Saturday, 30 April 2011


With the sunshine blazing, late this morning we took a refreshing walk through Queens Park.  This time instead of restricting ourselves to the surrounding natural beauty, we thought we'd hit its streets too.
I'm very familiar with this part of Glasgow as work or friends took me there, but its been a while since I wandered there without reason.

For all the usual local hustle and bustle that takes place on Victoria Road, a main road in Glasgows Southside, you wouldn’t know that something different was happening in the area, but take a turn into Calder Street, Allison Street or Dixon Street and all this changes.
Streetland is a local festival of creativity and the street (taking place Friday 29 and Saturday 30th April 2011) in the heart of Govanhill.  It is now in its second year, the festival organisers suggest a showcase for visual art, live performance (improvised soap opera), poetry, Bollywood dance, Roma music, street games, walking tours, an outdoor cinema powered by bicycle showing short films and animation that explore local projects as well as a number of interactive workshops. A worthy programme of events, although in truth these had to be teased out by the visitor as I found myself going round the streets, more than once.
The initiative that got me most interested was the South Seeds: Seedlings for Change initiative.  I was interested to see local community involvement as well as be inspired.  Activities included mosaic making for bin shelters, seed planting and potting, seed bombing workshop and make over a local vegetable patch.
Events such as these often take place in the West End of Glasgow.  So for me this was rather refreshing and I applaud the Streetland Festival for casting a light on the Southside, and moreso on Govanhill as it has so much potential.

Govanhill is perhaps Glasgow's most ethnically diverse area.  It certainly has the largest concentration of Pakistani and Roma families in Glasgow, and Scotland as a whole.  It also has some of the most severe housing problems in the U.K with some flats being described as slums and for this reason it often gets negative press.  Today though it was about community spirit.
Local children happy to get their hands dirty at Westmoreland Street Community Garden.  In its former life this derelict space was used for fly tipping and other anti-social behaviour.  So this transformation can only be positive.
Local foodies are encouraged to pick up ingredients for the 'Ultimate Pakora Challange' and push their boundaries of what goes into the vegetable pakora.  I wonder how my Wild Garlic pakora would do here, or even a Stinging Nettle pakora
Some appealing pakora spices.  I like the methi aka fenugreek leaves.
Bunting made with local community groups.

Naeplace by Jamie Cooper.  These broken forms of streetlamp sculptures in The Chalet's back lane.
Among some established and emerging artists, we stopped and checked out various forms of creative art hosted by the Polka Dot Punks. We were warmly greeted as we winded our way up the stairs of their home.
Govanhill Baths - sadly closed, but not for too long. Throughout the year Govanhill Baths Community Trust puts on events to help raise awareness to the cause and to get people together in the community. Its such a beautiful building and you can see why community events still take place here.  Events in the past have included 'Govanhill Baths Burns night' and 'Soup, song and a swally'.
The Trust's goal is to re-open the baths as a Wellbeing Centre and contribute to the wider social, cultural and built regeneration of Govanhill as a community through a range of activities.  I wish the Trust and the Streetlands Festival organisers the very best for years to come.

Chocolate and Violet Cake

Visually I know this cake doesn't live up to its tempting name: 'Chocolate and Violet Cake', but I assure you despite its lack of colouring in either purple, violet or indigo - You just have to take one bite of its squidgy marvel and you will be swayed without a doubt.
This is really a Chocolate Brownie cake .  The flavour of the violets are really subtle and more in scent.  Its really best eaten on the day, as the squishy damp wedge in the centre turns fudgy-hard the following day.  I guess thats okay if your a Chocoholic, but for me it was like eating a chocolate pebble.
I could have made my life easy and just added some violet syrup to the cake, but I decided to make some 'Violet Sugar'.  Its simple, I took the idea of lavender sugar and just replaced it with crystallised violets.  

