Wild Garlic Kimchi


There is still a bit of wild garlic season left and I have found a new use for this fab wild leaf. If you love spice, south East Asian food and you love yourself then this is the food for you. It’s got a kick to it, it’s super healthy and its full of probiotics for your gut and it tastes fab.


Kimchi is traditionally made out of Chinese leaf but there can be many variations with squash, radish, cucumber, so using wild garlic is not a crazy departure from tradition. Just pick half a bag of wild garlic, give or take a bit, there are no rules here, and add to Chinese leaf to make a combined total weight.  

Ingredients

  • 2kg Chinese leaf and wild garlic, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • 150g Gochujang paste
  • 8 Spring onions chopped in small batons
  • 1 Apple chopped in small batons
  • 2tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1tbsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1tbsp chilli flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic

Extra crushed/grated garlic/chilli flakes (gochugaru) can be added to your taste.


    Chop the chinese leaf and wild garlic into rough chunks and layer in a bowl, salting each layer as you go.  Add water to the same level as the leaves, no more. Put a plate that fits on top of leaves inside of bowl and put a heavy weight on top. Leave for several hours or preferably overnight.

    Prepare your paste by mixing the remaining ingredients together in a bowl.  Drain off the water from the leaves, and then rinse at least 3 times to reduce the saltiness. Squeeze out any excess liquid.

    Mix together your Chinese leaf and wild garlic with the kimchi paste, thoroughly. Transfer your mixture to jars, Kilmer jars are ideal. Ensure whatever you used has been sterilised.  However Koreans often just put it in plastic tubs but they eat the stuff in vast quantities! 

    Make sure you leave an few centimetre air gap at the top of your jar as fermentation can be wild with some batches and it could spill out of the jars. Speaking from experience you don’t want to omit this step as its pain to clean up and leaves your kitchen with quite a strong aroma!

    Leave the jars at room temperature for 3-5 days, opening them once a day to release any air.  Then transfer to a cool place and keep in the fridge once opened.

    Then enjoy with noodles, fried rice, salads, soups…..

    Wild Flower Syrup 

     

    Summer lags behind this year and I’ve been waiting to start picking, so I can get making. Last year it was me that lagged behind, so this year I didn’t want to waste any opportunities. I managed some foraging on a sunny day, a rarity at present and decided to make syrup, trying to get that one hot sunny day bottled!

    Syrups are versatile, perfect at catching the essence of something, preserving that moment for a later date. Pour your syrupy creation on pancakes, use as a cordial, cocktail mixer (I’m thinking with Prosecco, yum), over ice cream… and so on.  Cheap to make and the ingredients are on your doorstep, just get out there and capture summer in a bottle.

    There are many scented flowers out there to create a syrup with.  Classically you could stick to a single flower like elderflower or rose or you could collect others and make a wildflower syrup.  You can use dandelion, hawthorn, wild roses.  You can look in your own garden, use roses that have not been treated with fertiliser or pesticides, or use herbs you find there.  Experimentation with flavours would be a good idea.  Rose & thyme?  Elderflower & basil?  Who knows, I’m just throwing them out there?
    So I found elderflower, hawthorn and some rose from the garden, the recipe I have used is adapted from River Cottage Hedgerow, it’s a great book and worth a look.

    Ingredients

    • Lots of freshly picked blossoms (1 litre ish)
    • Up to 1kg sugar
    • Up to 500ml water

    As the amount of flowers collected is unknown, it’s just important to make a note of your weight of sugar at the start, subtract the sugar you have left after ‘layering’, then you know how much you have used, you need to know this quantity later.

    Take your blossoms and layer them approximately 2cm at the bottom at the bottom of your jar or jug.  Next add a 1cm layer of sugar and repeat till your reach the top.  If any of your blossoms are bulky, press them down to pack them in a bit.  But the layering does not have to be a work of art, as you can see, mine clearly isn’t and some layers have merged.

      
    Cover your jug/jar and leave it alone for 24 hours. 

    Empty your mixture into a saucepan and add to it 50mls water for for every 100g sugar you used (the quantity you worked out earlier).  

