Elderflower Tempura and Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower is just starting to appear, early this year. A simple way to cook flowers is in a tempura batter. I had intended to make the tempura with champagne but after trying decided to have a go with some sparkling elderflower cordial as the champagne overpowered the elderflower.
Elderflower is highly aromatic, something like 80% of our taste comes from aroma so very important to find a way to keep the lovely aroma through the cooking.

Elderflower Tempura 
3-4 heads of Elderflowers, pick when the flowers are fully formed and deeply fragrant
1/4 Cup Cornflour
1/2 Cup Plain Flour
1 Egg White (use a good free range egg, I recommend Happy Eggs)
1/2 Cup chilled Sparkling Elderflower Cordial (recipe below)
pinch of fine salt

Vegetable oil to fry

Whisk the egg white till stiff peaks form, add the cordial then fold in the sifted flour, the batter mix should be wet, consistency of single cream.

Heat the oil to approx 180C (one of the best investments you can make is a good cooking thermometer)

Drag small 'branches' of elderflower through the batter and place gently in the oil, drop the elderflower away from yourself to avoid splashes
Cook for approximately 30 seconds before turning over and cook the other side for 30 seconds

I like it served with fresh strawberries, but try with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

Elderflower cordial

1.5 l water
1 kg of caster sugar
20 large elderflower heads
4 lemons
50g of citric acid

Bring water and sugar to simmer, stir to dissolve the sugar, leave to cool
Add the citric acid, Lemon juice and zest, elderflowers
Leave in a fridge for 72hr
Strain (I use a clean 'J' cloth in a sieve).
Simmer till reduced by 2/3 in volume then store in sanitised glass bottles
To make up mix with soda water to taste, I prefer about 20% cordial

DIY Sous Vide Waterbath

I've been asked a number of times how I made my Sous Vide waterbath. Its pretty simple to make one really, a sous vide bath is a hot water bath and an accurate temperature controller. You can buy a ready made one that incorporates all the elements in one package, or seperate the controller which enables you to use different equipment.

For day to day sous vide I use an Auber Sous Vide controller. This controller switches the output based on the temperature setting. Its an American controller but works on 240V so just needs a plug change for UK use. I then use a jug cord on the output side with a socket fitted to plug my 'bath' into. It also costs about £100.

This enables me to use any analog controlled (ie a switching not digital controller) setup, most wet Bain Maries, simple electric hot plates, soup kettles and slow cookers will work. All you have to do is plug the bath into the output of the controller, set the temperature higher than required, place the probe in the water then set the actual temperature on the controller ... done !

The benefit of this setup is I can use all manner of equipment, a fish or beef consomme as an overnight stock at 70 or 85C respectively in a regular stockpot sat on an electric ring or set the bain marie at 52C for slow cooking skirt steak ... in restaurant service 52C perfectly conditions steak in 15min to a warmed through medium rare, requiring a simple browning in a pan to serve.

A couple of tips ... from experience ... put a pie rack or a plate on the bottom of the bath so not to get 'burns' from the heating element directly underneath, when cooking for extended periods cover the bath to minimise water loss ...

For lots and lots more sous vide applications and information the best I've found is here ... Sous vide index