. Add both sets of passata, along with the sherry vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil.
    3. Simmer on a medium heat to reduce the sauce - I cooked mine for about 40 minutes but you can change this depending on how you like your sauce

    Competition

    You could win a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer for yourself.  All you have to do is answer this: What would be your perfect tapa for pairing with Alhambra Reserva 1925? Comment below and you could win a heritage set of Alhambra Reserva 1925 beer to enjoy with your own tapa creations!  The competition will end at midnight on the 15 November 2015 and the Alhambra team will choose the winner and send them the prize.

    beef_chorizo_meatballs_alhambra

    Disclosure: I was sent a case of Alhambra Reserva 1925 for the purposes of this post…which I’m sure is some people’s idea of heaven.  The competition is being run on behalf of Alhambra; there is no cash alternative and my only responsibility is to pass on the name and email address of the winner.  Oh and you must be 18 or over to enter.

    Cake, Recipes

    Recipe: French Martini cupcakes

    french martini cake
    When I started playing around with the idea of doing recipes I was determined that it wasn’t just going to be full of cake photos.  No offence to all those bloggers whose sites are populated by cake, but most of the time I’m pretty incapable of making my cakes look as good as they taste.  However, it’s National Cupcake Week so I wanted to share a cake recipe…mainly because the photos turned out alright, but also because it’s simple and kinda classy – in that it’s inspired by a cocktail.

    The French Martini sounds fancier than it is, in reality it’s a pretty simple drink; three ingredients, shaken with ice and strained into a martini glass.  It was designed in the 1980s, during the revival of cocktail culture  – I highly recommend watching the gloriously trashy movie Cocktail starring Tom Cruise for some historical background.  Be warned there’s a hell of a lot of flaring bottles and other such nonsense, but don’t let that put you off.

    Anyway French Martini cupcakes.  A while ago, I went through a phase of baking a load of alcohol-inspired cakes…because everyone needs a hobby right?  The French Martini’s three ingredients of vodka, raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice were pretty simple to recreate into a cake because you get rid of one of the ingredients straight away.  Light spirits are tricky to bake with and tend to be overtaken by other flavours, so basic sponge cake takes its place.  Pineapple jam filling is best; pineapple sponge would be too much and lets try and keep our cake balanced, okay team?  Finally raspberry liqueur is added to the buttercream icing to give it a pinkish colour, like the drink.  And sprinkles, because this drink was created during the glitzy 80s.  And there you have it, French Martini cupcakes.

    Recipe: French Martini cupcakes
     
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    Inspired by the 1980s cocktail, this is the recipe for a batch of French Martini cupcakes
    Author:
    Recipe type: Dessert
    Serves: 12
    Ingredients
    Cake
    • 110g butter or margarine
    • 110g caster sugar
    • 2 eggs, free-range
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 110g self-raising flour
    • 1-2 tbsp milk
    • Pineapple jam
    Icing
    • 140g butter, softened
    • 280g icing sugar
    • Raspberry liqueur
    • Sprinkles to decorate
    Instructions
    1. Pre-heat the oven to to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a muffin tin with pink paper cases
    2. Cream together the butter/margarine and sugar in a large bowl.
    3. Lightly beat the eggs together in a smaller bowl and then mix into the butter and sugar mixture until it's all combined.
    4. Add in the vanilla extract and milk.
    5. Sieve the flour and fold into the batter.
    6. Divide into the cupcake cakes and bake in the oven until the tops are springy and you can insert a fork and it comes out clean.
    7. Leave to cool.
    8. Once the cakes are cool,cut a small hole about the size of a 5p piece in the centre of the top of the cake - be careful not to go through the entire cake, and keep the top layer of the hole so you can reseal the cake (so it works like a lid).
    9. Spoon in a small amount of pineapple jam into the hole and add the cake-lid back on.
    10. Make the icing by combining the butter and icing sugar and slowly adding a little raspberry liqueur. Be careful not to add too much as you don't want it getting sticky or not being able to stay in shape.
    11. Fill an icing bag and pipe the icing onto the cupcakes or spoon on.
    12. Add sprinkles.

    cocktail inspired french martini cupcakes