Month: May 2012

Gin & Tonic Jelly

 - by Dug

I have been experimenting with cooking this weekend. It has mostly been driven a copy of Heston Blumenthal at Home that my wife bought for me, but this particular gem was a concoction of my own devising. The book talks about gelling agents a lot and I am going to try the Whisky Gums (and adapt it to make Gin Gums too), but while I wait for my silicone sweetie moulds to arrive from ebay, I tried my hand at a Gin & Tonic Jelly.

Gin & Tonic Jelly

Gin & Tonic Jelly

Gin & Tonic Jelly

Serves: one (simply scale the ingredients for greater numbers).

Use a gin with a lot of flavour. The jelly is going to be chilled and there is going to be little effervescence to drive that nose-resident taste.

Ingredients:

  • 50 ml Tanqueray Gin
  • 150 ml Fever-Tree
  • 2 sheets of leaf gelatine
  • Lime

Method:

Immerse the sheets of gelatine in cold water and allow to soften (about 5 mins).

Take a third of the tonic water (50ml) and heat in a saucepan; do not allow to boil but bring it to around 60ºc (hand-hot). Lift the gelatine from the water and squeeze-out any excess water before dropping into the hot tonic water. Stir until completely dissolved.

Gently pour the rest of the tonic water and gin into the pan. Squeeze in a few drops of lime juice from the lime. Stir gently to mix. It’s important to treat this mixture very gently as the less fizz you lose, the more there will be in the set jelly.

Gently decant into a wine glass or an individual pudding basin.

Cut a slice of lime and drop into the mixture. Refrigerate for at least six hours.

Unless eating from the glass, hold the mould in fairly warm, to hot, water for anywhere between 2 and 30 second (depending on the conductivity of your mould) before unmoulding and serving with wedges of lime.

 

I used 2.5 sheets of gelatine as I understand that gelatine can be damaged by acids and produce a softer set. However, this produced a very firm jelly, so I reduced the quantities accordingly for the recipe above.

The finished jelly was fantastically clear and looked great with that slice of lime embedded at the bottom. The flavours of the G&T were captured very well and there was a slight effervescence on the tongue as the jelly melted in the mouth.

Ultimately, you can do this with any drink; I can imagine a mojito working very well and I might have to try a negroni, just to see what it’s like.

Have fun.

 

Gin & Tonic Marmalade

 - by Dug
The Jammy Cow

The Jammy Cow

I recently acquired a new twitter follower with an interesting name; The Jammy Cow (@thejammycow). As with most new followers, I checked-out the profile page  and found a company with some remarkable products. You see, The Jammy Cow sells jam, and interesting jam at that.

I love good jam, and marmalade is even better. You can keep your standard strawberry jam or off-the-shelf orange marmalade but Carrot & Cardamom Marmalade? Now that floats my boat. And guess what? The Jammy Cow sell Gin & Tonic Marmalade!

I placed an order that very same evening and I was very excited a few days later when a box of jam arrived at my door.

Gin & Tonic Marmalade

The gin and tonic marmalade was the thing that really drove me to order. The idea of a G&T that I could spread on toast had me squirming in anticipation and it was the first thing I tried on opening the package.

In some ways, this was my least favourite of my purchases; but that isn’t saying that it wasn’t good, because it was. It is a lemon and lime marmalade with a subtle hint of juniper and quinine. It’s very subtle but it’s definitely there. The fruit and the G&T ingredients give it a clear sharpness that prevents it being just another marmalade and there is this underlying recognition, almost Pavilovian, of the G&T.

All-in-all, a top-class marmalade.

Kiwi, Lime and Ginger Jam

The Jammy Cow website describes this a green fruit pastilles in jam form, and it wasn’t wrong. It doesn’t end there though; swimming among the lumps of jamified (is that a real word?) kiwi, there are chunks of lime peel and ginger. These add a real complexity and variance of flavour to what, at first taste, is already a cracking jam; each mouthful is different. This isn’t a sweet, cloying jam either, it’s pretty tart and the sharp flavours cut through the sugar very well indeed.

Ruby Grapefruit & Cranberry Marmalade with Port

I love grapefruit marmalade. To me it is the king of marmalades. Make it ruby grapefruit I am sold. But then, adding cranberry and port, turns a great marmalade into a work of genius.

You can smell the port as soon as you open the jar. The marmalade is a deep, rich red in colour, qualities that carry through to the flavour too. The port really ties it all together and makes this an utterly indulgent experience. This stuff wouldn’t be out of place in Harrods or Fortnum & Mason.

