23 May, 2015

Dandelion Cordial

When I moved for grad school, I saw dandelions for the first time and my mind immediately went to this drink. When reading Redwall, I always though that dandelion cordial always sounded like iced tea, something a little less sweet than the berry cordials to pair with the unusual flavor of the flowers. That being said, this recipe is very similar to the strawberry cordial, but it requires a little more prep work. This recipe only requires the heads of the dandelion flowers, which can be plucked off easily without any special tools, such as a dandelion weeder. However, if you are plucking flowers PLEASE be careful not to pick any that may have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. If you aren't sure, don't use them!

PLEASE NOTE: Yet again, this is a recipe which needs to be started the day before you want it. Be prepared.

Dandelion Cordial

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cool time: 24 hours
Total time: 24 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 24 ounces (Three glasses)

Ingredients


  • 24 ounces water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • About three dozen dandelion heads
Directions
  1. After collecting your dandelion heads, separate the yellow petals from the green stems.
  2. Place the yellow petals into a large, heatproof bowl. (You'll want to have about a cup or a cup and a half of loose petals)
  3. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan.
  4. Heat water to a low boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  5. Pour hot water over petals and allow to sit until cooled to room temperature (about 90 minutes).
  6. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for the rest of the 24 hour cool time.
  7. Remove bowl from refrigerator and pour liquid through a fine sieve into another bowl to remove the petals
  8. Use a ladle to pour liquid into glasses or funnel into bottles for later.

15 May, 2015

I'm Back!

Hello, internet! I'm sorry I was quiet for so long. The first year of graduate school was brutal and I barely had time to think, let alone create and test recipes. I survived, though! Well...hopefully... Anyway, I hope to start posting new recipes soon, so stay tuned!

14 September, 2014

How to Cask your Cordial

Please note that this is a parody post and not meant to be serious or informative. I didn't want to make another berry recipe and fall produce isn't quite ready yet here, so this is what I have for you this week instead of food instruction. A friend requested this post, so I decided to oblige.

It's always possible to drink your strawberry cordial directly after brewing (which is often very tempting!) but if you want to keep your cordial available and fresh to keep your spirits up in winter, casking is the best option. It ages the cordial nicely and keeps it from spoiling so you can open and enjoy the drink whenever you choose.

The best casks are made of solid oak wood, as they create a nice, deep flavor on their own. Regardless of your choice of wood, however, you must start by making it liquid tight. Fill the cask with water, topping off as necessary until the wood expands enough to stop leaking before emptying the water. At this point, you can either fill the cask directly or season it.

An additional layer of flavor can be added by seasoning the cask first. The most common choice of seasoning in Redwall is maple smoke. Fill the bottom of the cask with fist-sized chunks of smoldering maple. Cover a majority of the top of the cask to concentrate the fire -- don't cover the entire opening or you will smother the fire. After several minutes, carefully remove the cover. The fire will rapidly expand, charring the inside of the cask and leaving behind a strong, smoky flavor.

Once the cask is prepared, fill it with your cordial or other beverage, seal the cask, and place it horizontally into a holder. After a week, open the cask and top off the liquid, which will have absorbed slightly into the wood. It may be necessary to repeat this process once more, but after two weeks your cask of cordial should be ready for storage.

06 September, 2014

Raspberry Tarts

I don't know about other people, but generally when I think "tart," I think of something small more often than I think of a normal, nine-inch dessert. These are even smaller than what I usually think, more like tartlets, and are perfectly bite sized...which makes them a little dangerous to have in easy snacking reach. These could be made with any berry that's in season. As summer starts to turn to fall, you may find that the berries available in your grocery store are looking a little past their prime. If this is the case, try the recipe with frozen, thawed fruit -- just be sure to drain them before adding the sugar or you'll end up with syrup at the bottom of the bowl.

Raspberry Tart Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen tartlets

Ingredients



Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Roll out the shortcrust pastry and use a cookie cutter or the top of a glass to make twenty-four 2-inch circles.
  3. Press the circles into greased mini muffin tins, patting any folds into a smoother cup shape.
  4. Toss together the berries and the sugar, then spoon into the crusts.

  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown and berries are boiling.
  6. Remove from the oven and let the tarts cool enough that they are no longer spitting boiling berry juice at you.
  7. Use a knife to loosen the crusts from the tins and place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. If desired, top with a small dollop of whipped cream.

Shortcrust Pastry

Puff pastry is good for pies and turnovers, but when I make tarts I don't want them to puff up and throw filling everywhere. Instead I use shortcrust pastry. This crust also works for the pies and turnovers and other things when you don't want to wait for the dough to chill overnight. When using this crust for sweet, fruit-filled tarts I add some sugar to the recipe.

Shortcrust Pastry Recipe

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: One crust

Ingredients


  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • (For sweet recipes only) 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Cold water 

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the oil, then carefully work it into the dough to form a mixture the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  3. Add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together but isn't sticky.
  4. Roll the dough out for whatever recipe you are making. 

31 August, 2014

Stone Fruit Compote

This recipe isn't technically a Redwall recipe, since it was never mentioned in the series. In fact, nectarines weren't mentioned a single time and peaches were only mentioned twice in all twenty-two books. Plums and damsons, of course, were mentioned almost constantly. Anyway, this recipe seems so Redwallesque that I felt the need to make it.

I left the skins on my fruit to keep it feeling rustic, but if you prefer you can score your fruit, blanch it (boil for 30 seconds, then submerge in ice water), and peel it before beginning the recipe.

Stone Fruit Compote

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients


  • 2 cups chopped stone fruit (I used equal parts of peaches, satsuma plums ((the ones with purple flesh)), and nectarines that I had chopped and frozen previously -- about 1 plum, 1/2 peach, and 1/2 nectarine -- but use your preferred mix)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 solid shakes of ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Throw all the ingredients into a small saucepan and put over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook fruit, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes, or until fruit is soft. You'll notice that my plums pretty much broke down into juice that covered the other fruit chunks.
  3. Spoon compote into a jar and refrigerate until ready to eat or eat warm immediately after cooking.

23 August, 2014

Strawberry Cordial

Strawberry cordial is one of those recipes which is mentioned in basically every book in the Redwall series. Cordial, technically, contains alcohol. I would say that this should be an alcohol-free recipe because children in the series drink it regularly, but the high rate of alcoholism in the series makes me wonder if the dibbuns are actually drinking alcohol. Still, I decided to make this recipe non-alcoholic. I also didn't make it too sweet so it can be enjoyed straight (without mix-ins), but it is sweet enough that you probably don't want to drink too much at once. If you want to change that, just add a splash of vodka before drinking. I made a fairly small batch, but this would be easy to scale up.

PLEASE NOTE: Yet again, this is a recipe which needs to be started the day before you want it. Be prepared.

Strawberry Cordial

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cool time: 24 hours
Total time: 24 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 24 ounces (Three glasses)

Ingredients


  • 24 ounces water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups strawberries (I used frozen, thawed strawberries that I bought and froze at the peak of strawberry season) (I have also successfully tried this with raspberries, but ot have not yet tried any other fruit)
Directions

  1. Place fresh or thawed strawberries into a large, heat-proof bowl.
  2. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan.
  3. Heat water to a low boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. Pour hot water over strawberries and allow to sit until cooled to room temperature (about 90 minutes).

  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for the rest of the 24 hour cool time.
  6. Remove bowl from refrigerator and use a slotted spoon to remove the strawberries (Keep these -- they are great smushed onto toast or added to a smoothie). The water should now be a bright, jewel red.
  7. Use a ladle to pour liquid into glasses or funnel into bottles for later.