Tag Archives: Sloe Gin

The Cake Fairy Whizzes Up Some Bakes!

Frou'd Coconut & Lime Cake, Rocking Dog

Frou’d Coconut & Lime Cake

Friday, I had a little baking session at the kennel. Baking is an enjoyable pursuit especially when I had the pleasure of Bill Turnbull in my kitchen! Well, that isn’t strictly true, his voice was permeating out of the radio. He was standing in for Anne Marie Minhall on Classic FM Radio, and so I had four wonderful hours of Bill’s dulcet tones. Anyone who knows me will know that I have a real soft spot for Bill. It was a real JFK moment (i.e… everyone knows what they were doing when JFK was assassinated) and I remember where I was when my son broke the news to me that Bill was retiring from BBC “Breakfast”. I was in Bath and crying out “No, no!”. So although I couldn’t see lovely Bill, I enjoyed rolling, whisking, weighing, pouring whilst listening to relaxing music and the oh so familiar voice. It made me want to resurrect my Bill shrine (think signed photo of Bill, Kewpie doll, pink ostrich feathers, fairy lights). Yes, many of you by now will undoubtedly think I need some serious therapy. Incidently, if I saw Bill I would run a mile, a stalker I am not, a closet fan I am!

Anyway, enough of Bill it’s all about the bakes! I cooked up a Coconut & Lime Cake (thanks Delia), some Little Portuguese Tarts and Sloe Gin Rocky Road.

I couldn’t bring myself to resolutely follow Delia’s recipe. Pedantic she normally is, but for this recipe she tends to sling everything in and hopes for the best! I doubled the quantity of ingredients (2x tins) and used a Victoria Sandwich style creaming method. For the filling I whipped up cream, Marscarpone, lime zest and a little Rachel’s coconut Greek yogurt. Of course the cake fairy couldn’t resist a smidge of cake frouing! A little of the cream mixture, sprigs of mint, lime wedges and blueberries did the trick.

Little Portuguese tarts were easily made using ready rolled all butter puff pastry and homemade Creme Patisserie. To add some fairy sparkle the tarts were glazed with a little warmed apricot jam on escaping the oven.

Finally the Rocky Road. I used a Nigella recipe and replaced the brazil nuts with pistachio’s and glace cherries with sloes. The sloes have been immersed in gin for the last few months in the Rocking Dog kennel. For my Rocky Road I captured a generous sloe crop from their boozy bath and stoned them ( it’s easy to do this with your fingers, or if squeamish use a cherry stoner), The sloes were then stirred into the melted chocolate mix together with marshmallows, amaretti and the pistachios.

The fairy magic’d the cakes to their special destination and then waved her magic wand to simply make the sink full of washing up disappear! (If only!)

I think this weeks colossal baking session will be all together more frenetic and very sadly there is no more Bill. Anne-Marie please go away on holiday a bit more frequently!

I hope a good week beckons for one and all x

Little Portuguese Tarts, Rocking Dog

Little Portuguese Tarts

Sloe Gin Rocky Road Slab!, Rocking Dog

Sloe Gin Rocky Road Slab!

Fairy Label, Rocking Dog

Fairy Label

Sloe Gin And Posting Advent Packages!

Festive Tipple, Rocking Dog

Festive Tipple

I could wait no longer for a frost! Sloe folklore suggests that sloes are best plucked following a frost. The seasonal white crystalline dusting apparently helps to soften the skins of these tiny fruits. In turn, the cold helps to release the bitter dark purple juices. Many of the fruits I spied during my dog walk were becoming wizened, action hurriedly needed to be taken if I wanted a batch of 2015 sloe gin!

I therefore spontaneously picked a mixture of sloes and bullaces (small bitter plums) and headed home with my booty.

Sloe Gin
1. Wash fruit, drain in a colander
2. Prick each fruit and place in a large Kilner style jar (Ikea is a good port of call for jars)
3. Add some caster sugar to the jar together with a split vanilla pod (optional)
4. Top the jar up with Gin and stir.
5. Place in a dark place and shake or stir every three or four days. Eventually the sugar will dissolve.
6. Taste around Christmas. You may prefer to leave the brew for a little longer. Strain and decant.
7. Reserve the alcohol soaked sloe berries and store in a jar in the fridge. Stone as needed, and add to summer pudding, boozy rocky road and homemade ice cream

The sloe gin itself can be drunk neat or used in cocktails.

Part of my day yesterday was spent talking weddings and helping a bride choose flowers and discuss styling for a December wedding at No4 Clifton Village. Wow! Katie…. it is going to be Sooooooo beautiful.

Wedding talk done, my day finally became snow sprinkled with wrapping Rocking Dog parcels. Winging its way to Christchurch (UK and not NZ!) one of my 2015 “Twas the night before Christmas” advent calendars. Rocking Dog Advent Calendars are for life and not just one Christmas!

How can we be at the end of another week- it’s gone in a flash. The nights are drawing in and last night I was lucky enough to see some large bats swooping and diving over the brook in our garden. It was amazing to watch, but part of me was thinking “I hope you are not thinking of setting up home in our loft”. As a protected species they are more difficult to move on than squatters!

Today I am learning how to do freehand machine embroidery at “The Makery” in Bath. It’s such a lovely friendly environment to learn a new skill. There are mugs of coffee, laughs, great instruction and a lovely little sewing/craft shop. I hope I will feel confident in showing you my first attempt at free hand embroidery next week.

