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Elderflower Cordial

Picked elderflowers

Home-made Elderflower Cordial recipe

Although there are a number of brands of ready-made Elderflower Cordial available now, it is is really easy to make your own.    I think home-made Elderflower Cordial is best as it has a zesty lemony taste which ready-made versions don’t seem to have.  Also, it is cheaper as the main ingredient is free!

elderflowers

How to find your elderflowers

Elderflowers are a good starting point for new “foragers” as they are so widely available and easily recognisable.   They are the blossoms of the elder (Sambucus nigra) which is a small tree or shrub commonly found in woodlands and gardens throughout the UK.   

The time to make this cordial is in late spring or early summer when the elderflowers are in bloom. When you start to look for them, you will see them everywhere in hedges in May and June. The elderflower heads consist of hundreds of small creamy-white flowers and have a distinctive elderflower aroma.

Elderflowers are best picked on a sunny day as the flavour will be stronger. Choose elderflower heads where the flowers are fully open but which have not yet started to turn brown. As with all foraged food, you need to make sure that the flowers that you are gathering have not been treated with any chemicals.

There are two views regarding preparation of elderflowers for use in cordial, gin or vinegar. The first is that you should not wash the elderflowers as this will impact the flavour and you should just shake the flowers and pick through them to remove any insects. The second is that the blooms need to be washed to remove the bugs, and any dirt, regardless of any reduction in flavour. I tend towards the “no-wash” view as I think the flavour is better but the choice is yours!

elderflower cordial
Some ideas for novice foragers

I am a fairly recent convert to the joys of foraging and tend to stick to things that are pretty easily identifiable such as elderflowers. My first foray into foraging involved blackberries (everyone knows what blackberries look like!) and resulted in Blackberry Ice Cream, Blackberry Gin and some yummy Blackberry Muffins. Some of my other favourite foraged recipes include Nettle Soup and a tart which combines onions with Wild Garlic. All made with ingredients which are pretty easy to identify. Definitely steering clear of foraged mushrooms for the time being!

Easy home-made Elderflower Cordial recipe

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elderflower cordial

Elderflower Cordial

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 litres 1x
  • Category: Cordial
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This luscious home-made elderflower cordial is so easy to make and can be used in soft drinks, as a cooking ingredient or to bring a floral note to cocktails.


Ingredients

Scale
  • About 20 elderflower heads
  • 3 unwaxed lemons
  • 1 kg sugar

Instructions

  1. Either shake the eldereflowers and pick through them to remove any insects or wash the elderflower heads to remove any insects.
  2. Then place them in a large bowl together with the grated zest of the lemons.   (Reserve the lemons as you will need to use their juice later.)
  3. Pour 1.5 litres of boiling water over the elderflowers and lemon zest.   Cover and leave to infuse overnight.
  4. The next day, strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin or kitchen paper, into a large saucepan.
  5. Add the sugar and the juice of the lemons to the infused liquid and heat gently to dissolve the sugar.   Once the sugar is dissolved, simmer more rapidly for around 5  minutes until the liquid has thickened slightly.
  6. Transfer the cordial into sterilised bottles or jars. (There are various ways of sterilising bottles and jars.  I think the easiest is to wash in soapy water and then put in an oven at 120 C for 15 minutes).
  7. Once bottled, the cordial will keep for several weeks in the fridge.

Notes

Although the preparation time is only 15 minutes, you do need to leave the mixture to infuse overnight (see step 3).

Keywords: elderflower cordial

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

elderflower cordial
Other Elderflower Recipes

I am a big fan of elderflower and love its distinctive floral flavour. I have lots of recipes, some using fresh elderflowers and some which can be made with shop-bought elderflower cordial.

elderflower cordial

Rose Ice Cream

Home-made Rose Ice Cream

I first came across Rose Ice Cream about ten years ago on a family holiday to Alnwick Castle Garden in Northumberland. The castle is famous for its wonderful, dramatic modern garden which includes a large area devoted to scented roses. When we visited, they were selling rose-flavoured ice-cream with a flavour based on the old-fashioned roses in the garden. I loved the ice-cream and, as soon as I got home, set about trying to make a home-made version. If you love gardens, I would recommend a visit to those at Alnwick Castle which also include a cascade of 120 water-jets, an area devoted to poisonous plants and an extraordinary tree-house which is the location for a very fancy restaurant.

