Dandelion Jam & Nettle Soup

Thursday, 28 May 2015
My partner in crime when it comes to outdoor family food and foraging events is the lovely Mandy Tulloch of Mud Pie Adventures. Together we've ran Wild Garlic Bear Hunts, Blaeberry Bashes, Bramble Rambles and Shortest Day Food in the Woods events. We're currently plotting our activities for the Summer Holidays so if you are in Aberdeen/shire do make sure you are on the Mud Pies mailing list to be kept up to date with our plans. This week she shared a couple of wild food recipe suggestions on my Foodie Quine Facebook page and they caused quite a stir with my followers so I asked her if I could repost them on my blog to avoid them disappearing into the abyss of old facebook posts. 

Foraged Wild Food - Nettle Crisps

We did venture into the delicious world of the nettles at one of our previous events when we cooked up a batch of nettle crisps. Simply deep fried nettles. Great on their own or with a sprinkle of either salt or sugar. Promise they won't sting your mouth. I also enjoyed them as tea and spring greens on a Prehistoric Cookery Weekend with Wild Rose Escapes
Without further ado, over to Mandy for her versions of Dandelion Jam & Nettle Soup...

Foraged Wild Food - Dandelion Jam / Honey

Well I'm feeling very pleased this morning. I've made some dandelion jam and it tastes great - very much like honey believe it or not! I used the Wild About Food recipe. There's still at least week's worth of flowers before they all turn to seed so give it a go! We collected 150 flower heads. Yes, that sounds a lot but give a child a pair of scissors and they're off. Make sure you cut the stem off completely at the base - it has a bitter tasting white sap you don't want in your jam. 150 flowers makes 1 jar of jam (a half quantity of the Wild About Food recipe)

Foraged Wild Food - Dandelion Jam / Honey

Boil a sugar syrup then add the flowers and simmer for 20 minutes. Leave to infuse overnight. I wasn't too sure about the end product - looked a bit sludgy to me! Until tomorrow...
Strain last night's infusion and simmer for another 20 minutes. I left some petals in as it looks nice and didn't add any pectin so it's more of a jelly than a jam but it looks and tastes great. I will definitely be doing this next year.

Foraged Wild Food - Dandelion Jam / Honey

We had nettle soup for dinner tonight. No, it wasn't sludgy and slimy but fresh, delicious and easy to make. Here's how: pick a carrier bag of nettle tips. Saute some veg - we used onions, garlic, celery, carrots and leeks. Add some good stock - say vegetable or chicken - and bring to the boil. Throw in the nettles and simmer for 3 minutes. Blitz, season and enjoy! 

Foraged Wild Food - Nettle Soup

Not a sting in sight. We discovered that if you put the bowl under the nettle and snip you don't get stung!

Foraged Wild Food - Nettle Soup

Vegetable base for soup - onions, garlic, carrots, celery and leeks. You can use anything you like. Check the nettles for beasties, wash and throw in to the pot along with the stock. Liquidise for a few seconds, season and serve. Yum, especially with croutons!

Foraged Wild Food - Nettle Soup
Foraged Wild Food - Nettle Soup

Thanks to Mandy and her family for sharing their fantastic wild food creations. I'm definitely planning to get out and about this weekend and attempt to make both. There's very possibly enough of both nettles and dandelions at the bottom of my garden! I'm hoping there might still be a wee bit of Wild Garlic lurking to add to the soup. I asked my fellow food bloggers if they had any Dandelion or Nettle Recipes to share and I was pleasantly surprised at what they came up with. The Dandelion Honeys are along very similar lines to Mandy's Jam. Have fun eating weeds!

Dandelion Honey by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

Dandelion Honey by Tin & Thyme

Nettle & Feta Ravioli by The Hedge Combers

Salmon & Nettle Tart by Farmersgirl Kitchen

Nettle & Lemon Cake by Veggie Deserts

Plus a couple from my foraging partner in crime. Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods


The Store - Open Farm Sunday & Foodie Friday

Monday, 25 May 2015
As a farmer's daughter an invite where the dress code is "wellies recommended" is always going to grab my attention. Such was the requirement for a press event last week at The Store to launch their Open Farm Sunday. I always try to pop in past their farm shop at Foveran when I'm in that neck of the woods to stock up on meaty goodies and keep an eye out for their stall at local farmer's markets particularly if they've got the BBQ fired up. Their range of home produced meat is superb as are their burgers and sausages.