I just wish I had some lovely fresh violets to decorate my cake, to make it look more like its given name: Chocolate and Violet Cake. It is often said that people eat with their eyes first, well this time they will have to close their eyes.
Chocolate and Violet Brownie cake
Serves 6 - 8
175g unsalted butter , plus extra for greasing
225g dark chocolate , broken into pieces
200g (violet infused) caster sugar
3 medium eggs, separated
65g plain flour
50g chopped pecan nuts
Optional: fresh or crystallised violets for garnish
Heat oven to gas mark 4. Butter a 8 inch round cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.
Place 175g of the chocolate, plus the butter and sugar in a heavy-based pan and heat gently until melted, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool.
Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, then add the flour, pecan nuts and the remaining chocolate.
Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gently, but thoroughly, fold into the chocolate mixture.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 35-40 minutes until crusty on top. Leave to cool, then run a knife around the sides and remove from the tin. Garnish with optional violets and gently dust with icing sugar.  Serve warm with ice cream or cold with whipped cream. Recipe adapted from here.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Wild Garlic Tabouli

Well the 'Wild Garlic Chronicles' have come to a happy end.  I know some of you will be relieved and some disappointed, but hey there is so much Wild Garlic a girl can eat and I have certainly eaten more than my fair share. 
Just in case any of you have been wondering about 'side effects' to consuming copious amounts of Wild Garlic, I can truthfully report that there have been no belly upsets or wakey wakey nights. I have really found wild garlic agreeable.
The last dish on my blog (for this year at least) to contain fresh wild garlic is Tabouli or Tabbouleh.  Tabouli  is a Lebanese salad made with a grain called bulgar wheat. The salad is enhanced with a lot of fresh parsley, mint and lemon for seasoning. You know there is even a Tabbouli Song

The first time I ever had Tabouli was whilst at University. I was invited for lunch at the home of a Scottish-Armenian friend.  I was so amazed to see her put the salad together there right before my eyes.  She made a mound.  A few years later, I saw Tabouli as part of a light buffet.  Tabouli is definitely one of those dishes you make for sharing.  Here is a Fairtrade Tabouli recipe. My recipe is very similar, except in place of the mint I've added about 6 leaves of minced wild garlic, black olives and some red pepper for colour.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wild Garlic and Feta Quiche

Well the sunshine is blazing and the sky is azure blue.  And a slice of this 'Wild Garlic and Feta Quiche' is the kind of food I want to be lunching on, whilst working in the outdoors, in this case my garden.  It can be made well in advance, and be enjoyed warm or cold.
I'd like to say that I am actually doing a bit of gardening, such as sowing seeds, digging the earth or cutting the long green grass.  Sadly that is not the case.  Instead we have been going the garden shed 'spring cleaning'.  Building piles of things to go to their new homes: some for the charity shop, some that can be recycled, some that will come with us when we move later this year and some for the bin.  D mentioned perhaps having a 'boot sale'.  I don't know whether he was joking or being serious, but its a real possibility, especially as we can make a few pounds with some of our unwanted goods (and let face it we haven't had any money coming in the past two months). 
This Wild Garlic and Feta Quiche recipe is based on the Wild Garlic, Potato, Feta and Pine Nut Quiche I made last year.  Updated: 22/05/2012: Fellow blogger Sylvan of Sylvan Somethings made a variation of this tart, follow this link.  She also has a lovely recipe for Wild Garlic Mousse to share.
Wild Garlic and Feta Quiche
Serves 4 - 6
Follow a reliable shortcrust pastry recipe that will cover a 8 – 9 inch tart tin and blind bake according to instructions.
For the filling
100g – 150g wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled
4 medium eggs
150ml single cream
Pepper to taste
For the pastry
Preheat oven to gas mark 4.
For the filling
Combine the feta and wild garlic. Beat the eggs lightly with the cream. Season lightly with pepper. Layer the wild garlic and feta in the pastry shell and then pour in the egg mixture, allowing it to seep down through the layers. Bake the tart for 30 minutes, until it is set and the top is lightly coloured.