Maybe because I first had Rose Ice Cream in Alnwick, I associate it with an English summer garden. There are a few recipes for Rose Ice Cream which have a more exotic twist, including pistachios or almonds, and having a 1001 Nights vibe, but this is definitely a traditional English version.

You only need the egg yolks for this recipe which means you will have spare egg whites.  As I hate waste, I pretty much always make Meringues when I make ice-cream as, very conveniently, my Meringue recipe requires four egg whites. If you are in a rose-loving mood, you could make Rose Meringues!

Edible flower recipes – rose, lavender and elderflower

As is probably obvious from the title of this blog, I love using floral flavourings in my cooking. For rose-lovers, there are some great easy baking recipes including Rose and Strawberry Cream Cake and Almond Shortbread with Rosewater. For dessert, you could try Rose and Raspberry Pavlova or Rose Meringues. I also have a fantastic easy recipe for delicious floral Rose Petal Jam and an easy-peasy recipe for Crystallised Rose Petals.

Lavender-lovers might like the recipes for Lavender Ice Cream, Lavender Cake and Lavender Shortbread and Honey Cream Tea with Lavender Scones.

For elderflower-lovers, there are recipes for Elderflower Ice Cream, Gooseberry and Elderflower Sorbet and Elderflower and Lemon Cupcakes. I also have a recipe for a classic Elderflower Cordial and also really easy recipes for Elderflower Gin and a lovely floral-flavoured Elderflower Vinegar.

Easy homemade Rose Ice Cream recipe

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Rose Ice Cream

Rose Ice Cream

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Ice Cream
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Rose Ice Cream is a lovely summer recipe which combines the floral taste of rose with fresh cream.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 85 g caster sugar
  • 425 ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon of culinary rosewater
  • A few drops of red food colouring (optional)


Instructions

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl until the mixture looks paler and resembles a mousse.
  2. Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
  3. Pour the cream into the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking all the time.
  4. Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
  5. The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is).  Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
  6. Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl. 
  7. Add the rosewater to the custard.  If you wish, stir in a few drops of red food colouring so that your ice cream will be pink.  If you don’t do this, your ice-cream will be cream-coloured but will still taste the same!
  8. Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
  9. When you are ready to make the ice-cream, transfer to your ice-cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions.  If you do not have an ice-cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen.  Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.

Notes

You only need the egg yolks for this recipe which means you will have spare egg whites.  As I hate waste, I pretty much always make Meringues when I make ice-cream as, very conveniently, my Meringue recipe requires four egg whites.

If you want to go for a full-on rose theme, you can decorate your ice-cream with Crystallised Rose Petals.

Keywords: rose, rose ice cream, rose recipe

Other home-made ice cream recipes

I am a great home-made ice cream enthusiast. I make it in the summer, of course, but am happy to eat it in winter too! There are some brilliant, shop-bought ice creams available but it is so easy to make your own. I like to experiment with flavours and some of my other ice cream recipes are listed below.

Chocolate Log

Chocolate Log Cake with Nutmeg

This Chocolate Log Cake, flavoured with fresh nutmeg, is my version of a traditional Yule Log. I make one of these cakes every year for Christmas as most of my family members prefer a chocolate cake to a traditional, fruited Christmas cake.

Although it is a great seasonal recipe, particularly with the sweet and spicy flavouring of the nutmeg, I make it all year around. It looks attractive and is much easier to make than you might think. In fact, it is my go-to birthday cake for the chocolate lovers in my family.

What you need to know about this recipe

This is what you need to know about this easy Chocolate Log Cake recipe.

  • This cake cooks in only 10 minutes so it is actually a very quick recipe. However, as with any iced cake, you do need to allow time for the cake to cool down before you add the icing.
  • As with any simple recipe, the quality of the ingredients is the key to the final flavour. Make sure that you use good quality cocoa powder and dark chocolate (at least 40% cocoa solids).
  • Also, I strongly encourage you to buy whole nutmegs and grate them yourself. You can use a normal kitchen grater to grate off what you need. You don’t need need any special equipment. Whole nutmegs are readily available in most supermarkets and keep for a very long time. The rich, spicy and complex flavour of freshly-grated nutmeg is totally different from ready-grated.
  • The process of rolling up (points 10-12 in recipe) and filling the cake (point 13) sounds complicated but is pretty easy. If the cake looks a bit cracked or imperfect it really doesn’t matter. It will be coated in delicious nutmeg-flavoured chocolate ganache which will cover up any imperfections. You can cut off the ends of the cake when it has been iced to neaten it up.
  • When you ice the cake (point 14) have a jug of hot water to hand. If you dip your palette knife in this periodically to make it hot, the icing will go on much easier.

