Wild garlic growing in May abundance - Charing, Kent
A filling pudding for chill Autumn evenings,
cobbler is a thickened mixture of fruit, bubbling through a light topping
- a delicious and easy to make cross between pastry, crumble and sponge.
Ingredients: makes 6 - 8 servings - freezes well
* 225g (8oz) plain flour
* Grease a large oven-proof dish (mine was round 9" 24cm diameter, 2" 5cm deep)
* Put all the fruit with the sugar and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring gently to the boil, stirring well.
* In a small bowl, mix the apple juice gradually into the cornflower ensuring a smooth mix. Pour this into the fruit, bring back to the boil and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and glossy. Pour into your ovenproof dish and dot with small cubes of butter or margerine.
* Combine the flour with baking powder and salt and rub in the butter or margarine as if making pastry - until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and hazelnuts and stir well.
* Combine milk and beaten egg - make a well in the flour, pour in liquid slowly mixing until everything is combined.
* Spoon topping over the fruit, cover or simply dot - don't worry about gaps as the fruit bubbling up through the spongy topping enhances the pudding.
* Bake for approx 20mins at 180ºc, gas mark 4, until the top is golden brown and the fruit bubbling. Delicious served hot with crème fraîche , custard, cream or ice cream.
Raita is a wonderfully smooth yoghurt based dish - used as a cooling accompaniment to curries.
Simple to prepare, this wild garlic version is also delicious with fish, or as and a topping for jacket potatoes.
Ingredients: makes a side dish of 4 servings
* 250g - 8½ oz creamy, bio yoghurt - natural
Wild Garlic Jelly: readers have asked me about making this jelly. Muddypond's advice is that wild garlic is best served very fresh, or quickly wilted into a soup. It does NOT make a good savoury jelly. She has tried - the leaves don't do well cooked or boiled for any time - they smell of extremely ancient over-boiled cabbage - unpleasant to say the least. Even the addition of mint won't help! Believe the faeries!
Perfect at an Autumn tea-time,
crunchy with fresh, sweet Kentish cobnuts.
Delicious as a 'comfort-food' pudding in a pool of honey and lemon sauce.
A cobnut is a brother of the hazelnut, but longer in shape and quite a lot bigger -
they are a Kent speciality.
Of course, if cobnuts aren't available, use hazelnuts - preferably fresh, but whole packeted ones will do.
Ingredients: makes a large family cake using an 8" tin
* 200g - 7oz cobnuts, shelled and roughly chopped
* 300g apple - 10.5oz peeled and roughly chopped
* 400g - 14oz self-raising flour
* 1 flat teaspoon baking powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 2 teaspoons mixed spice
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
(or use 2 more tsps ground ginger)
* 200g - 7oz butter
* 250g 8.5oz soft brown sugar
* 6 eggs, beaten
Grease an 8" cake tin and warm oven to 160ºc - then:
* Combine flour, baking powder and dry spices in a mixing bowl
* Melt butter and stir thoroughly into the flour then add the brown sugar
* Gradually mix in the beaten eggs
* add the chopped nuts, apple and fresh ginger - blend well.
Spoon into the prepared tin and bake for about 1 hour until well risen and golden. Check cake is cooked through by pushing in a skewer. If it comes out clean, the cake is cooked. If not, cover top with a round of greaseproof paper and return to oven for 15 minutes
As a pudding, serve warm with Honey and Lemon Sauce
and a spoon of creme-fraiche or ice-cream.
For the sauce - melt together over a low heat approximately
* 50g -1.5oz butter
* two tablespoons clear honey
* 100g - 3oz soft brown sugar
* juice of 1 lemon
Bring to boil, lower heat and cook gently for one minute.
A lovely place to buy Kentish Cobnuts, Cobnut Oils & Products and Pot Grown Nut Trees,
also to find plenty of information is Potash Farm, Nr Sevenoaks - either at the farm itself or online
A fruity, tangy chutney the colour of darkest dragon rubies.
Just perfect with simple cheese, apples and warm bread.
It's almost September and the damson bushes are weighed down with fruit -
a dusky-blue bloom over the tart, black skins and the flesh amber and ripe.
