world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Category: GIFTS

Green Olive Tapenade 

  

250g Olives

1 Garlic Clove crushed

Juice from 1 lemon

3 Tbsp Capers

6 Anchovies (try Sainsburys in Garlic olive oil for extra flavour)

A glug of  olive oil 

Salt & Pepper to taste

A handful of flat leaf parsley
Traditionally Tapenade was made from black olives in the South of France but this is made from green olives – it’s personal choice! Also I can buy the large jars of Crespo green pitted olives in brine in Waitrose which makes it less costly if you want to make big batches for entertaining.  You can find variations on this recipe that include sun dried tomatoes, basil … It’s a Mediterranean dish served as a dip or spread on little rounds of bread or toast, also delicious cooked in with robust white fish like hake. 

Add all the ingredients to a blender and whizz until you get the desired texture … You will see mine is quite smooth but that’s because my Vitamix has no middle ground – it’s either unchopped or puree!!

I store my tapenade in the fridge in my old Bon Maman jam jars for up to a week     

Limoncello ūüćč Recipe

When life gives you lemons …. Grab some vodka and make Limoncello!

I love giving gifts of food I have made to friends and family at Christmas time and each year promise myself that I will make some Sloe Gin, but of course Sloe Gin needs to steep for about 12 weeks which means by the time the sloes are ripe there is insufficient time to prepare for Christmas.   Sloe Gin is the long game but Limoncello on the other hand is quick and easy and takes only a couple of weeks until it is drinkable. The recipe below has worked perfectly and mine is ready to bottle and give as gifts over the coming weeks.


Recipe
6 Unwaxed Lemons (avoid waxed lemons as you want the natural flavour of lemon)

1Litre Vodka (Supermarket own brand will do)

750g Caster Sugar

750ml Water
Zest the 6 lemons, avoiding the pith as this will make your Limoncello  bitter
Place the zest in the bottom of a 2 litre jar that you can seal tightly ( I used the Kilner jar from their Sloe Gin making set)
You may like to use the juice from the lemons to make a sorbet, a great dessert standby to keep in the freezer (for up to one month – recipe to follow)
Add the vodka and leave to steep for one week. Turn the jar each day.

At the end of one week, make a simple syrup by dissolving the sugar and water in a pan. Bring to boiling point but do not allow the syrup to turn a caramel colour as this will spoil the look of your Limoncello.

When cool, add to your lemon vodka mix and leave for another week. Again turning each day.

When you are ready to bottle, strain through a fine sieve or muslin and pour into your bottles. Label and gift to those deserving friends on Santa’s Nice not Naughty list.

Add instructions to the labels as follows

Keep refrigerated 

This sweet lemony syrup is delicious over ice, in iced tea, in cocktails or drizzled over ice cream or sorbet!
ūüćč

You can also add a recipe for a Limoncello Prosecco Cocktail

ūüćč

6 sprigs Mint, fresh

1 measure Raspberries, frozen

1 measure Limoncello liqueur

3 measures Prosecco

ūüćč

Serve chilled in a glass

SALUTI!

Cocktail Masterclass Harvey Nichols 5th Floor


So my #FortyTen celebrations entered their fifth month (spoilt, moi?)  and what with holidays etc this celebration had been scheduled as a post-holiday-blues-pick-me-up.

When I was 18, my first legal drink was a sweet, creamy Pina Colada at Peppermint Park in Covent Garden. I feverishly knocked back¬†the delicious and intoxicating nectar without one care for sophistication nor that this had cost someone other than me a small fortune …. And so began a love of cocktails. There is something decadent about cocktails, studying the menu, choosing which creation it will be, watching the artful performance of the mixologist as they add the spirits and mixers, with the brave twirling bottles and slamming them back onto neatly lined shelves. The rattle of ice cubes as your barman flamboyantly shakes the cobbler* (not a tawdry euphemism – but the professional name for a shaker)¬†and the final flourish as your concoction is poured into the appropriate glass, whether the retro styling of a martini glass, a tall hi-ball or a champagne flute …
Cocktails fell out of fashion for a while, seeing a brief resurgence when Carrie Bradshaw and the SATC girls drank Cosmopolitans at the Carlyle in NY but now they are back, with not only the traditional but new flavours and infusions. Mixology has become an art form and to learn about it is fascinating.  We are not talking the syrupy happy hour version of cocktails here. This is an altogether more refined drinking practice.

The choice of victual you drink from is almost as important as what goes into the mix. Teapots, teacups, copper beaker, crystal stubby, jam jars, schooners.¬†The Harvey Nichols Cocktail Masterclass is the perfect girls day out, though boys will love it too (as did Mr H and his brother) and would be a great Hen celebration for those looking for something entertaining, educating and a little intoxicating. Be warned, I think phallic deely-boppers would not be welcomed at the √ľber cool and sophisticated 5th Floor champagne bar at HN.

