Experiment with nature's rich harvest to create delicious food.
In Autumn Riches, my first piece for Resurgence, I forced myself to write the quantities when I never normally work with them. I wanted my recipes to conform and ever since I have felt very uncomfortable. The pressure put upon you to stay out hunting in the hedgerows until you have found a said amount of “carrots” would be terrible. You might be out for weeks! I think it is far better to say – follow my recipes with what you have, so the Green ‘fish’ soup can be partially carroty or over-oniony.
I do not like digging up roots and bulbs growing in the wild so I propagated a few varieties of archaic vegetables in my own garden. These I cook with without upsetting my conscience. They are often woody or stringy and have to be pulverized before cooking.
It goes without saying that I would not take from the hedges any birds eggs or honey as our ancestors would have done.
Green ‘fish’ soup
For the carrot soup: carrots and chive bulbs.
Pulverize the carrots. Simmer gently in water until soft. Blend the carrots with the chive bulbs. Season the soup to your taste. Put aside and keep warm.
As an alternative to carrots you can use parsnips, burdock roots, spinach or nettle leaves.
For the ‘fish’: mange-tout beans.
Delicately cut out fish-shapes from the green beans. Steam the beans for a minute or two whilst reheating the soup. When the beans are cooked pour the soup into bowls. Carefully arrange the green ‘fish’ on top of the soup and serve.
Young hawthorn fingers
Young hawthorn leaves, hazelnuts (from last autumn), chives, mint, wild garlic leaves, sweet violets and fresh goats cheese.
Grind the nuts and chop the herbs and the leaves. Mix together. Shape the soft fresh cheese into small balls. Roll them over in the leafy mixture until they resemble ten fat green fingers. Arrange the fingers on a plate and serve with barley bread.
Ingredients: strawberries, honey, eggs, a knob of butter, fresh cream (optional).
Gently melt the butter in a small frying pan. Pour in the beaten eggs. Scatter the berries over the eggs. Trickle over the honey. Gently heat through. As the omelette curls around the edges and a wonderful smell of honey fills the kitchen turn the omelette gently out on to a plate. Serve with a little fresh cream over the top.
Alternatives: replace the strawberries with blackberries, elderberries, myrtles or dewberries.
These recipes are taken from Jane Le Besque’s forthcoming book, Prehistoric Dainties.