Ingredients: (makes about 7 x lb jars of fruit chutney)
* 1,800g or 4lb damsons, halved and stones removed
* approx 5cms, 2ins fresh ginger, chopped fine
* 3 large onions, chopped small
* 2 cloves of garlic, chopped or pasted
* 675g or 1 ½ lb peeled and chopped apples
* 750ml or 1¼ pints white malt vinegar
* 3 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
* 675g or 1 ½ lbs granulated sugar
* 2 level teaspoons mustard powder
* 1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
As I went along, I chopped all my large ingredients quite small in a food processor - you can make a chunkier chutney without doing this.
* Put the chopped onions, garlic and spices into a large, heavy pan with the white vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
* Add the chopped damsons, apples and fresh ginger to the pan with the balsamic vinegar, stirring well.
Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the fruits are soft.
* Remove from heat and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved.
* Bring back to a simmer and cook until the chutney is thick - about 20 mins.
* Spoon into warm jars, (sterilized in hot oven) - cover and label.
As with most chutneys, this one should improve with age as the tart flavour of the vinegar begins to mellow. Once a jar has been opened, keep it in the fridge.
Malus John Downie
If you're thinking of planting a crab apple tree, variety John Downie has lustrous large fruits, excellent for jelly making, It's smothered in pink apple-blossom in the spring - its only drawback is that the fruit will all have fallen by mid September - unlike some decorative species which keep the fruit right through the winter.
Ingredients: makes about 7 x lb (500ml jars)
* 4.5 kg or 9lb crab apples
* 1.5kg or approx 3 lb white sugar (I use preserving sugar)
* juice of 2 lemons
* Wash, then top and tail the crab apples and cut into quarters
* Place fruit in a large, heavy pan, add the lemon juice and just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil then simmer for approx 30 minutes until fruit is soft and pulpy (see pic)
* Put pulp into a jelly bag or muslin cloth, and allow to drip for several hours - preferably overnight. Don't be tempted to squeeze any last juice out, as this will make the jelly cloudy.
* Pour the juice into the heavy pan, heat, then add sugar and stir well until dissolved. Reserve the pulp to make Crab Apple, Chilli and Garlic Fruit Cheese ! (Recipe see below)
* Bring to boil and cook until setting point is reached - (a little dropped onto a cold saucer, wait a minute - if the surface wrinkles when you push it, it is ready).
* Pot into sterilized jars, cover straight away.
For a little Crab - Apple poetry and magic, see my_blog page here __________________________________________________
A wonderful bonus from wild-fruit jelly making is that you can concoct a superb fruit cheese with the pulp left in the jelly bag!
Turn out the cheese and cut a slice to melt over hot meat - chops or steak - or on a jacket potato. Eat a slice with strong flavoured cheese and an apple for a Ploughman's Lunch. Packed nicely, it would make a lovely gift at Christmas.
It's very easy to make (if a little time consuming!) and quite unique. You spoon it into small dishes and keep it for several weeks in the fridge to become perfect. (If you have little ramekin dishes like the ones above - Sainsburys at £1 each - which are freezer-proof - the cheese freezes really well too.) And yes - of course fairies know about Sainsburys - who else would buy our beeswax wood polish???
Ingredients: (Should make approx 6 x 9cm - 3½", by 4cm - 1½" deep pots)
Follow the ingredients for the Crab Apple Jelly above adding:
* Red chillies to taste - finely chopped (I used two x medium-hot ones roughly 8cm - 3" long,)
* 1 large clove garlic, finely chooped
* Approx 400g - 12oz white sugar per 560ml - 1 pint strained fruit pulp
Method: Follow method for making the fruit jelly above until you have the bag of fruit pulp with the jiuce drained from it overnight - then :
* Grease or oil the ramekin dishes well.
* Push the fruit pulp through a seive (preferably nylon) with a wooden spoon, collecting the resulting seived pulp in a bowl.
(See picture left)
* Measure the seived pulp - put into a heavy bottomed pan with the right amount of sugar and heat gently - stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.
* Add the chopped chili and garlic, stir well and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes until it begins to noticeably thicken.
