Recipes

Recipes

A Summer Pasta Recipe

Oil Poached Albacore

With Sungold Tomatoes, New Zealand Spinach, Sweet Corn and Feta

Every season is great for produce in California, but the bright crispness of summer is something special. Right now is peak time for tomatoes; the corn is sweet, the albacore are running, and one of our favorite local wild greens, New Zealand spinach, is just right. So I figured, why not just add butter, olive oil, thyme, fresh pasta from  Lucca’s, and leave the flavors to shine through? Serves 4 (with leftovers)

 You’ll need:

1.5 lbs. fresh pappardelle (my favorite place to get this is from Lucca Ravioli in The Mission. They sell it in sheets by the pound then you can cut it to your favorite width)

4 ears corn

1 lb. Sungold tomatoes

1/2 lb. New Zealand spinach (forage this by the beach). If you can't find any you can sub in a hearty veg like radicchio. 

1/2 lb. butter

2 quarts olive oil

1 lb. albacore loin

2 heads garlic

Bay leaf

1 bunch thyme (you'll use about a tablespoon when picked)

Mirepoix (1/2 lb onion, 1/2 lb celery, 2 carrots)

1/2 lb. feta cheese

First, you’ve got to poach your fish and get your pasta water going (basically giving your fishy friend a warm oil bath). To save oil, you can also do this in FoodSaver bags sous vide style. If you need to cheat, you can use tuna canned in olive oil. It won’t be quite as tasty, but still pretty delicious. You probably know how to cook pasta, but just in case, get a large pot of very salty water boiling. Cut albacore into 4-inch chunks.

Add garlic and bay to oil in a large pan. You want the oil to cover the fish.

Heat oil to 120 degrees over low heat, and then add the fish. The timing depends a lot on the consistency of the temperature, as well as the size of the fish. You want the loin to cook through without drying out. When the fish pulls easily apart, it’s done, usually after 20-30 minutes. Don’t stress too much, though; it’s a forgiving process with all that oil around.

While that’s cooking, prepare your sauce.

Clean all your veggies, shuck corn, dice your mirepoix, mince your garlic, and pick your thyme.

Now make your sauce: Sweat onion until translucent in oil and plenty of butter. (The butter is going to be what coats your pasta, so be generous.) Add celery and carrot, cook 5 minutes. Add garlic and corn, simmer 5 more minutes. Then add tomatoes and thyme, and reduce heat to simmer while you prepare the fish

By now the fish should be done. Pull it apart into teeth sinkable chunks and mix into sauce. Add salt and pepper to season.

Now throw your pasta into the water and cook until done. (It’ll float and taste delicious). Drain the water, add it to the sauce, and stir gently for 3 minutes until you get a good coating of deliciousness on there. Mix in cheese. And…you’re done! Eat! Add some bread if you like (which I do). If you’re feeling fancy, grill the bread and brush it with fresh garlic. While not many people support the starch-on-starch thing, we all know it tastes great.

Want to learn how to forage your own New Zealand Spinach right here in SF? Take a walk in the woods with our fearless guide "Feral Kevin".

wild mushrooms, Recipes

A Morel Dilemna: AND a recipe

This is a guest post from our fearless mushroom leader Patrick Hamilton  

The snarkiest of mushroomers, and even the most polite and PC picker, will tell you, "Morels grow where they want to grow."

            Simple as that. And difficult as that.

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            After decades of pursuing these delectable fungi, this morel hunter knows full well what others speak of with either despair or hopefulness, in sarcasm or earnestness: morels seem to appear here and there, but not there and here—at least not consistently.

            Or maybe they do. To find out, you simply have to obey the adage all true mushroom people understand: "If you don't go, you won't know!"

            So come on one of our Sierra mountain forays and explore the opportunities to find the ever elusive morel, or maybe even spring king porcini!

            Here's a quick and easy method for what to do with those you might find.

 

-Morels: The Very Best Way-

Serves 2

            Rinse the morels, making sure no dirt is left on the stem bottoms. Then chop or slice a handful into wheels, and put them into a medium hot sauté pan with 1 1/2 tbsp of sweet butter. Cook for at least 5 minutes, mixing a bit. 

            In the meantime, finely chop about 1 tbsp of shallots and toss them in too. Stir, shake, or agitate the pan to mix. Cook for a minute or two. Add a small splash of dry Sherry; mix and cook au sec, then add a nice amount of heavy cream and cook for just a minute or two over low heat.

            Use your best sea salt flakes and fresh ground pepper to finish.

            Serve over great bread (like brioche, but not any strongly flavored loaf) or toast rounds. This will be another one of those voila moments that will make you the most popular person in the kitchen, period. 

            Do share.

Recipes

Wild Mushroom Turkey Stuffing Recipe

Chanterelles and Black Trumpets are my favorite winter mushrooms. The textures go great together to make an amazing stuffing. If you want to forage your own that always the most fun (click here for our mushroom hunting classes if you want to come out with us!), but Far West Fungi in The Ferry Building is a great local source to buy them.                          

Fresh Chanterelle and Black Trumpet Stuffing

            1.5 lb fresh chanterelle mushrooms

            1/2 lb black trumpet mushrooms

            1 1/2 cups cubed whole wheat bread

            3 3/4 cups cubed white bread

            1 pound ground turkey sausage

            1 cup chopped onion

            3/4 cup chopped celery

            2 1/2 teaspoons dried sage

            1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary

            1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

            1 Golden Delicious apple, cored and chopped

            3/4 cup dried cranberries

            1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

            1 cooked turkey liver, finely chopped

            3/4 cup turkey stock

            4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degree F (175 degree C). Spread the white and whole wheat bread cubes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes in the preheated oven, or until evenly toasted. Transfer toasted bread cubes to a large bowl.

-Coarsely chop the chanterelle mushrooms

-Clean the Black trumpets (people say you’re not supposed to, but I wash them under cold water, I’ve never noticed a problem)

-In a large skillet, cook the sausage, mushrooms, and onions over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the lumps until evenly browned. Add the celery, sage, rosemary, and thyme; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes to blend flavors.

-Pour sausage mixture over bread in bowl. Mix in chopped apples, dried cranberries, parsley, and liver. Drizzle with turkey stock and melted butter, and mix lightly. Spoon into turkey to loosely fill. If you’re scared of putting stuffing in the turkey you can bake it in the oven at 350 for about 40 minutes. I personally don't recommend it though, its so much better cooked in the turkey!

That’s it! Cook your turkey as you usually would, and enjoy.

Recipes

Camping Drinks - Fir Tip Vodka Fizz Recipe

 

To me, fir tips taste like California. You’ll see them in our state in the early spring, and I’m sure throughout much of the country. Look for new, pale green growth. They have a great subtle flavor, in stark contrast to the darker green needles. We use them as often as we can at our events, whenever a dish can handle its citrusy floral bite. Using the recipe below, we make a simple syrup with fir tips, vodka, and—assuming that you’re glamping and not conquering Half Dome—a dash of soda.

Simple Syrup:

Find a local fir tree. (Alternatively, you could substitute an herb like rosemary. It’s a different take on this syrup, but it has a nice flavor). You’ll want to look for the pale green new growth, as the darker green needles will have a bitter tannic flavor.

Ingredients:

30 fir tips – washed with cold water

2 cups water

2 cups white granulated sugar

Vodka

Soda water

 

Equipment:

Small pot

Whisk or wooden spoon

Measuring cup

Strainer

Now make it!

1)    Mix the water and sugar in your pot, turn the heat to medium, then simmer and whisk until the sugar dissolves.

2)    Turn off the heat and steep the tips (put them in the pot and leave them) for 30 minutes. This is where that great flavor comes from.

3)    Strain the tips and allow the syrup to cool in your fridge.

4)    Now make your drink! How you mix the syrup depends on your taste. I like to add one tablespoon, a healthy glug of gin (3 oz. always seems a bit too puritan to me), and a splash of soda. Delicious.

 

 

 

Recipes

Eat your weeds! Nasturtium Pesto Recipe

People love to eat flowers. It’s a fact. I was talking to a vendor at a farmers market one time, and he told me that the $4 salad mixes he sold could sell for $8 if he put in a couple edible flowers. Nothing fancy, just nasturtiums or wild radish, things he found around the farm. There is something about eating something so beautiful that draws people in. Consuming beauty, rather than just observing it…maybe too deep, but maybe true. Anyway, no need to pay $8 for this recipe, just find a patch of nasturtiums.  The best part about this nasturtium pesto is that you actually use the leaves for the recipe, so you can save the flowers for garnish. Pick leaves that are small and deep green, these have the most intense flavor.

