Talking foraging at the Leatherhead Taste trends conference 2014

Plus a recipe for seaweed scones

Yesterday I was very proud to be talking about foraged ingredients at the Leatherhead food research ‘Taste trends 2014’ conference.

I am constantly amazed where foraging takes me and the incredibly interesting people I meet along the way.  My natural habitat is in the outdoors, knees muddy from the forest floor or feet wet from rockpools and lapping waves, so to be standing in a rather sterile conference room behind a lectern and in front of an audience of food producers definitely took me a country mile from my usual environment.

The day persuaded me that I need to get out of my favoured environment more! It is very easy to get a little too comfortable in your own little world, and I am guilty of this. There cannot be many places more lovely to live than North Yorkshire and the opportunity to have this beautiful landscape as a workplace is a dream, so maybe I can be forgiven for being comfortable. But speaking at Taste trends 2014 and spending the day with a great group of people from all walks of the food industry was an amazing experience and one that has given me a huge amount of knowledge and inspiration.

The 3 highlights of the day for me were:

Steve Wallis from Tastebillion
His insight into trends and innovation within the food industry was truly inspirational. The future looks exciting.

Sara Danesin Medio .
Sara’s passion for good quality simple ingredients filled the room and held everyone’s attention throughout.  Hearing Sara speak reinforced my own belief in great ingredients and good cooking and I really hope that one day we might be able to combine our knowledge and work together.

Jennifer Arthur. Strategic insight manager, Leatherhead food research.
Another look at the future through different but no less exciting eyes!  So much in depth research to produce a vision of the future that is both exciting and positive. Health and wellbeing both of consumers and the planet seems to be top of the agenda which has got to be a good thing.

The most important idea that reccured throughout the day, the one that makes me optimistic and hopeful for the future and is so much part of our own ethos at Taste the wild was the importance of Sustainability.  Virtually every speaker during the day had sustainability playing a major part in all sectors of the food industry, driving both manufacturers practice and policy as well as consumers buying and eating habits.

I really hope that all their predictions are correct.

Thanks to everyone at Leatherhead food research, especially Laura and Guida who looked after us so well.

I now know I need to get out more!!


We were asked to produce some canapes for the lunchtime break and one of the three we came up with was a Seaweed scone with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

The scones are delicious and have a great hit of marine freshness, I hope you like them.
Serve with smoked salmon and cream cheese or as an accompaniment to fish soup.

Seaweed scones.  makes about 14-16





12g dried Bladderwrack Ground up very small
7g dried Gutweed Ground fine and mixed with 2g fine sea salt.

60g Butter
250g S.R. Flour
2 tsp Baking powder
1 Egg
150ml Milk

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mix looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the Bladdewrack .

Break the egg into a measuring jug and make up to 150ml with milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix to a soft dough.

Press the dough out to a 2cm deep layer using your fingers. Using a 4cm cutter stamp out your scones. brush the tops with a little milk and sprinkle with the Gutweed/salt mixture.

Bake on a greased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes and cool on a rack.





Gutweed  Ulva intestinalis
This annual seaweed grows through spring and summer. It is a bright, light green in colour and can cover rocks looking like a carpet. The individual fronds are hollow tubes and these fill with oxygen so that it can float. The tubes are a little like guts and are approximately 6-10mm wide and 10-30cm long. If they don’t have any air in, the weed looks like stringy sea lettuce.






Bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosus
This seaweed grows to approximately 50-100cm. It is a dark greenish brown colour sometimes with lighter areas. The fronds are branched with smooth edges. The midrib is quite pronounced and there are rounded air bladders along the fronds, usually in pairs.


Charity Auction for a bespoke coastal foraging course with Taste the wild.

mastGrab this great opportunity to join us for your own bespoke coastal foraging course and raise money for charity too!!

The Yorkshire Post has launched it’s 2014 Christmas Appeal with a charity auction and we are one of the prizes.

You can bid here for your own bespoke coastal foraging course in Staithes, North Yorkshire. 

All the proceeds will go to the RNLI,  a charity close to our hearts.  The auction is running on ebay until Friday 28th November at 5.00pm.

Please make a bid and help raise plenty of money for a great cause.

Stepping stones on Staithes beck



Potted Morecambe bay shrimp and marsh samphire risotto



We have just had terrific week teaching on the south lakes peninsula in Cumbria.  On the journey over I was thinking about how to use some of the fantastic wild produce available to us at this time of year as well as one of my favourite things, potted Morecambe bay shrimps.  I thought that it would be a good bet that we would find samphire on the salt marsh and you can guarantee to find somebody potting shrimps in Flookburgh so I started to think of possibilities for these two great ingredients.

The next evening, after a great afternoon on the salt marsh looking at a host of beautifully crunchy and succulent wild veg and a few hours out on the sands with fisherman Steve Manning, we arrived back at the kitchen with set of ingredients to make any cook happy!  As I thought, the newly filled store cupboard did include marsh samphire and potted shrimps so I decided to combine them in a risotto as a starter for dinner.

