Tag Archives: wild garlic

Recipe…i’ve finally cracked it! Perfect falafel

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I love Middle Eastern food and one of my most frequently made staple snacks (mostly because the kids love it to) is falafel.

Falafel originated in Egypt and is another one of those recipes that varies wildly, although like many does have some basic principles.

Many seem to use broad beans although I prefer to make them with just chick peas.  In Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s book Jerusalem (Ebury) they recommend using only one clove of garlic..while other recipes use up to six! During wild garlic season I use a handful of this instead, but otherwise I would use about 3-4. I like a good hit, but not so I OD on it.

Cumin is the standard spice in most recipes and I don’t differ in that respect. A good teaspoon or two is enough for me along with a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley and a handful of coriander.

Some recipes use onion or spring onion but I like to use a small red onion…its sweeter and varies the flavour.

The mixture should be roughly blitzed in a food processor. A good sturdy model is essential. In the past my attempts to make perfect falafel with a small domestic food processor proved futile.  My all singing all dancing Magimix 5200XL is the best machine I have ever used for the job…no amount of chickpeas can daunt it!

Once ingredients have been blitzed I, like Ottolenghi and Tamimi, add a teaspoon baking powder and a spoon full of flour and leave it to rest in the fridge (I have to say I don’t always leave the mix for an hour though).I roll the balls in sesame seeds which give a nice finish and lovely crunchy texture when deep-fried.

The Perfect Falafel Recipe

Ingredients
500g chickpeas, soaked overnight with half a teaspoon bicarb of soda

3-4  garlic cloves, crushed or a handful of wild garlic leaves

a small red onion, chopped finely

a handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped finely

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

a sprinkle of paprika

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tbsp plain flour

sesame seeds for rolling the balls in

vegetable oil for deep-frying

Combine the drained chickpeas with the garlic, onion, parsley and coriander leaves. Blitz in a food processor until roughly chopped.The mixture should not be a puree, but should retain texture.  Add your spices, baking powder, flour, salt and about four tablespoons of water. Leave to rest in the fridge for up to an hour.

Either heat up a deep fat fryer (which is safest) or half fill a large heavy-based saucepan with vegetable or sunflower oil.

Form the falafel mixture into small golf ball sized portions and roll in sesame seeds. When the oil is hot drop in falafel carefully.

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Don’t overload the pan/fryer…cook about 5 or 6 at a time then when golden remove and drain on paper towels.

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Filed under home cooking, middle eastern food, Recipes, seasonal food, vegan cookery, vegetarian dishes

Orange, herb and wild garlic flower salad

This salad is a variation on a recipe sent to me by Lee from The Beach House Kitchen. He helped us out at supper club the other weekend and since he’d spent a time living in Spain, I thought I’d ask him to create a traditional type of salad to go with the rich meaty main course for our Spanish themed evening.

He did a bit of research and came up with this. A riot of colours and flavours it complimented the pork and bean Fabada Asturiana perfectly, the citrus, garlic and herb elements cutting through the deep earthy flavour of the stew and refreshing the palate before dessert.

Lee’s salad made with wild garlic for the first supper club

First time round we substituted wild garlic for mixed leaves as it was still running riot in our garden. On Saturday we went for early lettuce (which is just as good) as the wild garlic has just about finished and all that remains are the flowers, tiny white balls of petals which still give a big garlicky kick, but with added attractiveness.

This is a perfect spring or summer salad and now that we finally have a little bit of sun it makes an ideal healthy lunch or barbecue accompaniment.

For the first salad you will need:

Mixed salad leaves or wild garlic

As many oranges as you want (one to two per person depending on size of orange), de-segmented and juice reserved (see instructions below)

a handful of garden herbs (We used fresh marjoram, mint and flat leaf parsley) chopped roughly

1 pomegranate separated from all the bits that hold it into the skin

Bunch of spring onions chopped finely

Kalamata olives, halved, stones removed

A dessertspoonful of sesame seeds

a simple dressing made from juice of half a lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.

For the second: We left out the sesame seeds and olives but added more orange and herbs. Our dressing was an orangey french dressing made with

85ml olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

half a teaspoon Dijon mustard

a small clove garlic crushed

half a teaspoon honey

some of the reserved orange juice

Put into a screw top jar and shake well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make both:

Lay the leaves on a large platter or serving dish.

To de-segment an orange use a sharp knife and cut off the top and the bottom. Place on a chopping board and hold firmly. Cut down each side of the orange removing the skin and as much of the pith as you can. You don’t want any skin or pith in the salad as it will make it bitter. Cut each segment from the skin that holds it in place holding it over a bowl so you catch the juice. Toss the segments over the mixed leaves.

Then simply scatter over the rest of the ingredients, only adding the sesame seeds (if using) at the last-minute before serving.

You can also add a couple of peeled and sliced avocado’s.