Farming has been in the Booth family for four generations and we were welcomed to the Farm Shop and Cafe by farmer and owner of The Store, Andrew Booth. Over Bacon Rolls and a pot of Tea he gave us a brief introduction to The Store and the format of the day before we all donned our wellies and headed off to the farm to meet the Aberdeen Angus  cattle herd.

Andrew spoke passionately about his award winning Aberdeen Angus beef herd and how he champions traditional British cattle breeds and production methods. The cattle spend the summer outdoors eating grass and are wintered indoors on silage and barley. They are sourced from breeders as whole herds of store animals and finished off to The Store's specification. Buying a herd as a whole rather than by weight at the Mart enables a constant source of beef for slaughter as not all the animals mature at the same time. In addition to beef The Store also produce their own lamb and arable crops. Wheat, Barley and Oil Seed Rape plus Oats which head to Hamlyns to become porridge oats or oatmeal. Environmental awareness also features high on the agenda with biomass woodchip dryers and recycled food waste compost.

Back to The Store itself for a tour of the on-site butchery where the beef is aged on the bone for a minimum of 21 days to ensure depth of flavour and tenderness. Because they butcher whole carcases of beef, pork and lamb The Store can offer every conceivable cut of meat from nose to tail. Master Butcher Grant gave us a hands on demo french trimming a beef rib then boning it out to a rolled rib roast. We were all mesmerised with his dexterity at butchers knots. Next it was our turn to get our hands dirty making beef sausages. Cue much hilarity, innuendo and Generation Game laughter. Lets just say its much more difficult than it looks. You can try it for yourself at one of their regular Butchery Masterclasses. 

As we sat down for lunch Farmer Both explained that we were to be sampling a selection of smoked and barbecued meats that would be on the menu at their forthcoming Foodie Friday on 29th May. As the platters arrived I cleared a space for them in the middle of the table however what I thought were sharing platters were actually one each. They definitely lived up to the billing of a carnivores dream. Head Chef Tim explained the dishes and sides to us. The Brisket, Rib and Raspberry & Chilli Ketchup were my particular highlights. To Book a table for Foodie Friday call 01358 788083 or email shop@thestorecompany.co.uk. I'd advise starving yourself beforehand as there's also a BBQ's shellfish starter and doughnut and candied bacon desert in addition to what we had.

Before heading for home a wee browse around the farm shop was of course necessary and I stocked up on some Aberdeen Angus Burgers and Ribeye Steaks to accompany my own handmade sausages on the BBQ. Whilst filling my basket with local eggs, beetroot and strawberries. I was also somewhat suspiciously eyeing up an Ox Tongue. Farmer Booth then presented me with it as a challenge. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth so duly accepted!

The sausages and burgers were fantastic as always served alongside my latest commissioned recipe for Scottish Barley & Salmon Salad with a Whisky & Rapeseed Oil Dressing. The Ribeyes also headed for the BBQ topped with wild garlic butter and were absolutely melt in the mouth. All that was left to tackle was the elephant in the room. Ox Tongue. I tweeted Cookery Author Sue Lawrence to ask for advice and followed her 140 character recommendation  
The tongue was duly washed and soaked overnight in cold water which I then discarded. I then placed it in a deep pan along with a quartered onion, sliced carrot, a couple of sticks of celery, bay leaves and a handful of peppercorns. Filled up the pan with plenty of cold water, brought it to the boil then turned down and simmered for 3.5 hours. Once cooked I removed it from the pan to cool and then set about peeling off the skin and any ragged and grisly bits. It still looked rather tongue like and bumpy in texture so I removed a further layer before curling it up and placing in a 3 pint pudding bowl. A saucer went on top to press it down followed by weights. (the greaseproof paper is only there as the weights are normally garden ornaments!) I left it in the fridge overnight and it popped easily out of the bowl the next day and sliced up a treat. The colour is much more brown than the supermarket pre-packed pinky/purple tongue. Flavour could best be described as subtle, perhaps I should have spiced up my cooking liquor more. It did however taste fab in a sandwich with plenty of mustard. Still got absolutely loads of it left. Any suggestions?

The Open Farm Sunday event takes place at The Store, Foveran, Aberdeenshire on 7th June from 11am - 3pm. Entry is free and highlights include tractor & trailer rides, farm animals, sheep shearing, a farmers market, hog roast & BBQ. You can even try your hand at sausage making and perhaps buy an Ox Tongue?!

If you're not lucky enough to live in Aberdeenshire check out www.farmsunday.org to find a participating farm near you. 


