Autumn hedgerow spices make a warming soup extra special

We have made this soup on recent foraging courses in our wood and chef Chris Parry adapted it for our recent ‘foragers supper’ at the Exeter Arms in Derby  The recipe is here along with photos from the event in Derby and the recent vegetarian wild food weekend course.

Hogweed spiced sweet potato soup – serves 4

  • 1 onion skinned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g sweet potato peeled cut in to chunks
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tbsp Hogweed seeds roasted and ground (identification notes below)
  • Flaky sea salt
  • 1litre vegetable stock
  • Ground black pepper
  • Double cream (optional)

First roast the Hogweed seeds, to do this remove them from the stalks and measure out 1 tablespoon, put them into a heavy based frying pan and cook for a few minutes, moving them around so that they toast on both sides. A lovely orangey, cardamom like fragrance will come from the seeds as they toast – be careful they don’t burn. Once roasted grind them up in a pestle and mortar with a teaspoon of flaky sea salt.


vegy WF weekend Sept 14 107Meanwhile in a large saucepan, cook the onions slowly in the olive oil for 5 minutes or until soft, then add the ground Hogweed and salt mix and stir to coat the spices. Now add the butter and sweet potato and stir well, cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally. Add the stock and leave to simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft. Puree the soup with a stick blender, add pepper to taste and salt if necessary. Re-heat the soup and add a couple of spoonfuls of cream if you want a little luxury.


Chris Parry chef at the Exeter Arms swirled chorizo oil through his version of the soup.

Hogweed  – Heraclum sphodylium

hogweed seeds (2)

This perennial plant flowers from June to August, growing to 2m tall. It has hairy stems and leaves. The stems are hollow and grooved and usually have greyish purple tints. The leaves are very large at the base of the plant becoming smaller up the flowering stem. Each leaf is made up of usually 5 leaflets these have a coarsely toothed wavy edge making the leaflet look irregular. The flower buds appear in June encased in a papery wrapper and open in to an umbrella of grey white flowers approx 20cm across from June onwards. The seeds follow first as green discs which then dry out to form brown seeds as in the photo. Look carefully at the leaf shape to confirm your identification and check that the seed has a citrus, cardamom like scent.

Be sure of your identification. Hogweed is part of the umbelliferae family whose members can be tricky to identify, it does contain poisonous species so be careful. We recommend that you check your identification in a few different plant books or ideally come on a foraging course.

Urban foraging in Derby with the Exeter arms.



Vegetarian weekend course September 2014

The Elderflower is out!

We’re trying some new recipes this year as well as the old favourites…recipes and pictures below from our last few One foraging day courses.

Elderflower and Apple pudding – serves 4

  • 4 Bramley apples???????????????????????????????
  • 2 Elderflower heads
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 20g porridge oats
  • Creme fraiche


Peel, core and cut the apples in to medium sized chunks. As soon as they are cut put them in a large pan with a tablespoonful of water and the lemon juice, stir so that the apple comes in contact with the lemon juice and does not go brown. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and stir well. If you have a straining bag or some muslin put the Elderflowers in it and hang this over the side of the pan – you want the bag to be in the watery juice underneath the apples. If you don’t have a muslin bag put the Elderflowers in the pan and remove them at the end of cooking. Cook gently for 20 minutes stirring occasionally and squashing the bag against the side of the pan to let the flavour come out in to the juice (try not to mash the apples). Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary. When ready set aside.

To make the crumble topping pre heat the oven to 190 degrees C, put the flour in to a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and oats and mix well. Grease a baking tin and spread the crumble out on it. Bake for 10 mins then remove from the oven and stir the crumbs around, return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, then stir again. Do this once more and after 20-25 mins the crumble will be pale golden and ready. Leave to cool completely then store in an airtight container.

Serve the apples warm or cold with crumble and Creme fraiche.

Other Elderflower recipes include Elderflower wine, Elderflower cordial, Elderflower and rose champagne and Elderflower fritters. Click here to explore our Elderflower recipes.

Yorkshire Moorish, acorn, feta and berry pastilla

Following on from the ras el hanout recipe last week and  looking at the wonderful range of wild ingredients ripe for the foraging this weekend I was inspired to make a wild version of another Moroccan classic.

