Wild garlic vichyssoise, Parmesan cream and Wild garlic oil

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We are making the must of the wild garlic and the warm weather.

A cool soup for a warm day!

Wild garlic vichyssoise, Parmesan cream and Wild garlic oil

For the soup.   Serves 4 as a starter.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons butter
6 Leeks white parts only finely chopped
2 Medium sized floury potatoes chopped into small cubes
16 Wild garlic leaves finely chopped
230ml Double cream
230ml Vegetable stock

Method:

In a large, heavy bottom pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add the leeks and cook gently for 5 minutes, making sure they are soft but do not take on any color. Add potatoes and wild garlic.  Cook for a minute or two, stirring a few times. Add the stock and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 mins, or until the potatoes are very soft. Puree the soup and then pass it through a sieve to make it super smooth.

Return to a pan and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 mins. Take off the heat and cool, then chill.

Serve cold with parmesan cream (see below), Wild garlic oil (see below) and a scattering of Wild garlic flowers.

Parmesan Cream.   Makes more than you need for this recipe but you can store it in the fridge for a few days and use it with pasta sauces etc.

200ml double cream
Parmesan rinds, about 10 cm square in total.
These are just what you have left over after you have grated all the cheese.  I never want to throw them out but never do much with them. This proves they were worth saving!!

Put the cream and cheese into a small saucepan and simmer until thick. Remove the cheese pieces and season the cream with salt to taste.

Wild garlic oil.   Makes more than you need for this recipe but will store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

100ml Olive oil
10 wild garlic leaves finely chopped

Blend oil and garlic together, allow to sit for 30 minutes and then pass through a sieve.

 

 

 

Wild herb Dukkah

I have never been keen on dipping bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Of course if you are fortunate enough to have some terrifically good oil or deliciously aged balsamic it makes sense, but more often than not the condiments in my cupboard are not top notch.

If you want to create a dipping experience that makes up for the imperfections of your oil,here is a perfect solution.

Dukkah.  A crunchy mix of herbs, seeds and nuts that makes dipping delicious again.  The original recipe is from Egypt, its name coming from the word ‘to crush ‘ or ‘to pound’ and that describes its preparation perfectly.

This simple version uses three ingredients we regularly forage for and preserve. Nettle, Wild garlic and Sumac.  For this recipe they are all used in their dried form.

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Wild herb Dukkah

Ingredients

 2 tablespoons Golden linseed
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 heaped tablespoon dried nettle powder
1 heaped tablespoon dried garlic powder
1 Teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 Teaspoon Sumac (foraged or bought) For foraging tips see this related article.
Black pepper to taste.

Toast the seeds gently in a hot pan. Once toasted golden brown, set aside to cool. Once cool add the rest of the ingredients, put into a pestle and mortar or food processor and grind to a rough granular texture.  Taste, adjust seasoning and serve with bread and good olive oil.

Dip your bread in the oil, then the Dukkah to create a delicious, crunchy aromatic crust.

 

Wild Garlic or nettle powder
(Nettle powder is made in the same way using just the top 4 sets of leaves from each plant.  Leave the stems on until after drying and remove before crushing leaves to a powder)

For this preserve you need a large carrier bag full of leaves.

Wash and dry the leaves and chop off the stems (you can use these in a stir fry or similar). Now lay the leaves on the shelves of the oven with a large baking tray on the bottom to catch any bits. Put the oven on at a low heat 50-80 degrees C with the door open a crack. In our fan oven the leaves dry in about an hour. Periodically check the leaves and move them around if there are wet and dry patches. Once the leaves are bone dry put them in a pestle and mortar or a food processor with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes. Grind or blitz them until you have a rough powder and then store it in an airtight container. This powder is incredibly versatile and  is a perfect way to have delicious wild garlic flavour all year round.

 

Wild herb and ricotta pithivier

Rose wanted me to call this a pasty, she thought I was being pretentious but I’m sticking to my guns because I think they are a little more refined than a true pasty.  Of course you could make them much bigger if you wanted to use them for a lunch dish or a picnic but these are perfect for a starter size with nice dressed salad.

I had a walk along the riverbank yesterday morning and collected some lovely young wild greens/herbs. I just needed a few handfuls and fifteen minutes of foraging gave me a lovely selection of Ground elder, Stinging nettles, Common sorrel and Cleavers.

Common Sorrel rumex acetosa

Common sorrel

A perennial plant that grows to 80cm tall when flowering. Outside its flowering season common sorrel has oval dark green leaves up to 12cm long and 4cm wide. The leaves have two pointed lobes that stick back from the leaf stem. The flowers grow on stems up to 80cm tall and are like little red and green beads. The leaves on the flowering stalks are smaller and more pointed than those that grow from the ground. They clasp around the stem.

 

Cleavers galium aparine

Cleavers 2One of the first plants to emerge in spring. This annual plant has a distinctive growth pattern where rings of narrow slightly bristly leaves are borne at regular intervals along the slightly bristly stem. The plants leaves are up to 3cm long. It will generally climb up the plants near it, managing to grow through hedges up to 1.5m. The tiny greenish white flowers open in summer to be followed by little hard ball seeds that stick to your socks.

