You know how when you’re watching a movie after supper and you’ve already had dessert but you really want something sweet? Just a little something, not a whole pint of salted caramel ice cream. Something to nibble on that won’t make you hate yourself after you’ve nibbled on it.
I give you the no-bake carob coconut ball. There’s nothing processed or refined in this recipe and you can tinker with the sweetness level to get it just the way you like it. The ingredients are so good, I’m sure it’s fine to eat more than just one. Read more
Winter isn’t the most productive time to forage where I live. On a February visit to NH, I was able to score some fresh wintergreen, which I brought home and turned into an extract. I love the flavor of wintergreen (think teaberry gum) but it isn’t always easy to use in food and drink. I thought ice cream would be the perfect vehicle for the wintergreen flavor, and I was right, but boy it took a long time to nail this one down. The extract had a strong flavor and fragrance on its own, but my first ice cream attempt was a miserable failure. The eggs in the custard base completely overwhelmed the wintergreen flavor. My second attempt was only slightly more successful. I used a corn starch base, which let the wintergreen flavor come through, but it was far too faint for my taste. Third time was the charm. With triple the original amount of wintergreen extract, I had a delicious, perfectly textured wintergreen ice cream. This recipe is a keeper. Read more
With less than two weeks before Christmas, there’s still plenty of time to make some wild Christmas cookies, whether you plan to leave them out for Santa, or to eat them all by your lonesome. Here are some of my favorites, each with a different wild ingredient.
When you get a last minute dinner invitation and you ask what you can bring, and your host suggests dessert, and you say sure, then wonder what the heck you can throw together quickly that will impress your friends, well, I suggest a wild blueberry fool. Read more
The fragrance of plum blossoms is intoxicating, and something I look forward to every spring. Plum blossom season is brief, usually lasting only a few days. Early spring snow, wind, and rain wreak havoc on these delicate blooms, so get out there and harvest as soon as you see them. Usually I make plum blossom liqueur, but this time I thought of infusing the flowers in cream for a floral panna cotta. What a good idea! Read more
Every year for my birthday, my pal Cayce sends me a box of Meyer lemons, foraged from her Bay Area neighborhood. What a great gift! This year I’ve been using them to perfect a lemon bar recipe. But it’s no ordinary lemon bar. This lemon bar has lavender baked into the shortbread crust. Read more
This was a great year for stone fruits in Santa Fe, and I harvested a lot of plums both from street trees and in the wild. Most people don’t seem to realize that the purple-leaf plums planted as landscape trees produce very tasty fruit. Maybe they don’t see the plums, because the color of the fruit blends in with the color of the foliage. Maybe most people are frightened of unfamiliar foods. Whatever the reason, unappreciated fruit was falling to the ground all around my neighborhood. Backyard Forager to the rescue! I juiced the fruit, canned the juice, then made fruit leather from the pulp. It’s only now, in the downtime that is winter, that I’ve had time to play with the juice, and I’m really happy with the results. This wild plum mousse is not only delicious, but versatile. You can serve it in individual dishes or make one big, tasty pie! Read more
Chestnuts are wonderful, versatile things, as useful in sweet desserts (like this irresistible chestnut mousse) as they are in savory dishes. Their high starch content makes them softer and creamier than most nuts. (Fun fact: chestnuts contain twice as much starch as potatoes!) In places where chestnuts are a native crop, they’re often used as vegetables rather than nuts. Some of the most delicious chestnuts I’ve eaten were in Greece; they were roasted with onions in a light tomato sauce. Chestnuts are the only nut that contains vitamin C, and unlike most nuts, they contain very little fat, making them a low calorie choice in the foraged nut department. Not that this recipe is low cal. I make no apologies for the cream, egg yolks, rum, and sugar. This is a wonderful dessert for a special occasion, and probably my favorite way to use chestnuts. Read more
When I was in Wisconsin last month, I taught a Forage to Table weekend with Melissa Price. We made a hortopita, and talked about other foraged foods we could make with phyllo dough. We also worked with acorns that weekend, and Sharon Hahn (thank you, Sharon Hahn!) asked if I’d ever made acorn baklava. “Why no, Sharon, I never thought of that. But that’s a helluva good idea!” I promised Sharon credit for inspiring this recipe, and boy does she deserve it. I’m not sure I ever would have thought of it myself. Read more
Apricots are a common street tree in Santa Fe. Many years we don’t get fruit, because a late frost zaps the flowers before they can be pollinated. But this year we’ve had an abundance of apricots, and they’ve been ripening gradually, over a period of six weeks. So much fruit falls to the ground, unappreciated (perhaps even cursed) by the home owners who own the trees. I’m happy to do a little cleanup and glean the best of the bunch. I give you here the first of several summer apricot recipes: apricot crumble squares. This is what August in Santa Fe tastes like. Read more