Category Archives: info/stats

braid burn…

Rounding off  this week of  foraging posts…

Inspired by my brief sojourn in Italy, i decided to have a stab at foraging back here in Edinburgh. Was told that there was loads of wild garlic* by the hermitage braid burn not so far away from my house.

It was not hard to find, for a start the whole area smelled like a giant tossed salad and there was a carpet of edible plants as far as the eye could see.

 

standing in a giant salad, the air is pungent with the scent of garlicky onion

Am suddenly very aware of being a rank amateur and the dangers of being overly keen and not careful enough in plant identification, its a bit scary doing this on your own with no one to ask, is this right???  Having checked first with the park rangers to be sure the area was not toxic and that it was safe to eat the wild plants, i gathered about a kilo of the stuff (obviously you have to wash everything carefully- this is a dog walkers paradise – and i tried to gather a bit off route). I was told that this was not normal wild garlic, but few-flowered leeks (Allium paradoxum) also known as few-flower garlic – another member of the lily family. I was also advised that it was very strong (which i could smell) and to use just the leaves. On my way home i stopped off in my local organic food store, they were selling the very same stuff for £3 per 100g!!! so theoretically i had gathered £30 worth of food for free…anyway i made some soup out of it.

Few-flowered garlic and pea soup

method:

Sweat some finely chopped onion in some butter, when soft add your roughly chopped thoroughly washed garlic leaves – this will cook down very quickly just like spinach. Add some stock (i had some good stuff left over from poaching a chicken) and some peas (frozen or fresh) boil for a minute or so and then blitz with a blender till smooth. Finish off with a little cream and season to taste, cook for another minute or so.

The really strong smelling leaves transform through the cooking process into something far more gentle and sweet than you would imagine, the result is something that tastes like a really fresh leek soup with a hint of pea , spring onion and garlic that does not need to be tampered with much, hence a simple seasoning of salt and black pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg, but i think that a few slivers of parmesan cheese in your serving bowl would not go amiss.

So anyway i ate it…it tasted good…and half a day later i appear not to have poisoned myself…result!…next…

* Other edible stuff currently growing in the braid burn area (though don’t ask me what it all looks like yet), hawthorn leaves, leaves from the lime tree , wood sage, ground elder (though the rangers said this was edible but not very nice…maybe i will give it a miss), young nettles and wood sorrel.

other foodie posts on this blog:

further adventures in foraging

cooking the haul

foraging2

foraging

more foodie questions

foodie questions

nose to tail,

(s)light relief,

pulpo a la gallega

the matanza

morcilla and dying arts

jamòn serrano

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EUR…

EUR…(or Esposizione Universale Roma) a suburb of Rome. It was started in 1935 by Mussolini and was supposed to open in 1942 to celebrate twenty years of Fascism (the planned exhibition never took place due to World War II).


for a better resolution version of this photo click here

Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (1938-1943), also known as the “Colosseo Quadrato” (Square Colosseum).

This area always leaves me a little tongue tied in that i find it aesthetically breathtaking and i particularly love the contrast here of its vast scale, crystal clear lines of the rationalist architecture and town planning, with the chaos and very different kind of compressed yet frou-frou beauty of central rome, where it there is just SO much of EVERYTHING in a relatively small space. But of course behind it all there is the ugliness of the period and the principals by which EUR was constructed.

Saint Peter and Paul’s Church

Italians are always split down the middle in their opinions of rationalist architecture…and it can be polemic.
In a bar along from the square colosseum, i get chatting to a barman, when i tell him how much i like the architecture, he agrees and says that his politics lie to the right….and suddenly he launches into…that Benito Mussolini did some really good things for the people (the right?how far right???). So before he went further i told him that i just liked the architecture, not the politics, that i was pretty much to the left myself…but he carried on extolling the virtues of Mussolini…really shocking to hear this being said so matter of factly…So anyway i  said it was a free country (well sort of…Berlusconi cant live forever can he?) and everyone had a right to their own opinions, but the irony was lost on him. So its kind of dangerous this topic of rationalist architecture around here, ‘cos if you like it, it seems to be a given that you also “like” the politics behind it. In the past i have had only rational (ha) discussions mainly with architects about this topic, but then its easy for me as an outsider to divorce the past from the architecture it leaves behind.

