key lime pie

Gin Key Lime Pie: a taste of summer sunshine

Summer is on its way!

It’s that time of year when the weather likes to tease us.  We’re offered little glimpses of sunshine before the warmth is dampened by the clouds.  We enjoy walking on the sunny side of the street, but freeze in the shade.  We have warm spells but we know we can’t rely on them. Yet!

But our time is coming.  Beyond spring lies summer – a time of long, hot sunny days, warm evenings, outdoor cocktails and barbecues. So, we have something good to focus on while we wait for the retreat of winter and dream of the better days that lie ahead. Some of us are dreaming of freedom to travel, others are dreaming of reuniting with loved ones.  I’m dreaming of Key Lime Pie.  That’s the space that I inhabit. 

Key Lime Pie – a Florida classic

Key Lime Pie is one of the great contributions of America to world cuisine. This amazing, tangy, sweet dessert is simple to make and delicious to eat. If you have lime juice, eggs, condensed milk and digestive biscuits in your larder, you can whip one of these up, no problem.  Some of us may be more familiar with lemon meringue pie, its better known cousin.  But this younger family member is even better. Sharper, tangier and lighter, it’s a great summer treat.  

Fire up the grill, load up those plates with sausages, burgers and steaks – and save enough room for a little dessert.  After all that heavy, rich food this light, citrus tart cuts through all those heavy flavours with a little lime goodness that immediately let’s you know that summer is coming.  Key limes are a special type of lime, mostly found in Southern Florida. The juice is yellow instead of green – and so is the pie.  But the taste is pure lime and wonderfully unique. 

No history, but a great tradition

There is no clear history to this pie – and nobody quite knows when it was actually invented.  But it first gained fame in the 1950s when it began to be promoted as “Florida’s most famous treat”. Once this glorious dish had achieved its initial fame and notoriety, it has never looked back.  But one thing could make this dish even better – the addition of a well chosen gin to this Florida favourite.

So, with that in mind, here’s an easy to make Key Lime Pie recipe that won’t challenge casual cooks too much. It’s simple, delicious – and with the addition of a large measure of gin to the recipe, it is almost as good as a gin and tonic. 

We recommend using Tanqueray Rangpur for a little extra lime zestiness.  Plus, if you keep a bottle nearby while you’re cooking, it’s even simpler to cut up a few extra limes and fix a large G&T.
You’re the chef. Nobody deserves it more!

Gin Key Lime Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

key lime pie
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 4 limes
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 oz Tanqueray Rangpur gin

Method:

  1. Crumble the digestive biscuits into a blender.
  2. Blitz into a nice, crumbly mixture.
  3. Melt the butter and pour it into the blender.
  4. Grate it into the zest from the limes and mix together.
  5. Press the crumbs into the bottom of a greased cake tin.
  6. Bake at 200c for 10 minutes.
  7. Pour the gin, condensed milk and sugar into a bowl.
  8. Grate the zest from two of the limes into the mixture and the zest from the third into a bowl.
  9. Place the bowl in the fridge.
  10. Squeeze the juice from all four limes into the mixture.
  11. Add the egg yolks.
  12. Whisk together until smooth.
  13. Place some parchment paper around the edges of the cake tin.
  14. Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and smooth off the top.
  15. Bake for 25 minutes at 180c.
  16. Chill in the fridge until cool and serve with the remaining zest.
  17. Pour out a large Rangpur and tonic and enjoy!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Indian food

Hot stuff: 5 Indian treats (and the gins that make them shine!)

You might have read our recent article introducing 5 amazing craft gins from India.  And that got us thinking of food. Indian food. The stuff we love.
We’ve recently reported that Japanese scientists have now officially given gin the seal of approval as a curry buddy.  We’ve also discovered a burgeoning craft gin industry thriving in the subcontinent. 

So, we thought it was time for us to take the next step and answer the question you’ve all been waiting for…

Which is the best Indian food to eat with gin?

1. Lamb Rogan Josh

This is a traditional Indian curry with a bit of a kick. Lamb Rogan Josh doesn’t have the nuclear heat of a Phall or the vinegary fire of a Vindaloo, but it’s still a spicy curry worthy of respect! 
Its rich flavours and fiery heat means that this works really well with a gin offering a dose of sweetness to soothe the palate. Just as the fiery spice tries to heat it up, the sweetness of the gin brings things back into balance. Buttery or creamy gins work well with spicier dishes like this.

