Posts tagged ‘foraging’

September 5, 2013

Blackberry cock – An Irish twist of an east Finnish classic

by Ciaran Burke
The baked pie... anybody for some blackberry cock?

The baked pie… anybody for some blackberry cock?

When I was first offered a fish cock in Kuopio, the capital of the eastern Finnish province of Savo, I did not know how to respond. One does not wish to be rude and impolite to the natives, but the prospect did not sound too promising. The look on my face must have betrayed my fear, it was explained to me that the fish cock was indeed a fish pie. Mustikkakukko, blueberry cock, is a blue berry pie made with a delicious rye pastry. Such pies are also called rättänä in Savo, Finland. The Finnish blueberry is Vaccinium myrtillus, what we call bilberry or froachan. The bilberry season has passed us, it is now prime blackberry season. Along the hedgerows and roads the black fruits of Rubus fruticosus, hang inviting us to pick them, and so the blackberry cock was created!

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Blackberry Cock (pie made with rye pastry)

INGREDIENTS

For the pastry

  • 250ml Rye flour
  • 125g butter
  • 125g light muscavado sugar, sieved
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For the filling

  • 700ml blackberries (about 0.5kg)
  • 50ml sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon corn flour
Crumbling the butter with the rye flour

Crumbling the butter with the rye flour

METHOD

  1. Mix together the rye flour with sieved sugar and baking powder
  2. Crumble in the butter
  3. Wrap in greaseproof paper and put in the fridge for at least an hour
  4. Mix the blackberries, sugar and corn flour
  5. Line a ceramic dish with a little more than half of the rye pastry, saving some for the top
  6. Fill in the blackberry mix and then top off with the rye pastry. Working with rye pastry is more difficult than wheat or spelt pastry, it is very difficult to roll. So don’t worry if it does not hold together.
  7. Place in a pre-heated oven to 200 degrees Celcius and bake for 30 minutes.

The soft texture of the sweet rye pastry is delicious with blackberries. In Finland the blueberry cock is often served with vanilla custard, that would also be perfect for the blackberry version. Serve the pie warm or cold.

A delicious slice of black berry cock.. yum!

A delicious slice of black berry cock.. yum!

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October 22, 2012

Blackberry Ketchup Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Blackberries are coming to the end for this year, but you might still be able to pick a kilo for this delicious recipe, Blackberry Ketchup. It is delicious with all sorts of savoury foods, use it instead or tomato ketchup. I love it with organic pork sausages that I buy at the market. It is easy to make too…

Backberry ketchup ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 Kg of Blackberries
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp of dried chillies
  • 1 tbsp of yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • 200ml vinegar
  • 250g of light brown sugar

Method:

  1. Put blackberries in a large saucepan with about 200 ml of water and start to cook.
  2. Press the garlic cloves into the berries and add all the other ingredients
  3. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for about 25 minutes until the fruit is soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little
  5. Blend with the hand blender.
  6. Press through a sieve to remove seeds
  7. Bottle in sterilized jars.

When the ketchup has thickened it is ready to be sieved

October 2, 2012

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake

We have collected quite a bunch of wild carrot seeds from along the bog road that leads to our house. It is a quiet road which does not have much traffic travelling along it. The concave seed heads make them easy to identify and they are quick to pick. Harvest them when dry and remove from the infloresence. Store them in a box in a cool dry place.

Hanna baked a delicious cake using the seeds.

 

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake – Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 125g Butter
  • 1 Cup of dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • 150ml of kefir (or buttermilk)
  • 200ml of wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp of cried ginger
  • 3tsp of ground wild carrot sed
  • pinch of salt

Method

  1. Melt Butter and sugar
  2. When cooled ad spices and kefir
  3. In a separate bowl mix the flour with soda and baking powder with pinch of salt then whisk in the egg.
  4. Add the flour mix to butter mixture.
  5. Fold in the flour.
  6. Put into cake tin, sprinkle some whole wild carrot seeds over the top and bake at 175 degrees Celcius for about 50 minutes.

Wild Carrot Seed Spice Cake

Kefir is a fermented milk  originating in the North Caucasus region where it was commonly used by shepherds. Traditional kefir was made in animal skin bags that were hung near a doorway where by it would be knocked against by anyone entering, this would ensure that the milk would be mixed well with the kefir grains. The kefir grains are produced during the fermentation process, a small amount of kefir acts as a starter for the next batch. Luckily you don’t have to be a shepherd or have an animal skin bag to have kefir. It is sold in Polish and Eastern European food shops. In the recipe above kefir can be replaced with Buttermilk.

