Foraging for Hazel Nuts

Many of the things that foragers present you with can, to say the least, be a little suspect at first glance. However, hazel nuts don’t fall into this camp, they are easy to find, are unlikely to be confused with anything else, require little by way of preparation and they even taste good!

Foraged hazel nuts by Keith Gooderham at Greenshoots Photography

A hand carved alder wood bowl containing hazel nuts

Going to the woods and coming back with bags, hats and pockets full of nuts brings back many childhood memories. Hazel nut are also strongly associated with Christmas in my mind, bowls of nuts being placed out on the side “just in case you fancied them,” as if the mountain of turkey with all the trimmings was likely to ever leave room for such snacks!

Hazel Nuts and nut crackers

Nut crackers and nuts

Nonetheless, armed with these fond childhood memories I have been covetously watching some hazel bushes and their slowly maturing crop of nuts along a nearby abandoned railway line.  However, after watching them throughout August and September I took my eye off the “ball” for a week and nearly missed them! The expected harvest of plenty suddenly become a very meagre one indeed! Whether I had been beaten to the nuts by squirrels or worse still other foragers, or the ripe nuts had simply fallen off and disappeared into the undergrowth I can’t say, however, if I am honest there were ample nuts remaining and so, after an all too long a gap I have succeeded in collecting nuts once more and next year I will be more vigilant!

Foraged hazel nuts

A hand carved alder wood bowl containing hazel nuts

hazel nuts photgraphed by food and drink photographer Keith Gooderham

Freshly foraged hazel nuts

How about you? Have you been out foraging? What did you find?

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Fungal Foray

Sunday saw another foraging trip arranged by the Cail Bruich restaurant and led by the Galloway Wild Foods forager Mark Williams. Unlike the previous foraging expedition this time we headed out of city to the Mugdock Country Park and instead of drizzle and grey skies we had brilliant sunshine all day! This being the end of September we were of course in search of fungi and while we would have gone very hungry if we had been dependent upon the fungi we found in the woods at Mugdock we did find a variety of fungi ranging from the eminently desirable cep right through to the far less attractive stinkhorn and brown roll rim toadstool.

The following pictures are a selection of snaps from the day:

Forager Mark Williams models the 2014 spring season Eco-friendly Red Nose range while the judging panel look on!Forager Mark Williams models an number of different versions of the 2014 eco friendly Red Nose while the judging panel look on!

We found lots of brown roll-rim toadstools, Paxillus involutus  in the woods but unfortunately while they were eaten in the past they can cause a fatal auto immune response which may happen very rapidly or only after eating them for several years. So unless Russian Roulette is something you fancy they should be left strictly alone!

Not all mushrooms grow on the ground. The hoof fungus, Fomes fomentarius, is commonly found growing on birch trees in Scotland and although not edible it has a variety of interesting uses. To learn more start with a look at Wikipedia.

Not all fungo grow on the groundYet another inedible fungus; the stinkhorn, Phallus impudicus and given the vile smell not something that you would like to eat! This foraging business is hard work still no sign of any food!

Stinkhorn!Mark points out the finer points of the stinkhornAt last. Real food! Fortunately both Mark and Cail Bruich chef/owner Chris Charalambous brought along some mushrooms foraged from elsewhere.

A feast of different mushroomsChris made a dish in which venison chorizo (from Great Glen Game), chanterelle and winter chanterelle were the star performers.

Channterelles and Venison CCommon chanterelle and winter chanterell being sauteed with venison chorizoTasting elderberry vinegar. One of the rave discoveries of the last foraging trip and despite initial reserve it made another batch of converts here too. I am half way through making a batch of vinegar, to see progress so far visit my Flickr Photostream

Tasting Elderberry VinegarTasting elederberry vinegarMark’s mushroom extravaganza! How he managed to get all of this

Mushrooms ready for cookinginto this and then saute it without letting any escape I don’t know !

