Sunday, May 26, 2013

marvelous milkweed...crop # 1

If I could only eat one wild edible plant it would be milkweed. (So glad no one makes me choose.)

It's a superstar; not only beautiful to look at in the garden, but delicious in many ways.  The shoots come first, tastier than the finest green beans.  Next come the florets, unopened flower buds that look a lot like broccoli but taste a whole lot better.  The fully opened flowers, laden with nectar, make a superb syrup (think cocktails and sorbet!).  And finally, the small, young pods are another great vegetable.

Traditional literature says to boil milkweed in several changes of water, but that's not necessary.  Boiling makes the plant tender and delicious; you'll need anywhere from 5-10 minutes, depending on how young and flexible the raw stem is.  Cooking also takes away the milky white sap that the plant produces whenever it's broken.

Here's a suggestion for preparing the young shoots.  Check back in 4-6 weeks for the next in the series: milkweed florets!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

battle of the limoncellos

No, it isn't art.  It's a limoncello smackdown.

In January I posted about my new citrus zester and how easy it made peeling a batch of Meyer lemons for limoncello.  A week later I started batch # 2 (forgot to photograph, sorry!): a lazy-man's limoncello using the whole fruit.  This weekend I did a blind taste test with the statistically dubious number of two tasters (Michael & me).

The traditionally made limoncello is more attractive, clear in color.

I suspect the pectin in the seeds and pith are what gave the whole-lemon batch its opacity and layer of sediment;  would that extra pectin also give the limoncello a bitter taste?

The difference in flavors was significant.  Both are good, and a consensus was not reached.  Michael barely preferred the traditional, clear limoncello.  He described the taste as "more orange."  (Does that help you?  Me...not so much.)

I like the whole fruit version better, finding it sweeter and with a less sharp, vodka-y taste.  Both are delicious and worth serving.

To oblige the eyes or the tongue?  A question I shall ponder as the rain begins to fall.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

a mug of mugwort

One of the great things about the foraging community is the generosity of spirit found in fellow foragers.  Last month Leda & I had a lovely dinner with Tama Matsuoka Wong, author of Foraged Flavor, a book I highly recommend.  Tama forages for several NYC restaurants, including ACME, where we had an eclectic, delicious meal.

Last weekend I tried her recipe for mugwort soup.  I made a few changes as a concession to my husband's vegan regime, but even without the butter and cream, it was terrific.

Some people are nervous about eating Artemisia vulgaris (aka mugwort) because the plant contains coumarin, a phytochemical from which the blood thinner warfarin is derived.  But mugwort is an ingredient in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines, and I haven't seen any scientific evidence indicating it isn't safe to eat.  As an intelligent adult, I'm sure you will make your own, considered decision.

Thanks to Tama for introducing me to a new edible plant and a great way to use it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

This drink needs a name!

After a long day selling many books and seducing unsuspecting strangers with foraged foods, we returned home and created a new cocktail.  It was a group effort.  I made the sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina) infused rum last summer.  Michael suggested a splash of seltzer and a cube of ice, Mark poured a drop or two of St. Germaine, and I added some home preserved sour cherries in syrup.

Now what do we call it?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

roasted hosta shoots wrapped in prosciutto with garlic mustard pesto

I'm thinking a photo is definitely worth a thousand words in THIS instance. 

But in case you'd like some instructions on how to make the pesto:

Friday, May 3, 2013

ramps, schmamps...go pick some wild garlic

I'm starting something new and you're the first to know:  I hereby resolve to produce one video per week.  (I usually work well under pressure...we'll see how it goes.)

Here's a short video on foraging for wild garlic.  I know ramps are all the rage, but they're also endangered and often over harvested, while wild garlic (aka field garlic, aka Allium vineale) is considered an unwelcome weed by most.  As far as I'm concerned, its taste equals or surpasses that of ramps, and wild garlic is plentiful and free for the taking.

I'm a novice; please be kind.