Wishing you a very happy weekend whatever you are doing- I have left plenty of sloes around Hambrook, so why not get picking!

Colander Crop, Rocking Dog

Colander Crop

Liquor, Rocking Dog

Liquor

Jar Magic, Rocking Dog

Jar Magic

Looking Forward, Rocking Dog

Looking Forward

Twas the Night....., Rocking Dog

Twas the Night…..

Parcelled To Post, Rocking Dog

Parcelled To Post

Gosh! We’ve Tipped Into October!

All The Leaves Are Brown, Rocking Dog

All The Leaves Are Brown

Gosh! We’ve tipped into October! Please tell me how this has happened. Amazingly, it is exactly a year since I started my Rocking Dog Blog. This is my 186th post and it has been lovely having your company along the way. I will bare my soul and tell you why I started blogging in the next couple of weeks.

October is a real transition month, especially when we have been blessed with such beautiful weather. People are still in summer garb, meanwhile, the shops are filled with the last floaty dregs of summer clothing and the wools and tweeds of winter. Some retailers are unashamedly putting out Christmas stock whilst others are doggedly resisting until November rears its frosty head!

October last year, I was praising the humble pumpkin. It should be roasted, pureed, souped and not just carved! (I am a Halloween killjoy!) I was also cooking quince and extolling the praises of the fruits wonderful aroma whilst they stewed. It undeniably remains one of my most favourite smells … ever (but ripening tomatoes in a sun parched greenhouse probably is up there too!) Sloes were being picked, and this year i’ll be waiting for that first frost before heading out to pick them again this year. There appears to be a truly bountiful crop. Remember to keep the sloes after they have done their sloe gin magic. They are a fantastic addition to Rocky Road and for an autumnal take on Summer Pudding. They’d also add flavour to sauces and gravies to accompany a Sunday roast.

Last October we went on one last trip to the sea before tucking our beloved Pod up for the winter. Again, this October we hope to do one last toe curlingly cold trip. We will take hot water bottles, hot chocolate supplies, woolly socks and our Real Live Rocking Dog foot warmer! Bracing walks being battered by coastal winds what could be better? Some would say lying on the same beach on a hot summers day would be absolutely preferable. One Man’s Meat Is Another Man’s Poison as they say!

Oct 2014, last minute plans were being made to head off on our Italian holiday (does any other mad soul take their holiday in October/November?) Oct 2015, another trip beckons, – vintage textiles, olives, autumn sunshine, gondola’s, Vin Santo, and gorgeous friends. We are truly fortunate.

Last October Rocking Dog was busy making, wrapping, labelling, and somethings never change… but what I make hopefully does. So there are lots of sewing projects on the Rocking Dog work bench. I HAVE to organise some serious sewing time. Any other makers please give me your tips on how you schedule your day. Do you have a set routine, do you lock the door and turn the key, let the laundry bin overfill, not answer calls etc…. etc..? I think i’d rather like a sewing turret in the clouds!

So very nearly a year on from my very first blog I hope you’ll continue to dip in and out. Some of you I personally know and thank you for your love and support. Others of you I don’t know.. but thank you for reading, liking, commenting. If anyone wants a little personalised trek around Bristol or surrounds give me a shout. We can visit foodie, vintage and historical haunts in a city I quite know and love.

Have a very lovely October.

Dog Bowl. Rocking Dog

Dog Bowl

Comforting Bowl, Rocking Dog

Comforting Bowl

Making Plans, Rocking Dog

Making Plans

Seasonal Makes, Rocking Dog

Seasonal Makes

Quince Magic, Rocking Dog

Quince Magic

Avoiding Halloween, Rocking Dog

Avoiding Halloween

The Bountiful Summer Harvest

Nature's Harvest, Rocking Dog

Nature’s Harvest

Hedgerow fruits are swiftly ripening. Blackberries are being foraged and picked for pies, crumbles, jams and wines. Sloes, Damsons and Bullaces are gaining their characteristic charcoal bloom. A little more ripening will be required before the picking begins, and then, a degree of patience whilst the fruits do their magic in their gin or vodka soak.

Meanwhile, squirrels are busy raiding the hedgerows for hazel and cobnuts. The remnants of their feast lie untidily discarded on the mossy well trodden pathways.

Haws, rose-hips and crab apples are gaining their rosy glow, giving welcome colour whilst we walk.

Sweet Chestnuts need to plumpen in their verdant spiny overcoats. They remind me of my fondness for sweetened chestnut puree. Folded through rum laced cream and sandwiched between hazelnut meringue layers it’s a decadent dinner party dessert.

A great book celebrating Britain’s harvest is Mark Hix’s British Seasonal Food. In particular I love his recipes for Gamekeepers Pie, Piccalilli and his simply delicious little Buttermilk Puddings.

Let’s rejoice the burgeoning summer harvest.

Sorry couldn’t resist the slightly cheesy summer song- almost forgot that it was used as the theme for a certain drinks brand!

Hedgerow Sloes, Rocking Dog

Hedgerow Sloes

Use For Those Sloes!, Rocket Dog

Use For Those Sloes!

Berry Recipes, Rocking Dog

Berry Recipes

Crab Apple Swotting, Rocking Dog

Crab Apple Swotting

Nature Bowl, Rocking Dog

Nature Bowl

Umbrian Apple Harvest, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Apple Harvest