Indian food

Gin’s with sweeter notes such as Bertha’s Revenge (with its milk whey spirit base) initially deliver creamy flavours to balance the heat of the curry. Sweet woodruff, cloves and almonds follow, making it the perfect match for a spicy lamb dish like this.
We recommend mixing up a large traditional G&T and garnishing it with a vanilla pod or a clove to keep the sweetness up front. Just where you need it!

2. Paneer Tikka (with chutney)

Paneer tikka is the perfect dish to be nibbling on while sipping your favourite gin.
These gorgeous little cheesy Indian snacks are the perfect finger food. It couldn’t be easier – you can snack with one hand and hold your glass in the other!
This is a classic Indian snack, made of chunks of Indian paneer cheese (somewhere between cottage cheese and Haloumi) marinated in spices including capsicum, chili, mustard oil, garlic paste and Garam Masala.
It’s then traditionally grilled at high temperature in a tandoor oven (although your home oven is fine).

This gorgeous little snack is a perfect vegetarian treat and goes really well with a honey gin.  We recommend Keepr’s London Dry, infused with British honey.  The perfect balance for the spicy cheese!

3. Chicken Biryani

This perfect chicken biryani rice dish from India is a little beauty.  It keeps the spicy warmth of a curry, but doesn’t rely on the rich, creamy sauces that often sound delicious on the menu but end up being too rich.
This spiced rice dish originated in Muslim India and is generally a mix of Indian spices, rice, meat and vegetables. It often features dried fruits, nuts and even eggs and potatoes.  Layers of Basmati are flavoured with Indian spices before being prepared with cooked chicken or spiced meat. 
This is the jewel in the crown of Indian food and we think it deserves an equally good gin to sip on while you’re taking in all those lovely tastes. 

Silent Pool’s complex botanicals, juniper forward taste and floral layers of lavender and chamomile really bring out the best in the biryani.  And the sweetness of local honey mixed up with the citrus notes of kaffir lime takes the heat out of some of the dish, which can be a welcome relief.  A gorgeous gin for a gorgeous dish.  Enjoy!

4. Onion bhaji

We all love an onion bhaji.  What’s not to like? Little fried balls of sweet, shredded onions, dipped in a gorgeous spicy batter mix and then deep fried to a golden crisp.  The crisp, spicy batter on the outside and the soft onions inside are just made to be dipped into a sweet, spicy chili sauce or a mellow yoghurt marinade.
These fabulous little treats are made to be served with gin.

We recommend something crisp and refreshing such as a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic. Garnish with a traditional slice of lemon or cool it down with a mint leaf.  Either way, it will be delicious!

5. Curried cashew nuts

These curried cashew nuts are a taste of my childhood in Calcutta. Served warm on a shallow plate, these are my favourite snacks with a G&T. Crisp, large cashew nuts are lightly spiced with oil, curry powder and paprika.  They’re then tossed in a shallow tray and bake for 45 minutes. These are the perfect complement to a pre-dinner G&T and we think something light, dry and citrusy would work really well. 

We suggest a Tanqueray Rangpur for a sharp blast of lime to cut through the spicy nuttiness of the cashews. Don’t forget a lime garnish (and a big squeeze of lime into the glass before you drink!)

Gin and curry: made for each other

So, now you have it.  Proof that gin and Indian food were made for each other.  Some great Indian gins to drink.  And 5 great Indian recipes to match your favourite gins with.

Now, all we need is for the skies to open up again and we can try some of these in person!



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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venison stroganoff

Cheers, deers! Venison stroganoff (with a drop of gin to keep you warm)

Venison. It’s the dish of royalty, beloved of chef’s everywhere and it’s one of the most delicious, full-flavoured meats out there. It’s highly sought after in high end restaurants from London to Barcelona and it’s a must have meal at posh Scottish hunting lodges. But it’s strangely undervalued for every day eating.

However, this delicious meat is increasingly recognised not only for its delicious taste, but for its health giving qualities.  It’s blessed with a low fat content and loads of vital minerals and vitamins. 
Different (and ultimately more flavoursome) than traditional beef and other roasted meats, it’s worth taking a step out of the ordinary when it’s on the menu.

But what makes venison so different?