Mixed mushrooms ready to sautee

Many thanks to Mark and Chris for a truly memorable day out!

For more information about the Cail Bruich restaurant and Galloway Wild Foods please follow the links.

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Foraging in Glasgow’s West End!

Sunday saw a trip to the Wildside or more precisely to Kelvinside as an intrepid band followed Mark Williams along the banks of the Kelvin on a foraging trip with a difference. Mark lives in Gatehouse of Fleet, that forgotten corner of SW Scotland where the vastness of the Solway Firth dominates the southern border and to the north are the remote hills and forests of Galloway. Mark is a forager with a difference, working under the name Galloway Wild Food, he doesn’t so much forage to sell to chefs and delis, as is usually the case, but instead he spends much of his time teaching people how to forage and to recognise the hidden treasures that are literally on our doorstep! Mark had been encouraged to head north to “the Big City” by Chris and Paul Charlambous owners of the Cail Bruich restaurant in Glasgow’s West End to take part in a combined foraging walk and a meal featuring many foraged ingredients. The walk was a revelation, did you know that the roots of one of our common hedge row plants tastes just like cloves?! I didn’t and as you can see below clove root (Geum urbanum, Wood Avens, Herb Bennet) was only one of the many plants that we discovered here in the heart of Glasgow!

Mark’s “Nature Table” of Foraged GoodiesMark's Foragers Nature TableMark extolling the benefits of hog weed!KG130728001aWeb1 Pineapple weed growing in abundance along the banks of the River Kelvin.KG130728008aWeb1And you do what with it?!KG130728010aWeb1Paul discusses the merits of pineapple weed with Mark but looking at the picture now I am reminded more than anything else of the Bob Newhart sketch “Introducing tobacco to civilisation

“Welcome back” – Elderflower champagne and proseccoKG130728014aWeb1

And now for part 2!

The Menu!KG130728013aWeb1“A drizzle of elderberry vinegar”KG130728021aWeb1Elderberry vinegar, sweet yet sour and sticky is an absolute revelation and a must have! The elderberries will soon be ripe so don’t miss out and follow the simple recipe now!

Sushi filled with foraged goodiesKG130728023aWeb1Congratulations and thanks to Mark, Chris and Paul for a really enjoyable day.

To learn more about Galloway Wild Food please follow the link

To learn more about Cail Bruich restaurant please follow the link

To see more photos and learn about Greenshoots Photography please follow the link

Good food – it’s all about sharing. ENJOY!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Slow Food Week and Wild Garlic

Escargot and Wild Garlic Pesto

The 1st of June sees the start of Slow Food Week here in the UK to find out more visit Slow Food UK website.

Meanwhile, very much in the theme of slow food I have been exploring the various uses of wild garlic. Wild garlic, the latin name for which is Allium ursinum, has a variety of other names including ramsons, buckrams, ramp, bear leek or bear’s garlic and it is native to Europe and Asia, typically growing in damp shady deciduous woods where it will form extensive stands. The plant typically is at its best during April and May, this year with the hard winter and spring in this part of Scotland it is appearing about a month later than usual. At its peak the fresh green leaves are accompanied by delicate white star like flowers and even without actually walking through the woods you can smell the characteristic garlic smell from some distance! All parts of the plant are edible but most usually it is the leaves that are used while the flowers make an attractive garnish.

Allium ursinum

To show you just how versatile this wonderful plant is here are just a few of the wild garlic  recipes published by other WordPress bloggers:

Grab the Garlic (pesto recipe)

Beech and Wild Garlic Canapés

Herby Wild Garlic Tagliatelle

A Daring Cooks Challenge: Wild Garlic Stuffed Trout en Croute

Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Wild Garlic

Spring Salad: Wild Garlic and Dried Cranberries

Goat Cheese and Wild Garlic Muffin

Wild Garlic Season (uses and storage ideas)

