Food & Drink

Elderberry Wine – A Useful Tip

Northern Living - Elderberry Wine – A Useful TipAnother wild fruit which has done remarkably well this year and is available in abundance are Elderberrys. There are hundreds of recipes for Elderberry wine available all following the basic theme below. I thought however, that this tip might be useful to DIY wine enthusiasts.

Some years ago I intended to make Elderberry wine and picked a large quantity of fruit. I spent several hours that evening separating the fruit from the fronds. I eventually gave up intending to complete the task the following morning. Unfortunately I had a busy day the following day and the bag of Elderberrys were neglected. Absent mindedly I dumped the bag in the chest freezer that evening to stop the fruit turning, bursting and staining everything in sight. Unexpected genius moment, or freak chance, who knows. The upshot of freezing them was that the frozen fruit were very easy the remove from the fronds. I simply added a second plastic bag, tied the top to prevent escape and crushed the bundle between my hands. An addition bonus is that the fruit do not copy with being frozen well and burst open as they thaw. This make extraction the juice very easy. Just squash them with the back of a spoon through a wire sieve.

The resulting wine is one of the best wild fruit wines in my opinion and well worth the effort.

Ingredients: Elderberry Wine Recipe

3 lbs / 1,350 grams fresh elderberries
3 lbs / 1,350 grams sugar
8 pints / 1 gallon water
1 teaspoon citric acid
Wine yeast


Strip and crush the berries and place them in a bucket. Add 1/2 of the boiling water and allow to cool. Dissolve the sugar in the remaining boiling water and strain the berries through a sieve on to the sugar and add the citric acid and the yeast. Pour the liquid into a demijohn and seal with an airlock.

Store the wine in a warm place and allow the fermentation to work itself out. When fermentation has ceased, rack the wine into a clean jar and place in a cooler environment and leave for a further few months. Rack again and leave until the wine is stable. Leave for a further six months and bottle.

Hazelnut Brittle

Northern Living - Here is a simple tasty and low cost recipe for Hazulnut BrittleIf like me you live near to open countryside and enjoy walking you may have noticed that the hazel bushes have produced a bumper crop this year. It seems to have been a great year for all sorts of wide foods, blackberries earlier in summer, hazelnuts and elderberry are both available in good quantities now. So if you've gathered a few more hazelnuts than you know what to do with, here's a simple tasty and low cost way to make use of them.


100 g Fresh Hazelnuts 
250 g Caster Sugar
A Pinch Of Salt


1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Scatter the nuts onto a baking sheet then toast in the oven for 6-10 minutes or until golden but not burnt. Let them cool slightly, but while they are still warm, rub the skins off the hazelnuts and walnuts. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment.

2. Tip the sugar into a heavy-based, wide non-stick pan, add a splash of water and gently heat over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, without stirring. Continue heating the sugar until it reaches an even light brown colour all over, then take it one step further to a slightly deeper brown, watching it carefully so it doesn’t burn. Scatter in a pinch of salt, then the toasted whole nuts and shake the pan so the nuts become well coated in the caramel.

3. Quickly and carefully pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Allow it to cool completely, so it sets and hardens. Once its hard you can break the brittle into pieces ready to eat.

Caper, Bacon and Mushroom Crêpes

Northern Living - Caper, Bacon and Mushroom Crêpes recipeFor those of you who think anything other than lemon juice and sugar is exotic, take a walk of the fusion side.....

For the Crêpes


100g (4 oz) plain flour
225g (8 fl oz) semi skimmed milk
1 egg
pinch salt


(1) In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, egg and salt.
(2) Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add a knob of butter and lightly coat the surface of the pan with the melted butter.
(3) Pour 4 tablespoons (60ml) of the batter into the pan and tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface in a smooth and even layer.
(4) After two minutes, lift up an edge of the crêpe with a spatula to see if it is browning. When the underside has begun to brown, flip the crêpe and cook the other side until it is also brown; about 2 minutes.
(5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 to cook the remaining crêpes. Serve hot.