 

1 cup fresh nasturtium leaves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

A lot of people know that nasturtium flowers are edible; a surprise is that the leaves are too. They are amazingly plentiful, and make a great pesto with a mild nasturtium bite.  We made this with fresh gnocchi and wild radish flowers or our last meal, big hit:

1. Pulse the nasturtium leaves in a food processor with an ice cube until well blended (the ice cube helps keep the intense green color. This also works with basil pesto).

2. Add pine nuts and blend. Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

3. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, with the food processor running. Stop periodically to scrape the sides.  Check for flavor every once in a while. Decide for yourself the consistency you want.   Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

That's it! Really delicious on Gnocchi or any fresh pasta. Enjoy!

 

Recipes

Leek and Lemon Thyme Tarts with Black Trumpet Mushrooms recipe

This is a super simple recipe that makes you look like a pro and a great one for these rainy nights at home.

Ingredients (makes 10 tarts):

1/4 lb black trumpets
1 T Oregano
1/2 C Chevre
1/4 C Shallots
1 Leek
2 T Parsley
1 Piece bacon
White wine
Lemon
2 bulb garlic, minced
2 T thyme
2 Inch tart shells
3 lemon for juice
1 bunch chives

·       First pre-heat your oven to 400, then cut off dirty ends of mushrooms and wash in several changes of water, lifting the mushrooms out of the water to let the grit fall to the bottom. I’ve found it’ impossible to get these mushrooms clean without washing

·       Now dry sauté your mushrooms. Cook them in a pan without any oil on medium heat to get rid of all that moisture. When the water is mostly gone, and before they start to burn, take them off the heat

·       Chop and start cooking your bacon (add a bit of extra fat if it needs it) while you slice your shallots and leeks thin and pick your herbs. Cut mushrooms into ½ inch pieces

·       Now sauté your veggies, mushrooms, and herbs until soft, add wine, lemon, salt and pepper to taste then remove to mixing bowl

·       Mix veggies with chevre, taste again for seasoning (this recipe wants a good amount of lemon to counter the heavy bacon and cheese)

·       Use a tablespoon to fill tart shells on wax paper lined sheet tray, and cook for 15 minutes or until cheese and tarts begin to brown

·       Take out to cool, chop some chives for garnish, and you’re done!

Recipes

Wild Blackberry Stuffing Recipe

A Wild Stuffing for Thanksgiving

 

While it’s true that there are not too many wild edibles to forage for in late November, even in California (sea beans are past their prime and stringy and miner’s lettuce is definitely past its prime), with a bit of forethought you can bring some of the taste of the summer to your Thanksgiving table. Freezers have made it possible for us to take some of the bounty of the warm season and preserve it for the cooler months.

Preparing a unique stuffing for your Thanksgiving turkey can include blackberries that you harvested during the summer and then froze for later use. Although this stuffing recipe is prepared mostly on the stovetop, I would suggest popping it into the oven for the last 15 or 20 minutes of your turkey’s cooking time, to make sure it’s good and hot and to infuse some of the turkey flavor into it. Try this snappy recipe to give family and friends a real treat on Thanksgiving.

Wild Rice and Wild Blackberry Stuffing: Everyone who loves the distinctive flavor of wild rice will love this stuffing. And, although you will be cooking the stuffing next to your turkey in the last states of the process, you can always dribble a bit of the pan drippings over the stuffing to not only help keep it moist, but also to add a bit of turkey flavor, too. This recipe will provide enough stuffing for about 6 people.

·      ½ cup of wild rice

·      ½ cup spelt

·      ½ cup thawed wild blackberries

·      1 cup chopped pecans

·      1 cup diced carrots

·      1 cup diced onion

·      1 cup diced celery

·      2 garlic cloves, grated

·      ¾ cup chopped parsley

·      1 tablespoon chopped sage

·      2 tablespoons olive oil

·      2 tablespoon water

·      ¼ teaspoon pepper

·      ½ teaspoon salt

Place wild rice and spelt into a large pot and cover with water – make sure there is at least 3” of water over the grains. Bring the pot to a boil, simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn off heat, cover, and allow the pot to sit for 1 hour. After the grains have expanded, drain and set aside.

While the rice and spelt were sitting, you should be getting the other ingredients ready.

Spread the chopped pecans over a baking sheet and give them 10 minutes in the oven at 325 F.

Sauté the vegetables in the olive oil in a medium saucepan about 5 minutes, then cover the pan and allow the vegetables to cook for another 10 minutes until they are tender.

Add the rice and spelt to the vegetables, along with the salt and pepper. Just before putting into a baking dish, carefully mix the blackberries.

Put everything into a baking dish and stick it into the oven next to your nearly done turkey. Make sure to use the pan drippings from the turkey pan to add flavor and moisture to your wild stuffing.

Once the turkey and the stuffing are out of the oven and on the table – enjoy. This is a different approach to the traditional stuffing most of us are used to, but will add a new dimension and taste treat to this beloved holiday, and is undoubtedly one of which the Pilgrims would heartily approve.

 

Recipes, Edible Plants

A seaside feast: Recipes and foraging tips for Sea Beans

Nutritious, Delicious Sea Beans

Admittedly, sea beans (Salicornia) look very little like actual beans, but these hardy, salt-loving succulent plants should be included in every coastal forager’s diet. Sea beans are also called sea asparagus, samphire greens, glasswort, and pickle weed. Estuaries and bays are a favorite habitat of sea beans and they are an easily recognizable wild plant: they grow about 1 foot high, have no real leaves, just fleshy, segmented stalks, and are a bright green color. They can be foraged in late summer though early fall.

 

Adding Sea Beans to Your Table

Sea beans have become somewhat common at farmer’s markets in coastal areas, but it’s not hard to forage for them yourself. Identification is quite easy and harvesting a basketful of sea beans can help to perk up your meals for a week. Tasting somewhat like salty asparagus, sea beans can be used raw or cooked to add a distinctive flavor to your dishes. While sea beans have been used in Europe and the Far East for centuries, Americans are now catching on to this ‘new’ vegetable.

Raw sea beans can simply be added to your favorite salad while you’re preparing it, along with the other ingredients. However, there are some delicious ways to cook sea beans as well.

The simplest way to cook sea beans is to simply sauté or steam them. Glasswort can also be cooked just like you would cook spinach, but be sure that you don’t overcook this vegetable as it will lose most of its flavor.

If you want to add some real distinction to your table, there are several recipes that use sea beans that will definitely perk up your palate:

Roast Halibut, Sea Beans, and Clams: This makes 4 servings. Always remember to use sea beans gathered during the summer; by autumn, they are developing interior strings.

·      4 pieces skinless halibut, 1¾ inches thick

·      2 cups sea beans

·      14 to 18 canned clams (keep the liquor)

·      ¼ tsp salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper

·      1 tbsp. olive oil

·      ¼ cup shallot, chopped finely

·      ¼ cup unsalted butter

·      4 tsp lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 450 F.

Add sea beans to 2 quarts of boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Drain, cool in ice water, and then pat dry on paper towels.

Drain the clams, but keep the clam juice.

Dry the fish fillets with paper towels then sprinkle them with the salt and pepper.

Using an ovenproof skillet, brown both sides of the fillets in olive oil in the heated pan. Once both sides are browned, slide the skillet into the oven and let the fish roast for about 10 minutes.

While the fish is in the oven, sauté the shallots in the butter until they are just soft. Put in the clam juice and lemon juice and bring to a gentle, simmering boil. Now add the clams, cover the skillet, and cook for another 2 minutes over a low/moderate heat. Remove from heat.

Arrange the halibut fillets on plates and surround them with sea beans, clams, and sautéed shallots.

Enjoy.

 

Sea Bean Side Dish: Sea beans gathered or purchased during summer and early fall, will be much more palatable than those from later in the year – as the year wears on, sea beans will become fiberous as they begin to flower. When the tips become red you’ll know sea beans are beginning to flower and go out of season. Although still edible, they wont be as good.

