Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The last wild garlic dish: potato and garlic cakes

I made good use of the bank holiday and picked one last crop of wild garlic. To be honest it was slightly past its best: the flowers are dying back now (or at least they were in this Surrey woodland), which is a sign that it's time to stop picking. The leaves lose their lushness and vibrancy; soon they'll be starting to wilt and turn yellow.

Having picked some just in time, I put it to good use by making a dish I'd never cooked before - wild garlic potato cakes. You could also call it wild garlic bubble-and-squeak. Mine is a healthy version without any butter or cream, though I suppose you could add butter to the mash if you really wanted to. I think the pungent garlic has flavour enough.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On seeking inspiration, chutney and Moroccan stew

There are so many different starting points when creating a dish, or deciding what to eat that night. Sometimes you just have a craving for a particular ingredient or flavour. There's the "see what looks good in the market and start from there" approach, the less glamorous cousin of which is "see what is loitering at the back of the fridge and create something from that". A few ingredients have such a short season that they demand you eat them while they are available.

But on this occasion, well, I had some chutney to use up. Now creating a main dish that goes with an accompaniment might seem a little perverse. But this carrot and almond chutney had been looking neglected for a while. I could probably have put it in cheese sandwiches, but it seemed like it needed to be served alongside a North African dish to show it off at its best.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Seven ways with wild garlic

So I've had a few weeks of foraging for wild garlic now. I reckon it should be around for a week or so more at least (and longer up north).

This plant really is one of my favourite things to forage - easy to find, simple to prepare and delicious in a whole range of recipes. Just be careful who you breathe on afterwards!

Here's my hit parade of the best wild garlic recipes. As you'll be able to tell from the below, it loves mushrooms, cheese (especially creamy ones) and eggs. And although I haven't listed any recipes, I also like it with peas - their gentle sweetness seems to balance out the aggressiveness of the garlic.

1. Pizza with wild garlic, mushrooms and ricotta

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Here's what I did with the rest of the duck eggs

So I still had some lovely local, organic duck eggs, left over from making the wild garlic carbonara. For some reason I'm not a huge fan of poached duck eggs - the yolks are delicious but I'm less keen on the slightly translucent whites. So I made scrambled duck eggs, which is wonderfully rich as well as showing off their gorgeous golden colour.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wild garlic pasta, duck eggs and local food in the Lakes

Sorry that I’ve gone a bit quiet recently – I was away in the lovely Lake District. Normal service will now resume.

I had a few exciting and inspirational food experiences while I was away. I love London and its food scene, but there are definitely some things you miss out on in a big city. We saw so many farms producing top-quality meat in particular but also vegetables, eggs and dairy produce, sometimes selling direct to the public too. There was the pub with its own vegetable garden supplying the kitchen. Nothing remarkable there you might think – but they also rear their own pigs, ducks and chickens – in fact all their meat, including the game, comes from their estate. Oh, and they make their own beer too. This place, the Brown Horse in Winster, near Windermere, might be exceptional, but even more run-of-the mill pubs seemed to take pride in serving local produce, whether Cumberland sausages or the Herdwick lamb from the fells.