What''ya been doin' Rosie?' I hear you ask. Well, as is usual at this time of year, everything starts happening all at once. It is always a shock after the peaceful lull of Spring. Now the elderflowers are here bigtime, and they won't wait for no man, the herbs are plentiful and fresh and green and lush before the heat(!) of the summer sun dries them a little. So, of course, I have been making elderflower cordial first as we are supplying a big local lunch at The Mansion House, Burley, tomorrow, making lemon cordial as well.
I shall get on with some other elderflowery things in the next few days and if you need more ideas then have a look at my blog post on elderflowers. I made some Blackcurrant & Bay Vinegar and used the currants that were left over to make Blackcurrant Piquant Relish. I always try to use everything to the max and these currants were crying out to be saved. I had 450g of currants left after the vinegar soaking so I cooked 3 cooking apples in a tiny amount of water until soft, added the currants and bay leaves, 300g soft brown sugar and cooked until all was soft and luscious. It has an amazing flavour especially with soft cheese like Brie or Colwick. I don't yet know how long it will keep but as it has most of the regular preservatives - vinegar and sugar - I guess it should be OK
I have also been making Armagnac Prunes. Simplicity itself and an invaluable store cupboard item. Great for presents as well, you can serve them as is with some plain yoghurt, cream, or maybe on porridge for a boozy breakfast ( Christmas maybe ) My fav way is with a chocolate cake underneath them - plain, dense, moist, and with some of the prunes chopped and mixed into the cake batter. It is an easy cake made in a mixer, cooks quickly and serves at least 10.
Wicked Dark Chocolate Cake with Armagnac Prunes
250g soft brown sugar
125g plain flour
85g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
115g melted butter
120g Armagnac Prunes, chopped
250g Armagnac Prunes to spoon over cake when serving
Preheat oven 180 deg C, gas 4
Sift flour and cocoa powder together into a bowl
Place eggs and sugar into a mixer bowl and beat on high for 5-6 minutes until light and fluffy
Add the flour mixture a little at a time, followed by the vanilla, butter, chopped prunes and mix well
Pour into a 25cm springform cake tin, lined with baking parchment
Bake for around 35 minutes until cooked, cool on a wire rack.
Remove the cake from tin, place on serving plate, dust with a little more cocoa powder and spoon over the whole prunes and serve with thick cream