Our mixed lettuce and wild garlic flower variation

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Filed under British food, local produce, Recipes, salads, seasonal food, Uncategorized

Wild garlic and thyme

Wild garlic,ramsons, Allium Ursinum, bear’s garlic, devil’s garlic, gypsy’s onions and stinking Jenny are all names given to a plant that grows widely in damp woodland around Britain and in Europe. Despite its many pseudonyms I’m sticking to plain old wild garlic because that is what I (and many others in the UK) know it as.

Wild garlic only has a short season. It’s almost a case of blink and you’ll miss it in Wales. It only really starts to show itself at the end of February (depending on how mild the weather is) but now the signs are that the season is coming to an end (you can tell when it begins to flower). I have a huge wild garlic patch in my garden and while its there I like to take full advantage of it.

There are many reasons for eating wild garlic and it has so many reported health properties (good for the heart, the blood, high blood pressure, digestive cleansing among them) although I just think it tastes damn good. But then I am a big fan of garlic, which generally is good for you anyway. The only group who should avoid wild garlic are breastfeeding mothers…but only because it supposedly makes the breast milk taste of garlic! Breastfeeding didn’t stop me eating garlic and now they both love the stuff!!

I use wild garlic in lots of things. I’ve blogged about making wild garlic puree before (it makes the perfect finish to a delicate creamy soup) and I often add a chopped handful to a home-made minestrone. Salads cry out for a few added leaves and of course the flowers are edible too, so they can be used for flavour and prettiness.

This weekend I tried them out in a Spanish tortilla along with some fresh thyme, which is just starting to wake up in the garden too.

Wild garlic and thyme; they make such a perfect combination. Mixed with potatoes, red onions and olive oil they create a dish of perfect simplicity. Add the eggs and bake in the oven and hey presto you have an easy, tasty supper…or in this case a dish that when cut into squares made the perfect addition to our tapas menu at supper club.

For your tortilla which will feed six (very hungry) to eight people you will need:

700g waxy potatoes (such as charlotte, maris peer), peeled, washed and cut into thinnish slices, 1 large red onion finely sliced, 500ml of olive oil, a handful of fresh thyme leaves, a handful of finely chopped wild garlic, 8 large eggs, a couple of good tablespoons full of finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper.

preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 5.

Warm half the olive oil in a large pan. Layer the potatoes and onions, thyme and wild garlic in the pan. Pour over the rest of the olive oil (yes I know it uses a lot but the aim is to poach the potatoes in it. You can save it and use it again afterwards), cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Beat the eggs, parsley, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Drain the potato and onion mixture saving the olive oil for another day. Add potatoes to the eggs and mix together. Transfer it all to the pan and put in the oven for about 20 minutes or until set and just turning brown on top.

You can serve this hot or cold and it’s best accompanied by a salad dressed with a sharp acidic dressing.

NB: Choose a pan that can be used on the top of the stove and in the oven.

Another NB: Take care when picking wild garlic. If you are not sure what you are looking for ask someone who knows…Wild garlic can easily be mistaken for Lily of the Valley…which is poisonous (although really, if you crush the leaves and they smell like garlic you’ve probably found it correctly).

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Stop press: Rachel’s Organic new range of yogurts

On my return from London I was pleasantly surprised to find a delicious delivery of goodies from Rachel’s Organic. My neighbour had mercifully spotted the perishable sticker on the front and kindly opened the box stacking everything neatly in the fridge. Usually on return from a holiday the fridge looks depressing bare, maybe a limp carrot has been left to shrivel at the bottom of the veg drawer and a few half empty jars stand forlornly on the top shelf. This time it was different. On this occasion a pleasingly full fridge greeted us. A whole shelf full to the brim with with Rachel’s products. We had to take everything out just to check what was there!

Along with their new range of fat-free yogurt, they had sent me several packs of creamy rice pudding (which I love heated for 30 seconds in the microwave and topped with a teaspoon of home-made jam, lemon curd or fruit compote. They make the perfect lunch box treat for someone with a sweet tooth, like myself); plus a few tubs of low-fat natural yogurt, four granola pots (which we devoured immediately as we were hungry from the drive home), a special edition four-pack of coconut (two with passionfruit and two with pineapple and banana) and a low-fat apple & elderflower. The three new limited edition fat-free flavours were blackcurrant, strawberry and rhubarb and peach and passionfruit.

I’d not tasted the apple and elderflower before so this was the first large tub that I opened. Sprinkled with a handful of Mornflake Orchard Granola it made the perfect breakfast. The blackcurrant almost disappeared before my eyes as my son decided to test this one out when I wasn’t looking. Sprinkled with Jordans Super Berry Granola he loved it.  I did get a small look in before it went completely.

To be honest I often avoid fat-free varieties of yogurt and produce as I find them a little insubstantial flavour wise. I like something with a little creaminess which is why I would go for a low-fat variety and not totally fat-free. The apple and elderflower, which is from their low-fat range really hit the spot and I loved it. I wasn’t so sure about the fat-free blackcurrant. A creamier yogurt might have offset the sharpness of the blackcurrant I little better so I wasn’t quite sold on this version. In contrast I loved the Strawberry and rhubarb (which was my favourite) and Peach and passionfruit. The more delicate and somewhat sweeter fruits seem to work better with the fat-free yogurt.

