Pear Ginger & Sage Cocktail

Pear, Ginger & Sage Cocktail.   Look no further for this  is everything an autumn cocktail should be!  The warmth of the ginger and the slight spice of the sage just work so well with the pear Juice.  It’s a really easy cocktail to throw together  – particularly if you’ve just been making Chocolate Pear Pudding and have some pear juice to hand.  If not substitute cloudy apple juice instead.  Either way you won’t regret it!

The stem ginger syrup is just syrup from a jar of stem ginger.  I actually used the Ginger Cordial from Belvoir as I had it to hand but, should you have neither, a tablespoon of simple syrup with some fresh ginger would work wellô


Ingredients (makes 1)

  • 25ml pear or cloudy apple juice
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp stem ginger syrup or cordial
  • 50ml gin or vodka
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6+ cubes of ice


  1. Put all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker
  2. Shake hard and get rid of all your stress
  3. pour into glass and garnish with an extra sage leaf if you want to be fancy
  4. Try not to knock back in one!

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Three Lemon Sorbet

This lemon sorbet uses three types of lemon flavours  – lemongrass, lemon verbena and lemon zest.   Using all three makes for an absolutely stunning sorbet.   I can’t begin to tell you how much of a stunner and how well balanced this recipe is.   Quite frankly, it’s more refreshing than a swim on a hot summer’s day!   If you don’t have any of the lemon ingredients you can just ramp up the quantities of the other two,  but honestly, do try this as it’s written if you can.

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Elderflower Cordial

Is there anything better than a glass of cold, refreshing elderflower cordial on a summers’ day?  It’s got to be one of the most quintessential drinks of an English June.

A lot of elderflower cordial recipes contain citric acid.  This means the cordial keeps for longer in the fridge and saves on using as many lemons.    I have given you the option to add a couple of tablespoons to this recipe if you want.   Without it the cordial will keep for a few weeks (rather than a couple of months) in the fridge.   I usually put some into resided plastic bottles and store in freezer to avoid this but it does depend if you have enough freezer space!!

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Rose Geranium Leaf Panna Cotta

  1. The secret of a good panna cotta is to use as little gelatine as possible so that it has that lovely, voluptuous wobble and is lovely and silky to eat.   I’ve flavoured panna cotta with many things over the years from vanilla to fig leaf.  I’ve used lemon balm, lemon verbena, black currant leaves and actually tarragon or fennel are surprisingly good too.  Not that keen on lavender in a creamy dessert but it goes very well in shortbread if you want to serve that alongside – though make sure you don’t add too much if you want to avoid a soapy taste. For the shortbread recipe go to Traybake Shortbread and Variations for further details. Continue reading

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble with Oats and Hazelnuts

Another crumble recipe? Really?  Well, yes!    I just couldn’t resist the wonderful combination of the first of the forced pink rhubarb and some of the last of the frozen autumn raspberries.  That and a topping of an oaty and nutty biscuity crumble, well, who could resist?
I am a recent convert to crumble as too often I find the topping a bit too claggy and the fruit underneath sparse.

With a husband who simply loves crumble it took years for me to get the balance right so we could both enjoy what seems like the quintessential classic British pudding.
What’s more this is an adaptable recipe.  It can be vegan by using a butter replacement (I used the vegan flora) and there are such good vegan cream/custard/icecream available that no one need miss out.  If you have someone who has a nut allergy up the flour and oats to replace that 100g of hazelnuts or add some mixed seeds instead.  Gluten free flour can be easily substituted for those with an intolerance or coeliac.  Everyone gets a look in.

Cut rhubarb

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Poached Apricots with Lemon Verbena

Too often when you buy apricots they are a disappointment.    They are under ripe and tasteless.  Far from the sun warmed apricots whose intense juices explode in your mouth when you bite into them.    This apricot recipe goes a long way to helping fix that,  turning them into juicy deliciousness via a gentle poaching in sweet wine and a bit of sherbet from lemon verbena

The apricots are completely transformed into soft, juicy and fruit that are full of flavour.  The finished dish uses only four ingredients and is so versatile.  It’s even vegan if you make sure you choose a vegan wine.  This apricot recipe uses baking paper which is made into a cartouche rather than a lid which allows the apricots to stay submerged and juicy without any danger of bruising.

This poached apricot recipe uses lemon verbena.  If you don’t have it you could leave it out all together or use lemon balm or 3 strips of lemon zest instead both of which are much more readily available, but if you can use it, do!  It’s got a lovely sherbety lemon smell and flavour which gives a real depth to the syrup.

Serve the poached apricots with vanilla ice-cream or cream – or both!  I also like to add some texture to the finished dish by adding an almond biscuit.   Try Little Almond Biscuits or add an amaretti biscuit if you are short of time.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 18 firm apricots
  • 500ml pink moscato (or any sweet wine)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Lemon verbena leaves (optional) I used about 12 with extra for garnish


  1. Put wine, sugar and about 150mls water into a saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved and syrup is gently simmering
  2. Halve the apricots, put in pan and cover with baking parchment shaped in a cartouche – for instructions see photos below.
  3. Simmer for 10 mins or until apricots are tender.
  4. Remove fruit from syrup and place in serving bowl.
  5. Return syrup to heat and boil until reduced and syrupy.
  6. Remove from heat, add lemon verbena leaves and leave to cool and infuse for 10 mins or so before pouring over apricots.  Serve any remaining syrup in a jug alongside.

Blackberry and Merlot Sorbet

When anyone talks about blackberries I always think back to when I was eleven.   I had just passed my Cycling Proficiency Test and was allowed to go on my bike with my best friend to go blackberrying.   From then on, right up until I was 17, the last week of the school summer holidays was always bookmarked for me by picking blackberries.  My poor mother couldn’t keep up with my collecting abilities.   There were endless jars of blackberry jam in the cupboard and bags of frozen fruit in the freezer.   

This recipe for Blackberry and Merlot Sorbet is a very grown up and sophisticated sorbet that I would not have been allowed to have back them.     Continue reading

Rhubarb Gin

We all need cheering up on a Monday and the thought of making Rhubarb Gin to drink at the weekend (ok Sunday) does just that for me!  Ridiculously pink and tasting fresh and springlike this makes for a fabulously different  gin and tonic or a twist on a spritz when topped with Prosecco (or soda water if you are feeling more virtuous or have to drive).  My favourite way to use it though is in a rhubarb martini.   I mix equal parts of the rhubarb gin and juices from roasted rhubarb (see TIPS below) and serve it over ice sharpened with a little lemon juice to taste – I use a good squeeze per glass.  I then eat the roasted rhubarb the next day with yoghurt and granola.  So really you can argue that making rhubarb gin is an essential part of your healthy eating regime! But should you prefer not to roast rhubarb or want to make a few rhubarb martinis you can use the rhubarb syrup recipe (again see TIPS below) as a substitute, again using lemon juice when mixing to taste.

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Blood Orange Tart

I hosted a lunch recently and whilst I made the main course of Torn Vegetable Lasagne my friend Catherine made and brought along an absolutely delicious Bitter Orange Tart over which she drizzled honey to serve.   Yum!  I believe she used a Nigella recipe if you want to try.

Those of you who are regular readers know that I have a bit of an obsession with blood oranges and so I wanted to adapt the basic idea to use those.  My first attempt tasted delicious but had a few issues in so far as I couldn’t get it to come off the base of my tin without collapsing and the filling was a bit runny but with a few tweaks I have managed to improve and overcome those issues! The result is a beautiful sunny looking tart that has just the right balance of tang and sweet.   It can be made 24hrs in advance if easier.

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