A wonderful birthday dinner yesterday! As is the tradition since I left home, my birthday dinner has been Macaroni Cheese with rhubarb crumble for dessert. Mac Cheese was the first veggie dish I ate back in the 60s – Mum took us to Edwin Jones in Southampton (the superstore of the time) where they served it in the restaurant. We loved it and it became a traditions for Mum to make this every Tuesday! Nowadays, we use whole grain spelt macaroni with masses of greens…Hablitzia or Caucasian spinach ( stjernemelde) and dandelion (løvetann). On the top, we used dried alpine bistort (harerug) bulbils! This one time rhubarb crumble is the only time I eat sugar each year, something I’ve kept up now for the last 20 years. Dedicating this to my dear Mum…it’s after all her 65th birth day too!
Continuing my series of veggies harvested from the garden. this time used in a baccalao with parsnip (pastinakk), potato (potet), bulb onions .(kepaløk), Jerusalem artichokes (jordskokk), (bought) organic tomatoes and chili. Greens used from the garden: Urtcia dioica (nettles/brennesle) Aegopodium podograria (ground elder/skvallerkål) Hablitzia tamnoides (Caucasian spinach/stjernemelde) Rumex patientia (patience dock/hagesyre) Taraxacum officinale dandichokes (dandelion /løvetann) Ficaria verna (lesser celandine/vårkål) Allium sativum shoots (garlic/hvitløk)
Many years ago, I ordered a delicious chicory pizza in Venice. Even though I found chicory quite bitter, in a pizza the bitterness was much reduced and it was delicious. My other pizza moment was in an Indian run pizza restaurant in Suva, Fiji when I ate a veggie pizza with cilantro and chili! From that time, its been everything goes in my pizzas!
With masses of dandelion shoots in the cellar yesterday, we made a dandelion, leek, garlic and chili 100% wholegrain sourdough pizza….and, guess what, it was DELICIOUS!
The first winter shoots were harvested from the cellar today. It is almost totally dark in the cellar and currently about +6C. The blanched shoots in the picture are (from L to R) dandelions (løvetann), perennial kales (flerårige kål) and catalogna chicory (sikkori). Otherwise you can see Korean celery (Dystaenia takesimana), perennial celery / fool’s watercress (Apium nodiflorum), turnip (nepe) , carrot (gulrot) and lemon balm (sitronmelisse).
The salad was decorated with Begonia flowers from the living room!
I’ve previously introduced the gourmet part of the dandelion, the dandichoke! I write in my book:
My favourite foraging author “(Samuel Thayer’s) favourite dandelion vegetable is what he calls dandelion crowns, as named originally by Euell Gibbons (1961). I prefer to call them dandichokes, as both these and artichoke hearts are located below the flowers. In the early spring, the very young flowers appear at the surface. The dandichoke is just the self-blanched crown between the top of the root, which is a bit below the surface, and the developing flowers. Although small and difficult to clean, they are very tasty”. See the picture below!
The same applies to another of the 80 in my book, Giant Bellflower (storklokke) which also has a delicious (sweet tasting) self-blanched stem between the root and the surface….bellfower-chokes or, even better in Norwegian, storklokkeskokker! I discovered this accidentally last year! I had earlier noted in my book the sweeter tasting spring shoots after blanching (covering to excude light).
Tonight’s garden foraged perennial veggies for an oriental stir-fry!
Lots of Hablitzia (stjernemelde), ground elder (skvallerkål), Svenskelauk (a form of Allium fistulosum), sweet cicely (spansk kjørvel), dandelion (løvetann), day lily shoots (daglilje), blanched horseradish shoots (pepperrot) and a variety of Allium victorialis (victory onion, seiersløk) which is the earliest form I grow along with one from the Kola peninsular in northern Russia; other varieties have hardly grown yet!
It snowed all day yesterday, but it’s unfrozen underneath and spring bulbs like snowdrops (snøklokke), coltsfoot (hestehov), winter aconite (vinterblom), Crocus tommasianus and Hepatica transylvanica are in flower under the snow. Remembering where the edibles are located, I can still harvest food under the snow: