Frozen blackberries left over from making homemade blackberry gin led me to create this delicious dessert.
Once you have tried making fruit liqueurs you will be hooked. Last year I made blackberry Gin with wild brambles growing in the hedgerow. Steep the fruit in gin for a week, giving it a shake every day, add about 200g sugar to every 500ml gin and 250g of fruit. Leave to develop for 3 months in a dark place. After 3 months strain off the fruit and re-bottle the gin. Don’t throw the fruit away just freeze it until you are ready to make the Blackberry Gin Crumble recipe. The Blackberry gin will get smoother and develop if left for a year (hard to do) and makes a lovely blackberry gin and tonic.
Blackberry Gin Crumble Recipe
This drunken crumble is delicious and a great way to use up the soaked blackberries. If you don’t have drunken blackberries in your freezer then you can use normal blackberries and a tablespoon of blackberry gin.I decided to enhance this Blackberry Gin crumble recipe further with the taste of almonds and some oatmeal which adds a nutty taste.
Ingredients for blackberry gin crumble recipe
- 50g flour
- 125g butter
- 75g sugar (soft brown)
- 50g oatmeal (pin head oatmeal)
- 50g ground almonds
- 25g flaked almonds
- 300g blackberries
Make the crumble mixture by combining the oats, flour, ground almonds, sugar and butter. Once you have rubbed all this together to make breadcrumbs add the flaked almonds.
Tip the crumble mixture onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes 180/160 fan gas mark 4 until light golden
Put the blackberries in a saucepan and simmer them gently until soft, spoon out the blackberries into your crumble dish and reduce the juice by at least half. Taste the sauce it may need a sprinkle of sugar if the blackberries were very tart.
At this point I do one of three things.
- If i am making this crumble for another day then i sprinkle the topping on cover with cling film and freeze.
- If i am making it in the morning, and not baking the crumble till later, then I keep the crumble topping in a plastic bag in the freezer and cover the fruit with cling film and put in the fridge
- If we are having it straight away then sprinkle on the topping
Be generous when you put the topping on but you won’t need it all (save the rest for another crumble by freezing it) . Bake in the oven for 10 minutes 200/180 gas mark 6 (if the crumble is frozen take out the freezer an hour before cooking and then bake for 20 minutes, if only the topping was frozen then bake for an extra 5 minutes).
sometimes we have it with custard, sometimes with ice cream and sometimes with cream with a bit of heather honey mixed in and very occasionally we have it with all three!.
Hope you enjoy making this blackberry gin crumble recipe.
Giveaway Mornflake hamper
For another chance to win just like my facebook page too.
All entries will be put entered into a draw where one winner will be selected at random to receive a Mornflake Hamper. The competition is open until the Friday 7th March 2014 (11.59pm UK time). The winner will be notified by the 14th March 2014. Hamper can only be sent to an address in the UK (sorry my International friends)
The Hamper contains
- Mornflake Organic Porridge Oats
- Mornflake Jumbo Oats
- Mornflake Superfast Oats
- Mornflake Extra Crispy Muesli
- Mornflake Oatbran Granola and Muesli range
- Mornflake china breakfast set
- hessian bag
Oh my, I have been challenged! Mornflake are running a Porridge competition. Now I am doubtful that my simple back to basics porridge recipe would win. I think they are looking for something more exciting, like the glorious recipe I read at the weekend for a Rose Cardamom and pistachio porridge (will write it up and publish soon, can’t find a link to it as yet). I have got a little secret recipe up my sleeve that I might enter…Anyway to help inspire you I have a giveaway!!
Giveaway Mornflake hamper
All you need to do is email me , with the message title ”Porridge hamper competition”. The competition is open until the Friday 7th March 2014. The winner will be notified by the 14th March. Hamper can only be sent to an address in the UK (sorry my International friends)
Porridge stir off competition details – need to enter before midnight (UK time) Thursday 6th March 2014
TV chef Simon Rimmer (still love him best for running Green’s vegetarian restaurant back when I was a student in Manchester) and Mornflake Cereals (how I love your oatmeal!), are urging porridge fans to share their oaty masterpieces, for a chance to take part in the first ever ‘Porridge Stir-Off’, at the home of Mornflake Oats, in Cheshire, on Saturday 5th April.
The winner will enjoy a fabulous Gourmet Evening-for-two, hosted by Simon, at his award-winning Cheshire restaurant, Earle, a year’s worth of Mornflake Porridge Oats and an all-expenses-paid trip to enter their recipe into the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships, in Scotland. The recipe will also feature in Mornflake’s annual Oat Recipe Book.
To enter, simply upload a video clip or picture of your oaty masterpiece, with full recipe details, to their dedicated web page at http://www.mornflake.com/whats-on/competitions/great-british-porridge-challenge.aspx or their Facebook page, where you can also find full competition Terms and Conditions.