* Spoon into the greased pots to set, cover and keep.
The flavours improve with keeping!
When you're ready to try it, turn out and cut a small slice!
The fruit cheese also freezes beautifully, so you can have your cheese accompaniment for months!
What could be nicer in the July store cupboard than deep ruby-coloured Wild Cherry Conserve. Don't be put off by having to stone the cherries - it's really easy - one squish and out they pop. There isn't much pectin in cherries, so you need to either add more yourself, use a preserving sugar, or be happy with a softer set. That makes it wonderful with vanilla ice-cream!
Ingredients: (makes about 6 lb jars of conserve)
* 4lb (1.8kg) cherries, washed and stoned
* Juice of 4 lemons
* 3lb (1.4kg) sugar - special jam or preserving sugar is best
* ¼ pint (150ml) water
* small knob of butter
1. Put the cherries, lemon juice and water together in a large pan. Gently simmer for about 35 minutes until soft.
2. Add sugar and knob of butter and stir until dissolved, then bring up to the boil.
3. Boil for about 40 minutes until setting point is reached
. ( 105ºC - 221ºF or until a little dropped onto a cold plate wrinkles when pushed with the finger.)
4. Heat washed jars in medium oven to sterilize and avoid cracking
5. Allow conserve to cool for 30 minutes stirring occasionally - this should stop the fruit sinking to bottom of jars
6. Bottle and cover. Don't forget label with date!
The country and garden birds absolutely adore the wild cherries, so they should be picked as soon as they're ripe. No need to be greedy though - don't strip the tree - leave a treat for those birds!
A little tree of wild cherry - Prunus avium for a wild sweet cherry - or Prunus emarginata for a wild bitter cherry - would make a wonderful addition to your wildlife garden!
'Stepping towards the stream, the wild garlic stretched out as far as a faery eye could see - and that is a long, long way!'
Photograph taken at The Alder Beds, Charing in early April
for Julia, because she likes my
Wild Garlic recipes
In spring we can substitute the little shallot onions usually used here with the lush, fresh green of wild garlic.
This is a hearty dish, packed with grated potato, flavoured with caraway seeds and bacon pieces, but the bacon is easily substituted with feta cheese and a sprinkling of grated cheddar if you prefer a 'no-meat' option ............
Learn about the health benefits of wild garlic below with my 'Wild Garlic, Cabbage and Potato Soup' recipe.
* 800g / 1¾ lb potatoes, peeled
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 30ml - 2 tablespoons plain flour
* ½ teaspoon baking powder
* 250g - 8oz diced bacon pieces
* 15 medium wild garlic leaves
* 1½ teaspoon caraway seeds
* 2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped dill (optional)
* salt & ground black pepper to taste
- Grate the raw potatoes, wrap them in a clean cloth, squeeze out and discard the potato water.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200ºc - gas mark 6. Fry the bacon in a heavy pan until lightly brown.
- Mix the grated potato in a bowl with the flour, baking powder, then add the beaten eggs. Season well.
- Add the bacon pieces, chopped dill (if using) and caraway seeds. Mix well.
- Take out the main stem of the garlic leaves, fold and cut into lengths of about 2inches - 4cm with scissors. Add to bowl and stir well..
- Spoon mixture into an ovenproof dish and bake in the overn for 30 - 40 minutes until brown.
- Serve with a fresh leaf salad.
Sweet and strong, with the taste of Yule fires, juniper and pine trees in its dark, smooth depths:
Warning - this recipe needs to stand for about three months before drinking!
Fat dusky-blue sloe berries from the blackthorn bushes along the hedgerows, picked in October, turned often, sampled in front of the Yule logs for Winter Solstice and Full Moon night - 21st December.
Blackthorn (Ogham name Straife) rules the dark side of the year.
Ingredients: I use
2 x 70cl bottles gin
2lb - 900g approx ripe sloes
8 oz - 200g approx white sugar
3 tablespoons Disaronno Amoretto (optional)
- Remove stalks from sloes and wash the fruit.