·      2 to 3 cups of fresh sea beans, cut or broken into pieces

·      1 to 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

·      3 to 4 tbsp. of butter

Melt the butter in your skillet over a medium-high heat, taking care not to burn the butter.

Add the sea beans, stirring constantly, and then the chopped garlic.

Sauté the sea beans and garlic until they become tender then remove the skillet from the heat.

Serve as a side dish with your favorite ocean fish.  

 

Sea Beans Are Good for You

In addition to tasting good, sea beans also provide quite a few nutritional benefits and supply the following:

·      Vitamin A

·      B Vitamins

·      Vitamin C

·      Iron

·      Calcium

·      Iodine

·      Bioflavonoids

Using sea beans in your cooking will not only add a new dimension to the flavor of your meals, but will also provide you with a number of healthy benefits.

 

 

Recipes

Adventures with a 3 gallon sauerkraut crock

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kraut

kraut

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Oh sauerkraut, you most delicious of sandwich additions. I put you on my breakfast sandwich, drop you in my rice, place you delicately in a heap next to my steak. You bring me such joy with your salty crunch, and as a bonus, you're good for me (at least I think you are.) I read a piece a couple months back in Gastronomica about sauerkraut. It went through all the claims that people make about its health benefits, refuting them one by one on the basis that they didn't have scientific backing. But then I heard a story the other day on how probiotics are being discovered to reduce anxiety. My conclusion is that if something has been believed for thousands of years to be good for you, it probably is, plus it's delicious, so why not eat it? Therefore, I’ve embarked on a new adventure. I recently bought a 3 gallon stoneware crock, something I've been wanting for a while, but couldn't get over the sticker shock of spending $250 on a vessel used specifically to ferment cabbage. Luckily, I found a solution. For $35 you can order one from ACE online, and then pick it up at a local store. Feels like I’m pitching you here, but I would be remiss to not tell you about the wonders of this deal.

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For my first batch, I wanted to go simple. Just salt, cabbage, and caraway. It's astounding how many recipes there are online, not to mention in one of my favorite books, Wild Fermentation, on how to do this. I’d made it before in small batches, but there is something about filling up a 3 gallon container that makes you want to do some recipe research. I watched a video on youtube put out by the Ag. Council of a nice woman in Alaska, (seeming very 1950's) which gave exact instructions (2.5Tbsp of salt per 5 lbs of cabbage). Then I watched a video of Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation, who has a more democratic approach (just put salt in until it tastes right).

I settled on 3 Tbsp per 5 lbs of cabbage. Something like 20 lbs of cabbage went into this batch, and the only place in my house to deal with that kind of volume is the sink. After a good scrub, in went the cabbage. First sliced and cored. After all the cabbage was sink-side, in went the salt and caraway seeds. As I said before, exactly 3 Tbsp per 5 lbs. For the caraway I just eyed it, probably about the same ratio though.

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Once seasoned, mix. Get all the salt evenly distributed around the cabbage, and then wait 15 minutes. Some folks recommend bashing the cabbage rather than letting it sit, and this is what I've always done in the past As soon as it was cut and salted, I would cram it into jars, awkwardly using a wooden spoon to push it in. It's a hassle. Using this new method, you just leave it for a bit, go drink some coffee, and voila! It's reduced by more than half! You should never use a metal container as your fermenting vessel, but I don't think the 15 minutes in the sink hurts it at all.

Now is the pack, which is made much easier this way. Pack the sauerkraut into your crock (I like to use my hands), and push it down until the liquid (which is naturally being released from the cabbage), is released. The juice (which, when fermented, is the best hangover cure I've found) should be at least an inch above the veggies. Place a plate on top to weigh it down, and wait and wait. The waiting is the hardest part.  As this is a bit of an experiment, I've been taking some out periodically to see how its progressing. Check back here in a few weeks for the finale. Now go buy a crock! It's better than paying $9/jar at rainbow.

Iso

UPDATE:

I've been taking out samples during the fermentation process, in the guise of experimentation, but really just because I'm too impatient to wait to eat some:

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After 8 days the kraut is good, starting to get a fermented flavor, but a little on the mushy side.

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On day 12, it's started to firm up a bit, with a good "krauty" flavor.

Recipes, Edible Plants

The Wonderful Wonderful Ramp

pickled ramps

pickled ramps

Ramps are special. We have wild onions in California, but they don’t come close to the taste, texture, and versatility of ramps (don't get me wrong, we have wild mushrooms that East Coasters would kill for). Since all the wild ingredients I use for The Wild Kitchen are local, the closest I ever get to using ramps is the wild onion.  Our wild onion is essentially a scallion, which is how I treat it.  Good chopped up and sautéed, with nice white flowers that I use for garnish. A ramp is a whole other animal.

The roots have a biting onion flavor, and bulblike crunch that begs to be pickled. The greens, which can be grilled, broiled, sautéed or seared, have just the right amount of the bulbs onion aroma, but a great texture that really rounds out a plate. They are a perennial (grow back each year), and the plant that gave Chicago its name. Chicagou was the word for ramp in the local dialect, and an abundant plant in the area when the city was being settled.

I’m back for a week visiting my mom in Plainfield, and wanted to take advantage of the best foraging season on the East Coast.  The prime focus for me was ramps. The woods are amazing in Vermont. The smell of the trees, moss, gurgle of creeks, shade of the maples.  All with the bonus of an abundance of plant and animal life on the forest floor.  I love California, but you just don’t get the same experience in our woods.

toothwort leaves

toothwort leaves

I grew up in Vermont, but my foraging career really started with wild mushrooms on the west coast, so I enlisted the help of a local expert to help me find my prize.  Annie is a local gardner/naturalist/friend of the family, who was nice enough to show me one of her prime spots. Not that they’re hard to find in VT. Ramps (or wild leeks as they’re called here) are everywhere. It would have taken me days to pick even half of what I saw.  Along the way she introduced me to some edibles I’d never heard of.

One was toothwort. It's a 3-leaves low growing plant. It has thin dull green leaves with serrated edges. The roots (and leaves to some extent) have an uncanny horseradish flavor. It’s pretty amazing actually. If I do a dinner in Vermont, this is definitely going to be included on the menu. Maybe a toothwort wasabi with local freshwater trout sashimi….Another thing that Annie introduced me to was the edibility of violet flowers. They don’t grow in abundance, so I would feel uncomfortable collecting them for a Wild Kitchen dinner, but they were great to try. They taste like wintergreen. Pretty cool. Another plant that grows here in abundance is wild ginger. We have this in CA, but I don’t see it much where I forage. There was a bunch on our walk, so I grabbed some of that too.

There's been some recent press on the over harvesting of ramps on the east coast, given their sudden spike in popularity.  As far as I can tell it’s more theoretical than realistic. People see them in stores, so immediately assume they are being decimated. From people I’ve talked to up here, it hasn’t become a problem. I always live by the motto of never taking more than a third of whatever plant I’m harvesting, that way I can be sure it will be there when I return next year.

field of ramps

field of ramps

I dug ramps for about 15 minutes and had almost more than I could carry, so I headed home. I washed them and cut off the bulbs, and for the next 3 days I ate the greens at every meal. Tossed in garlic and olive oil and wrapped in tin foil on the grill, sautéed with salt and garlic with my eggs in the morning, and cut small and used raw to spice up potato salad.   Even then I had a ton left.  Since there was no way I could eat them all before I left (and because I wanted to bring some back west), I decided to pickle the bulbs. Most of the pickles I do are what are known as quick pickles. Basically hot brine that is poured a vegetable, and used within a week or so. I wanted to try something different with these, so I decided to do a proper can.

