Smirnoff Series: Easy Vodka Cocktail Ice Lollies

The weather has been good to us recently so what better time to whip up a batch of these easy vodka cocktail ice lollies at lunch time ready for an evening in the sun?  These ice lollies are strictly for adults, and of course, you can use your favourite fruit juice or soft drink (are you a fan of vodka and coke?!) but for these I just used orange juice (because vodka plus orange juice equals a Screwdriver) and cranberry juice on the basis that we had both in the house and I’m a big fan of vodka with cranberry juice and a squeeze of lime (a Cape Codder).

There are more authentic and tasty ways to make ice lollies (let’s disclose that now) but if you want a low effort, super chilled way to cool off in the evening or afternoon, or if you’re looking for a new way to serve up cocktails at a BBQ, these will hit the spot.  Be as creative as you like, but I reckon Smirnoff vodka is just about the best spirit to use given its high freezing point and tendency to thicken when cooled.  Plus it’s the most versatile to combine with mixers to suit your guests.

Smirnoff Series: Easy Vodka Cocktail Ice Lollies

Smirnoff Series: Easy Vodka Cocktail Ice Lollies

Ingredients

  • ice lolly moulds
  • fresh orange juice
  • cranberry juice
  • Smirnoff red label vodka (one capful per ice lolly is plenty)
  • squeeze of lemon or lime

Instructions

  1. Make sure your ice lolly moulds are clean and dry.
  2. Add a capful of Smirnoff red label vodka to each mould - you can use more or less if you would prefer, but any more is likely to interfere with the freezing ability of the lollies, and they end up pretty strong anyway due to the juice and alcohol melting more quickly than the water.
  3. Top up with your preferred juice (I filled two with orange juice and two with cranberry juice) to around 1 cm below the top to leave room for expansion - the lolly stick will displace some of the juice, and it will expand as it freezes).Add a few drops of lime juice, add the sticks and lids and carefully pop in the freezer for 2 hours or so.
  4. If they're tricky to remove, it helps to run the moulds under the hot tap for a few seconds.
  5. Enjoy! And have lots of fun trying different combinations.
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If you enjoyed this post, why not check out some of our other Smirnoff series recipes such as Beef Stroganoff (Smirganoff?) or Bloody Mary Spaghetti with Meatballs?

 

Yoghurt-Free Wholemeal Flatbreads

These yoghurt-free flatbreads are just the ticket to liven up an improvised meal such as beef kofte or chicken shawarma, when you have a bit of mince or chicken around but little else by way of fresh ingredients – a situation I found myself in earlier this week on the last evening before we made it into Kelso for groceries.

Charles and I both adore flatbreads as they are a very quick and easy way to add weight and texture and pull together a meal out of what may seem like unrelated ingredients without them.  Being fresh and homemade, of course, they are always warm and delicious too. You may have seen our really easy flatbread recipe already (which has been so popular I had to make my parents a double batch to take home with them the last time they visited), which is also very quick and easy and produces delightfully fluffy breads, but we generally need some planning ahead if we’re having them as they rely on you having some fresh yoghurt in the house.

The lack of said fresh yoghurt gave birth to these even speedier flatbreads, which are more of a sort of chapatti wrap texture. Mealy, warm and pliable, they are nevertheless delicious with some meat, salad and something to dip into (had ours with beef kofta, rice and mango and tomato chutneys), and require very simple ingredients. You can even make them with 100% plain flour if you don’t have any wholemeal to hand, or vice versa.  This recipe will make 4 good-sized breads, so double up if you’re having friends over.