Baked Beans with Wild Garlic

This recipe was made in jest - a prod at my husband for making fun of me for making so many Wild Garlic recipes this week.  So please just take it for what it is, with a pinch of humour.

I've written before of my fondness of  breakfasts and brunches from my childhood. Tamarind Chickpeas or Spicy Baked Beans being one of them; and this is when I thought I'd give a tin of baked beans the Wild Garlic treatment.  D was laughing at my idea, but I didn't see him laughing when he was tucking into them. 
Baked Beans with Wild Garlic
Serves 2
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
Optional pinch of chilli flakes or chilli powder
1 tablespoon wild garlic, washed and minced
1 x 400g tinned baked beans
Heat the olive oil or butter in a pan, add the chilli and the wild garlic, let it simmer for a couple of minutes for the flavours to infuse, then pour in the baked beans, heat and serve immediately on toast or jacket potatoes.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Pesto Potato Crust

Well I haven't been doing much 'digging for my dinner', but I have certainly been busy foraging.
One of the obvious ways to use pesto is by coating pasta.  For this recipe, I had a mound of Maris Piper potatoes growing little eyes and ears, instead of lobbing them in the compost bin, I removed the unsightly additions, peeled the potatoes, washed, boiled and mashed them to serve as a base - a bit like a pizza base, except this one is made from potatoes and then it was generously basted with homemade Wild Garlic Pesto, then topped with sliced the first of the British grown tomatoes.

The Pesto Potato Crust was a little reminisce of Cranks Homity pies.  Nevertheless this was a tasty and filling meal, but should I make it again it will require a little tweaking. I'd make the potato crust in a larger tin (10 inch as opposed to 8 inch round) as the potato base was a little too dense.  I'd also layer a little pesto between the mashed potato for taste and visual effect; or for ease just stir the pesto into the mashed potatoes so its well infused in flavour.
Do you like my Grow Your Own Tea towel.  My photograph is not doing much justice to it, but it depicts a dream of mine: a farmhouse surrounded with growing vegetables such as peas, tomatoes, carrots, pumpkins and strawberries, as well as chooks (hens). It comes from All Tea Towels.

Okay for those of your interested in creating this recipe at home.  Here goes.
Pesto Potato Crust
Serves 4 - 6 with accompaniments
900g Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes
3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to Gas mark 4.
Boil the potatoes in their skins.  Drain, peel, mash and add the oil, egg and season to taste.
Oil a 10 inch non stick flan tin and place on a baking tray.
Press the mixture into the tin, coat with a little olive oil and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool
For the topping
60g pesto, I used homemade Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto
Optional: 2 tablespoons Wild Garlic, washed and roughly chopped
3 - 4 spring onions, chopped
2 - 3 tomatoes, sliced
Olive oil for roasting
Salt and pepper
Increase the Gas mark to 6.
Spread the pesto over the potato mixture
Sprinkle evenly with minced wild garlic if using
and chopped spring onions
Cover with the sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle with some Olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for a further 20 minutes. 
Allow to cook before removing from flan tin, then cut into wedges and serve with a green salad.  Adapted from Little Red Gooseberries by Daphne Lambert. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Wild Garlic Oatcakes

I was never much of an Oatcake nibbler until I made Scotland my home.
For those of you not familiar with Oatcakes, they are a Scottish flat biscuit traditionally made on a griddle (girdle in Scotland). They are made from oatmeal and tend to be shaped round, but you can also find them in triangular shapes.

Traditional Oatcakes are quite plain in taste, but its up to you to enhance them further. Plain Oatcakes serve as a firm base - Imagine pizza base - its what you put on that brings them up a notch or two, and for this reason they are versatile. Oatcakes can be served as a sweet with jam; as a savoury with cheese, chutney and a glass of wine; or simply with a little butter.

