After a recent trip to northern Italy where polenta is eaten more than pasta (by the locals) I decided to try this out with some St.Georges mushrooms I found, simple and delicious!
Slice up your mushrooms and put to one side
Grate 2-3 cloves of garlic and add it to a warm frying pan with 100g of butter, melt slowly to flavour the butter.
Add the mushrooms and turn up the heat for 5mins to fry off then turn down to a low heat, adding a good pinch of salt to draw out the liquid in the mushrooms as you want this as your sauce.
Cook your polenta according to the packet. Usually add hot water and stir vigorously for 5-8mins. Stir in a good handful of parmesan cheese and serve in a mound on a plate.
Turn up the heat on your mushrooms and scatter in a handful of fresh chopped sorrel to give a slight lemon flavour.
Pour the mushrooms over the polenta and finish with a drizzle of rapeseed oil.
At this time of year the Elderflowers are opening up, all creamy in colour and fragrant on the nose. The best time to harvest your crop is on a sunny morning as the flowers will be open and ready to catch all of the suns goodness. Don’t pick on a damp day as they often have the faint aroma of cat’s piddle!
Prepare your elderflowers by striping them from the storks by running a fork through them, too much stalk can cause bitterness in the finished brew.
Add them to a large plastic container with all the other dry ingredients, finally add the water but ensure it’s not too warm else it will kill the natural yeast on the flowers and prevent fermentation, luke warm at best.
Give it a good stir and leave for 2-3 days, by then you should see it start to fizz.
The trick is to wait to bottle until the majority of fermentation has occurred, otherwise you’ll get the famous exploding bottle situation, something you really don’t want! (speaking from experience)
Once you feel the bubbling has slowed a bit strain your liquid through clean muslin and bottle into strong bottles, I prefer to use old, sterilised coke bottles as they are stronger and less likely to explode.
To serve, chill overnight in the fridge then carefully pour into a jug to prevent the cloudy sediment from mixing with the wine.
This luscious recipe has kindly been provided by Rose Clarkson, a South African living in Scotland who blogs about her culinary experiences from around the world, here she talks about foraging for food with the Edinburgh Larder.
Follow her blog at nowandthendelicious.wordpress.com
To make this you dont really need a recipe but you will need a decent sized disc of goats cheese (about an inch thick) and one or two Garlic Mustard leaves per person plus some melted butter. Ideally you want the largest leaves possible so that you can wrap the goats cheese with one leaf, otherwise use a couple and secure with a tooth pick if necessary. Once wrapped, place the parcels on a buttered baking tray or dish and brush liberally with more melted butter. Bake in a 180 degree oven for 10-15min until the cheese is soft and the leaves are crispy. Serve on toasted bread or a rocket salad (or even better a salad of wild greens collected with the Garlic Mustard!).
I am by no means a professional chef and I probably produce as many culinary mistakes as successes but every now and then I do manage to produce something edible, according to my soon to be husband anyway, and I think these discoveries are worth sharing with anyone who can be bothered to listen.
This recipe was written by Tim on his personal blog where he talks about all things food & drink, his love of pink shirts, romcoms and Lady Brady O’Grady the springer spaniel.
Follow his blog at timogrady.wordpress.com
Foraging can take a long time, wandering through country lanes and paths, nosing around in woodlands or pacing along a beach are fantastic ways to while away some time but occasionally you just want a quick meal from ingredients you can pull together easily.
If you’re lucky enough to have a nearby favoured wild garlic patch chances are it will be near to home. Chances are there will also be some fresh young nettles nearby that you can grab for your tea.
Pick yourself a bunch of wild garlic, I usually pick as many stalks as will fit inside the circle between thumb and forefinger.
Take some rubber gloves and pick roughly the same amount of nettles. Ideally you just want the top two leaves from a plant, these are the tastiest and most tender.
At home, wash your wild greens but keep seperate. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and tip in your nettles and let them boil for 3minutes.
Scoop out the nettles and put into a sieve to drain, do not throw away your water, bring it back to the boil (almost black in colour from the colour out of the nettles) and pop in your pasta, I like to use linguine for this recipe.
Squeeze your nettles so all the water comes out of them, they won’t sting at this point due to the good boil they’ve had!
