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Cruising the High Seas with a Tot of Something Fruity

25 Nov

Planning some Christmas Recipes

I was going to give this post a Christmas heading, but it´s about fruit flavoured liqueurs, and who needs Christmas as an excuse to open a bottle and share with friends?!

Every year for the last few years, I have made a batch of orange flavoured liqueur (which is made from vodka as it´s virtually impossible to buy pure alcohol here).  It´s rather like Limoncello and the recipe comes from the BBC Good Food website.

I won´t reproduce it here, just click on the link above and you can see how easy it is to do.  And if you fancy a batch for Christmas to either drink at home or to put into pretty bottles as gifts…well, you still have time.

I have also now “tested” my Cherry Brandy which I made back in the summer.  Remember this?  Well, all I can say is “wow”!  I´m so pleased with how it has turned out and I know we´ll be enjoying it over the coming months. The cherries are amazing too and I am planning to serve a few this weekend with a citrus sponge cake and vanilla ice cream.

Digressing a little, Cherry Brandy always reminds me of my Great Aunt Joan, my darling Grandmother´s older sister.  Joan was a stout old spinster, a little gruff, but caring deep down as she dedicated her life to running children´s homes.  She spent her spare time entering competitions and must have been pretty good at it as she won things like holidays, cars and cruises.  My lucky grandmother was often chosen to accompany her on these little jaunts, and it was mostly good fun for them both.

I say mostly, because Aunt Joan was teetotal, and always frowned at anyone letting the smallest drop of alcohol pass their lips. My Grandmother, on the other hand, enjoyed a drink almost right up to her dying day aged 93 – she said it kept her young.  They were on a cruise on the QEII, when a young boy was taken ill with appendicitis and the Captain announced that the ship would turn back to the last port so that he could be operated on.  This would cause a delay of about 10 hours to their journey, and during this period the bars would be open free of charge to all guests.

My grandmother happily planned an afternoon of white wine drinking and sun bathing when Aunt Joan had a bit of a panic attack.  The already over worked Ship´s Doctor was called and prescribed a small glass of Cherry Brandy to calm Joan´s nerves.  As it was being “prescribed” rather than poured by a bar tender, Aunt Joan felt that this was acceptable.  It seems she took to keeping bottles of Cherry Brandy all over the place which she took frequent “nips” of as her “calming tonic”.  My grandmother was able to spend her afternoon as planned as Aunt Joan lay in her cabin dozing, happy and taking little sips of her Cherry Tonic.

Gorgeous Green Gazpacho

20 Aug

Green. Gorgeous. Good.

Who says Gazpacho has to be red?  Well, if you promise not to tell the Andalucían gazpacho Police…I say it doesn´t!

In the vegetable garden at the moment, our cup overfloweth. Some things just can´t be canned or frozen – like cucumbers.  And those little green thin skinned Spanish peppers are best eaten fresh in salad, stuffed or fried.

I wanted to find a new way of using up some of my “greenery” and came up with this version of gazpacho.  It´s a stunning colour, tastes rather like juiced vegetables and I´m sure must be amazingly good for you and packed with vitamins.  Probably an excellent pick me up for the morning after the night before too.  We just drank it chilled as a pre lunch appetizer.

Here´s what I used, but if you do decide to give it a go I´m thinking celery, avocado and lime juice might also be great additions.

Two thin green peppers, one small cucumber (peeled), a small clove of garlic, a small bunch of parsley, 4 large leaves of raw chard (or spinach).

In a blender mix the vegetables with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt (to taste) and a litre of ice cold water.

Blend until smooth, add a few ice cubes and chill until needed.  Looking as gorgeous as it does, it just has to be good for you!

Cherry and Watermelon Granizada

25 Jul

So pretty, so good....

A granizada in Spain is rather like a granita in Italy, or a water ice elsewhere.  This drink was probably more the texture of a slushy sorbet, so didn´t know what to call it!

We had friends from the UK to stay for a week, and whilst eating and drinking we tried to balance out some of the inevitable excesses with plenty of fruit and salad.

To make this drink I whizzed up (with my stick blender in a jug) about 6 large ices cubes made from the slightly cooked pitted cherries I had prepared a couple of weeks ago for Cherry Jam with a large chunk of sweet watermelon (about a quarter of a small one) and a few leaves of mint.

Guess what colour my favourite summer tablecloth is?!

So easy, so fresh, and next time I´ll add a little cava as inspired by spicegirlfla and her Chilled Mixed Berry and Prosecco Soup.  Cheers!!

