Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Home-made Blackberry Liqueur - Happy Apero O'Clock

homemade blackberry liqueur at De Tout Coeur Limousin
blackberry picking at De Tout Coeur Limousin
what's your favourite blackberry recipe?
This is our first Autumn in the Limousin and I am loving the gradual change of seasons.  The weather is still beautifully warm but the leaves are starting to drop and it is harvest time.  Which means plenty of ripe blackberries and time for some garden and hedgerow foraging.  

Blackberry picking on a long sunny September day is a lovely way to pass the time.  So with wellies and protective clothing I went into the deepest depths of the garden.  Unfortunately the biggest and ripest blackberries were the ones that were through knee high bramble thorns.  However with persistence and a few scratches here and there I managed to gather enough for this recipe.

My blackberry recipe is inspired by the many home-made liqueurs and preserves my Polish grandmother used to make throughout the year.  From pickled cucumbers to rose hip syrups she was always in the kitchen concocting something that was either good for you or tasted delicious, or both. I remember her home-made cherry brandy with much fondness.  Unfortunately the birds got all the cherries from our tree so I will not be making that this year!

Apart from being delicious, blackberries are also a superfood and packed with vitamin C, fibre and polyphenols - which studies have shown can reduce cognitive decline (not sure if this is the case when mixed with wine and vodka however!).  

This blackberry liqueur is lovely served cold and neat or mixed in a cocktail. An interesting and tasty aperitif in keeping with la vie Francaise.  I'll definitely be trying it out with some sparkling wine or champagne at Christmas time for a blackberry Kir Royale.  It would make a great festive homemade Christmas gift - if you still have any left...

This recipe is adapted from one for apricot liqueur in Diana Henry's Salt, Sugar, Smoke - a book I highly recommend.  So many simple and delicious recipes which will inspire you to get sterilizing those preserving jars!  

Enjoy and happy apero o'clock!  

ingredients:

500g blackberries - washed and checked for any stray bugs

450g sugar
300ml vodka
750ml dry white wine 

variations:
add a bit of spice to your mix - try adding a couple of crushed cardamon pods or star anise at step 1. 

method:

  1. add the sugar, wine and blackberries to a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil to dissolve the sugar then simmer on a low heat for about 5 minutes - crushing the blackberries gently to extract the juice (I used a potato masher).  
  2. remove from the heat and add the vodka
  3. pour into a sterilized jar, seal and leave to infuse for week
  4. strain through a muslin-lined sieve into a sterilized bottle and leave for a further month before drinking. 

What are your favourite ways of eating blackberries?  Do get in touch and say bonjour in the comments below or at De Tout Coeur Limousin

My homemade blackberry liqueur is featured this month on:  

no-waste-food-badge

No waste food challenge hosted by Chef Mireille's East West Realm





You can check out some of my other seasonal recipes here:

baked courgettes with feta, tomato, mint & marjoram

roasted apricots with lemon thyme & rosewater

Imam bayildi (Middle Eastern inspired aubergine & tomato)
homemade blackberry liqueur on Punk Domestics


TamingTwins


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

baked courgettes with feta, tomato, mint & marjoram

cooking at De Tout Coeur Limousin
baked courgettes with feta, tomato, mint & marjoram
As we are nearing the end of the Summer harvest here in the Limousin it is time to be using up the very last of our current seasons vegetables and produce.  A lovely gift of home grown courgettes from our friends at Chez Jallot inspired this recipe.  

My seasonal recipe for baked courgettes with feta, tomato, mint and marjoram is a real taste of summer.  I added fresh marjoram and mint because I have this growing in abundance in our garden, but it would be equally delicious with basil or coriander.


The baked courgettes can be served as a vegetarian main dish or are good as a vegetable side dish too. It's so quick and simple to put together.  I hope you enjoy and do let me know how it goes.  Do feel free to share your favourite seasonal recipes too.  


recipe author:  De Tout Coeur Limousin

serves: 2 as a main dish or 4 as a vegetable side dish
preparation time:  15 minutes
cooking time: 45-60 minutes

ingredients:


2 large courgettes

3 chopped medium tomatoes
200g feta cheese
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbs chopped mint
1 tbs chopped marjoram
splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

method:

  1. preheat oven to about 190-200C
  2. chop the courgettes in half and scoop out any seeds
  3. season with salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil
  4. roast the courgettes for about 10-15 minutes to soften slightly
  5. combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and season
  6. remove the courgettes from the oven and add the tomato and feta filling equally between the courgette halves then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  7. bake for a further 30-45 minutes until the courgettes are soft but not falling apart.  
  8. Serve hot with and enjoy with some good crusty bread to mop up the juices.  Bon appetit! 
We hope to share a meal with you soon at De Tout Coeur Limousin - we look forward to saying bonjour and welcoming you soon.  Please leave a comment below or get in touch via De Tout Coeur Limousin.  

courgettes before baking
feta, tomato, mint & marjoram filling
Bon appetit at De Tout Coeur Limousin

My recipe for baked courgettes with feta, tomato, mint & marjoram is featured this month on:


Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage


cooking with herbs hosted by Lavender and Lovage


no-waste-food-badge

No waste food challenge hosted by Chef Mireille's East West Realm



Credit-Crunch-Munch.gif

Helen and Camilla’s Credit Crunch Munch. This month hosted by maison cupcake


Family Foodies Goes Vegetarian hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash

family-foodies

Monday, 1 September 2014

Exploring the Limousin : Pierre aux Neuf Gradins - Soubrebost

Explore the Limousin: Pierre aux Neuf Gradins
Explore the Limousin: Pierre aux Neuf Gradins
Explore the Limousin: Pierre aux Neuf Gradins
Explore the Limousin: Pierre aux Neuf Gradins
We are really enjoying exploring the beautiful Limousin region and all the new things we are discovering about its history and culture. We had often seen the sign to Pierre aux Neuf Gradins on the road to Bourganeuf but had not stopped to explore further.

So with Eric le chien in tow, on a sunny August day we decided to stop take a look. We parked up at the entrance to the woods in Soubrebost and took a steady walk up a rather steep hill. At the top we discovered the ancient stones and the main attraction the Pierre aux Neuf Gradins – 9 steps carved into a large rock leading to a platform with 2 connecting 'bowls' and a gutter carved into the side of the rock.

Not much is known about these stones but according to local legend they were used for druid ceremonies and sacrifices. The water in the bowls that had been carved out of the stone were also said to have magical and curative properties. Legend has it that local women would place pins in the water or drink from it to ensure their husbands fidelity!

A fascinating place which has inspired me to try and find out more (and practice my French reading skills) about this ancient site.   

We hope to welcome you soon to the beautiful Limousin - to get in touch contact us at De Tout Coeur Limousin.  


Explore the hidden gems of France at De Tout Coeur Limousin