Daucus carota- Wild carrot seed heads on our road

September 5, 2012

A Saturday Night with Black Sabbath Making Rose Hip Jam…

by Ciaran Burke

Two pots of rose hip jam

Its coming to that time of year again, blackberries are ripe, elder berries are ripening and the rose hips are nearly there. I “look forward” to some Saturday nights making jam. During the summer I made some rose hip jam from fruits that were in the freezer, it is a delicious jam but it does take a bit of work.  From my old blog here is the story of a Saturday night spent making rose hip jam in the company of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. I have added my revised rose hip jam recipe using sugar and apples to add pectin.

The knife cuts through the red flesh, the head is severed, then, thop, brop, brop… bouncing in the bucket. I pick up the next one, cut and chop, thop, brop, brop…

It is Saturday night, the guitars, the bass, the drums, they blast from the speakers. Ozzy Osbourne’s tortured cries accompany, “Am I Going Insane?”… Cut and chop, top and tail, thop, brop, brop… Perhaps I will go mad! I am preparing a bucket full of rose hips, our bounty from the hedgerow, getting ready to make rose hip jam.

Rosa rugosa – hips

Rose hips, the fruit of the rose are easy to pick, once you get started its hard to stop. Wild dog rose, Rosa canina is ideal, and Rosa rugosa hips are also good. The bucket fills quickly, as you add more and more. Then you get home. Now you have to top and tail them. Remove the stalk from the base, and discard the leafy calyx from the top.

Rose hips- a long night ahead!

I start with enthusiasm, what better way to spend a Saturday night? Black Sabbath are playing loudly as I pick through the harvest, topping and tailing. Soon the sound of the falling rose hips is dulled as they land on a layer of prepared hips, no longer do I hear the hollow thop, brop, brop of topped and tailed hips bouncing in an empty bucket. I  work away, Ozzy sings “Tomorrow’s Dream”, rose hip jam on my bread for breakfast.

A busy Saturday night topping and tailing rose hips!

The bucket of unprepared hips is still quite full, and Sabbath are nearly finished one album. I am beginning to think that I am going to get to hear their whole back catalogue. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” has me singing “Rosehips Bloody Rosehips” as I dip into the never emptying  bucket.  But I continue with my toil, my three containers in front of me; the harvesting bucket, the compost bucket and plastic bowl of prepared hips. Black Sabbath keep blasting out the tunes, I keep cutting. It is good to hear the old tunes again, air guitar with a sharp knife is not a good idea though

Eventually there is hope, a slight glimpse of white plastic, the bottom of the bucket. Briefly glimpsed before a hip rolls to replace its vacated companion. “Never Say Die”, ah yes, ah song for every occasion, the band plays on. With renewed vigor, I keep chopping, topping, tailing and the bucket is empty at last.

Rose hips topped and tailed

Next I wash some old jars, weigh out 1.2Kg of hips, bag the rest and put them in the freezer.  I place the fruit in a big sauce pan add some water and cook them. Its getting late, but I have lots of Black Sabbath albums. As I move to the next phase of the jam making operation, I change to the second era of Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, “Turn Up The Night”. After about an hour the fruits have softened.  I have to press them through a sieve to remove the seeds, a thick pulp of rich red results, it is hard work. Then I skin a few apples and chop them in the food processor. The pulp goes back into a saucepan with two 400ml bottles of apple juice concentrate  and chopped apple. The mixture bubbles like a witches brew, Dio sings of circles and rings, dragons and kings, as I stir the jam. The temperature rises, the jam starts to thicken and after a while of continuous stirring it is time to fill the jars.

Rose hips in the saucepan

This is always the messiest part. The boiling jam is transferred with a spoon into jars that have been heated in the oven to sterilize them. I usually manage to spill some, but only minor scalding results. Soon the jars are filled, I scrape the cooling and setting jam from the edges of the pot. I lick the sweet sticky fruit from the spoon.   It is late, it has been a long night of toil, but this is the best moment, it is hot, it is sweet and it is delicious as Dio sings… “ Heaven and Hell”. Well, it was hard work, for two and a half jars of jam. Not quite hell, but rose hip jam is close to heaven.

