It's officially less than 6 weeks to go until my favourite day of the year. I am the most festive person I know. I love the food and drink of Christmas time, and it's even better when you can share it.
Now is the perfect time to start thinking of those recipes which need time to soak or set. First up, cranberry and orange vodka.
You will need:
1 litre of vodka (own brand will be fine as you'll be flavouring it)
300g cranberries. Fresh or frozen (defrost first)
150g caster sugar
(Note: I got a 1.5 litre bottle of vodka and decanted half a litre in to another bottle. This frees up space for adding the fruit, syrup and shaking!)
This is the easy part - and the reason it requires forward planning. Add your cranberries to the bottle of vodka and leave for 3 weeks, shaking the bottle whenever you remember to.
After 3 weeks, your vodka should be a lovely pink colour! Sieve out the cranberries (but don't throw them away) and pour the vodka back in the bottle. I tried a bit at this stage and found it far too bitter for my sweet tooth, so I thought a simple sugar syrup would help sweeten it up.
In a jug, squeeze the orange over the sugar and add 200ml of boiling water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and allow to cool. Using a funnel and a tea strainer over the top to catch any orange flesh, pour the syrup in to the bottle and give it a bit of a shake. And that's it!
In the end it goes a lovely pinky orange colour. If you like you can decant the vodka in to pretty bottles and give as gifts, but as we will probably drink it at home I've kept it in the bottle I made it in.
Serve straight ice cold as a between-courses indulgence, or in a tall glass with ice, lemonade or ginger ale and a wedge of orange.
I have also made some Limoncello which is gorgeous, and I will share that recipe another time. Have you ever flavoured vodka before? You can probably do it with just about anything. I think a peach vodka would be great in Summer cocktails.
Next up, the cranberry sauce.
What I didn't mention before is this sauce is slightly alcoholic! I got the recipe from an old Heston Blumenthal handout, and altered it slightly using the cranberries from my vodka.
You will need:
300g of vodka soaked cranberries
Rind of 2 oranges, juice of 1
100g fruit sugar