If you’re reading this blog, I imagine you have some experience canning, or at least understand the fundamental ideas behind it. If not, also cool, we’ve all got to start somewhere.  The basic idea of canning is to submerge a veggie (or meat) into a hygienic environment (often vinegar), then boil the jar to create a vacuum that will push out any excess air. This creates an anaerobic environment where bacteria cannot grow, so preserves food longer. These pickles will last at least a month, or until you’ve eaten them all (which will probably be sooner):

You’ll need:

Food:

2C white vinegar

4C water

1C white sugar

2T mustard seed (“T” =Tablespoon and “t”=teaspoon)

1T fennel seed

2T black peppercorns

4 piece wild ginger root

2T kosher salt

4 piece toothwort root (both optional of course, but if you don’t use them add a small piece of fresh horseradish)

2 lb fresh ramps

Equipment:

4 - 12 OZ canning jars

Water bath canner (if you have it. If not a pot large enough to fit the jars will suffice)

Tongs

1 medium pot

Baking pan or Pyrex casserole

clean ramps

clean ramps

  1. First you want to get your liquids boiling, while they heat up you’ll have time to clean your ramps. Fill your pot with all your picking ingredients (minus the ramps). Bring them to a boil, then turn off heat. Fill your water bath canner up 3/4 with water, and boil. If you are using a pot, fill with water (leaving room for the area the jars will displace). Preheat your oven to 350F

  2. Sterilize your jars: An easy way to sterilize jars is wash them with soap and water, then bake them on sheet pan in the oven at 200F until you’re ready to use them. Got that tip from Slow Jams. http://www.chow.com/food-news/59073/the-easiest-way-to-sterilize-jars/

  3. While those are heating up, clean your ramps. First give the ramps a good wash, peeling off any discolored skin on the root, and snapping the root (not the bulb) off. Then cut off the bulb just above where the green of the leaf begins. Save the leaves. I personally think they’re just as delicious as the bulbs. You can sauté them up for a side dish, or put them on sandwiches. Really delicious.

  4. Now you want to fill your jars. I try to stand the ramps up, with the bulbs all facing down, but that’s really just an aesthetic choice. Just make sure there’s an inch clear below the rim of the jar. Pour over your nearly boiling pickling liquid, adding a root of ginger and toothwort, as well as a spoon of spices, to each jar. Screw on the lid.

  5. Now for the can. If you’re using a regular pot, you’ll want to make sure the jars stand up straight, but that they don’t touch the metal bottom. There are fancy grills they sell for this, or you can do what I do, and put a dishtowel in the water to line the bottom of the pot. Just make sure it’s as flat as you can make it. Place the jars in the water, turn down to a simmer, and “cook” for 15 minutes. Make sure the water covers the jar (this is how you force out the air), add hot water from the tap if it needs it.

  6. Take jars out with tongs, allow to cool, and you’re done! A lot of words for what is actually a pretty simple process. Clean veggies, put in jars, cover with vinegar, and force out air. As they cool you should hear a popping sound of the lid suctioning down. You might not hear the sound, but check to see that the lid is pressed in, that’s how you know the can worked.

If you make this recipe, give me a comment and let me know how it went. I haven’t tried it with the toothwort yet, and I’m definitely excited to see if the wasabi/horseradish flavor comes through. Also, if you've ever pickled the greens, let me know how that went. That's what I'll try next. Ramps!

Iso

dirty ramps

dirty ramps

Recipes

100 lbs of herring in 20 minutes-plus a recipe

IMG_0810
IMG_0810

Now, don't get jump to conclusions, but the herring I caught was off third st., by the ballpark in SF. Why is that not gross you ask?  Herring live most of their lives in the open ocean, and come into the bay only a couple times a year to spawn. I'd never seen it before myself, but it's pretty amazing.  Early one morning I got a call from Kirk, local fish fanatic, and the leader of our fishing tours.  I needed to be down at third street within an hour. So I went. I'd been waiting.

I got down there in 30, to a small clutch of fisherman throwing nets.  It was crazy. The water was literally rippling with fish. Every couple seconds one would actually jump out of the water onto the shore. It was a frenzy. All the rocks along the coast were coated small golden herring eggs.  According to Kirk, the herring in caught in the SF Bay are prized above all others.

Herring roe is very popular in Japan, but only our herring have golden roe, as opposed to the grey/off white roe found elsewhere.  So I had to get in. After a brief lesson on net casting (it's all in the wrist), I was in. Flick of the wrist, cast of the net, 10 seconds to let it sink to the bottom, then a spurt of pulling, and I had 100 fish. It was crazy. Every time you'd throw in a net, you'd come out with 100-200 fish. 20-30-50 lbs at a time.  I've never seen anything like it. It was the anti-fishing. Fishing is usually a waiting game. Set up, hang out with a pole in your hand for 6 hours, then if you're lucky, you'll catch something. Not herring. Herring jump into your net. They know how excited you are, and aim to please. They want to be caught....ok, I realize these are all ridiculous things to say, but when your there, they all seem true.

After 20 minutes, I had 100 lbs of fish. I had every intention of using everything I caught, and knew even that much would be a full day of cleaning (it ended up taking me and 3 volunteers 5 1/2 hrs to gut and freeze all the fish).

100 lbs seems like a lot, but in the grand scheme of the bio mass of herring, it is not even a drop in the bucket.  Most animals and seafood that are recreationally caught are given limits.  The amount one person is allowed to catch in any given day or season. There are no such limits on herring. The sheer mass of fish creates a situation where it would be almost impossible for a person with a net to make a dent. Commercial boats do have limits, which are usually in the realm of 6-10 tons/year. These are set by fish and game every year, by measuring the biomass (how many fish there are), and setting the total amount allowed to catch at 10% of the total.

Overall a great experience. Each female herring (and most of the ones we caught were), had a little sac of vibrant golden roe. We cured the roe in salt, and froze the fish (we'd use them later as breaded/fried herring, and the roe would go on top of oysters).  The sad thing about herring is that no one in America really wants to eat it. It's not a trendy fish, so the vast majority that are caught get their roe removed, and then are turned into fertilizer. No good. We'll hope to change that by making them delicious, here's a recipe:

you'll need:

Equipment:

Cast iron deep sided skillet (for frying)

6 Cups frying oil (canola, or if you're bold, pork or duck fat)

Tongs

3 mixing bowls

Food:

4 Cups flour

Breadcrumbs (panko works)

6 egg yolks

10 herring-gutted and scaled

Lemon Aioli (here's a recipe, or you can use mayo with lemon added)

Make:

Start heating oil in cast iron (make sure to leave a couple inches at the top of the pan) Lay out the 3 bowls, with eggs (whisk to combine) , flour, breadcrumbs each in their separate but equal bowls. Wash and pat your fish dry. When the oil is up to temp (375), start your assembly line. Dip the fish in 1.flour 2.eggs 3.breadcrumbs 4.oil.  Simple simple. Fry until golden brown, don't crowd the pan or the oil temp will come down making for soggy not crisp fish, remove to paper towels. Serve with lemon aioli and some watercress or frisee.  Save a delicious fish from the fertilizer heap.

Iso

Recipes, wild kitchen

Fish Soup and Climbing Cezanne's Mountain

My girlfriend Valerie and I just got back from a month long trip to Europe – a land of delicious cheese and keyboards that make typing an inconceivable chore (I mean really, who would design a keyboard where you have to hit alt, command, shift, and 4 to get an @ symbol?).  But, despite their lack of tech design genius (or perhaps in spite of it), I had a great time.

  • Climbed Sainte-Victoire, the 3,000 ft. mountain that inspired Cezanne for three hours hours one foggy night. White glistening rocks, 500 ft. drop-offs, and heavy packs illuminated by head lamps.  At one point we tied ourselves together with a scarf just in case one of us was to fall.  It was worth it to camp in a church at the top of the mountain;  to drink, play music, and cook raclette in the fireplace.
  • Rented the most French apartment I’ve ever seen, complete with a tiny kitchen and the full works of Edith Piaf.
  • Ran from tear gas in Lyon as French students fought with the riot police.  It exposed us to the French peoples’ distaste for work (the retirement age was recently pushed from 60 to 62, spurring riots that shut down highways, gas stations, airports, and trains).
  • Slept in the 2 ft.wide-wide hallway of an overnight train to Alba, Italy, waking up alternately by gesticulating Genovese and grandmothers that seemed to have packed for the apocalypse.
  • Bought our first true European truffle, and tried it on everything from mac and cheese to pizza to omelettes to pasta with béchamel (which I liked so much that I made it at the last Underground Market).
  • Stood under the Eiffel Tower as it began to flash, and realized how much it seems like a spaceship from that angle.
  • Harvested olives in Tuscany until I caught the flu, and walked leisurely like old people through the streets of Tarquenia, stopping at each shop to admire the full legs of procuitto.  It was amazing to see them hand slice that stuff, pure artists).