ROSE HIP JAM RECIPE

Since I fist made rose hip jam I have revised the recipe using sugar instead of apple juice concentrate. This jam wont be set like a jelly, instead it will be like a thick delicious sauce. It still involves topping and tailing!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500 g rose hips chopped
  • 500ml water
  • 200ml boiled water
  • 3 apples, cored and chopped, don’t peel them
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1.5 cups of sugar

METHOD

  1. Boil the rose hips in 500ml of water until they are soft.
  2. In a separate pot boil the chopped apples in a little water until soft and mushy.
  3. Push the pulp of the rose hips through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Put the seeds back into the pot and pour in 200ml of boiling water, cook for a few minutes and sieve again, add to the rose hip pulp.
  5. Next, put the apple pulp through the sieve and mix into the rose hip pulp.
  6. Heat the pulp, add the sugar slowly, stirring to make sure it is dissolved. Add the lemon juice. Turn up the heat and boil the jam.
  7. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes until the jam has thickened.
  8. Put the mixture into sterilized jam jars.
  9. Fasten lids and allow to cool.
August 27, 2012

I fought the root and the root won…. cooking burdock roots

by Ciaran Burke

Bowl of cooked burdock roots- a tasty healthy snack

The story goes, George de Mestral took his dog for a walk and then invented Velcro. The Swiss inventor took his canine for a stroll one day sometime in the 1940s and upon arriving home he noticed that his dog has in this fur the spiky seed heads of Actium minus otherwise known as Burdock. The barbed seed heads attached themselves to the dog’s fur as they do to any fur or clothing that they come in contact with, this is the plants clever method of seed dispersal. Mr. de Mestral was fascinated by this and apparently examined the seed heads under a microscope and voilá…velcro was invented. Well, maybe not quite so easily.

The spiky seed heads attach themselves to clothes and animal fur

Burdock grows in our garden, especially under the old hawthorn tree in the woodland. Each year their impressive wide leaves wave in the wind to be followed by their thistle flowers, which then make fruits that attach themselves occassionally to one of our cats. Many a time I have cursed the burdock plant. Its roots go deep into the earth and I treated it with disdain, because I had viewed it as an unwanted plant, a weed. It was very hard to eradicate. But things have changed, or rather my attitude to plants, and what I condsider a nuisance or a weed has changed. As I grow increasingly interested in using native and wild plants for cooking and exploiting their culinary possibilities, it means that I now embrace a far greater range of plants than I did previously whenI gardened purely as a gardener interested in ornamental, exotic plants.

Burdock, Arctium minus is a handsome plant in its own way, broad dramatic foliage and emphatic thistle flowers of pink. It is a biennial, it dies after it flowers, just as carrots do. Also in common with carrots, the food stored in its long deep tap root can be exploited by us. In Japan, burdock is commonly used in cooking and is cultivated as a crop for its slender tasty roots. In Japanese the it is known as gobo. It is also used in England for making a traditional beer .

Cover the burdock root slices with water and add a good dash of soy sauce

To cook burdock the Japanese way, you cut the centre core of the root into slivers the size of match sticks and boil them in water into which a dash of soy sauce has been added. When the roots become tender, the liquid is reduced until the root pieces have absorbed all the flavour of the soy sauce.

Deep rooted burdock root

With this recipe in mind my wife Hanna and I decided to tackle a burdock root with a garden and tool of which she makes much use of called a Cobra Head. The Cobra Head tool is made in USA and is most effetive a removing weeds from the garden especially deep rooted weeds such as dock and dandelion. As she dug around the burdock root it became apparent, that even the Cobra Head was no match for the stubborn nature of a burdock root, they do not like to be dug up. After much digging and scraping, Hanna’s efforts to remove the whole root intact were in vain, the burdock root won, and a fair portion of the root remained deep in the soil as I finished the extraction process with a shovel.

Use only the central part of the root, burdock roots are best harvested before the plants have flowered

Luckily we had more than enough to work with for our tasty snack. When preparing a burdock root for cooking, wash it well. Then with a sharp knife remove the outer layer of the root and only use the central core. The outer parts remain woody even after cooking. The flavour of burdock root is mild and agreeable but the addition of the soy sauce when cooking gives it a salty zing. It is high in fibre, calcium, potassium, amino acids, and is low in calories. Also, as it is prepared in water and not frying it makes a healthy snack. I wish I had not weeded out so many burdock roots in the past…

Cooking burdock root slivers in water with a good dash of soy sauce

 

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