I finally found a nettle soup recipe that I really like. This needs to be made in early spring, when the nettles are small and soft. Pick the nettle tops wearing washing up gloves and push them into a measuring jug until you have around 400ml.
400ml nettle tops
40g plain flour
80g blue cheese
2 tbsp butter
Wash and chop the nettle tops finely
In a large pan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil, and add the nettle tops and flour. Cook and whisk together for around 10 minutes. I like to use my soup blender.
Add blue cheese and simmer until it has melted into the soup, and then season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat
In a small bowl, whisk the egg, add a couple of spoonfuls of the soup and mix together well. Pour the egg mixture back into the soup gradually, stirring as you go.
In a small pan, melt the butter gently and cook until the milk solids in the butter start to turn brown.
Serve the soup with the butter drizzled over the top.
This looks so beautiful, adding flowers to salad, and the extra flavour that they bring just lifts the whole thing. I usually make a basic Greek-style salad and layer the flowers on top. The ingredients depend on what is available. I add the ingredients in layers, only mixing together when serving.
You could make this into a pie, a stew, or a steamed pudding. I added dumplings, rather than going out to buy potatoes. The venison came from Storas Uibhist. You can get this locally by visiting Eat Drink Hebrides.
For the stew:
500g venison, cubed
1 large onion
1 small celeriac
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tbsp cornflour
salt and pepper
For the dumplings:
125g self-raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
50g shredded suet
1/2 tsp mixed herbs
3-4 tbsp cold water
Chop the onion finely, peel and dice the celeriac. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole pan and fry the vegetables until they are just beginning to brown.
Add the herbs and the meat, and fry until the meat is browned.
Sprinkle in the cornflour, stir, and then slowly add the Guinness and stock. Bring to a simmer, and then season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven at 140C for an hour and a half – then add the dumplings.
Make the dumplings so that you can add them to the stew for the final cooking time.
Mix the flour, salt, herbs and suet in a bowl and then add the water to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, and cut into 8 bits. Roll each dumpling into a ball, coating with a little flour.
Drop the dumplings into the stew, and return to the oven at 200C for a further 20 minutes.
If you are going to make the stew into a pudding, make a suet pastry using 110g self-raising flour, 110g fresh white breadcrumbs, 110g suet, a pinch of salt and approx 140ml cold water. Line a greased pudding bowl with 3/4 of the pastry, fill with the stew, cap with the rest of the pastry, and steam for 2 hours.
For Christmas, we had pot-roast venison, with a lemon and horseradish gravy. We had a lot of venison for two people, so I also made this curry. It is adapted from a very odd recipe from the BBC website – the quantities were mad, and didn’t match between imperial and metric, so I sort of made up the gaps. It was delicious, although rather hot. I’d like to make it again, so here is what I did.
I keep thinking it would be nice to have a cocktail each weekend, try out a new recipe. It has taken me quite a long time to get round to it. I had some blackberries in the freezer, picked last autumn, so I made this.
1 level teaspoon of caster sugar
juice of half a lime
1 1/2 floz gin
1/2 floz creme de mure (blackberry liqueur)
Soda water (or any carbonated water e.g. from the sodastream, to avoid plastic)
In the bottom of a tall glass, mix the sugar and lime juice and add the blackberries
Fill the glass with ice, and add the gin and creme de mure.
Top up with soda water, and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime.
I have some Tanqueray gin flavoured with lime, so I might try that next time.
This is another recipe from Delia Smith’s Christmas recipe book. It is also available widely online. It is delicious. I serve it with mashed potato, or with potato mashed with celeriac.
The quantities below serve 10-12. It is easy to halve the quantities.
2.75 kg venison or beef, cut into flattish cubes around 3cm across
1.2 litres of guinness
275 ml ruby port
4 sprigs of thyme
2 large onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 400g jars of pickled walnuts, drained and quartered
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
The night before, put the meat in a large plastic container with bayleaf, thyme, port and guinness. Seal the top and give the mixture a good shake. A good technique is to put the ingredients in a bowl with a small plate on the top to ensure all the meat is immersed.
The next day, pre-heat the oven to 140C.
Melt half the butter/oil in a casserole dish and heat gently. Drain the meat, reserving the marinade for later. Pat the meat dry before frying off in small batches, until it is browned. Take the meat from the pan as each batch cooks, and set it aside.
Add the rest of the butter and oil to the pan, and melt together over a moderate heat until it starts to bubble. Add the onions and brown this for around 8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to fry for another couple of minutes
Return the meat to the casserole dish, stir in the flour, and then pour in the marinade, add the walnuts and season with salt and pepper.
