Blackberry and sloe gin posset with rosemary shortbread

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It’s a dark, damp, wintery Sunday here at the cottage. The fire is lit, the cats are all snoozing contently and I’m feeling the need for something zingy, boozy and comforting to brighten the day, step up the winter posset.

Possets are ridiculously easy to create – back when I was a chef I always used to put lemon posset on the dessert menu, it’s delicious, very cheap to make and ready in no time at all which is an all round win for the kitchen.

I love, love LOVE sloe gin. It’s a hip flask staple on a winter walk through frosty fields and so easy to throw together in the last days of autumn. I have bottles of sloe gin in my cupboard dating back to 2010, they have outlasted several relationships and I ration them out as if they were made using the tears of unicorns. I anticipate feeling a great aching loss when the last of the 2010 batch is gone. If you are lucky enough to try some one day then know that you are indeed very special to me! If you don’t have any homemade to hand then you can easily buy a bottle, Sipsmith do a good one.

Now I love shortbread, according to my boyfriend I don’t make enough of it. He’s not a fan of adding any flavours to it mind, he’s a shortbread purist you see – plain, straight down the line, no fucking about shortbread or not at all. I, on there other hand, love lemon shortbread, vanilla shortbread and this wonderfully aromatic rosemary shortbread which goes so well with the rich posset.

If you fancy listening to me make this then click here (you will need iPlayer access as it’s on the BBC).

I’m using blackberries foraged last year that have been in the freezer, but there are plenty to be found on supermarket shelves even at this time of year.

Blackberry and sloe gin posset with rosemary shortbread

Ingredients:

For the posset:

  • 600ml double cream
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 150g blackberries
  • Pinch freshly ground pepper
  • Sloe gin (for quantity see recipe instructions)

Method:

  1.  Heat the cream and sugar together over a medium heat, stir frequently.
  2.  Bash the berries to release the juice then strain into a measuring jug, get all the juice out of the berries.
  3. Measure the juice and add enough sloe gin to bring the liquid up to 250ml.
  4. Once the cream mix is just simmering, remove from heat and stir in the blackberry mix.
  5. Pour into dessert glasses, leave to cool for 20mins then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6.  To serve, simply dust with icing sugar and garnish with a few blackberries.

Rosemary shortbread:

  • 225g butter
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 110g cornflour
  • 1 tsp fresh finely chopped rosemary

Method:

  1.  Heat oven to 160C.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Sift in flours and add rosemary.
  4. Stir, then use hands to bring it together to resemble crumble mixture.
  5. Turn onto baking parchment. Knead a few times to form rough dough. Cover with another sheet of parchment and use a rolling pin to roll out a slab around 15mm thick.
  6. Cut into rounds with a cutter or whatever shape you prefer then refrigerate for 30mins.
  7. Bake for around 12-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them as you don’t want them to burn.
  8. Remove from oven, sprinkle with caster sugar. Leave for 2 mins then transfer to a cooling rack.
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Pan fried sea bass with smoked bacon, cockles and veg

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I long for the sea. I long for salt spray in the air and on my lips, seagulls crying out overhead and long days bobbing up and down gently on the water with a feathered rod in my hand. I miss it terribly and I crave its bounty to compensate for this coastal yearning.

I grew up on the coast you see, long before I moved to the most landlocked county in the UK, willingly I might add. You see I’d never been without it, I had no idea of the powerful hold it would have over me once gone. This recipe brings me that little bit closer to an old home.

Pan fried sea bass with smoked bacon, cockles and veg

Ingredients:

  • sea bass fillet
  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • small handful of smoked streaky bacon, diced
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • splash of white wine (or cider works too)
  • broad beans, skinned (I use frozen in the winter, you could also use soy beans or peas)
  • 1 head of gem lettuce, split down the middle
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • a handful of cooked cockles (not pickled)
  • a few chives, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Season the fish with a little salt and pepper. Heat the frying pan until very hot, then add the oil. Lay the fish fillet in the pan, skin-side down.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, then leave the fish to cook for 3-4 mins, undisturbed.
  3. Flip the fillet over and fry for about 2 mins until just done, basting the skin with the oil in the pan as it cooks. Leave to rest on a warm plate, skin-side up. Cover with a plate or some foil to keep warm.
  4. Return the pan to a medium to high heat, add the butter, bacon and shallot, fry for about a minute or two until the bacon is cooked then add the booze. Once the booze has bubbled up add the cream, broad beans and lettuce. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a few minutes or until the lettuce heart has softened  Add the cockles and heat through. Check for seasoning and add a bit of pepper if needed, you shouldn’t need any salt due to the bacon.
  5. Arrange the contents of the pan onto a plate, top with the fish and garnish with the chives.