Our regular food blogger Rosemary Moon has been sampling more of Orkney's finest produce this month. Keep reading to try her recipe for yourself.
The first acts have been announced for the 2020 Orkney Folk Festival at the end of May. When interviewed on BBC Radio Orkney the Canadian duo Madison Violet were asked what they were looking forward to on their upcoming visit. Lisa replied that they had loved the warmth of the Orcadian welcome last time they were here and that, as she had recently developed a liking for gin and had heard there was good gin to be had on Orkney, there was indeed much that she was looking forward to!
Lisa is not the only one to have heard the reputation of the three gin distilleries here in the Islands. The Orkney Distillery, on the harbour front in Kirkwall, is the most accessible and boasts a splendid tasting room, tours and a stylish cafe bar offering everything from coffees to cocktails. Kirkjuvagr, from the Norse for Church Bay and the old name for Kirkwall, is their leading expression and is often served with orange. Aurora, their winter spiced gin is warming on a cold night looking for the Northern Lights. Their raspberry and honey gin Beyla matches just as well with smoked salmon canapés as it does with desserts. Do a tour and you’ll get an excellent tasting at the end of it.
A drive out to East Mainland takes you to Deerness and once you leave the beaches and cliff top walks you might well find yourself at the Deerness Distillery. Their Sea Glass was the first Orcadian gin that I tasted and it set the standard very high indeed. If you visit the distillery you will find a good choice of unusual tonics and it simply has to be done that you buy several and then carry out an in-depth gin and tonic tasting - our visitors love it! The spiced Scuttled gin was created for 2019’s 100th anniversary of the scuttling of the German Fleet in Scapa Flow: the unusual combination of pepper and lavender has proved very popular with our friends this year. Vodka was a drink of my youth but Deerness’s Into The Wild has put vodka right back onto my drinks table - clean, crisp and refreshing it is a perfect aperitif.
I can see The Orkney Gin Company in the island of Burray from my kitchen window. They pioneered seasonal spiced gins with their Johnsmas and Mikkelmas drinks and their very popular Rhubarb Old Tom was the subject of my first blog here being the key ingredient in my Gin and tonic rhubarb tart. Orkney Gin have produced two new gins which might be special editions now but deserve to be on the list permanently. CAMP.34 is a stunningly bright lemon gin created in memory of the Italian POW camp in Burray during WWII. Their Sloe & Crow, a sloe gin with crowberries from a plant of the heather genus, is not overly sweet like many sloe gins and has a taste of bitter almonds and marzipan.
With so much gin deliciousness on Orkney I have decided to celebrate it with the ever popular concept of fruit jelly - although there’s a bit more to it than just dissolving the jelly cubes! I offer you my suggestions for flavour matchings but you could just add the same gin - or Into The Wild vodka - to each jelly that you use. Don’t add more than the suggested amount or the jelly won’t set, and you need to add less water to the jelly too. I’m suggesting Beyla for the boozy berries but you could use Rhubarb Old Tom if you prefer.
Suggested jelly and gin pairings:
- Raspberry with Beyla
- Strawberry with Rhubarb Old Tom
- Lime with Into The Wild vodka
- Lemon with CAMP.34 or Sea Glass
- Blackcurrant with Scuttled or Aurora
- Orange with Kirkjuvagr
Orkney gin jellies with boozy Beyla berries
The most jewelled and tinsel-like effect will be achieved with five colours of jelly. To make sure that they set in perfect layers you will need to allow 24-36 hours for the jellies to set, one at a time on top of each other. This is a party dish - 5 jellies and about 600g of berries will serve 10-12 people.
- 5 x 135g fruit jellies of different colours
- 5 x 15ml/tbsp gin or vodka
- 600-700g mixed berries - raspberries, strawberries and blueberries
- 1-2 tsps sugar
- 1-2 tsps runny honey
- 2 tbsp Kirkjuvagr Beyla gin
- Make the jellies 1 flavour at a time and allow each one to set before starting the next. Use a 2L plastic box or bowl to set them in. Cut or tear a jelly into squares, place in a measuring jug and add boiling water up to the 250ml mark. Stir until the jelly is dissolved then add cold water to the 400ml mark. Allow to cool then add 1tbsp gin and stir. Pour into the box or bowl and chill in the fridge until completely set which will take about 3 hours.
- Repeat with another jelly. You must allow each layer to set completely and make sure that the next jelly is cold before you pour it into the mould on top of the previously set jelly or the colours will blend together. Continue until you have 5 layers then chill until it is time to finish the dish.
- Prepare the berries, cutting any large strawberries in half. Add the sugar and honey with the Beyla. Leave while you prepare the jelly.
- Turn the jellies out of the mould onto a large chopping board - it’s easier from a plastic box but you might need to run a palette knife around the edges. Slice then chop the jelly until it takes on a jewelled appearance and will be easy to spoon to both serve and eat.
- Place a bowl in the centre of a large serving plate. Gently stir the berries then pile them into the bowl. Spoon the chopped jelly generously around the bowl. A stunningly festive dessert that is so simple to do - it just needs enough planning to get the jellies set!
Rosemary Moon ‘retired’ to Orkney after a long association with the salmon industry in the islands. The author of 19 cookery books and countless more recipes, including writing for Waitrose and Lakeland, she has brought journalists and food writers to Orkney in the past to show off our diverse and delicious food and drink. After several holidays here Rosemary and her husband Nick have settled in South Ronaldsay but, once a cookery writer always a cookery writer, Rosemary is finding it impossible to stop jotting down the new recipes that she is creating with the island produce.
Rosemary also writes and vlogs about whisky and is particularly interested in whisky and food matching. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and on her rosemarymoon.com and myorkneylarder.com websites.
The Digital Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.