Spicy Virgin Mary with Rosemary Spiced Walnuts

IMG_6440-2

For as long as I can remember I have adored drinking a Spicy Virgin Mary and time and time again I have been a little disappointed by what some pubs pass off as a Virgin Mary here in the UK. Tomato juice with a little tabasco just really doesn’t pass muster, so it’s not unheard of me asking for the necessary ingredients and making my own. Cheeky I know, but hey! In my old life working as a headhunter in the city I would spend a fair amount of time in hotels around London and other European cities meeting up with candidates who wished to remain incognito. I am not a coffee drinker, other than iced coffee and in particular Vietnamese –  for the recipe click here, and there are only so many cups of teas, water and ginger ales you can drink in a day, so my drink of choice, come the afternoon, would be a Virgin Mary.

IMG_6425

The quality of these Virgin Mary cocktails on the whole were excellent, as you would expect from a five * hotel, however, I recall the ones served to me at Browns Hotel, London and The Four Seasons, Canary Wharf – London and Milan were ahead of the pack. They often came accompanied by some little bar snack – nuts, olives or vegetable crisps, which worked so well with the spicy drink.

IMG_6428

So alongside my recipe of a Spicy Virgin Mary I have found the perfect munchy, Rosemary Spiced Walnuts, which is easy to prepare and guaranteed to please those you hand the bowl to. In fact I have prepared it so many times since stumbling across it on fellow food blogger ‘Gastrogeek’s‘ site that it will definitely be imprinted on my mind as the snack for 2013.

IMG_6458

Spicy Virgin Mary

Makes 1 jug around 6 glasses

1 litre of tomato juice

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp tabasco

juice from half a lemon

2 tbsp horseradish

pinch of celery salt (or normal rock salt)

freshly ground black pepper

fresh celery sticks

extra lemon juice for rim of glass

1. Add all the ingredients together and taste. I do like my horseradish so perhaps add one tablespoonful then taste before adding the second.

2. To decorate the glasses first squeeze the extra lemon juice on a saucer and the freshly ground black pepper on another. Place the glasses first on to the saucer with the lemon juice followed by the saucer with the black pepper.

3. Add the Spicy Virgin Mary followed by a stick of celery in each glass and a slice of lemon and some ice.

If you want to ‘bloody’ the drink then just add vodka!

***********

IMG_6477-4

Summer is the season for having friends around for a BBQ and generally chillaxing so I hope you get to try this fab drink/snack combo. What homemade snacks do you like to serve up when friends come over?

IMG_6479

Rosemary Spiced Walnuts

Adapted from the lovely Rejina over at Gastrogeek, who in turn sourced it from Lawrence Keogh, Head Chef at the Wolseley

1 tbsp butter if eating immediately OR a splash of olive oil if cooking ahead of munching

150g walnuts

1-2 tsp light brown sugar

4 springs of fresh rosemary, chopped into small pieces

splash of water

1 generous pinch rock salt

pinch of ground black pepper

1/2 tsp chilli powder (or you could try smoked/hot paprika/cayenne powder)

1. Heat the butter/oil in a saucepan and add the walnuts. Cover the walnuts in the butter/oil and keep them gently moving around the pan allowing the natural oils to resonate.

2. After a couple of minutes add the sugar and allow the nuts to begin to caramalise.

3. Add the chilli powder (I also sometimes make these with smoked paprika), fresh rosemary, rock salt and black pepper. Continue to stir and shake the nuts around, making sure that they do not burn.

4. After a couple of minutes pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle some rock salt on top.

Perfect with a Spicy Virgin Mary.

IMG_6487-6


Carrot and Walnut Muffins in the most adorable cases

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I was strolling around Gastown, the almost gentrified area of downtown Vancouver, I ambled into a rather delightful home interiors store called Orling & Wu. A treasure trove of throws, cushions, lamp shades, wallpapers and candles, clearly artfully chosen by its two owners. Within the store I came across the most stunning selection of muffin case designs that I have ever seen. They were utterly gorgeous and the type of cases that inspire you to throw a tea party in order to show them off, they certainly deserve the attention.

IMG_0193

On closer inspection I learned that the cases were sourced closer to home – in Sweden of all places. The company Kala:s far:m designs and creates these little gem muffin, cake and cupcake cases. In each delicately boxed case there is a recipe – what an ingenious idea – and in mine was carrot muffins, which I thought I would share with you. I’ve altered it slightly, so below you will find my version. I don’t have a sweet tooth at all, but these muffins taste really good and deliciously moist, I may even be converted.

Carrot and Walnut Muffins

Fills 20 cases

300g/12 oz granulated white sugar

200ml olive oil

3 eggs

3 carrots, grated

250g/10 oz self-raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

50g/2 oz walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.

2. Beat the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl and then add the eggs.

3. Grate 3 carrots and add these to the mixture.

4. Mix the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, almost all the walnuts (save a few if you are going to do some butter cream on the top) and salt and stir into the egg and sugar mixture.

Carrot and Walnut Muffins

5. Carefully spoon the mixture into the muffin cups so that just over half the muffin cup is full. If you fill them to the top they will spill over the sides when they are in the oven.

6. Place in the oven for 15-17 minutes at 150 degrees centigrade and then leave to cool prior to putting any butter cream on top.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Butter cream

I tend to leave some of my muffins butter cream free as I know some people prefer them without a topping so the proportion below will cover about half of the muffins. Do double quantities if you want to cover all of them.

75g/3 oz unsalted butter

175g/7 oz icing sugar

a few drops of warm water

1. Take the butter out of the fridge when you begin to make the muffins themselves, so that it softens.

2. Beat the butter and icing sugar until fluffy. To save time I used an electric mixer but good old fashioned arm power will work equally well. If you need to soften the icing then add a few drops of warm water.

3. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4. Enjoy !