I've made a savoury version of the Scottish Oatcakes.  These Wild Garlic Oatcakes were inspired by Welsh Laverbread Oatcakes given to me by nephew early this year. 

This was my first attempt at making oatcakes, and I wondered to myself why I had never made them before as they are quite a doddle to make.  These were crisp-dry, crumbly and the flavour of the wild garlic actually came through good and true.
Wild Garlic Oatcakes
Makes about 12
1 tablespoon wild garlic, washed, blanched and then thoroughly minced
2 tablespoon butter or vegan margarine
140ml boiling water
225g medium oatmeal, plus extra for rolling
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to Gas mark 5.
In a measuring jug, add the butter or margine, minced wild garlic and boiling water. Allow the butter to melt into the hot water and the wild garlic to infuse the butter-water liquid.
Whilst the butter is melting, put the oatmeal, baking powder and salt into a bowl, mix together and make a well in the centre. Pour the warm liquid into the well and mix together with a knife. Allow to sit for a couple of minutes for the water to thicken the oatmeal.
Then divide the mixture into two and lightly knead each piece on a board sprinkled with oatmeal. Roll out each and cut into 5 – 6 pieces. The edges will be jagged, but idon’t mind that. If you wish you can neaten them.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp and lightly golden.
Best eaten within a day or two.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Wild Garlic Girl

'Enough with the wild garlic recipes' I hear you, I hear you, but I just can't resist.  Its there at every green place I go to right now and then I am tempted to pick a little each time... 

You have to give me some credit though; and perhaps even crown me with a wild weed garland as this years 'Wild Garlic Girl', that is of course if two inspirational people I admire from afar don't mind: Denis Cotter, author of Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me (whose new cookbook 'For the Love of Food' is on my cookbook wish list) and Mat Follas - Masterchef Winner 2009 and owner of the restaurant  TheWild Garlic.

The truth behind my interest in Wild Garlic (also known allium ursinum, broad leaved garlic, bear's garlic, buckrams, devil's garlic, gypsy's onions, ramsons and wood garlic) is really simple. Wild Garlic marks the beginning of foraging season; and this year I've found a number of locations where I can easily get my mitts on them. Foraging is thrift and frugal too; and not that I fall into that category, but foraging is also very chic right now. City girls and boys in wellies (I'm a townie by the way) can be found foraging for free wild food up and down the country.  I jumped on this bandwagon many years ago because I genuinely wanted to learn more about seasonal and local ingredients.  Much of it is self taught and I am still learning each and every day.
Every day this week at least one plate has included wild garlic, and I've enjoyed every mouthful. I hate to admit this, but as much as stinging nettle is my favourite wild weed to eat, I don't think I'll be playing creatively in the culinary sense with it this year as my efforts have gone quite heavily into the wild garlic, but you never know - there is a frugal side of me and a greedy side of me and there may be stinging nettle recipes aplenty.

Right now the free food hunter in me is taking full advantage of the abundant wild garlic.
As well as the previous Wild Garlic recipes, I've made a few jars of Wild Garlic and Walnut Pesto that have been well covered with olive oil.  I am hoping  I can enjoy this wild garlicky goodness throughout the year.
I am a little nervous as one or two jams and jellies I've made in the past have turned a little blue. I am hoping this will not happen to these jars. I have read that some people make pesto and store them in their refrigerator, even deep freezer. I would do that too, but I don't have much room to give over. So I will just have to monitor them at every opportunity.  If they turn out good , there will be plenty of presto pasta on the fast food menu.  If not - a lot of olive oil and walnuts have been wasted and destined for the sink.  Hope for me that its not the latter, because then I won't have any Wild Garlic pesto inspired recipes to share with you.

Wild Garlic Flowers

When Wild Garlic flowers its flower heads are a real lacy beauty to behold.  Not only are the flower heads delicate and powdery white, whilst standing tall on its green stemmed leg to me wild garlic flowers look almost like stars bursting from a firework sparkler. 
But I cannot ignore its pungent smell.

