Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Sparkling elderflower drink

So now that you’ve made your own homemade elderflower cordial, or you just happen to have a commercial bottle of the stuff in your fridge, let’s make the simplest, most delicious and refreshing elderflower drinks.

No fancy ingredients needed nor mixologist degrees. You just take your elderflower cordial and mix it with sparkling water, or tonic if you prefer, and the all-important ice cubes.

You can make it a bit more interesting by adding a splash of lime juice or a few chopped up berries, but you know what? I don’t think it needs it.

 



It’s the most rejuvenating, sweet, non-alcoholic drink that is perfect for summertime.

Now, if you insist on making an alcoholic version, who am I to stop you? Instead of sparkling water you can add sparkling wine, or even gin and a good splash of lemon juice.

Go on, make yourself one, and enjoy!

 



  


Sparkling elderflower drink

The ratio I propose is not too sweet so you may want to play around to find your own preferred level of sweetness for your drink. Also, if you are using commercial cordial, beware that it tends to be sweeter than the homemade one.

 



for 1 drink

Ingredients

5 Tbsp (75 ml) elderflower cordial

13 Tbsp (4/5 cup / 195 ml) sparkling water

Large ice cubes

 

Preparation

Pour cordial and sparkling water in a glass and stir with a spoon. Add ice cubes and enjoy!

 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Elderflower cordial

We were in the countryside a couple of weeks ago and there were elderflower trees all around us, wherever we looked. They were in full bloom and so incredibly beautiful.

I am no expert forager, far from it, but I couldn’t help but pick some to make elderflower cordial.

As I was picking the creamy elderflowers, a purple elderflower tree caught my eye. It was the first time I had ever seen this kind of elderflower, and instantly I decided to use those pinkish-purple blooms instead of the white.

 

 

The result was a stunning, coral-colored syrup that becomes almost fluorescent when the sunlight comes through it. I flavored it with Greek honey and lemon, and the aroma and taste was intense and floral and so very much addictive.

I’ve been drinking it diluted in sparkling water and a few ice cubes non stop; I’ve made a dessert with roasted strawberries and elderflower whipped cream, and this weekend I’m planning to make an elderflower cake.

 



If you’ve never made cordial before, let me assure you, this is an easy one to try. You just submerge the flowers in a basic sugar syrup flavored with lemon and honey, and allow to stand for twenty-four hours. You then strain it and it’s ready to use in any way you prefer. In drinks, alcoholic or not, ice cream, desserts of all kinds. 

 



 

Elderflower cordial / concentrate

You need to pick fresh and plush elderflowers on a sunny, dry day, and use them preferably a few hours after you have picked them. Don’t wait too long or they will lose their fragrance.

You can refrigerate them or even freeze the elderflower heads (stored in a plastic bag), but I’ve never done that myself; I just trust Mary Berry when she says so.

Give them a gentle toss but don’t shake them, so that any bugs will fly out, and leave them on the counter. Hopefully, if there’s any bugs left, they will crawl out. Don’t rinse or wash the flowers as you will remove the valuable pollen that gives flavor.

Trim as much of the thick stalks as you can. 

 


Yield: about 2 liters

Ingredients

15-20 pink/purple elderflower heads (mine were on the smaller side) - see above how to prepare them – sub with white/cream-colored ones if you can’t find pink

1 liter water

4 Tbsp clear, runny honey (I used Greek, flower honey)

500 g caster sugar

2 organic, unwaxed lemons (zest of 2 lemons / juice of 1 lemon / slices of 1 lemon)

 

Special equipment: large saucepan with lid, large fine sieve, muslin cloth or coffee filter or good quality kitchen paper, large glass jars with lids (which you need to sterilize – see here how to do it)

 

Preparation

In a large saucepan, add the sugar, water and honey and bring to the boil over a high heat, stirring so the sugar dissolves. Once it comes to a rolling boil, take the pan off the heat and finely grate the zest of the 2 lemons straight into the saucepan (so the invaluable lemon oils go into the syrup). Then, add the juice of 1 of the lemons; slice the other lemon and add it to the saucepan. Mix and then add the elderflower heads, upside down. Submerge them gently in the syrup, one by one, leaving the stalks outside of the syrup yet making sure the flowers are fully submerged. Put the lid on the saucepan and allow the syrup to infuse for 24 hours.


The next day, remove the flowers and lemons from the cordial using a slotted spoon. Place a muslin cloth (or a coffee filter or good quality kitchen paper) over a fine sieve set over a large bowl, and pass the syrup through it. Allow the cordial to gently and slowly strain into the bowl underneath. Don’t push the flowers or your cordial will end up muddy and not clear. Once ready, transfer the cordial into sterilized glass jars. Keep refrigerated before and after use. The unsealed jars of homemade elderflower cordial will keep for up to 6 months. Once opened, the cordial keeps for 1-2 months in the fridge. You can also freeze it into cubes and use it when you need to.

 

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Tsoureki french toast waffles

Hope you’ve all had a lovely Easter with your loved ones and have enjoyed some beautiful, savory and sweet treats. Greek Orthodox Easter was only last week so I still have some leftover tsoureki and koulourakia, and had been thinking of ways to use them up.

 



I came up with this idea just a few days ago; tsoureki french toast waffles. I’ve done tsoureki french toast before, but since I love waffles, I thought, hey, why not just soak the tsoureki as I would normally do for french toast, but instead of frying it, why not toast it in the waffle maker? Much lighter and much quicker to make. Lo and behold, the tsoureki french toast waffle was born, and it was amazing. Of course you could use any other sweet bread you have on hand, like brioche or challah, if you don’t have Greek tsoureki.

 


 

Tsoureki french toast waffles

The recipe goes like this.

In a high-sided, shallow dish, add a couple of eggs and whisk well together with about 50 ml whole milk and a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or extract. Take your tsoureki slices, I use about 7 or 8 but it also depends on how stale/dry your tsoureki is (the dryer the tsoureki, the more liquid it will absorb), cut on the thicker side so it absorbs a bit more of the liquid. Leave the slices in the liquid for a little while to absorb as much as they can, being careful though, because you don’t want the tsoureki to get too soggy or it may fall apart as it is a more delicate bread than say, sourdough. Then place the slices on your preheated waffle iron/maker and toast them.

Enjoy hot/warm with a big spoonful of Greek honey (wild thyme or acorn are my faves). Petimezi (Greek grape molasses), carob molasses or date syrup would work great too.

Enjoy!!