Carrot & Cardamom Marmalade

Carrot is a brave choice for a preserve, but I couldn’t resist trying it. It ticked two key boxes for me, 1) it’s quirky, and 2) it has cardamom in.

I wasn’t disappointed. The carrot & cardamom marmalade is probably my best purchase of the year so far. The cardamom is clear and powerful and the carrot makes a surprisingly good base for a “marmalade” (as The Jammy Cow points out, this is technically not a marmalade).

Eat this stuff on toast, eat it with a curry, eat it with cheese, eat it by the spoonful, straight from the jar in a joyful feeding frenzy that leaves your heart pumping at 120 beats per minute, pupils like pin-pricks and sugar-shakes so bad that you are incapable of lifting the spoon to your mouth for the next hour.

Please note, heart palpitations are a sure sign of having eaten way too much jam.

The carrot and cardamom marmalade is a clear winner for me. In only a week (one where I was away on business for two days) I have pretty much finished that whole jar, and I am willing to bet that half a jar went on that first day. My only regret is my diet.

There were some other jams and marmalades that sounded lovely, but I thought that filling the house with jam as well as gin wouldn’t win me any favours with the wife. Still, I have to place at least one more order for some elderflower and gooseberry jam, as this was out of stock when I ordered – but elderflower season is almost upon us.

If you like jam, go there and buy jam. If you like making your own jam, check-out The Jammy Cow Blog (there are recipes).

SW4 Gin

 - by Dug

I bought my bottle of SW4 Gin some months ago but have been a little too busy to write anything about it. This is the first of a series of “backlog” posts that work their way through the various gins I have been trying recently.

SW4 is a small-batch London Dry gin that is created in batches of about 500 litres in the smaller stills of Thames Distillers in Clapham. The main still used is call “Tom Thumb” which sits next to his sister “Thumbelina” – very cute.

SW4 named after the postcode of the distillery.

There are 12 botanicals which are macerated for 12 hours before being distilled in a single run; SW4’s botanicals are…

  • Juniper
  • Lemon peel
  • Orange peel
  • Coriander seed
  • Cinnamon
  • Cassia bark
  • Angelical root
  • Orris root
  • Liquorice root
  • Almond
  • Nutmeg
  • Savoury

The water used is, in sharp contrast to Martin Miller’s Gin, common London water that has been deionised and filtered.

SW4 Gin

SW4 Gin

SW4’s bottle is square and topped with a pressed metal screw cap. The cap an labelling are matt charcoal (very dark grey, to you an me) with silver and metallic-blue accents. The label declares it as 40% ABV.

Uncorking (or unscrewing, as the case may be) and giving the neck of the bottle a sniff reveals not a lot in the juniper department. There is definitely a creamy quality to the aroma, but otherwise it is undistinguished. It is a similar story in the glass.

Sampled neat, SW4 carries the promise of the aroma into the mouth. The taste is lacking in Juniper and heavy on a smooth, sweet creaminess. There are hints of floral elements but they are hints. There is a spicy burn in the after-taste which is quite pleasing and the citrus is definitely there.

I was slightly disappointed with the levels of juniper in SW4 – everything I have previously read led me to believe this was a big hitter in the juniper department, but I just don’t see it. To me, this gin carries a middling payload at best.

In a G&T, SW4 is somewhat lost in the standard ratios. At 1:4, and even 1:3, the gin seems dominated by the tonic water and the experience is very lack-lustre. Taking it a few steps stronger (1:2.5 and 1:2) the gin really begins to shine. The sweet, floral complexity of the roots (angelica, orris and liquorice) really starts to come through and that distinct smooth creaminess of the neat spirit starts to make a reappearance. The juniper is still middling but it is supported nicely by the barest hints of nutmeg and a fair back-bone of citrus. However, I couldn’t find almond anywhere, no matter how hard I looked and the peppery taste of savoury was utterly lost to me.

I am always wary of gins that need mixing with tonic in in stronger ratios, as it tends to disappear fast – it becomes a more expensive bottle due to the fact you need to use more of it. However, as an occasional treat, SW4 Gin is certainly worth it – just remember to mix it strong in a G&T to avoid disappointment.

At £18 – £21 per bottle, this isn’t the most expensive gin, but I was expecting more. I occupies that odd middle-ground between the standard and the premium gins and it delivers in the same way. There is enough there to set it apart from Gordon’s and Beefeater,  but doesn’t quite have enough to compete with Sipsmith or Tanqueray. I was hoping that it would be more like Brecon Gin, in that it was a cheaper gin but competed firmly with the more premium labels, but alas, it was not the case.