Our half-acre plot is surrounded by mature trees, including several elders that are currently blossoming in a profusion of heady-smelling, cream-coloured flowerheads. Rather than just admiring them this year and thinking – afterwards, of course – that I should have made elderflower cordial, last weekend I dug out my recipe, buckets and ingredients, made a special trip to the chemist for citric acid, picked a selection of the flowers and had it made in minutes. The recipe I used comes via my mother, who noticed one of her students drinking a bottle of elderflower cordial last summer and got her mum’s recipe for me. Ever since then it’s been sitting on the kitchen mantelpiece, just waiting for some elderflowers – and a little motivation!
After the success of last week’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares, I decided to move on to something lighter and more fruity for this week’s sweet treat. I’m have been reading Annie Bell’s Gorgeous Cakes recently – the Mallow library is coming up trumps for brilliant cookbooks – and I have plenty of recipes bookmarked to try. Annie is not afraid of using her kitchen appliances and, after finally getting a kitchen to call my own, I now have both food processor (one of the first birthday gifts from the not-yet-Husband – he knew how to set up things for future baking happiness!) and KitchenAid mixer out and at my disposal. This recipe uses the food processor, taking minutes to put together although, if I were in my NZ kitchen appliance-less days, it would also be manageable with a wooden spoon, although I have to say that I avoided any creaming recipes for the whole year I was living there. I’m sure it would also work with any mixer at your disposal.
When the weather is good no one wants to spend time in the kitchen and, when the Boyfriend arrived home from the supermarket the other day with a large box of button mushrooms, I didn’t much feel like frying them or using them in an omelette strognoff or making a mushroom stroganoff or risotto or any one of the thousand and one things I use mushrooms for. I normally prefer the meatier, large flat Portobello mushrooms but, after spending the weeks in Morocco poring over Claudia Roden’s salad recipes in A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, I had an idea for these styrofoam buttons.
Heading away for a long weekend to a bach (Kiwi for holiday home) by the sea tends to concentrate the mind when it comes to cooking. You know you’ll have to bring all your supplies with you, the local shop will probably be five miles down the road and that you’ll be having to cook on an unfamiliar cooker with unfamiliar, probably unwieldy, equipment.
The other night I was trying to take the boyfriend out to dinner but, after ringing a few restaurants only to be informed that they were booked solid, I soon gave up that idea. So it had to be something special from our own kitchen then.