The one thing I didn’t do was update my blog, but I did write (on real paper no less) and will try to post some of it here very soon. For now, I’m happy to be back and getting into the swing of things again.

The first order of duty was to organize two Wild Kitchen dinners, each featuring nine of my favorites dishes from Europe, with a forageSF twist.  One of my favorite courses of the night was soup de poisson avec aioli maison de nori sauvage.  This dish was inspired by a meal we had in Cassis (a small town in the south of France, from which the crème de’ gets its name).  It was exactly what I’d been looking for since I got to Europe:  a good meal, perfectly cooked, served simply.

Soupe de poisson is essentially a very flavorful fish stock, served with crostini, spicy aioli, and cheese.  The secret is to get an intense rich flavor of seafood and spice.  Rather than being “fishy,” it was more of round and full profile.  I first imagined was just a reduction of fish stock, with the flavor concentrated by long cooking, but as we worked we discovered it needed more to get it just right.

First we experimented with a simple fish stock, which is nothing more than halibut bones, garlic, carrot, onion, celery, and bay leaf.  After cooking for an hour we reduced the liquid by more than half.  This gave us a good flavor, but it wasn’t what I was looking for.  It tasted like fish, but didn’t have that same richness.  We finally found it by adding reduced chicken stock, brandy, oyster liquor and crab “goodies.” If you don’t have those, the stock will still be good, but the fullness they add to the flavor is worth the extra work.

To top it off I made an aioli of wild nori and Sriracha.  Nori is a seaweed I collect locally; its similar to the seaweed used to wrap sushi and our local variety grows abundantly up and down the coast.  We put the aioli on crostini, added a side of mozzarella cheese, and that was it.  A really simple course that was the most popular dish of the night.

Wild Nori Aioli

If you’ve ever made aioli before, it’s the same process, but with addition of chopped nori and Sriracha towards the end. The nori really gives a great layer to the flavor and eating seaweed always makes me feel good. I used nori that I collected during the mid summer when it’s at its peak, and preserved it by cleaning and drying it out. You should try your hand at it too, nori is a great thing to have around to put in soups, and in this case, aioli.

-2 egg yolks

-1 qt. blend oil (a blend of olive and canola) or canola oil

(Pure olive oil has too strong of a taste for aioli.)

-Sriracha hot sauce

-2 cups dried nori (preferably foraged yourself, because its so fun, but don’t feel bad about buying pre-made sheets)

-1/2 clove garlic

-2 tsp. Dijon mustard

-4 tbsp. lemon juice

-Salt/pepper to taste

  1. Pulse eggs, minced garlic, and lemon juice in food processor.
  2. Add the oil, a drop at a time until you have an emulsion, and then add the rest of your oil in a slow but steady stream. You know you’re done when your aioli ceases to be liquid eggs, and thickens to become lovely silky mayo.
  3. Add  nori, and Sriracha, and pulse to incorporate.  Aioli is really a matter of personal taste, so if you feel it’s too thick, add a drop or two of water, not sharp enough, add some more lemon, and of course salt and pepper to taste…feel free to experiment.

Simple Fish Soup

This is essentially a really rich fish stock, and goes amazingly well with the spicy aioli. And it's a fun dish to serve and eat: first, you bring out three bowls containing the crostini, aioli, and cheese as well as the pot of the fish stock. Spread aioli on top of three crostini and sprinkle some cheese on top. Lay these pieces in a bowl and ladle fish stock over it until it slightly covers the bread, then eat by spooning the soaked bread in your mouth. Bon appétit!

-5 lb. halibut bones (or other non-oily white fish such as haddock, hake, or sole). Have your fish guy cut them into pieces about the size of your hand.

-1 lb. carrot

-1 lb. celery

-2 lb. onion

-1/2 lb. fennel

-1/2 cup soy sauce

-1 1/2 cups white wine

-1/2 cup brandy

-2 gal chicken stock

-1 bay leaf

-Salt and pepper to taste

- 3 tbsp crab "goodies" (brains and organs from inside a cooked crab)

-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Add fish bones to a oiled stockpot over medium high, cook about 15 minutes until caramelized.
  2. Add rough chopped veggies, brandy, wine, chicken stock, bay leaf, and soy and bring to a boil.
  3. Turn down to a simmer as soon as it boils and cook on low heat for 4 hours.
  4. You’ll know its done when you taste the rich flavors of the stocks coming together. Strain everything through a cheesecloth lined strainer.
  5. Return the soup to the pot and cook it over medium-high heat until it has reduced by half, about an hour.
  6. Serve with sides of crostini, aioli, and mozzarella cheese. You can’t miss with these flavors.

So the trip was great! We ate good food, met good people, and had some adventures, but it's nice to be back.

Iso

Recipes by Iso Rabins and Jordan Grosser

photos by Valerie Luu

Recipes

Eat Real And Purslane

eat real

eat real

As a chef, it’s hard to cooking something you don’t like eating.  It sucks in fact.  You want to be excited about what you’re serving, and when you just can’t quite wrap your lips around a certain ingredient, it’s hard to love your dish. You always have to taste your dish, and you don’t like the taste of a certain ingredient, it’s difficult to do. That said, people do it every day. There are legions of vegetarians working on meat-heavy menus, broccoli haters that need to add that dreaded vegetable to their dishes.  Despite our own culinary biases, we still need to make it work because we know (at least intellectually) that people have different tastes.

Kitchen Purslane

Kitchen Purslane

For me, that ingredient is purslane. Purslane, known to botanists as Portulaca oleracea, is a native of the old world that has become naturalized in the U.S. Many consider it a weed (like most wild foods), but it is very high in Vitamin C and Omega 3’s (probably what gives it it’s slimy taste).

Although I haven’t seen it in SF, this wild edible is abundant up in Northern California. It looks beautiful in salads – I’ve seen it prepared picked and thrown into salads, as well as sautéed, and people seem to really like it. However, I just can’t get myself to like it. I want to like it. To me, it tastes like okra, which is another plant I’ve never loved. It’s the slime that gets me.  Not to put off your stomach (because, believe it or not, this post will include a recipe), it feels like someone spit in my mouth.  People say it’s because I haven’t had it cooked correctly, which might be true, but as of now, I’m not a fan.  Sure, you can fry it, but that seems like a cop out (although I did do that in one of the dishes I prepared for the Eat Real Festival last weekend).

Held at Jack London Square at the end of August, the Eat Real Festival is a three-day food fest that features chefs, farmers, artisans and street food and really great presentations on everything from sourdough bread baking to animal butchering. If you haven’t gone, you should.  It’s a lot of fun, and they really seem to have gotten it down this year. This was my second time at Eat Real –a year ago I sold sea beans I had foraged up north (or more correctly, gave away samples, people didn’t really know what they were). It was really great for me, my first time really getting forageSF out into the public, which gave me an amazing amount of exposure.

This time around I was doing something a little different.  It was a program called The Urban Farmstand. The idea was to partner a chef with a farm, the chef would use the farms make a dish or two, and the farm would sell the produce. Cool idea, needs a bit of tweaking if they’re going to do it next year, but overall a good thing.  I like the way it shows people what can be done with the raw ingredients that are being sold right next-door.  I think the signage they had was confusing. Although we were all independent vendors, the signs made it seem like we were associated with eat real.  I had several people come up to me and ask if we were doing a cooking demo.   Overall good though, and as someone who organized events myself, I was impressed, especially by the workshops and demos, which were in large part organized by my very own girlfriend, one ms. Valerie Luu.  I partnered with Heirloom Organics, who can be found at the Ferry Building Market as well as other farmers markets.  “WAIT,” you say, “Aren’t you a forager, you shouldn’t be getting anything from a farm?!”

Well, that’s where purslane comes in.

chioggia_beets

chioggia_beets

There are several wild veggies that grow on farmland, without any help from the farmer (and often in spite of their ideas for the land), and purslane is one of them. It moved in a couple years ago at Heirloom, and now they have hundreds of pounds each year.  With this, I talked to Grant from Heirloom and decided that purlsane was going to be wild ingredient. I also used Heirloom Organics blue potatoes, salad greens, broccoli, red, gold, and chioggia beets, and baby corn (which is just corn picked when its small).