The result went down very well with our guests so I thought I would share it here.

Potted Morecambe bay shrimp and marsh samphire risotto.    Serves 4


  • 400g risotto rice
  • 1 White onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 1 glass of White wine
  • 1 litre Water (approx.)
  • 60g Potted shrimp
  • 60g Marsh samphire chopped into rice length pieces.
  • Salt and pepper


On a low heat sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft but not coloured. While this is cooking heat the water in a separate pan. Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir. Once the rice is completely coated with oil, add the white wine and stir until the liquid has almost been absorbed. Now gradually add the hot water a ladle at a time, stirring until each ladleful is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, check the rice is cooked and not chalky. The rice might not need all the water.

Now add the shrimps, the butter from their pots  and the samphire and mix very well. You should have a slightly oozing consistency not solid, if it is too thick at a little more water. Have a taste at this point and season with salt and pepper.

Now put the lid on the pan and let the risotto rest for a couple of minutes before serving.  You could finish the dish with a drizzle of good olive oil if you wish.

shrimp amd samphire risotto


Marsh Samphire 

???????????????????????????????This plant is an annual, growing to a maximum of about 20cm by mid summer and then dying in autumn with the first frosts. It is an unusual plant the stalks are fleshy and are made up of segments. There are no leaves in the usual sense but stalky branches that come out from the main stem, making the plant look almost cactus like. The colour is quite a bright green and with a shiny texture.

When you are collecting samphire always use scissors and snip off the top of the plant as it is easy to uproot the whole plant if you just pull at it.


Here are a few more photographs from our Foraging courses in Flookburgh last week.

Wild greens in February? Alexanders.

Alexanders grows near the coast and adds a wonderful flavour to fish dishes


Here is a great recipe which combines the warm, celery like flavour of Alexanders with Leek, Chilli and Pollock to make an unusual warming winter stew.

Alexanders were brought to the UK by the Romans – as were lots of our wild weeds. Historically the plant would have been used as celery, cooked as a vegetable or added to the cooking pot to add flavour, texture and nutrients to a stew.

The medieval name for the plant translates as ‘Rock Parsley of Alexandria’ it has been said that the plant was named after Alexander the Great but it is likely that the plant came from the city of Alexandria where it was found growing. See bottom of page for foraging notes.

Alexanders fish Stew


Collect the tender stems of the Alexanders before it flowers, this can be from February through to late spring. If you can’t get Pollock use another firm fleshed white fish.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • half a teaspoon of fennel seeds
  • 2 leeks washed and sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 500g new potatoes cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1ltr fish stock
  • 500g Pollock fillet skinned and cut into chunks
  • Salt and Pepper
  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • ½ red chilli chopped finely
  • 200g Alexanders stems

To prepare the Alexanders first give them a good wash, cut off the leafy tops and trim the stem bases. Remove the strings and cut the stems in to 5cm pieces. Now to make the stew, melt the butter in a large pan, add ½ of the garlic, fennel seeds and the leeks and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes. While the soup is cooking make a quick rouille by combining the mayonnaise, garlic and chilli – mix well then set aside. When the soup has been cooking for 15 minutes add the fish to the pan and stir gently. Now steam the Alexanders stems for 2 – 4 minutes until just nicely cooked. Before serving check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary. Spoon in to 4 bowls topping with the Alexanders and rouille.

Some of you will have eaten a similar stew on the first night of our 2 day Staithes Coastal Course. We often use Sweet Cicely or fennel as flavouring instead of Alexanders, it is different but equally good.

To learn about coastal foraging we have places on our 1 day coastal foraging courses in July and September where we teach about the edible seaweeds, shellfish and coastal plants around Staithes in North Yorkshire. Click here for more information.


Alexanders  Smyrnium olustrum



A biennial plant that’s identification can be confirmed by smell (leaves and stems smell like Parsley/celery when crushed between your fingers). At the start of spring shiny bright green leaves appear forming a hummock. The leaf is made up of small glossy leaflets attached to small stalks which are then attached to stalks and then the main leaf stem. The flowering stems grow up to 1.2m and are topped with yellowy green umbrella like flowers. The flowers are followed by seeds from summer onwards which turn from green to black. The plant dies after it has set seed but usually there are others waiting to take its place.

The plant is commonly found around the coasts and occasionally inland but it is at its most obvious at this time of year when it is one of the first plants to be seen growing in the hedge bottoms and at the sides of coastal paths

Coastal foraging courses. Staithes, Summer 2013.


The weather has been very kind to us at Staithes this year and we have enjoyed great fishing, great foraging and the company of some lovely people.  As ever the British coastline offered us a wide array of forageable foods that inspired new recipes and dinner dishes.