Porridge recipes are many. After fiddling around with numerous porridge recipes over the years I have settled on the perfect porridge recipe.
Whilst leafing through books in a second-hand bookshop I read an old Aga cookbook. In it, I came across an overnight porridge recipe. The premise was simple, make your life easier by making porridge the night before. You put cold water, milk and porridge oats in a pan, put it in the simmering oven overnight and when you got up all you need to do was stir and serve! There is just one problem, I don’t have an Aga, but if you have a slow cooker feel free to try.
Then whilst in Goa, India I was surprised that out of the choice for breakfast (masala omelette, chai) there always seemed to be porridge with fruit. It looked tasty serving porridge with bits of banana, strawberry and mango.
I had always made my porridge with rolled oats (not porridge oats) jumbo ones and sometimes if feeling like a splurge the organic rolled ones picked up at a farmers market but I felt my porridge was a bit bland, it was an excuse to put lots of sweet things on. So I researched the porridge award winners and discovered they never use porridge outs but always oatmeal! I love oatmeal. Oatmeal is used to make oat biscuits, and parkin (another fine Yorkshire recipe). You get Oatmeal in fine, medium and coarse. It is the crushed oat kernel and it can either be milled slightly to create course or finely to create fine oatmeal.
Being from the North of England, I prefer the Scottish way of making porridge. My porridge recipe is made with salt and water, the creaminess should come from stirring the oats like a good risotto does from stirring the rice. If you are a soft southerner you can use half milk and half water, or if you are just very indulgent (or French) you can use cream, but really, this is breakfast not pudding!
The secret is to toast the oatmeal first, this brings out the nuttiness and fills the kitchen with the smell of hobnobs. I also wanted to add some fruit as I had seen in India. Normally I would have topped my porridge with Golden syrup, brown sugar, jam, maybe even a spiced plum compote if felling chefy, but I liked the idea of just putting fresh fruit on. I opted for bananas (small Caribbean bananas have the best flavour)
Porridge recipe (for 2)
- 80g oatmeal (I use a mixture of course and medium oatmeal)
- 600ml water
- pinch salt
- banana or two depending on size
- 1/2tsp of demerara sugar
- splash of milk
- Toast the oatmeal in a pan, until it is fragrant (don’t burn it).
- Boil the kettle and add 600ml of the boiling water to a pan.
- Sprinkle the oatmeal ontop of the water (otherwise it goes lumpy) and stir until it is all dissolved, bring back to the boil and add a pinch of salt.
- Simmer gently for 12 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. Once the 12 minutes is up stir vigorously for a minute and then leave to cool for 3 minutes.
- Pour into a bowl and add the chopped banana on top, sprinkle with the demerara and top with a splash of milk.
Delicious and very good for you being low G.I, high in fibre, lowers cholesterol, keep you full for longer, having lots of potassium in the banana, and endless vitamins. Try it
Staal Smoked Salmon Sandwich
Just popped into Haley and Clifford’s in Leeds to see what goodies they had. Amongst many treats the thing that caught my eye was the Staal smoked Salmon. I love a bit of smoked fish (and i was fighting off the urge to have fish and chips for lunch).
I was seduced by three things
- the Scandinavian sounding name,
- it was made in Yorkshire
- Haley and Clifford’s have a strong Jewish following and therefore they would only stock the very best smoked salmon.
At home I quickly rustled up a fantastic sandwich with what I had in the fridge.
I used quark, freshly ground black pepper, smoked salmon, cucumber and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice it was delicious. The smoked salmon was very good and I will be definitely buying more. On reflection if i made the sandwich again i would add a sprig of dill but maybe that would be gilding the lilly?! Staal smokehouse are based in Beverley in East Yorkshire.
Seville Orange Recipes
The best thing about January in the UK is the arrival of the Seville Orange from Spain, the second best thing is Yorkshire forced rhubarb. Seville oranges are the ugly orange of the family and are very sour, you do not want to eat them but they have a great strong taste for cooking. Every year I make Seville orange marmalade, you can even enter the The world’s original marmalade awards! but what else can you do with Seville Oranges? Here are some great seville orange recipes.