Scottish Barley & Smoked Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing

Friday, 22 May 2015
Hang up the bunting and get ready for a party! The Big Lunch is the UK’s annual get-together for neighbours, which this year takes place on Sunday June 7th. Led by the Eden Project, funded by The Big Lottery Fund and partnered by Asda and Halifax, The Big Lunch is the perfect recipe for having fun with your neighbours, feeding community spirit and helping to build stronger neighbourhoods. In this day and age how many of us really know our neighbours? People are the key ingredient in The Big Lunch recipe with those taking part creating friendlier communities in which they start to share more, from conversation and ideas to skills and resources. Sharing food is only the beginning. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

Neighbours, Everybody needs good neighbours

With a little understanding

You can find the perfect blend

Neighbours...should be there for one another

That's when good neighbours become good friends

Admit it. You're singing along. It might be cheesy but the catchy theme tune from down under really does encapsulate what The Big Lunch is all about. Big Lunches encourage friendlier, safer neighbourhoods and people taking part report feeling a stronger sense of community afterwards. Enjoying Big Lunch day is just the start, it’s also the planning and what can happen after that really makes the difference. That's when good neighbours become good friends.

Big Lunches can be big or small; they don’t need to cost much because everyone brings something to the table. Whether it’s a couple of homes getting together for a picnic or a full blown street party it all contributes to the underlying ethos that we, as a society, are better equipped to tackle the challenges that we face when we face them together. It doesn't even have to take place on the first Sunday in June. You can hold your event whenever works best for you and your community. 

I love a statistic and these ones from Big Lunch 2014 research are pretty impressive.
  • 4.83 million people took part in The Big Lunch 2014
  • 97 per cent of people who took part said they would recommend The Big Lunch to their friends
  • 84 per cent of people who took part said it made them feel better about their neighbourhood
  • 8 out of 10 people who took part have kept in touch with people they met at Big Lunches in previous years
People said the best 3 parts of their Big Lunch day in 2014 were:
  1. A great sense of community
  2. Meeting new people
  3. Enjoying good food
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

When The Big Lunch in Scotland got in touch to ask me to work with them and create a street party food recipe I immediately started thinking about the things that I'd like to make, bring and eat at such an event. I've got a real savoury tooth so immediately ruled out deserts. I wanted my recipe to be colourful, tasty, quick and easy to make and transport and be something that is easy to share in a large group. Most of all I wanted my dish to have a Scottish twist. I reckon I've pretty much covered all the bases with my Scottish Barley & Salmon Salad with a Whisky Dressing. Lots of fantastic Scottish produce showcased which ties in perfectly with 2015 being the Scottish Year of Food and Drink and May being Whisky Month. Slainte Mhath! 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch
Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch


250g Pearl Barley
2 Fillets Hot Smoked Scottish Salmon (approx 180g)
1 Raw Beetroot
3 Spring Onions
Small bunch of Flat leaf Parsley

2 Tbsp Scottish Whisky
1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt & Pepper

Rinse the pearl barley well under cold running water until the water runs clear.
Place the barley in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. 
Drain the barley and leave to cool or rinse with cold water to speed up the process.
Meanwhile flake the salmon fillets, peel and coarsely grate or julienne the beetroot, slice the spring onions and chop the parsley.
Combine the cooled barley with the salmon, beetroot, spring onion and parsley and mix gently.
Place dressing ingredients of oil, whisky, mustard and honey in a jam jar and season well with salt and pepper. Shake vigorously to combine. 
Keep the salad and dressing separate until its time to serve. Mix them together at the last minute and watch the barley turn a delightful shade of pink. 

Scottish Barley & Hot Smoked Salmon Salad with a Scottish Rapeseed Oil & Whisky Dressing for The Big Lunch

I asked my fellow food bloggers to share their favourite salad recipes that would work well for The Big Lunch and here's what they came up with. There's so much more to salad than lettuce, cucumber and tomato.

Purple Sprouting Cesar Salad by Rough Measures 
Chilli, Prawn & Pasta Salad by Fab Food 4 All
Vietnamese Duck Salad by Recipes from a Pantry
Summer Italian Pasta Salad by The Petite Cook 

I really hope I've inspired you to host your own Big Lunch. Get started by visiting www.thebiglunch.com to request a FREE pack or call 0845 850 8181 to speak to one of the team. The pack contains invitations, activity and recipe ideas, posters, stickers and more. Just add Neighbours and Food! 

Disclosure - This is a commissioned post and recipe for The Big Lunch. All views expressed are my own.

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Chocolate (and optional booze) Bouquet Tutorial

Tuesday, 19 May 2015
The perfect handmade gift to create for a Chocoholic - perfect for Birthdays, Christmas, Valentines, Anniversary, Mother's Day etc. Basically any occasion where you would usually say it with either chocolate or flowers.

