Wild Garlic, Swiss Chard & Lemon Cream Linguine

My favourite park is abundant in wild garlic at the moment and I used my outdoor exercise allowance yesterday to take Dolly out on a walk and collect some.

I also had some swiss chard from last weeks veg box delivery so came up with this very easy and oh so delicious wild garlic, swiss chard and lemon cream linguine recipe!

Serves 2

Ingredients

I bunch swiss chard

1 small bunch wild garlic (about 10 leaves)

1 small onion, chopped

1 carton vegan unsweetened cream (I actually only had Alpro in the fridge which is slightly sweetened although it was fine because the lemon took away the sweet taste)

Juice from 1 lemon (3 tbsps lemon juice)

1/2 pack linguine

1 tbsp vegan spread/butter

Salt

Pepper

Method

Put water on to boil in a large pan for the linguine (you could use an alternative pasta)

Remove the stalks from the swiss chard and chop them in to small pieces like the onion.

Chop swiss chard leaves and wild garlic.

Place linguine in the pan of boiling water foe about 15 mins or until cooked.

Melt the vegan spread in a pan.

Sauté onion and chopped chard stalks for around 5 minutes or until the onion starts to become transparent.
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Stir in chard leaves and wild garlic.
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Pour in cream and add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.
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Turn heat down and let simmer for 5/10 mins until the chard and wild garlic wilts and your linguine is ready.
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Drain Linguine

Serve

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Remember, when foraging, only take what you need, pick from different spots and leave enough for others and for wildlife.

Crab Apple & Cinnamon Infused Vodka

I’ve been at it again, foraging that is.

Back in early August, my best friend stumbled across a row of trees in our local park growing what looked like ‘little green apples’ on them whilst walking his dog. He sent me a picture asking me what they were and to my delight, I identified them as crab apples.

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At the beginning of October we were out together on another dog walk and he took me back to the spot where the crab apple trees were and by then the fruit had turned from green to ripe Autumnal yellows and reds, luckily I had a spare poo bag on me (you have to be resourceful sometimes) and we picked a bag full. 

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Small and much more tart than normal eating apples, lots of people use them to make crab apple jelly but no, not me, I decided to infuse some vodka which will be ready just in time for Bonfire Night!

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Ingredients

20 crab apples

70cl vodka

100g of caster sugar

1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

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Method

Wash the crab apples and put them in a 2 litre picking jar.

Pour the vodka over the apples.

Add the caster sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Put the lid on the jar.

Leave to infuse for 1 month minimum, the longer you leave the apples infusing, the stronger the flavour will be.

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Strain in to a jug and pour in to a bottle. ( I bought an amazing glass skull bottle from Tiger for mine)

Serve with tonic water.

 

Elderflower & Raspberry Tofool

I’ve been at it again, foraging that is, this time out on a dog walk along the canal near 3 Mills Studios in East London where an abundance of elderflowers grow.

You’ll need to be quick if you want to find some as they tend to bloom late May / early June.

Elderflowers are poisonous in large quantities unless cooked so do be careful and also be careful to make sure it is actually an Elder tree you’re picking from as the flourished look very similar to that of numerous other trees and plants that you really don’t want to eat!

Check The Woodland Trust guidelines if you’re unsure.

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2017/05/identify-elderflower-and-how-to-use/

Always follow the rule where you try a little first . . . With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this Summery dessert.

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Serves 4

Ingredients

1 elderflower flourish (literally a quarter of what is in the above pic, elderflower is strong so you don’t need much)

300g of soft silken tofu

250g of raspberries

1 lemon

100g of caster sugar

Method

Juice the lemon.

In a pan, heat the raspberries, (keep a few out for garnish) sugar, elderflowers and lemon juice until the raspberries melt in to a jam.

Put the tofu and raspberry/elderflower jam in to a blender, blend to mix.

Divide in to 4 small dessert bowls.

Put in the fridge to set for 30 minutes.

Serve

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Foraging

There really is something immensely satisfying about foraging, finding your own wild food and what better way to eat organic seasonal food than to get it from where it grows naturally.

Growing up in Norfolk, I was always picking plums to eat on my way home from school and in the Summer holidays, blackberries to take home for my mum to make in to a crumble, and fresh peas from the farmers field (that technically might class as stealing rather than foraging, probably best not to do that) to snack on straight from the pod.

Another favourite past time was going strawberry picking, granted it’s not really foraging as you had to pay per punnet but you’d always manage to eat about as many as you picked along the way and then even after my mum had made jam, we still ate strawberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next few days.

Living in London, it’s still amazing what you can find. Parks, wooded areas and riverside walkways are all great for foraging.

I went out to my local park this week with the dogs and stumbled across a patch of fresh mint, I picked a few sprigs and used them in a pea & mint soup, a zesty summer garden veg pasta dish and fennel, broad bean, courgette & mint risotto.

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Tips for foraging

  • Always try a little of your find first, just to make sure it agrees with you.
  • Only pick what you need, wild food is a source of food for wild life, birds and insects, you don’t want them going hungry.
  • Keep in mind that dogs do pee up against trees and bushes, pick from up high and always wash your finds thoroughly.
  • Be careful with mushrooms, a lot of the edible ones look almost identical to the poisonous ones.
  • Take a guide book to help you identify what you’re collecting.

Fennel, Broad Bean, Courgette & Mint Risotto

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Serves 2

Ingredients

1 fennel bulb, sliced

1/4 cup of broad beans (fresh or frozen, for fresh, immerse in boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and run under cold water to cool before shelling)

1/2 a courgette, diced

1 onion, chopped

250g of arborio rice

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1/2 a cup of white wine

1 tsp of vegetable bouillon

800ml of water

1 sprig of mint, chopped (alternatively 1 tsp of dried mint)

1 tsp of dried thyme

Salt

Pepper

2 tbsps of vegan butter

2 tbsps of vegan parmesan, grated

Method

Boil water and pour in to a jug, mix in the bouillon to make a stock.

In one pan melt 1 tbsp of butter

Add the onion and garlic and saute for around 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.

Add the rice and wine, stir and cook for two minutes until the wine is almost evaporated.

Pour around 100ml of the stock in to the pan, stir in and wait until the liquid soaks in to the rice and reduces down.

Repeat this process 100ml at a time until all the stock is used up and the rice is the correct, slightly al dente consistency. 

In the mean time, in another pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter, add the fennel and saute until the fennel starts to turn golden.

Add the broad beans, courgette, mint and thyme, saute for a further 5 minutes.

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Stir the fennel, broadbeans and courgette mix in to the rice adding salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the parmesan.

Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil.

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Pea & Mint Soup

I went foraging in one of my local parks this week for fresh mint and I had a bag of fresh peas in the fridge so thought I’d make a nice light pea & mint soup which can be served either hot or chilled.

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Serves 2

Ingredients

Leaves from 2 sprigs of mint, chopped (alternatively 1tsp of dried mint)

2 cups of shelled peas (you could use frozen)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

Water

1 tsp of vegetable bouillon

Salt

Pepper

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Method

Cook the onion and garlic in a pan in a little water for around 5 minutes until they start to cook.

Add the peas.

Pour water in to the pan until it just covers the contents.

Add the bouillon, mint and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to the boil and then turn down heat and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool before blending.

Serve hot or chilled

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