where the wild things are. gathering and processing wild sumac

 Staghorn Sumac is just one of the  North American edible Sumac's that closely resemble the tangy lemony, terra cotta colored spice from the Middle East. There are hundreds of varieties and all with red berries are edible. It grows wild and prolifically all over New England and Upstate New York. In fact, I am pretty sure it grows all over the Northeast. There are a couple varieties you might spy while whizzing down the highway, as it likes to grow along the road's edge. I prefer to collect Staghorn Sumac which has an almost tropical look to the vibrant, red, cone like berry clusters.  The leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall. I gather Sumac  in more remote areas along slow country roads or the edges of farms, even in a friend's yard where one tree I know of grows 30 feet high. When I mention Sumac, people often assume I am talking about Poison Sumac. The edible variety is completely different from its poisonous cousin - which has white berries - and is not poisonous at all, The berries of Poison Sumac  cannot be mistaken for Stag Horn Sumac. The moment is NOW to harvest! I keep clippers in the pocket of the door of the car, so I am at the ready when I spot some.

 

To Cut and Process Sumac:

 

 Harvest Sumac when the cone like clusters are vibrant and full and the little hairs that envelope each seed are intact. Rain can sometimes wash them away and If you wait too long to harvest they may get buggy.

 

In New York and New England I harvest anywhere from late July to early September,  depending on the weather.  Keep your eye on the sumac and you will learn to know when it is mature.

 

Clip Sumac clusters just below the end of the cone.

 

Leave  the whole clusters to rest in a dry space for a couple days. You want them to be dry when you process so nothing molds.

 

Rub your hands over the hairy red clusters and  the small individual berries will fall away onto sheet tray below.  Don't worry if there are some larger pieces or bits of twig and leaves, it will all get sorted later.

 

Leave the  hairy little sumac seeds on a sheet tray for 24 hours in a  thin layer.

 

Fill your spice grinder about half way with the sumac seeds.

 

Pulse a few times until it seems the hairs have separated from the seed. Your grinder will not grind up the actual seed, it is to hard, but it will separate the little hairy layer from the seed.

 

Pour the ground sumac into a a medium sieve and shake over a bowl until you have separated the hairs from the seed. Discard the seeds. Repeat until you have processed all your Sumac!

 

Lay your ground sumac out on a large sheet tray for 24 hours to make sure it drys or if you have a microwave you can give it a quick zap. I don’t use microwaves but I have heard the method works well. Alternatively you could throw it in your oven at at 140 degrees  overnight. I am into minimal work so I leave it on sheet tray in a nice dry spot and forgo the oven and microwave method.

 

Store the sumac in an airtight jar in your pantry. It will last indefinitely. 

where the wild things are. pickled rose petals

Below; Greecologies thick tangy yogurt, Dan Finn's maple syrup, wild fennel pollen foraged from the Sonoma Coast, pickled rose petals and a squeeze of lime.

I have been using a lot of rose in my kitchen lately. The smell of wild roses takes me straight back to the summers of my childhood where we spent a few precious days each year in Watch Hill Rhode Island where the shores were thick with rugosa and the air smelled of salt and rose. One of the very old houses I lived in on the Massachusetts Vermont border was surrounded by a thicket of rose. Many different varieties grew together in a tangled mass. I am sure some of them were planted purposefully over the years but by the time we moved in, both the house and the grounds had gone a bit wild. I like to imagine, that over the centuries, some of the women who had lived there were as obsessed with rose as I am and perhaps they used them for tea or cooking or for scents. The house had a long and rich history as the first post office in the town and it was said that the house harbored a spy during The French and Indian wars. Some of its former inhabitants still walked the halls when I lived there, shimmering lightly as they moved furniture and knocked things akimbo in the night. It is no coincidence that when we bought property upstate one of the first things we planted was roses, not perfect long stem roses, but the kind that grow without much care into wild blustering bushes, thick with single petal flowers and thorns. We also rescued roses from a nearby farm that was being leveled and torn down, we call these Edgar’s Roses. Over the years our rose bushes have been good to us and this year is no exception. We never spray them. When using rose for food you always want to make sure they have never been sprayed and are pesticide free.

My most recent rose obsession is a sweetened rose vinegar and pickled rose petals.The recipe is simple and while it seems a bit twee, I promise the pickled petals are the perfect accompaniment to a rich bowl of late summer yogurt or to an early fall pork roast. Make this now while the roses are abundant and summer still hangs at our door. Your fall larder will thank you later. xx

PICKLED ROSE PETALS

2 cups loosely packed rose petals ( use only organic pesticide free roses)

throw in some whole buds, they are very beautiful when pickled.

