Thursday, 21 April 2011

I Love... Elderflowers (Includes Recipes!)

I think this lovely warm weather is totally going to my head because I can't stop thinking about summer drinks - Pimms, ciders & perrys, fruity cocktails with herby twists and of course, all things with elderflowers. To me, elderflowers just say summer - I love picking elderflowers on warm mornings (pick them before the sun gets too hot and go for the creamiest, freshest heads) and turning them into yummy things to drink and eat.

Sparkling elderflower is quite often the non-alcoholic drink of choice for weddings - it looks great, it tastes a bit different  and the bubbles are quite celebratory. However, there are plenty of other things to do with elderflowers and if you've got somewhere nearby where you can pick them, you can get creative with the wedding DIY and get the raw ingredients free!

So, here are some ideas for lovely things to do with delightfully delicate elderflowers and even if you're not planning a wedding, do try making some elderflower cordial - that with some sparkling water is a great summer's evening drink and it's even better when you've made it yourself.

 Above - elderflower cordial is just fabulous and looks great in cool pop-top bottles. A cute way to serve this would be in the jar glasses I blogged yesterday - lots of crushed ice and don't forget the stripy straws for a trendy twist. Image - BBC Good Food

Elderflower Cordial Recipe
You'll need - 20 fresh elderflower heads (trim the stalks right down), 2.5kg white sugar (granulated or caster - I use caster), 2 lemons (unwaxed please!) & 85g citric acid (you can get this from chemists)

What you need to do - Put the sugar and 1.5 litres/2¾ pints water into the largest saucepan you have. Gently heat, without boiling, until the sugar has dissolved. Give it a stir every now and again. Pare the zest from the lemons using a potato peeler and then slice the lemons into rounds. Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to the boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a washing up bowl with cold water. Give the flowers a gentle swish around to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift flowers out, gently shake and transfer to the syrup along with the lemons, zest and citric acid, then stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hrs. Line a colander with a clean tea towel, then sit it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup - let it drip slowly through. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill sterilised bottles (run glass bottles through the dishwasher, or wash well with soapy water. Rinse, then leave to dry in a low oven). The cordial is ready to drink straight away and will keep in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Or freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed.

 Above - we all love cupcakes and these elderflower cupcakes will have the most delicate flavour and how pretty would these look at an early summer wedding? If you've made your elderflower cordial, you can flavour the buttercream icing with a splash of that and then decorate the cake with the delicate flowers. Image - Cupcake Recipe

 Above - yum yum. Cucumber, mint & elderflower cocktails sound like my idea of summer drinks heaven with a fabulous champagne kick for extra wow! The colours combine so beautifully and it would be wonderful to serve this is mismatched glasses for a real summer look. You can get this great recipe here on the Delicious mag websiteImage - Delicious Magazine

 Above - now, you know how much I like jams and jellies as favours so any conserve flavoured with elderflower is going to work for me! You can find the recipe for this beautiful jelly here, on the fabulous Laundry Etc website. Image - Laundry Etc

 Above - love these delicate raspberry & elderflower jellies - simple to make, pretty to look at and oh-so gorgeous to eat. How perfect. Image - Party Pieces

Raspberry & Elderflower Jelly Recipe
You'll need - 7 leaves of gelatine, 200ml cranberry & raspberry cordial, 400ml sparkling elderflower drink, 200g fresh raspberries.

What you need to do - Soak the gelatine leaves in a small bowl of cold water for five minutes. Squeeze any water from the gelatine and place in a small heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water until melted. Measure the cordial and elderflower into a jug, and add the gelatine and stir together. Divide the raspberry between four small cups or champagne flutes. Pour the liquid over the raspberries and transfer to the fridge for a minimum of six hours or overnight if possible to set.

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