15 March 2013

The Forager's Kitchen

 I got this cool copy of The Forager's Kitchen as a birthday present.   The book was written by Fiona Bird who was a contestant on the BBC's Masterchef.   She has six kids and her husband is an island doctor on one of the Outer Hebrides. We are already tired and we haven't foraged a thing.

This foraging book offers up many a foraged item, but the items can be successfully replaced with supermarket finds, so even the land-locked city dweller can benefit from this book.  Some city dwellers might even be able to find some of the more exotic items like samphire (AKA sea beans or glasswort).  This forager was once able to find them on occasion at the Whole Foods, but alas, we haven't laid eyes on them in a year or two.  So we are off to the Hebrides!  (Not really, but...)

The book is divided into five sections offering up the different areas one might forage.  There are flowers, woodlands, fruits, herbs and the sea.    Like most forager's, Bird reminds the reader that one should never
dig into anything (in both the literal and culinary way) without the proper research.  Digging plants is not always legal and digging into a plant whose provenance is not scrupulously documented could be dangerous.  So forager beware.

These little firs de crème are a tasty indulgence.  OK, there is a great deal of foraged food and even some cardboard that we might eat enrobed in chocolate.  But the simple addition of the piney fir-infused cream
just punches up these chocolate pots.

Douglas Fir Chocolate Pots

What to forage and find:
Sprig Douglas fir, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 inches (6-8 cm) in length, washed and dried
1 1/2 cups (300ml) light (single) cream
7 oz (200g) bittersweet (dark) chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
1 medium (small UK) egg
2 teaspoons Douglas Fir syrup (or pine sugar)

What to do:
1. Put the Douglas fir sprig and cream into a pan and scald it over a low heat. Do not allow the cream to boil. Set aside for an hour to allow the flavor to infuse and then remove the sprig.

2. Put the chocolate into a food processor and pulse to break it into small pieces. Take care: the machine may need to be held in place.

3. Reheat the cream (do not allow it to boil). Slowly pour the hot cream into the food processor and pulse, ensuring that the chocolate doesn't overflow down the sides of the machine. If you don't chop the chocolate first,  it may do this. So slowly does it.

4. Add the egg to the hot chocolate cream, blend and then add the Douglas fir syrup or pine sugar. Pour into pots and refrigerate until set

OK fine, infuse the cream with rosemary!  Grab you little pot of chocolate and snuggle in on the couch and read about being a forager.  Of course, you could throw on your muck boots and head out to the wild.   Either way, The Forager's Kitchen is a spiffy birthday idea.

 We forgot to tell our readers that one can follow the foraging exploits of Fiona Bird on her blog.  On to the hedgerow!

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