Category Archives: Found

We Need to Talk About Salad

Wild Garlic & Qualis Egg Salad With Wild Garlic Pesto

Salad as Celebration

I have been neglectful of my salad posts and chat of late, which I undertook to do as part of the 52 Week Salad Challenge that was issued by Michelle at Veg Plotting. This is not to say that I have not been diligently sowing, foraging and eating at least one salad a week, but I have been away a lot of late, and even without internet for a lot of it (and enjoyed it, actually!) so I haven’t really had the time to tweet and post about it in time for the monthly Salad Days round up that Michelle takes such care over every month.

To make amends, I am doing a bit of a salad round up in time for this week’s Salad Days, and I look forward to reading all of the links and the discussions from all of the others who are joining in with the challenge on Friday.

Where to start then? The last time I blogged specifically for the challenge (as opposed to cheekily tagging it onto other posts), I had been finding and eating the weeds in my garden.

Clockwise from right: Hairy Bittercress, Wood Sorrel, Chickweed

Salad as Weeding

Clockwise from right: hairy bittercress, wood sorrel*, chickweed.

The weeds have continued to form a part of my salads, but since then, the hedgerows have burst forth, and there has been plenty to eat, from there and from my garden.

Wild Garlic

Salad as Wild Food

We have been eating hedgerow staples, such as the carpets of wild garlic (pictured, in my favourite spot), sorrel*, jack in the hedge (aka garlic mustard), and nettles. all of these have appeared in a variety of tarts, salads, fritters and as side dishes in their own right.

The first of these was the wild garlic. For my celebratory birthday meal, back in March, I made a starter of poached quails egg on a bed of salad, including wild garlic leaves. I dressed this with a really lovely wild garlic pesto, which used hazelnuts instead of the ubiquitous pine nuts. The quail’s eggs are slightly richer, and much smaller than hen’s eggs, and the soft yolks were a perfect foil to the pesto.

At the permaculture course I was eating a variety of the salads that they grew there, as well as a number of edible flowers, including nasturtium, herb flowers, those from the various brassicas that had been allowed to go to seed, and borage. If you have never eaten a borage flower, I suggest you give them a go, they are surprising, they taste almost like cucumber, and are a lovely bite to have in a salad. I also found some very old borage seed this year, which I have given a go. I was given this packet of seeds years ago, so I have lost nothing if they don’t come up, and if they do, they will form part of the new polyveg system I am putting in place this year. Hopefully, it will seed itself and attract bees as well as looking beautiful and being really tasty. Apparently, it is a good pot herb to. If the seeds are too old to germinate, then I’ll get some for next year in any case.

Duck Salad

Salad as a Project

I have already told you about the duck salad I made as part of my duck week. On the 2nd week of April, we held our first barbecue of the year, by way of a baby shower for my friend. It was flipping freezing, but it was dry, and a good time was had by all. I made my go-to barbecue salad of radish, cucumber, feta, parsley and mint. This is based on a quick and easy dish by Nigel Slater. I was very proud to be able to feed my guests with homegrown parsley and radishes in this salad. It went down so well, I didn’t manage to get any pictures.

Things are continuing apace in the garden. I have been eating lots of rocket and cut and come agains, as well as the odd leaf chicory. Because of my desire to embark on a polyveg system, I have also been sowing a number of other salad things this year. I have multiple lettuces, beets, and turnips for some tasty salads, well as a number of herbs. I have also discovered that you can eat poached egg plants, so I’m going to give them a go. Inspired by all the people following the Salad Challenge, I’m also giving a few new leaves a go – notably some of the chinese greens, and shiso. I also got hold of some morning glory, which features in Japanese cuisine quite a lot, I think. I am hoping this is the right one, as I really enjoyed it in soups and salads when I was over there a couple of years ago.