This surprise delivery filled me with enthusiasm. Usually after a long drive my desire to stand cooking for ages is understandably diminished, but armed with a fridge full of yogurt, a large chunk of left over lamb (from Easter Sunday dinner) and a garden which had grown with a vengeance (despite the snow) I managed to create a feast!

Leftover spiced lamb paired with a mint and cucumber yogurt dip, lemony couscous with wild garlic and parsley and steamed purple sprouting broccoli (which had gone mad in the garden!).

Lamb: 400g leftover roast lamb chopped in to pieces, 1 large red onion finely chopped, a couple of cloves of garlic finely chopped, tablespoon rapeseed oil, 2 teaspoons of roasted cumin seeds crushed lightly, 2 teaspoons coriander, a pinch of chilli flakes, a tin of chopped tomatoes, quarter of a pint of chicken stock, a dessertspoonful sumac, slat and pepper (and fresh coriander to finish but I didn’t have any).

Cook the onion gently in oil until softening. Add garlic, coriander, cumin and chilli flakes and cook gently to release the lovely aroma. Add tomatoes and stock and cook for a few minutes until bubbling then add the lamb and sumac, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Couscous: put enough couscous to feed four into a shallow bowl (a mug full should do it depending on how hungry you are), pour over enough boiling vegetable stock (for speed use Kallo organic stock cubes or vegetable bouillon) to cover. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. When you are ready put the couscous in a serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Stir in chopped herbs, a handful of wild garlic finely chopped, salt and pepper, juice of half a lemon and a good glug of olive oil. Steam the broccoli lightly and serve on top (I admit I slightly overdid mine…I was getting tired by this point!)

Yogurt dip: One tub of Rachel’s organic natural yogurt, half a cucumber grated and squeezed to remove as much juice as possible, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or so of finely chopped mint leaves. Mix together in a serving bowl.

Dinner…yum!

 

 

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, home cooking, Recipes, seasonal food, Sources and suppliers, Uncategorized, Using leftovers

Gardening, farms, markets and wild dining

Unfortunately due to a lack of bookings, supper club didn’t take place this weekend. It’s a shame as I do look forward to it, but hey every cloud has a silver lining and the lack of supper club simply meant more time in the garden, pruning, digging, planting up the veg patch and thinking of new ways to use the free wild produce growing there.

purple sprouting

spring cabbages

last of the winter lettuces, amazingly survived the snow and the cold protected in the polytunnels

On Friday afternoon I’d already taken advantage of the sunny weather and extra time on my hands to spend an hour at Moelyci environmental centre with the little one, the teen and their mate. I’d originally popped in to see if their rhubarb was ready (which I wanted to use to make rhubarb and ginger jam for my produce stall at the Moelyci spring fair this Sunday 17th April) and by chance also got the opportunity to visit their six new residents. The teen was less than enthusiastic so in honour of her swinish behaviour we named one after her….the littlun had a whale of a time pig herding and chasing them round a rather muddy enclosure, but was very sad to learn that in due course we would be enjoying Moelyci bacon!

Aidan pig herding

Roisin the pig, named after the teen 🙂

My love of local produce doesn’t end at Moelyci and I spend lots of time hunting down new and exciting goodies. The markets (at Ysgol David Hughes on Anglesey and Conwy RSPB reserve) are a must, whether its to pick up some well-loved favourites or to hunt out something new, like the Rhyd y Delyn Caerphilly (not for sale yet but got myself a sample and its pretty damn yummy).

Derimon smokery
locally cultivated shiitake mushrooms

Back in the garden my wild garlic and sorrel patches expand every year, as do the nettles. While trying to keep them from creeping across the rest of the garden I also keep in mind that they are a very useful addition to the garden and a great free natural resource for cooking. Nettles are apparently high in iron and natural histamines and are a diuretic so good for detoxifying. They are probably the best free spring tonic you can get, although whether their histamine properties mean they ward off hay fever (which is just starting to kick in now the sun is out and the blossom is on the tress) I don’t know…but its worth a try! So off I went armed with a pair of thick gloves and a carrier bag to collect enough of the tips (it’s just the young tops that you want) for a big pot of soup. Today then on the menu was rhubarb, nettles and ramsons.

nettles and ramsons for the soup

For my nettle soup I melted 50g butter in a pan and sweated a large chopped onion, 2 sticks of celery and half a small head of fennel for about 10 minutes. I then added a large peeled and chopped potato (about 400g) half a carrier bag of nettle tops and a litre of chicken stock (but you could use vegetable stock) and allowed it to simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato was cooked. Once cooked I chucked in a small bunch of chopped wild garlic (ramsons) and salt and pepper then blitzed in the blender until smooth. Finally check the seasoning and add about 100ml cream. The soup has a light, delicate flavour, a bit like pea soup. I didn’t want to over do it with the wild garlic for fear of smothering the taste of the nettle (like a mild spinach) but you could add more if you wanted a stronger chivey sort of taste. All you need to enjoy is a sunny spot and maybe a glass of something cold.

creamy nettle and wild garlic soup

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