It’s been a year since the partnership between the BSG and his beloved Magimix was formally validated by the church of John Lewis. To celebrate this, we headed back to the scene of the festivities, to Norfolk for a long weekend. After the prolonged spell of warm dry weather the place seemed a whole season ahead of a usual May (and perhaps two ahead of what was last year’s May 8th – 9 degrees and horizontal drizzle). The hedgerows were festooned with lacy swathes of cow parsley, gigantic fishbone leaves hung from the horse chestnuts and a sweet smell pervaded the warm breeze. True, the ground looked parched and in desperate need of rain, but I was glad to miss it this time.
To celebrate this first anniversary, our first thoughts – naturally - concerned food. This is how we express, spoil, console and refresh ourselves and the prospect of concocting a feasting menu was terrifically indulgent and exciting. Yes, even more so than a roll-top bath and hot and cold running room-service in a sandy-bricked village in the Cotswolds…
Given the weather, how could we not visit Cookie’s Crab Shop? It was packed full of happy seasiders in their pack-a-macs. (NB: if you are shellfish-averse, tell someone before ordering the Royal Salad – the BSG spent half his lunch carefully halving his lunch, ending up with a mountain of smoked mackerel and rollmops opposite my crab and crayfish monolith.)
Impossible as it was to imagine ever eating again after such a feast, we managed an Italian beef stew, melting over some polenta laced with Fontina (thank you Antonio Carluccio), followed by something rather exciting we’d stumbled across in an abandoned Olive magazine (thank you Rosie’s mum): Pimm’s jelly. This one’s definitely for grown-ups, and will prove a winner for pudding at any barbeque. Furthermore, as if this wasn’t fun enough – it was still fizzy.
Pimm’s, lemon and mint jelly
(It doesn’t matter if you use sachets or leaves in this recipe – the below is leaves but I used a sachet of powder – whichever you can find. If it makes a pint rather than a litre, split the ratios accordingly, 7 lemonade: 2 Pimm’s: 1 water.)
10 gelatine leaves
Small bunch mint leaves
700ml sparkling lemonade
Chopped cucumber , strawberries, orange and lemon slices, to serve
Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water. Heat 100ml water in a pan, drop in the mint leaves and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Take out the leaves, reheat, then stir in the gelatine until dissolved. Add the Pimm's and lemonade and cool. Skim off any remaining foam. Pour into a 1-litre jelly mould and chill overnight until set.
Turn out onto a plate and surround the jelly with the traditional Pimm's garnish.