home-made Pimms

Straight up: 2 parts gin, 2 parts red vermouth, 1 part triple sec, dash of crème de cassis

Green meanie: 2 parts gin, 2 parts red vermouth, 1 part blue curaçao. Strangely this will end up the colour of Fairy Liquid, hence the name.

Purple meanie (a rare but interesting variation!): 2 parts gin, 2 parts orange vermouth, 1 part blue curaçao, dash of crème de cassis

Mix together.  Serve in the proportion one part Pimms to three parts lemonade, bitter lemon, or San Pellegrino limonata over lots of ice and mint leaves, and a fresh fruit garnish.

This tastes of holidays in France to me…

Irish cream liqueur

  • 400g tin of condensed milk
  • 250ml long life UHT single cream (or 200ml full fat UHT milk and 50g sterilised cream, whisked together)
  • 250ml Irish whiskey
  • 1 heaped teaspoon instant coffee powder or granules
  • 2 tablespoons dark chocolate syrup
  • 2 teaspoons caramel syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until mixed. Don’t whizz too much or you’ll end up with alcoholic whipped cream. Put in sterilised bottles and drink within a week – keep in the fridge.

NOTES ON UHT CREAM
Long life or UHT single cream is becoming increasingly difficult to find – Spar shops or Makro are two places that regularly stock it. Don’t be tempted to use cream substitutes like Elmlea, you will regret it. You could use fresh cream but it will only last a couple of days before going off. This year (2016) we tried it with 200ml full fat UHT milk and 50g of Carnation sterilised cream (the stuff in tins that my Nana Margot used to put on tinned peaches as a treat).  It worked OK, I think, but it was quite difficult to get the cream to disperse in the milk.  Whisking the cream and  milk together before putting anything else in seems to be the best method.

The instant coffee powder or granules should be good quality, strong-tasting stuff – espresso type. We’ve not tried this with the new whole bean instant powders like Millicano. I suspect they might be a bit gritty.

Dark chocolate syrup – the best you can find, with a high cocoa content. If not, you can make your own chocolate syrup by heating a spoonful of golden syrup and mixing a spoonful of cocoa into it, but this won’t stay in suspension as well as the ready-made chocolate syrup and you might have to shake your bottles of liqueur before serving to avoid a chocolatey sediment.

Caramel syrup – if you fancy experimenting you could use maple syrup, or a flavoured syrup for coffee such as hazelnut or gingerbread. Monin syrups are perhaps the best known; they seem to be in all the high street coffee chains like Costa. And I used to work for Monin when I was a student many moons ago, so I do feel an odd sense of loyalty to them!

Limoncello

OK, this is a straight steal from the Channel 4 programme Superscrimpers, via our neighbour Teresa who made her own version of it. It’s not terribly authentic, but it tastedlemon so good I was inspired to try it for myself. If it works it’ll be an excellent addition to our repertoire of home-made Christmas drinks.

Take the zest off 8 lemons (make sure you only take off the yellow zest, and as little of the white pith as you can manage). A very sharp knife or a speed peeler would be best to do this, or you could use a grater.  Put the zest in a large bowl with the squeezed juice of the 8 lemons, and pour over a 70cl bottle of cheap vodka.  Don’t throw the bottle away!  Add 500 grams of granulated sugar to 500ml of just boiled water and stir until dissolved, then add to the lemon/vodka mix. Cover the bowl and leave to steep for 5 days.  This is the stage the recipe has reached at the moment… After 5 days, strain the liquid. You could use a paper coffee filter or a piece of muslin in a sieve or colander. Pour the strained liquid into clean bottles (this is why you should keep the empty vodka bottle!).