Spring time walks in the woods deliver a pleasing treat at this time of year, the punchy aromas of wild garlic hit you before you even spot the delicious crop, making it easy to find. Wild garlic is one of those ingredients that I look forward to going out too forage for each year and I always make the most of the season.
Armed with a basket or a bag, we love to head off to the woods with the dog to collect handfuls of it, it makes for such a lovely weekend activity together.
I find myself picking as much as I can while it’s in season and creating new recipes with it, or just simply chopping it up and adding it into old favourites to boost the flavour.
The warm dappled light that dances through the branches in the wood’s glistens in such a beautiful way, its like magic. A golden glow of the low spring time sun hits the ground through the trees and for the first time in months after the grey dull light from winter the woods seem to come alive. The warmth of the sun and the trees covered in pretty blossom always fills me with so much optimism and inspiration for the coming year. It’s almost poetic.
Just being able to leave the house with out a coat for the first time since autumn is possibly another reason that I feel so happy during spring.
We don’t tend to get really cold winters in Devon compared to the north of England or other countries who have to endure snow and ice for a large part of the year, but I seem to really feel the cold so I long for the warmer months.
Sun, spring flowers popping through the grass colouring the park with yellows and blues like a painting always put me in a fantastic mood, it’s probably my favourite season along with autumn. Maybe it’s the warmth, or the pleasure from just being able to go outdoors and gather something to cook with but spring foraging is always a joy.
The flavour of wild garlic is an incredible mix of sweet, tangy, garlicky flavours with a hint of chive that work well in place of normal garlic in so many recipes. It really packs a punch, but in an amazingly delicious way.
A foraging trend and a British classic
There has been a revival of interest in Foraging in recent years, it wasn’t so long ago that only a select few had heard of wild garlic or three corner leeks, but those times are long gone. Even Michelin starred restaurants are serving foraged ingredients on their menus now, why? because wild or to use the trendy term – foraged food is so fashionable.
Its quite a serious business, with restaurants even hiring a specialised forager, who go out and find what they need for the weeks dinner service. Foraging would have once been a part of daily life for most, but with the rise of farming techniques and supermarkets stocking everything you could ever need it became a past time.
It is such a big trend now that people are teaching workshops about it, and even offering foraging days – where they take people out for a day or weekend to hunt for wild ingredients and cook with what they find. I am actually going on a day trip next week where we will do just that.
However the trend for foraging has caused a sudden spike in the number of people flouting bans on picking wild produce in London’s Royal Parks. There has been a 600 per cent increase in the number of incidents of foraging within a year, with 35 police warnings issued in 2017. According to an article in the Telegraph.
I have always loved foraging for ingredients, there is something so special about being able to go out and pick something from the land. I have become quite knowledgeable on what is edible, but its something I would love to know more about.
The foragers season here in England tends to really kick off for me in spring with the arrival of morels and wild garlic, but there are a few winter ingredients that can be found. If you are interested in finding out more about whats in season and when, then you can find this handy foraging guide here. We are quite lucky in England as there is such an abundance of produce that can be foraged often right on our doorsteps.
I think the reason why wild garlic has become so popular to forage for is that it is so easy to find. I find that the flavours are better early in the season when it at its most vibrant, so that’s when I tend to go out and pick it. For more information on how to find and identify wild garlic see this article here.
Three corner leeks are another favourite of mine to forage for at the same time and the two are often growing not far from one another. It seems to grow everywhere here in England. It’s a weed that some people despise in their garden, as it has a strong onion like smell. It spreads like crazy if planted in the ground, but it really is a delicious little weed that works perfectly in recipes with wild garlic, so I often use the two together.
It’s called three corner leek because its stem is triangle-shaped, helping you identify it when you are out picking. Though I’m sure its smell would give it away first.
I decided to pair the wild garlic and three corner leeks with another old favourite, a pork pie. It seems to have stepped back into the limelight recently.
The humble pork pie is also facing a revival. Once it would have been thought of as a cheap snack, but now it’s having a bit of a moment. With new pork pie flavours, and the rose of artisanal butchers they are popping up in bakeries and farm shops again. Some of London’s trendiest restaurants are adding it to their menus.