Venison is very lean with a rich, earthy flavour that generally mimics the landscape on which it has been raised. Often, you can pick up notes of acorns and wild herbs that were its staple diet during its life. Also, due to its lower fat content, it’s not quite as juicy as traditional beef.  But as if to make up for this deficit, it also has a firmer, smoother texture which works perfectly in this rich, creamy recipe.

So, what does all this have to do with gin, I hear you ask?

Well, we love venison and we love gin, so we thought we’d investigate how best to combine these flavours into a beautiful, hearty dish to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. 
Welcome to our delicious Venison Stroganoff, a warming, spicy, earthy recipe that will heat you up from the inside. Meals like this are best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire in a country pub somewhere in the Scottish Highlands.  But it’s delicious anywhere!

It contains a decent slug of gin to give it a juniper kick and to keep us reminded of the things we like most.  There are some mushrooms, a kick of mustard, some juniper berries and a generous helping of rich double cream to bring it all together. Oh, and did we mention a large portion of gin instead of the traditional Cognac? Honestly, this is a delicious recipe, easy to make and best drunk with a hand crafted Scottish gin from the Highlands for an extra dash of respectability and style.  So, here’s our recipe. 

Dive in and enjoy.

Venison Stroganoff with gin recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 500g tenderloin of venison
  • 250g of field mushrooms
  • 50 ml of Scottish gin
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 1tsp Dijon style mustard
  • 2 tbsp of thick double cream
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

Method:

  1. Finely slice the onion and garlic so that it cooks quickly
  2. Heat a shallow frying pan on low heat and add a few drops of oil, the garlic and the onion
  3. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper
  4. Slice the mushrooms and add to the garlic and onions
  5. While they are cooking slice the venison into thin strips and season with salt and pepper
  6. Finely chop the rosemary and sprinkle over the venison
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and rub all the flavours in
  8. Add to the pan and brown evenly
  9. Add the gin, the juniper berries and the mustard
  10. Pour in the double cream and stir
  11. Serve with pasta or sauteed potatoes and green beans
  12. Pour yourself a large Scottish G&T and dig in.

We think you’re going to love this one!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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gin and tonic cupcakes

Gin and Tonic cupcakes: sweet dreams are made of this!

OMG. I don’t think it gets much better than this. We’ve already delved into the delights of cooking with gin. We’ve shared recipes for gin trifles, we’ve told you how to make gin scampi and we’ve given you an easy recipe for gin baked salmon. But that was all just a preamble to this moment. We are giving you the gin and tonic cupcakes recipe!
All joking aside, this recipe will make you feel like you’ve died and gone to gin and tonic heaven. If you like gin and tonic and have a sweet tooth (guilty!), then this is a gin lovers dream come true. A huge thank you to Janet patisserie for publishing this gorgeous (and easy) recipe that is perfectly suited to any Mad Hatters looking for a tea party.

Soft, sweet (with loads of gin and a buttercream topping)

These little gin and tonic cupcakes are simply delicious. Soft and sweet, these delicious bundles of gin delight are packed with flavour. From an almost impossibly light sponge base to an extraordinary buttercream frosting, with a little hint of lime, this could fast become your go-to Sunday treat.
The buttercream dominates but the gin comes through clearly. And the lime really brings it all together with a gratuitous burst of citrus that will pep you up in a moment. So, without further ado, here is the recipe you’ve been waiting for. This recipe makes around 12 cupcakes and you can rustle up a baker’s dozen of these in as little as 30 minutes.
Plus, it’s always a good idea to keep the gin bottle near you on these occasions. Just in case the chef needs that little extra bit of gincouragement!
I hope you’re as excited as I am about this…

Gin and tonic cupcakes recipe:

Ingredients

The cupcakes

  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150 caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 3 tbsps of gin (very important!)
  • 3 tbsps of tonic water

The buttercream

  • 150 g unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 375 g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsps gin
  • 2-3 tbsps tonic water

The gin syrup

  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp of gin
  • 3 tbsp of tonic water
  • Decorations: lime zest, lime slices

Method

For the cupcakes

  1. Heat the oven to 180c/160 fan and line a cupcake tin with 12 large cupcakes cases.
  2. With a stand mixer, beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Combine the eggs and self-raising flour with the butter/sugar mix until well combined. It won’t take too long!
  4. Add in the gin, tonic and beat again. Don’t worry if the mix looks runnier than usual – that’s why we add more flour.