3 cups white rice wine vinegar (the white rice wine vinegar is sweeter and  less acidic than white wine vinegar, but if you only have white wine vinegar, don't worry just use it)

12 tablespoons of maple syrup ( if you use organic sugar instead of maple your liquid will stay a vibrant pink. Maple has great flavor but turns the liquid a little rose/brown)

6 teaspoons of kosher salt

 

METHOD

Submerge the petals in a bowl of water then drain lightly and lay out to dry  on dish towel. you want to bruise the petals as little as possible.

In a non reactive sauce pan, heat the vinegar, the salt and maple to just a simmer. Turn off and stir until the salt and maple are dissolved. Let cool about 10-15 minutes.

Place the rose petals in a large glass bowl and pour the cooled liquid over the roses. Store in a ball jar in your refrigerator. infuse for a a few days or so before using.The pickle will last for several months.The color will slowly fade and transform over time from a vibrant pink to a dusty brown pink. The pickling liquid will either be a vibrant pink or a brown pink depending on if you use maple or sugar. You can use this sweetened rose vinegar as you would any vinegar and use the pickled petals to accompany roasts or morning yogurt. 

 

SEE MY ROSE PETAL FRENCH TOAST HERE AND MY ROSE PETAL ICE CREAM HERE.

 

 

 

 

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. WILD FENNEL POLLEN. PART ONE.

 

 

HARVESTING WILD FENNEL POLLEN

Northern California smells good. Yes, I know I am making a broad sweeping statement–but it's true. Everytime I am out here, no matter the time of year, the thing that resonates is the smell. Sometimes, briny, smoky and woodsy, heavy with eucalyptus, pine and sage brush other times sweet with wild fennel and  dark summer fruits. Wild fennel grows everywhere in Northern  California; A beautiful weed feeding off fog and salt in the dry dusty soil and craggy rock along the  highways and oceans edge. Fennel pollen is used in many Mediterranean recipes.

 

Right now, it is in full bloom. Bright yellow clusters heavy with pollen. This year, the drought has given way to a particularly abundant crop. I fight the bees just a little for the flowers which I cut off in clusters. I cut only the ones fluffy with pollen, in the late afternoon after the sun has dried the residual morning dew. 

The pollen has buttery delicate fennel taste and slightly caramelized aroma.

 

 

 

PROCESS

 

- Cut the flower clusters in the late afternoon.

- Make sure they are dry, if not leave in the sun for an hour or so.

 - Process the pollen by rolling the flowers gently between my fingers over a large plate or sheet tray. Don't worry if some of the flowers fall  into the bowl. You will later sift out any big peices.

- Once you have processed all the flowers smooth the pollen out in a thin layer and leave somewhere out of the wind to completely dry.This can be an hour in the sun or overnight in indirect light. The fennel  flowers can become a bit sticky or a little wet during the rolling processes they release amy moisture or sap. 

- When dry sift through a  fine sieve into a bowl. Only the pollen will remain. During the drying process it will go from a bright turmeric yellow  to a more burnt turmeric.

 

I sifted mine twice through two different size sieves, I used a medium sieve for the first round and a fine sieve for the second round. Your sieve should sift out all the debris and from the pollen. If this is not the case, use a larger mesh sieve.

Store in a ball jar or a well sealed spice tin. This will last up to one year if completely dry.

 

If you are not fortunate enough to live on the West Coast where this grows abundantly wild, you may be able to find it at your local farmers market. It looks a lot like dill flower so ask the farmers. I spotted some at the Union Square green market yesterday. Or perhaps you have planted some in your garden and have let it go to flower?

Fennel pollen is also available at most spice markets and many food specialty shops.

 

Recipes to follow in part two.

My mind is dancing with ideas.

 

Thanks for the initial inspiration Samin!

xx

MAISON BERGOGNE + FISH AND BiCYCLE.

On a recent trip  to Delaware Country we took a little detour off Route 17 and skirted around to the tiny town of Narrowsburg in Sullivan Country to visit with Laura Silverman and her business partner Juliette Hermant. We have known Laura  for some time and are long time fans of her blog, Glutton For Life. It was our first time meeting Juliette and what ensued was a charming and organic few hours of cocktails, foraging talk, and portrait making! The two are partners on the up and coming Fish and Bicycle bar and restaurant, which will be housed within Maison Bergogne, Juliette's incredible antique, found objét and salvage shop, an old bus depot. It is a little Vide-Grenier, a little French Flea and a whole lot of Catskill's. Juliette's perfect curations and curios perfectly match Laura's insanely delicious cocktails.

I can't wait to visit with these ladies again soon and wait... did i mention their personal style? 

style goals. see below.

xx

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FROM THE ARCHIVES.WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. DANDELION BUTTER. FRITTATA OF THE THINGS WINTER LEFT BEHIND.

DANDELION BUTTER AND FRITTATA OF THE THINGS WINTER LEFT BEHIND.