 

Ground elder  Aegopodium podagraria

ground elderA perennial plant that can spread to form dense patches. The leaves grow to approximately 30cm tall, the flowering stalks to 70cm. The leaves grow straight out of the ground in early spring. They have a grooved stalk which divides into 3 and each of these 3 stalks has 3 leaves on it. These oval leaves have a serrated edge and a pointed end. There are also smaller leaves with fewer leaflets. In early summer the plant sends up a grooved flowering stem. This branches and has umbrellas of white flowers (sometimes pinkish) which smell a bit like celery and aniseed.

 

Wild herb and ricotta pithivier  Makes 6

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Ingredients

500g pack of puff pastry
250g Ricotta cheese
30g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons of olive oil
5 large leaves of wild garlic
3 Handfuls of wild greens
Salt and pepper
1 egg,  beaten for egg washing

Method

Wash the wild greens very well, blanch them in boiling water for 20 seconds and refresh in very cold water.  Once completely cold, squeeze out as much water as possible from the greens and blend to a paste with the olive oil and Wild garlic in a pestle and mortar or stick blender.

In a bowl, stir together the Ricotta, Parmesan and herb paste until you have a nice even mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set this filling aside and prepare a well floured surface to roll out your pastry. Divide the pastry into two and roll each piece out to about a 2mm thickness, you really need to get the pastry this thin as it will overwhelm the flavours of the filling if it is too thick. Out of one sheet cut out six circles 11cm in diameter put onto baking parchment and set aside. Now cut six 12cm circles from the second sheet, these will form the tops of the pithivier and need to be this slightly bigger size to accommodate the filling.

Lay out the bases (smaller circle) and divide the filling between the discs making sure you leave enough pastry around the edge to seal it, about 1cm should be good. Egg wash this outside ring of pastry and place a larger pastry circle on top , push down the sides and seal the egg washed edges You can then use a larger circular cutter to trim the sealed parcels into a perfect circle if you wish.  I then use a fork to seal the edges further by pressing the tines all around the edge where I have sealed it with my fingers.   Repeat for the other pastry discs. Use a knife to make two holes in the top of of each sealed parcel.

Egg wash the pithivier, place on a lined baking sheet (or two) and bake at 180 centigrade for 20 minutes until golden and puffed up. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with a dressed salad.

 

It’s Spring and things have started to get exciting in the woods and the kitchen too!……………….. Wild garlic gnocchi with slow cooked venison ragu.

Sorry we have been quiet for this winter, but we are back in foraging/cooking mode and will be posting lot’s of new recipes.

The Wild garlic season comes to us a little later in Yorkshire, my southern friends have been harvesting for what seems like almost a month, but it has arrived and what a treat it is to have it back in the kitchen.

This recipe was my dinner last night.  A simple, warming dish (it might be Spring but its still a bit chilly) that is easy to make and tastes great.  I love gnocchi, they are extremely satisfying to both make and eat and when flavoured with something like wild garlic they only need the simplest of sauces.  However!  I had a real treat as our butchery tutors Colin and Alan had given me some beautiful venison and I used it to make a lovely slow cooked ragu.

I really enjoyed this hearty supper I hope you do too.

If you have not picked wild garlic before here are some identification notes. Remember!  Do not anything unless you are 100% positive of your identification. With Wild garlic trust your nose, if it doesn’t smell of garlic don’t eat it.

Wild Garlic   Allium ursinum

wild garlic flw

A hairless perennial that forms large patches. The leaves emerge in early spring growing to 30cm long. They are smooth, oval and pointed and come straight out of the ground on a short leaf stalk. Crush part of a leaf – it smells of Garlic. The flowers follow in April/May and are like little umbrellas of white stars held above the leaves on stalks about 30cm tall. These turn into seeds after a few weeks and what was white stars is now green balls. The whole plant dies back in late spring not to be seen again until the following year.

Wild Garlic Gnocchi with slow cooked Venison ragu.  Serves 2 greedy people

For the Gnocchi
1kg Floury potatoes.
350g Plain flour.
2 eggs beaten.
1 large handful of wild garlic leaves finely chopped.
large pinch of salt.

For the venison ragu
500g Venison
1 Carrots finely chopped
2 Onions finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic minced
A little flour
Olive oil
2 Tablespoons tomato puree
3 sprigs of Thyme
1 sprig of Rosemary
1 Teaspoon of Juniper berries
500ml dark meat stock (beef or venison).  Maybe a little extra.

First get the ragu on the go as it needs long slow cooking.