Although I love foraging, I would love to be able to grow sorrel in my garden. To date, I have been unsuccessful, although the partially shady conditions are more favourable for me growing sorrel than tomatoes (which I can manage). I have tried for the past three years to no avail. Do any of you have any tips? I don’t even think I have seen any germination. Do you pre-soak? I have been using the same packet, and suspect that it may all be sterile, but any other ideas will be gratefully received. I hate to see seeds go to waste as much as I do food!

Garden Salad with Caesar Dressing

Salad as Supper

Tonight’s effort was garden leaves and some of the aforementioned weeds (all my own), with a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, broad beans and asparagus (sadly not my own, mine aren’t ready yet, and the asparagus won’t be available this year) in a caesar dressing. I cannot really call this a caesar salad though, since it didn’t have any romaine lettuce, which I planted a bit late, and haven’t even made decent baby gems yet. I ate it with a potato salad and a soft-boiled egg, and it really hit the spot – satisfying, yet cool for the hottest day of the year so far.

One of the great benefits of growing-your-own is the tops off the broad beans. Mine are almost ready, although the cold spell put them back somewhat. You can hopefully expect them in a salad post very soon.

* Please note that neither wood sorrel or sorrel should be eaten in large quantities, due to containing oxalic acid, which can inhibit calcium uptake by the body. They can aggravate kidney stones, gout, rheumatism, arthritis and hyperacidity, so should be avoided by people with those conditions. The amount of oxalic acid does reduce with cooking, but wood sorrel would wilt to nothing at all, as the leaves are not very big in the first place.

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Progressions on a Theme

Duck & Mushroom Risotto

Woodland Flavours

Today I stripped the carcass, separating the meat from the bones and the skin. Of course, these will become stock, but I have something specific planned for this, of which more later. I also found an escapee clove of garlic, nestled in the back of the cavity. Roasted garlic is so good, there was no way that I was going to let that go, and it will only add to the flavour of today’s dish.

So, to a risotto, but this time I wanted to develop the flavour with earthy base notes of woodland and wild mushrooms, building the flavour layers as I went, instead of making a simple white risotto, and adding the flavour at the end.

You can dry your own mushrooms or buy them. If you were going to buy them, I would suggest porcini mushrooms. I was lucky, the Big Guy’s sister had been out in the woods and taken the trouble of gathering and drying the most amazing chanterelles and trompettes des mort. I got a jar full as a present, and I love them. I love that someone has taken the care to go and forage for them and preserve them, and I really love that she also knew that I would love some of them.

Dried mushrooms, particularly of the chanterelle variety, have a really deep, almost woody quality,and I knew that they would be perfect with this duck, and would help layer the flavours, as I could soak them, then add the soaking liquor to the stock.

Then I started thinking about red wine, but decided that a better match would be sherry. I only had the Pedro Ximénez that we bought for the sherry trifle, so I knew I couldn’t use a lot of it, for fear of making it too sweet. But it all builds up.

This has all the earthy richness that I wanted, given that the weather has taken a turn for the colder, despite it being spring.

Recipe: Duck and Mushroom Risotto

Ingredients

10 g dried mushrooms

400 ml boiling water

A little oil for frying

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Bay leaf

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 roasted garlic clove, mashed

4-5 sprigs thyme

200 g arborio rice

Splash Pedro Ximénez

500 ml chicken stock

150 g chestnut mushrooms, sliced

200 g cooked duck meat

2 knobs butter (to be used separately)

75 g Parmesan cheese, grated

Small bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water, and set aside while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.

Sweat the onion in a little oil, until translucent. Add both types of garlic and the thyme and bay, and allow them to sweat together.

Meanwhile, drain, and squeeze out the dried mushrooms, but do not discard the water that they were soaking in. Roughly chop the rehydrated mushrooms, and add them to the sweating vegetables.

Carefully pour the liquid that the mushrooms had been soaking in to the chicken stock, and warm them both on the hob. No matter how carefully the mushrooms were cleaned before drying, there will probably still be a bit of grit or debris in them. When you add the mushroom stock to the chicken stock, don’t pour the grit in. It is easy to see, and is heavier than the stock, so it is easily to avoid if you pour the stock in carefully, and maybe leave the last few ml, which will have the most grit in it.

