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Eating gin and tonic

"Please note: sipping a gin and tonic while making this dish is a must." Matt Wilkinson

The dish he is referring to is this - G&T drunken chicken with carrots and dukkah - a variation on the Chinese Drunken chicken. Well the chicken part is - but ultimately the dish is a salad. It's the chicken which is the gin and tonic part - it's sort of poached in gin and tonic, plus sugar, star anise, juniper berries and citrus peel. The recipe is from Matt Wilkinson's book Mr. Wilkinson's Simply Dressed Salads and it was featured in one of those old delicious. magazines. (Only two more magazines to go now.)

I'm not quite sure why the picture appealed to me quite as much as it did. I think it might have been the carrots because I'm always looking for things to do with carrots.

I used to drink gin and tonic if we were out for a meal, as a pre-dinner drink. But over the years I decided that the pre-dinner drink was to be avoided at all costs, as it meant that I either could drink hardly any wine with my meal, or, if I did, then I was definitely feeling a bit worse for wear at the end of the evening. I feel sad about that sometimes as I really do like gin and tonic. As a sort of remnant of that love, when on holiday somewhere and in a café looking for a cooling drink I will have a tonic water - 'un Shweppes' as they call it in France - without the gin. But I definitely wouldn't be having a mid afternoon G&T at home. I mean that's truly decadent and just a tiny bit sad. Although, you know, looking at this piece of gin and tonic art, I could be tempted. The sun is shining, but it is cold - and it's not a good idea really. Isn't gin supposed to make you miserable?

I've been thinking I should do something on gin some time - and I will - because it's such a big thing at the moment isn't it? However, today because of the 'starter' idea for the post, I thought I would have a look and see what else you could do with gin and tonic and food. I know there are heaps of things you can do with just gin, but what about actual gin and tonic?

Initially I thought I was not going to find anything at all because all there seemed to be were endless ideas for making different kinds of gin and tonic cocktails, or, slightly better, what food goes with gin and tonic. Curry apparently is a match made in heaven - well India is where the English started their love affair with gin and tonic and with curry, so perhaps it is indeed a match made in heaven. Maybe I'll try it next time I go out for a curry - if that ever happens again.

Eventually I found the right search words and so here are some recipes that I found to get your creative juices going, or for the next time you fancy and gin and tonic but can't quite bring yourself to indulge in the actual drink. After all if you cook with it the alcohol gets burnt off doesn't it?

Fish first of all. It's a natural fit isn't it? I mean I always use gin when I make the Christmas gravlax, but I don't use tonic as well. However, a company called Fish Tales does and gives their simple recipe for Gin tonic cured salmon. And yes you can watch a video at their website.

An English chef called Roberta Hall-McCaron (maybe Scottish with a name like that?), tells you how to use gin and tonic when cooking fish in a parcel of greaseproof paper in the oven:

"Pop your fish (small whole fish, fillets, shellfish) and some veg (“onion, tomato and/or sliced fennel”) on greaseproof paper, add booze, butter or olive oil and seasoning, wrap and bake. “Any alcohol will work – white wine, vermouth or even a shot of gin with a little tonic water, for G&T salmon.”

The English television chef, James Martin, apparently scandalised everyone in Britain by making a batter from gin and tonic although I really don't understand why the outrage

. He called it Gin and tonic fish with warm tartare sauce. I mean beer is very commonly used in batters, so why not gin and tonic? Finally an American spirits company Maine Spirits, gave out a recipe for Gin and tonic roasted salmon with lime cilantro sauce.

Other than Matt Wilkinson's salad and another very similar recipe based on the Chinese drunken chicken I only found one other meat recipe - Gin and tonic kabobs with mint tabouleh from, and one recipe for Gin and tonic pickles also American - The View from Great Island.

Which is a tiny bit odd because in a way you would think that the bitterness of the drink would be much more suited to savoury recipes than sweet. Surely it could be used in a marinade for all sorts of other things or as a braising liquid?

But sweet there is, and those shown here are just the tip of the iceberg really - there are lots more cakes and jellies. So what have I got for you to choose from? Well lots - Gin and tonic tart with candied lemon from Warren Mendes of delicious. and it's actually an update from an earlier recipe that adds the candied lemon on top. It's a kind of cheesecake I think. delicious. also has Gin and tonic jelly with macerated fruits, and the BBC on its Good Food site, has Gin and tonic cake. As I said, there are several more recipes for cakes on the net. Then there are Gin and tonic marshmallows from Sainsbury's before you move to real summer and Tom Kerridge's Gin and tonic granita and Donna Hay's classy looking Strawberry gin and tonic popsicles.

As you can see from all of the proffered recipes the most common pairings are anything citrus, and cucumber. Cool seems to be the mantra.

So when summer comes - yes I think you need it to be summer - have a go at something - the tart perhaps, or maybe the battered fish or the inspiration salad.

Possibly not very interesting for you all and possibly we are never going to try any of these things, but it certainly demonstrates that you can fling any idea at a chef, or an everyday blogger and they will come up with something. Even something that is possibly divine.

You can drink your gin and tonic and eat it too.


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