The result was this filo pastry ‘cigar’  filled with acorns, cobnuts, feta, elderberries and blackberries. A take on the savoury sweet pastilla Rose and I have enjoyed on trips to North Africa in the past few years.

We hope you enjoy it, our guests this weekend on the Vegetarian wildfood weekend loved it. Photos and menu below.

Acorn Pastilla makes 12

  • 200g processed  (see below) Acorns
  • 200g  Shelled Cobnuts broken into small pieces
  • 200g Feta Cheese
  • 1 x Red onion very finely chopped.
  • 60 x Elder berries
  • 20 x Blackberries chopped
  • 1 x egg beaten
  • Filo Pastry (we used shop bought Jus rol brand and used 2 packs)

To process your acorns, peel off the outer skin and then split the nut inside into two. Place the nuts in a pan with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes then replace the water and repeat. After the second simmer, drain the acorns and break them up into small pieces. Do not use raw acorns, you must process  them this way.

Put a little oil into a frying pan over a medium high heat and fry your chopped onion until slightly caramelised then remove from the pan into a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the bowl and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste but be careful with the salt as the cheese is quite salty.

Open up your pastry sheets. Ours were oblong and about 25cm by 50cm and we cut them down into 2 piles of sheets 25cm by 25cm.

rolling pastillaTake one sheet of filo and place one twelfth of the filling in a 10 cm  line across the bottom edge of the sheet in the centre, start to roll up the cigar then stop and fold in the edges, when the edges are folded in continue to roll until you have nearly finished rolling, brush the last bit of pastry with a little of the beaten egg and then roll up completely to seal.

Place this filled cigar shape on another pastry sheet and repeat the rolling process so you have two layers of pastry per roll.

Deep fry the parcels at 180 degrees C until light brown and crisp, drain well on kitchen roll and serve warm.


September 2013

Vegetarian Wild food weekend

Menu plans
Friday night dinner

Dal bhat tarkari

Saturday  lunch

Pumpkin and Hogweed seed soup.
Wild marjoram fougasse

Saturday night dinner

Vegetable tagine with wild spice Ras el hanout
Sorrel couscous
Acorn pastilla
Hogweed lassi

Sunday  lunch

Mugwort and wild mushroom Ravioli
Orache butter sauce.
Dandelion and Burdock

Elderflower wine

This is my recipe for Elderflower wine, I have made wine this way for the last 15 years and it always works well.  There are loads of flowers this year, it’s a bumper year!

Elder.  Sambucus nigra Be sure of your identification!!

Elder. Sambucus nigra
Be sure of your identification!!

I have explained the process in detail for any of you that have not made wine before, you can also scale it up and it still works perfectly. Find elder growing in hedgerows, on disused railway lines, on waste ground – it is a tree that can be found in the countryside and in urban places, so is great for everyone.

You will need 2 wine making buckets with a 1 gallon mark on and a lid, 2 x clear gallon demijohns, a large funnel, a jelly bag or sheet of muslin, bungs and airlocks to fit the demijohns, siphon tubing and 6 wine bottles – either with good lids or buy corks and a corking device. You will also need chemical sterilizer available at wine making supplier.

Makes 6 Bottles

  • 1 pint of elderflowers
  • 3 lemons – grated rind and juice (keep the juice in the fridge until day 5)
  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2.5lb sugar
  • 2 campden tablets
  • 1tsp yeast
  • 1tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1tsp tannin
  • 1tsp potassium sorbate (or stabilising tablet)
  • Finings (as per packet instructions)

foraging walk

Day 1. Pick Elderflowers that are fragrant and at their peak, not either in bud or dropping petals. Put them into the wine bucket with the grated rind of the lemons. Boil the water and pour it over the flowers and lemon rind. Cover loosely and leave to cool. When cool add a crushed campden tablet and stir.

Days 2, 3 & 4. Stir twice a day, each day with a sterile spoon (I pour boiling water from the kettle over my plastic spoon and it is fine)

Day 5. Sterilise the mesh bag, plastic spoon and 2nd bucket, then rinse. Strain the liquid through the fine mesh bag into the bucket. Add the lemon juice and sugar and stir until dissolved with the sterile spoon. Then add the yeast, yeast nutrient and tannin, and stir. Cover loosely.

Days 6, 7, 8 & 9, Leave to ferment. Try to keep the wine at about 20 degrees C.