Pomander Gin – Seville Orange and Clove Gin Recipe
Pomander is the name for those oranges studded with cloves that you hang up at Christmas to make the house smell nice. I found a great seville orange recipe in a book my mum picked up in a second hand bookshop. It sounds so old fashioned, Pomander gin, using Seville oranges and cloves but the result is delicious. I love making fruit liqueurs including sloe gin, blackberry gin and raspberry vodka. They make great Christmas presents and create beautiful cocktails. I am always looking for new inspiration. This is simple but requires patience
- 1 bottle of gin (75cl)
- Seville orange
- 12 cloves
- 4 oz caster sugar
Decant the gin into a wide mouthed kilner jar. Pierce the orange with the 12 cloves, to create your pomander. Put your pomander in the gin with the sugar. Seal and give it a good shake. Leave in a dark cupboard for 3 months! after which time the gin will have taken on the delicious perfume of the orange and cloves tasting like christmas, strain and decant into sterilised bottles. I enjoy this over ice but also delicious as a Gin and Tonic.
Seville Orange Marmalade Recipe
This is a touchy one as everyone likes their marmalade slightly different. I like a tangy, fresh, thin slice in a deep gold jelly. From inexperience, laziness and bad luck I have made chunky, heavy set, dark set and unset marmalade but have now settled on my preferred method. I always feel that maybe I could add other flavours like ginger,cardamom or whisky but I am too precious about my marmalade to change. I would never buy a Whisky Marmalade or a Ginger Marmalade so why would I make it?!
I have tried the quick method where you put soft boiled Seville oranges in the food processor and chop to a paste but i thought the resulting Marmalade missed that jewel like quality of Seville orange shreds set within a quivering jelly, instead it was one opaque colour. I have tried Delia’s method of boiling the Seville oranges then shredding but i found it too messy, but each to their own.
Top tips – I have learnt along the way
- Don’t add your sugar till the peel has softened as sugar halts this process.
- Make sure you have reduced the liquid to a third of the original amount before adding sugar as this speeds up the setting process.
- If you want a tawny or Oxford style Marmalade then replace half the sugar with demerrara and only reduce the liquid by half.
- Don’t squeeze the pith and pip bag too hard as this is what makes your jelly cloudy.
- Take your time this is a labour of love
- Twice as much sugar as oranges and twice the amount of liquid as oranges before you add the sugar
So here is my recipe
- 1 kg Seville oranges
- 2 lemons
- 2kg granulated sugar
Cut the oranges and lemons in half and squeeze the juice into a bowl. with your fingers scrape out the remaining flesh and pips and put in a muslin bag and add to the juice take the left over skins and slice thinly (no thicker than a matchstick) and add to the juice. Pour in 2 litres of water to the juice and leave overnight for the skins to soften and the pectin to be released helping the marmalade set.
Next day tip everything into a large pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 2hrs until the peel is translucent. Remove the bag of pips and pulp and measure the level of liquid left there should be about 1 litre if less add more water if more boil for longer. Add the sugar and wait for it to dissolve before stirring, then turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Boil hard for 15 minutes or until the temperature reaches 105c / 220f.
Allow to cool slightly and then ladle into sterilised jars
Seville Orange Curd (in a pressure cooker) Recipe
I have a new pressure cooker (present for Christmas used to have a very old Prestige domed Aluminium one which I bought from a charity shop for a fiver, but I was never sure about when it was at full pressure, any way I digress). In one of my cookbooks I had a recipe for making lemon curd in the pressure cooker. I have made lemon curd before and although not difficult it is slow and takes a lot of stirring and attention so making it in 10 minutes in the pressure cooker appealed. If you don’t have a pressure cooker the method is the same but just place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for 30 minutes until it has thickened (don’t worry if it takes 40 minutes this is a slow thing to make). I have changed this to make a great seville orange recipe for curd
- 4 eggs free range large
- 450g caster sugar
- grated zest of 2 Seville oranges
- 100ml Seville orange juice
- 50ml Lemon juice
- 75g butter
Beat the eggs together in a pyrex bowl, add the sugar and mix thoroughly. Add the other ingredients and stir. Cover the bowl with greaseproof paper and balance it on the trivet inside the pressure cooker, make a foil handle for easy removal. pour water into the pressure cooker making sure it doesn’t reach the bowl (1.5cm should be fine). Close the lid and bring to high pressure. cook for 10 minutes and release naturally (i.e wait till the pressure has naturally dropped before opening)
you may find a layer of butter has formed on top – stir vigorously and if you want push through a sieve . Decant into sterilised jars and store in the fridge.
Delicious spread on toast or used to fill a cake (see previous post for lemon curd cake)
Seville Orange Vodka Recipe
- Seville Orange
- Bottle vodka
- 4 oz caster sugar
Using a potato peeler remove the peel from the Seville orange making sure you don’t remove the pith only the zest. Now you can either remove some vodka or pour the vodka into a larger container (i prefer to do this) add the peel and the sugar and give it a good shake. Every week give it another good shake or I know some people who keep it in the boot of their car so it gets jiggled around . After 3 months the Vodka will be ready to drink mmmm
If you have any Seville orange recipes let me know I would love to try them
Northumberland Coast – Where to go and what to do
The Northumberland Coast is only a few hours drive from where we live in Leeds. Recently, we have begun quite a love affair with the Northumberland Coast, having stayed there four times last year including our most recent New Years stay. The Northumberland Coast is beautiful with large expanses of beach which are almost empty apart from the odd dog walker, the skies go on forever and at night the sky is as black as ink (National Dark Sky Park)
A good base is Alnwick, this enables you to be able to nip out to the beach but also enjoy the benefits of a market town. Alnwick was voted best place to live in the UK and I can understand why.
