First Forages 2018

It might still look like winter out there but things are stirring in the hedges and woods. Superfoods springing up all around.

Saturday March 10th sees our first foray of the year, time to get up close to nature, Ecofarm Gort, book through website or contact me by email contact@wildfoodmary.com (no phone at moment as I’m off in Australia enjoying sub-tropical storms)

Sunday March 11th sees us back in Clareen Offaly, places available, as above book through website or contact me by email.

Dinner Menu for a Sunny April Evening

Another beautiful day. I’m really getting used to the sunshine. This evening I’m cooking for my daughter Eve and her hubby Eoin. This is a healthy, vegetarian meal that will of course feature some wild finds as well as fresh garden produce.

The star of tonight’s dinner is the wonderful morel mushroom, locally foraged yesterday evening. These are so delicious I will be preparing them very simply. I am also whipping up a wild nettle frittata and we are sampling vegetarian puddings from demadfoodcompany.  These will be followed by some wheat and dairy free rhubarb crumble.

Let me know if you try out these recipes. Comments and suggestions always welcome. Instagram users please unload photos using the hashtag #wildfoodmary


Wild Nettle and Potato Frittata

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1L Jug loosely packed with fresh nettle tops, cleaned and roughly chopped

8 Eggs (I’m using a mixture of free-range duck and hen)

4 medium Rooster Potatoes, cooked and sliced

2 Cloves Garlic Crushed

1 Medium Red Onion, Chopped

Oil or butter for frying

* You can of course make your own additions like peas, peppers, feta or your favourite cheese. 

Method (10 Minutes)

Heat your oil or butter in a large frying pan. Add onion and garlic. Sauté gently for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the nettle tops, cover the pan and allow to wilt for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and other vegetables if using. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes. Allow to cook until beginning to set. Now is the time to add your cheese. transfer your pan to a hot oven or finish under the grill to cook the top until starting to brown.

Morels with Truffle Oil

These delicious mushroom must ALWAYS BE COOKED. I am adding some extra flavour with white truffle oil, a gift from Italy. It can be purchased in Italian and other good food shops. This recipe is so simple that the real challenge is in finding the wild morels.

Ingredients

Morel Mushrooms (however many you can manage to find)

Sprig of fresh Thyme

Butter for frying

White Truffle Oil (A few drops for serving)

Method (12 Minutes)

Begin by roughly chopping the morels. Heat the butter in a frying pan. Add the morel mushrooms and fry for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and thyme. Remove from the heat and serve with a drizzle of truffle oil.

Wild Food Mary’s Rhubarb Crumble

My son-in-law Eoin has a serious soft spot for Rhubarb so I’m delighted to be serving up this dish from the years first cutting. This recipe is wheat and dairy free. I am also using xylitol instead of sugar. You can also use agave or honey. Cooking the base and crumble topping separately ensures a delightful crunch. They can also be stored separately keep well in airtight containers.

Ingrediets

For the Rhubarb Filling

4 Stalks Fresh Rhubarb

100ml water

1 capfull vanilla extract

xylitol to taste

For the Crumble Topping

60g Coconut Oil

200g ground Almonds

100g fine Oatmeal

Handful of mixed dried fruit (optional) 

1tsp mixed spice

zest of 1 orange

xylitol to taste 

Method (30 minutes)

Preheat your over to 180 degrees. Begin by preparing the crumble topping. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment. In a bowl mix all of your topping ingredients except the coconut oil. Use a teaspoon to scoop in little lumps of coconut oil. Lightly rub in the coconut oil  until you have a crumb consistency. Spread the mixture out on the baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from the oven, give it a good stir and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until it is golden brown.

While the topping is cooking you can prepare the rhubarb filling. Chop the rhubarb. Bring the vanilla, water and xylitol to the boil. Add the Rhubarb, cover and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook your rhubarb. It’s nicest when it keeps a bit of its’ shape.

Spoon rhubarb mix into a glass and cover it with the crumble. Enjoy!

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Wild Soup for February and March

wild soup wild soup ingredientsLate February is letting us know that spring is in the air but there is plenty of cold weather about too.Here is a very easy  soup using the year’s earliest foraged greens, a real warmer and very good value.The basic recipe is Vegan and gluten free but you could adapt to serve with grated mature cheddar, crumbled feta or even bacon or ham chunks, also if you can mix wild greens a some frozen peas.

Ingredients,

400 grms potatoes, cut into cubes, skin on or off as you like,

30 grms (1cup) fresh wild leek leaves,snipped

30 grms (1cup) fresh wild nettle leaves,

30 grms (1cup) small young ground elder leaves,

2 liters organic stock,

Good sprig Thyme, 3 Bay leaves,

Organic Atlantic sea salt, Black pepper,

Splash of olive oil or sunflower oil,

In a heavy pan warm the oil,add the potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, add all the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook gently until potato is softened.

Remove the Thyme sprig and Bay leaves and blitz the soup with a stick blender, taste, adjust seasoning, serve with a scattering of wild gorse blossom or topping of your choice, Creme fraiche; a little feta;grated mature Cheddar; croutons etc.

