Tag: ulex gallii

Spring Dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup

Spring Dessert: Nettle and Honey Cake with Gorse Flower Syrup

Five years ago I wrote a blog about my Nettle and Honey Cake – it went down a treat. Named as; ‘probably the best cake I’ve ever had’ by one enthusiastic forager, I was super pleased the result. Every so often I like to repeat […]

Learn to Forage through Songs

Learn to Forage through Songs

Song, verse, sound and rhyme have been used by humans for thousands of years to communicate, respond and express. Sound is an integral part of our daily landscape. It has been used functionally (to explain things) as well as for fun and as an essential […]

The Lessons of Making Gorse Flower Fudge

The Lessons of Making Gorse Flower Fudge

Gorse Flower Fudge

Oh my god, I had such hopes with this recipe, I really thought I’d clinched it first time (which happens occasionally, though is definitely not a given). Heating it slowly, the smell of the gorse flowers was divine and the flavour of properly made fudge, just blissful.

Ulex europeaus, ulex gallii

I went out early in the morning to pick those coconut smelling gorse flowers and couldn’t stop thinking of the smell of condensed milk and how the flavours would match. When I searched for condensed milk though, I couldn’t find one that wasn’t Nestle brand (I’m still not happy about their ethics around supplying milk formula in developing countries, as well as other things), so I decided to settle for a more traditional recipe instead. Double cream, butter and sugar it was.

 

Of course, I’m still learning, and I forgot that as the temperature of the sugar rose higher, the sugar flavours got stronger, and the scented gorse flowers sunk below the brown sugar, cream and butter, never to be smelt again. I even tried a second time using half unrefined caster sugar instead (you may know that I don’t use refined sugars, at all, in cooking), though still the gorse was lost.

However, if you like fudge (and I discovered that many of my friends do), this is an awesome sweet treat. So I decided to share it anyway, plus some tips of how not to cook with gorse (all discovered through experience and in hindsight).

Tips for Making Homemade Fudge

Fudge is both easy and measured in terms of time, temperature and effort – go easy on yourself, especially if it doesn’t work first time. Mine didn’t work first time, it’s usually to do with temperature or not stirring it long enough, though sometimes it just isn’t clear why. Mine didn’t set properly so instead I put the batch in the fridge, and when it was cold, cut it into squares and re-rolled them in my fingers into oblong(ish) shapes. They were a kind of delicious toffee fudge.

The second batch didn’t set either, so I flattened the cooled mixture and sealed it in a bag and froze (there’s only so much fudge you can eat at once!) The mixture can be semi-defrosted and cut into squares.

Tips for Cooking with Gorse

  • Don’t use any strong flavours that might mask the subtle gorse scent (or just go with this ever so subtle flavouring)
  • It’s all about infusing and leaving for as long as you can for the flavour to come out
  • Infuse into milk, cream or water by bringing to an almost boil, turning off the heat and covering overnight
  • Lemon and orange go nicely with gorse, as does coconut (though not all together), it depends what flavour you want

Gorse Flower Fudge

More accurately, a wonderful creamy, buttery tasty fudge recipe which you don’t need to add gorse flowers to (keep them for another recipe), though you can if you want!

Ulex gallii and Ulex europeaus Ulex europeaus, ulex gallii

Ingredients

350ml double cream

30g gorse petals (outer sepals and stems removed already)

100g butter

600g light brown sugar

150g golden syrup

pinch of sea salt

Line a 20cm x 20cm tin with greaseproof paper. Place the cream and gorse flowers in a medium to large heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer, add the butter and stir. The mixture should be turning a lovely pale yellow colour. Once the butter has melted, stir in the sugar, syrup and pinch of salt. Place a sugar thermometer in the pan and leave to reach 116°C, watching carefully though do not touch. Take off the heat, leave to cool to 100°C before stirring energetically for 10 minutes or until the glossy mixture dulls and stiffens. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and leave to cool for a couple of hours. Cut into squares, keep in an air-tight container, or in the fridge.

Gorse Flower Rice Pudding

Gorse Flower Rice Pudding

It’s raining and cold and I’ve just put the heating back on. Time for comfort food, something that will warm me from the inside out. Rice pudding has childhood memories for me, to be honest not brilliant ones. A blob of jam on top of […]

What’s Wild, Yellow and Subtle?

What’s Wild, Yellow and Subtle?