      
    Heat the mixture gently, stir until all the sugar is dissolved.  Strain through a muslin or cheese cloth (even a clean tea towel would do) into a clean jug.

    Pour the syrup into a sterilised bottle (see the  Elderflower Cordial recipe on how to sterilise bottles).  If you don’t use the syrup right away, store in the fridge, once you do open it.

    Figs in a wine syrup

     
    I tried these once in a restaurant and thought they were delicious, even a hater of figs would struggle not to like them; my only disappointment was that the portion was smaller than I wanted!  So thought I’d have a bash at at recreating them, what’s the worst that could happen? Well it would just be stewed figs, no hardship there if you like figs, fortunately it all turned out alright. 

    Figs are easy to come by at the supermarket, but probably best bought from an Asian grocer or similar, as they are often more plentiful and cheaper here.  Buying baby ones are ideal, if not just buy what you can lay your hands on and cut the big ones in half after cooking. Even better if you grown your own and can pick them!

     

    Ingredients

    • 500-600g figs
    • 300g sugar
    • 300mls dry white wine
    • 200mls water
    • Rind of 1 lemon
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence/paste
    • 1 cinnamon stick, break in half
    • 4 cloves
    • 4 cardamom pods, gently crushed
    • Several tbsps rum

    Gently clean the figs, and take off the end off the hardened end of the stalk.

    In a pan add the sugar, wine, water, lemon, vanilla, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom gently bring to the boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add the figs and poach them for 15-20 mins (depending on their size) on a low heat, just simmering.  

     

    Fish out the figs when they have poached and set aside. Cook the remaining liquid in the pan down to a syrup for a further 30 minutes. Then leave to cool a little.

    In a clean jar (preferably one that’s been ate rises in the oven: wash jar, lay in 100C oven for 30 mins should do), pack in the figs you set aside earlier.  Pour over the syrup, making sure the figs are under the surup.  Add 1 tbsp of rum to each jar and then close with a well sealing lid.

    Ideally wait a couple of weeks before eating.  I didn’t though, it needed pairing with a dollop of marscapone sitting in my fridge.  Lovely with pancakes or waffles too, as is any leftover syrup!


     

    Wild Garlic Pesto Pizza

    Spring is here, (it may not feel like it some days when there is still ice cold winds), but the wild garlic has appeared, and that’s how I know.  This is arguably one of the best forages of the year, so I’ve been out picking already. The recipe for the pesto is here, really easy to make, and keeps well in the fridge if it lasts long enough. However, when my other half makes pizza it’s just asking for trouble!

    

    This pesto pizza is really low maintenance, you don’t even have to make the dough if you don’t want. I often use soft Lancashire or Staffordshire oatcakes as pizza bases for the kids, which they love, and it only takes 5 minutes to throw it altogether. I love it too, its a yum alternative to your average garlic bread, and it can be dressed up as a main meal with salad.

    Ingredients

    Preheat your oven to 220C, ideally heat your baking tray or pizza stone as well.

    Roll out your dough or get out your bases, spread generously with the wild garlic pesto. Dot the soft cream cheese over the top. If you wish to have extra cheese use some grated cheddar or mozzarella. 

    Place on the baking tray and bake until golden, approximately 10 minutes, if your pizza base is quite thick it may take slightly longer to bake. 

    Enjoy while it’s hot and the fewer people you have to share it with the better.

    

    

    Orange Madeleines 

    This is what you get when the kids help you ice your cakes.  Ugly madeleines, much fun and stickiness, but pretty ugly!  Madeleine’s disappear fast in this house, and are a breeze to make.  It doesn’t take long to whip up a batch, which is good when you have a three and a five year old helping you.

    A madeleine tin is ideal but you could make them in fairy cake size tins, the cooking time is also short at 8-10 mins so it really is a low maintenance recipe.

    So why orange?  Well I had blood orange icing left over from my last bake so the madeleines seemed like the perfect vehicle for the job, and you can’t go wrong with a hit of citrus really. 

