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Archive for April, 2010

Picking Wild Garlic

Foraging for Wild Garlic

Invariably you will smell wild garlic before you see it. Generally it is available in late April/May time and these thin, vibrant, green blades of garlic are bouncy, fun and easy to prepare. To be honest when wild garlic is around I involve the whole family in picking it!

I am very lucky as my parent’s farm is home to an amazing wood that is a wild garlic blanket in season.  I have filled bags and bags of the stuff for Rudding Park – so much so that my Dad said I should consider them a local food hero!

Once I have donned my wellies and had a good forage in the woods, one of my favourite methods for preparing the garlic is to use it to make a tasty pesto. This goes really well with pasta, in a chicken salad or drizzled around a salmon steak with pesto new potatoes.

Wild Garlic Pesto recipe

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Yorkshire Asparagus

Yorkshire Asparagus

Please do not be alarmed – I have not been to Stonehenge nor listening to Britney’s Pop music, but simply on a trip to East Yorkshire!  There the Asparagus is ready – we North Yorkshire wild cooks will have to wait a week or so longer for this regal vegetable to grace our tables, but the first Yorkshire Asparagus is officially ready to buy.

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than eating these green magic wands (yes I am still talking about asparagus!), either on their own complemented by a rich Hollandaise, or as part of a spectacular local dish:

Bolton Abbey Lamb Rump with Red Onion Marmalade and Yorkshire Asparagus Spears

This is a great way of cooking asparagus – we are demonstrating this on Saturday (24 April) at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show, so if you are in the area, why not pop in for a look …

What is you favourite asparagus dish? I’d love to hear from you!

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The weather doesn’t seem to have helped us recently. However, the chives have been spotted in the allotment!  Their spiky blades are poking gingerly out into the springtime cold air.  My little sister has a chive plant in her garden and it’s affectionately know as “Chaz the Chive!”  What’s yours called?

I love chives – their flavour is much milder than the bulbous onion and they make great bread.  Please do try this bread recipe – it is one I rely on and it is a fail safe classic which works every time:

Chive Bread Recipe

You will “knead” decidedly bigger buns for this chive bread – I promise!”

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How to zap up your champagne or sparkling wine, Wild Cook style …

I was recently cooking for a dinner party and the welcoming drink was a Champagne cocktail of Champagne and Sloe Gin.  So I thought I would try this Sloe cocktail.

The sloe gin we made last year tastes fantastic with this effervescing liquid – what a drink to get any party started.

The recipe is simple.  Imagine you are making a glass of cordial – simply pour the Sloe Gin in the bottom of the glass and slowly top up the glass with Champagne or sparkling wine.  How simple but, oh, how effective!

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April Artichokes

Fellow food forager, Peter Banks (of ‘Cider with Peter‘ fame) is never happier than when he’s up to his knees in mud in his vegetable patch. Here he shares his thoughts on April vegetables:

Digging for artichokes

The family digging for artichokes in the vegetable patch

As TS Elliot wrote in The Wasteland, “April is the cruellest month”, – this certainly rings true in the garden.  Whilst the trees are coming into bud and the spring bulbs are coming into bloom, paradoxically the garden is almost fallow.  This year’s vegetables are still tiny seedlings, but last year’s winter greens (kale etc) and winter roots are already finished.

One of the rare exceptions however is the marvellous Jerusalem artichoke – its gnarled appearance belies a fantastic nutty flavour.  These vegetables can still be pulled until the end of April. 

Digging for Artichokes

Digging for Artichokes

The other advantage of these nutty veg, is their ease of propagation.  Simply break off a 2” square piece of the root and plant it approx 4” deep in the ground.  However make sure that you plant them on the eastern or northern most part of your garden as at 8 foot tall, they cast a substantial amount of shade across the garden.

Plant them in a prepared trench (I put paper shreddings at the bottom to hold moisture) and watch out for their spreading tendancy.  In the meantime, enjoy this hearty Jerusalem Artichoke and Smoky Bacon Soup.

Peter

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Pigeon Perfect

WoodpigeonThese feathered friends are disastrous for crops, so do not feel too bad about eating them!  The breast meat is wonderful and tender when cooked pink and the flavour is mild enough not to frighten people away.

The best way to cook pigeon is on the bone then remove the breast meat and slice before serving.  Try this recipe at home and let us know how you get on

Perfect Pigeon with Tartiflette Potatoes

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