Pack this if you’re off hiking or foraging or on the sideline cheering on your little champions, Enjoy.

Fairy potatoes and sea spaghetti

Chatted with Bobby Kerr on Newstalk’s The right Hook yesterday and got to thinking of wild things to do with your little ones this Easter.

How about a trip to the woods and byways in search of Fairy potatoes,and pick pretty primroses and violets which you can candy for a stunning edible decoration on your Easter deserts.

If you happen to be by the sea it’s the perfect weekend to hunt for sea spaghetti and other seaweeds.
The seaweed can be used to make cookies or used mixed with regular spaghetti, it turns bright green on cooking which only adds to the fun.

Or make the first of the year’s cordials from nettle tops and Blackcurrant leaves.

So what are fairy potatoes and how would you recognise them?

They are a member of the carrot family, grow in grassland and woods and are a great thrill to find, (don’t forget to ask permission from fairies to take some) Also called pig nuts, Conopodium majus. The fine leaves are above ground just now and it is a delicate operation to follow the slender stalks back to the tuberous “nut” which is usually off to one side and not directly under the leaves. DSCN0036

Pignut

Pignut / Fairy Potato / Prata Sioga

Once you have dug your fairy potatoes they need a good scrub, remove outer skin and they are ready to eat, you can shave or cut them to smaller pieces and toast on dry hot pan for few mins, add to salads or to top pasta dishes.

Crystallizing or candying flowers is easy peasy if a bit sticky and just yesterday I oicked up a new tip for drying them, First cover a bowl or rack with baking parchment, with a skewer make holes in parchment so you can thread the flowers through and suspend them while they dry, Next beat up some egg white and paint the flower all over with egg white, each side of flower and stem, coat in caster sugar, unrefined if possible as healthy option and “post” them into the holes in your paper.

The young leaves are lovely too and they can be draped over  a curved surface so they are not flat and more interesting.

Sweet voilets are perfect contrast to the primroses and these little beauties have a long and interesting history, the ancient Romans used them to make wine, they are still used for sorbet, they were a remedy for headache and pain relief and syrup as childs laxitive.Violet essence is very expensive to produce, needing 100kg of flowers to produce just 50grms of essenceapril-pics-125april-pics-117

Make sure you use wild primroses Primula vulgaris as  the garden cultivars are NOT edible.

Sea spaghetti himanthalia elongata, low tide this weekend is a good time to go hunting for this seaweed, it grows on lower shore and so is uncovered at lowest tides, brown spaghetti growing from a little button, the hold fast, when gathering seaweed, know your patch, never pull from holdfast, cut with scissors or knife, leaving some to grow again. take just a little.

Other seaweeds to look for at this time are Carrigeen and Nori to name just two. Prannie Rathigan’s  book Irish Seaweed Kitchen is the seaweed bible both for identification, recipies folklore and nutrition.

Sea spaghetti turns green when cooked which is great for kids of all ages and Prannie’s book includes a recipe for cookies using sea spaghetti, almonds and spelt.

There is also a recipe for land and sea spagetti from Eithna o Sullivan along with a host of other ideas from many of our best know chefs.

Sadly my seaweed photos are trapped in camera which is in intensive care, restored to full health by Saturday, Fingers crossed.

Nettle and Blackcurrant leaf Cordial,

here is an interesting drink, use unrefined sugar and drizzel undiluted into yougurt or over pancakes or dilute for a hot or cold drink.

2lites of loosely packed nettle tops,

2litres of Blackcurrant leaves,

1.5kg sugar, unrefined is best,

2teaspoons citric acid (optional)

I.5 litres of water.

Heat water in sausepan and add sugar, stirring to dissolve,

Bring to boil and turn off heat, add leaves and stir in as they wilt,

Add citric acid if using,

Cover and allow to infuse for several hours or overnight.

Strain bottle and store in cool place or fridge.Another wildfood enthusasist

Happy foraging, would love stories, pics or recipies from your forage.

Nettle and Blackcurrant leaf Cordial

1 liter of nettle tops (packed loosely in measuring jug)

2 litres of blackcurrant leaves

1 kg unrefined sugar

1 teaspoon citric acid (optional)

Citric acid is used to improve keeping time if you wish to store your cordial for a month or so.

Put leaves into saucepan with 2 liters of water and bring to boil, boil for 5 minutes, cover and allow to infuse for few hours or overnight. Strain and return the juice to saucepan, reheat and when warm add sugar, stirring to dissolve, bring to boil and boil for 5 minutes, turn off heat and (if using) add citric acid. Stir to dissolve, Bottle.

Please note, this cordial is made with short cooking time, nettles love to ferment so keep in fridge or cold place and use within a month, easy to make a new batch and you can use Lemon Balm leaves or lemon to flavor.

Enjoy diluted to taste with water, sparkling water or even in a spritzer.

Nettles have a high protein and calcium content, also betacarotene and lots of vitamins.

Nettle Tops

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