Bring the casserole to a simmer, then put the lid on, and transfer the whole thing to the warm oven for 3 hours.
This recipe was inspired by seeing a bhuna recipe on ‘grubworm’ but when I went to download it, we had an IT failure, so I used a similar bhuna recipe from a book. The flavour is fantastic. The main feature of a bhuna is that the sauce is cooked right down to a sticky paste that adheres to the meat.
Seasoned Pioneers can supply just about any spice or herb that you can’t source locally.
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried chillies
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4cm ginger root, grated
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 can of chopped tomatoes
15 curry leaves
4 goose breasts, cut into thin strips
1 tsp salt
a pinch of garam masala
freshly chopped coriander leaf to garnish.
Toast the spices in a small pan for a minute or two, until the mustard seeds start to pop. Take off the heat, cool, and grind in a pestle and mortar with the salt.
Put the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processer and blend until the onion is in small chips.
Fry the chopped onion mixture in a little vegetable oil, until the onion is starting to brown.
Add the tomatoes and curry leaves, and cook until the sauce starts to thicken.
Add the ground spices, keep stirring, and after five minutes, add the water, and bring back to a simmer.
Put a lid on the pan and simmer on a very low heat until the sauce is really thick. This can take quite a while, an hour or so.
Meanwhile, around 10 minutes before serving, fry the goose in a very hot pan for around 5 minutes, and then add to the thickened sauce, stir and reduce the sauce further.
Sprinkle with garam masala and garnish with the chopped coriander.
Serve with plain rice, and a glass of cold beer. The flavour from the freshly roasted spices is amazing.
First of the wild goose recipes. I adapted this trom a recipe in Francis Bissell’s book, The Organic Meat Cookbook. The technique of slicing the goose meat into tiny strips and flash-frying them is a good one, and transferrable to other experiments, I think.
I used the breast meat of a fairly young tender goose. You can estimate the tenderness of the goose by trying to tear the webs – younger geese have softer webbed feet.
1 goose breast, around 400g
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 x 25g butter
150ml dry white wine
150ml double cream
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Grate of nutmeg
60g linguine, fettuccine or pappardelle per person
Slice the goose breast into thin strips, about 5cm long and max 1cm across. Season with salt and pepper, and a grate of nutmeg.
Heat 25g of butter in a heavy skillet or similar, and fry the strips of goose meat for a few minutes only, until well-browned. Only fry a handful of strips at a time. Put them in a colander on a plate when done. The goose meat should be underdone on the inside.
In the same pan, add the next lot of butter and gently fry the chopped onion until soft.
Add the wine, and simmer until reduced to a third.
Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil, ready to cook the pasta.
When the wine has reduced, put the pasta on to cook for 8 minutes.
Add the cream to the wine and onion in the pan, and season with salt and pepper, and gently cook, to reduce the sauce further. Very gently.
When the sauce is thick and the pasta is nearly done, add 2 tsp lemon juice to the pan, and stir in the meat. Check the seasoning.
Serve the Stroganoff and noodles garnished with chopped parsley.
Courtesy of a greylag goose culler, we had goose in the freezer.
2 goose breasts cut into 3cm chunks
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of good red wine
1 pint of marigold stock
1 small celeriac, diced
salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
Set the oven to 150C
Heat the olive oil in a skillet or frying pan, and fry off the onions, leeks and garlic until they are nearly browning, and soft. Transfer to a casserole dish.
Fry off the goose in the same oil and transfer to a casserole dish.
Stir the flour into the remaining oil, heat through, and then slowly add the wine and the stock to make a sauce, and then add to the casserole dish. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the celeriac and bayleaf, and mix together. Put the covered casserole dish in the oven and cook until tender. Goose is variable in toughness, so check at intervals to see how it is going – could be an hour or two.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable, such as kale tops.
You could add fried mushrooms to this. Or truffle oil. Very good.
I think I may have cracked this wild goose recipe challenge again: A Persian herb stew with goose in it. I adapted the recipe from one in ‘A Taste of Persia’ , very tasty. I prepared it one evening, then finished off the cooking the next night.
3 tbsp butter
2 small onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pair of goose breasts, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp saffron in 1 tbsp hot water
1 whole dried persian lime, punctured with a sharp knife (lime was mail order)
1 can red kidney beans, drained
3 tbs sunflower oil
2 cups of mixed chopped herbs including fresh coriander, parsley, dried fenugreek leaves OR