These chaotically arranged Wild Garlic flowers (in recycled jar) have been stinking my little flat up the past few days.
Still I can't grumble too much, I've enjoyed eating the leaves, stems (chopped like chives), tight slipper buds and now the star like flowers (as garnish) that are beginning to blooming.  If not picked these gentle white stars will begin to fall.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Wild Garlic Pakora

Oh I couldn't resist, I just had to have some deep fried goodness.  Here are some in the form of Wild Garlic Pakora aka Bhaji's - golden-green, crisp and crunchy.
I know the wild garlic star like flower heads are very pretty, but I found myself covering some with batter and then deep frying them.  I liked how the delicate crispness of the wild garlic flower heads shattered between my teeth.

If you don't try any other Wild Garlic recipe on my blog, please try this one. I think you will like it.
Wild Garlic Pakora or Bhajis
Serves a crowd
1 medium onion, cut in half then thinly sliced
1 medium potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
60g – 80g wild garlic, washed, blanched and then chopped
120g – 180g chickpea flour
1½ - 2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 – 2 green chillies, minced
1 generous teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt to taste

Water to combine
Vegetable oil to deep fry
Put all the ingredients (except for the water and oil) and mix together. Then add enough water to bind, you want to achieve a free form dropping consistency.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  I like to let the mixture sit for 30 minutes or so for the flavour to mingle.

Heat the oil in a large pan or deep fat fryer, drop a couple of large tablespoons of batter gently into the hot oil, cook on one side for a couple of minutes until crispy and then turn over until the other side is crisp and golden too. Drain on a paper towel to get rid of excess oil.  Continue cooking this way, until all the pakora mix is used. Eat immediately, while fresh and crispy.

Wild Garlic Roti

I mentioned in my Wild Garlic Salan blog post that I had made some Wild Garlic Roti, but hadn't for whatever reason got round to taking a photograph of it.  This time I made sure I did, so here are some warm home-made Wild Garlic Roti's.  I am hoping to make some Wild Garlic Parathas stuffed with spicy wild garlic and potato mash.  Oh I can already imagine it already: flaky, buttery and wonderfully spiced, but one step at a time.  
There have not been that many culinary occasions in my life where I have been invited to eat with my fingers, but when there is roti aka chapatti; even the naan bread or paratha on the table, I know that I happily can.  Here I enjoyed it with Wild Garlic Channa Dal.
 Scooping in and then
 Scooping out - the torn piece of roti acts like a edible spoon.
Wild Garlic Roti
Makes 4 - 6
250g chappati flour
25g - 30g wild garlic leaves, washed and minced
Luke warm water
Tip the flour and the minced wild garlic leaves into a bowl, then make a well in the centre of the flour, add a little cold water at a time and knead until combined and smooth. Form the dough into a ball and leave to rest for 15 - 30 minutes and cover.
When ready to cook, divide into four - six equal parts and shape into small balls.  Roll out the dough to a thickness of about ¼ inch.
Heat the tava, griddle pan or a wide non stick frying pan and cook until both sides are brown.
Serve as an accompaniment to an South Asian meal.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Wild Garlic Crisps

I tried to make Wild Garlic Crisps a few days ago by deep frying them in hot oil, but they did not work so well, as they were popping in the oil and then when cooked they completely lost their flavour.  But you know what they say, if you don't succeed the first time, try again.  Well its not like I have a shortage of wild garlic around me, I have plenty to mess up with.  So in my effort to make wild garlic crisps I tried again. 