Other chocolate recipes

If you are in the mood for a bit of chocolate baking, you might also like my easy Chocolate Brownies and my Red Velvet Cake.

Other Christmas treats

The festive season is a great time to do a bit of baking. I know a few non-bakers who get inspired to bake at this time of the year. I think it is due to maybe having a bit more time available as a lot of people will take a bit of annual leave at this time of year. Also, Christmas is a time when there is a focus on entertaining friends and family. A few home-baked goodies are a great way to get into the festive mood! I have a lot of great baking recipes for easy biscuits (cookies)cakes and desserts.

If you like this Chocolate Log Cake recipe and are looking for more ideas for sweet and savoury Christmas bakes and snacks, you might also like some of these recipes.

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

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Chocolate Log Cake

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1 log cake 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This easy Chocolate Log Cake, or Yule Log, consists of nutmeg flavoured chocolate sponge filled with whipped cream and covered in a rich chocolate icing.


Ingredients

Scale

For the cake:

  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) caster sugar
  • 65 g (2.5 oz) self-raising flour
  • 500 g (2 oz) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

For the filling:

  • 250 ml double cream

For the icing:

  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) double cream
  • 150 g (5 oz) good quality dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Set your oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Grease a 33 cm x 23 cm (13 x 9 inch) Swiss roll tin and line with baking parchment.
  3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites.
  4. Put the egg yolks and caster sugar into a bowl and whisk until combined using an electric or hand-held whisk.
  5. Sift the self-raising flour and cocoa powder into the bowl.  Then add the grated nutmeg.  Stir to combine with the egg yolks and caster sugar.  
  6. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites using an electric or hand-held whisk until they form soft peaks.
  7. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture in the other bowl.  
  8. Pour the mixture into the Swiss roll tin.   
  9. Cook the cake for 1o minutes until it is springy to the touch.
  10. Put another piece of baking parchment, slightly larger than the size of your Swiss roll tin onto your work surface.  Then invert the cooked cake  onto it and peel away the baking parchment that lined your Swiss roll tin.
  11. While the cake is still warm, score it with a knife approximately 1 cm from one of its longer edges.  Working from that edge, start to roll up the cake with the new piece of baking parchment inside it.   Leave the rolled up cake to cool.
  12. Make the icing by gently heating the double cream in a small saucepan.  It will be hot enough when you can just bear to put your finger into it.  Remove from the heat.  Break the chocolate into small pieces and add it to the warm cream.  When the chocolate has melted, add the grated nutmeg, stir to combine and then allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  13. Assemble the chocolate log but gently unrolling it and removing the baking parchment.  Whip the double cream for the filling using an electric or hand-held whisk until it forms soft peaks.   Spread the whipped cream onto the cake and re-roll it.  
  14. Using a palette knife, smooth the chocolate icing over the outside of the rolled cake.   Using a fork, make lines on the surface of the cake so that it resembles a log. You can cut off the ends of the cake to even them up once it has been iced if you wish to do so.

Notes

As this cake contains fresh cream, it needs to be stored in the fridge if it is not going to be eaten immediately.

Keywords: chocolate, Christmas, nutmeg

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with A Strong Coffee and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday  and  [email protected] Goats & Greens

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Paprika

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup is thick and gently-flavoured. It is the perfect comfort food on colder days. The mild taste of the cauliflower is given a lift from the addition of warm spicy paprika and tangy cheese. If you like eating cauliflower cheese, this has the same comforting and sustaining flavour but in the form of a soup.

I learned to love cauliflower in a cheese sauce fairly late in life. Overcooked and soggy versions, in a watery sauce, were a regular feature of lunches at my school. At home, my mother cooked cauliflower Sicilian-style – al dente with onions and tomatoes. I was about eight before I realised it was the same vegetable as the mushy white stuff I got at school.