Add the rice, then follow the method for the basic risotto. You will be developing some big, earthy mushroom flavours, by adding the rehydrating mushrooms, and using the mushroom stock. However, the duck can take it.

So, while the risotto is cooking down, fry the sliced chestnut mushrooms over a low heat with a little more thyme, and a little salt.

When you feel that the rice is nearly ready, add the duck meat, and the now cooked mushrooms with the last half ladle of the stock that you need. This will heat the meat without it going tough, and will help to bring the flavour of the chestnut mushrooms into the dish.

Once the last lot of stock has been absorbed, add a knob of butter and the parmesan, then season with a little salt and a lot of pepper. Finally, stir through the parsley, and serve with a peppery salad.

Not only is this risotto a great way to use up leftovers, but it is really earthy, with the mushrooms and the duck packing a real punch. Leftovers done like this really are not humble, and nor should they be.

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Finding Food in My Own Backyard

Hairy Bittercress

Salad as Penance

I was a bit preoccupied with the market last week, and spent my time testing recipes and searching for good potatoes to bake. Funnily, the Dutch seem to prefer thin-skinned potatoes, which mash well for stamppot, but don’t really understand that a good jacket potato needs a thicker skin. I was surprised at the amount of stall holders that tried to convince me that their thin-skinned potatoes would be perfect for my needs.

Anyway, this leads to a confession. I completely neglected to eat or blog about salads for the salad challenge. Salad as penance seems like a fitting start to lent. To make up for last week, I  am using up the leaves that survived the snow all this week in my food.

After the first Salad Days, I spent a little while following the links at Veg Plotting, and have found a lot of really useful information, and a lot of inspiration. This year, I have been asked to help a few friends to create balcony gardens, as not many people here have gardens, but almost everyone has a balcony of some sort. I have a lot of ideas for vertical gardens, and windbreaks of dwarf beans and soon. Until now, I had been overlooking the salads. Some of these posts have reminded me that salad is a great start for first time gardeners, with quick results setting them up to feel good about their ability rather quickly. Really not sure why I haven’t thought of it sooner.

I also found a lot of inspiration for my own salads by following the #saladchat hashtag on twitter, and the links on Veg Plot’s newsletter, The Salad Bowl .

Jane Perrone mentioned some winter weeds from her garden that she was eating. I already knew about the hairy bittercress, which I had been avoiding weeding even before I knew about the salad challenge, so that I could add it to a salad of some  kind. What  hadn’t realised is that I also have creeping wood sorrel and cat’s ear. I had resolved that the next salad for the challenge would be made up of these.

Grden weed salad, Jacket potato and cream cheese

Salad as everyday lunch

However, the snow had done for quite a few things. So, this week, I am left with salads of hairy bittercress, and a few leaves of rocket. I also have a few potatoes and some cream cheese left over from the market. Together, the salad has made a great combination with the soft cheese and the potato. This is mostly what I am having for lunch this week. This is win/win/win/win for me. I am using up the cooked jacket potatoes; I have a quick, yet hearty lunch; I am weeding the garden in preparation for the plants that will soon fill it; and I have a tasty use for the weeds, so I’m reducing waste.  For me, it has more than made up for the fact that last week I took my eye off the challenge!

CAUTION: Wood Sorrel contains oxalic acid. This is the stuff that makes rhubarb leaves inedible. Wood sorrel is fine in small amounts, but can exacerbate rheumatism, arthritis, gout, and kidney stones, so it is best avoided at all if you have these conditions. Additionally, while foraging for weeds in your own back garden may mean that you know more of what has gone onto the plants (and if you use weedkillers in your garden, don’t eat the weeds in it), it is always a good idea to follow some basic foraging rules to keep you safe.

