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…..

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    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.

    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.

    

    

    Humble Crumble

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    The leftovers from my hedgerow jelly making needed to be used up, so pie or crumble? The other half wanted pie but, to he honest I couldn’t be bothered making pastry this evening, so crumble won, (it wasn’t a difficult decision). This is really no special crumble. It’s basic but comforting to eat.

    Ingredients

    3 medium cooking apples, cored, peeled and chopped small
    2 cups of blackberries
    4 tbsp sugar
    For the topping:
    4 heaped tbsp plain flour
    4 heaped tbsp oats
    3 tbsp sugar (I like brown)
    75g butter melted gently

    Put your oven on 180C. Combine the fruit and first lot of sugar and place in your baking dish, set to one side.

    Place the flour, oats, and sugar in a bowl and roughly mix. Melt the butter and mix in to the dry ingredients with a fork until it starts sticking together and resembles a ‘crumble’. Spread the topping evenly on the fruit, ensuring it’s all covered. Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown.

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    Honey Cake With Lavender and Rosemary

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    We have some bees in the family although I’m not close with them, in fact I have a love hate relationship with them. I don’t want to live with them, but I want all the booty they have on offer, quite selfish of me really, but that’s what comes from having been stung too many times in life!

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    Thankfully I don’t have to rise to the challenge of maintaining and extracting the honey, that’s grandpa’s job and the small ones love to watch and get their fingers sticky when they can!

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    So this cake is a collaboration between what the bees have foraged and what I have foraged, although they worked much harder than I did. I only needed a bit of lavender and rosemary.

    This recipe I have adapted for my own purpose from a recipe book I use frequently, Apples for Jam, by a great author, Tessa Kiros who is full of inspiration for any cook, her books are just a pleasure to sit and look through.

    Anyway I digress, let me get to the recipe. It uses summer flavours and promises to be light, moist and topped with a delicious lemon icing. It is very easy to make and the ingredients are not difficult to find. If you have no lavender in the garden, you can omitt it from the recipe or find it at good supermarkets such as Ocado which stocks Barts Lavender.

    Ingrendients

    150g butter
    115g dark brown sugar
    175g honey
    200g plain white flour
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tbsp finely chopped lavender flowers
    1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
    2 eggs beaten

    Lemon Icing

    250g icing sugar
    100g butter
    1-2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
    2 tbsp lemon juice

    Grease and line a 22cm tin, put your oven on 180C.

    Warm the butter, sugar and honey in a pan, with 1 tbsp of water. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved. Cool.

    Meanwhile sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon into a mixing bowl. Add the lavender & rosemary, eggs and honey mixture and beat until well combined. Pour into your prepared tin and bake 35-40 mins. (Mine baked nearer 35 mins, but I have a fan oven). Cool in the tin.

    For the icing, sift icing sugar into a bowl, add butter, lemon zest & juice, and 1tbsp of water. Again beat until smooth. Spread over the cooled cake. Finally add a few lavender flowers to decorate.

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    Wild Garlic Pesto

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    Wild garlic has to be one of the foragers most rewarding finds, although, by its smell, it’s a plant that finds you, begging you to appreciate its culinary delights. There is such an abundance of it, yet a selfish part of me doesn’t want to share the bounty of it and I hate it when the season comes to an end.

    It is easy to find, look along a shaded hedge or in a wood for its spear shaped, smooth leaves. Be sure to know what your picking, an easy test is to break a leaf and take a sniff, which will leave you in no doubt, and then collect what you need.

    With this recipe you can use the pesto like any other pesto but it sure doesn't taste like any other pesto. It's wonderfully rich, powerful and very versatile.

    Ingredients:

    200g Wild garlic
    120g Pine nuts (or similar)
    120g Parmesan or percorino
    320mls Olive oil
    Salt & pepper

    Put all ingredients except the oil in a food processor and blitz until it’s the consistency you wish then slowly mix in the olive oil.
    Transfer to sterilised jars, add more oil on top to cover the pesto. This will make approximately 4 jars. Keep in the fridge and it will last several weeks, if you can stop your self eating it that is.

    It’s now just begging for a piece of fresh bread, some new potatoes or pasta to be doused in this delicious stuff.

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