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

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE LUMMI ISLAND

A few weeks ago we headed to Lummi  Island off the coast of Seattle to teach a photography workshop. The premise was visual storytelling and reportage with a heavy dose of wild and gathered ingredients as our base for inspiration.It was our first workshop and we thank all those involved for their patience and inspiration. it was a lovely weekend, with students from the United States, Portugal and Dubai! It was completely pulled together and organized by Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle and Vanille. The spark to this this idea started a couple years ago  with a quick conversation with Aran and the timing finally seemed right!The stars aligned with all our schedules and we forged ahead. Aran was the perfect co-partner and host! She and local Seattle based photographer Charity Burgraff kept us well fed and all the pieces moving in unison. ( look for Charity's new book  Sea and Smoke a collaboration with Chef Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn out this October, it is gorgeous and SO very inspiring!) Charity thank you for so graciously sharing the island with us!

We were't sure what we would find for wild foods once we got to Lummi but luckily it was bountiful. We gathered rose hips and roses and herbs for the weekend from Riley Stark's Nettles Farm where some of the students stayed. He had one of the most fragrant and wild gardens I have been to in quite some time! there was something extraordinary about the way the scents hung in the crisp salty air. Riley's farm and all it's beauty will stay with us for some time. a day or so into the workshop we started brainstorming dinner plans and realized we could grab a couple chickens  from Riley who raises the most beautiful organic Poulet Bleu. We added some wild oregano, whole quince thyme, rose hips, fennel blossom, olives, and local salt from Jim Henken's shop Marine Area7 and voila, dinner was born. the chickens were braised then finished off in the oven.

 

Everything we made to eat that weekend was in some way seasoned with things we gathered from Jim's farm. We had a huge basket of gathered edibles that we kept returning to for a little snip of this or that.My favorite seasonings of the weekend were the fennel blossom, the wild oregano and the celery seed. we there together a salad on our last night that was mediterranean inspired but whole from the island.we used Riley's organic perfectly ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced onions from the farm, whole large caper berries,  crushed green olives, fennel blossom, celery seed,  wild purple oregano and blossom,local sea salt, a good dose of cold pressed super green olive oil, wild mint and tiny bit of wild mustard blossom.

 

I will try to recreate it soon and post a recipe. It was one of my favorite salads of summer.

 

The workshop itself was held at the beautiful Lummi Island home of Seattle based Photographer and shop keeper (Marine Area7). Thank you Jim for letting us take over your very special space! Jim not only went crabbing for us once but twice! We were really spoiled with those dinners!

Jim's house is filled with luminous light and as you can imagine being the proprietor of the new Seattle based shop Marine Area 7 it was filled with props and surfaces that were spot on. I was coveting my share of goods for sure! Jim, I am still dreaming about that smoked salmon you made so effortlessly in that beautiful smoker! If you haven’t checked out his shop which he runs with his wife you must do so!

 

We met up on our last day with Rob Gold, sous at the Willows Inn to do a little woods and beach gathering. We found black berries, sorrel, pine, German Chamomile, Rose hips and so much more! On the beach we gathered sea lettuces for our poached egg dish. We quickly blanched the seaweed and added pea blossoms mustard flower and dill and fennel fronds and put an egg on it, hit it with a drizzle of olive oil and some pine salt and breakfast was done. thank you Rob for letting us point all this e cameras at you!

At night we snuck away to The Willows where we drank dark  smokey house roasted tea and had amazing wine and local cheese. Next time We will return for a proper stay there! Thank you Blaine!

We left the island full, happy and exhausted! So glad to have met all of you involved. Keep pushing yourselves!

 

 

 

 

Tammy at Running with Tweezers pulled together the list below if everyone's work sites!

Thank you Tammy! I snagged it from your post. Check out everyone's work when you get a moment.

And huge thank you to Monique Baron photographer and assistant/tech extradorniaire for  filleting salmon and pulling together power points and for the Capture One tutorial.

xx

Below are a few of our favorite moments.

 

 

 

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where the wild things are. dandelion butter. frittata of the things winter left behind.

