Drinks photography

Elderberry Cordial

Autumn (Fall to all those across the pond) brings about a change in our menu and many, many delicious things to eat and cook with like apples, nuts and stone fruits.  I walk my dogs regularly in Belvoir Forest Park in Belfast and I’m constantly noticing various berries growing all around the walkways.  One in particular appealed to me so before I chose to pick it, I checked with an expert that it was indeed edible!  Clare McQuillan is a foraging queen and knows the ins and outs of what you can pick and where you can pick it in and around Belfast.  She said they were elderberries and they would make a beautiful cordial so that’s exactly what I did with them and I was delighted with the results!  

Ingredients


Great British Chefs Elderberry cordial recipe

500g of elderberries

  • 500g of water

  • 350g of caster sugar

  • 1/2 lemon, rind plus 1tbsp lemon juice


Method

Remove the berries from the stems using a fork then wash them, removing any bits of stalk or leaf

Drain the berries and place in a pan along with the lemon rind. Cover with the water and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes, until the berries have broken down. Skim away any scum that appears on the surface

Strain the juice through a colander lined with muslin cloth set over a bowl. Gently press the berries to extract as much juice as possible

Return the juice to the pan and add the sugar and lemon juice. Gently heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved

Taste and add more sugar or lemon juice to your taste

Decant into a sterilised bottle and seal

Elderberries


Blackberries

I topped up my elderberries with some blackberries which I think deepened the dark rich colour of the final product.  This would taste great added to some gin or Prosecco to make a delicious cocktail. 

Elderberry and sparkling water

I added mine to some sparkling water with a few pomegranate seeds and a sprig of mint (purely for decoration) but I will definitely be trying it with some prosecco come the weekend.  I can’t believe I am only happening upon this foraging movement at this late stage of the game, I’m hooked already! The satisfaction from start to finish has inspired me to learn more about the art of foraging so watch out for future posts of this nature!


Kai background by Black Velvet Styling

Elderberry and sparkling water
Elderberry cordial
Elderberry cordial

The Edible Flower - Oktoberfest 2019

This month signalled a change in the seasons and the beginning of Autumn. It also meant I had the joy of returning to capture The Edible Flower’s latest supper club - Oktoberfest and true to form it did not disappoint.

The Cow Byre dressed for the occasion by  Shannon Bunting

The Cow Byre dressed for the occasion by Shannon Bunting

I’m a massive fan of Autumn, like many it’s my favourite season (plus I’m an October baby) so I was excited to try all the autumnal flavours the girls had prepared for us.  The weather was kind and we had a dry, warm evening that allowed outdoor refreshments as the guests arrived around 7pm.  Ginger and coriander seed shandy greeted us accompanied by the most delicious pretzels I have ever tasted made by the master baker Clare McQuillan (my husband was obsessed with them).  The mac and cheese croquettes held up their end of the bargain and delivered a crispy, creamy mouthful of tastiness neatly packaged in one little flavour bomb.

Clare and her amazing pretzels with mustard dip

Mac and cheese croquettes

Mac and cheese croquettes

Now that our tastebuds were adequately warmed up, it was time to move indoors to the cow byre where starters awaited.  Spiced cheese butter spread and mushroom crostini with pickles and garden salad served with Edible Flower brews own OJAB Yarrow Dunkel.  I’ve never tried Dunkel (or heard of it to be honest) but Jo spoke passionately about its German origins and her friend whom she named it after.  

Obatzda and mushroom crostini

Obatzda and mushroom crostini

Garden salad

Garden salad

Moving onto mains and before we sat down to eat I had my duties outside where the barbecuing was taking place.  Short of needing some safety goggles and breathing apparatus, I managed some shots of the sausages sizzling on the coals.  You can see from the photos there was a looooot of smoke!  Ossetian pies, goats cheese pancakes, courgette and avocado salad and an amazing beetroot and blackberry dish all married beautifully together on the plate.  Another home brew from Jo to wash it down and at 6.5% ABV, this one will have you singing on your way home! 

Courgette, avocado and lemon salad with poppyseeds

Courgette, avocado and lemon salad with poppyseeds

Roasted beetroot and shallots with pickled blackberries

Roasted beetroot and shallots with pickled blackberries

Hellbent Boerwors sausages with rhubarb ketchup

Hellbent Boerwors sausages with rhubarb ketchup


Room for more?  Were only half way through!  A breather and a refresher of spiced plum sorbet with the faintest of hints of black pepper.  Yes, black pepper on your ice cream.  Only to be applied by a skilled professional in my opinion.  It was delicious.  Then came the pudding - an ode to the season itself with an apple and cinnamon Streusel cake with blackberry and bay ice cream.  I’m all about the suite and this, well this was amazing.  I’m pretty sure I could have managed another slice…

Spiced plum sorbet

Spiced plum sorbet

Apple and cinnamon streusel cake with blackberry and bay ice cream

Apple and cinnamon streusel cake with blackberry and bay ice cream

Blackberry ice cream

Blackberry ice cream


The darkness surrounded us as we ate under the beautiful hops by Flowers By Mee in the cow byre.  It made the candles glow more brightly and ascertained the arrival of the new season as it settled into itself and settled into us that evening.  