I remembered making some Curly Kale Crisps and thought I'd use the same method here: lightly coat or spray the tender wild garlic leaves with olive oil, and a little seasoning and bake them in the oven on the lowest heat setting.  Well it worked sort of. After a little cooling they were good to eat right away. 
Although good to eat right away, they were not good to store away for nibbles as the leaves wilted back to a soft green chewing gum.  This is when I so wish I had a food dehydrator - a gadget that has been on my 'wish list' for many years.  I do think I would not have encountered this problem had I made them in a food dehydrator, or maybe I am just saying that because I really want a food dehydrator.
Well this baking in the oven method is fine and certainly worth a try, if you are going to consume the Wild Garlic crisps when they come out of the oven, otherwise I probably wouldn't recommend it.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Wild Garlic Channa Dal

On my Wild Garlic Curry blog post, fellow blogger Mark from his Veg Plot left a comment saying that the dish reminded him of one of his favourite dishes from Nepal called Channa Saag.  It was his comment that prompted me to make this Wild Garlic Channa Dal.  I really do enjoy reading comments from fellow bloggers, as sometimes (like now) they set culinary sparks in my head and for that I am thankful.
I served the Wild Garlic Channa Dal with the Wild Garlic Focaccia.  I was a little nervous about dipping an Italian bread into a spicy Indian dish, but both actually complimented each other well.  The crunch of the sea salt and the softness of the dough absorbed the lighly spiced and garlicky dal wonderfully.

To appreciate the full intense flavour of this Wild Garlic Channa Dal, it is essential that your tarka the dalTarka is a cooking technique: where sliced onions, garlic or spices (sometimes all) are added to very hot ghee, butter or oil. The onions, garlic and spices will sizzle and turn golden - imagine garlic butter in liquid form.  I tend to do my tarka with butter and usually towards the end of the cooking, but if you wish you can do it at the start and with oil, but do it!.
Wild Garlic Chana Dal
Serves 6
225g Channa dal also known as yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 - 2 hours, then drained
2 - 2½ pints of water
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ - 1 teaspoon chilli powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

160g - 200g wild garlic, washed thoroughly and blanched
For the Tarka
100g full fat butter or ghee; or oil
2 - 3 cloves garlic, sliced
In a large pot, add the yellow split peas with the water and spices and bring to a boil.  Then turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 1 to 2 hours until the peas are tender.  Halfway through the cooking process, remove two ladleful of liquid and pour into a food processor, to this add the blanched wild garlic and blend.  Set aside
When the peas are cooked and the liquid has reduced somewhat, stir in the blitzed wild garlic.
Now begin the tarka process.
Heat the butter, ghee or oil in a wide pan, add the garlic to this and gently allow it to simmer.  It is important not to stir too much.  You are trying to get the butter and garlic to turn golden - imagine garlic butter.  When this happens, carefully stir into the Wild Garlicky Channa Dal. Simmer for about 5 minutes, before serving. 

No Knead Wild Garlic Focaccia

I'm not very adept at making bread from scratch.  My efforts often mean measuring flour, yeast, salt and water and then adding it to my bread maker to do all the muscle work.  This is not to suggest that I've never made bread from scratch, I have a kneaded dough a few times and have enjoyed the results immensely.  Homemade bread is so much more superior from supermarket brands.  Sadly though I just don't have the patience of waiting for the dough to rise; then whilst reading a fellow bloggers blog I was reminded of focaccia and how simple it was to make.

I've made focaccia bread once in my life.  I remember topping it with sundreid tomatoes and sliced black olives, it was delicious.  So with all this foraged wild garlic stinking up my flat, it occurred to me to incorporate some into the focaccia recipe.  It was lovely, the wild garlic infused the bread wonderfully.   
The original recipe for No Knead Focaccia comes from Laura at My Seasonal Food Blog.  I've adapted it a little.  First I've reduced the quantity as her quantities serve a family; secondly I've added wild garlic to the dough. 
No Knead Wild Garlic Focaccia
Serves 3 - 4
265g bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
225ml luke warm water (you may not need to use it all)
A few leaves of wild garlic, washed and minced
Olive oil
For the topping: sea salt and wild garlic, washed and shredded
In a large bowl, stir flour, salt and yeast together until well combined.  Add minced wild garlic and warm water and stir well until a sticky dough is formed. Let rise, covered, in a warm place for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Preheat oven to Gas mark 8. Lightly oil baking pan and then add the dough to it and using your fingertips stretch the dough to fit the baking tin.  Drizzle the dough with olive oil, evenly scatter over the sea salt and shredded wild garlic.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Wild Garlic Macaroni Cheese

My bag of foraged wild garlic is slowly beginning to shrink in size, but not without a few more dishes.