Cut the meat into 3cm cubes and dust in seasoned flour. Put a little olive oil a heavy based casserole over a fairly high heat and brown the meat in batches. Set the browned meat aside. In the same pan lightly fry the carrot, onion and garlic until soft. Now return the meat and any resting juices to the pan and add the Tomato puree, Thyme, Rosemary, Juniper and stock. When you have added the stock scrape around the bottom of the casserole to release any of the sticky bits from frying the meat and veg. Cover the casserole and place in the oven at 180 degrees for at least 2 hours top up with extra stock if it looks like it is getting too thick. Serve immediately or cool and chill until required

To make the Gnocchi

Take the potatoes and prick them all over with a fork, put them into the oven with the casserole and bake for approximately 1 hour or until cooked through.  Once the potatoes are baked remove them from the oven and allow to cool slightly before scooping out the fluffy insides into a large bowl. Add the flour and eggs to the bowl along with the wild garlic and season well. work the mixture into a thick dough with your hands. Just bring the mixture together do not knead as this will make your gnocchi tough.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll 1 piece into a long sausage about 2 cm thick. Once you have your sausage, use a large knife to cut it into 2cm slices they should look like little pillows.  Put these formed gnocchi onto a lightly floured baking sheet until required. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough

When you are ready to finish off the dish heat your ragu until it is piping hot. Bring a very large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in your gnocchi, cook until they rise to the top of the water and remove with a slotted spoon.  If you don’t have a big pan cook them in batches.

Serve warm with venison ragu or the sauce of your choice. I finished the plate off with a grating of parmesan.IMG_3035

 

Campfire Baba ganoush and a few pictures from our ‘Cooking with fire’ course.

A very simple recipe this week, but one that went down so well on our cooking with fire course on Monday that I had to put it on here. Especially for Steve.

“Just a note to say thank you for a great day on Monday, thoroughly enjoyed the whole day and came away with some great cooking ideas and some useful tips (controlling the direction of smoke from a fire was a hoot).
Food was fantastic and I would ask is there any chance you could send me the recipe (or tell me where to get it) for the Baba Ghanoush – indescribably good.  Thank you once again.”    Steve 

Campfire Baba ganoush

A delicious smokey aubergine dip makes the most of cooking over real flames or hot coals. We used wild garlic leaves as we are at the height of the season, but you could use 3 cloves of garlic instead.  Try it with flat breads as a dip or as part of a middle eastern mezze.

Ingredients:
5 aubergines
100g light tahini paste
3 tblsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (maybe more to taste)
10-15 wild garlic leaves very finely chopped

Roast the aubergines directly on the hot coals at the side of the fire until soft and slightly charred (this gives the great smokey taste that is essential for the dish).  Remove from the fire, allow to cool slightly then cut in half and scrape out the flesh into a bowl. Add all the other ingredients to the bowl, season with salt and pepper and mash to a rough paste.  Taste and re-adjust seasoning with salt,pepper and lemon juice if necessary.

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We were blessed with glorious weather for the first cooking with fire course of the year and had a great day learning to light and manage a cooking fire and creating dishes using a range of cooking techniques.

  • Elderberry drop scones
  • Spiced spit roast chicken
  • Hot smoked tofu
  • Chappati
  • Baba ganoush
  • Clay baked onions
  • Easter soda bread cooked in a dutch oven
  • Pit roast Trout with fennel and tomato

 

Wild garlic and Nettle gnocchi with brown butter and ricotta

This time last year I was scraping snow off my car and worrying if Spring would ever arrive. A week later I had a call about our first foraging course asking if we would be hunting polar bears!

No problems this year though ( I hope I am not speaking too soon) as wonderful wild edibles are popping up all over the place and although they are still quite small, they are at their most succulent.

This is the time of year for old favourites like nettles and wild garlic.

A bit obvious?… Maybe but full of flavour and incredibly versatile these two are so good at this time of year we definitely shouldn’t ignore them just because they are familiar.  Anyway there is more to nettles than soup and tea.

Try this easy and delicious recipe that is so packed full of goodness it works as a tonic!…Well almost.

We had this for dinner last night and these quantities serve 2 massive portions, so probably 3 or 4 normal sized ones.

Wild garlic and Nettle gnocchi with brown butter and ricotta

200g fresh spinach
100g Wild garlic leaves
100g Stinging Nettles
70g freshly grated parmesan
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
400g  SR flour, plus more for dusting
3 tablespoons  butter
Parmesan and ricotta , for serving

In a large pot of salted boiling water, blanch the spinach and nettles until tender , about 3 minutes. Drain, reserving a little of the cooking liquid. Squeeze the mixture to remove most of the water. Wipe out the pot, fill with water and bring to a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, transfer the spinach and nettles to a food processor. Add  a tablespoon of the reserved cooking liquid, and the wild garlic then puree until very smooth.
Scrape the spinach puree into a large bowl and mix in 70g of grated parmesan cheese, egg, 1 teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Stir in the flour a little at a time until you have a wet dough.
Spread the remaining  flour in a pie plate and dust a large rimmed baking sheet with flour. Make sure your hands are well floured as the dough is quite sticky and gently roll the gnocchi dough into 1-inch balls. Carefully roll the gnocchi in the flour, shake off the excess and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Add salt to the simmering water. Add half of the gnocchi to the pot and cook until they rise to the surface, then simmer until cooked through, about 3 minutes (about 5 minutes total cooking time). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a platter. Cover loosely with foil. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi.

In a frying pan, cook the butter over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Spoon the brown butter over the gnocchi. Top with Parmesan shavings and small pieces of ricotta  and serve.

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Wild garlic and Nettle gnocchi with brown butter and ricotta

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.