Hawthorn and orange fool with Hogweed tuile

This is a lovely simple dessert for Autumn, making the most of the often ignored Hawthorn haw. (Identification notes below)

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  • 250g Hawthorn Haws, stalks removed and washed
  • 1 Bramley Apple, peeled cored and chopped
  • Juice of half an orange
  • 2 strips of orange zest
  • 100g Granulated Sugar
  • 300ml Double Cream

Cook the Hawthorn haws in a pan just covered with water for 50 minutes or until the flesh is very tender. (If the water starts to boil away add a little more to keep the haws in enough water to cook.) While these are cooking put the chopped apple, orange juice, orange zest and sugar in another pan and cook for 20 minutes until very soft. When the Hawthorn haws are cooked push them through a sieve to extract the pulp – there should be about 4 tbsp. Add the pulp to the apple mix and leave to cool.

Whip the cream until it is just holding its shape then swirl alternate layers of cream and fruit mix into two individual glass dishes. Serve with a Hogweed tuile.

for the Hogweed tuile

  • 1 large egg white
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 30g plain flour
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Hogweed seeds roasted and ground to a powder

Set the oven to 180°C/ 356°F/Gas Mark 4
Put the egg white in a medium bowl. Whisk it lightly with a fork, then whisk in the sugar to a froth. Sift in the flour and mix in the melted butter.
Next drop 4 rounded teaspoons of the mixture evenly spaced out on  the lined tray, then using a small palette knife spread the mixture thinly and evenly into discs about 10cm across. Sprinkle with a little ground Hogweed seeds and bake for 9-10 mins.
Lift the tuiles off the parchment with a palette knife and lay them over the rolling pin to set into a curl. Cook the rest of the mixture in batches.
Cool and store in an airtight tin.


20100909_17A native thorny tree that grows to 10m tall: It has pale green new leaves in early spring 4 – 5cm long. The leaves have 3 – 7 lobes and turn dark green as summer progresses. Hawthorn has white or pink blossoms in clusters of up to 16. These fragrant flowers open in May turning into green berries during summer. As the season changes to autumn the berries ripen red. The dangling fruit have a stone in the middle and often stay on the tree after it loses its leaves and well into winter.


A few photos from last weekends fungi course.



Blackberry whisky recipe and September fungi course photos

Last Sunday we held our first mushroom day course of the year. The group learnt to identify the important fungi features that make accurate identification possible. We found a wide variety of fungi – not to mention the 10 different edibles that Chris cooked up for people to taste.

Our Blackberry Whisky recipe is below, if you can still find a few this is a great tipple to fill your hip flask.

 Blackberry Whiskyblackberries (4) - Copy

  • 70cl blended Whisky,
  • 330g blackberries
  • 100g sugar

Wash the blackberries and put them into a large bottle or jar. Add the whisky and sugar. Shake or stir to dissolve the sugar and leave in a dark place for a month. Once a week stir or shake the whisky to help extract the flavour from the fruit. After a month taste the whisky to check for flavour and sweetness.

blackberry whisky2The flavour of your blackberry whisky will vary from year to year as the fruit varies. You can easily sweeten the liqueur by stirring in some caster sugar. If there is not enough blackberry flavour add some frozen berries and leave for another week or two. When you ready to bottle the whisky remove the blackberries and strain the whisky through a very fine mesh sieve or muslin.

Don’t throw away the blackberries they are gorgeous mixed with cooking apples in a crumble or in cakes or winter trifles.



Fungi Day Course – 28th Oct 2012

This was our last Fungi Day Course down in our woods for this season. We can’t believe how fast it has gone! But don’t worry even though there are some varieties of mushroom that won’t come back before next autumn there are still some delicious species growing as the pictures will show you! Monsieur Honey Fungus, for instance, is at its peak right now!

We hope we inspired you with mushrooms and that you will make loads of preserves to treat yourselves during the cold months of winter!

Hackfall Woods Fungi Course

We spent the morning at the Hackfall Woods in the Nidderdale  Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). As we drove we could see the first snow of the season which had dusted the house roofs during the night. Even though a bitter North wind blew in the morning, all our participants showed up and they were rewarded with a beautiful clear blue sky by noon! It was a true pleasure to teach and mushroom hunt in this place as it is a mature mixed woodland with some amazing views.

