Simple pleasures

Respect your elders

It’s now late May, nearly everything is fully laden with flowers and the leaves hang heavily from the trees and bushes looking like a 1950’s film star in a fur coat.

And now there is also a legitimate reason to lurk in the bushes in your local park. Here in
London the elderflower is showing off at every turn. So grab a bag and some snippers and head out foraging.

It’s such an exciting part of the year and I wait for a day where the sun is blasting down, (not always an option, I know) before heading out. Let the morning dry the flowers a little with its light and warmth then carefully snip from the tree. Be gentle with them, try to keep as much pollen on them as you can, fill a bag and scamper home.

You can make cordial too if you like, I reckon a carrier bag full is enough for both, you don’t need that many for fritters. If you want these to be vegetarian, you’ll have to make sure all the bugs are out first. Tap them over a white tray or plate until you’ve got rid of as many as you can.

You can leave the spicing out if you prefer a subtle and pure elderflower taste, they’re still delicious. Either way, it a lovely way to fritter away a morning.

A bagful of elderflowers on their stalks
100g plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
2tsp ground cardamom
4 cloves, ground
1tbsp ground cinnamon
1tsp fennel seeds, ground
1 egg
185ml fizzy water
Icing sugar to dust
1l rapeseed oil to fry

Heat the oil to 180c in a deep-fat fryer or heavy-based deep saucepan making sure it doesn’t go more than halfway up. It will expand when the battered flowers go in.
Whisk together the batter ingredients and let it rest for five minutes.

Dip a head of elderflowers in the batter and when the oil is hot enough gently drop them in. Cook for a minute or so, turning over every now and then until light golden and crisp. Drain on some kitchen paper then lay out on a tray while you repeat and finish the rest.
Leave to cool a little then dust with icing sugar to serve.

This week
Out of Africa by Karen Blixen. I had no idea she wrote Babette’s Feast, nor did I think this book would be as charming and readable as it was. I even laughed out loud at one story such is her gentle style. I thought it would be all Meryl Streep-y gnashing of teeth and wailing about ‘My Africa’. Not that I’ve seen the film, but that’s the impression I had.
A R Rahman. Lots of his excellent film music, beautiful and uplifting and at times melancholy. Although most upsetting was hearing the Pussycat Dolls appear on one track
Far too many slices of very bad supermarket pizza with sweetcorn and barbecue sauce on. I know. Don’t judge me, it’s all there was on the shoot and I was ravenous.
Brooklyn 99. As the final series draws to a close (although apparently it’s been taken up by another network) I remembered so much of what I love about it. The relentless positivity and the camaraderie is a refreshing change in a hard-hitting dark cop drama. (Err? – Ed.)

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