I made two dishes: one was a salad with spring greens, a duck gelee vinaigrette (gelee is what you have left over after making duck confit, a good way to think about it is as essence of duck), It’s a gelatin that has this great savory, salty flavor that’s amazing in dressings, or even on its own, pickled, as well as raw shaved, golden, red and chioggia beets, and the afore mentioned cheat, fried purslane.  This was a nice dish (if I do say so myself). The raw beets paired really nicely with the tart pickles, and the duck pulled it all together.  The sad fact is that people don’t really want to eat salads at street food events though, so we didn’t sell too much.

The second dish I did was duck confit and duck fat fried blue potatoes, with sautéed purslane, broccoli, and baby corn. People seemed to respond well to this. My idea was to cover up the sliminess of the purslane as much as possible with the savory duck, starchy potatoes, and finally, the crisp baby corn (which I blanched quickly to give it some tenderness).

So overall a good weekend. Too much prep for too little sales, but I learned a few things, which are:

  1. simple is best at street food events

  2. you can't really go wrong with duck confit

  3. duck gelee is a wonder ingredient on par with anchovies for adding flavor

Here’s the recipe for the duck dish I did, hope you like it. The hardest part is making the duck confit, but you’ll be well rewarded:

You’ll need:

-1 lb blue potatoes

-1 cup duck confit, picked from the bone (here’s a good easy recipe for duck confit. Takes some time, but its worth it. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Duck-Confit-102313)

-1 lb broccoli rabe

-1/2 lb purslane (you can find this at the farmers market)

-3 ears baby corn (heirloom is the only place I’ve ever seen this fresh, they’re at the ferry building farmers market)

heirloom-tomatoes

heirloom-tomatoes

-1 sprig thyme

-1/2 lb heirloom tomatoes

  1. Get two pots of boiling water going, well salted (like the sea), as well as two bowls filled with ice water (also salted)

  2. Scrub the potatoes, prepare the broccoli, and shuck the corn

  3. When the water boils, throw your potatoes in one until nearly cooked through (about 10 minutes for the small ones), and throw your corn into the other.

  4. Mince garlic and thyme, dice tomatoes

  5. After about 3 minutes, remove corn with a slotted spoon and place in ice bath. Repeat for broccoli, cooking until just under done, 4 minutes or so.

  6. When potatoes are done, put them in the second bowl of ice water

  7. Quarter potatoes, dry other ingredients

  8. Heat large sauté pan to medium high with reserved duck fat from confit

  9. Fry potatoes until they start to brown, add garlic and thyme, add purslane, cook 4 minutes, add broccoli, cook 3 minutes, adding oil as needed. (If it looks like your garlic is about to burn, you can throw in a small squirt of water to cool down the pan). Salt and pepper to taste. That’s about it. Plate then garnish with tomatoes and corn on the side, feeds four or so.

Recipes

Squid Ink Risotto-an experiment

almost delicious

almost delicious

I'd been wanting to try this for a while. The idea of jet black risotto is immediately both disgusting and intriguing, and since I've never actually been to a restaurant that serves it, I figured I'd have to make it myself. Every time you cook whole squid you have the chance to use the ink.  It's stored in the ink sacks below their eyes, and in a pouch on their...I suppose bellies is what I'd call it.  It being summer, I decided to try this with the delicious fava bean. Whenever I am trying a new dish, I head to ye' ol' interwebs to get an idea of what to do.  It's a good starting point to get a general sense of how something is made, and lets you pick and choose what you think sounds good. You can usually find 30 or so recipes on any given dish. I found there is a good amount of discussion on how to make this dish. Cook the squid for 30 minutes with the rice (sounds like you're asking for rubbery seafood there), put the ink into the broth, use fish broth, chicken broth, etc.. I decided on the following :  Chicken stock (because that's what I had), and short cooked squid.

ingredients

ingredients

Recipe below:

1 Cup arborio rice

4 Cup chicken stock

1/2 C white wine

1 Tbsp. squid ink (harvested from whole squid)

3 shallots-minced 3 cloves garlic - minced

3/4lb whole Monterrey bay squid 1/2 lb favas

1.Cleaning: I actually enjoy cleaning squid, something so satisfying about it.  It's so easy and quick, and the end result feel so clean. I won't go into the specifics, but here's a good video, with a great song:

2. De-ink Now comes the fun part. You'll need a paring knife and a small bowl. The ink from the squid lives in two places, behind the eyes, and in a small sac that runs the length of its intestines. Take your knife and pluck right behind the eyes, ink should flow (not a ton mind you, it takes a lot of these to make a Tbsp). The sac (which I had less luck getting ink out of), should be carefully removed from the intestines, and put in the bowl.

Risotto

Risotto

3. Next you'll want to make the risotto. Put your stock in a pot to boil, with the squid ink you've labored so hard to extract whisked in, then reduce to a simmer. Sweat the onions and garlic in butter  for 3  minutes (don't let them brown). Add your Arborio, and mix so each grain is coated in oil. I like to cook this mixture for about a minute over medium heat, to let the flavors infuse. Next add your wine and stock. About 2 cups at first, then 1 Cup at a time, as the liquid is absorbed, stirring often. The reason for adding the stock this way is that it helps the liquid absorb, but keeps the firm texture of the rice. Risotto needs almost constant attention, and the moment you walk away it will burn, so be careful. This should take about 35 minutes. When you're putting in the last bit of stock, add the reserved squid.

favas

favas

4. While this is going on, cook the favas. I blanched them for about 3 minutes, then shocked them. (that is, boiled for 3 minutes in salted water, then put in a salted ice water bath). Shelled them, then sauteed with garlic. Simple and delicious.

Done! Theoretically, your risotto should be black now, with the favas giving a nice counterpoint in color. Unfortunately (like I said, this was my first attempt), mine wasn't. I think I needed more ink. Also, I think that fish stock would give a much nicer flavor. Tasted good of course, but could have been better. I also think that favas are not the right choice for this dish. Mushy on mushy doesn't work too well. I'm thinking asparagus. Same summer flavor, but with more crunch.  Onto the next experiment...

Recipes

Nettle Is Great...Wild Nettle Soup Recipe

nettlesoup

nettlesoup

Nettle is great. Its all around, good for you, plus there’s the element of danger when you’re harvesting. It’s like collecting sea urchins. Will it get you? Are those gloves really thick enough to ward off those spiny stems? A question Ive been forced to answer in the negative far too many times.  For those of you that like a bit of danger with your foraging, but aren’t quite up for wild mushroom collecting or boar hunting, the nettle is a good bet.

Brennessel

Brennessel

There are two kinds of nettle that grow in our area (that area being Northern CA).Urtica diocea, which is also known as river nettle, and Urtica urens, which I call farm nettle, its more often cultivated, and much less intense, cousin.  River nettle is what grows most often in the wild, so that’s what I end up using most of the time. You find it often growing in stream beds and in other moist nutrient rich environments. “Farm Nettle” can also be found wild, although much less often, in what are referred to as “disturbed places”.  Areas where the earth has just been upset for some reason (hint: there’s some in Golden Gate park if you know where to look).

River nettle (diocea) is much more intense than in both sting and flavor. Whereas farm (urens) will give you a bit of a prick to let you know its nettle, river nettle will bite you, a searing pain that, instead of going away after several hours of throbbing, actually seems to turn into a general numbness/tingle for as much as 48 hours (hint: use vinegar to get rid of the sting, or if you’re near a marsh, the goo from the base of cattails works too). If you’re using it in soup, river nettles are really the best.  The intensity comes through in the soup in all the best ways.

With that said, lets get on with it. Go collect some! I wont tell you my spots, but I will tell you that they like to grow in moist, nutrient rich soils.  Try to harvest them before the plant has gone to seed.  As in all plants, you want to collect them when they’re putting the most amount of energy into the part you want to eat…perhaps confusing, but a good principle. When plants are flowering, eat the flower, when they’re shooting up out of the ground in spring, eat the shoot, when they’ve gone to seed, eat the seed (although I havnt heard of people eating nettle seed, I don’t see why not). Enough talk, on to the recipe.

This soup is a real standby for The Wild Kitchen (my underground restaurant).  People love it, so it keeps coming back from month to month while nettle is in season.