The quantity and quality of the seaweed on the North East coast has been particularly good this year and It always amazes me that this incredible resource is so underused in the UK.  How can it be that an island nation that is surrounded by such an abundant, tasty and nutritious foodstuff can almost completely ignore its potential as food.

In fact seaweed is not completely ignored in Great Britain, the Welsh have Laver bread , once described as “Welshman’s caviar” by Richard Burton and the Irish have Dillisk which is eaten as crisps as well as being added to  everything from apple to bread dough. But even when you take these into consideration we are still missing a trick!

One of the best facts about seaweed on the British coast is that they are all edible. Any seaweed that is attached, not washed up or just floating about, but actually attached in the intertidal zone is edible. So there are none of the worries about poisoning that we have with plants and fungi.

However, edible is one thing and palatable is another and although you will not be poisoned you might find some of the tastes and textures a little ‘challenging’ as food. Having grazed on many different seaweeds we have developed a list of 10 that we regularly use in cooking and thoroughly enjoy.

  • Laver porphyra sp.
  • Sea lettuce Ulva lactuca
  • Dulse Palmaria palmate
  • Pepper dulse  Osmundea pinnatifida
  • Sea spaghetti himanthalia elongata
  • Gutweed Ulva intestinalis
  • Oarweed Laminaria digitalis
  • Sugar kelp Laminaria sacharina
  • Carrageen Chondrus crispus
  • Bladder and toothed wrack Fucus sp.

In the following recipe we use a selection of these to make a delicious alternative to tartar sauce. We have replaced the capers and gerkins with crispy seaweeds and used lemon juice to give it a bit of extra tang.

Sea weeds used in Seaweed tartar sauce. (clockwise from the green one at the top) Gutweed, Sea spaghetti, Dulse, Sea lettuce, Oarweed, Pepper dulse.

Sea weeds used in Seaweed tartar sauce.
(clockwise from the green one at the top) Gutweed, Sea spaghetti, Dulse, Sea lettuce, Oarweed, Pepper dulse.

Seaweed tartar sauceIMG_4153
50 g of chopped mixed seaweed ( I would definately include some pepper dulse for its garlicy taste)
4 tblsp  mayonnaise
Lemon juice to taste.

Mix all the ingredients together and serve with white fish.

Go and experiment with seaweeds. Just remember to follow these rules.

  • You must not collect seaweeds that are washed up on the shore.
  •  You must always harvest living seaweed that is still attached rocks and other seaweeds.
  • Always cut the seaweed leaving the’ holdfast’ behind. This means that the seaweed will grow back. Scissors are great for this.
  • There are no coastal seaweeds in Britain that are poisonous, so experiment!
  • Always be aware of the tides and weather conditions in the area you are foraging in. Be safe.
  • Check that the area where you are foraging does not have water quality problems.  (You can check this on the environment agency website.)

For those of you on last weeks courses here are some great photos!

Edible seaweed in a tasty Asian treat.

We like to be relaxed about our foraging: it’s nice to have an idea of what you’re looking for, but very good to be open Kelp and Dulseminded – you never know what you might find. This recipe follows that relaxed principle, as we’re after different textures and flavours not particular types of seaweed

On Saturday we ran a one day coastal foraging course at Staithes, North Yorkshire. The rocky foreshore there has an abundance of seaweeds that are good to eat and at low tide we collected Dulse, Kelp, Laver, and Pepper dulse for our lunchtime broth. There are many others that you could use for example Sea lettuce, Sugar kelp, Gutweed and Sea spaghetti and on a different day or in a different place the seaweed that we collected might not have been the same. There are some photos from the course at the bottom of the blog – thanks to all for coming, happy foraging!

Thai style lobster and seaweed broth -serves 4

  • 1 lobster, cooked

    Clockwise from the left Dulse,Kelp,Laver, Pepper dulse

    Clockwise from the left Dulse,Kelp,Laver, Pepper dulse

  • 1 lime
  • 1 small bunch of coriander
  • 1 tbsp oil for frying
  • 2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 chilli, chopped finely (more if you like it hot)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 lt fish stock
  • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 4 x 150g/5oz packet udon noodles
  • 150g mixed edible seaweed, washed and chopped (if you are using kelp chop it into very fine strips)

Start by removing the meat from the lobster and cut it in to large chunks. Divide the lobster between 4 soup bowls and into each bowl put a wedge of lime and a dessertspoonful of coriander leaves.

For the broth. Chop the coriander stalks finely. In a large pan gently heat the oil then add the ginger, chilli, garlic and coriander stalks and cook for 2 minutes until soft. Now add the fish stock and soy sauce to the pan and bring to a  simmer. When the broth is simmering add the noodles and seaweed and cook for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are heated through. Ladle the broth into the 4 bowls and serve with extra coriander and lime wedges.

One day coastal foraging 23rd June 2013 – to see more photos click here.