Finely chop an onion and put it in a large frying pan with a good glug of oil, as it’s cooking finely chop your wild garlic and put it in the pan with the onion to wilt down. Whilst it is wilting squidge your nettles together and roughly chop them up and add them to the frying pan.
Stir in two thirds of a small pot of creme fraiche (full fat as the reduced fat one often splits….and it tastes nicer!) and add salt and pepper.
Your pasta should be done now so dip a mug into the pan and save a mug full of water then drain the rest away.
Tip your pasta into your sauce and give it a good stir to get it evenly coated.
Add a couple of handfuls of parmesan or hard goats cheese to the dish and stir through to thicken it. If it gets too thick add in half a mug of the reserved pasta water to thin the dish out, it will also help flavour it.
This is my personal blog about my favorite thing, food (and drink, does that count as two things?) and all that I love about it. It’s a rambling collection of thoughts from recipes to reviews, views and thoughts, don’t hold any of it against me!
I really enjoy the whole aspect of food from growing to cooking and have fairly strong opinions on how we should treat our food, as a live beast, heritage vegetable or fish in the sea and how we process it into food. I’m not going to preach, I won’t rant but I might mention things like sustainable, happy and fairtrade, indulge me.
I’m sometimes a bit of a girl, love pink or flowery shirts, RomCom films & Books and enjoy shopping and get bored watching football.
With Lady Brady O’Grady the springer spaniel I can often be found poking around in hedgrows or on the side of the road looking for something edible, I’m the weird bloke that people point at as I walk down the street with bunches of wild garlic, arms full of apples or tubs of blackberries.
This ‘Gardeners Revenge’ recipe has kindly been written by John Lewis-Stemple a great person to follow on Twitter, click here to view his Twitter account and to find out more about his life as farmer, forager and author.
Start by making a basic roux, melt your butter over a medium heat then stir in your flour, mix well and cook for a few minutes.
Slowly add in your stock and mix it with the roux until you have a smooth liquid with no lumps, the slower you add the stock and the more you stir it the less chance of lumps.
Roughly chop your Ground Elder and add it to the pan, bring it to a simmer and cook for 5-10mins.
Use a hand blender to whiz it all up before adding back to the pan.
Stir in your cream and season to taste.
This fabulous recipe has kindly been provided by Daphne Lambert from Green Cuisine who runs inspirational courses and retreats, cultivating skills to create nourishing food.
Find out more at the Green Cuisine blog or follow on Facebook
Remove the leaves and flowers from the wild garlic and set aside. Roughly chop the remaining stalks.
Cook the onion and potatoes in the olive oil and butter for 15 mins. Add the garlic stalks and stock, boil for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Chop the garlic leaves add to soup. Cook 2 mins, remove from heat and whiz in food processor.
Season and add the Wild Garlic flowers before serving.
Taken from the Green Cuisine blog;
Food encompasses pretty much all contemporary economic, environmental, social and political challenges. Whatever way you look at it, the impact of the food we eat is enormous. The Greencuisine Trust is positioned to help facilitate the journey of re-thinking food.
This fabulous recipe has kindly been provided by Kerstin Losch who helps people cook inspirational dishes as part of a healthy lifestyle or for special occassions, be it Continental Christmas Biscuits or creating a special menu.
Follow her blog at kerstinkitchen.co.uk
These dumplings are made of bread & egg and are delicious as a side dish instead of potatoes or chips with many meat casseroles or as a vegetarian main course with a mushroom or blue cheese sauce (as in the following recipe). The wild garlic paste used in the recipe can be made in larger quantities and kept in jam jars in the fridge for months. It can then be used in a variety of dishes, similar to pesto. Use it for making your own wild garlic butter, a wonderful subtle alternative to garlic butter.
Blitz finely in food processor and fill into jam jar
For the sauce:
Here are some of my favourite ways of keeping a little bit of Wild Garlic going through the year.
Finely shred the leaves only (keep the stalks to one side for a later recipe) and mash together with a good quality salted butter.
Work the leaves throughout the butter and once evenly distributed shape the butter into a tube and re-wrap in it’s foil or squash into small pots and pop into the fridge to use within a couple of weeks or into the freeze to keep for up to 6 months.
This works brilliantly in pasta sauces, soups and stews.
In a blender put equal quantities of wild garlic (use the stalks from above) and olive oil. Blend until you have a purée and then pour into sterilised jars and let it settle. Ensure that there is a fine layer of oil coating the top of the puree before storing away for use later in the year.