The day starts at 9.30 with a breakfast buffet of pastries, yoghurt and granola and fresh fruit with plenty of tea or coffee. 9.30 on a Saturday or Sunday morning seems an ungodly hour to even think about ¬†imbibing alcohol but it doesn’t take long to ¬†get into the swing of things.
There are several choices of class themes, Italy, Cuba, US, French and British each with three cocktails to be instructed on.

The class opens with a run through of all the equipment required to create the perfect cocktail. A muddler, strainer, cobbler, jigger¬†… Each element has a crucial part to play in the making of your cocktail.
First spirits are added into the shaker (never ice first for fear of diluting your precious alcohol too soon, nevertheless essential to ‘soften’ the alcohol) and finally your mixers, bitters or essences. An elaborate shake, with the length of time and ferocity dictated by the type of cocktail and your own personal choice in¬†ostentation, you can keep it ‘tight’ and snake hipped or go all out Carmen Miranda. For example a Martini Espresso requires a LOT of quite enthusiastic shaking to also emulsify the ingredients and create a slight froth at the top – pour into a¬†glass shaker to check all is well and the correct texture has been achieved before pouring into a chilled Martini glass and finishing with a couple of coffee beans.
We chose the Italian influence for our masterclass so not only were we tutored in making the delicious Espresso Martini we learned to make a Breakfast Negroni; ( a traditional Negroni with a HN twist of the addition of a little marmalade to add texture and bitter-sweet finish to this Florentine classic and La Dolce Vita; an Aperol and Tequila cocktail again served in a chilled Martini glass.
Following the instruction and tastings from our Italian selection we were given the opportunity to make our own cocktail from a list of favourites … Mr H made a delicious Mojito with lashings of fresh mint, his brother made a Ginny Hendricks – gin based deliciousness, the lovely Sue made a Cosmopolitan and I made a Sky Cruiser known in less salubrious surroundings as a Pornstar Martini … Vanilla Vodka, passion fruit and champagne – heavenly!

Two and a half hours after starting the masterclass you are taken back to the restaurant with the effects of your imbibery making the path perhaps not quite as straight as your entrance,  to enjoy a two-course lunch served with red or white wine.
The masterclasses run on Saturday and Sunday throughout the year and can be booked here.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

Long haul flights when travelling cattle class are tiring and anything that makes the travel experience more tolerable has to be good…..¬†(#firstworldproblems¬†I know and I am not complaining, I had a wonderful time and was very lucky to have gone! I am absolutely not seeking sympathy here!)

Having bought Mr H various Bose items over the years as gifts I thought we were all Bose’d up, with my final purchase 18 months ago of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones for his business trips. Last years 14+ hour flight had challenged me when seated at the back of the plane with regulation¬†supply BA headphones I had observed Mr H languishing in his seat chuckling away or gripped in the action of his movie while I struggled the entire journey home, barely able to hear any dialogue on the in-flight entertainment – it¬†is¬†a very long way to have to lip read five or six blockbusters.
I am not a slave to technology … When out walking I like to be at one with nature, I don’t need the intrusion of piped music into my brain or on those rare occasions that I venture into the¬†gym I am happy to listen to my decidedly uncool but uplifting¬†¬†Now That’s What I call Running album on repeat at a low hum, but it’s no biggie if I forget my phone. Besides my auditory orifices are spatially challenged …. Earbuds/earphones of any shape or design simply will not stay in my ears, those peculiar Star Trek style earphones that slot over the ears present such difficulties to me putting them on I become like the child trying to force the square peg into the round hole, tense, frustrated and almost tearful. If I am ever lucky enough to get something to sit in¬†my ear, within thirty minutes my ears are aflame and I want to rip the brain melting contraptions from my head.
So, though I had resisted Mr H’s offer of a Christmas gift to match his headphones, His n Hers Bose ‘phones and the promise of looking slightly ridiculous and a throwback to the 70’s … I politely declined, a new handbag or shoes seemed so MUCH more appealing

But then, knowing we had this epic journey ahead of us, Mr H plunged right in and gifted me with the new headphones for my birthday this year. Boy was I glad he did. These are a GAME CHANGER for long haul travel. No more struggling to hear the dialogue on the film listings, no more constant hum of the engines, not a peep from the unruly child three rows in front … Just super comfy headphones that make you feel as if you have gaffer taped a giant marshmallow to each side of your head.

When you need to remove them for a quick loo trip you realise just how obtrusive engine noise is on such a long trip, that sore inside your head feeling that is a result of constant noise – GONE! ¬†The only downside I can think of is that if you don’t keep one eye on the aisle it’s all too easy to miss that all important question …. “Drink madam?”

(So keep these in mind as a very special gift for that very special someone, they neatly fold into a bag of their own with an adaptor for plane use. )

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