Sep 252011
 
Rules are for the obedience of fools & the guidance of wise men*
Bee and blackberry need us to have foraging guidelines

I like to think that my readers are wise people, so I thought I’d write some ‘Guidance’ on foraging sustainably instead of making ‘Rules’. I’m not a rules sort of person. I’ve also phrased them positively as Dos rather than as Don’ts because I am that sort of person.

I welcome my readers’ comments or views on these guidelines. I’m happy to improve them if we can, as long they stay as positively phrased guidelines. Continue reading »

The Sloe Trilogy II: How to make sloe wine, vodka, jam

 Autumn, Fermentation, Foraging, Forest Garden, Permaculture, Seasons, Winter  Comments Off on The Sloe Trilogy II: How to make sloe wine, vodka, jam
Sep 222011
 

This is the second part of the Sloe Trilogy where you use the same batch of sloes to make wine, vodka and fridge jam. In the first part I showed you how to make the wine, here are the instructions for the vodka.
Sloes in a glass
When you have strained the sloes off the wine ‘must‘ you can use them to flavour vodka. I suggest vodka for this because, unlike with gin, you don’t get that big juniper hit which may not be so nice in your breakfast jam.

If you’re coming into this without having made the wine, just use freshly picked sloes. You’ll need to squish them and this is easier to do if you freeze and thaw them first.

You’ll need a large container to make this in that you can sterilise and seal. A demijohn is great for it or a big kilner jar or similar. Pretty bottles that you can seal are a great way of presenting your finished vodka and make great presents. Continue reading »

Sep 042011
 

It’s apple harvesting time. You may be wondering what else you can do with nature’s bounty after the pies, chutneys, jellies and the like. While going through Sandor Katz’s book I mentioned in Fermenting Revolution 1 I saw home made vinegars.

Bottled Apple Cider Vinegar

And I’ve found that making vinegar really is very simple and the result is truly delicious.

What you do is to allow the chopped fruit to steep and then ferment in some sugar solution. With apples this makes cider. Then, with only a little luck, airborne acetobacter (bacteria that makes vinegar) will populate the cider and convert the alcohol into acetic acid. That’s it.

Want to know more? Then read on… Continue reading »

Aug 292011
 

Blackberry Apple Chilli Chutney

This produces a chutney that has a rich, intense and complex flavour: blackberry plus. And the colour is a deep vermilion that is striking on the plate.

I first used it as a condiment with a cheese platter and the sweet-sour-chilli flavours complemented the cheese and sourdough bread spectacularly.

I next used it to deglaze a frying pan after flash frying some sirloin steak. I then added a little creme fraiche, seasoning and the meat juices to make a rich fruity sauce for the steak.

I wanted to produce something with blackberries that wasn’t in the usual jam or jelly area and that could be used happily as a savoury accompaniment. I found some blackberry chutney recipes but none had the complexity of flavour I was looking for. So I made up my own recipe.

If you are really lucky you can forage and grow most of the ingredients, so it could truly be your chutney.

Like to have a go and treat your taste buds? Read on… Continue reading »

Jun 212011
 

Rotolo on the plateThis pasta is a bit of a show stopper. It looks just great on the plate and there are loads of variations you could make to the filling.

I’d often looked at the recipe in Jamie’s Italy and decided that it was a bit too much of a faff to do.  Then I saw the Rotolo that Maureen at Orgasmic Chef had created. I really liked the result she achieved and so determined to have a go myself. Of course, I wanted to do something a bit different to the recipe in the book with spinach and roasted squash.

I thought hard about colours and took the Italian Flag’s tricolor of green, white and red as my inspiration.

For the green I used our abundant (and free) nettles instead of the pasta.

For the white I used ricotta that I made.

And for the red I used tasty cherry tomatoes.

The nettle filling gives a unique ‘meaty-veggy’ taste with a great slight spicy edge. The tomatoes give a nice squish and flavour with slight acid balanced by the creamy cheese. The lemon-thyme butter was a lovely fresh tasting complement to the pasta.

Want to know how to make this? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 212011
 

I’m developing a bit of a ‘thing’ about using nettles. I love it that I’m not putting money in the supermarket bosses’ pockets. I love it that they effectively cultivate themselves. I love it that they are so nutritious: high in vitamins A & C, contain essential minerals and have one of the highest protein contents of any leafy vegetable.

Above all I love their nutty flavour. So I wondered how I could combine them creatively with some of my favourite nuts, hazlenuts.

Here’s what I developed, a scrummy and attractive nettle & hazlenut tart. It’s in a wonderfully crisp pastry case and uses homemade ricotta in the filling.

Nettle hazelnut tart plated with salad

If you want to know how to make it, read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 18:09
Apr 142011
 

Nettle gnocchi with thyme butterI’ve been looking for more ways to use this freely available and nutritious vegetable.

This recipe makes a vibrant green gnocchi that’s as tasty as it is inexpensive.

If the preparation takes a while, it’s more than paid off with the short cooking time.

One of the keys to success with this recipe is to choose and cook your potatoes correctly so you end up with a dry and fluffy mash.

You’ve got loads of options for sauces to go with the gnocchi. I’ve given you recipes for a thyme & garlic butter and fresh tomato sauces. The ‘classic’ Italian accompaniment is a dolcelatte cheese sauce. While the dolcelatte is yummy, I think pairing a heavy cheese sauce with gnocchi that are themselves surprisingly filling isn’t always a good idea.

Fancy having a go? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 082011
 

This recipe is a delight. It’s stunningly quick & simple to cook and moreishly gorgeous to eat. It will provide a quick supper for two or a fantastic dish for entertaining friends.
Wild garlic and smoked salmon carbonaraThe wild garlic is seasonal, of course. Out of season, you could use garlic chives or chives. Other members of the onion family would work too such as the green tops of baby leeks sliced finely.

I know. This isn’t ‘authentic’ carbonara. I also know there’s a cultural difference in the addition of cream to a carbonara. I’m a no cream person (mostly) and there’s no cream in this recipe. I think you’ll make it too heavy if you use cream and spoil the freshness of all the tastes.

Fancy giving it a try? Read on… Continue reading »

Apr 052011
 

Wild garlic and ricotta pastaWe’re really lucky here because the wild garlic a friend gave us has taken and produces masses of wonderful tasting leaves & flowers. It’s also called ‘Ramsons’ and its latin name is Allium Ursinum. As you latin scholars will know, ursinum refers to bears who like the bulbs.
Wild garlicWild garlic and ricotta give a twist to simple pasta. Here I’ve cooked pasta and a simple tomato sauce and garnished it with home-made ricotta flavoured with wild garlic.
This is a very simple recipe which will look and taste great without hours of effort.

You’ll need to make the ricotta a few hours ahead of eating it. The rest of the recipe is very quick to assemble.

The quantities serve about 4: here’s how to make it… Continue reading »

Mar 312011
 

Don’t we all just love things that don’t cost a penny? Foraging for wild food is a way to do this. March is the ideal time to pick nutritious nettles which are jam packed with iron and Vitamin C. You’ve no doubt seen loads of recipes for the ubiquitous ‘Nettle Soup’, which is, of course, lovely. I wanted to cook something a bit different
Risotto on the plateI’ve adapted a simple Georgio Locatelli recipe for nettle risotto to perk up your taste buds. I’ve added the bacon as a seasoning and the dried tomatoes for flavour and visual interest to Georgio’s basic recipe but you can easily make a vegetarian version by leaving out the bacon and substituting for the parmesan.
So how do we cook it…
Continue reading »

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