Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wildcrafted wood sorrel compound butter

Making compound butter is just fun. It's nearly impossible to go wrong when you mix fresh herbs and creamy butter, everything just tastes good. Compound butters are a great way to preserve the flavors, medicinal benefits and nutrition of herbs, fruit and flowers, long after their season is past. Finally, compound butters are an essential chef's tool to infuse dishes with flavor. As the butter melts, it seeps into the crevices of meat, fish, etc. and carries the fresh flavors with it. For a vegetarian, you could use the butter on pasta or grilled veggies!

Wood sorrel is great for compound butter, the sharply sour citrus flavor contrasts with the sweet,
creaminess of the butter. Use quality, grass-fed butter for the best results. 

For each 1/4 lb of unsalted butter (1 stick) I used about 1 cup of fresh wood sorrel, lightly packed and 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt.  

I minced the sorrel first, in the food processor, before adding the butter (in 1/2 cubes) and salt. I processed everything until very smooth. At first, the butter looked smooth but still had a lot of fibrous textures from the stems, so I just kept going. Eventually it became really smooth and creamy. 

Once you have it the way you want it, you can wrap small amounts in plastic wrap, and freeze it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sweet potato colcannon with wild greens

Just a quick post today, I mixed this up yesterday with stuff hanging around in my fridge.

Colcannon is an Irish side dish of boiled cabbage or kale mixed into mashed potatoes. But in this wildcrafted take, I used healthier sweet potatoes and foraged greens (in this case, chickweed, but you could try it with lots of things). 

It's really simple, but it's the little additions to the mashed potatoes which make it so good: caramelized onion, lots of garlic and butter, a splash of cream. And of course, your wild greens. 

No recipe really needed: you should play around and find what works for you, but here is what I did:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wild Food: Golumpki-Inspired Casserole with Bastard Cabbage

During the foraging season, I like to eat something wildcrafted every day. The best way to make this happen is large dishes cooked up once or twice a week, and heated for leftovers as lunches and rush-night dinners. And casseroles are great for this.

Golumpki, or golabki, are a Polish dish of meat and rice, wrapped in cabbage and cooked in tomato sauce. Many cultures have similar dishes; I've had the Iranian version with mint and lamb, and there are others. Though simple in concept, all the wrapping is rather labor-intensive. And the oddly shaped, deeply lobed leaves of bastard cabbage would never work for wrapping. So by doing a deconstructed golumpki casserole, it's much easier and comes together much quicker.

Bastard cabbage is everywhere in Texas right now, covering entire fields, and vacant lots, like this one.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Foraged Chimichurri from Cleavers Weeds

So cleavers season is sort of winding down in Texas, just at the time it would be gearing up in the North. It took me by surprise, how early the foraging season is down here, and while I cooked a ton, I really didn't get to try everything I wanted with early spring greens.

So it looks like green slime, but it tastes good, I promise!
It's a shame too, because I found an incredible abundance of cleavers here, way more and much healthier, tastier looking plants, than I found in New Jersey. They reminded me of the patches I would find up in the farmlands around the Finger Lakes in New York.

If you read my earlier post about how to identify cleavers, then you know they must be boiled first, and I strongly advocate using a food processor for any preparation. That is especially true when the weeds are old, and extra stringy, as they are now. Some of these plants I harvested had leaf whorl nearly 4 inches in diameter--twice the size of when I consider them an "ideal" harvest.