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Local Inspiration

Amsterdam Neighbourfood Market

A Room of Inspiration

I was alerted to the brand new Neighbourfood Market by a friend on facebook. The first market took place yesterday, and we went along, albeit a bit later in the afternoon. I may have missed a couple of stalls and a fair bit of the produce as a result. But I was quite excited by what I did see.

Local restaurants  Frenzi and Radijs were there, as well as the street food vans from De EspressoBus and Waffels op Wielen

Then there were the stalls from caterers and market regulars (there are a number of daily and weekly markets in and around Amsterdam), which included Pieman, The Soup Sisters, Olivity, and  Bocca Coffee.

There were also smaller producers – a man who sold his own honey; the Amsterdam Cupcake Company; and, I think, another, there was definitely a stall that had sold out of its goods and was packing away when I got there.

The decor and, it has to be said, much of the ambience comes from the vintage stylings of Found (who also provide flights of lovely organic wines at very reasonable prices), Chatoui (who had a really nice stall with pretty remade items on it), and Kringloop de Lokatie. there were long trestle tables for sharing food experiences and discussion with friends and strangers, and there were gezellig little nooks with sofas and standard lamps for the more intimate discussions.

Chatoui stall

Recycled Chic at Chatoui

So far, so regular market, I hear you say. But the idea is that you come and hang out with friends, have brunch or lunch, and talk to local producers, so in that respect it is a little more like a café, but you are not limited to one proprietor. They also have an eye to reducing their waste (which will always win points with me!) and encouraged people to bring their own plates, cutlery and cups. This was well advertised on the website and in the marketing beforehand, and it seemed as though a lot of people did do this, judging by how busy the washing up area was.

The crowd was fairly young, and hip, but it was busy, which was great for the first ever market. And this is where the inspiration came in. This was full of people who were real enthusiasts for food, and living lightly. People who couldn’t find the right niche for themselves, so they went out and made one, and brought a load of enthusiastic people with them. There was a real buzz about the place, and I heard loads of snatched conversations about food, and the produce, and what people were making themselves.

It felt like I was at the start of something exciting. And it made me realise something. I want to be a part of it. I have spent too long in Holland not looking for the kind of things that interest and excite me. If it hadn’t been for an alert from my friend, then I probably would not have found out about this market. If I don’t get involved with other people who are trying something, and try a few things for myself, then how do I know if I can cut it? What’s more, what do I have to lose? Even if my interest in food goes no further than having had a market stall once, I am bound to meet interesting people, and be able to talk with them about our shared passions – food, sustainability, waste reduction. I can find other people with a higher geek tolerance for food things than the Big Guy. I may even find some good people to collaborate with on a few ideas that I have that are too big for me to do alone. So, I am going to find out how I can be a part of this, and give it a go, and put myself out there.

I may not be able to make the next market in a month, because I have no idea how one goes about equipping oneself, and all the other things one might need to sell food to the public, but I am going to fire off an e-mail to the Neighbourfood crew and find out. It would be nice if any friends are interested for company and moral support, and I will reach out to one or two that might like to have a go with me,  but it will still be fun if I do it on my own.

I would love to do A Little of What You Fancy, so I can bring homemade products, and a loose title like this could be the way to go, so I can bring things that I have made or found, or that excite me that month, instead of having a regular speciality.

And you know, they do say a little of what you fancy does you good. I wonder if that will translate into Dutch?

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Treasure Chestnuts

Sweet Chestnut jam

The sweetest of chestnuts

I really love sweet chestnuts. Seasonal, run-up-to-christmas, eat-with-game, things-that-help-make-sprouts-bearable, isn’t-it-brilliant-when-you-find-a-tree-of-them-in-a-park-(though-really-infrequent-in-a-country-with-few-hedgerows), lovely chestnuts. I like to find them in the wild for all to take advantage of, I like to cook with them, I like to thicken soups with them, I have never eaten them in marron glacé form, but I expect they are also lovely.