Day 10. Sterilise your demijohn, mesh bag, funnel, bung and airlock and spoon if using. Strain the wine through the mesh bag into the demijohn using the funnel. Fit the bung and airlock. (put boiled water in the airlock) Again keep the temperature as close to 20oC as poss. Leave for approx 15 days until the wine stops fermenting.

Day 25. Sterilise your other demijohn, airlock and bung, and the siphon tubing. Siphon the wine into the clean demijohn leaving the sediment behind. Add 1 crushed campden tablet and 1 tsp Potassium Sorbate to the wine, and swish it around to remove gas. Then add the finings as per the packet instructions (probably 2 tsps) Put a clean airlock and bung on the demijohn and leave it to clear. Put the wine in a place now where it can settle out and won’t get knocked or moved  – you will need to be able to get to it later to siphon it out.

Day 50 – approx. Your wine should be clear as a bell. Now sterilize your bottles and siphon tubing and carefully fill the bottles without disturbing the sediment in the bottom of the demijohn. This is best done by 2 people one filling bottles and one making sure the tube doesn’t pick up sediment. Cork or cap your bottles I sterilise mine by putting them in boiling water for a few minutes

…You can drink it straight away but it improves with keeping.

elderflower med size

Coconut scented sunshine. (Wild Food Weekend Course. 26th-28th April 2013)

The Gorse is flowering so well it seemed a good idea to share my recipes for gorse flavoured desserts. The lovely folk on our wildfood weekend really enjoyed the syrup and crystalised flowers so here for you all are the recipes.

To crystalised gorse flowers

Mix an egg white with a tablespoon of water and paint the flowers with it (or you can mix the flowers with the egg white mix and then spin off the excess in a salad spinner) Toss the flowers in caster sugar and lay them on baking parchment. Dry them in an airing cupboard or similar warm place. When they are completely dry you can store the flowers in an airtight container for 2 -3 weeks.

Gorse Flower syrupgorse

  • ½ ltr water
  • 2 large handfuls of Gorse flowers
  • 3 tbsp Sugar
  • ¼ tsp Citric Acid

Put the water, flowers, sugar and citric acid into a pan and bring to the boil stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. When the flowery syrup comes to the boil remove it from the heat and leave, with the lid on, for around 5 minutes for the flavour to develop. Taste the syrup and when the flavour is good strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a sterilised bottle.

Gorse Flower jelly

  • ½ ltr gorse flower syrup (see above)
  • 4 sheets of Gelatine

Put the Gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften for 5 minutes. Bring the gorse flower syrup to a gentle simmer keeping it covered. Remove the gelatine from the water when it is ready and squeeze out any excess liquid. Put it into a clean bowl big enough to hold all the liquid. Pour the syrup onto the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to set the jelly.

Gorse Flower Ice cream

  • 200ml MilkGorse flower jelly & Ice cream
  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 150g Sugar
  • 200ml Double Cream
  • 2 large handfuls of Gorse flowers
  • A few grains of salt

Put the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large bowl and beat until well blended. Put the milk and flowers in a pan and heat on a medium heat until very nearly boiling. Then pour immediately onto the egg and sugar mixture stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl pressing the flowers to extract all the flavour. Add the double cream and leave to cool. If you have an ice cream maker, pre-cooled it and churn for 30 minutes or until ready. If you do not have an ice cream maker put the mixture in a freezer proof box and freeze until nearly set, then stir vigorously. Repeat this until the mix becomes ice cream.

Wild food weekend course 26th-28th April 2013.

Here are some of the recipes from this weekends course at Taste the Wild, along with some great photos taken by Caco and Rose.

To Dean, Kate, Sheila, Lee, Laura,Charles,Dave, Louise,Malcolm and Emily, thank you all for coming and happy foraging!

Wild greens soup – serves 4

  • 1 leek chopped
  • 50g  butter
  • 2 x large floury potatoes
  • 1.5ltrs veg stock
  • 350g  wild greens (a mixture of nettles, cleavers, chickweed, bittercress, and wild garlic)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and soften the chopped leeks in it. Peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. Add the potatoes and cook for 1 minute.  Pour the stock into the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Wash and roughly chop the mixed greens and add to the pan (wear gloves if you are using nettles!) Let the leaves wilt down and soften for 5 minutes or so.  Season well with salt and pepper.

