Posts Tagged ‘elderflowers’

Like Drinking A Mud Puddle

The Mud Puddle

It was a long weekend.

Between attending 2 separate (and unequivocally delicious) food festivals, on top of our usual weekendly chores, by Sunday night I was looking for a little liquid refreshment and a well deserved wind down.

While sitting at the dinner table shucking the 2 quarts of shell peas that I’d forgotten about in the fridge and enduring the sweltering heat from a pan of oven roasted veggies destined for stock, the Everyman offered to fix me a drink that would be good for what ailed me.  I didn’t know what I was in the mood for, so I just asked him to surprise me, something I’ve come to realize he is quite adept at.

The resulting cocktail was delicious, even if it did slightly look like I was drinking a mud puddle.  Honestly, I think that might be part of the appeal, though.

Moreover, I’m really quite starting to like this Domaine de Canton stuff.  Here’s hoping that the LCBO doesn’t delist it too soon.

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Prickled Pink

Prickled Pink

This past weekend while I was out and about, I happened to notice a wall of posters announcing the return of one of my favourite mixing tequilas to the Ontario liquor market.

Hornitos, which is made by the giant Sauza conglomerate is a better than average tequila that I fell in love with during my early 20′s.  Unfortunately, several years ago the LCBO delisted it, so the only way I’ve been able to stock our bar has been to bring a few bottles back whenever we go on vacation.  In a strange but unrelated coincidence, when we bought our condo back in 2007 our real estate agent (knowing I liked tequila) presented us with a bottle of Hornitos when we closed, though he’d had no clue what a fan I was of that particular variety.  I also brought some back from duty free when we were in Aruba, but I’m excited to know that I’m free to bring back some of the other stuff I’ve been after (the elderflower flavoured St Germain, for instance) when we go to the US this summer.

Since I didn’t have to be as cautious with rationing the Hornitos anymore, when the Everyman asked me if I would like him to fix me a drink yesterday, I asked him to see what he could cobble together using the Hornitos and some pomegranate elderflower sparkling water he’d purchased for me the other day.  The resultant cocktail is the faintly tinged, headily perfumed drink you see above.  It’s a silent but deadly mix that is just the ticket for sipping on a swelteringly hot day in the sun.  Be careful though, since they go down easy before you know it you could be dancing on a table.

The Prickled Pink

1.5 oz Hornitos tequila

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Briefly, Chiefly

Market Goodies

I’ve been feeling a wee bit aggravated and out of sorts since I fell off the counter last week.

We did manage to hit our local farmer’s market on Tuesday, but hobbling around somewhat killed my enjoyment of the atmosphere (plus it was spitting rain).  The main reason we went was that I promised someone I’d come back this week if they could get me something, and I like to be a woman of my word.  I stopped by to see Seth, my friend from Forbes Wild Foods, because I’d asked him to procure some additional elderflowers for me, and like the gentle soul he is, he did just that.  He also brought me a jug of elderflower syrup that his boss had made and mentioned that when I am sick of playing with my homemade cordial, I am welcome to buy his instead :)   I also picked up a small bag of dried sweet chestnuts, that I have no pressing plans for, other than that I just love chestnuts to begin with.  He told me a funny little anecdote as we were settling up; apparently there was a bit of a friendly scuffle over my bag of elderflowers because it was the last one, and a chef had his eye on them too.  Lucky for me I got first dibs because I’d requested them last week, which just goes to show that it pays to make friends with your local purveyors.

So, while there wasn’t an opportunity to create a market meal this week as I’d planned, (nothing new was available; just more of the same old ramps and asparagus) I’m sure I’ll have fun futzing around with the dried chestnuts.  There’s definitely some elderflower jelly and ice cream in my future, but who knows, there could also be a chestnut pudding or brownie coming too!

Until next time…

A New Kind Of Elder

Delicious Elderflower Slurry

Despite what you might believe, the Everyman is not the only amateur mixologist in our household.  While he mainly focuses on creating finished concoctions, I prefer to dabble in the individual flavor components, syrups, cordials and tinctures that can be used to prepare a bevy of mixed drinks and cocktails.

For quite some time now I’ve been interested in elderflowers and how they can be incorporated into various alcoholic and baking mediums.  After getting my hands on some at last week’s farmer’s market, I found I had more plans than I had supply of flowers (including flower jelly, panna cotta, angel food cake and cordial, to name a few).   Via a weekly newsletter from Chowhound I’d heard about a French elderflower liqueur called St. Germain that I really wanted to try – but, like most things I’d probably enjoy, it’s not currently available in our backwards-ass country.  Since getting my hands on the actual spirits was out of the question (until I go on another trip through the states, that is), the next best thing seemed to prepare myself an elderflower cordial.  It’ll probably be much more versatile and useful because I can mix liquor into it at random and still have a decent base flavor carrier for my other culinary intrigues.

