The Beech trees in Yorkshire came into leaf just last week. The people on this weekends Vegetarian wild food foraging course said that I just had to put this recipe on the blog as it is soooo good!
It is the perfect time to make this simple but amazing liqueur. The recipe is below with pictures and menus from last weekend’s course.
Beech Leaf Noyeau
The liqueur has a slightly nutty warming flavour it was made popular by Richard Mabey in his book ‘Food for Free’. Our version is a little stronger and not quite as sweet.
- Young beech leaves
- 1ltr Gin
- 225g sugar
- 225ml water
- 100ml Brandy
Collect young, fresh beech leaves and strip them from the twigs. Half fill a large jar with the leaves and pour on the gin. Seal up the jar and put it in a cupboard for 3 weeks. After this time strain into a large, clean bowl and throw away the leaves. Heat the water and sugar in a pan to dissolve the sugar, add this to the bowl along with the brandy. Check the sweetness and bottle if it is as you like it, if not add more sugar syrup to taste.
We took inspiration from across the globe for this weekend’s course. From Europe to the Indian subcontinant, all vegetarian and all based around wild spring greens we had a wide variety of cooking techniques and something tasty to suit everyone.
Here are a few photos from the course and a recipe from our wild vegy tapas night.
Nettle Empanadillas – makes 40
These little pastries are part of the Moorish tradition in Spain. The pine nuts and raisins are typical Arab flavourings. Here we are using nettles as well but you could use spinach or a mixture of the two.
- 25g raisins
- 125ml olive oil
- 300g young nettle tops, washed and drained well
- 6 canned anchovies, drained and chopped (optional)
- 5 wild garlic leaves, washed and chopped
- 25g pine nuts, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 300g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 50ml warm water
- Flour for dusting
- Oil for deep frying
Soak the raisins in a little warm water for 10 minutes, drain well and chop roughly. Heat 25mls of olive oil in a large pan and add the nettles. Cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to ensure all the nettles are cooked. Remove from the heat and drain well, chop the nettles and put them in a large bowl. Add the wild garlic, anchovies, soaked raisins, pine nuts and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside to cool.
Now to make the wrappers put the flour in to a large bowl, add the 100ml of olive oil and mix well. Add the salt, sugar and enough warm water and to form a soft dough. Cover the dough with a moist cloth and chill for half an hour.
To assemble the empanadillas roll out the dough on a floured board, to a thickness of 3mm. Cut 20 rounds using a 7.5cm cutter, re rolling scraps if necessary. Put a teaspoon full of filling mixture in the middle of each round and lightly brush the edges with water. Bring up the edges of the pastry and press together, fold the outside edge over to seal it securely.
Deep fry the empanadillas, a few at a time, at 185 degrees C for 4 minutes. Serve warm with a creamy dip.
The rest of the menu
Friday night dinner
Wild garlic risotto
Ground elder and potato curry, dandelion bhajis, wild garlic raita.
Saturday night dinner
Ensaladilla with Jack by the hedge.
Hogweed and potato tortilla.
Wild garlic and cheese croquettas.
Smoky cheese and paprika soda bread.
Griddled rosebay .
Lemon oil dip.
Wild green salad.
Elderberry drop scones over the fire
Pizza and Beer!
Wild pizza blanca from the earth oven and Nettle beer.