The reinvention of old classics in general seems to be popular at the moment here in Britain. It’s not just pork pies that are back in fashion after a makeover, but other classics like the Cornish pasty are becoming incredibly popular again. This article about how the pork pie has become reborn as a luxury artisan foodstuff was quite interesting.
I wanted to put a spring time spin on the British classic pork pie, so wild garlic seemed like the perfect choice. It works beautifully with the flavour of the pork.
Pork pies are a long-time favourite of mine, we used to eat them all the time growing up. Melton Mowbray pork pies where always my favourite, they always seemed that extra bit special.
If you’re not familiar with a pork pie then it’s basically a small snack sized pie that’s served cold and made with hot water crust pastry. We tend to eat them on their own as a little snack or with salads.
I’m really interested in the food trends for the coming year and that’s why I’m excited to be heading to the Tutto food exhibition in Milan this may.
Hot water crust pastry
375g (13 0z) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g (3 1/2 oz ) lard
40g (1 1/2 0z) unsalted butter
150ml (1/4 pint) water
Cut the butter and lard into cubes and add to a pan with the water and heat over a medium heat, while the pan is on mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Once the butter/lard has melted turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
pour into the bowl with the flour and mix in using a spoon until it forms a soft dough, once it’s cooled enough to handle knead together.
3 slices of smoked bacon
6 wild garlic leaves, washed and dried
3 leaves of three corner leek (if you can find wild garlic or three corner leeks you can use ramps, or garlic scrapes or leave this out and use half an onion)
3 sprigs of thyme
In a food processor add the bacon wild garlic and three corner leeks (or onion if using) and pulse a few times until finely chopped, add the mince and pulse again to combine.
Mix in the salt, pepper, thyme and a little fresh nutmeg (I grate this freshly and use about 5 or six scrapes on the grater so only a small amount).
I like to make the filling first so its ready to use right away once the pastry is made as I find the dough is easiest to work with before it cools down too much. A lot of recipes tell you to chill the dough but I find it too hard to roll out that way.
To make the pies
On a floured surface roll out and cut with a circle cutter and press it into a small muffin mould, or little high sided tart tins, press in the filling so it’s tightly packed and cut another piece for the top, pinch the edges to seal and then make a hole in the top, (generally this hole is made as traditional pork pies have some meat gelatine poured in once they are baked, but that’s the one part of a traditional pork pie that I dislike so I left that part out, I will include the link to a recipe for that it you like it though).
Brush the tops with a beaten egg and sprinkle on some salt and pepper and bake for about 50 minutes until golden.
If you want to add the traditional gelatine layer you can find the recipe here.
Once the pies have cooled put them in the fridge to chilled and enjoy them cold.
This post was sponsored by Tutto food – You are invited to visit or follow online #TUTTOFOOD2019 – Milan world food exhibition at Rho Fiera from the 6th to 9th
May 2019 ” click here if you want tickets to attend the event. Its going to be amazing I’m sure.
Food and drink trend predictions for 2019
I spent a bit of time researching this subject and reading so many articles on the trend reports for the coming year. To my surprise there where a lot of predictions that I wasn’t expecting, one being Ethiopian food – which I’m excited about. There where a few that I knew would be on the list.
Gin being one of them, it is so popular in Britain right now. So many distilleries are popping up and creating a whole host of new flavours.
Honey was one trend I wasn’t expecting, Its been around for hundreds of years and a staple in most people’s kitchens, but it never really seemed trendy before. It actually makes a lot of sense. With bee numbers dwindling due to climate change, people have swarmed to the new trend of back yard beekeeping.
There are a few ingredients that are becoming really fashionable at the moment too, like Argan oil, So I’m feeling pretty happy that I got some while I was in morocco last month.
Other trendy ingredients are Stracciatella, bitter greens, seaweed and sea vegetables, unusual herbs like -lovage, ground elder and chickweed.
Flavours of the Pacific Rim (Asia, Oceanica and the western coasts of North and South America) are also a strong trend so stock up on fish sauce, wasabi, lemongrass, star anise, pandan leaves, black sesame, soy sauce.
There where a lot of websites with lists of trends for 2019 but I felt this article summed it up best, it was written back in January and so far the suggestions are definitely playing out.