It has been a while since I have been upstate. Work has kept me traveling and while that has been nice I have been missing my wild adventures in Upstate New York. This has been a busy year and much has changed. I looked back to see what I was up to this time last year. Dandelion butter and wild frittata's and weekend's with friends are are what came up on the blog.

They are what I have been dreaming about this week as the sun is finally shining here in NYC and I get a few days to head up to the mountains. Though the below post was exactly year ago it feels entirely apropos. I thought I would re-share with you.

xx

By the time we got upstate this year summer was nearly around the corner. Though I have mentioned before that spring comes late to our side of the mountain, this winter was especially brutal. By memorial day, most but not all of the ramps were beginning to wither back. The dry spring had mostly eradicated the wild watercress along our various springs which are running feebly at best this year. I picked what I could that winter had been kind enough to leave behind, big piles of dandelion blossom, dandelion leaves, wild mustard greens, wild mustard flower, chives, spring garlic,  wild mint, sorrel and ramp leaves. I set the dandelion blossom aside for butter and washed the rest of the greens. I chopped the bulbs of spring garlic and mixed them into the greens. I put  a generous dose of olive oil on the bottom of a heavy large cast iron frying pan and then I  piled the greens on top. I whisked up a dozen eggs, their yolks a bright yellow, added about a half a cup of grated pecorino, a dash of celtic sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.

 

FRITTATA OF THE THINGS WINTER LEFT BEHIND

 

12 ORGANIC EGGS

COPIOUS PILE OF WILD ORGANIC GREENS SUCH AS DANDELION,MINT, MUSTARD, SORREL AND SPRING GARLIC.

1/2 CUP PLUS A BIT MORE OF A VERY GOOD OLIVE OIL. PREFERABLY A DARK LUSCIOUS GREEN ONE.

1/2 CUP PLUS A BIT MORE GRATED PECORINO ROMANO

GREY CELTIC SEA SALT

COURSE BLACK PEPPER 

LARGE CAST IRON FRYING PAN

 

I poured the egg mixture over the greens and set on Julian’s mid heat Aga burner covered for ten minutes or so. I watched it carefully so the bottom would not burn. I am not super used to cooking with an Aga so it took a little extra watching and patience. When the eggs started to puff up around the greens it was time to remove the lid and transfer the frittata  to the oven. I hit the top with a dash of olive oil and some more freshly grated pecorino before placing it in the oven. I cooked it in the mid range temp oven until it was just golden abot ten more minutes. We served it room temperature. The key to a good frittata is a dozen eggs and copious amounts of olive oil. The frittata’s from Puglia, where my grandmother was from are made this way. What's not to love about olive oil?

 


 

DANDELION BUTTER

This beautiful vibrant yellow butter is all about early Summer. As kids we ran around with a fistful of dandelions and thrust it under anyone's chin we could find yelling do you like butter!? yes! you like butter! The yellow reflection of the petals was meant to be sign that said participant did indeed like butter. It is from the memory of that adventure that this idea was born.

Start by collecting a bunch of dandelion blossoms.

Gently pull the petals away from the tiny bulb at the base of the neck.

 

1 qt. of organic heavy cream

1 cup of bright yellow dandelion petals.

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Combine the heavy cream and the dandelion petals  in a small food processor or blender.( I find it hard to scrape the butter from a deep blender)

Pulse on high speed for two minutes or so until the solids start to slap the sides of the processor and clearly separate from the liquids.

Holding the butter in place tip the processor to drain off the excess liquids.

Pulse a few more times.

Remove the solids into a wooden bowl and the run ice cold water over the butter until it firms up a bit more.

With the back side of a wooden spoon work the butter back and forth against the side of the wooden bowl to remove any leftover liquids.

When done transfer to a container and serve.

The butter will keep it an airtight container in your fridge for a week or so.

I topped my butter with a sprinkle of pine tip salt.

Serve with homemade crackers or on a fresh pasta or your favorite bread.

 

 

FRENCH TOAST. ROSE PETAL. FENNEL SEED. PINK PERUVIAN SALT.

FRENCH TOAST IS ONE OF THOSE COMFORT FOODS I SIMPLY CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT. MAYBE ITS THE CRISPY EDGES OR THE SALTY BUTTER  OR THE SWEET MAPLE OR MAYBE ITS A COMBINATION OF ALL THESE THINGS TOGETHER. EITHER WAY, IT HAS BEEN A SOLID FAVORITE SINCE CHILDHOOD. GONE IS THE WHITE BREAD OF THAT YOUTH, IT HAS BEEN REPLACED WITH A CHEWIER SOURDOUGH, A LITTLE FENNEL, A LITTLE ROSE AND A HIT OF PINK PERUVIAN SALT. IT IS A PRETTY GROWN UP VERSION OF MY CHILDHOOD CLASSIC.

XX

FRENCH TOAST. ROSE PETAL. FENNEL SEED. PINK PERUVIAN SALT.

