Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sloe Gin

This year on my birthday i was in Cornwall. One of the gifts i was very happy to receive was the River Cottage Handbook 2 - Preserves. This has been an important resource in the Keston Kitchen, particularly at this time of year, very glad to now own a copy myself as the previous one moved to Camberwell with Charlotte!

When i got the book i was keen to use some of the recipes from it as soon as i could, where we were staying by the Helford river, the blackberries were not quite ripe. There was one thing though that could be found growing along the shore in vast quantities - sloes.
I filled a bag full of the fruit, they were small and took some persuading to be parted from the blackthorn bush. As i understand you ideally wait until after the first frost before picking your sloes but if you are concerned about the birds eating them all before this has happened, or if like me you have to grab them while you can, the alternative is to freeze them. This process helps break down the internal structure of the berries and gets the juices flowing.

When i got home to London i popped the sloes in the freezer for a couple of days and then let them defrost before following the recipe below. These instructions make about a litre of sloe gin but i just worked out how many sloes i had an adjusted the other ingredients proportionally.

Mine has been infusing for about a week now, should just about ready in time for Christmas!


450g sloes, frosted or pricked
450g granulated sugar (or less for a more tart gin)
600ml gin
A large glass jar or bottle - Make sure your jar has a good seal and you will be shaking the contents around and you don't want the precious liqueur leaking out. I found that for the quantities above i needed a jar with a capacity of about 2 litres because the fruit takes up a lot of space.

Put the defrosted sloes into your jar or bottle. Pour over the sugar, followed by the gin. Secure the container with the lid and give it a good shake to mix up the contents. For the next week shake it daily to prevent the sugar from settling on the bottom and to help get the juice out of the sloes. Thereafter shake and taste once a week for 8-10 weeks.
When the sloes have instilled their flavour, pass the mixture through a fine sieve. Pour the strained liqueur into bottles.
Ideally, you should leave sloe gin for 18 months before drinking to allow the flavour to mature and mellow but i know from experience that it rarely lasts until the end of the festive season.
In the preserves book they recommend keeping the sloes, removing the stones and eating them with ice cream or folded into melted chocolate, i have not tried this yet myself but i will report back!

Of course if you don't have sloes you can use different fruit like damsons or blackberries and apple. One year some friends brought round their greengage rum which was delicious! Adding fruit and sugar to any half empty bottles of spirits sat in your cupboard is definitely the way forward.

Rachael x

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Brunch in Berlin

577 miles between us but Keston Kitchen teamwork is still going strong.   So as Keston Kitchen UK was dishing up an exotic brunch at the Elrington TableKeston Küche has been dutifully dining out at some of the best brunch tables in Berlin.

Brunch platter for two at Cafe Anna Blume in Prenzlauer Berg

Brunch is a Berlin institution.  It's reflective of this city's laid back mentality that Sundays are perfectly designed to help you gently and easily recover from the night before.  You stroll into one of the many and varied cafes when you wake, anytime between 11 and 5pm, establish yourself in a comfy spot - in the last throws of summer this has been on sunny terraces outside - and prepare to stay a while.  

I've been to two types of brunches.  The first is the standard choose-of-the-menu brunch.  I guess the difference here is the array of choice and the generous portions, designed to be consumed slowly as you digest the events of the night before with a couple of bleary-eyed pals.

Then there's the brunch buffet.  But this is no mad rush to stock your plate with cold toast and greying scrambled eggs; it is a delicious ever-evolving spread that will gently bring you back to life.  When you first arrive, there's fresh fruit and yoghurt... then at some point croissants and bread and cheese emerge... then you notice the meats beginning to take over the table…. and for the hungrier there's pastas and hot dishes from mid afternoon.  Who could fail to feel right as rain after this?  And once you've spend a couple of hours at brunch, you stroll home and… do nothing.  And that is Sunday in Berlin.  Perfect.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Join us for - BRUNCH CLUB - Hackney - 22nd Sept

Join Keston Kitchen and the Elrington Table in Hackney E8 for BRUNCH this Saturday.

Monday, 10 September 2012

I Heart Italia: Sausages & Broccoli

I Heart Italia: Sausages & Broccoli

Italians do it better. Well, sometimes at least. If you like sausages and broccoli this is the dish for you. It goes very well with a smooth, creamy mash and takes sausage and mash to new heights. I dream about this dish.

850g Italian sausages - the ones from East Dulwich Deli are simply the best!
600g broccoli, cut into florets
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 French shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 red chilli, finely chopped
125ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 pitted black olives

Serves 4

Place the sausages in a single layer in a deep non-stick frying pan and add cold water - 1.5cm deep. Bring to the boil, reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.
Turn the sausages from time to time and when they are cooked all the water should have evaporated, leaving just a little sausage fat in the pan.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli with a teaspoon of salt and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the florets are barely tender. Drain and set aside.
Add the oil to the pan and brown the sausages. Push them to one side and add the shallots, garlic and chilli.
Cook on a low heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Add the stock and lemon juice, turn up the heat and cook until reduced by half.
Add the broccoli and olives, spoon the sauce over and serve when it has heated through.