Blackberry, Sage, and Cricket Margarita


 
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.
Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.

My goodness. The last few weeks have been pretty ridiculous! We are currently fostering a nursing mama cat and her five kittens! And far out, it is distracting. At first it was filled with stress about whether they were getting enough to eat, gaining weight fast enough etc, but now that they are starting to run around like little nuggets, the cute level is insanely distracting. They are starting to interact with us and each other, and I catch myself sitting on a cushion in front of their cage, just watching, far too often. Its the best, worst thing. They have settled in really nicely now though so I feel like I can finally get some stuff done, and only check on them 286236 times a day instead of 2835729384723 times. 

Happy Happy Margarita week! This year, there is a margarita week party hosted by the lovely Hola! Jalapeno. Right up until Cinco de Mayo, a load of bloggers will be posting their fave Margarita or Margarita inspired recipes! You can check out the full list over on Kate's site - she will update it as everyone posts throughout the week!

I wanted to go with a little twist on the classic margarita. Recently I made a big batch of sage simple syrup, which is my fave thing to add to soda water now that the weather is getting hotter. Seeing as I already had that in the fridge, I combined it with some blackberries, tequila and lime, and plopped it in a glass, rimmed with a quick sage salt. It was my first time making the sage salt, but it definitely will not be my last - it was packed full of flavour, and I can't wait to put it on everything! Everything

I also added something a little different to these margaritas - some good friends of ours have recently released a new product called Critter bitters! It's bitters infused with crickets, which I was super skeptical about at first, as I think most people are, but it's super delicious! The toasted Crickets lend a slightly smoky flavour. The philosophy behind it is that the eating of insects is the first viable solution to a global food shortage. They have a fairly minimal impact on the environment, and they are nutritionally dense. Critter bitters were developed as an introduction to eating insects - a way to get over the 'yuck' factor! Check them out here! If you don't have any, you can either leave out the bitters, or just use regular bitters. Big ups to Lucy from Makers of Trouble who is a bomb bartender and helped me with the recipe for this! 

 

 

Blackberry, sage, and cricket margarita
- Makes 1 drink -


Margarita
Sage salt to rim the glass
Small handful (approx 6-7) blackberries
1 oz (30ml) Fresh lime juice
2 oz (60ml) tequila
1 oz (30ml) Sage simple syrup
2 sleeves (2 dashes) Critter bitters, or regular bitters
Ice

Sage Salt
1/4 cup salt (I used Kosher)
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

Sage Simple Syrup
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 cup (240ml) water
Large handful of fresh sage leaves (I used 7-8 "Sprigs")

 

- PROCESS -

SAGE SIMPLE SYRUP

Place sugar and water in a small pot. Heat over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat to medium, and bring the liquid to just shy of a simmer. Add the fresh sage leaves, and steep for 20-30 minutes. Remove leaves and allow to cool.

SAGE SALT

Place salt and sage leaves in a small food processor, blender or spice/coffee grinder. Pulse until well combined. Spread onto a plate and leave for 1-2 hours to dry. Can be used immediately, but make sure to dry well before storing the excess. 

MARGARITA

Run the cut edge of a lime around the rim of a chilled glass, and coat the rim of the glass with the sage salt. Fill the glass with ice. Set aside.

In a cocktail shaker or jar, muddle together the blackberries and the lime juice. Add the tequila, sage syrup and bitters. Shake well to incorporate. Pour into prepared glass, and garnish as desired.

Blackberry, sage and cricket margarita. Blackberries are muddled with lime, a sage simple syrup adds a hint of sage, and bitters infused with crickets give a slightly smoky after taste. Finished off with a sage salt rim.

Ganache hot chocolate with vanilla marshmallows


 

Did you know that you can drink ganache? Well, you can. And it's the best. Did you know what makes it better? Home made marshmallows. And also, did you know that if you put it into THE CUTEST GOSH DARN MUGS EVER it tastes so much better?!

Anyway. All of those things are true. Ganache hot chocolate is the best. Equal parts of chocolate and cream, mixed until silky then topped with vanilla marshmallows is a new sort of special. 

Home made marshmallows are so fun to make if you haven't made them before! You most definitely need a stand mixer and be aware that things are going to get crazy sticky, but it is all worth it in the end when you have awesome home made marshmallows! If you don't have one already I highly suggest investing in a candy thermometer too, it makes things a lot easier when you are cooking the syrup. These need to cure for 8 hours or preferably overnight so make sure that you allow time for that, but it is worth it - they keep for up to a month in an airtight container. If you don't want to make your own marshmallows, bought ones work perfectly too! 