Yoghurt-Free Wholemeal Flatbreads

Yoghurt-Free Wholemeal Flatbreads

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g butter
  • 185ml water
  • a small amount of garlic oil (or any other cooking oil)

Instructions

  1. Grab a small saucepan and weigh out the butter and water. Set it over a medium heat and leave it there until the butter has completely melted, stirring together. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  2. In a bowl, weigh out the flour and salt.
  3. Add the melted butter and water and mix together. It's easiest with your hands but it will be a pretty warm dough to start with so you could use a large spoon if you would prefer. Mix and knead together until combined into a ball and set aside covered with a tea towel or cling film for half an hour.
  4. Split the dough into 4 smaller balls, lightly flour a flat clean surface and flatten each ball in turn before rolling out to a couple of mm thick. If you don't have a rolling pin, a wine bottle will do!
  5. Set your largest frying pan on a medium to high heat and add a little oil to the pan. When that's nice and hot, add each rolled out flatbread in turn and cook for a couple of minutes on each side, or until nicely brown in places. Try not to overcook them, though, as that will result in a stiffer, less pliable flatbread, so keep an eye on making sure the pan doesn't get too hot, and add a little oil to the pan between each bread to make sure there is plenty of moisture.
  6. And there you have your flatbreads!
  7. Enjoy! Told you they were easy....
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Apple and Blueberry Pie

This apple and blueberry pie is a twist on that traditional apple pie, which Charles and his father are exceptionally fond of, but which can get a teeny tiny bit boring if you have too many of them in a row.

We’re making a concerted effort to have my father-in-law over for supper every now and then, and he often invites us to dine with him, and it would be rude not to try to bake something tasty to take with us for pudding.  Whilst we’ve both been trying to eat and live healthier, a good pudding is something we both find hard to resist, and always seems an apt reward for a day’s hard work.

You may remember me mentioning the fruit and veg stall we shop at in Kelso – Julian’s Veg. It’s always exciting to find out what new produce they have in, from gooseberries and chocolate peppers to lychees and goose eggs, but one staple they often have in plentiful supply is blueberries, often at a good price. While I’m not too fussed about eating them raw, they are delicious when they’ve been baked in muffins or pies.  Muffins are pretty difficult to recreate well at home, but we’ll have a go at nailing that perfect blueberry muffin someday soon.  For now though, there’s something wonderfully homely about a home-baked pie, and I find them pretty therapeutic to make, but blueberries alone would be somewhat unsubstantial, so the apple helps to bulk them out and make the filling a bit a bit more wholesome and tasty.  You don’t have to have the lattice top – you could instead opt for a solid lid, crimped at the edges with a cross in the centre to let out the steam, but given the blueberries go into the pie completely raw, I think the lattice helps to make sure there’s plenty of space for the steam to escape, as well as giving the pastry a smaller surface area and plenty of edges to get crispy.  And it’s much easier to make a lattice lid than you might think.  Have a go – you’ll be impressed with yourself!

I’m the first one to admit when I’m disappointed by the way my baking has turned out, but this one was pretty delicious!  In fact, I’m pretty tempted to bake another one…..

Apple and Blueberry Pie

Apple and Blueberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g icing sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of a lemon or lime
  • 125g chilled butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 apples
  • a punnet of blueberries
  • a knob of butter
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Instructions

