Longstocking Cocktail

A glass of quince vodka with clementine juice and prosecco

It’s an Eggs On The Roof tra­di­tion that at this time of year I toast you with a cock­tail. Last year I saluted you with a pomegranate cre­ation I called Tomor­row Shall Be My Dan­cing Day. This year I’d like to say thank you with a quince vodka and clem­entine juice affair.

A glass of quince vodka with clementine juice and prosecco

I’m full of grat­it­ude for your loy­alty, your solid­ar­ity and your shared sense of fun. In fact, I’m just so glad to have enjoyed your com­pany this year that I was going to call my cock­tail Pol­ly­anna, after the glor­i­ously cheer­ful char­ac­ter from children’s fic­tion. But since my cock­tail has a zesty little kick to it, I’ve decided to call it Long­stock­ing, after the fear­less, feisty and life-enhancing Pippi.

A glass of quince vodka mixed with clementine juice and prosecco


  • 1 part vodka — I used the quince vodka I made this year, inspired by The Quince Tree. But stand­ard vodka will do
  • 1 part freshly squeezed clem­entine juice
  • 3 parts Prosecco

Here’s to you all.

A glass of quince vodka mixed with clementine juice and prosecco

Apple and Cheese Get an Invitation to the Ball

Do you remem­ber when I wrote about ‘now­ness’? In the final weeks of his life, it was the word Den­nis Pot­ter used to describe his intense love for the present moment. My Granny’s way of describ­ing ‘now­ness’ was what she called ‘hav­ing a minute’ and this morn­ing I found yet another ver­sion. In 1817 John Keats wrote a let­ter in which he said that ‘…if a spar­row come before my win­dow, I take part in its existence…’ 

It was with thoughts of Keats’ spar­row that I set off on a walk, a piece of cheese and an apple in the pocket of my coat. You’ll know by now that I love pic­nics, espe­cially ones that fit into my pocket. An apple and a piece of cheese have an easy com­pat­ib­il­ity. Each has its own spe­cial qual­it­ies and neither tries to out­shine the other. Their happy camaraderie makes them the per­fect com­pan­ions for a ‘now­ness’ walk. Inev­it­ably, though, when I got home I stopped think­ing about now and star­ted think­ing about ‘what if?’ instead. What would hap­pen if I gave an apple and cheese new, glam­or­ous out­fits and invited them to a party?


Serves 4


  • Ikg cored, unpeeled apples — a sweet, full fla­voured vari­ety such as Cox’s Orange Pippin
  • Juice of a clementine
  • 1 cup water
  • 375g caster sugar

Grate the apples, skin and all. Squeeze the clem­entine juice over the apple and put in a pan with the water and sugar. Bring the mix­ture to a sim­mer and keep on the heat for 5 minutes. The beauty of grat­ing the apple is that you don’t need to cook it for very long, so you will retain the good­ness and fla­vour of the fruit. Tip the cooked fruit into a sieve and allow to drip into a bowl. While it’s drip­ping through, start to make the parmesan cones.


  • 8 table­spoons finely grated parmesan

Pre­heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Using 2 table­spoons of parmesan per cone, pat the grated cheese into four flat circles, on a bak­ing tray lined with bak­ing parch­ment. Cook in the oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and after one minute, lift the melted cheese circles off the paper and roll between your fin­gers into a cone shape. Don’t leave them to cool before you do this, because the parmesan bis­cuits will simply snap. Once rolled, the cones will be about 6 cm long, rather than full-sized ones. This recipe is bet­ter in miniature.

By now the apple juice should have dripped through. Cool the juice and then churn in an ice-cream maker. Don’t panic about its amber col­our at this stage. The churn­ing and freez­ing pro­cess will turn the juice a pale, creamy pink.

Place a scoop of sorbet into each cone. If you think that an ice-cream cone isn’t prop­erly dressed without a chocol­ate flake, dec­or­ate your sorbet with a tiny cel­ery stalk, its leaves still attached. The com­bined fla­vours are per­fect. And after all, if apple and cheese are going to the Ball, they have to be given the right accessor­ies, don’t they?