For the buttercream

  1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes (to loosen it).
  2. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until well combined (this can take up to 5 minutes).
  3. Add in the tonic and gin, one tbsp of each at a time and beat fully each time. The mixture will be slightly slacker than usual, so be aware. This is where the flavour comes from!
  4. Spoon the mix into the cupcake cases evenly and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean and they are springy to touch).
  5. Leave them to cool fully on a wire tray.
  6. If making the gin syrup, add the sugar, gin and tonic water to a pan on boil for a minute so the sugar dissolves.
  7. Brush/spoon over the cupcakes.

For the decoration

  1. Once iced, add a lime or lemon wedge to the cupcake.
  2. Sprinkle on some lime/lemon zest and enjoy!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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penne with gin

The Italian Job: penne pasta with gin

What could be better on a cold winter’s day than a warming, comforting bowl of pasta to heat you up from the inside? How about a bowl of pasta that has gin as one of its main ingredients? Got your attention, didn’t we!
There can be few more comforting things in the world than a hot, steaming bowl of Italian pasta served up on a cold day.
There’s something about Italian cooking that goes right to your soul. Hearty, robust and simple.
So, we thought we’d share a classic pasta recipe with you that makes use of one of our favourite ingredients: gin.

This is pasta the way your Italian grandmother would make it (if you had one!). The sort of food that sticks to your ribs and feels like a giant hug on a cold day. Plus, this recipe is not only hearty and flavoursome, but it is meat-free, so everyone can enjoy it. A tantalising combination of sweet, fruity tomatoes, wholesome pasta and rich cream, it’s really easy to make and will give you a warm glow from the inside to help you to do battle with the cold weather outside.

Gin versus vodka: you decide

Many of you may have seen Italian recipes that call for vodka as a main ingredient. Vodka Penne is probably the best known example. But Italy is now making better gins than ever before and we think it’s best to leave the vodka to the Russians. Like vodka, gin is a colourless spirit. But unlike vodka, gin has a complexity of flavours that poor old vodka can only aspire to. To start with, gin’s predominant flavour must be juniper, so it already has a big edge in the flavour stakes. This means that you have a solid target to bounce the additional ingredients off – and the results will be surprising and delicious.

You’re 15 minutes from Italian heaven

So, here we go – a delicious, vegetarian pasta dish that you can whip up from scratch in as little as 15 minutes. Made with cream, tomatoes, chili peppers, rosemary (and most importantly, gin). We recommend Malfy Originale as the perfect accompaniment for this dish, but any gin with a strong flavour profile will do. We chose Malfy Originale because it is a classic, dry gin, with eight different botanicals to tease your tastebuds. This gin is robust enough to rise above the competing flavours of this dish and complex enough to add a savoury juniper twist that will elevate this classic Italian dish to another level.

Gin penne pasta recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz (350g) dried pasta
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) gin (we recommend Malfy)
  • 1 1/4 cups (300g) canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh rosemary
  • Salt
  • 1.4 cup (25g) freshly grated parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Boil water in saucepan along wth 3 tablespoons of salt. Put pasta in and cook until al dente
  2. Melt the butter in a wide pan, large enough for all the pasta. Add the shallot and cook for one minute (until soft).
  3. Add the gin and simmer for three minutes
  4. Add the tomatoes, cream, red chili pepper, rosemary and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  5. Gently simmer for 10 minutes
  6. When the pasta is done, drain it and add to the pan. Reduce heat to low, add the cheese and stir until pasta is coated wth the sauce.
  7. Serve with extra cheese on top.

Cin-cin!



Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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smokey ice cubes

Smoky ice cubes: are they really a thing?

posted in: Cocktails, Gin and Juniper | 0

No smoke without fire?

Smoky ice cubes are indeed a thing. And they’re so easy to make. You could go all out and spend a day preparing a fire, smoking the wood and delicately infusing the ice. Or, you could simply buy a small bottle of liquid smoke and add a few drops to your ice cubes.  Bingo!

This little hack is a gift from us to you – we know you’re busy and who has the time to do this from scratch?  As the ice cubes inevitably melt, your drink becomes infused with a gentle smokiness that can enhance strong, complex cocktails such as a Negroni or a gin Old Fashioned. It’s a little magic trick that will impress your friends. For more inspiration, check out our free Top 10 gin bartending hacks.