  1. Start by making the pastry as it will need at least half an hour to cool in the fridge.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and weigh out the flour, icing sugar and salt.Add the butter in cubes or thin slivers.Rub everything together between your fingertips as if you were making a crumble, until the mixture is evenly combined and resembles breadcrumbs. If your fingers get tired or cramp-up, have a rest. It's really worthwhile using your hands and you'll be able to do it in next to no time with plenty of practice.
  3. Whisk the egg and add to the mixture, mixing together quickly with a fork and nightly kneading the dough together. Work the pastry dough for as little time as possible to avoid developing the gluten in the flour, as that will give you a tough pastry rather than a shortbready pastry. I find it easier (once the egg is evenly distributed) to split the dough into two batches at this point to get everything to hold together without working it too hard - and it then lets you chill each piece separately for your base and your lid. Flatten out each pastry ball a little and wrap in cling film then place in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  4. Now, onto the filling.
  5. Peel, core and slice the apples then place them in a large saucepan or frying pan with the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, butter and a little water over a medium heat.Allow the apples to cook down until tender and flavoured with the sugar, butter and spice.Allow to cool completely so they don't sweat on the pastry when you fill the pie.
  6. Once the pastry and apples have cooled, you're ready to construct your pie.
  7. Between two layers of cling film, roll out your pie base to a round big enough to cover your pie plate (I use a shallow enamel pie plate and find it to be really effective) and only a couple of mm thick.
  8. Grease the pie plate with butter and line with the pastry, removing one cling film layer but leaving the top layer on as it'll need to go back in the fridge due to the handling and rolling process heating up the pastry. When lining, carefully press the pastry into the bottom of the plate so that it hugs the sides, being careful not to make any holes or leave any finger marks. Now get it in the fridge.
  9. Roll out the second piece of pastry for the lid. Although you'll be making a lattice, it's a good idea to roll it into a round about the same size as the pie plate, as the lattice will still need to meet the same dimensions of a round - fuller in the middle and shorter at the sides. Now, cut this into narrow, even strips. The spaces between will mean these vertical strips will be plenty for your pie lid. Don't worry too much about chilling the lid quite yet as it'll all go back in the fridge once the full pie has been constructed.
  10. Check the apples are cool to the touch and, if they are, you're ready to build your pie.
  11. Start by layering the apples into the base (remembering to remove the cling film!) to create a domed centre.
  12. Toss the punnet of blueberries in the caster sugar, and add these (raw) to the top of the apples, concealing them completely.
  13. Now it's time to have some fun with the lattice. Starting from the centre, construct the lid one strip at a time. Don't press the edges into what will be the crust too firmly at this stage, as you'll need to be able to lift the strips again to weave them all together as you go. Leave a gap between each vertical strip that's about the same width as each strip, and add the horizontal strips as you build along and up, weaving the strips over and under like a basket weave until your lid is complete. Don't worry too much if you have a couple of shorter strips left at the end.
  14. Use a fork around the rim of the finished pie to crimp the edges together attractively, and trim the edge with a knife. Any excess can be used to make additional decorations, such as leaves, letters of plaiting.
  15. Beat the second egg and use it paint all over the pastry with a pastry brush to create an egg wash.
  16. Pop the whole pie in the fridge for half an hour.Preheat the oven to 180c fan. Give the pie a second egg wash before baking it. It should take around 25 minutes to half an hour, but remove from the oven when it's looking golden and crisp.
  17. Be very careful not to burn yourself when you eat into it as the fruit inside could be very hot indeed!
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If you’re looking for another recipe to use up some apples, why not try Charles’ homemade Apple Sauce to eat with your roast pork or to spread on a cold pork or ham sandwich? Or how about some Blueberry Bakewells to use up a glut of blueberries in an equally delicious way?

Smirnoff Series: Beef Stroganoff (Smirganoff?)

A Beef Stroganoff with Smirnoff Vodka!

IMG_1708

 

The lovely people at Taste PR got in touch with us and offered us a sample of a couple of the Diageo products for us to knock some recipes out with. While I was scanning the product list, Smirnoff Vodka jumped out at me and I thought I could have some real fun with it.

The intention is to create a 3 course meal with vodka being the theme but almost immediately after a bottle of Smirnoff Red Label appeared by courier and it dawned on me that I had made a bit of an error in judgement in choosing vodka as it seems to be a) flavourless, b) very strong and c) used in cocktails etc. as a flavour enhancer. My original idea was to make some really pretentious ‘deconstructed cocktails’ as puddings but I couldn’t find a way to use the vodka as a flavour ( I will be doing some vodka ice-cream later on but it won’t be the dominant flavour).

The main event didn’t take a lot of planning, given that Smirnoff was originally distilled in Moscow it seemed obvious that the most famous Russian dish should be used to showcase Russia’s most famous drink. Beef Stroganoff, or if you want to really stretch a point.… Beef Smirganoff!

As mentioned previously, Vodka is largely tasteless so I had to try and work out how to get it involved where it wouldn’t just be a case of pouring booze into a creamy sauce – Although vodka is an excellent emulsifier which is important when adding cream to a hot sauce. I used the stroganoff as an excuse to see how well vodka worked tenderising meat. The long and the short of it, pretty well!