- Alnwick gardens
- Barter books (the birthplace of the whole Keep Calm and Carry On phenomenon)
- Alnwick castle
- The Treehouse restaurant
- The Tanners Arms pub
- The Cheese Room (Great cheese shop and deli selling some fantastic local cheese as well as all your favourites)
- The farmers market
- Harry Potter
When we have stayed in Alnwick we have opted for self catering so that the dog can come too but there are lots of other options.
From Alnwick, if you drive south along the coast road for 9 miles (15 minutes) you will come to Amble. This guide then works back along the coast route North from Amble
Amble is a true fishing village. It has the best fish and chips I have ever tasted from the Quayside, but don’t fill up too much as there is an amazing little ice cream parlour/ coffee shop called spurelli who serve delicious hand made roasted Sicilian pistachio ice-cream (or if you are very lucky gingerbread ice cream).
Driving back towards Alnwick you will come to Warkworth a very pretty village with a great big imposing castle on a hill, it is full of gift shops and cute restaurants as well as a beach.
Next stop is Alnmouth with its beautiful long stretch of beach. Though it is where my dog found a dead seal carcass and decided to roll in it as he thought it was the best thing he had ever smelled. Don’t let this put you off though, it is a great long golden beach and we return here time after time, it is usually the beach we stop off at on our way up to the cottage to give everyone’s legs a stretch.
Just after Alnmouth you come to the small village / hamlet of longhoughton and here is a fantastic beach called Sugar Sands (because the sand looks like sugar I guess!). Turn off at the village shop and follow the sign for Low Stead Farm, when you get to the farm go through the gates and park at the bottom – they do ask for a voluntary 50p donation for the church funds. This beach has great rock pools and is beautiful.
Next is Craster, which I keep meaning to go to but I always run out of time but make sure you do go and get some of their famous kippers.
Embleton is next, this is my favourite beach it is glorious. Park at Dunstaburgh Golf course (where they do a decent take away coffee and they will happily let you use their toilets) walk through the links and be greeted by a giant crescent of a beach with a castle at one end (Dunstaburgh) and the impossibly pretty village of Low-Newton-By-The-Sea (which is part owned by the National Trust) at the other. My top tip would be to walk along the beach to Low Newton where you can enjoy a fantastic pub lunch of local crab sandwiches and real ale at the Ship Inn. If the weather is really foul then you can drive to Newton By The Sea , if The Ship is busy, or you fancy something more substantial then head for the Joiners Arms which is fantastic.
The next place we really love is Bamburgh with its magnificent Castle and very long golden beach with probably the best views of not only the Farne islands but also Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and the Castle. I can also highly recommend the sausages from the local butchers to take home for your tea or have for breakfast the next morning.
What you need to know
Northumberland is cold, it is further North than you probably realise. It is in fact parallel with the Isle of Arran (which I thought was where the jumpers were from but that is the other Aran!). Make sure you pack a good thick waterproof coat (check out John Lewis for some great North face coats), waterproof shoes (neoprene wellies are the best as they keep your feet warm and dry), hat and gloves, however don’t be surprised to see the locals walking about in shorts and t shirts they are a hardy lot. The beaches can be particularly bracing from Autumn to Spring.
There are not many petrol stations, so if you are venturing out remember to fill up before, the same goes for cash machines they can often be empty so make sure you have enough cash for fish and chips!
Don’t forget to go inland too. We love going over to Rothbury and Otterburn and visiting the famous Cragside . There are some great walks as well as it being part of the National Dark sky Park (night comes early in the middle of winter) so bring a torch and some binoculars and wrap up warm.
We have stayed with coquet cottages many times because the cottages are all lovely 4 and 5 star with king size beds and beautifully furnished, they also allow dogs (they even give them their own welcome basket). We have also stayed in a yurt in the summer with the dog which was wonderful (see previous post). If I planned better I would look at National trust Cottages who have some lovely properties but they always seem to be booked up when I want to go.
So don’t worry about the time of year, pack a bag and head of to the Northumberland coast it is wonderful. It is so good that I am going back next month with my mum and both our dogs!
If you have any top tips for places to go, see, shop or eat at let me know
Photos courtesy of Mr Happen-Upon copyright Happen-Upon