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 no. 9. wild pantry

The first time I saw mushrooms drying in great abundance was in Northern China in the Shanxi Provence. We stopped for some tea at a tiny morning market where the women had piles of wild mushrooms laid out on cloth drying in the morning sun. They had collected the mushrooms from the peaks of the Wutai Mountain, a luminous, foggy, pine and temple covered wonder. Though i don't speak their language, they managed to explain to me perfectly their continuous pilgrimage to collect the mushrooms from the mountain during the different seasons. I will never forget it, it was such a beautiful moment. I dried many wild mushrooms in the summer and fall of this year inspired by those women. It was my first time doing so and I am really happy with my stockpiled pantry of little treasures. Wild mushrooms are easy to dry. Though there are different ways of drying mushrooms I sliced most of mine thinly with a very sharp knife and laid them out to dry on a board. The oyster mushrooms I tore gently in long tin strips. Depending on the weather (if it was very humid for instance) I sometimes put a fan on the mushrooms or used a clip light to speed the drying process. In the end you want the mushrooms to be cracker dry before you put them up for storage. I know our children's friends thought us fairly insane with mushrooms drying all over the place but for the most part I think they kind of liked it, especially when I make them late night pizza or breakfast pizza with mushrooms and a fried egg on top! They are willing to put up with almost anything for pizza.

Some mushrooms dry and store better than others. Some of the varieties that dried well for me were; Black Trumpets, Chanterelles, Chicken Of The Woods, Hedgehog, Porcini, Yellow Foot, and Oyster mushrooms. Dried mushrooms should be soaked in water to re-hydrate them. Some mushrooms need to soak longer than others. Save the water that you soak the mushrooms in, never throw it away, it is like flavor gold! Once the mushrooms have plumped up from the water, Gently spoon them out of liquid and give them a rinse. Set them aside for your recipe. Put the remaining mushroom liquid through a sieve to get any bits out of it. You can use that liquid to flavor soups and broths. Dried mushrooms can also be pulverized in a food processor in order  to make a powder to use in soups and stews and other recipes. I recently made a gin drink with wild ginger syrup and used a mushroom salt for a little flavor on top. I am already fanaticizing about next mushroom season! In the meantime I am going to invent some new ways to use all these dried beauties.

When the mushrooms are cracker dry, I put them up in sealed weck jars for storage.

 A good source for wild mushrooms on line is wildgourmetfood.com

Recipes to come!

 

to see a gallery of wild mushrooms click here

 

 

winter sherbet and sorbetti.

I have become obsessed with making winter sorbets. It started with the pile of beautiful tropical fruits from Maggie at Flying Fox. We ate as much as we could and then the frugal New Englander in me took over and I set to work on a buttermilk, citrus and passion fruit sherbet. It was such a hit that I had to pry it out of Lula's hands just so I could photograph it! There was no singular flavor that took over, instead, hits of passion fruit and mixed citrus mingled with the sourness of the buttermilk perfectly. I think the addition of buttermilk is here to stay and perhaps sherbet will even make a comeback in our house! The next morning I made a wild ginger and lemon sorbet. I happened to have wild ginger but you can use regular ginger just as easily. It was both tart and a little spicy, like my favorite wintery drink, the ginger steamer. Today, with two pink grapefruits in hand and a desire for some brighter color, I set to work on a grapefruit-beet sorbet. I know this may sound a little strange but I added a beet for color and bit of flavor to the grapefruit juice and sugar mixture while heating. The beet added just the right amount of pink as well as a little earthiness.  

Pink Grapefruit Beet Sorbet

2 large juicy pink grapefruits

1 beet

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup of water

Juice the two grapefruits this should give you about two cups of grapefruit juice. (if you find you need more juice, then squeeze a couple more until you get two cups)

Peel the beet and cut in half and quarter.

In a large saucepan combine the grapefruit juice, the beet one 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar.

Heat on medium and bring to a boil for two minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain the juice into a separate bowl removing any pulp or seeds and beet parts.

Set the juice aside to cool.

When cool add to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

 

Mixed Citrus and Buttermilk Sherbet

2 cups of mixed citrus juice

2 passion fruits

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup sugar

 

Juice the citrus until you get two liquid cups. Don't worry about seeds and pulp you will strain later.

(I used pink and white grapefruit, tangerines, honey oranges and lemons. You can use whatever citrus strikes you.)

Cut the passion fruits in halves and scrape the seeds into the juice mixture.

In a large saucepan combine the citrus and passion fruit mixture with 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 cup of sugar.

Heat on medium and bring to a boil for two minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain the juice into a separate bowl removing any pulp or seeds.

 

Set the juice aside to cool.

When cool add to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

 

Wild Ginger and Lemon Sorbet

2 Cups lemon juice

1 inch piece if wild ginger or a 1 inch piece of ginger

1/2  cup water

1/2 cup of sugar

Juice the lemons until you get about two cups of juice. 

Coarsely chop the ginger or the wild ginger and add to the lemon juice.

In a large saucepan combine the lemon juice, the ginger, 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar.

Heat on medium and bring to a boil for two minutes.

Remove from the heat and strain the juice into a separate bowl removing any pulp or seeds or ginger.

Set the juice aside to cool.

When cool add to your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.

 

When serving grate a little ginger on top.

I find that making sorbets is a little tricky. They never freeze solidly nor are they meant to. Experiment with the amount of sugar you use depending on whether or not you like sweetness or tart but do remember that sugar lowers the freezing temperature of water so the more you use the less solid it will become.

I use a standard Cuisinart ice cream maker, nothing fancy. The only drag is that the bowl must live in the freezer and you can only make one batch at a time in between refreezing the ice cream maker bowl. I do know there are more expensive versions that do not live in the freezer. For now, I am content with the one I have but perhaps soon I will step it up to a more pro version.

Have fun and be inspired!

I am thinking pomegranite next...

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Mixed Citrus and Buttermilk Sherbet                        

Wild Ginger and Lemon Sorbet

Pink Grapefruit Beet Sorbet

  Wild Ginger and Lemon Sorbet

  

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