Drinks around the fire pit

Drinks around the fire pit

All photos by Sharon Cosgrove Photography

Background papers by Black Velvet Styling

The Edible Flower

I don’t know how I’ve managed this long without experiencing the wonder that is The Edible Flower but I recently had the pleasure and all I can say is WOW! Well that’s not all, or this would be a very short blog post. These guys know food and they know it well.  Their flavour combo’s are a knock out and their passion for food is inspirational. They are sensational hosts to boot!

Jo working her magic on some flatbread dough

Jo working her magic on some flatbread dough

The evening was warm and balmy, the sun was low and golden and the air was filled with the scent of buttery, garlic flatbreads cooking in the wood fired pizza oven.  Amongst the rolling fields and hills of County Down, people gathered for a Midsummer’s Feast to share food, wine and laughter with new friends.  


Erin delights guests with flatbreads and honeysuckle punch on arrival

Erin delights guests with flatbreads and honeysuckle punch on arrival

Honeysuckle punch

Honeysuckle punch

On arrival we sipped honeysuckle punch and enjoyed flatbreads topped with summery yellow courgettes and wild earthy mushrooms all while lingering through the kitchen gardens of Erin and Jo’s beautiful country cottage.  Starters were then served in what was once a cow shed with the trough for the cows still present along the sides of the barn! There were no cows but plenty of feeding going on as we chowed down on our Vietnamese noodle salad and home brewed ale which was a delightful accompaniment.  The flavours were light and fresh but with plenty of depth given in the Nuoc Cham dressing. As a foodie crossed with being a food photographer I was torn between just wanting to devour my meal or shoot it to within an inch of its life. I did both, and enjoyed every minute!

Midsummer Feast menu

Midsummer Feast menu

Vietnamese noodle salad

Vietnamese noodle salad

The rest of the courses followed suit, amazing flavours meticulously paired and with plenty of seconds if you had room.  The pork was raised by Erin and Jo who added that if they were going to continue to enjoy eating meat they felt they should be comfortable with rearing their own animals for slaughter.  My friend nearly fell into her plate crying when she heard this, realising that what we were about to eat had been somewhat of a pet in it’s previous life. It’s a sensitive subject but one that should be considered as a meat eater.  I didn’t dwell on it at that particular moment however and enjoyed the glorious food before me. 

Porchetta with garlic and fennel

Porchetta with garlic and fennel

Aubergine bake

Aubergine bake

The evening drew to a close around the fire pit, swilling chai tea and cramming buttery crumbly shortbread into the last little pockets of space left in my stomach.  The embers sparked and flitted as everyone basked in the heat from the fire and the warmth we felt from having enjoyed such a wonderful evening of beautiful food and great company. Bliss!  

Chai tea around the fire pit

Chai tea around the fire pit

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Echlinville Distillery Tour

My most recent food and drink adventure was Echlinville distillery, nestled just off the shores of Strangford lough.  Only forty five minutes from Belfast, you too could be swillin’ a wee dram between your fingers and thumb!  Fortified with the knowledge as to how it got in your glass by taking the Echlinville distillery tour .  You will learn how Dunville’s Whiskey and Jawbox Gin are made and also their Ban Poitín, all available to sample at the bar after the tour.  I cried off from any Poitín tasting but maybe next time!  

Echlinville Distillery-007.jpg

The drive to the distillery itself is beautiful.  You will pass Mount Stewart and go through beautiful quaint Greyabbey then continue along the shoreline and to Kircubbin where you will find the Echlinville estate and still house.  Go to https://echlinville.com/story/ to read all about their story and the history of the estate.


The staff at Echlinville are amazing, super friendly and leave you feeling like you just visited an old friend for a few drinks and a catchup.  The tour was light, funny and informative with just enough detail about the process of making whisky without giving away all their secrets.  For that they’d have to kill you, most likely with the WWII tank they have parked up outside (not kidding).  

Echlinville Distillery-042.jpg


We were shown the old courtyard with which they have big plans for in the future, the still house where all the magic happens and the maturation warehouse where the casks are kept. It’s here the whiskey matures and develops it’s depth and charatcer drawn from the distinctive properties of the barrel it’s stored in.  All the terms you hear like ‘barrel aged’ and ‘single malt’ will start to make sense plus you’ll learn a whole host more!  

Echlinville Distillery-019-2.jpg


After the tour we kicked back and enjoyed our drinks vouchers with which you get to try two drinks from the selection on offer.  I sampled the Dunville’s Three Crowns Whiskey, Jawbox Rhubarb and Ginger gin and Echlinville Irish pot still gin.  You are made to feel so welcome it’s honestly hard to leave but I am a complete lightweight when it comes to booze so three was enough or I would have been staying the night!


Great tour, friendly staff and you leave wanting more.  I’ll return to Echlinville with friends and family on tow as this is a fabulous way to spend the afternoon for both visitors and locals alike.  


Cheers!