I haven’t found any in any great quantity while foraging over here. You might be much luckier than I am, or just get them at your local market. I bought some very cheap ones, but the reason why they were so cheap was that they were a little past their best, and a number contained insect larvae (probably moths), which is the same as if I had foraged them anyway! I had to go and get some slightly less cheap ones from my local greengrocer’s. Still, it was nice to watch the jays pick through the discarded ones this morning, as I made the jam.

Serve peeled chestnuts at a party, and people think that you have gone to a lot of trouble for them. And the fact is, they would be  right too. I always go into it thinking that it will be a quick job, and always forget how fiddly the damn things are.

Today, I spent a good few hours peeling chestnuts. I suspect this is because I am a little bit too anally retentive about removing the skin from all the folds of the nut.  I also spent a considerable time online trying to find ways to speed up the process. I did come across this video from the people at badgerset.  I think this method has a lot of potential, but it will take practice to recognise how long is enough boiling time. For the record, I found that my chestnuts needed much longer in the boiling water to allow the skin to detach. I guess I need more practice. And possibly a decent pair of pliers. One brilliant thing about this method, is that you get to see the ones that have insect larvae in before you eat them.

After I had done all that peeling, I made Melissa’s Chestnut Jam, from the River Cottage Preserves book, by Pam Corbin. I have had my eye on this jam for a little while, not least because Pam recommends them to be eaten with meringue. I usually have a glut of egg whites around, due to my fondness for egg-based sauces and real custard (As a Brit who loves her puddings, vla does not really cut it for me). We are having are christmas minced pie and mulled wine party soon, so I will make the meringues for these, and I will serve them with this jam. I also gave a jar to my friend, for her recent birthday. She has been hankering for egg-free chocolate mousse for a little while, so I hope this jam will be a fitting accompaniment for the one that I made her.

A few things to note about this jam. Firstly, do not try to blend too many chestnuts at a time – they quickly clog up the food processor, and take quite a lot of mixing in to avoid lumps. I didn’t manage it. It would probably be easier to blend them all together at once, with a little cooking liquor,  in a bowl, using a stick blender. I am a little gadget-averse, and won’t buy one on the grounds that I have a food processor, so why have two things to do the same job? Seems my tight attitude has not paid off in this case. I also used to  whip meringues by hand, until one time I broke my collarbone, so had to ask the Big Guy to whip them for a party we had. The next day, he came home with an electric whisk, saying that it would have saved him a couple of hours of his life, that he will never see again.

The chestnuts and the cooking liquor form quite a thick paste. Being much more used to fruit jams, I was very worried that this would not be liquid enough to form a jam. I was wrong, when it is added to the sugar syrup, it quickly liquefies. Do not be tempted to add more than the recommended 100 ml of the cooking liquor to the chestnuts when blending them.

My top tip for this jam is not to cook it if you have children or animals in the vicinity. Pam mentions that it sputters, but not how much, and it is very, very sticky. I have spent ages trying to remove it from the splashback, random bits of kitchen work top and my utensils pot. I also recommend wearing a long-sleeved top when you cook this. Those little splashes hurt.

The jam also sets quite quickly off the heat, so probably keep it on the lowest simmer when you fill the jars, so that the rest remains liquid enough to pour into the rest of them.

It is very nice, and not too sweet, although I think I will up the amount of brandy in the next batch I try. So, try it with meringues, chocolate mousse, or even on toast with some chocolate spread, if you are feeling lazy.

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Foraging: Free Food or Foolish Foray?

Nature's Larder

I really enjoy rootling about in the countryside to find plants that I can eat. I love nature, and all the things in it, so I have invested time in learning common edible species, and then going out to find them. I often take the Big Guy, but am also happy to go alone, although a dog would be great company.

I do this both because I am concerned about eating local food, and also because I get a bit bored with cabbage in the hungry gap, come early spring. I think it is a useful skill to have, beyond the usual brambling that I am sure almost everyone I know has indulged in at one time or another.