Gazpacho as we know and love it

7 Jul

In Andalucia we don´t eat tomatoes...we drink them!

So, now we come to the Gazpacho most people are familiar with – the iced tomato and vegetable soup famed the world over (well, almost!).

It is served both as a soup here and as a drink.  In most homes it comes in a glass.  In fact there is a wonderful advert for my favourite Spanish beer, Cruzcampo, which celebrates all things Andalúz.  One line in the voice over says something along the lines of “In Andalucía we don´t eat tomatoes, we drink them!” (If you have time to watch it, it´s worth it, even if you don´t understand Spanish, just to see a few snippets of summer life in Andalucía).

Every housewife will give you a slightly different recipe, adding her own little tweaks (more of this, less of that). Some use stale bread, some don´t. I tend not to unless I want to serve it a little thicker as a soup which can then be garnished with little chopped cubes of the same vegetables that go into it.

So, without further ado, here´s how I make mine.

Peeled Tomatoes, Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Onion (optional) Peeled Cucumber, Salt, Water, Olive Oil, White Wine Vinegar.

It´s difficult to give quantities. If my tomatoes are lovely and red, I use less red pepper. Sometimes I don´t use onion.  But the green pepper and the cucumber do give it that distinctive fresh taste, so try not to leave them out.

A few simple ingredients

Today I used 4 large plum tomatoes, one thin green pepper, a small amount of red pepper and a small chunk of onion and half a small peeled Spanish cucumber.

Put all the vegetables into a jug or the food processor.

Put into your jug or blender

Start with one level teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and about half a litre of water.

Add water, vingegar, oil and salt

Now it´s time to start blending.  Add more seasoning, vinegar and water as you go along if you want to.  Today I added another tablespoon of vinegar (you remember they like it “alegre” or lively here right?!) and about another 250ml of water to thin it a little.

...and blend!

Then chill until you need it.  If you have put onion in it´s fine on the day you made it but I find it starts to “ferment” a little if you have any left over.  Also, while standing in the fridge it may start to separate a little with the water at the bottom and the vegetables on top – just give it a stir before serving and it will be fine.

Big Man gets arty with the vegetables

Now, go and put on a straw hat, a paso doble on the cd and lie back in a shady spot and sip on your ice cold Gazpacho.  Or ga-pacho, as they tend to say here! These Andaluces and their habit of dropping the “s” sound….most confusing!

Cheers – It´s 4th July!

4 Jul

Cheers!

Cherry Brandy & Ginger Beer

Being the sort of girl who needs no excuse to raise a glass, here´s a big “Cheers” to all my new blogging pals celebrating the 4th July. Hope it´s a great day for you all.

As you know, it´s cherry season here up the mountain and after stoning far too many kilos for jam making, I decided to ring the changes and make something gorgeous for the cooler months.  I came across a wonderful recipe over on Olive and Artichokes for a cherry liqueur they have made with Eau de Vie.  We can´t get that here, at least, I´ve never come across it…but I didn´t let this stand in my way!

I bought a bottle of Spanish Brandy, not one of the rough ones might I add, and got my sugar, cherries and bottles ready.

Not many ingredients...

I followed the instructions given in the recipe, that is layering cherries and sugar and then filling the containers with liqueur. 

Get Layering...

Hopefully in a few months time I´ll have a delicious cherry flavoured brandy and some brandy flavoured cherries.  Can´t wait!

Fill....and wait!

Just over three weeks ago I started to make some alcoholic ginger beer.  If you want to give it a go, you´ll find the recipe here.

It´s very simple, all you need is a sachet of yeast, a jar of powdered ginger, sugar and a jar or jug you can loosely cover.

This is what you´ll need

After a week of adding yeast and sugar to your initial mixture (see the recipe) you´ll add water, lemon juice and more sugar to make about 7 litres of ginger flavoured drink.

Get Squeeeeeezing...

You need to leave some space in your plastic bottles for expansion, so only fill them about three quarters and then squeeze some of the air out before sealing them. If you don´t do this you´ll have exploding ginger beer all over the place and it´s very sticky.  I know this from experience!

Not long to wait now!

Once you´ve been patient you will be rewarded with gorgeous sparkling, lemony, gingery Ginger Beer.  I don´t know exactly how alcoholic it is, although it does get stronger the longer you leave it.  After about 3 months it starts to taste acidic, but I don´t suppose you´ll have it for that long as it´s delicious. And if you can´t wait 3 weeks, wait a week and mix it up with soda or water for a refreshing, non alcoholic drink.

So good, even Alfi wants to get in on the act!

Happy Independence Day!

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