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.

 

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?

 

 

Frittata Of The Things Winter Left Behind

 

12 organic eggs

Copious pile of wild greens such as dandelion, mint, mustard, sorrel,and spring garlic.

1/2 cup plus a bit more of a nice olive oil

1/2 cup plus more for grating of pecorino romano

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Large cast iron fry pan

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dandelion Butter

 

Start by collecting a bunch of dandelion blossoms.

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


 

1 cup of dandelion petals

1 qt. of organic heavy cream

1 cup of bright yellow dandelion petals.

teaspoon kosher salt

 

Combine the heavy cream and the dandelion petals to a small 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 blender and clearly separate from the liquids.

Holding the butter in place tip the blender 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.

I had it on she wolf bakery bread. heaven. sigh.

 

 

 

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where the wild things are. wild foods discussion and dinner.

I want to take a second to tell you all about a special event happening this weekend. Les Hook and Nova Kim  of Vermont Wild Foods will be hosting a wild foods discussion and a dinner here in NYC. The wild foods talk is Saturday the 23rd and the dinner is Sunday the 24th  after theNew Amsterdam Market.  I love these guys and they are very dear to me. If you are at all interested in wild foods you will love this discussion. It is a special day when you get to meet Les and Nova.

xx

 A few years ago we had the honor of becoming friends with Nova Kim and Les Hook of Vermont Wild Food Gatherer’s Guild. We spent a few days with them in the woods making a short film, they are both mushroom gatherers and educators hosting a series of lectures, teaching one of the first accredited wild foods courses, and hosting wild walks.  They have traveled to Slow Foods Terra Madre to lecture. They have 70’s years of wild and medicinal food gathering knowledge between the two of them. They are a fascinating duo. You can find them occasionally at The New Amsterdam Market.  They will be there this Sunday pre thanksgiving with wild mushrooms and wild jerusalem artichokes. Les and Nova will be giving a lecture on wild foods at the New Amsterdam Market Offices post market this Saturday(223 Front Street NYC) There will be a  wild foods dinner  at Jimmy’s 43 in the East Village. (43 east 7th Street)  on Sunday following the market. . Tickets for these two events are available through Brown Paper Tickets event # 509353.

From The Brown Paper Tickets site...

Les Hook and Nova Kim - A Wild Food Discussion, Presentation and a Nibble

Join Les Hook and Nova Kim, Wild Gourmet Food and the Wild Food Gatherers Guild, in a Wild Food Discussion covering plants from all around you to plants deep in the woods.  Enjoy and be amazed by the samples of wild plants currently available...including, but not limited to, wild watercress, wild leeks, wild ginger, Jerusalem Artichoke slivers (for taste and crunch).   Also, share our standby "Chicken of the Woods Rice & Quinoa" dish with recipe handout.  This is a treat to eat that just happens to also be Vegetarian and Vegan friendly.Nova and her partner Les bring a wealth of information from their seventy-plus years of  experience in wildcrafting and working with forest resources in the Northeast, South and Rocky Mountains.  As long-time gatherers, original participants at the New Amsterdam Market, and spirited educators, whether at the Smithsonian, Terra Madre, Italy, Field Trip Leaders & Presenters at the IWEMM-7 Gautemala or Vermont's various educational institutions, you are guaranteed an interesting evening. This couple has been featured in numerous books and articles including the NY Times Magazine, NY Times, New York Magazine, Village Voice, The Boston Globe, Green Living Journal and others plus being featured on NPR's Splendid Table and Weekend Edition/Saturday."A Guide to Wild Harvesting & Ethics" and the "Mushroom Identification Aid / Spore Print Card" PDF downloads are included.  There will also be another Wild Food Event featuring this couple on November 24 at Jimmy's No. 43.  For information go to http://m.bpt.me/event/509353

Below a few photos inspired by Les and Nova.

wild mushrooms 

wild mushrooms 

raw milk panna cotta with maple and black walnuts

raw milk panna cotta with maple and black walnuts

wild black walnuts

wild black walnuts

carpaccio of jerusalem artichoke

carpaccio of jerusalem artichoke

where the wild things are. the blue pearl.

