Summer berry porridge

The one thing that people who achieve stuff seem to have in common is that they get up and do things, rather than sitting and waiting for the right moment to strike. I admire this, I really do, but I can’t seem to make it happen. Take bircher muesli, for example. I love eating it, but I’ve never been a great one for making it, all that grating and soaking and being a step ahead. Many’s the spring or summer morning when I’ve thought, ‘if only I had stayed up last night, grating apple and squeezing orange juice so I could be eating bircher muesli, then I wouldn’t be scarfing down a peanut butter-laden crumpet as I run for the bus’.

Then, one night, quite by chance, I just happened to stir a few things together and in the morning, without realising it, I had made a kind of bircher muesli. I didn’t even have to grate anything! Maybe I can achieve greatness after all. 

Summer berry porridge

This is hardly a recipe, more a set of guidelines. But hopefully they’ll help your mornings flow a little more smoothly and make you feel like less of a hopeless failure at life in general. This amount makes enough for four to six breakfasts – because I’m the only one that eats it in my household I make half this quantity so it’s not sitting in the fridge all week. If you forget to make it the night before, just stir it together as soon as you get up. By the time you’ve had a cup of tea and a shower, it will be completely edible.

2 cups rolled oats

2 cups almond milk (coconut milk is also good)

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia

2 cups frozen berries

Mix all the ingredients together (I put them in an ice cream container), then cover and store in the fridge overnight. To serve, scoop out a portion into a waiting bowl, then top with a few more berries and a dollop of yoghurt. 

Have a great week, everyone!

Peaches, pistachio and chocolate

This is the inverse of Three Ways With – instead of being three ways with one ingredient, it’s one way with three. Confused? Don’t be. This photo explains everything.

Peaches With Pistachio And Chocolate

Peaches with pistachio and chocolate
This is such a simple idea I’m reluctant to call it a recipe. But it’s worth sharing – not least because the the April edition of We Should Cocoa is all about no-bake things to do with chocolate. If you’ve got these ingredients close at hand, this is a five-minute job.

12 dried peach halves (I use the Alison’s Pantry ones)
150g dark chocolate (I use Whittaker’s Dark Ghana)
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Lay the peach halves on a tray, cut side up.
Melt the chocolate – in a bowl over simmering water, or in a low oven – and spoon a little on top of each peach. Sprinkle each one with chopped pistachios and leave to set (about five minutes).
Serve immediately or store in an airtight tin.

Have a great week, everyone x

What to do with a Buddha’s hand

Ever shaken a Buddha’s hand? I wouldn’t recommend it; the ‘skin’ is pitted and lumpy and the fingers are disturbingly claw-like. But the scent makes you see past its horror-movie looks – it’s light, floral and lemony, the sort of perfume you wish they’d bottle.

What-To-Do-With-A-Buddha's-Hand

The Buddha’s Hand, also known as Fingered Citron, Buddha’s Fingers or, by it’s botanical name, citrus medica, is apparently one of the most ancient forms of citrus fruit still in existence. There’s no juicy interior -slice into one and it’s all bright white pith. But beyond using them as a conversation starter or a scary prop for tricks (imagine getting into bed and having one of these at your feet!), there are lots of ways to use one.

You can take follow David Lebovitz’s advice and turn it into candied citron, you can come over all Martha Stewart and use it to scent a room (though a rather small room, unless you want the scent to be very faint). You can zest a little skin over fish, or use it to scent a butter cake or shortbread. But this is my favourite way to use it: Buddha’s Hand Vodka.

How-To-Make-Buddha's-Hand-Vodka


Buddha’s Hand Vodka
You can adapt this to suit whatever amount of vodka you have, just adjust to suit.
For 250ml vodka, pare off about a third of the Buddha’s Hand rind, trying to avoid as much pith as possible. Put this in a screwtop jar, along with 1/3 cup of sugar. Add the vodka, apply the lid and shake well until the sugar has dissolved. Make sure the Buddha’s Hand peel is below the surface of the vodka. Leave for at least three days (a week is better), shaking once a day. You can strain out the peel if you like, but it gives a suitably freakish appearance to the liquid and it will continue to flavour the liquid if you leave it in.

Do you have any interesting ways to use a Buddha’s Hand?

Random recipe: The Bees Knees

This time last year I was idling around Soho, hoping to have a drink with Mr Belleau Kitchen. Alas, our schedules did not allow it, but we’re finally managing a kind of virtual cocktail hour through this month’s Random Recipes challenge.

Cocktail Recipe For The Bees Knees

For July, Dom has asked us to delve deep into our drinks books and come up with a cocktail recipe. I didn’t have to try very hard – when I lifted a notebook off the shelf in my office a tiny slip of paper with this recipe on it fluttered out. It’s for a Bees Knees, a honey, lemon and gin cocktail that I last made for my father in a tiny flat in Hampstead in 2008. That flat has long gone from my life and, sadly, so has Dad, but shaking this up in a jam jar took me back there in an instant. If gin makes you maudlin – look, even writing about it makes me a bit blue – then rest assured you can make it with vodka too.

The Bees Knees
I remember cutting this recipe out of the Observer Food Monthly several weeks ahead of my parents’ visit, chiefly because honey and gin were two of Dad’s great loves. (Cigars, red wine, steak and chocolate were harder to fit in a cocktail glass.) I’ve rejigged the quantities a little and this amount is enough for two – or one very thirsty person. To me, this is the perfect cocktail; it’s short, punchy and not too sweet.

50ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey syrup – made by stirring together 1 Tbsp honey and 2 Tbsp water
100ml best quality gin (or vodka)
ice

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake to combine. Strain into two martini glasses and garnish with a strip of lemon rind. Serves two.

Are you a fan of the cocktail hour? What’s your poison?

Treat me: Banana granola

Has it ever occurred to you that bananas are like buses? There’s never any when you want one (or at least, one in the right state of ripeness or heading to the right destination), then a whole bunch turn up (or turn from green to extra-ripe) at once.

I know that’s a bit of a stretch, but come on, it’s Friday. And while I am well aware of the joys of freezing overripe bananas, not least because they’re great in smoothies like this apple crumble one, there’s only so many containers of frozen bananas that our tiny freezer can take. And there’s only so much banana cake a small family can eat in a week too (really, there is!)

How To Make Banana Granola Credit: Lucy Corry/The Kitchenmaid

So it is with great pride I present to you my latest way to use up all the bananas that are no longer fit for eating in their natural state: banana granola. It’s genius, even if I do say so myself.

Banana Granola
This makes the house smell like banana cake, but it’s much more virtuous. The buckwheat gives it an extra crunch, but if you can’t lay your hands on any try quinoa or another cup of seeds.

4 cups whole or jumbo oats
1 cup seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, linseed – or a mixture of all of them
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup buckwheat or quinoa
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp neutral, flavourless oil
2 Tbsp honey
3 very ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups dried fruit, optional

Heat the oven to 160C and line a large baking dish with baking paper. Put the oats, seeds, coconut, buckwheat or quinoa and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well to mix.
In a separate bowl, mash the bananas to a smooth puree with the oil and honey. Stir this mixture through the dry ingredients – don’t be afraid to use your hands to really mix it in.
Spread in an even layer on the prepared tray and bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If it starts to look a little dark towards the end of the cooking time, just switch the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar, but leave the granola tray in the oven until it has cooled down. This will ensure it dries thoroughly.
Stir through some dried fruit if you like – I reckon sultanas and banana chips are a good combo – and store in an airtight container.

Have a great weekend, everyone x