Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Foraging Season

This is one of my favourite times of year for foraged food - and there are all sorts of goodies on Long Road. I am yet to collect some of the violets which are currently carpeting the scrub area at the end of the road and make the delicious recipe below but I have had a chance to collect some wild garlic leaves. We have always relied on Richard Mabey's book Food for Free for advice and identification guides - as it can be easy to muddle up wild garlic with poisonous lords and ladies before either is in bloom. Although the pungent garlicky smell when you rip a leaf really is the the best way to tell. After collecting and washing it tends not to keep for more than 24 hours in the fridge so its best eaten straight away or works fine when I've used it from frozen. Here is what I cooked up with it last night which went down a treat with the kids & J:

Fresh Pasta

Fry up:
Onions (Caramelise for 20 mins or so)
Butternut squash & carrot (cut into batons)
Tenderstem Broccoli
3 big handfuls of wild garlic leaves
A little Pasata ( I like mine with a bit of chili but have to add that to my own at the end or I get howls of "too spicy!")

Vegebacon in thin slivers
Sundried Tomatoes


Now I'm eyeing up the young nettle patches on Long Road too, for next the foraging raid.

Lovely article by Richard Mabey on the joy nature brings him.

"At the age of four I ran wild in an abandoned scrap of land behind my house. It was where my understanding of the wild came from and where I did my first foraging. I began to appreciate how a piece of the earth could have symbolic significance."

Monday, 28 March 2011

Going to try this recipe asap!

Vegan and Gluten Free Moist Banana Loaf with Sweet Violets

Hayley Harland | 
Monday, 28th March 2011

Use a widely available foraged food to jazz up an easy, healthy and delicious fair trade pudding.

Vegan violet banana loaf

For more gluten free cooking and home grown recipes, visit Hayley's Blog, the Delectable Diary

This common English flower is often known as an uninvited guest on pristine lawns, but I love it. You could say it tastes similar to a perfumed sweet carrot but really it just tastes like... violets. It is medicinally used in India to cure sore throats or tonsillitis and the French use it to make syrup to put in scones, marshmallows and macaroons but why mash this gorgeous thing up to flavour something when it is beautiful and tasty as a decoration freshly picked? It will look like your cakes and pastries have been adorned with many tiny purple orchids and everyone will want a slice.
Some people may nay-say this loaf because its gluten free AND vegan but really those are just added bonuses. The buckwheat flour adds so much flavour and there is no need to use eggs or butter for binding and moisturising as the bananas do all the work for you!
  • 2 handfuls of sweet violet flower heads
  • 4 or 5 ripe fair trade bananas
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • ½ a cup of muscovado sugar
  • ½ a cup of caster sugar
  • 2 cups of buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup of water
The glaze:
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 heaped tbsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 175ÂșC and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper and a thin layer of olive or rapeseed oil.
In a large bowl, mash your bananas with the sugars until it becomes creamy and well mixed. Add half the flour and mix, then add the second half and spices. Stir in the water then gradually add the soda, mixing as you go. Fold in the apples and walnuts and spoon into the baking tin. Score the top with a knife to allow it to rise and bake straight away for 1 hour.
Pour over your glaze and scatter the violets. 

Monday, 21 March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011