Ginger and Fennel Syrup

image

A couple of weeks ago my friend, and fellow blogger Sam (from Me and my Second Self), and I, had a little jaunt out to Silverdale to do a recce on a campsite we’re thinking about booking for a church camping trip in the spring.

We chose the wettest, windiest day of the year to do this. It could not have been wetter!H

image

Here we are soaked to the bone, dripping hair plastered on our faces and waterproof jackets anhilated…

So, after we’d succumbed to the wrath of the Great British weather, we called in at the Wolfhouse Kitchen for a spot of lunch, and to warm up and dry out. The food there is fantastic and I really couldn’t fault my celeriac rosti with wilted greens, poached duck egg, chilli and peanuts. It was a taste sensation. Sam and I both enjoyed a ginger and fennel hot chocolate too. I’d never experienced ginger, fennel and chocolate together before but the flavours really work. It inspired me to have a go at making my own ginger and fennel syrup and I finally got around to doing it today.

I’ve made a large batch with the intention of giving it away as Christmas presents, so, if you want to, quarter the recipe to give a smaller batch. I used:
1200g sugar
800ml water
A large chunk of ginger root
4 tablespoons fennel seed
1 tablespoon of ground ginger

image

Scrub the ginger (but there’s no need to peel) and slice thinly. Put the fennel in a dry pan and toast lightly until you get a whiff of that distinctive aroma. Bash the seeds up a bit with a mortar and pestle to realease the flavour, but don’t grind them to a powder.

image

Put all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about ten minutes until the syrup starts to thicken. Your kitchen will smell divine!

image

image

While the syrup is thickening sterilise a large jar or bottle. I use my daughter’s old bottle steriliser to do this, but there are various methods, just have a look online if you’re unsure. Poor into the jar/bottle, seal and leave to cool.

image

Once cooled I opened the jar and strained the ginger slices and fennel seeds out, re-boiled the syrup and re-sterilsed the jar before decanting the syrup back into the freshly sterilised jar. At this point you could decant into smaller bottles (which is what I would have done had I been organised enough to buy some!).

You can use this syrup however you wish. The initial distinctive aniseed flavour of the fennel, is followed by deep warming ginger tones and it works well as a cordial, over ice cream, to add a wintery touch to a fruit salad, in coffee, or best of all in a hot cocoa, served with whipped cream and a sprinkling of ground fennel, ginger and cocoa.

image

Spiced ginger and date cake

image

With the weather having turned and Christmas fast approaching I’ve found myself craving something warming and sweet to enjoy with a cup of coffee mid afternoon. Most days I have the willpower to resist, however this weekend I experimented with a basic ginger cake recipe, tweaking it with spices and dates.

The mini bundts went down well at a family meal served with custard and also the following day at church with a caramel drizzle, but to me, they were slightly dark and more pudding like than cake. So, with the school fair looming in Saturday I made some adjustments and came up with this easy recipe.

Boil the kettle and measure out 250ml boiling water.  In a blender cup (I used my nutribullet) weigh out 75g pitted dates and pour over the boiling water). Put the lid or blade on and leave until cool.

Whilst the dates are cooling cream together 125g butter and 125g caster sugar (I keep caster sugar in a jar with left over vanilla pods to add extra flavour) before adding in one large egg and 225g golden syrup. Beat together until fully combined then sieve in 300g plain flour, 1.5 tsp bicarb, 2 tsp each of ground ginger and cinnamon and half a teaspoon of ground cloves. Add in half a teaspoon of salt to offset the sweetness.

Whizz up the dates, and as the flour is combining with the wet ingredients drizzle in the date water.

Don’t be alarmed at how wet the batter is. Pour it into a well greased bundt tin, (or your tin of choice but be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly) and bake for 35 mins at 170oC or until the cake springs back when lightly pressed, and a skewer comes out clean.

image

Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out.

image

Because this particular cake is for the school fair, I baked a smaller cupcake version to cut into to show you the inside…

image

Light and moist with a distinct ginger taste yet reminiscent of its delectable cousin the sticky toffee pud.

I plan to make a cheats caramel drizzle for the bundt by simply warming some condensed caramel up and spooning over the top. That can wait until Saturday though.

image

Pick-me-up smoothie

image

I’m doing battle with a cold/swollen glands in my throat at the moment and was in need of a real vitamin packed pick-me-up this afternoon. Think plenty of vitamin C and anti-oxidents. So with that in mind I set about making a concoction in my Nutribullet. I threw in two clementines peel and all, a thumb of ginger, juice of half a lemon, and the seeds of half a pomegranate, a teaspoon of Manuka Honey and a glug of ice water.

The result was surprisingly good. Tart, as you’d expect, but the honey took the edge off it, and no doubt it packed a vitamin loaded punch. Just what I need today.

image

Nutribullet breakfast blast

image

I recently discovered the joys of the Nutribullet after my juicer broke down. As much as I love juicing, the hassle of cleaning the machine afterwards is not appealing at all. I wanted something simpler and easy to clean. Although not strictly a juicer (it’s marketed as an extractor), the Nutribullet came to my rescue. So unbelievably quick and easy with minimal clean up, I still feel like I’m getting all the benefits of juicing with the added perk of the fibre still being included, as the pulp is filtered out with a juicer. You can still use raw veggies and the Nutribullet will pulverise them into delicious smoothies, even if they’re frozen!

I’ve used beetroot, broccoli, apples, avocado, berries, spinach, banana and carrots all with great results. This morning I had spinach, frozen blueberries, strawberries and half a banana with a piece of fresh ginger to give it some bite, all topped up with coconut rice milk. A perfect pre-workout pick-me-up.

image

Aside from the fact it will literally blend anything (nuts and seeds included), the cup and blade are the only things that need cleaning! Perfect on so many levels. I’d highly recommend if you’re looking into buying a smoothie maker or juicer.

image