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Spring Cookery Group Menu

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 17 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Spring Cookery Group Menu

Springtime – season of showers and greenery. Celebrate with your Group by holding a bring-a-bowl feast on the theme of greens or try a foraging walk to find food in your locality. When you get back, nominate a couple of cooks to turn your haul into lunch... Here’s how!

A ‘Foraging’ Theme

Spring is welcomed for the first signs of greenery after a long, leeky winter. So why not take your Cookery Group for a foraging walk to celebrate? Search out a local expert and persuade them to lead your walk, so that you can be sure to avoid poisoning! Make all members aware of the Country Code before setting out, and take rubber gloves and plenty of baskets or bags for your haul. Here are just some of the ingredients you could find on your travels:
  • Nettles (young shoots and tips)
  • Elderflowers (flowers only)
  • Rocket
  • Marsh Samphire (found in tidal flats)
  • Seaweed
  • Shellfish
  • Dandelion and Hawthorn (young leaves only)
  • Morels (the year’s first mushroom)
  • Wild garlic (best young and small)

Turn Your Forage into a Feast

After your walk, you can either return home with ingredients to cook for yourselves, or you could return to a host’s house and try one of these delicious lunches. You’ve earned it after all that walking!
  • Morel & Spinach Tartlets. Earthy, wrinkled little morel mushrooms make a scrumptious tart filling. Wash them very carefully, then sauté in a large pan with a tablespoon of good butter. When they’re just cooked, take the pan off the heat. Now crush in a couple of cloves of garlic and stir in a good handful of chopped spring herbs (parsley and chives are good). Roll out some shortcrust pastry (which could be made in advance by the host) to fit tartlet tins, and fill with the mushrooms. Lightly beat an egg or two with an equal measure of double cream, and add a drop of truffle oil if you have any. Pour this mixture over the mushrooms to just cover them, and bake in a medium oven. Serve the tartlets with dressed baby spinach leaves, and a side dish of buttered new potatoes.

  • Creamy Nettle Soup. This unusual soup sounds frightening – but once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be putting the rubber gloves on to gather more nettles! To a bag of picked nettles, you’ll need two onions (sliced), a head of celery (washed and chopped) and 4tbsp butter. Sauté the vegetables very gently before adding the washed nettles and some crushed garlic, and covering the whole lot with a generous amount of good vegetable stock. Simmer until the vegetables are soft and the nettles thoroughly wilted (this takes out the sting). Cool, then liquidise with a splash of double cream, and reheat before serving the soup sprinkled with spring herbs.

  • Spring Green Risotto. Use 1-2 handfuls of spring greens (wild garlic, dandelion or hawthorn shoots) for this oven-baked risotto (serves 4). Sauté one onion in a generous tablespoon of butter until translucent, then add a handful of peas and 200ml Carnaroli rice and mix thoroughly, heating it so it glistens. Add 200ml white wine and 400ml good stock, bring to a simmer, then put the whole lot into a warmed oven dish and slide into the oven. Bake at 150 deg C for around 15-20 minutes (when the rice will be almost cooked). Then remove from the oven and stir in the sliced wild garlic and 2tbsp parmesan. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes, then serve with crusty bread and mixed salad leaves.

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