For the savoury filling


6 rashers bacon
1 knob unsalted butter
1 (200g) punnet mushrooms, sliced
50g unsalted butter
4 tablespoons plain flour
225ml milk
2 tablespoons of capers, drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
175ml chicken stock
2 eggs
120ml lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste


(1) Prepare Crepe recipe according to recipe directions. Separate with greaseproof paper and keep warm until ready to serve.
(2) Place bacon in a large, deep frying pan. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, dice and set aside. Reserve about 1 tablespoon dripping, add a knob of butter, and saute mushrooms.
(3) In a separate saucepan, melt 50g butter over medium heat. Whisk in 4 tablespoons flour, stirring constantly, until a smooth paste is formed. Gradually stir in 225ml milk, stirring constantly until a smooth thick sauce is formed. Add bacon, mushrooms, capers, parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Let cook until somewhat thick, about 10 minutes.
(4) In a saucepan, bring stock to the boil. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and lemon juice. Temper eggs and stock together whisking constantly so as to cook, but not to scramble the eggs. Again, add salt and pepper to taste.
(5) Fill each crepe with spinach and meat filling, fold over, and top with warm egg lemon sauce.
(6) Dress with a little salad if you wish.

Lamb Shanks In Red Wine

Northern Living - Lamb Shanks In Red Wine RecipeIngredients

2 tsps black peppercorns (coarsely crushed)
2 tsps juniper berries (coarsely crushed)
4 shallots (roughly chopped)
2 garlic cloves
2 onion (quartered)
2 carrots (roughly sliced)
1 bouquet garni
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
2 tbsps red wine vinegar
750 ml dry red wine
1.8 kilograms fat
6 lamb shanks
3 tbsps vegetable oil
30 grams plain flour
750 ml beef stock (plus more if needed)
30 grams butter
1 celery root (approximately 500g, cut into 1cm cubes)
250 grams mushrooms (quartered)
3 tbsps redcurrant jelly
1 bunch watercress (to garnish)


1. For the marinade: Tip the peppercorns and juniper berries in to a saucepan. Add the remaining marinade ingredients, bring to the boil, and simmer for 2 minutes. Pour into a large dish and cool. Add the lamb shanks, cover, and leave in the refrigerator for 1–2 days, turning occasionally.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4. Remove the lamb shanks and pat dry with kitchen paper. Strain the marinade; reserve the vegetables and liquid separately.

3. For the dish: Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the shanks all over. Remove. Add the marinade vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, for 5–7 minutes or until they start to brown. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 3–5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in the marinade liquid, scraping the bottom of the pot well.

4. Return the lamb with any juices and add the bouquet garni from the marinade, the stock, and some salt and pepper. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook the shanks, turning them occasionally, for 2–2¼ hours or until tender.

5. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the celeriac, and season. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8–10 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for 3–5 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and they are tender. Add to the celeriac.

6. Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate and keep warm. Reserve some of the shallots and carrots, then press the sauce through a sieve into a large pan. Whisk in the redcurrant jelly with plenty of pepper. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 20–30 minutes or until reduced by half.

7. Add the mushrooms, celeriac, and reserved carrots and shallots. Check the seasoning. Return the lamb shanks to the sauce and reheat for 5–10 minutes. Serve hot.

Slow Cooker Honey Ginger Chicken Thighs - Sunday Dinner on a Budget

Slow Cooker Honey Ginger Chicken Thighs - Sunday dinner on a budgetIngredients – Serves up to 10 people :-

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
175g (6 oz) honey
175ml (6 fl oz) light soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon minced fresh root ginger
1 (435g) tin pineapple pieces, drained with juice reserved
2 tablespoons cornflour
4 tablespoons water

Method :-

(1) Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and brown chicken thighs on all sides.

(2) Pour honey, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, ginger and reserved pineapple juice into a slow cooker and mix well. Place thighs in the slow cooker and turn to coat with mixture.

(3) Cover, and cook 4 hours on High. Stir in pineapple during the final 20 minutes of cooking.

(4) Mix the cornflour and water in a small bowl. Remove thighs from slow cooker. Blend the cornflour mixture into remaining sauce in the slow cooker to thicken. Serve sauce over the chicken.



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