Now I cook cauliflower both ways. I still cook it Sicilian-style, lightly cooked in a rich onion and tomato sauce, sometimes with the addition of pine nuts and raisins. (My mum struggled to get hold of pine nuts in England in the 1970s…) However, Cauliflower Cheese is a regular supper staple and cauliflower in white sauce (same recipe but without the cheese) often accompanies a Sunday roast. For me, the key that runs through all these recipes is not to overcook the cauliflower!

What you need to know about making this Cauliflower Cheese Soup recipe

  • First off, it is a very quick and simple recipe. You can go from raw ingredients to a bowl of comforting soup in 20 minutes. Unlike many of my soups, it doesn’t involve roasting or slow frying the vegetables in order to bring out their flavour.
  • It is really important not to overcook the cauliflower (step 1) as it will be cooked again when the soup is warmed up.
  • The basis of this soup is a basic white sauce. If you have never made one before this can seem a bit daunting but it is really simple as you will see from step 2 in the recipe. Being able to make a white sauce is a really useful cooking skill and can be used in all sorts of recipes such as Macaroni Cheese and Lasagne.
  • I add paprika to my recipe as I think this adds just the right amount of warm spiciness to the soup. Smoked paprika would also be a good option. If you really want to spice things up a bit, you could add half a teaspoon of cayenne. Alternatively, if you are not a big fan of spice, you can just leave it out.
  • Use a good flavoured cheese (step 3). I use an extra-mature cheddar but any strong, hard cheese will do. You need to have that tangy cheese taste to highlight the flavour of the cauliflower.

How can I use this soup?

I make a batch of this soup and eat it for lunches during the week. It is quite filling and, although you could have some bread or a roll with it, it really doesn’t need it. It is a great soup to take in a flask if you are going for a long walk or doing any strenuous outdoor activity because it is so thick and sustaining.

If you are feeding a crowd, Cauliflower Cheese Soup is a good option as most people seem to like it. You can make it in advance and then quickly re-heat.

You could have this soup as a starter for a more formal meal. However, I would only use it if you were having a light main course.

Other easy vegetarian soup recipes

I have lots of easy, vegetarian soup recipes. If you like this Onion Soup you might like some of the others. All my soups are vegetarian and all can be made vegan by substituting animal fats, such as butter, for vegetable fats. Some of them are pretty simple such as Onion Soup with Sage, Leek and Potato SoupNettle Soup, Fennel SoupJerusalem Artichoke Soup  or Sweetcorn Chowder and showcase a single vegetable.

Others combine vegetables which have complimentary flavours such as Curried Parsnip and Apple SoupMoroccan Spiced Sweet Potato SoupCeleriac and Apple SoupMushroom and Chestnut SoupPumpkin and Sweetcorn Soup or Leek and Potato Soup. A few have more unusual combinations of flavours such as Beetroot Soup with Coconut or Butternut and Peanut Butter Soup. I also have a few chilled soup recipes, which are fantastic cold in the summer, but can also be served warm such as Asparagus and Pea and Tomato.

Recipe for Cauliflower Cheese Soup with Paprika

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Cauliflower Cheese Soup

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: English

Description

This Cauliflower Cheese Soup is thick and gently-flavoured with the mild taste of the cauliflower being lifted by the addition of warm spicy paprika and tangy cheese.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 medium sized cauliflower
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50 g (2 oz) butter
  • 50 g (2 oz) flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 750 ml (1.5 pint) milk plus up to 350 ml (12 fl oz) to thin the soup if required
  • 100 g strong  hard cheese (eg Cheddar)

Instructions

  1. Break the cauliflower into florets.  Heat a large pan of water to boiling point.  Add the florets together with a pinch of salt and simmer for approximately 7 minutes.   Drain and set the florets aside.
  2. In a separate pan, melt the butter and then add the flour and paprika.  Stir to combine and then cook for 3 minutes.    Remove from the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk.   Return the pan to the stove and heat gently until the sauce thickens.   
  3. Grate the cheese and add it to the sauce together with the cooked cauliflower florets.
  4. Blend the soup until smooth using a hand blender or food processor.
  5. Add up to  250 ml of milk to thin the soup to your desired consistency. 

