Having a cup of tea is not only about the flavour that it imparts, but about the time taken to follow an ancient ritual. I feel it is a treat, a relaxing start to any day, to have the time to sit and enjoy a hot cup before that day begins. If I manage to get out of bed early enough in the morning I relish the pleasure of a cup siting down at the table rather than a mad dash out the door, it seems like civilized start to the day .
Lavender, camomile and mint tea
Mix equal parts of the following
dried lavender flowers
dried chamomile flowers
mint tea (I find spearmint the best)
This tea keeps very well for a few months in an airtight container.
I made myself a wonderful bottle of saffron vodka. I stuffed half of a packet of saffron into a half bottle of vodka and sat back for three week, to see what would happen. It has made the most beautiful amber drink with the warm flovours of saffron and the kick of a good vodka.
Roll on the saffron Martinis, my new Christmas tipple.
I still remember vividly the first time I tasted Pedro Ximénez I was visiting a good friend in London and we wandered through Exmouth Market and found ourselves sitting at the bar in Moro. Now if any of you have tried booking a table at this restaurant you will know it is no easy task, but you can quite casually stroll in and and sit in their lovely cosy dinning room at the beaten tin counter and enjoy some tasty bar treats. We settled on a glass of Pedro Ximénez with some anchovies, fried chorizo and a lemon yogurt cake to finish.
It was all memorable and absolutely delicious but it was that Pedro Ximénez that stood out in my mind. That was a few years ago but this wonderful sherry has been a staple in my kitchen and drinks cupboard ever since.
Pedro Ximénez is one of life's great pleasures, a glass every now and then makes the world that little bit sweeter. It is called PX for short and is seen as a sherry that you drink after rater than before a meal. Pedro Ximénez is made by drying the grapes under the hot Spanish sun which concentrates the sweetness these grapes are then used to create the sweet, dark liquid with a strong taste of raisins and molasses. I like to drink it slightly chilled, but room temperature is also good.
The luscious chocolate fondants can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until you need them. Once it is time for desert pop them into a medium hot oven for 8 to 10 minutes and voilà, done. The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate is a must, milk chocolate will not work in the same way. Serve one with some PX on the side and a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream and you have a world class desert.
dark chocolate fondants served with Pedro Ximénez and vanilla ice cream
I use the little glass pots that you often get yogurt in for this desert. Do not worry about them cracking, they should not, as they were created in an oven much hotter than your one at home. The fondant looks great placed on a plate with a small glass of PX on the side.
100g caster sugar
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites average size egg
62g plain flour
12g coco powder
Whisk together the sugar, yolks, and whites until nearly triple in volume.
Melt the chocolate and butter then pour the melted chocolate and butter into the egg and sugar mix. Put your mixer on the lowest setting and mix gently. The paddle attachment is good for this or you can stir it in with a wooden spoon.
Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix until all ingredients are combined then stop mixing other wise your mixture will become flat. Fill your pots almost to the top and put in the fridge until needed