Let’s Celebrate Mid SummerComments Off on Let’s Celebrate Mid Summer
Sitting here, I’m feeling just a little bit guilty. It’s been such a nice summer and I’ve made the most of it by sitting out, sometimes with a cold drink, to enjoy the late afternoon sun. On very hot days, I sometimes sit beneath the oak, in a little dappled shade, but tonight I have a gorgeous cooling breeze to calm the heat of the day.
As I sit, my mind wanders, as if often does, and I feel a little guilt, as I should be collecting elderflowers.
It’s that time of year again.
The blowsy white flowers can be seen in hedgerows throughout the country. Don’t mistake them for cow parsley with grows lower in the hedgerows, for elderflower, it could be easily done.
I have so many memories of collecting elderflower heads with my children. Year after year, foraging in the fields, collecting the aromatic heads, then popping them into a large pan, covering them with not boiling but hot water and allowing them to sleep for a few hours, or sometimes overnight. The delicate elderflower flavour infuses into the water and then we just add sweetness with some basic white granulated sugar to create a sweet & scented syrup so reminiscent of the early summer months.
The sticky juice is bottled and stored in the fridge because it is the simplest purist, elderflower cordial, just elderflower, water and sugar. No preservatives. Nothing else. Sometimes, I add a little lemon juice just to bring a little sharpness to the table.
The cordial should never be drunk undiluted. I recommend a 1:6 ratio, so a centimetre at the bottom of the glass and then add 6 cm of water on top. Of course, doesn’t have to be tap water, you can add sparkling water for a nice fizzy drink.
Nothing really beats homemade.
Homemade elderflower cordial.
It’s not just the flavour, it’s the love for and the enjoyment of the process that goes into making such delicious seasonal treats.
Things are a little different now, the kids are grown-up and have left home. I’m not getting lazy, but there’s less demand for these homemade comforts now.
There is a limit to how much cake, lemonade and elderflower cordial I can consume, but I still enjoy the process. I enjoy the constant repetition of nature, It’s a little comfort, that can be relied upon.
As we dive deeper into summer, it’s the perfect time to explore recipes using fresh, seasonal ingredients, and there are plenty of them. As we approach the end of June, the longest day is now behind us, but there is plenty more of summer to enjoy. The school, holidays have yet to begin, and many of us are looking forward to a few days’ holiday, and time to enjoy with friends and family.
Today, I’m sharing a delightful recipe that showcases the wonderfully sweet flavours of June and early July.
Recipe: Strawberry and Elderflower Pavlova
4 large egg whites
200 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
235 ml double cream
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial
Fresh strawberries (approximately 500 g), hulled and halved
Edible flowers for garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 120°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar while continuing to whisk until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Gently fold in the cornstarch, and vanilla extract. Ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
Spoon the meringue mixture onto the prepared baking tray, shaping it into a circle. Create a slight indentation in the centre to hold the filling.
Place the tray in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 120°C. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until the pavlova is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. If you can, turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven until the oven cools, this could be overnight. This really allows the meringue to dry our and become crisp.
In a separate bowl, whip the double cream until it forms soft peaks. Add the elderflower cordial and gently fold it into the cream.
Carefully transfer the pavlova to a serving plate. Spoon the whipped cream into the centre, spreading it evenly. Top with fresh strawberries and decorate with edible flowers for a little bit of WOW!
Serve immediately and enjoy the delightful combination of crisp meringue, delicate elderflower cream, and juicy strawberries.
This strawberry and elderflower pavlova is the perfect dessert to celebrate the arrival of mid-summer and the beginning of tennis at Wimbledon!
It also works as a wonderful and impressive treat to share with family and friends in the garden long into the night, or around the BBQ on a balmy evening,