Flowers and Fruit

I have tried a number of plants, some of which I have really liked, and some of which I have not. It is a pleasant way to pass a few hours, and mostly you will be eating weeds, so many gardeners will appreciate your efforts.

I also have a fishing rod, and do eat food that people who I know have hunted themselves. I think that this is a sustainable way to eat fish and meat – catch only what you can eat, eat game.  However, this is not the focus of this post. I may get back to this topic at a later date.

When you forage for your own food, you do run risks. There are many plants and fungi about that can make you mildly to quite ill, and there are some that will make you quite dead! Some really tasty species are very easy to confuse with some really deadly ones. Common sense and caution are your friends if you decide to go and sample nature’s larder.

There are also a number of laws and bylaws governing foraging, so try to make sure you know what they are in your area, in order to avoid having your collar felt!

I go by the following basic rules, which should help to keep you safe, and largely legal. You may wish to add your own in the comments.

  1. The laws on foraging tend to be fairly complicated, there are differences between countries, and there may also be local bylaws in effect. Please make sure that you know and follow the laws governing foraging where you are. You can generally find out what may apply through your local council, although be aware that this can be time-consuming, and you may get passed onto to different departments and agencies.
  2. There may well be more complicated laws, and outright bans in some places, on gathering mushrooms for commercial purposes.  I would not take the risk of attempting to gather mushrooms for sale. Unless you are an expert, I really don’t recommend that you do either.
  3. It is polite, and probably a very good idea, to get permission from the landowner before you gather food from his land.
  4. Don’t remove all of the plants in one area. If greedy people have taken them all before they can reproduce, there will be none left for next year. Besides the conservation aspect, older mushrooms and fruits are likely to be unappetising, either through ‘going over’ or by becoming infested with maggots.
  5. Try not to gather food too near to the roads – the things you find there may look really juicy, but they are likely to be contaminated with all sorts of chemicals that result from burning petrol. I also try not to use plants from areas where there is heavy dog use, or at least I make sure that I have washed eveything thoroughly.
  6. Take a good field guide with you. I usually take a few with me, because plants and  mushrooms are not uniform, and you need to have a good idea. A good field guide will have photos, classification charts, and will have information on habitat. I also find taking a tree field guide with me to be very useful, to help me double-check the species that I have. Similar looking mushrooms sometimes grow under different trees, or in different habitats.
  7. Careful identification of the plant or mushroom is required. Only by learning its identity can you be sure if it is poisonous or not. The best way to do this is to proceed with caution. Note the habitat, its appearance (if you can, both young and old specimens), the colour of its spores. Again, good field guides will have this information.
  8. People have different tastes, and different reactions. Once you have identified an edible species, only try a small amount at first, to gauge if you have any adverse reactions.
  9. MOST IMPORTANTLY if you are in any doubt of the identity of your plant, or if it is easily confused with a similar, but poisonous species please err on the side of caution and do not eat it. You must be aware of what happened to that cat who was a little too curious?

Many mushroom  foragers that I know tend to stick to a few patches that they know well, and to two or three species that they are sure of. You could also enlist the help of an expert, and there are many courses that you can go on to improve your knowledge. Whichever way you choose, I am definitely not to blame if you do have ill effects.

Even if I cooked it for you. You shouldn’t suffer, though,  because I am careful to follow these simple rules.

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Wild Garlic Tarts

Wild Garlic Tarts

Wild Garlic Tarts  

Wild Garlic – it is more than likely available in a wood near you right now. It looks quite innocuous, and is easy to walk past. However, walk on it, and there will be no mistaking the smell of garlic.

I love the stuff, and have it in soups, salads, as pesto, I use it as a pot herb, and anything else that I can think of. You can eat the leaves, bulbs and the flowers (although it should be noted that in many places digging up the entire plant is illegal, so only use the flowers and leaves), and all of them have that distinctly garlic taste.