One afternoon, a couple years ago, around a tiny fire outside their farmhouse in Southern Vermont, Les Hook and Nova Kim cooked up some wild mushrooms we had gathered that morning nearby. In a  large cast iron pan, they seasoned them with nothing more than a little butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper. It had just begun to snow steadily when we set out to gather. Large fat flakes  floated around us amd landed on our eyelashes.Les pulled over in his red Subaru, flashers glowing in the wild flurry of white. He deftly put up a twenty-foot ladder against a slippery maple tree and quickly climbed up. He pulled of the biggest Blue Pearl Oyster Mushrooms I have ever seen off that tree. We drove back to their place and lit the fire. It was then that Nova told us about her non-turkey, perfect for vegetarians on turkey day or for any feast any time of the year for that matter. You must start with a large fan of a mushroom, as you can see from the photo it kind of sweetly resembles a turkey's tail! Though I have roasted many a mushroom from them, it took me two years to get to this post. I asked Nova to save me a large Blue Pearl that I would pick up from the New Amsterdam Market. Luckily my snail mail reached her in time and I was able to get a beauty from them the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I kept in a paper bag on my fire escape until cooking day. Now I know I have sung their praises before but people, if you have not been to the market on a day when they are there then you are SERIOUSLY missing out. If you are interested in finding out when The Vermont Wild Food Gatherer's Guild will be in town go to The New Amsterdam Market website and check the vendor and calendar listings! They always have something special and if you have never been to the market then what are you waiting for? It is every Sunday from 11-4pm.

Back to the mushrooms...

The mushroom I got from Les and Nova was held together by a stretch of bark. I left the piece of bark on the mushroom while I roasted it.

I brushed the mushroom with a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkled it with French sea salt cracked black pepper and thyme.

I put in my largest Cast iron pan...this was a BIG mushroom 14 inches across at least. I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for a slow roast and when it started to brown at the edges I put about a 1/4 cup of water in the pan and covered it with tin foil to add a little more moisture. Mushrooms are essentially like sponges so they soak up all that moisture. I may not have needed to do this if I had roasted it right away but since I had waited a few days I thought it might help to add the additional moisture.. I took the tin foil off for the last five minutes or so of cooking. I can't give you a specific cooking time because it depends on how big or small the mushrooms are that you are roasting. So use your intuition. You want it to be moist and almost meaty when you slice it.

We loved this so much that we could almost forego the turkey next year and just eat this!

It was really good with gravy... 

Thank you Nova for this brilliant idea!

Roasted Wild Blue Pearl Mushroom Tail

Set your oven to 350 degrees 

1 large Blue Pearl Mushroom fan approx 12-14 inches in length

1/4- 1/2 cup olive oil brushed and drizzled on the mushroom

Seas salt to taste

Cracked black pepper to taste

Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

Gently brush any dirt or debris off the mushroom with a small mushroom brush or a small pastry brush

Place the mushroom upright in a large roasting pan or cast iron skillet

Brush and drizzle with olive oil. Mushrooms really soak it up so be generous with your application.

Sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper

Add some fresh thyme leaves and a sprig or two for looks

Place in the preheated oven and roast for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of our mushroom.

Put about a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water in the pan and cover with tin foil

When the water is all evaporated the mushroom will be done. 

Uncover for the last five minutes or so.

The mushroom should be moist and easy to slice along the grain.

Cooking time really depends on the mushroom size so keep and eye on it!@ You don’t want it to be too tough!!!

As always, a word of caution where wild mushrooms are concerned. Leave the gathering to an expert!!

where the wild things are. no.16. quick pickled ramps.