Here is a great recipe that will draw out the smoky  flavour from the ice to really lift your cocktail out of the ordinary.

Ingredients:

  • 10-15 smoky ice cubes
  • 1 lime (cut into 8 wedges)
  • 90ml of gin (citrus gins work best)
  • Premium tonic water

Method:

  1. Squeeze the juice of two lime wedges per glass
  2. Fill the glass with the remaining lime wedges and fill to top with smokey ice cubes
  3. Add the gin and top up with tonic
  4. Garnish with  half of the thin lime slice and serve immediately

smokey ice cubes

Relax. Continued

gin cake

Christmas gin treat: boozy ginger and orange drizzle cake

Who doesn’t like cake? I suspect most of us do – especially if that cake is baked with all the boozy goodness of gin!
This delicious, moist fruity spiced cake is made with Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin (for an extra hit of orange). Its buttery flavour is boosted by a rich mixture of gin-soaked fruit and raisins, and then warmed up with a blast of ginger. It’s then topped with a deliciously sweet and citrus gin, sugar and Clementine icing that you can slowly drizzle over this delicious treat while it’s still warm and just out of the oven. It’s making my mouth water just writing about it.

So, if you’re still looking for some extra home-made treats to serve to your loved ones this Christmas, give this recipe a try. And if you’ve still got room in that strange space between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it’s the perfect time to dig put the old chef’s apron and get your hands dirty in the kitchen (accompanied by a large gin-based beverage, of course!)

In fact, this is a great recipe all year round, especially when paired with a glass of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla as you lovingly stir all those gorgeous ingredients. We’ll drink to that!

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 100g of mixed fried fruit or raisins
  • 50ml of Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla gin
  • 30g of fresh ginger

For the icing

Method

  1. Pour the orange gin over the dried fruit and leave to soak for 30 minutes
  2. Mix together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add the eggs in one at a time until fully incorporated.
  4. Add the flour and fold it in with a metal spoon carefully ensuring not to over mix.
  5. Finally add in the soaked fruit and mix together.
  6. Pour the cake mix into a loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated oven 180c
  7. While the cake is baking, mix together the gin, icing sugar and the juice from the clementine.
  8. When the cake is baked remove from the oven and leave to cool for 20 minutes before drizzling the icing over the top of the cake.

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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Matt Preston’s boozy Christmas trifle: it’s gin time!

Matt Preston was for many years the flamboyant, charismatic and unmistakable face of MasterChef Australia. But Matt Preston is a true Brit. I know, because I went to school with him many years ago. Since then, we have ended up in different places. I ended up in beautiful Barcelona, where, amongst other things, I started writing a gin blog. Matt moved to Australia, built up a brilliant reputation as a respected food critic, wrote a weekly column in some of Australia’s most popular newspapers and then became the star of one of the most popular cooking shows in the world.

Cravats and cooking

Matt is also a senior editor for Delicious and Taste Magazine and has written four best-selling cookbooks. Along the way, he’s picked up a cult following from loyal international fans who love his flamboyant style and exuberant, refreshing and spirited approach to cooking. His oversized personality is typified by his trademark cravat: a 19th century-style statement that helped him to stand out at school, all those years ago.

So, when we spotted that Matt had created a delicious cherry trifle, perfect for Christmas and Boxing Day, we couldn’t keep the recipe to ourselves. Especially since the key ingredient here appears to be gin.

So, what exactly is a trifle and where did it come from?

The story of trifle

Traditionally, a trifle is a cold dessert made in a large bowl from layers of fruit, sponge fingers (traditionally soaked in sherry), fruit-flavoured jelly and custard, topped with cream. Usually it consists of three or four creamy, fruity, delicious layers. Trifles have been around for years. In fact, the term was first used way back in the 16th century, but a more recognisable version, including the jelly and the sponge, started to appear in the 18th century. Traditionally, trifles contain a little bit of booze and I’m pleased to say that Matt Preston’s boozy Christmas trifle takes it up a notch by substituting a decent slug of gin for the traditional sherry. And that suits us just fine.

A festive family favourite

The result is a firm family favourite with everybody waiting to dive in at the first available moment. Youngsters love Christmas trifle, grannies love it and so does everybody in between. It’s sweet, fruity, comforting and colourful. But most of all, it is absolutely delicious. In our household, we’re usually too full of Christmas pudding to even consider this on Christmas day. But it always plays a starring role in our Boxing Day celebrations and the trifle lives on in the fridge until New Year, so dig in while it lasts.