So, while my inner cheapskate railed against me for doing it, I dumped 3/4 of my $18 bag of dried elderflowers into a boiling pot of sugary water.  Before you balk at that price tag, you should know that elderflowers are probably one of the most labor-intensive foods to pick, thus justifying such a hefty price per bag.  After stirring in a small amount of dissolved citric acid to act as a stabilizer, I covered the steaming mixture and let it steep for a long while.  Once done it’ll be strained of slurryish solids and bottled into the dainty glass pop top flasks I’ve been saving when we buy French carbonated lemonade.

I haven’t quite worked out what I’ll do with it yet, but right now I’m imagining a refreshing afternoon beverage of the syrup topped with soda water, or mixed into a vodka lemonade.  There really are endless possibilities for it.  I did note that the small spoonful I tasted was like nothing else I’d ever experienced before, so there’ll be a learning curve with it I’m sure.  Not that it matters though, because I just can’t wait!

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Panna Cotta Part Deux

Gelatin... I Think It Comes From Feet!

I had my elderflowers, my gelatin, my pint of whipping cream.  I had nothing but time on my hands, ergo I had panna cotta.

My first attempt at homemade panna cotta last week turned out so well that it inspired me to revisit it and make a little more (plus finding those elderflowers really didn’t hurt my chances either).  On top of all that, the below average mid-May temperatures ensured I wouldn’t be spending my time planting out the garden over the weekend, so I was on the lookout for other things to do.  Panna cotta seemed like an agreeable task.

I chose the same basic formula as I’d used previously, but altered it a little to compensate for an ingredient I ran out of (honey).  Once again I stuffed the teaball full of dried plant matter, and when the milk, cream, honey and sugar were warmed and cohesive, I dropped the ball in and let it have a bath.  After 20 minutes there was no visible difference save a few dark speckles from the dried elderflowers, but once I dipped a spoon in for a taste test, I saw how hasty a judgement that had been.  The flavors were at once tart, then sweet and floral, with an endnote I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  If tastes could be a color, this one would be the lightest shade of lilac purple.

Submergence Of Teaball Of Elderflowers

After blooming a few sheets of gelatin, I stirred them into the slightly cooled cream mixture and portioned the cream into a few stainless steel ramekins to set.

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Score!

Killer Finds

I was bummed that I didn’t get my ‘nduja meats yesterday, but it inadvertently allowed me a chance to get to the first farmers market of the season at Trinity Bellwoods park last night.  The market was relatively small, what with being so early in the season, but that certainly didn’t mean it wasn’t worthwhile.

I love the conviviality of an outdoor market setting.  It’s so much more relaxed and comfortable, and you get a chance to talk to the purveyors one on one.  Like the ramp guy I chatted up last night, for instance.  I zeroed in on his stall as soon as I saw the giant basket of ramps, ecstatic that I’d get to have a few more before the season was over.  While I was waiting for him to finish up with another customer, I started perusing the other offerings on his table.  Lo and behold, didn’t I find a jar of jellied elderberry!  Since it appeared to be the only one, I clutched it in my hot little hand while waiting for my turn, not willing to give up this golden find to anyone.  They also had saskatoonberry compote, which is another wild-ish fruit I love, so I grabbed a jar of those too.  They had lingonberry and cloudberry and dozens of other things I would’ve loved to take home, but I knew I had to restrain myself, or else I’d have bought the entire tables’ worth of preserves in one fell swoop.

When it was finally my turn, (still clutching my elderberry jam) I asked for a pound of ramps and then inquired whether they ever carried the elderflowers (which I’ve been searching for in vain for a few months now and are supposedly amazing for making cordials and cocktails, etc).   Like some sort of crazy dream, the guy at the Forbes Wild Foods table grinned a megawatt grin, reached into a cooler under the table and pulled out a bag of dried elderflowers.  I’d been initially hoping for fresh, but considering this was the first time I’d even seen them in person anywhere, I wasn’t going to press my luck.  I happily caressed the bag, imagining all the panna cottas and other baked goods I could prepare with such a giant stash.  He was so taken by my sheer joy at finding them that he decided to cut me a deal on my whole purchase too, and you can’t argue with that!  By the time I arrived though (almost 6:30) he was already out of fiddleheads (the other wild food on my wish list for the evening), but promised there’d be more next week.  Incidentally I found out this morning that my organic delivery service is carrying them this week, so I can get my fiddlehead fix elsewhere.  I strolled home from the market with a bag full of goodies and a mind whirring from all the newly created possibilities.

When I got home I decided to make the ramp tart for dinner again because sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing.  And again, it was delicious.  But it made me realize, while I love ramps as a whole, I think I actually prefer the less used but still delicious leaves more than the lily white bulbs.  When I was sauteing the ramps for the tart I looked at the pan that contained both leaves and stems and felt a little sad that there weren’t more leaves.  So I cannabalized most of the rest of the bag, and now have 3/4 of a pound of ramp bulb and stems sitting in my fridge instead.  Silly foodie!  I’ll have to come up with some other worthwhile use for them during the next few days (other than more pickled ramps) before they get a chance to go bad.  Yay spring!

Until next time…