Right recipe time.


Ingredients

Steak – An equivalent amount for a stir-fry – you can economise on the cut because the marinade will help to tenderise it.

Dijon Mustard – A teaspoon in the marinade and a big tablespoon in the sauce (or more if you like it with a bit more kick.

Garlic and Ginger – A clove and half a thumb of ginger (the only ingredient measured in equivalent body part size!)

Smirnoff vodka – A shot (25ml) in the marinade and a shot in the sauce. The harshness of the alcohol will cook out

Mushrooms, Onion and Peppers – Enough to bulk out the sauce.

Double Cream – Depends how thick you want the sauce but approximately 80-100ml per person.

Paprika – A good teaspoon per person to give some colour and flavour

Salt and Pepper


Recipe

1) Take the shot of Smirnoff, ginger, garlic, half of the dijon and mix it up into a marinade.

2) Mix give the steak a thorough massaging with the marinade and leave for a couple of hours. That will be more than enough for the Smirnoff to get to work on the steak and make it lovely and tender.

3) Take the steak from the marinade, don’t worry if it has gone a horrible grey colour like this, it will still brown nicely. Save the marinade for pouring into the sauce later.

Beef stroganoff with Smirnoff vodka

4) Flash fry in a really hot pan, you ideally want it to be rare because the sauce will continue cooking it if you put it in.

5) Sauté the peppers, onions and mushrooms in the beefy pan allowing to get some good colour on the peppers and onions.

6) Kill the heat and add the cream, paprika, salt, pepper and bring to a simmer, then add the mustard to taste.

7)Pour in the vodka and stir. This should add some shine to the creamy sauce and give it a bit of an edge.

If you want to serve the steak well cooked, add it to the simmering sauce for a couple of minutes and serve ladled over rice or noodles. If you want the steak to be rare, lay it on the rice and then pour the sauce over.

Please excuse the dodgy looking rice, Alyson was working late so it hung around a little while and got a touch sticky!

If you enjoyed this recipe, why not try our Smirnoff Bloody Mary Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs?

Smirnoff Series: Bloody Mary Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

We’re back with a delicious Bloody Mary spaghetti with turkey meatballs recipe!

It’s an exciting time at Brookers of Blunty’s HQ.  We’ve both been working really extraordinarily hard this week, with Charles’ B&B being packed to the rafters and the utility room to get ready, and with me working lots of hours bussing other chefs’ food to many many customers and working on an assessment for a potential new paraplanning job in my time off.  It’s been pretty mad.  However, we’re picking up our puppy tomorrow morning so there’s light at the end of the tunnel!  Lots of tidying and puppy-proofing on the cards today.

I digress: back to why we’re having an exciting week!  Taste PR has been in touch with us to offer us samples of Diageo products which we can use to create recipes.  Of course, Charles jumped at the chance, as we’re always looking for new ideas for the blog, and to keep us inventive in the kitchen.  A couple of days later, we received a bottle of Smirnoff® vodka from the lovely people at Taste PR (although Charles did have to carry it all the way down the drive in the rain as it had been left with a neighbour) so we’ve been putting our heads together to come up with lots of simple recipes which use vodka in ways you wouldn’t expect. Charles got the ball rolling with a creamy beef stroganoff so expect that recipe coming your way soon, and we have big plans for some vodka based ice creams and ice lollies, so watch this space.

Let’s get into the recipe!  I’ve been really into turkey mince for awhile, so although Charles had made us delicious beef meatball subs a few nights before, he agreed to let me cook spaghetti and meatballs on Monday night, and I gave them a Smirnoff® twist with a Bloody Mary inspired sauce, instead of the usually marinara.  We’re talking celery (well, celery salt), tomato, Worcestershire sauce, vodka and Tobasco.  And it really does work with spaghetti.