I have been on a bit of a pickling binge lately. I have had some successes and some failures. I was "knot" so psyched about the Japanese Knotweed pickles... Knotweed is an invasive wild plant, similar to bamboo and it grows everywhere upstate. The red shoots are edible in the early spring and have  a rhubarb like flavor. I thought it would be interesting to pickle them. It was not good. The rhubarb- ness  that people talk about was a bit of a stretch for me. The pickles ended up tasting like swamp water! In order to combat such failures I simply move on to the next thing. In this case, it is pickled ramps.There is no going wrong with pickled ramps. I made a few batches  last year but the season is so short and they are so tasty, they never last more than a week or two in our house. I am into small batch; make that VERY small batch canning. I can't deal with the jars sitting around for months. I know that is the whole idea, but I tend to overdo it and make 200 jars of blackberry jam at a time so I have been attempting super small batch these past few years and pickling and canning has been a lot more reasonable. My secret pickling ingredient is juniper. I have been loving the wild, herby pine forest taste of juniper. It has become a regular addition top all my pickles. 

You can use this brine for any quick pickle.

 

 Quick Coriander Juniper Pickled Ramps

 

Makes roughly 1 quart jar

1/2-cup sugar

2 cups white wine vinegar

1-teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1-teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon dried juniper berries

1/2 teaspoon crushed juniper berries

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper fkes

1 teaspoon black Malabar peppercorns

1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

2 bunches of ramp about roughly a half a pound

 

Rinse the ramps under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.

Gently peel back the  outer most layer of the ramp and discard.  This outermost transluscent membrane can be a bit slimy, this is what you want to peel off.

Cut the hairy root ends off the cleaned ramps and discard.

If you are using the bulb end of the ramps for pickling, cut them just above where the pink stem ends. This will give you the bulb end for pickling and the greens for sautéing. 

 

 To Make The Brine:

Add the spices and sugar to the 2 cups of white wine vinegar

Heat to a boil in a non-reactive pot

Turn off and allow steeping for 20 minutes for the spices to infuse

In the mean time, prep the ramp.

 

After 20 minutes, reheat the brine to a slow simmer.

Divide the ramp into thirds and drop into the brine for 20 seconds.

Remove after 20 seconds with a slotted spoon and set aside.

The ramp stems will turn a more vivid pink.

When all the ramps have been run through the brine, turn it off an allow it to cool.

Place the pickled ramps in a 1-quart, sterilized Weck or Ball jar or some other  sterilized airtight storage container.

 When  the brine has cooled, pour the remaining brine over the ramps.

Allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least a day before eating!

The pickled ramps will last for a couple of weeks in your refrigerator.

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where the wild things are. no.15. eggs and ramp. easter breakfast.

What a gorgeous day it was here in New York! Spring has finally arrived and ramp season is in full swing both in the city and the forest. We celebrated by making poached eggs over rosti with sauteed ramp greens. (the greens were left over after making pickled ramps. The greens have a soft woodsy taste. I don't find ramps to be especially strong in flavor despite their intense onion aroma) The Green Market at Union Square this week was such an inspiration. I couldn't help but to pick up these beautiful organic eggs to accompany the ramps we gathered on our land upstate.

 

 Sauteed ramp Greens

 

1 bunch of ramps

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

 

Rinse the ramps under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.

Gently peel back the  lower outer most layer of the ramp and discard.  If the roots are on the ramps the outermost layer can be a bit transluscent and slimy, this is what you want to get rid of!

Cut the hairy root ends off the cleaned ramps and discard.

If you are using the bulb end of the ramps for pickling, cut them just above the pink stem, This will give you the bulb end for pickling and the green for sauteeing. You could opt to just sautee the whole cleaned ramp if you wish. I did it this way because I was using the bulbs for pickling.

Pat the greens dry and and plop them ino a large cast iron skillet.

Add a drizzle of olive oil.

Toss the greens over low heat until JUST wilted. do not overcook.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over rosti with a poached egg or on any grain or toasts. Eat them any way you would a wilted spinch.



organic egg

organic egg

wild ramps

wild ramps

sauteed ramp greens

sauteed ramp greens

poached eggs over rosti with sauteed ramp greens 

poached eggs over rosti with sauteed ramp greens 

poached eggs over rosti with sauteed ramp greens and pickled ramps

poached eggs over rosti with sauteed ramp greens and pickled ramps