For the hot chocolate, I definitely recommend using good quality chocolate. I went with one part milk chocolate and two parts dark, because I like it fairly dark, but this can easily be adjusted - just make sure that you have approximately the same amount of chocolate as cream (by volume). The hot chocolate is super rich, so you really don't need too much. I like to dunk the marshmallows right in, wait for them to melt, eat them, then add more marshmallows. The best.

How amazing are these mugs by my friend Zena?! I am OBSESSED with them. I saw them on her instagram a while back and mentioned to her that they were amazing and I wanted to fill them with marshmallows and hot chocolate. She has just launched her pottery line - you can check it out here! 

 

 

Ganache hot chocolate with vanilla marshmallows
- Serves 4-6 -

Marshmallows
21g (0.75oz, or 3 packets) gelatine
114g (4 oz, 114ml) cold water
155g Corn Starch
114g (4oz, 114ml) water
400g (14oz) sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla paste, or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Marshmallow "Dust"
1/2 cup (65g) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (65g) Corn Starch

Ganache Hot Chocolate
2 cups (350g) chopped chocolate of your preference
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream or half and half. 

- PROCESS -

MARSHMALLOW

Grease a 9" x 13" baking tin with neutral oil or butter. Combine the powdered sugar and corn starch and set aside. This is your "Marshmallow dust".

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cold water and gelatine. Mix well with a fork, and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup. 

In a medium pot, combine the water, honey, vanilla, and sugar. Heat over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the syrup reaches 240˚f / 120˚c, then remove from the heat and leave to cool to 210˚f / 100˚c.

Turn the mixer on to medium, and mix for a few seconds to help break up the bloomed gelatin. With the mixer running, VERY carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer. Turn the speed up to high, and whip for 5-7 minutes, until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, has turned white, and holds somewhat of a peak when you stop the mixer and lift out the whisk. 

Scrape the marshmallow into the prepared tin using a lightly oiled rubber spatula. Smooth the surface using an oiled offset spatula, or back of a spoon. Use wet fingers to help the smoothing process if needed. Dust liberally with the marshmallow dust. Allow to cure for 3-4 hours.

Carefully turn out onto a board, and dust the entire surface with the powdered sugar and corn starch mix. Using a sharp knife dusted with marshmallow dust, cut into squares. Lightly dust the cut surfaces of the marshmallow with the marshmallow dust to help avoid them sticking together.

HOT CHOCOLATE

In a medium pot, heat the cream until it is just below boiling (it will be just starting to show movement around the sides). Remove from the heat, and add the chopped chocolate. Mix with a spatula or whisk until the chocolate is melted. 

ASSEMBLY

Divide the hot chocolate between serving cups. Top with marshmallows. Reheat any remaining hot chocolate before serving. 

Lemon and Basil Soda


 

I catered the first day of school for Richard's old masters programme a month or so ago, and needed to make a non alcoholic drink that was cheap and easy, and that people could put together themselves. I wasn't too sure as to what to use, then when I was making this cake for one of our episodes of distant kitchens, I popped a little bit of the orange thyme syrup into my soda water and suddenly realised that it worked perfectly. (I am in no way trying to claim ownership for inventing simple syrup here!) Half pissed off at myself that I hadn't thought of infused simple syrup and soda earlier and half stoked that I had found a drink I could use for the event, I played around with a couple of combinations and ended up serving a couple - a rosemary syrup, an orange thyme syrup, and this here Lemon and basil combination. They were a giant hit - I served the syrup in pour bottles alongside a big drink container of soda, and guests were able to mix up their own drinks.

There is something about herbs in drinks - I love it! The taste of the herbs gussies up boring soda water, and also offsets the sugar of the simple syrup. The possibility of flavour combinations is literally endless - simple syrup is a 1:1 sugar to water ratio. If you are infusing with a herb then add that, and if you are flavouring with a juice, sub out some of the water for the juice, and there you go! 

The syrup, due to the high sugar content, keeps really well in the fridge, so is great to have on hand for adding to drinks or cocktails. You only use a tablespoon or so at a time when serving, so a little goes a fairly long way. I am yet to add alcohol, but I honestly can't see that going badly. 

 

 

Lemon and Basil Soda
- Makes about 2 cups of syrup - 

1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1 cup (240ml) water
1/2 cup (120ml) Lemon juice
approximately 4 cups, loosely packed, basil leaves (stems on is fine) 

Soda water and ice to serve

 

- PROCESS -


Place water, lemon juice and sugar into a small pot over medium heat. Heat until sugar is totally dissolved, then add basil leaves, and leave to infuse as the syrup cools. Cool completely and transfer into a bottle. 

To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes. Add about a tablespoon of lemon basil syrup (you can adjust this to taste), and top up with soda water. Garnish with lemon slices and basil leaves.

Store syrup in the fridge in a sealed bottle.