- With a large darning needle or equivalent, prick each berry all over (about 8 times per fruit)
- Divide into three and drop into three empty gin bottles (or any screw-cap bottle)
- Add the sugar
- (If using) add one tablespoon of Amaretto to each bottle
- Fill the bottles with gin - shake well.
- Store bottles in a cool, dark place for three months, remembering to shake them occasionally.
Drink neat by the log fire, or over ice - or you can make a longer, refreshing drink -
the recipe below is enough for a party and pretty alcoholic!
Winter Sloe and Cranberry Sparkle
* ½ bottle sloe gin
* ½ bottle plain gin
* 1 bottle Cava sparkling white wine
* 1litre cranberry juice
* juice of 1 lemon
* sugar to taste
* 1 tin blackberries or black cherries, crushed
These super sloe gin storage bottles come from Lakeland. You can buy them online. (Remove spring-tops before heating or dishwashing)
I can't resist the children's books of a hundred years or so ago. Remember, fairies live a very long time!
Just had to show you this little rhyme from
'How to tell the Birds from the Flowers'
written and illustrated by Robert Williams in 1917
Simple Squashes Part1 - The Harlequin
a brilliantly simple supper dish for Autumn, around Samhain time:
The best way to serve these is whole - and eat them with a spoon just as you would a boiled egg.
Well yes, I know you can't find these in the hedgerows - BUT - many villager folks grow them on their own patches, and the organic farm shops are full of them just now - so very seasonal and so very beautiful!
Ingredients: keep them simple - allow the flavour of the squash to shine through
* 1 harlequin (or any small) squash per person
* pinch of salt
* fresh black pepper to taste
They are fabulous just plain as above, but of course you could fill with any favourite stuffings - wild rice with chopped onions, pine nuts and garlic for example.
The cooked squash -
eat with a spoon like a boiled egg!
- Wash, then cut off a little of the pointed end, so that the squash will stand flat
- Cut through a few centimetres from the top to form a lid (stalks on or off - it doesn't matter)
- Scoop out the seeds and orange fibres with a metal spoon
- Pop a knob of butter, salt and black pepper into the cavity (or fill with your stuffing if used)
- Replace the lid
- Wrap whole squash in kitchen foil
- Bake in a hot oven 220ºc - gas mark 7 for about 30 minutes
Simple Squashes Part 2 - The Buttercup with Cashew and Olive stuffing
another brilliantly simple supper dish for Autumn, around Samhain time
The brilliant yellow flesh of the
Named for its brilliant golden-yellow flesh, the Buttercup is another small squash which makes an individual meal. Stuffed whole, baked in foil and eaten with a spoon as you would a boiled egg, it's delicious.
Prepare the squash in the same way as the Harlequin above, pop a small knob of butter into the cavity and pack with plenty of stuffing.
Make enough to have a dish of stuffing to cook in the oven and serve alongside.
Ingredients - serves 2 / 3
* One buttercup squash per person
* Knobs of butter
* Fresh breadcrumbs from 4 slices brown bread
* Approx 70g - 2 -30z cashew nuts, roughly chopped
* 1 medium onion finely chopped
* 2 large cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
* About 15 green or black olives, pitted
* 1 egg, beaten
* Salt and black pepper to taste
* Wash the squashes, cut a small piece from base of each so that it will stand flat. Cut lids carefully so that they can be replaced.
* Scoop out pips and pithy insides, leaving a good cavity for stuffing.
* Mix together all the stuffing ingredients in a bowl, binding with beaten egg and seasoning to taste.
* Pack stuffing firmly into the squashes and add a knob of butter to each. Replace the lids. Put left over stuffing into a dish with a knob of butter, bake and serve at the side of each squash.
* Wrap each in baking foil, and bake in oven at 180ºc - gas mark 5 for about 50mins.
Eco Enchantments Hedgerow Jelly -
a strongly flavoured, tangy fruit jelly which is just magic with cheese and hot or cold meats.
All fruits are from the hedgerows round about, and need picking before the end of September if they're to be at their best.
If the jars are well sterilized and sealed, this jelly will keep for a year.
Don't be put off by having to strain the juice from the fruit to make jellies - the time taken is easily offset by NOT having to peel, stone or core the fruit!
