[Before I say anything else, thanks so much to those of you who have been enquiring after Nick's health after I posted about him last week. You'll be pleased to know Nick is much improved! The antibiotics have cleared up the lymphadenitis, and the shingles is slowly being beaten into submission by regular doses of L-lysine and vitamins. So I have my hubby back - hurrah!]
OK, on with today’s show. What do the plants know that we don’t? Despite the unseasonally chilly temperatures and snow (snow!!) last weekend, it would appear that everything is just bursting into bloom left, right and centre. Here’s a small selection – and that’s just in my garden over the past month or so!
Despite the last couple of mornings being gloriously sunny, the nights are still chilly and I still feel the need for some sort of comfort food. But at the same time, there is all this great fresh stuff suddenly reappearing at the markets and I just want to buy it ALL and cook with it. Given the size of my kitchen, this is clearly not an option (!) so I tend to select a couple of special treats, and one of my favourite spring treats is wild garlic.
Wild garlic is an international man of mystery with many aliases, including ramsons, buckrams, broad-leaf garlic, wood garlic and bear garlic – the latter being derived from a direct translation of its Latin name Allium ursinum. It is a member of the genus that includes both garlic and onions and is closely related to wild chives, while the bear part of its name comes from the fact that brown bears like to dig up and snack on its bulbs. Taste-wise, it has the same flavour as garlic, only milder, and it is the leaves and flowers that are eaten, rather than the bulb. It likes growing wild in swampy, mainly deciduous woodlands where it often shares space with bluebells. With its broad green leaves, it is often confused with Lily of the Valley, Autumn crocus or the wild arum – which is bad news since these three are all poisonous to some degree! If you are going foraging, check that you have the right plant by crushing the leaves to check if they release a characteristic garlic odour.
Or take a trusty brown bear with you.
WILD GARLIC RISOTTO (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter)
2 shallots, finely chopped
20g butter, plus 20g cubed for later
2 Tbsp olive oil
300g short-grain risotto rice (I used arborio)
100ml dry white wine
750ml vegetable stock
100g wild garlic
100g grated Parmiggiano
salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter together with the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the shallots and saute until translucent and soft but do not let them brown.
Add the rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly stir so that each grain is well-coated with oil/butter. Add the white wine and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed almost completely.
Add the stock (I used Kallo organic) a ladleful at a time (probably about 150-200 ml per ladle). Keep stirring until each ladleful has been completely absorbed, but do not let the rice dry out and stick to the pot. Once each ladleful is absorbed, add the next until the stock has all been added. The rice should be soft but each grain should retain some bite in the centre, perfectly al dente.
Stir in the wld garlic, Parmiggiano and remaining butter in cubes and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve either in wide, shallow bowls as a starter or (as I did) as an accompaniment to a main course like chicken with fennel, spices and cream.
I’m submitting this post as my entry to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, kindly hosted by my friends Jai and Bee at Jugalbandi, who are so organised that they have a dedicated WHB entry form! The deadline is tomorrow, so get moving if you want to take part!