I must admit that I had pretty much finished making this Chocolate Bouquet before it even occurred to me that others might be interested in how I did it and that I should do a tutorial for the blog. As such it doesn't have quite as many photos of of the steps as it would have had if I'd thought about it from the start, but hopefully my explanations will suffice. I made it for one of my lovely Chocoholic friends *special big birthday* and it went down a treat. It would work equally well for any special occasion such as Valentine's Day, Anniversary or Christmas. Pretty much any time where you might usually give flowers or a gift.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Wooden Skewers with flat ends (I got them in Sainsbury's)
Hot Glue Gun
Fun Size Chocolate Bars 
Jam Jar
Polystyrene (I used a bit of my Coast & Glen Fishbox!)
Coloured Tissue Paper
Rubber Bands

I used almost two bags of assorted fun sized chocolate bars, I also included a couple of full sized Star Bars as they are a particular favourite of the recipient! 
First you need to glue the skewers onto the back of the chocolates. A hot glue gun really is best for this but it could possibly work with superglue or double sided tape. Position the skewers at different points on the back of the bars so you get an assortment of finished heights.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

For the base I used a jam jar with a couple of blocks of polystyrene wedged firmly into it. A taller one at the back and a smaller one at the front. You need some of the fairly dense polystyrene rather than the more open stuff (I'm sure there must be a technical term for it!) Start arranging your "chocolate flowers" with taller ones at the back and shorter at the front. The packets of Maltesers, M&M's and Milky Way Stars were great for filling in any gaps. Push the skewers in well and watch out that it doesn't get too top heavy.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Once I was happy with my arrangement I laid out four squares of alternating colours of tissue paper on top of each other at adjacent angles. Then I sat the jam jar on top and pulled up the tissue around the neck and secured it with a rubber band. To finish it off I did the same with a square of Cellophane before covering up the rubber bands with a ribbon tied in a bow.

Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet
Foodie Quine - Chocolate Bouquet Tutorial, Sweet Bouquet, Candy Bouquet

Lots of love for it when I posted on my Foodie Quine Facebook PageThe verdict from my chum? "What could be nicer than opening the door to the best "bouquet" ever? Thank you so much to my lovely friend Claire (aka The Foodie Quine). This is amazing and so me! xx". My daughter has now requested one for her birthday and my sister wants a crisp version!

Chocolate & Miniature Vodka Shots Bouquet. 18th Birthday idea.
18th Birthday update!
I've got a new variation on the chocolate bouquet theme that I made as an 18th Birthday gift.
This one included eight miniature 20ml vodka shots.

♥ Pin me for later...
www.foodiequine.co.uk A crafty foodie gift tutorial. Learn how to make a Chocoholic Chocolate Bouquet. Candy Bouquet. Sweet Bouquet. The perfect handmade gift to create for a Chocoholic - perfect for Birthdays, Christmas, Valentines, Anniversary, Mother's Day etc. Basically any occasion where you would usually say it with either chocolate or flowers.

Homemade Rhubarb Gin Liqueur

Friday, 15 May 2015
What to do with a glut of rhubarb in the garden? Forget about crumble and instead make a fantastic homemade rhubarb gin liqueur. All you need is gin, sugar and rhubarb plus your choice of additional flavourings (and a little bit of patience) Great served on its own, with a mixer or with Prosecco.

Rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhubarb. I love the stuff. Literally can't get enough of it. When it's on a menu for desert I can't see past it. For many years I had a small clump in my garden but it never really did very much and only produced a handful of stems, barely enough for an annual crumble. Then we moved it to a different spot and now it flourishes. Whilst I do absolutely LOVE a rhubarb crumble or compote, nothing can beat Homemade Rhubarb Gin Liqueur. It's great on its own or served with a mixer. Particularly wonderful with Prosecco. 

RHUBARB GIN (or Vodka) 

1 litre gin or vodka 
600g Rhubarb 
300g Sugar 
Optional Flavouring - Vanilla Pod, Ginger, Cinnamon Stick, Cloves, Lemon Zest, Orange Zest, Chilli 

  • Wash and chop rhubarb and crush with a pestle and mortar or similar.
  • Combine with the sugar and gin/vodka in a suitable receptacle (large Kilner style jar or sweet shop jar)
  • Add your desired choice of additional flavourings.
  • At this point you need to be very patient (good things come to those who wait) and hide it away somewhere dark for a few weeks before you can sieve bottle and enjoy.

MORE of my Rhubarb Recipes

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