Ingredients: (Can be varied according to what is available, to make up about 2.75 kg, 6 lb of hedge fruits - hawthorn berries can also be used in this jelly)
* 450g 1lb blackberries
* 450g 1lb damsons
* 225g 8oz elderberries all stems removed
* 750g 1lb 8oz crab apples topped, tailed and quartered
* 1kg 2lb approx windfall apples roughly chopped
* 225g 8oz rosehips, tailed
* juice of 1 lemon
* water to cover
* 1kg 250g 2½lb approx granulated or preserving sugar
- Roughly prepare the fruit as above, place in a large pan, add the lemon juice and enough water to just cover - probably about 2l, (2½ pints).
- Bring to the boil and simmer until all the fruit is soft and has turned mushy.
- Put fruit into a jelly bag or cloth and allow to drip for at least 12 hours. Don't be tempted to squash it through, this will turn it cloudy - the finished jelly should be clear and bright as a jewel.
- Measure the amount of juice collected and return to a deep pan, adding 450g (1lb) sugar for every 600ml (1pt) of juice.
- Boil at a strong, rolling boil for at least 15 mins until setting point is reached - 105ºC (220ºF)- or test for set. Drop a little juice onto a cold plate - wait a minute then push it with your finger.
If it wrinkles the jelly is ready.
- Skim off any scum with a slotted spoon.
- Pot in sterilized jars (I wash mine and then put them in the oven at about 120ºc to dry and keep hot.) Cover surface with a paper disc and tight top. Label and date.
For a great place to buy all your jam, jelly making and preserving equipment online, try Lakeland - lovely things for icing and cup cakes too! Lots of choice, quick and reliable.
Blackberry, Elderberry & Apple Hedgerow Crumble
for a simple, vitamin filled and delicious Mabon or Michaelmas celebration (September 21st or 22nd, 23d - Autumn Equinox, September 29th - Michaelmas Day).
The elderberries are just lovely in this recipe as they stay whole even when they're cooked and explode in the mouth like tiny bombs, full of sharp, juicy flavour.
Elder and Bramble are both bushes of the Ogham Calendar and are magic.
I can tell you a lot more if you have time to click here for blackberry and here for elder (please scroll down to June 7th in the diaryblog)
Ingredients: (4 huge portions - or enough for 6 - freezes well)
- 175g plain flour
- 175g brown sugar
- 80g butter (or margarine)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 mug elderberrie, all stems removed
- 2 mugs blackberries
- 2 large cooking apples or 5 windfalls
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1½ tablespoons clear honey
- Optional - extra sugar for the fruit - to taste
* Put the flour in a mixing bowl with the cinnamon and salt.
* Cut the butter or margarine into small pieces and rub into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs
* Add the brown sugar and stir in
* Peel, core and slice the apples
* Place in an ovenproof dish in layers, alternating apple with blackberries and elderberries
* Spoon the water and the honey over the fruit
* Add a little white sugar if necessary - remember, the topping is very sweet!
* Cover the fruit with the crumble topping. .Bake in a hot oven, 220ºc, gas mark 7 for 25 minutes until golden brown.
* Serve hot or cold, with cream, creme fraiche, ice-cream or custard.
Blackberry and Oat Buns (muffins) - for a September afternoon - or a treat for the celebration of Mabon (September 21st - Autumn Equinox)..
For more about magic of the Bramble, ruling Ogham wood for the month of September click here for my Ogham Bramble Page
Pick plenty of the ripe fruits and freeze a bag or two for winter crumbles. While you're there, snip a few pieces of the stem wood to add to any magical ritual that you might perform this month, especially for Mabon.
Blackberry - faery fruit. Representing the element of Water and the Goddess Brighid.
Magical Associations - Healing, Luck with Money, Protection
Ingredients: muffin (large cup cake) baking tray, greased or lined with paper muffin cups.
- 100g plain flour
- 100g porridge oats
- 240ml milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 150g brown sugar
- 60g melted butter (or margarine)
- 1 egg
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 200g approx blackberries
* Add a generous tablespoon of lemon juice to the milk. Heat to just below boiling, stir in the porridge oats and allow to stand for about 10 mins.