MAKES 6 PIECES 

2 EGGS

1/ 2 CUP WHOLE MILK ( ANY MILK WILL WORK. I USE WHOLE MILK OR COCONUT MILK)

1 TEASPOON  LUCKNOW FENNEL SEED ( A SWEETER GREEN INDIAN FENNEL SEED)

1 TABLESPOON CRUSHED  DRIED ROSE PETALS ( RESERVE HALF FOR GARNISH ON FINISHED FRENCH TOAST)

1/4 TEASPOON PINK PERUVIAN SEA SALT

6 SLICES OF MIICHE SOUR DOUGH BREAD ( I USED SHE WOLF BAKERY BREAD BUT YOU CAN USE ANY DENSE SOUR DOUGH)

4 TABLESPOONS BUTTER ( RESEVER TWO FOR FINISHED FRENCH TOAST)

1 TABLESPOON OF COCONUT OIL

1/2 CUP MAPLE SYRUP WARMED

 

 

DIRECTIONS

IN A SMALL BOWL COMBINE EGGS, MILK, FENNEL SEED AND ROSE PETALS

WHISK UNTIL COMBINED

TRANSFER THE MIXTURE TO A SHALLOW BOWL

SOAK THE BREAD SLICES INDIVIDUALLY UNTIL COATED AND SOFT

DRAIN THE EXCESS EGG FROM THE BREAD AND SET ASIDE ON A PLATE

 

IN A 10 INCH CAST IRON SKILLET OVER MEDIUM HEAT TWO TABLESPOON OF UNSALTED BUTTER AND 1 TABLESPOON OF COCONUT OIL

 

FRY THE BREAD TWO PIECES AT A TIME UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN. FLIP TO BROWN EACH SIDE.

SERVE WITH SOFTENED BUTTER AND THE REMAINING CRUSHED ROSEHIPS

SPRINKLE WITH PINK PERUVIAN SEA SALT

 

 TOP WITH WARMED MAPLE SYRUP.

 

 

XX

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yogurt with Seeds. Passion Fruit. Pistachios. Manuka Honey and Black Salt

Yogurt with Seeds. Passion Fruit. Pistachios. Chilies. Manuka Honey and Black Salt

Passion fruit is my go to winter fruit to make me feel as though I am someplace tropical.

2 1/2 cups Greek Yogurt

1 whole passion fruit, halved. Scoop out the fruit>

1/2 cup mixed seeds—Sunflower and Pepitos 1 tbsp. 

1/2 cup chopped Pistachios

4 tbsp. Manuka Honey 

1 tablespoon coconut oil

In a cast iron pan over low heat, toss the seeds in 1 tablespoon of coconut oill and a pinch each of crushed chili flakes and kosher salt. 

Divide the yogurt between 2 bowls
Scoop 1/2 of the passion fruit into each bowl. 

Top with the warmed seeds, pistachios, and drizzle with Manuka honey. Finish with the lightest hint of Black Crete Sea salt. 

Serves 2

winter's bone. bone both with horseradish. fermented black garlic and persian lime.

Here on the East Coast, we are the midst of our first winter storm of 2016. Nothing feels better on a snowy day than a good bowl of hot broth or anytime for that matter. I make mine in big batches and freeze it so it can be ready for the next storm! Below is a recipe I developed for Toast UK. It is a rich dark beef bone broth with hits of horseradish and smokey fermented garlic and just a touch of Persian lime. Enjoy wherever you are! xx

 

WINTER'S BONE. BONE BOTH WITH HORSERADISH. FERMENTED BLACK GARLIC AND PERSIAN LIME.

 

 

 

 

3 lbs. of Beef shin bones

3 lbs. meaty bones such as beef shank or short ribs

2 tablespoons Sicilian oregano

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400

 

Place bones on a large roasting tray

Sprinkle with Sicilian oregano

Generously salt the bones

Drizzle with olive oil

Roast bones for 1 hour turning midway through.

Remove bones from oven and cool.

 

When the bones are cooled, place in a large stock pot. I used a 7 quart Staub pot.

Add remaining ingredients

2 medium yellow onions, halved with skins on

4 whole heads black fermented garlic

2 whole heads garlic

2 whole Persian limes

2 cups chopped horseradish

1 celery root quartered

1 parsley root quartered

1 bundle of aromatics like thyme and parsley

1/4 cup juniper vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. kosher salt

20 cups filtered water

Add the water and allow the stock to come to a rapid boil, then lower heat to a bare simmer for 12-24 hours.

(don’t be afraid to add more water along the way if need be.)

Discard bones and other large debris and pour through a fine mesh strainer or a colander lined with cheesecloth.

makes 10-12 cups

Add salt to taste.

images ©Andrea Gentl/Gentl and Hyers 2015

 recipes ©Hungry Ghost 2015