Blitz in a blender until smooth and return to the pan to reheat.

Wild garlic soda bread – serves 6

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400ml live yoghurt or buttermilk
  • 1 large handful of wild garlic – chopped
  • A little milk to bind (if necessary)

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and wild garlic and bring together to form a dough. Do not knead the dough. Oil a dutch oven if you are cooking on a camp fire or a baking tray if you are using a conventional oven. Form the dough in to a dome and either put it in the dutch oven or on the baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes on the camp fire or half and hour in an oven at 180 degrees / gas mark 4

Wood avens bread sauce – serves 6

  • 4 oz (110 g) freshly made white breadcrumbs
  • 1 large onion cut into 4
  • 15 Wood avens roots tied in a bundle
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 pint (570 ml) breakfast milk
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • 2 tablespoons double cream
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper

Place the onion, wood avens roots, bay leaf and the peppercorns, in a saucepan together with the milk. Add some salt then bring everything up to boiling point. Take off the heat, cover the pan and leave in a warm place for the milk to infuse for two hours or more.

When you’re ready to make the sauce, remove the onion, bay leaf and peppercorns and keep them on one side. Stir the breadcrumbs into the milk and add 1 oz (25 g) of the butter. Leave the saucepan on a very low heat, stirring now and then, until the crumbs have swollen and thickened the sauce – about 15 minutes. Now replace the onion, wood avens, bay leaf and the peppercorns and again leave the pan in a warm place until the sauce is needed. Just before serving, remove the onion and spices. Reheat gently then beat in the remaining butter and the cream and taste to check the seasoning. Pour into a warm serving jug.

Sorrel drop scones – makes approx 8

  • 110g Self raising flour
  • 25g Caster sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 150ml Milk (full fat)
  • 1 handful of Sorrel leaves chopped.

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl and mix.  Make a well in the middle of the mixture and drop in the egg and half the milk.  Mix to a batter. Now mix in the rest of the milk.

Add the sorrel leaves and mix in.

Heat a flat griddle pan or heavy based saucepan until hot and grease with lard. Drop dessert spoonfuls of the batter onto the pan leaving room for them to spread.

Cook until bubbles rise to the top and then flip over and cook for approx. 1 minute more. Remove to a cooling rack and cover.

 Nettle and Wensleydale pesto – makes approx 200ml

  • 50g (1 large handful) of blanched nettle tops
  • 25g hazelnuts
  • 25g Wensleydale cheese grated
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper.

Put the nettles, cheese and pine nuts in a blender and blitz to a paste.

Slowly add olive oil to this paste in the blender until it has a thick sauce like consistency.

Season to taste.

Spruce toffee brittle (Pine Dime) – makes 100g/3 bars

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g butter, cut in to cubes
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 desert spoonful pine or spruce essence

You will also need a silicone baking sheet or waxed paper and a temperature probe.

Heat the caster sugar and salt over a medium heat stirring very gently until it becomes caramel. Take it off the heat and add the butter. Stir quickly with a whisk, it will bubble and foam. Keep stirring and return to a low heat, put the temperature probe in to the pan and heat to 136 degrees c. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a minute until the temperature lowers to 120 degrees c. Now add the essence stir well and pour the toffee out on to the silicone sheet. You can mark out squares if you want to break up the toffee evenly or leave it and break in to random pieces when it is cold. Store in an airtight container.

Pontack sauce recipe

Pontack sauce is an old traditional recipe named after ‘The Pontack’s head’  a restaurant in London in the 17th Century. It has a good strong flavour, I think it’s a little bit like HP Sauce. Ideally keep it for a few months before using, as the flavours mellow. It goes especially well with cold meats and game but you can also use it to add a fruity richness to gravies or sauces.

This is my version of it.

  • 500g Elderberries (washed and stalks removed)
  • 250ml White wine vinegar
  • 250ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Red onion chopped
  • 15g fresh root ginger bruised
  • 1tsp ground Allspice
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 170g Demarara sugar

Put all the ingredients, apart from the sugar, into a heavy based saucepan and cook  on a low heat for 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh seive into a clean pan, squashing as much through as possible. Add the sugar and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes and pour into sterilised bottles or jars.

Hope you like it !