* Melt the butter, beat in the egg and add these to the oat mixture, stirring well until completely blended.
* Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, then stir in the sugar.
* Add the oaty butter mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. The mixture should be quite firm.
* Sprinkle and coat the blackberries with a little flour (this will stop them sinking down to the bottom) and add to the other ingredients. Stir very gently so as not to squash the fruit completely.
* Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins, making each cup three-quarters full.
* Bake on the middle shelf of a hot oven 220ºC (gas mark 7 )for 20 minutes until well risen, spongy to touch and brown. (Check after 10 minutes – if over-browning, cover with a sheet of grease-proof paper)
** Many Thanks to Gail, for telling me that she tried this recipe with ELDERBERRIES as blackberries weren't handy and it was brilliant!! Sounds good to me! **
** Click here for my Recipe for Green Blackberry Leaf Tea - high in antioxidants, Omega-3 and vitamins* *
Hazelnut Healthy Snack ..... "Roast'n'Salted". . . just the thing after a long Autumn walk - lots more about the Hazel tree and its magical associations in my Ogham pages - here
Hazelnuts are a rich source of gluten-free protein, vitamins and minerals - all for free and ripening now in the September hedgerows! Pick them wild and fresh for this snack, or use a packet of whole dried nuts at other times of year.
You can buy baskets of fresh Kentish Cobnuts just now - the same as the hazelnut but slightly larger.
Hazelnuts are useful in many, many recipes and they are packed chock-a-block full of Vitamin E and B6 as well as beneficial minerals.
* Fresh hazels or cobnuts, shelled (or dried if no fresh are available)
* One tablespoon olive oil
* One tablespoon clear honey
* Rough-ground rock salt
Mix the oil and honey together in a small bowl, drop the nuts into the mixture and coat well.
Spread on a baking tin in a hot oven, leaving any extra oil in the cup, at 200°c or gas mark 6 and roast for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with the rock-salt crystals.
Elderflower Cordial . . . . for making in June and drinking all summer ~
Read about the magic and power of the elder tree on my Diaryblog page
Elderflowers and berries are high in Vitamins A, B and C. They've been used in infusions, cordials and wines to promote long life and good health for centuries.
The tiny florets can be dried and used as a tea - mixed hot with honey and some dried peppermint leaves or a drop of peppermint oil and then strained, they are perfect for relief of colds, sore-throats or flu.
(makes about 2 litres or 3½ pints of cordial ready to be diluted)
* 35 - 40 large flower heads
* 1.800l (3 pints) boiling water
* 2 oranges, 2 lemons roughly chopped
* 1.5kg (3½lbs) white sugar
* ½ packet of citric acid -25g (1oz) - easy to find in any pharmacy or wine making supplies shop
1. In a large mixing bowl (non-metallic) pour the boiling water onto the sugar and dissolve thoroughly. Allow the mxiture to cool completely.
2. Stir in and disslove the citric acid powder.
3. Add the roughly chopped oranges and lemons
4. Snip the flowers into the pan, removing as much stem as possible. (The tiny petals have a wonderful flavour and scent - the little green stems do not!)
5. Stir with a wooden spoon, cover and leave for at least 48 hrs.
6. Strain using a jelly bag or close muslin cloth, and allow all the juice to drip through.
7. Let the cordial stand for at least 2 hours so that any cloudy sediment sinks to the bottom of the bowl.
8. Bottle and cap - be prepared to loosen the caps from time to time as the cordial may start to fizz and you don't want the bottle to explode! Store in a cool place.
9. This freezes well, so it's a good idea to bottle part if the cordial in plastic bottles (three quarters full only!) and freeze to use in the winter months.
Dilute to serve as a refreshing drink, (about one part cordial to six parts water) or use undiluted in recipes for apple pie or rhubarb and to spoon over strawberries or icecream.
Once opened, keep in the fridge.
Wild garlic, sometimes called ramsons, is widely known to have plenty of health benefits and used to be eaten far more than it is nowadays. All parts of the plant can be used.
It's said to help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as easing stomach pain and as a digestive tonic.