Thank you very much to the organizers at Nidderdale AONB and particularly to the Woodland Trust and the friends of Hackfall Woods for all their help and support! Hope to see you all next spring!

Wild about food at Swinton Park 21st October 2012

Swinton Park, what a dream place for mushroom and food lovers! We drove to Masham early in the morning through a thick fog but arrived in Swinton to discover the hotel bathed in sun,  looking rather like a  fairy tale castle. We setoff around 10am to go mushroom hunting in the parkland and woods. As soon as we reached the beginning of the path, Rose spotted some amazing parasol mushrooms and next to them were some Wood Blewits. What a very promising start!

We were only a small group which allowed us to give plenty of identification information to our guests, even Johnny, John’s cooking assistant joined us. We wandered for 3 hours in the woods and came back with a basket full of mushrooms (Deceivers, parasols mushrooms, Wood Blewit, Honey Fungus, puff balls…).

Back to the Cookery School, John welcomed us with a lovely selection of canapés. We then started the 7 courses menu (yes seven!) with a Wild Mushroom Consommé with Rocket and Chive.


Then we enjoyed a delicious Salmon accompanied with Fennel Purée, Charred Leek and a refined Sauce Vierge.


We watched John cooking and it seemed so easy and simple, within few minutes we received our next dish: Yellison Farm Goats Cheese with Garden Beets with Apple, Watercress and Shallot.


And then, it was time for the main dish: Halibut, Herbs, Cep, Garlic and Almond; what a treat!


It is hard to finish a meal without a dessert and as John has quite a sweet tooth we had three, all completely different but superbly balanced. Orange, polenta Cake, Panna Cotta, Lime and Crème Fraîche.


Banoffee, Granola, Chestnut, Caramel Mousse


Chocolate, Salted Parfait, Soil, Pears and Brambles.


I think we all agreed that it was one of the best lunches ever, good company and scrumptious food! Thank you so much John for spoiling us!

Fungi Day Course – 20th Oct 2012

The mushroom season is still booming and it looks like it’s going to last for a while yet. As you’ll see from the photos, we found a lot of Deceivers, Parasol Mushrooms, Common Yellow Russulas, Wood Blewits, Honey Fungus and many others. We cooked them separately so that people could enjoy their different tastes. Once again the participants showed us that there is no limit to how far food gourmets will travel and especially fungus lovers! Caroline and Marc came from Southampton in only four hours!

Thank you all for coming and hope to see you all next year.

Fungi Day Course (Oct 2012) & Wild Mushroom Orsotto

Mushrooms, mushrooms and even more mushrooms!! We seem to have the weather in our favour at the moment (fingers crossed for the rest of the month), which gives us plenty of fungi. We are in a particularly good year for amethyst deceivers (they look like little jewels in the middle of the golden leaves litter), puff balls and shaggy ink caps, bringing lots of delicious flavour to our meals.

Thank you everyone for coming and happy foraging!

For those who are not the biggest fans of risotto or seem to never get it right, here is a recipe for orsotto (made from barley) we cooked for our guests last weekend. It’s simple and quick and a perfect Yorkshire/Italian dish.

Wild mushroom Orsotto serves 4 as a main or 8 as a starter.

1 onion chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic chopped finely

200g wild mushrooms chopped

500g Pearl barley

1 glass white wine


100g Butter cut into small cubes.

100g Parmesan or similar grated finely

Put a glug of olive oil into a large pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook gently without colouring until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the mushrooms and cook these down until soft (about 5 mins).

Add the pearl barley to the mix and stir until each grain is shiny with oil. Now pour on enough stock (veg or chicken) to cover the rest of the ingredients, cover and cook on a medium heat for about 30 mins. You should check the pot regularly to make sure it does not go dry, adding more stock if necessary.

Check that the grains are cooked, I like them with a bit of chew, and then stir in the butter and parmesan, check for seasoning (it will need some black pepper but possibly no salt because of the cheese and butter) and serve.