Friday, 31 May 2013


When I was little I loved the Secret Seven books.  My sister was heavily into the Famous Five but I preferred the rough and tough (well, as rough and tough as Enid Blyton gets) edge to the Secret Seven.  It was set in more of a city / town landscape compared to the country setting of the Famous Five and the children went to day schools instead of boarding school.  I was desperate to be in the 'gang' and was delighted when we got a golden spaniel like Scamper.   Unfortunately Shane turned out to be the devil in dog form and after the third phone call from the police station who said he'd been picked up (again), was running up and down the corridors and could we come and get him please, my mum decided that a 6 year old, a baby and a tearaway dog were just too much all at one time, enough was enough and he had to be re-homed.  I wish I was joking but it was basically the dog or one of the kids.
He looks suspiciously angelic here.
Sorry, I went completely off topic there!  Anyway, one Secret Seven book I vividly remember reading involved Peter, Janet and Jack all sitting in their garden with Scamper puzzling over a case when Peter and Janet's mother brings them out a jug of home made lemonade.

I never had home made lemonade when I was little so this seemed like such a wondrous thing; I didn't even know you could get anything other than 7-Up or Sprite (both of which were banned in my house along with other fizzy drinks and therefore held a legendary status).

This weekend I finally satisfied the 20 year craving and made homemade lemonade.  I made a slightly more grown up version though as this was for a friends hen do.  One of the recent trends on Pinterest and food blogs has been Basil Lemon Cocktails or Basil Lemonade of some variety (either with gin, vodka or virgin) and as usual the glossy pictures of glass tumblers filled with homemade lemonade and topped off with sprigs of verdant green basil looked so tempting.
Secret Seven eat your heart out.

12 lemons, a whole bunch of basil and a fair amount of sugar later I had two jugs of homemade basil lemonade.
It went down an absolute storm with the chicks at the hen party.  It's sweet but not sickly and the basil is delicately infused through and really complements the lemon, adding interest to an otherwise standard lemonade.  I know that this sounds a bit daft but it tastes really 'grown up'.  It is also a fantastic thirst quencher and, with the amount of lemons in it, a good vitamin C hit.  We'll just ignore the sugar levels for the moment. 

I didn't get any pictures of the final product. I had made the syrup and squeezed the lemons the day before and left them in the fridge to chill, then about an hour before serving the lemonade mixed them together and transported them to the venue.  I then split the syrup mix into two jugs and topped both up with still water (sparkling here would be amazing).  Before I could reach for the camera most of the BasiLemonade had gone.

Never mind!  These recipes aren't for blogging purposes (although it is handy material) but for people to enjoy!  I will definitely be making this again.

Before I do I may invest in a lemon squeezer though...

Now to find the hot cocoa recipe from Go Ahead Secret Seven!

Recipe (makes enough for 15 people):

2 cups sugar
1.5 cups water
Big bunch of fresh basil
12 lemons
Basil and lemon to garnish

Mix the sugar, water and basil in a small saucepan and heat until all the sugar has dissolved.  Turn off the heat and let the basil steep in the syrup for as long as possible (I left it overnight).

Juice 12 lemons and refrigerate.

Mix the basil sugar syrup and lemon juice together when you are ready to serve and split between your serving jugs.

Top up with water (still or sparking, add vodka or gin for an extra kick).  Serve over ice and garnish with more basil and lemon slices.

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