Ditch the sherry. It’s gin time!

Matt Preston’s boozy Christmas trifle is a little special. He chooses cherries as the main fruit, substitutes gin for sherry, adds a few exotic elements such as toasted coriander seeds and crushed juniper berries, and builds it all around layers of succulent panettone.

Matt, thank you for this great recipe and for your services to gin. And if you read this and ever find yourself passing through Barcelona… I’ll provide the gin if you make the trifle!

You can follow Matt Preston on Twitter or check out his website.

Recommended gin: a decent Old Tom, such as Haymans Old Tom will work well in this boozy dessert. And if you want to dial up the flavour even further, you could even try a lemon gin such as Malfi Gin con Limone, which should boost the citrus flavours.

Christmas trifle recipe

Ingredients:

Christmas trifle
  • 1.5 kg of pitted cherries (fresh or frozen) plus 500 g fresh cherries, halved and pitted
  • 460 g of caster sugar
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 tsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 20 g gelatine leaves
  • 1 cup (250 ml) gin, plus 2 tbs extra
  • Juice of two lemons (strained)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) thickened cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) cornflour
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) hazelnuts
  • 1 cup (320 g) lemon curd
  • 450 g panettone, crusts removed, sliced into 1cm thick slices
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) elderflower cordial
  • 2 cups (500 ml) double cream
  • Elderflowers (optional)

Method:

Christmas trifle
  1. Place cherries, 200 g sugar, coriander seeds, juniper berries and 600 ml water in a pan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, soak gelatin in cold water to soften. Pass cherry mixture through a fine sieve into a large jug, gently pressing cherries to release juice (discard solids). Measure 1 litre (4 cups) of liquid for jelly, reserving separately. Squeeze excess water from gelatin, add to hot cherry liquid and stir until dissolved. Stir in gin (we recommend trying this with an Old Tom gin, such as Haymans Old Tom) and lemon juice. Pour into a 3.5-litre trifle dish. Chill for 2 hours to set.
  2. To make custard, place milk, thickened cream, vanilla and mixed spice into a heavy-based pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring to boil just below boiling point. Remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornflour and 110 g sugar until thick and pale. Whisking continuously, slowly pour cream mixture into egg mixture. Return mixture to the pan and whisk over medium-low heat for 3 minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a stand mixer and whisk on medium for 15 minutes or until cool. Cover and chill.

3. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place hazelnuts, 75 g sugar and 1/3 cup (80 ml) water in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously for 8-10 minutes until sugar crystallises. Pour onto tray, cool, then roughly chop.
4. Spread lemon curd on one side of each slice of panettone and sandwich slices together, curd-side in. Cut each into 6 squares.
5. Place reserved cherry liquid, extra gin (yay!), 1/4 cup (60 ml) cordial and remaining 1/3 cup (75 g) of caster sugar in a small saucepan, bring to boil and cook for 4 minutes or until reduced by half. Place fresh cherries in a bowl, pour hot liquid on top and chill until completely cool.
6. Beat double cream and remaining cordial in a stand mixer to soft peaks.
7. To assemble: pour chilled custard over jelly. Scatter panettone over and spoon cherries and syrup on top. Finish with elderflower cream, then scatter with frosted hazelnuts and elderflowers.
8. Pour yourself an extra glass of that gin and wait for Christmas (if you can….).


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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christmas mince pies in foil paper

Boozy mince pies: let the Christmas fun be-gin

At this time of year, the pre-Christmas nibbling has probably already begun.
Mince pies are one of the most traditional of all English treats at Christmas time – and for many, they are the taste of Christmas. But if you’re not brought up with this tradition, it’s sometimes quite difficult to get your head around the term “mince pie”. In fact, these days, there’s absolutely no meat to be found inside a traditional mince pie.

These sweet little pies have been decorating English Christmas tables since the 13th century when they were first brought to England by crusaders returning from the Middle East. The original Mediterranean recipes included meats, fruits and spices representing the symbolism of the gifts delivered to the baby Jesus by the Magi. In fact, in the early days, mince pies were actually rectangular and “manger-shaped” and were often topped with a pastry image of the Christ Child.