Of course, there are a few basic guidelines to stick to when foraging, and don’t take the whole patch. Apart from needing to leave some for next year’s crop, wild garlic does not keep all that well, lasting about a week in the fridge. And it bruises easily, which only speeds up the deterioration.

One word of caution is that it is possible to confuse the leaves with lily of the valley early in the season, but there really can be no confusion once you smell the plant. If it doesn’t smell of garlic, just don’t eat it!

I had invited a couple of friends over to dinner, and happened to have had a foraging session the day before. I also collected nettles and other wild greens, but these can sometimes be a little ‘niche’ for most people. I thought introducing them to the delights of wild garlic would be an easy and very tasty way in.

As  this was to be a starter, I decided that little tartlets were the way to go. Plus, I had been given some beautiful little individual tart dishes that I wanted to try out.

With savoury tarts, I often prefer cheese pastry. Back in Britain, then only a good cheddar would do for this pastry, but now I live in the Netherlands, and I am not prepared to pay a small fortune for cheddar in a country that prides itself on making its own cheese. I have not necessarily bought  into the fact that Dutch cheeses are the best in the World, but there are enough specialty shops that you can find a good, tasty cheese. For a good cheddar substitute I usually use a piquant belegen boerenkaas (literally ‘sharp mature farmer’s cheese’, which is often unpasteurised).

These are great served with a salad (you can even use foraged leaves if you like), and a fruity dressing. I used home-made blackberry vinaigrette, but balsamic or raspberry would do equally well.

The recipe below is enough for 6 tartlets. If you have fewer people, then both the pastry and the filling will keep in the fridge for up to a week (although the pastry must be tightly wrapped, or just freeze it and thaw before use).

Recip: Wild Garlic Tarts

Ingredients

For the pastry

75 g butter

175 g plain flour (or a mix of half white and half wholemeal plain flour)

50 g of a tasty cheese, such as mature cheddar or piquant belegen boerenkaas

1/2 tsp dry mustard powder

Good pinch of cayenne pepper

For the tart filling

50-100 g wild garlic leaves, cut to a chiffonade

100 g good camembert, finely chopped (any well-flavoured rinsed-rind soft cheese would be good in this dish)

3 eggs

100 ml cream or milk

Freshly grated nutmeg

Paprika

Method

Firstly, make the pastry. I have had very little success in getting good results from using a food processor to form the dough. If you find this easy, combine the ingredients in a food processor, then add cold water to form the dough.

I rub the butter, mustard powder and the flour together by hand. For this I use cold butter, and often have cold hands, so I’m not working the dough too much. You can achieve cold hands by dint of poor circulation, or running them under a cold tap for a few minutes before working the dough.

Once the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs, I add the cheese and the cayenne. I don’t add salt, because the cheese should contain enough. Then I combine the lot with just enough cold water to form a dough.

The pastry needs to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour, but I often go and do something else, then get back to it when I have finished.

Roll out the pastry thinly, and put into the greased tartlet tins. You can also make one large quiche with this recipe. If making individual tarts, I find it easier to cut out smaller discs from the pastry, using a side plate as a template, then gently transfer the thin pastry to the tart tins, and cut to size. Pastry will shrink when you cook it, so it  is better to be generous. You can always trim it later, but you can’t unshrink it.

Blind bake in a hot oven at 180°C. To blind bake, I cover the pastry with rice in greaseproof paper, you can also use beans or ceramic beads. Once rice has been baked in this way, you can no longer cook it normally, so I keep mine in a jar to recycle for every blind bake.

Once the base of the pastry is dry (usually 10 mins) remove the blind bake and put back in the oven until the pastry has browned slightly, and is crisp.

Meanwhile, make the tart filling, by lightly beating the egg and cream, then adding the wild garlic leaves, cheese, paprika nutmeg and mixing well. Season to taste.

When the tart cases are out of the oven, allow to cool slightly, and fill with the filling. Return to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the topping has just set (could be up to half an hour if making a large quiche).

Serve warm or cold.

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