Alternatively you can pour the purée into ice cube trays and freeze for the coming months, just pop a couple into your favourite pasta sauce for a burst of spring flavour.
Very similar to the Wild Garlic Oil above but with the addition of a hard cheese like Parmesan and nuts.
In your blender add:
Blend together until a fine paste and either pour into sterilised jars or pop into the freezer.
Use by pouring over pasta and stirring in thoroughly.
For alternatives use:
Nuts – walnuts, pine nuts or even almonds
Oil – Olive, Rapeseed or sunflower
Cheese – Parmesan, hard goats cheese or even a strong cheddar
A risotto is a fantastic staple, its flexible and versatile, it can be a small, light starter laced with truffle or it can be a big, robust warming supper that will fill you up and give you a big warm cuddle.
At this time of the year with spring in the air but also a bit of a nip a big bowl of risotto is the perfect way to end a day’s food foraging.
For an early spring risotto pick what you can find, in this case, Wild Garlic, Hairy Bittercress and Nettles.
If you’ve not eaten Hairy Bittercress before you might not expect the beautiful peppery flavour it can impart, much like rocket or water cress. The plant is small and consists of a central stem with small rounded leaflets on either side, the young plants with the first leaves on are the most prized for flavour and texture.
Wild Garlic, or Ransoms can often be founded in shaded woodland in early to late spring and is the foragers best friend. Long lasting, tasty and abundant it can be used it all sorts of dishes. Nettles, the gardeners nemesis are too often overlooked as a food. They taste like a strong spinach due to the high iron content in them and are exceptionally good for you but make sure you just pick the tips which are new growth as they are the youngest and most tender to eat.
You will need:
Pull it together.
Firstly prepare your greens.
Wash and trim the stalks from the Wild Garlic and finely slice the leaves by rolling them up and cutting them with a sharp knife. Chop the stems into 1cm pieces.
Wash your Nettle tips and pop them into a pan of boiling water, cook for 3mins then drain into a sieve.
Wash and pick the leaves from your Hairy Bittercress and leave them to drain dry.
Put a generous knob of butter and a slug of olive oil into a pan and warm over a medium heat, tip in the chopped Wild Garlic Stems and fry for 30 seconds to infuse the oil with their flavour. Add three large handfuls of Arborio risotto rice and stir to coat it with the garlic flavoured oil.
Stir the risotto rice over a medium heat until it starts to change colour, it should go from white to a light “pearl” effect after 5 minutes or so. When the rice has changed colour turn up the heat to high and add in your glass of white wine, you can also use vermouth or marsarla for a richer, sweeter risotto. Stir the rice and wine and let the alcohol boil away before turning the heat down low.
Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the pan and stir it round.
This is the hard part of any risotto, you really need to love it now! You will need to keep stirring the risotto until it’s cooked, adding the stock a ladle at a time as the rice soaks it all up.
Each time the pan starts looking dry you can add in some more stock and keep stirring it around, you are encouraging the rice to soak up the liquid and cook evenly whilst also helping to breakdown the starch in the rice to create a thick creamy risotto.
Keep adding your stock and stirring until the rice is cooked through. Take a piece out and have a bite, it should be firm in the middle but not crunchy.
Once the rice is cooked, take your cooked Nettles and squeeze them hard to get all the moisture out of them. Place the ball of Nettles on a chopping board and finely chop them and then add them to the rice, stir through to evenly spread the nettles, next add the chopped raw Wild Garlic leaves and stir them through. They will start to wilt and cook as the heat of the rice permeates through them.
Finally add in a couple of good handfuls of parmesan cheese and stir through the rice. At this point your risotto is coming together, there should be a rich, creamy “sauce” about the rice and an intense, rich flavour of starch and greens.
Serve the risotto in bowls, season to taste then sprinkle with the raw Hairy Bittercress leaves as garnish.
Using the wild garlic, or ransom, leaves as a packaging for something else gives them a different use than wilting as an early spring green.
Whilst I love my veggies I’m an avid carnivore so flavouring rice with a good black pudding really appeals!
100g of cooked risotto rice
Good quality black pudding, I use one from Charles Mcleod up in Stornaway, it’s light and oaty without chunks of fat in it.
Small bunch of wild garlic leaves