Keywords: cauliflower, cheese

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Recipes Made Easy and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday 

Cinnamon Biscuits

Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) with Dried Cranberries and Tangerine

For me, these Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) are pretty much the flavour of Christmas. There is something about the combination of cinnamon, citrus and cranberries which is the very essence of the festive season.

I make these Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) during the Christmas and New Year holidays but they are pretty good at anytime of the year. They consist of a simple shortbread biscuit combined with dried cranberries and flavoured with cinnamon and tangerine zest. They are topped with a fresh citrus icing made with tangerine juice.

What you need to know about this recipe

  • First off, as with all biscuit (cookie) recipes, it is really quick and easy. The biscuits can be out of the oven in half an hour.
  • However, you do need to make sure that the biscuits (cookies) don’t burn. It is worth checking them after they have been in the oven for 10 minutes (step 8).
  • I generally add icing to these biscuits as I like the extra flavour that you get from using the tangerine juice. It also makes them look a bit more festive particularly if you decorate with a dried cranberry. However, if you are short of time or don’t particularly like icing, you don’t need to ice them. They will still taste pretty good!
  • I like using dried cranberries in this recipe as they are associated with Christmas and also because I love their sweet-sour flavour and ruby red colour. However, you can substitute the same quantity of any dried fruit – raisins, sultanas, currants – if you prefer. You can also leave the dried fruit out altogether if you wish.
Other festive sauces and accompaniments

The festive season is a great time to do a bit of baking. I have a lot of great baking recipes for easy biscuits (cookies), cakes and desserts. I also have a few recipes for easy, home-made sauces and accompaniments that can take a festive meal to the next level. If you are preparing a special festive meal for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year you might like to try some of my other recipes for drinks, snacks, accompaniments and desserts. They are very easy and are a great way to create a celebratory festive feast!

Loved this recipe? Checkout the Recipe Index.

Biscuits and cookie recipes are a great place to start if you are new to home-baking.  Even if you are a more experienced cook, it is great to have a few biscuit recipes in your repertoire. They are quick and easy to make and taste so much better than shop-bought varieties.   You can have home-baked treats on the table in under an hour.

Shortbread is one of the easiest baking recipes. I have a number of shortbread recipes including Almond Shortbread with RosewaterShortbread with White Chocolate and Raspberries and Lavender Shortbread. I also have a very simple recipe for crisp and buttery Lemon Biscuits (Cookies). My recipe for Ginger Biscuits (Cookies) is oaty and mildly spiced. My recipe for sweet Thyme Biscuits (Cookies) with Pinenuts is a bit more unusual but just as easy to make. If you are looking for something savoury, I have an extremely moreish recipe for Cheese Biscuits (Cookies).

Recipe for Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies) with Dried Cranberries and Tangerine

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Cinnamon Biscuits with Dried Cranberries and Tangerine

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Approximately 12 biscuits 1x
  • Category: Biscuits (Cookies)
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: English

Description

These quick and easy Cinnamon Biscuits (Cookies), flavoured with tangy tangerine and dried cranberries, are a brilliant seasonal treat.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 150 g  (6 oz) plain flour
  • 100 g (4 oz) butter 
  • 50 g (2 oz) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tangerines
  • 25 g (1 oz) dried cranberries plus a few more to decorate
  • 100 g (4 oz) icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Set the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas Mark 3
  2. Put the flour and butter into a bowl and rub together using your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Alternatively, process in a food processor. 
  3. Add the sugar, ground cinnamon and the grated zest of the tangerines.  Stir to combine and then add the dried cranberries.
  4. Squeeze the mixture together with your hands until it forms a soft dough.
  5. Roll the dough out to approximately 1 cm (half an inch) thickness.
  6. Cut into circles or other shapes if you wish.
  7. Place the circles on a baking tray lined with baking parchment or grease-proof paper.
  8. Bake for 15  minutes until golden.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer the the biscuits to a cooling rack.
  10. Make the icing by mixing the juice of the two tangerines with the icing sugar. 
  11. When the biscuits are completely cold, put a teaspoon of icing on each one and top with a dried cranberry.

Keywords: biscuits, cookies, Christmas, cinnamon, cranberries

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with Glutarama  and #FiestaFriday with Fiesta Friday and [email protected] Not So Creative Cook