Todays offering is Wild Garlic with Macaroni Cheese.  You can bulk up traditional Macaroni cheese with a number of green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.  Here I chose the seasonal and abundant Wild Garlic.   The wild garlic imparts a little chivey flavour and adds texture to what could sometimes be a sloppy dish.  I especially liked the topping, not just because of the golden cheese, but also the crisp crunch coming from the baked wild garlic leaves.
Wild Garlic Macaroni Cheese
Serves 4 - 6
75g butter
1 medium onion - peeled and chopped
75g plain flour
800g milk
200g-225g cheddar cheese, grated
salt and ground pepper
100g wild garlic, washed, blanched and shredded
250g macaroni pasta
Melt butter in a saucepan, add the chopped onions, cook gently until soft.
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, then gradually add the milk, whisking all the time and then whisk in about three-quarters of the cheese and allow to melt into the sauce.  Sir in the wild garlic and season to taste.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions with a teaspoon  of salt until soft.
Drain, then stir into cheese sauce and gently transfer into an ovenproof dish.
Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and bake in oven Gas mark 6 for 20 - 30 minutes until golden.  This dish can be made in advance and reheated.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Wild Garlic Roti and 'Curry'

I tentatively use the word 'curry' here only to attract traffic, as many people understandably relate 'curry' to South Asian cuisine.  But the real descriptive I'd use for this South Asian inspired dish is Salan or even handi

Handi in Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi translates as a cooking pot; a cooking vessel.  Again some of you may be familiar with the term 'Balti' which means bucket, but I have never met a South Asian person who refers to their cooking pots at home as 'Balti'.  I think 'Handi' is far more appropriate and closer to homely cooking. 
The Wild Garlic and Chickpea Salan was full of flavour and rather buttery.  Its important to add the wild garlic towards the end of cooking, add it too soon and you will lose all that wild garlicky - chivey flavour.
I served this Wild Garlic Chickpea Salan with some Wild Garlic Roti also known as Chapatti's.  I enjoy eating methi aka fenugreek roti's, but in its places I decided to add some minced wild garlic and without sounding big headed, it tasted splendid and was a nice change.  Its very unlike me, but I forgot to take a picture of the rotis as my hands were full flipping the flattened dough between my palms, before slapping it down on the tava (cast iron skillet) to cook, and then I was just too hungry to wait. I'll probably make some more in the next few days, if you can be patient, but if not and you want to make some Wild Garlic Rotis at home, there are so many Methi Roti and Methi Paratha recipes on blogosphere.  Just find one you like and just substitute the fresh fenugreek leaves for wild garlic leaves. 
Wild Garlic and Chickpea Salan/Handi
Serves 4
150g full fat butter or ghee
2 large onions, minced
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
1 inch of ginger, grated or minced
1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
1 teaspoon chilli powder or to taste
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
2 fresh chillies, sliced
4 fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped or 200g tinned tomatoes, chopped

400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Good handful of chopped wild garlic
In a large wide pan, melt butter then add the minced onions, garlic and ginger and cook until transparent, add the spices and the fresh chillies and cook until the fat of the butter comes to the surface. Add the tomatoes and cook until well integrated. Then add the chickpeas, stir and turn heat down. Keep stirring to stop the beans from sticking to the pan, about 5 minutes before turning the gas off, stir in the wild garlic and allow it to wilt.  This is a dry salan; but if you want it to have a little liquid, add 150ml - 250ml water to the pot, bring to the boil, let it simmer until the flavours have infused into the water. Serve with rice or roti.