You see very few tourists in EUR (it’s a wee bit on the peripheries, but the metro goes there), i had the buildings more or less to myself, also i got stared at a LOT for taking photos…like i said, like the architecture…

Yes that is a giant silver man in the middle of a roundabout scrambling out of the earth beneath a giant obelisk…and it really is HUGE

parrot/pappagallo…

I know its not so strange to see a parrot in the wild in many parts of the world but it’s the north of Italy, it’s winter and the daytime temperature is hovering around zero. Apparently he/she has been living in the Baggio area for years, and apparently there is a colony of parrots living in the nearby town of Rho. FYI a parrot’s lifespan in the wild can be up to 80 years.

i particularly like this illustration: i found it on the national geographic website and it shows a parrot’s size in relation to a tea cup…

pulpo a la gallega

(illustration by mvp)

This is a staple in Galicia, there are places that serve only this dish…It is deceptively simple, but has to be cooked just right to avoid a mouth full of rubbery tentacles…not nice…Again the ingredients are few and simple, don’t be tempted to add more, it doesn’t need it.

 

PULPO A LA GALLEGA

INGREDIENTS:

one whole octopus (pulpo)

potatoes

good olive oil

hot paprika

salt

METHOD

First the octopus must be dunked fully and quickly in a pan of plain boiling water 7 times, this will stop the skin from splitting. Cook for around an hour or so until tender, pinching the octopus with a fork to check

Boil some potatoes.

When the octopus is cooked, snip into bite size pieces and toss it in a pan with olive oil and salt. Heat if necessary and then tip onto a plate containing thick sliced boiled potatoes. Drizzle with good olive oil and sprinkle with hot paprika. Traditionally, it is served on a wooden plate.

other food posts:

pani puri sunday

cicchetti tea-break

baracca

empanada

further adventures in foraging

revelations in a milanese restaurant

cooking the haul

foraging2

foraging

more foodie questions

foodie questions

nose to tail,

(s)light relief,

pulpo a la gallega

the matanza

morcilla and dying arts

jamòn serrano

morcilla and dying arts…

Dying Arts…my mother has been a chef most of her life, now 70, self taught and endlessly intrepid, she makes just about everything from scratch in a tiny restaurant kitchen in a corner of galicia. I don’t believe there are that many people left who can be bothered to go through the palaver of, for example, making their own morcilla/black pudding. This recipe is truly truly amazing and truly a pain in the arse to do. Like i said, a dying art, but definitely worth the bother…

MORCILLA/BLACK PUDDING

INGREDIENTS

Pigs blood (all the blood from one pig)

300g flour (you can add more of mixture is too runny)

1 loaf of bread soaked in 1 litre of milk (bread should soak up liquid)

250g dried figs – chopped

150-200g pine nuts

1 kilo seedless raisins

1 large onion chopped, sweated and then drained

1 kilo sugar

cumin to taste

cinnamon to taste

oregano to taste

3 cloves

salt

pepper

sausage skins-(large intestine)

METHOD

If the blood is fresh from the pig, it must be stirred constantly till it is cold (otherwise it will congeal), then add all the ingredients to the now cold blood. The mixture should be runny like the consistency of thin porridge.

Take a skin about 40 cm in length. Tie one side off with a long piece of string and using a spoon, add mixture from the open end (needs 2 people, one to hold the skin open and the other to fill). Fill the skin loosely as the mixture needs space to expand. Tie off the other end with the same piece of string you should now have a crescent shaped pudding.

(illustration by mvp)

COOKING

You need to place a long wooden spoon along the top of a deep pan, filled with boiling water. Suspend the puddings on the wooden spoon using the loop of string so they hang into the water. They should not touch the bottom of the pan (very delicate process and the puddings can burst, and if they burst they are ruined…). Simmer gently for about half an hour. You know the puddings are cooked when you prick them with a needle in the fattest part and no blood comes out. Lift out the puddings and leave to cool.

If possible smoke the puddings for 8 days. If you cant smoke them, you still need to hang them in a dry, cool airy place for a few days.

This is really a 2-person job

You can freeze the puddings

that´s what my mum does anyway…

other food posts:

chocolate con churros

pani puri sunday

cicchetti tea-break

baracca

empanada

further adventures in foraging

cooking the haul

foraging2

foraging

more foodie questions

foodie questions

nose to tail,

(s)light relief,

pulpo a la gallega

the matanza

morcilla and dying arts

jamòn serrano