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Archive for April, 2012

32 dishes and 7 weeks later, I’ve reached the end of my challenge!

The season is almost over here in Bristol and my husband, family and friends now groan at the sight or mere mention of wild garlic so it’s time to call it a day.

There are recipes, like wild garlic pasta, a rabbit and cider pie topped with wild garlic pastry and confit salmon with wild garlic puree, that I didn’t get chance to test before the garlic was past its best but I’ll save those for next season!

As we munched our way through handful after handful of the tasty leaves, it didn’t take long to deduce that not only can wild garlic be used in just about any dish (although I drew the line at desserts!) but also that, above all, wild garlic has an affinity with eggs, potatoes, mushrooms, cheese and peas. They were the ingredients which really suited the flavour of the wild garlic and let it shine.

There were several highlights throughout the challenge (wild garlic and cheese twice baked soufflé, mushroom and parmesan stuffed chicken breast wrapped in wild garlic and prosciutto, wild garlic mash, wild garlic and chive scones, beetroot, feta and wild garlic sandwich and wild garlic paneer to name a few) but without doubt the best dish was so embarrassingly simple; scrambled eggs with wild garlic on seeded wholemeal toast.

But what of this week’s challenge?

Wild garlic, pea, courgette and stilton frittata. I couldn’t finish the challenge without making a frittata and as I’d already established that eggs, cheese and peas are the best matches for wild garlic, my frittata had to combine these in some way. This week of the challenge coincided with National Stilton Week so my frittata combined the sharp cheese with the sweetness of peas and courgette and the mellow flavour of the cooked wild garlic.

New potato salad with a wild garlic, parsley and cider vinegar dressing. This potato salad (I used Cornish new potatoes but you could use Jersey Royals which have just come into season, or any other new potato) went well with a salmon burger and green beans. A simple and satisfying tea.

Onion, pea and wild garlic bhajis. There is rarely a week go by that I don’t make a curry for dinner. This week I made some tasty bhajis, incorporating wild garlic, to go with alongside a sag gohst.

Roast turkey with wild garlic and tarragon butter and wild garlic dauphinoise. Spot on for Sunday dinner and a wonderful end to the challenge. I slow roasted a turkey thigh as an alternative to a joint – more than enough to feed two of us – basting it in the wild garlic and tarragon butter. Served with the creamy and mildly garlicky dauphinoise and vegetables.

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I’ve got just a couple of dishes to share with you from week six of my wild garlic challenge but I’m looking forward to trying out several new recipes in the week ahead. My mind was working overtime the other day so I’m itching to get in the kitchen!

Wild garlic and chilli meatballs. With my father-in-law staying with us at the moment I bravely took on what I consider to be his signature dish, spaghetti and meatballs. These meatballs, made with just some green chilli, chopped wild garlic, a few breadcrumbs and seasoning, really packed a flavour punch. I was honoured to have him tell me he thought they were better than his own – and I’d drive miles for his meatballs!

Wild garlic mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is such an obvious way to use wild garlic that I wanted to discover other ideas before making it. The time was ripe this week. You could serve it with countless dishes (I’m dreaming of a hot roast chicken sandwich with wild garlic mayo right now!) but we enjoyed it with smoked salmon fishcakes and salad.

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What a difference a week makes. As I reached my foraging site earlier this week I was stunned by how much the wild garlic had grown since my last visit. Much of what is there is now so large it’s past its best but there are still fresh young leaves to be found amongst the larger leaves.

I was met with mixed emotions on seeing the flowers starting to open. Joy at their beauty and the thought of how they could be used but sadness because their appearance means my challenge will shortly be drawing to a close.

I had better make the most of the time I have left and get my thinking cap on for ways in which I can preserve the leaves for a little while after the season has ended. In the meantime, this is what I’ve been making this week:

Crispy shredded wild garlic leaves. I deep fried the shredded leaves, crispy seaweed style and used them to sprinkle on top of a Thai style pork mince, vegetable and noodle dish. The crisp texture was perfect to finish this dish and the intense flavour really complimented the spicy, sweet, salty, sour combination.

Wild garlic paneer. Paneer (Indian cheese) is a ridiculously easy way to start making your own cheese. All you need is whole milk and lemon juice. I haven’t yet graduated beyond my own paneer but there’s still time! I flavoured mine with chopped wild garlic leaves before forming and pressing and turned it into an Indian stirfry with coriander and mustard seeds, curry leaves, spinach and coriander. We ate the paneer as part of a thali with ginger and cumin okra, tarka dhal, kachumba and chapattis.

Wild garlic stuffing. I sweated some finely chopped onion in oil, mixed with breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and finely chopped wild garlic leaves and used it to stuff a pork roasting join. A salty crushed fennel seed and black pepper rub for the crackling worked well with both the pork and the stuffing.

Wild garlic crostini. I used the remainder of the wild garlic oil I made to go with the pea soup in week two to drizzle onto thinly sliced bread which I then toasted. I served the crostini with my chorizo and butterbean stew.

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We moved house at the weekend so with much of the kitchen packed in boxes and plenty of other priorities, the wild garlic challenge had to take a back seat.

The challenge wasn’t a complete write off though – this week was all about quality not quantity! I highly recommend you give these dishes a try.

Wild garlic carbonara. Spaghetti, bacon, wild garlic, eggs, parmesan and black pepper transform into a quick, simple and satisfying dish. Use good quality smoked bacon or pancetta for this dish.

Wild garlic and cheese twice baked soufflé. OK, so a soufflé can be scary but the beauty of the twice baked version is that if it doesn’t rise as you’d hoped it doesn’t matter. Once it’s cooled, you turn it out of the ramekin, cover it in cheese and bake until golden. It might also seem like a bit much work for a week night meal but the soufflé can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge, or even frozen, before the second baking.

 

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