You’ll need:

Food:

leek

leek

-1 lb nettle (collect it, or you can often find it at farmers markets in season)

-1 lb russet potatoes

-1 lb leek

-6 Cups chicken stock

-2 Tbsp butter

-Salt/pepper to taste

-Small tub crème fraiche

Equipment:

-Heavy gloves (seriously. If you’re using the thin latex kind, so popular in restaurant kitchens and the nether regions of the airport security line,  wear double, or even triple.  A good thick pair of dishwashing gloves works perfectly)

-Heavy bottomed soup pot

-Stand up or hand (immersion) blender

-Wooden spoon

-Scissors

-mixing bowl

1.First, you’ve got to deal with the nettle.  Put a pot of salted water on to boil. With your gloves on, use scissors to cut the leaves from the woody stem, discarding any brown leaves. Wash under cold water.  Get a mixing bowl, and fill it with iced and salted water. Throw nettle into boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, then immediately place in ice water. This is called blanching and shocking. The boil gets rid of the nettle sting, and the ice water helps it retain its vibrant green color. Once they’re cold, squeeze water out of nettles, and reserve.

2. Cut off the white section of the leeks, slice them lengthwise, and wash very well. Tons of dirt likes to get stuck in leeks, and it’s the last thing you want in your soup. After they’re clean, chop them and reserve.

3.  Dice potatoes.

4. Melt butter in pot over medium heat, making sure not to let it burn. When it begins to bubble, throw in the leeks, cook 5 minutes (if they start to brown, turn down the flame, you want them to sweat).  Add potatoes, cook 5 minutes. Add nettle, cook 5 minutes.

5. Pour in chicken stock, mix, turn up heat until it comes to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

6. Allow to simmer 20-30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Turn off heat and either blend with you immersion blender, or if using a stand-up, blend in batches with a ventilated blender (take that little plastic thing out of the middle of the lid), and a towel on top. With the danger sounding too much like you dad, BE CAREFUL!. Hot soup on the face is not fun.

7. When its blended, add two spoonsfulls of crème fraiche, mix. Serve hot with a drizzle of crème fraiche on top. This soup will taste quite “green”.  Crème fraiche will balance it to your liking.

8. Enjoy! And regal your friends with your daring tales of nettle foraging, they’ll be impressed.

Recipes

Wild Boar Porchetta With Kumquat Mostarda

Wild boar is a tough animal. A whole life lived running and rooting makes it very muscular, which needs to be taken into account when trying to make it delicious. Slow and low is the rule with this dish (AKA braising). If you don’t have 12 (or 24 hours) to cook it, cook something else. That said, most of the work is done by the oven, so the actual prep time is about 20 minutes.

2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp olive oil 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes 1 anchovy fillet, minced (intensifies the other flavors rather than giving a fishy taste) Salt and pepper 2 quarts chicken stock (home made if possible, but store bought works too) Several sprigs fresh thyme, rosemary, and oregano, finely minced Butcher’s twine Large shoulder wild boar meat. (This can be bought from Broken Arrow Ranch if you don’t know any hunters. Make sure to tell them I sent you.)

1. Heat oven to 200F.

2. Butterfly the meat, gently separating at its natural seams first with your fingers then with a knife, until it is about 2 inches thick (don’t stress too much about getting it perfect, the idea of this step is to get the herbs into the meat, so you just want to make sure to get into the center).

3. Mix herbs, oil, garlic, salt and pepper into a paste, and rub all over inside of roast, and then use twine to tie it up. This takes some practice to get perfect, but it doesn’t really need to be, just make sure it’s all together. There’s a good video here.

4. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, anchovy, and boar to large pot with a tight fitting lid (liquid should come up at least halfway on the meat). Bring to a boil on the stove, then place in oven for 10-20 hours, checking periodically to make sure you have enough liquid, and turn roasts over after 6 hours of cooking. Seems like a long time, but just put it on before you go to bed, and the next morning it’ll be done.

Gleaned Kumquat Mostarda

This is nice and simple. The hardest part is making sure you get all the kumquat seeds out.

2 lbs freshly gleaned kumquats (collected from a place they would have otherwise gone to waste, like a neighbor’s back yard) 1 cup white wine 1 cup sugar 2 tbsp mustard seeds 2 tbsp mustard powder 2 tbsp champagne vinegar

1. Blanch the fruit. Place in salted, boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove to a bath of ice water (this helps them keep their color).

2. Take out all the seeds, then rough chop the fruit.

3. Bring the wine and sugar to a boil, dissolve the sugar.

4. Add the fruit, mustard seed, vinegar, and mustard powder, and gently simmer for 10 minutes

That’s it! Let the pork rest about 15 minutes before cutting, and serve with a bit of the mustard. (I like to put it under the meat, but it’s your call). I realize what you’re thinking…”20 hours! I’ll never make that.” But you should, because all it takes is a bit of planning, and it’s amazingly delicious. The low, intense flavors of the boar offset by the high citrus notes of the fruit make me hungry just thinking about it.

Recipes

Venison Stew

This is the recipe I made for the last Wild Kitchen. It takes a bit of time, homemade beef stock and all, but we're all about slow food right?  This is a really amazing soup. Long cooking makes the venison very tender, and the addition of fresh stock gives it a deep complex flavor.  I saved what we had left from the dinner (mostly broth), in canning jars in the freezer. I defrost some over rice and heat it up, it's pretty great just like that.

For the soup:

4 tbsp olive oil

2 lbs Venison stew meat

1 Cup Red wine

1 lb Yukon gold potatoes - quartered

4 Cups flour

Salt Pepper

12 Cups beef stock (see recipe below, although store bought works)

1 Cup chopped onion

1 Cup chopped celery

1/2 Cup chopped carrot

1 Cup chopped tomato (canned works too)

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme

1 Tbsp  minced fresh rosemary

1 Tbsp minced fresh sage

Wash and thoroughly dry the venison, then roll it in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper.

Heat a large pot over high heat, then add the oil.  When it is hot but not smoking, sear venison in batches until browned, 2-3 minutes. Don’t crowd the pot, or the meat will stew instead of searing. Remove the meat then add the onions and saute until they begin to color.

Add the celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and bay leaves to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add  the beef stock, and bring to a boil.

Reduce to simmer, and cover. You'll want to Simmer the stew for 1-2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. You can add more stock if it evaporates too much.  Add potatoes about 1/2 hr before soup is done, so they don't overcook.

I find this stew is really better the next day. Reheating deepens the flavors, and gives the meat more of a chance to tenderize, but it can be served immediately as well. Enjoy!

For the Stock:

4 lbs soup bones

Sprig fresh thyme

1 Bay leaf

2 Carrots

1 Large onion

2 Stalks Celery

2 Cloves garlic

Preheat oven to 475. (If the beef bones are frozen, let them thaw before you start, this can take a couple hours)

Rough chop carrots, celery, and onion.  Put the bones, onion, and carrots, into a shallow roasting pan, then cook about 30 minutes, or until the  bones are browned, and the onions start to carmalize.

Pour off the excess fat and place bones and veggies in stock pot. Pour 1/2 cup red wine into roasting pan and deglaze over medium heat, scrape bottom of pan, and pour this into stock pot.

Then add the bayleaf, celery, thyme, and garlic to pot. Add 12 C water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and skim fat  regularly.

Cook for as long as you can, I like to cook it for 8 hours, but 5 works. Strain stock, discard veggies and bones, allow stock to cool 20 minutes. If you are going to use stock immediatly, put in fridge to allow fat to settle, then skim off.  Otherwise, put stock into pint ball jars with the fat on top, this helps the stock to keep. The stock will keep for about  a week in fridge, months in the freezer.

Use it in any soup with beef or venison, or cook it down to make an amazingly concentrated sauce.

Recipes

Forage Radish Seed Pods and Make a Salad

Wild radishes grow more or less everywhere in the Bay Area

Wild radishes grow more or less everywhere in the Bay Area

 

My most recent discovery: Wild Radish seed pods

As if the delicious leaves and flowers the wild radish provides weren't enough, here they come with seedpods. I like to forage radish seed pods and saute them up to garnish a salad, but they can also be steamed.