Spring Butter

Wild Garlic Soup

I was a Ramp Virgin until last Sunday

Mussels with Wild Garlic, Grape Tomatoes, and Guanciale

The Stink of Spring: Creamy Wild Garlic Baked Eggs

Wild Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms

and my personal favourite given the opening shot to this blog:

 A delicious way of keeping vampires at bay – Escargot with Wild Garlic

Give them a try they taste great!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Autumn Gold: butter sautéed chanterelle on toast

KG120927039Web2

Summer is well and truly over and indeed for many of us it never seemed to arrive! However, there are upsides, not the least of which is that this is the only time of year that you can get fresh chanterelle, which for me are the very best of all of the mushrooms and while they are expensive their rich flavour means that they will go a long way. I am always excited to see a dish on a restaurant menu which claims to include wild mushrooms but I guess that I never learn or perhaps it is more a case of always travelling in hope, more often than not I am bitterly disappointed by the same old bland mix of mushrooms which have never seen a forest floor. However, chanterelle, also known as golden chanterelle or girolles never fail to delight and with their liberal coating of pine needles and bits of moss their wild credentials are never in doubt!

The first time that I had chanterelle was when I was a student and I had gone to Nova Scotia in Canada to do some research over the summer (the year before the tomatoes and bacon meal described in the previous blog) and I ended up spending a weekend in the woods with four or five other students, including two incredibly beautiful twin girls, blonde hair, blue eyes, long tanned legs and cut-off denim shorts, I am sure that you get the picture; unfortunately their nanny came too! (Is this a record, still having a nanny at 21?) The nanny was a rather forbidding women with a strong German accent but she knew her mushrooms and she had us collecting vast quantities of chanterelle which sautéed together with crispy Canadian bacon and scrambled eggs made a wonderful breakfast the following day – although the nanny was late for the meal, returning with wet hair and a towel around her shoulders to announce that she had been “How do you say? Skinny dipping?” Well life is full of surprises and as far as the twins went disappointments as well! Later I became reacquainted with chanterelle but not the beautiful twins or the nanny when I lived in Stockholm. Again you could forage for them in the forests or more easily and reliably go to the city’s wonderful Östermalms Saluhall market – as close to heaven as any place that I know! Out of season the Swedes even have canned chanterelle in their supermarkets and they are now available here in the UK too at the Scandinavian Kitchen but unfortunately it is not so easy to get the thin shavings of reindeer or elk which when cooked in a rich cream sauce made a wonderful accompaniment to the chanterelle. Anyway enough of the reminiscences and back to the here and now! Chanterelle are beginning to appear regularly in my favourite Glasgow green grocers, Roots and Fruits and of course as soon as I saw them I was sold. Without elk or reindeer that dish was off and while perhaps the very best chanterelle that I have ever had was in Germany, a simple tossed salad mixed with pfifferling (the German name for chanterelle) I thought that on this occasion I would try something even easier, especially as I wanted to photograph the mushrooms, so chanterelle on toast it was! Ideal finger food!Chanterelle other wise known as girolles are the best of the autumn mushroom harvest and have a strong somewhat peppery taste. Cooking chanterelle couldn’t be easier:

  • Use a stiff short haired brush to remove any pine needles and other detritus (DON’T WASH them!) Cut off the base of the stems and discard and then cut the larger chanterelle in half lengthways, this not only makes them easier to cook but also makes it look as if you have twice as many chanterelle as you originally stared with!
  • Melt some butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, (the pan wants to be large enough to take all of the chanterelle in a single layer) then tip in the chanterelle, season to taste with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper.

Taste sensation: freshly fried chanterelle mushrooms..

  • Gently move the mushrooms around in the pan so that they are uniformly covered with butter and continue to sauté for another five to ten minutes
  • Meanwhile prepare the toast and warm the plates.
  • When the chanterelle are done remove them from the pan and place them on some kitchen towel in order remove excess buffer and then arrange on top of the toast.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Chanterelle on toast