I warn you, this might be a blog with questions. I did wonder what to make the title, it could have been; what’s yellow, subtle with a crisp outer and soft centre? Though it sounded too much like a chocolate advert. Here’s the answer, a […]

A Day in the Life of a Forager

A Day in the Life of a Forager

It always feels odd arranging to meet a stranger in a car park. Though that is where I met photographer Rick Davy at the start of my working day. I was on a mission to collect a specific green, and I said to Rick that if he wanted to join me, that’s where I would be. Rick, thankfully, was more generous with his words and company than I was. He happily tagged along as I picked my greens and returned to my kitchen to process them.

Smyrnium olusatrum

Rick had got in touch about a personal photography project called A Day in the Life of A and I had agreed to be one of his subjects. Rick also photographed Fiona Were, a fantastic chef that I sometime collaborate with for gourmet foraging events.

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) is the green I had sought permission to harvest from local National Trust land (about five large stems). I had a lot of washing, chopping and cooking to get on with.  First I separated the leaves and stems, then I began to crystallise the young stems to incorporate into sweet filo tarts. I can’t remember if I offered one to Rick to taste, I have a feeling he left before they were baked.

Making Wild Alexander Tarts

(Image: Making sweet filo tarts with crystallised Alexander pieces)

If you’re intrigued about this plant, I have lots more blogs about it – Alexanders blogs and I cover them is a lot of my wild food foraging courses.

I have to admit of feeling envious of good photographers – they make it look so easy. I love drooling over a good photograph; the visual pleasures of colour, composition and story. Rick Davy’s photographs do that for me, and I am thankful for his sharp eye and generosity with this project.

Alexanders

(Image: Crystallised Alexander pieces)

Rick also joined me on another early morning foray – this time to pick Gorse flowers. Last winter I went crazy about these flowers. I even made a little video about Foraging Gorse in Winter – such was my love affair with them. In my first foraging book I share a Gorse Flower Rice Pudding recipe, and I’ve made so much more with them since then. That day I was trying to perfect Gorse flower truffles, and also wanted to dry some flowers for future syrups and cocktails. La, la, laaaa, the joys of foraging for gorgeous drinks and food.

Those days that I shared partly with Rick are the good days – the outdoor days. As a forager I manage to get outdoors everyday, into nature. The rest of my time is spent cooking, preparing, writing, doing administration and contemplating new ideas and adventures. If you want to see Rick’s photos, read the story and see more of his work, visit www.adayinthelifeofa.co.uk

How to Make Gorse Scented Butter

How to Make Gorse Scented Butter

I’ve always considered myself an artist rather than a scientist, and heaven help me if I had to make cakes for a living; I’m far too much of a slow, pondering and inventive cook to make any money from it. I do have some successes […]

Gorse Flower and Sargassum Seaweed Foccacia

Gorse Flower and Sargassum Seaweed Foccacia

Part of the fun of foraging for me is coming home with a wonderful choice of unusual ingredients to cook and create with, or drying them to use another day. In my kitchen pretty much anything goes, of course there have been disasters along the […]

A Memorable Winter Foraging Menu

A Memorable Winter Foraging Menu

I’m often asked what my favourite time to forage is, well spring is fantastic, though honestly, winter is becoming an increasingly wonderful time to forage. The quiet, the abundance of plants and the unexpected joys of finding food (not in the supermarket) this time of year.

 

 

On January 2nd myself and a small group of friends went foraging, our task; to simply enjoy the outdoors and gather a few ingredients for supper, which we’d then share together, and that’s exactly what we did. A big thank you to Sara Pozzoli for joining us and filming us. Here’s the menu;

 

Winter Foraging Menu

Spelt Bread with Alexander Seeds

Salsa Verde with Rock Samphire, Pepper Dulse and Three-Cornered Leek

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Alexanders, Sea Spinach, Gorse Flower and Coconut Curry

Yoghurt Dressing with Three-Cornered Leek, Black Mustard and Wild Chervil

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Chocolate and Haw Berry Jam Cheesecake

 

 

Why Cornwall is a Great Place to Forage in Winter

Why Cornwall is a Great Place to Forage in Winter

It’s deep December and I’m standing outside. Actually, there’s 8 of us standing outside and waiting for the one that’s gone astray. Once we’re all congregated, we begin. There’s something innately quiet about walking in Winter, as if all around us is sleeping, and in […]