Use buds, flowers and leaves fresh in salads.
Ingredients: makes large bowl for 4 people
* bunch of fresh, wild garlic leaves (approx 20)
* 500g approx (about 5 large) potatoes, peeled and cubed
* one onion, peeled and roughly chopped
* 225g approx (half a small) cabbage, sliced
* tablespoon olive oil
* salt and fresh black pepper
* goat cheese or creme fraiche to swirl (optional)
In a large saucepan, heat the chopped onion in the olive oil until just soft.
Add the potatoes, cabbage and seasoning.
Add enough water to cover.
Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 mins.
Roughly tear the garlic leaves and drop into the soup to wilt.
If you prefer your soup chunky, mash lightly with a potato masher, warm through (do NOT boil) and serve.
Or, blend briefly in an electric blender, warm through (do NOT boil).
Serve with a swirl of goat's cheese or creme fraiche and some seeded brown bread.
* olive oil
* 20 or more buds of wild garlic
* 2 big handfuls of pine nuts
* 5 wild garlic leaves torn small
* beanshoots and torn dark green cabbage
* tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a wok
Fry pine nuts until golden
Turn down heat, add garlic buds, fry for one minute
Add chosen stir fry and balsamic vinegar if liked, stir and heat for two minutes.
The little white stars of wild garlic, out in late April, May are a lovely addition to fresh leafy salads, giving a gentle garlic flavour.
* small paint brush
* one egg white
* cup of caster sugar
Pick the blooms when full and very fresh. Leave the stem for ease of handling.
Gently froth the white of an egg until just bubbly.
Using a small paint-brush, coat a flower back and front, and immediately sprinke with caster sugar.
Remove stem. Place violets in a warm place to dry for at least 4 hours before using (24hrs is best).
For the cakes: (makes 12 large cup-cakes baked in a muffin tin)
* 12 paper cup-cake cases
* coloured sugar sprinkles
150g (6oz) butter or good margarine
150g (6oz) caster sugar
3 eggs beaten
150g (6oz) self-raising flour)
2 tsp best vanilla escence
Beat butter and caster sugar together until very pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
Gently blend in the flour using a metal spoon.
Place paper cases in the muffin tray and fill up to thirds with cake mixture. Bake for 12 - 15mins at 180 ºc Gas mark 4 until spongy and just golden brown. Allow to cool fully before decorating.
Rich butter cream :
100g (4oz) butter, softened
100g (4oz) icing sugar
100g (4oz) caster sugar
2 tblsp rose water (plain water with a few drops of vanilla essence if not available)
Beat the butter and sugars together until very pale
Add rose water and beat well.
Decorate the cakes generously with swirls of butter cream. Add sprinkles if desired. (Fae like sprinkles!)
Top with two freshly sugared violets.(Edible)
* Beware of dragons whilst making butter cream. DO NOT leave lying about for a second!
Nettle Frittata - for a spring picnic or supper .
March - April picked when the nettle tips are fresh and young - use gloves to pick!
Frittata is a type of thick omlette which can be sliced and eaten hot or cold. A large straight sided frying pan is best for this recipe.
Wild nettles are a fine source of minerals including iron, potassium, manganese and sulphur with vitamins A & C and natural formic acid, fresh from the hedgerow. When cooked the sting disappears!
Ingredients: serves 4 large slices
medium pudding basin full of fresh picked nettle tips (they reduce like spinach so pick plenty)
6 eggs and a little milk - pinch of salt and pepper
knob of butter
oil for cooking 1 onion chopped grated cheese for topping
Your choice of extras - I used: mushrooms, courgette and a few cherry tomatoes
Wash nettles and remove any thicker stalks
Chop the onion and cook with a little oil for two minutes until soft
Add your choice of chopped extras and cook for a futher 5 minutes
Wilt nettles with a knob of butter - either steam or heat in a few drops of water for 2 minutes and add to pan
Beat the eggs with a little milk and salt, pepper to taste - add to pan and stir once
Cook gently for a few minutes until the eggs are nearly set
Grate cheese over the top and brown under a hot grill
Turn out onto a plate and eat hot or cold, served in slices with fresh brown bread and a salad.