From crusader cuisine to rich, sweet Christmas pies

Over the centuries, these tasty sweet and savoury treats began to lose the savoury.  In fact, these days, the meat has been removed altogether, in favour of traditional sweet mincemeat – a rich mixture of chopped, dried fruit, spices, sugar and distilled spirits. 

The fruits usually include chopped apple, fresh citrus peal, currants, candied fruits, citron and brandy or rum. It’s then all mixed together and aged so that the flavours deepen and the texture changes to a dark, sticky, boozy Christmas goo! This gorgeous mixture is then encased in little pastry packages of buttery goodness and baked. 

Once out of the oven, they receive a final light dusting of sugar powder to finish it all off. 

For the final step: top with a little cream or brandy butter and pop this little sweet, spicy, steamy Christmas parcel into your mouth. Christmas will follow. 

This amazing mince pie mixture is unlikely to last you the whole festive season, but if you maintain your discipline, it can be stored for up to 10 years. 

Sloe is better

But what if we were to substitute a little gin where traditionally there was rum or brandy?

And even better, what about sloe gin?

If that’s more to your taste, then here’s a simple little mince pie recipe that means you don’t have to mix your spirits – just stick with gin!

These festive pies are made with lashings of sloe gin for a truly festive blast of boozy, fruity, seasonal goodness and they’re really easy to make. We recommend using Sipsmith Sloe Gin for this recipe, with its deep, warming sloe-ness. But you can choose any sloe gin you prefer – or even use your own if you have some home made sloe already in the house.

Mince pies recipe

Ingredients:

Mince pies
  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • 300g dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots etc.)
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 40z Sipsmith Sloe Gin
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 2tsp nutmeg
  • 2tsp mixed spice
  • 1 orange

For the pastry:

Mince pies
  • 350g flour
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Icing sugar (to dust)

Method:

Mince pies
  1. Heat the sloe gin and brown sugar in a saucepan, stirring until all sugar has dissolved
  2. Stir in the dried fruit, spices and grate ion the zest from the orange
  3. Add the cranberries and squeeze in the juice from the orange. Leave to stew for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove from heat and place to the side while you make your pastry
  5. Rub the flour and butter together in a bowl until it forms a crumbly mixture
  6. Add the sugar and egg and knead together into a dough
  7. Roll the pastry out and use a circle cookie cutter to cut dough circles to the right size for your muffin tins
  8. Squeeze the dough circles into your muffin tin and generously fill with mincemeat
  9. Top each pie with a pastry star, sprinkle with sugar and bake in the oven for 18 minutes at 220C
  10. Pour one glass of Sipsmith Sloe Gin for you. Pour another one for Santa. Sit back and hope you’re not on the naughty list.

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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overhead image with oranges, spices like cinnamon, pepper, raisins, a jar with honey and a mug with a hot drink

Hot Gin Toddy: a true winter warmer

The nights are dark and long, the summer feels like a different century and it’s way too cold to be thinking about a frozen cocktail.  But there’s still gin to be drunk.

So, what do you do on those cold evenings when you’re huddled around the fire trying to stay warm.  What’s the drink you want to put into your flask and sip on while watching your kids play winter sports or while walking in the woods with you family and friends?  These are the moments when you want to reach for a warming, invigorating hot drink, spiked with a little booze.

Most of the time, when the words “hot toddy” are used they are referring to a whisky-based drink.  But, since the gin revolution, all that has changed forever.  Gin is now available in both hot and cold.  This easy- to- make recipe warms you up from the inside out and it’s the perfect way to bring out those winter flavours of honey, orange, booze and cinnamon sticks. We recommend using a complex orange gin for this such as Tanqueray Sevilla (paid link), Silent Pool citrus gin (paid link) or Tarquins (paid link).

Plus, this is one of the easiest drinks you could ever make, packed with alcoholic flavour and wintery spice. And you can knock one of these up in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea!

TOP TIP: great for breakfast before (or after) a long winter’s walk. Just put it into a plain coffee mug and nobody will ever know!

Hot Gin Toddy recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 oz gin
  • ¼ cup of hot water
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Orange slice

Method:

  1. Pour gin, honey and orange juice into a large mug
  2. Top up with hot water
  3. Stir honey in until dissolved
  4. Garnish with cinnamon stick and orange slice

And now, enjoy your Gin Toddy!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


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