In case you’re worried about putting alcohol in your meals, you should be aware that it’s completely up to you how little or how large a measure you sling into your Bloody Mary Sauce.  The addition of the vodka works twofold: firstly, by adding a couple of capfuls to the onions, when it still has plenty of time to cook out the alcohol, and later at the last minute to complete that Bloody Mary flavour, and that’s the step you can shrink, grow or leave out altogether.  The first step though is pretty important as the initial addition of the vodka isn’t for flavour, or for an alcoholic hit, but will emulsify your sauce to give you a beautifully silky consistency to the tomato sauce which really takes it up a notch, plus it helps the sauce to cling to the spaghetti.

 

Bloody Mary Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

Bloody Mary Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients

    For the meatballs:
  • a pack of turkey thigh mince
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • squirt tomato ketchup
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 small knob ginger
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 capfuls Smirnoff® vodka
  • 1 large carton or jar passata
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • dash Tobasco
  • squeeze lemon juice
  • a shot or two more of Smirnoff® vodka
  • spaghetti, or wholemeal spaghetti, to serve

Instructions

  1. I like to start by chopping all the vegetables so that I only need to use one chopping board. If you then do your meat on the same board and stick it in the dishwasher or give it a very good hand wash you'll stay nice and hygienic. So slice up the onion and grate the garlic and onion.
  2. Start by making the meatballs. Chuck the mince in a large bowl then add the other seasonings and flavourings, including the sauces and grated garlic and ginger.
  3. Mix it all up really well with nice clean hands (I'm sorry, it's just the best way).
  4. Then roll it into small meatballs, trying to press each meatball together tightly as you go, as we're not adding any binding agents like eggs (they just taste better that way).
  5. Now, you can either set them aside and get your sauce going, or you can fry them off and then set them aside and use the meaty pan to fry your onions in. It's a successful strategy but I wanted to give my sauce plenty of time to get the flavours balanced so I used two separate pans (and ran out of room in the hob when I added the spaghetti and veg!).
  6. Anyway, to cook the meatballs, fry them off in a large frying pan until brown on each side in two batches so you don't overcrowd the pan. And try not to flip them around too much, as that will make them more likely to split and break apart. Don't worry about cooking them all the way through as they'll be finished off in the oven later.
  7. Set them aside on a tray lined with tin foil for the time being and preheat the oven to 180c.
  8. Now, on to the sauce.
  9. Add a touch more olive oil to the pan and make sure it's over a gentle medium heat. Add in the onions and let them cook until turning soft and translucent. If they're turning brown, turn the heat down.
  10. Add the garlic, ginger and tomato puree and cook those all out for a few minutes to help to mellow the flavours.
  11. Add the balsamic and let that reduce completely, and then repeat with the two capfuls of vodka.
  12. Now, you can add the passata.
  13. To make the chicken stock, I like to crumble the stock cube into the used passata container and pour in a little boiled water, stirring to dissolve. This is a two birds, one stone sort of situation as I always like to swill some water around in the empty carton to get all of the passata residue out and into the pan, but you could of course use a Knorr stock pot instead which will melt straight into the sauce.
  14. Add the herbs and spices, Worcestershire sauce and plenty of black pepper, and simmer on a low to medium heat for at least 20 minutes, stirring every now and then, turning the heat down if it's boiling too hard.
  15. With 15 minutes to go, get the spaghetti cooking in a large saucepan of salted boiling water, and stick the meatballs in the oven for the last 10 minutes.
  16. At the last minute, add some of the pasta water (thanks Nigella) to the sauce to loosen it and further improve its consistency, then add as much Tobasco and vodka as you dare.
  17. Add the meatballs to the sauce along with any cooking juice in the bottom of the tray, heat through and then serve with the spaghetti and some parmesan cheese.
  18. Buon appetito!
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Let us know what you think!  We’d also love to hear about any recipes you’ve come up with using vodka.

If you enjoyed the turkey meatballs, why not try some more of our turkey mince recipes, such as our Turkey Bolognese or Chilli Con Turkey?