Wild Radish is English for Raphanus raphanistrum. It is a winter annual with leaves covered in short stiff hairs.  It grows more or less everywhere in the Bay Area. When you look out into a field covered with small white or yellow flowers, its probably wild radish. We often find them on our Wild Food Walks

Wild Mustard (Brassica kaber) grows in the same area, and can be distinguished by its yellow flowers.  The problem is that wild radish and mustard like to interbreed (hybridize if you will), to such an extent, that you rarely see either pure white or pure yellow flowers. Generally they're white with yellow or purple interior tint.  I personally don't think it really matters.  I've noticed that plants that seem more mustard than radish have leaves that are more tender, and a bit spicier.  The seedpods seem more or less the same.

onon

Once you find a good patch of pods, its easy to collect a couple pounds in 20 minutes.  The technique I've settled on is to grab the stem close to the base, and slide my hand up, pulling off pods into my hands as I go. 

It's incredibly satisfying to hear the pop pop pop as they slide off the stem. 

I like to saute them and use them on a salad slightly warm or chilled. They are always good. Unfortunately, it's August and the season for these has pretty much passed (although I was up at Mt. Tam leading a plant walk on Sunday, and saw a couple), so store this knowledge away for next year.

Recipe

Here is a recipe, with bacon, for these delicious little treasures.

Serves 4

1/2 lb (4-5 hand fulls) of seed pods

1/2 lb bacon (Get it from bi-rite or some other reputable source. We're lucky to have a great local meat economy in the bay, its a shame not to use it. Know your meat!)

4-6 heads little gem greens (Marin Roots has the best, but not cheap)

8 Nasturtium flowers

2.5 oz Stilton Blue Cheese (about 3 Tbsp)

6 Tbsp cider vinegar

2 Tbsp heavy cream

1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sugar

Dressing

Add vinegar and cream, then whisk together with some salt and pepper. Whisk in the sugar until it dissolves, and then whisk in half of the cheese. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add seasoning to taste

Seed Pods

Cut the bacon into 1 inch chunks, and cook over medium heat until it releases some of its fat.  Throw in Seed pods, and saute until tender (about 4 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste.

Wash and dry the Little Gems

Cut off the end, and, using your hands, toss in mixing bowl with 2 Tbsp dressing and 1/4 C seed pods.  Arrange on plate, with 2 nasturtium flowers. Crumble remaining cheese on top.

That’s it!

  • Unfortunately I don’t have any good pictures of this salad, but if you make it, be sure to send me a photo, I'll put it on my site.
  • Here are more photos to help you spot Wild Radishes.

Recipes

Naturally fermented seabean pickles

all in a row

I'm convinced that seabeans make a great pickle.  They're already salty, crunchy, so small that the pickling mixture soaks through them pretty quickly, but so far my experiments have not been super successful...too much vinegar, not enough salt, too much garlic, not enough dill.  I'm starting from scratch, and this time, am using the naturally fermented method.

Rather than vinegar and pickling spices, this method uses only salt,water, garlic.  Dill and other flavorings can included to taste, but this time I used only the above. Vinegar free pickles are the traditional way of making pickles. Rather than trapping out bacteria via vinegar (basically making an antiseptic brine where nothing can live), naturally fermented pickles actually grow their own beneficial bacteria.  This serves several purposes. 1. it makes them deliciously tart, 2. it keeps out bad bacteria, and 3. the pickles are actually good for you. The same kind of good bacteria that lives in yogurt (Lactobacillus) grows in these pickles, helping your digestion and immune system.    All good things.  Without further ado, here's what I did today....

What I used:

1 cup Sea Salt

11 cups filtered h20

2 cloves garlic

1.5 lbs sea beans (also known as pickleweed or samphire)

My trusty Makers notebook ( a gift for being in the makers faire)

gallon jar (mine was not widemouthed, but thats ideal if you have one)

my stuff

What I did:

1.Cleaned the jar with a splash of boiling water

2. Mixed 11 Cups water and 1 Cup Sea Salt (old wives tale says that you should be able to float an egg in the brine...I generally find old wives to be right, and this brine passes that test)

my jar

3.took out egg.

4.added sea beans and garlic (I didn't have any dill, but I'm sure that will make it that much more delicious)

5.the reason for using a wide mouth jar is that you need a way to keep the veggies underneath the brining solution while it sits.  The best way to do this is to get a plate that just fits into the jar, and use a rock to weigh it down. My jar has a tapered lid, so I couldn't do that.  My solution (a very elegant one I gleaned from a woman at the makers faire...Rachel I think (sorry if you're reading this) ) is to fill a plastic bag with water, seal the top, and squeeze that through the jar. It acts to keep the seabeans down, pretty cool.  It's really not ideal, because you don't necessarily want plastic sitting on your food for that long, but works in a pinch.

6. that's it! cover the jar, and let it sit in a dark place for a while. Check them after 1,2,3 weeks, this way you can taste as the flavor develops. These should keep for about a year.  I'll update in a week, see how the experiment is holding up. Make sure to keep track of what you did, so you can change/repeat it next time.

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Recipes

Dilly Sea Bean Pickles

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Sea Beans are great, I love their salty crunch.  Also called pickleweed, Sea Beans are known scientifically as Salicornia europae variety ruba, and are halophytic (salt loving) plants. When I try to describe how they taste, I always "the Sea".  It reminds me of warm days spent by the coast. That's what's so great about foraging, getting to hold onto the time you spend outside, rather than just a memory, you're reminded by foods you bring home.  Sea Beans can be found in salt marshes up and down the coast.  If you're harvesting them near the city, be careful that it's not from a polluted area, the bay's got more of those than not.  Often used as a  garnish in restaurants, sea beans can be eaten raw, but they're so salty that a full plate is not that appetizing. I try to find other uses.  They are great sauteed with butter and garlic if you're in a hurry, but if you've got time (6 weeks or so), they make a great pickle.  Crisp and salty, their thin build lets the picking mix penetrate all the way to the center, totally masking the Sea Bean flavor.  Experiment with different concoctions, but my favorite is dill.  Great with fish, or in egg salad.  Pics are a bit blurry, I guess the iphone isn't perfect.

To make Dilly Sea Beans, you'll need.....

-1/2 pint mason jars (you can use larger ones, but I like standing all the sea beans up in the jar, and this size is perfect for that)

- Garlic (optional)

- Fresh dill

- White vinegar

 

1.     The first step is to sterilize your jars. This isn't a super crucial step since we're using vinegar in the pickling (a soap and water wash is probably fine), but it's a good habit to get into, and becomes more important when making naturally fermented pickles.

-Fill the jars half full with H20.  Place in microwave on high for 5-8 minutes, and forget about them for a bit.  I'm generally not a fan of the microwave, but if you want to kill things, it's the place to put them(kinda makes you wonder what it's doing to your food).  This is a good time to put your lids and rims in some water to boil, they should boil for about 10 minutes (don't put them in the microwave!...unless you want to have a really good story about explosions in the kitchen)

2.   Next step is to get your ingredients together.  Peel your garlic and....well that's about it, it's super easy.  If you want to get a bit OCD, and want your finished product to be a work of food art, the envy of your peers, and a testament to the validity of the  dominant power of the human race on our small planet, you can pick out the long sea beans and arrange them in piles according to size and direction, if not, that's cool too.

3. Make a cocktail of 1/2 h2o, 1/2 vinegar (figure out how much you'll need to fill the jars), and boil.

4.  Get the jars out of microwave, empty the water.

5. While that heats up, place a sprig (mostly leaves) of dill and optional garlic clove in the bottom of each jar, and then fill with sea beans.  I like to stand them all up in one direction, for vanities sake.  Then place a sprig of dill on top.

6. Once vinegar boils, fill jars, leaving 1/2inch at the top of each.

7. Place lids on jars, making sure the edges are clean.

8.  Now one more boil, place jars in a pot with water to 3/4 height of jar. Boil for 10 minutes.

8. Done! So easy, so delicious. Well, I guess not quite done.  After they cool check to make sure the lids don't pop, if they do, the vacuum didn't seal, and they should be put in the fridge to pickle. Place the jars in a cool dark place, and let sit for 4-6 weeks.  You can use these in the same way you would cucumber pickles. Sandwiches, egg salad...well I suppose you know how to use pickles.  Last thoughts : They're Great! Make them! Also, I'm going to be at the maker faire in the homegrown village, may 29th-31st showing people how to make these, as well as limoncello. Come say hi.

Western Vinigar is local, right?

Western Vinigar is local, right?

Beauty has no price

Beauty has no price

Dilly

Dilly

Getting ready

Getting ready