    Ingredients 

    • 200g sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 240g plain flour
    • 1tsp, heaped,baking powder
    • 50mls milk
    • Zest of one orange
    • 125g butter, melted

    Preheat oven to 190C. This recipe makes 26-30 little cakes, so grease two madeleine tins well.  

    Mix the sugar and eggs together until well combined. Sift in the flour and baking powder, mix again.  Add the milk, orange zest and melted butter. Combine again til all ingredients incorporated.

    Pour batter into tins (about a dessert spoonful in each mould) and bake for 8-10 mins until golden.  To get the familiar madeleine ‘hump’, you have to open and close your oven door when the batter is cooked around the edges but not in the centre. 

    Once out of the oven remove from the tins and cool on a wire rack. Cover with icing as you desire, the recipe is here.  If your lucky, and the kids helped you, they maybe look as ugly as mine, but hopefully taste as good as well.

    They do keep for a week in airtight container and I freeze half a batch (un-iced) for later due to the sheer quantity made, good if you have little time to bake and need a last minute idea.

    

    

    Blood Orange and Rosemary Cake

    I’ve bought a new cook book, a guilty pleasure of mine and I couldn’t resist making this amazing cake I found in there.  I love the idea of herbs in sweet things and not just keeping them for savoury dishes. The cook book is called What Katie Ate written by food blogger and photographer Katie Quinn Davies. Definitely worth a look if you like cooking. 

    I chose this cake as not only did it look yum, but blood oranges are in season, the rosemary is in the garden, a herb that should still be standing through the frosts. The rest of the ingredients are all store cupboard. If you can’t get your hands on any blood oranges then ordinary oranges would do the cake justice.

    Ingredients 

    225g butter 220g caster sugar 2tsp orange liqueur 3 eggs beaten 1 orange, skin & pith removed and then segmented 1 blood orange, skin & pith removed & then segmented 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed 300g plain flour 2tsp baking powder 

    Blood orange syrup 

    2 blood oranges, juiced 2 oranges, juiced 1tbsp caster sugar 

    Blood orange icing 

    1 Blood orange, juiced 320g icing sugar Preheat your oven to 180C and grease a bundt tin, (alternatively grease & line a 22cm round cake tin).

    Cream your butter and sugar until well mixed and light in colour.  Add in your orange liqueur and eggs, keep mixing til combined.

    

    Whizz the the blood orange, orange  and rosemary in food processor until all is finely chopped and pulpy.  Add to the creamed butter & sugar mixture and combine.

    Gradually sift in the flour and baking powder whilst mixing on a low speed.  Once well combined, pour into your tin and bake for 45-50 mins, til your skewer comes out clean. 

    While the cake is baking, make the surup.  Put the ingredients in a stirring til it boils, slow to a simmer for 10mins or so, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has reduced by about a third, keep this warm.

    Let the cake cool for 5-10mins in the tin, then move to a wire rack. Prick the cake over the top, and ensuring there is a plate underneath, pour over your orange syrup. Use up as much as possible, I repoured with the syrup caught on the plate underneath, too good to waste!

    Lastly mix the icing ingredients together and drizzle over the top. I had loads of icing left over (probably 1/3) so you can either reduce your quantity or save it for more cakes such as these Orange Madeleine’s or biscuits. Enjoy.

    

    Tartan Fabric Handmade Christmas Cards

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    Most years I make my own Christmas cards as long as they don’t cost more to make than buy, as sometimes is the case with craft. However everything I had was to hand and the fabric was some vintage scraps I found at the bottom of a box.

    So it’s a new departure for the blog, but I thought I’d give it a whirl and there is still plenty of time to make these simple cards and send them before Christmas.

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    All you need is:
    Plain cards or A5 folded in half
    Scraps of material
    Pinking shears
    Thread to match your material
    Ideally a sewing machine, (you could hand see if making a few only)

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    Cut out triangles of your chosen fabric.
    Lay them on your card
    Sew from top to bottom holding your Christmas tree in place as you go, starting about 1cm above the tree, straight stitch all the way down to about 2cm below the tree, to give it a trunk.

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    Snip off the ends of thread.
    And your done, how easy was that?!

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