It looks like Round Two of summer 2013 is about to start after a break of three weeks. Excited weather reporters are loving their “good-news bearer” roles and supermarket managers are manically phoning their warehouses to secure deliveries of barbecues, sun block and first aid kits. But for the rest of us, a weekend or two of sunlight just in time for the Wimbledon final and the Women’s Euros will probably have us thinking of quenching our thirst and treating our palates to some time-served classics of the British culinary summer: lemonade, ice lollies and popcorn. And as we’re all terribly modern nowadays, how about making them ourselves?
Follow our quick guides and you might just reignite the spirit of summers past. Granted, they might not be your summers past, but that’s part of the charm, right there.
Before you place an order for a cylinder of carbon dioxide, we’re not talking fizzy here – this is lemonade as nature intended, the kind Enid Blyton’s prodigious mystery-solvers would have celebrated with, the sort American kids seem to set up stalls selling in lieu of getting pocket money. Well now you’ll be able to insert your own era and location, because here’s the perfect lemonade recipe. Many recipes will have you boiling water to soak up the sugar and prime the lemon pulp, but that means you’ve got to wait for it to cool. This one is ideal when you want your lemonade in ten minutes.
1. Take 2–3 lemons and chop one of them up and remove the pips – the peels are perfectly edible and have a subtler bitterness than the acidic pulp. Then blend it. Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemons into the mix and give it a quick whizz. You might want to save a few thin slices to float on top of your drinks.
2. Add 4 tablespoons of caster sugar and a splash of water (as cold as possible) and give it another blend. Then add 2 cups of water and give it another blend. Have a quick taste with a spoon and add a touch of sugar if it’s just too sour. Blend.
3. As you pour the lemonade into the jug, gauge the thickness and add water to make it drinkable. Garnish with lemon slices, mint leaves, sliced cucumber and, of course, plenty of ice.
There’s unfortunately no quick way to make ice lollies unless you live in parts of Siberia where boiling water from a kettle can form an ice stalagmite on the ground. We’re stuck with domestic freezers which will take at least 3 hours for a moderate sized ice lolly.
So since you’ve got a bit of prep time, why not nip to the shop and get some moulds? Most supermarkets sell them, as well as the domestic hardware stores that always pop up. They’re great and come with built-in, reusable sticks. If you’d rather not go out, you can use small yogurt pots, plastic cups, silicon cake moulds or and ice-cube rack instead – anything flexible will do. If you haven’t been saving lolly sticks you’ll have to use spoons, scoops or such like. Are you sure you don’t want to nip to the shops?
1. Get your preferred drink – it can be fresh juice, cordial or even a fizzy beverage. Pour it in the mould(s) and place the lids on. If you’re DIYing, you might have to go a bit Heath Robinson on the manner of balancing the sticks in the fluid.
2. Carefully place the filled moulds in the freezer.
3. Wait for three hours (most people prefer to find something else to do during this period).
4. Get the lollies out of the freezer and separate them from their moulds (sometimes a quick splash of boiling water over the outside helps release – obviously not a job for kids). Enjoy!
If you’re not aware that popcorn is the new super-snack on the block, you need to get with the programme. But before you dash out to stock up on the glassy, sweet, buttery versions you get in shops and cinemas, have a think. Can they really be super-snacks? Of course not. Only the purest, most natural popcorn will do, with as little sugar, salt, butter and oil as you can stand. Now there’s a healthy snack, because when you think about it the only ingredient is corn!
You can buy popping corn from most supermarkets and health food shops. It’s not very edible in the form you get it but you can’t use normal canned or frozen corn because the dry shell is the essential part that allows the pressure to build up enough to cause the pop.
If you’ve got a dry air popcorn maker, you probably don’t need this guide – just pour it in and wait. If you’re using everyday kitchen equipment, you’ll just need a big saucepan (with a lid, preferably) and a hob.
1. Start heating the saucepan on the hob on a gentle to moderate heat. You can put a teaspoon of olive oil, sunflower oil or butter in at this stage, but even that isn’t necessary – all the ingredients are already in the corn.
2. When the pan is warm add the popping corn. Covering the base will give you a decent serving – it will increase in volume by about 15 times when cooked.
3. Your main objective is not to burn the pan, so keep the heat moderate and the lid on for a few minutes, apart from quick checks for signs of blackening – turn the heat down a little if it starts. After about five minutes, quickly turn up the heat to full and you’ll start hearing popping. As soon as you hear the first pop, return the heat to where it was. Popping will grow in intensity and then tail off. When it’s stopped, remove the heat altogether and pour into a bowl to cool.
4. You can add sugar, syrup, maple syrup, salt, paprika, cinnamon, butter or whatever takes you fancy. It’s best eaten when it has completely cooled down as it’ll be crispier, but pouring the sugary flavourings when warm will aid coverage.