You will need the help of an adult because of the boiling syrup!
Even Wood Warden Muddypond Green, who can be a bit careless at times took great care over this!
About 3kg or 3lb blackberries, washed
2 large cooking apples, washed, peeled, cored and chopped
450ml or ¾ pint water
1 lemon, juice only
preserving or granulated sugar
sterilized jam jars and jam pot covers
- Put the blackberries, apple, water and lemon juice in a preserving pan if you have one, or a large, heavy based saucepan.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the fruit is completely soft.
- Make a jelly bag or tea towel ready for straining the fruit by boiling in water for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze it out and leave to cool. Arrange the jelly bag or tie the tea towel on a stand or up-turned stool with a large bowl underneath, ready for the fruit juice to drip through.
- Tip the soft fruit and juice into the jelly bag and leave to drip for 8 hours or until all the juice has been released.
Prepare the jam jars by washing in hot soapy water and leaving to dry and warm in a cool oven - 130C/250F/Gas ½ for 10-15 minutes.
Measure the juice. For every 600ml or1 pint, use 450g or 1lb sugar. Put the juice and sugar back into the clean preserving pan, heat over a low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until setting point is reached.
Skim away any scum from the top of the jelly and fill the jam jars to the brim.
- Cover, seal and make your own fun style label.
Dormouse Biscuits - to help hedgerow folk . . . .
NB* no dormice were harmed during the making of these cookies!
The dormice Dormir and Souris, in the second story, really enjoy biscuits. Having biscuits that resemble them seems to amuse them highly, their faces quite light up!
You can buy the dormouse cookie cutter online at the "People's Trust for Engangered Species" website, and help with their funds at the same time.
See also the Nature Links page on my site.
200g (7oz) self raising wholemeal flour
150g (50z) caster sugar
1/4 level teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you can)
1/4 level teaspoon cinnamon
150g (50z) block butter or margarine, cut into small pieces
100g (4oz) ground almonds or hazelnuts or a combination of the two
1 egg, beaten
Grease two baking sheets.
Put flour, sugar and spices into a bowl and rub in the butter until
the mixture resembles fine
Stir in the ground nuts and bind the mixture with the beaten egg, adding a little milk if necessary to make a soft smooth dough.
Make two balls and chill in fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 180C or Gas mark 4.
Flour a board and roll out to the thickness of the cutter. Stamp out the biscuits and bake for 10 minutes until golden. They are lovely warm, but will also freeze well.
Hazelnut and white chocolate cake -
loved by Dormir and Souris ... the intrepid dormice of Bk 2
Ogham tree - Hazel - old name Coll
- time 5th August to 1st September
If you can't find fresh hazlenuts in your hedgrows, then it's fine to use dried ones - Muddypond has to if she makes this cake during the spring months. All fairies do I believe.The dormice are completely beguiled by this cake - try it - you will see why!
Beware of a dragon trying to lick out the bowl!
- 120g plain flour
- 120g self raising flour
- 185g butter softened (or margarine)
- 185g caster sugar
- 1 tea spoon best vanilla essence
- 100g chopped hazel nuts
- 3 eggs (beaten)
For the Frosting
* 100g butter softened (or margarine)
* 120g white chocolate
* 2 table spoons creme fraiche (or whipped cream)
* 100g icing sugar
* whole hazelnuts for decoration
Grease and line an 8inch (20cm) cake tin with greaseproof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla essence.
Add the eggs a little at a time. beating well after each one.
Mix the two kinds of flour in a bowl, then fold into the mixture
Add a drop of milk if necessary to make a dropping consistency
Turn into the tin and bake at 180°C (360°F) or gas mark 4 for 25 minutes.
Make the frosting while the cake is cooking:
Make a few chocolate curls by pushing the tip of a round bladed knife across the back of the bar.
Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over boiling water in a pan.
Cream the butter and icing sugar until fluffy and pale.
Stir in the melted chocolate and creme fraiche, beating well.
When the cake is cool, cut in half and sandwich with a thick layer of frosting.
Coat the top with frosting and decorate with whole hazelnuts and chocolate curls.