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A Joint Post and a Demonstration at JW3 London 19/05/2014

What an exciting opportunity we got – to lead some urban foraging workshop for a London-based community centre this spring. This will also result in some joint posts with my other blog where I publish mostly grain free recipes which I create to work with the Specific Carbohydrate Diet we try to follow at home.

The first workshop is ‘Pick & Mix Will Herbs’ and focused on Wild Garlic and Stinging Nettles. For logistical reasons, and because of the warm and early spring, I only took the group to pick Wild Garlic. The Nettles will have already been too bitter at this point and most have already been through blossom and gone to seed. My solution was to pick, blanch and freeze early season nettles so they are good to go for the workshop day.

We started the workshop in Mill Hill, where the wild garlic ad already flowered and gone to seed, but the leaves were still very fragrant and good to pick.

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We then continued to JW3 which was buzzing with activity, to cook with our herbs.

Wild Herb workshop-in the kitchen 01 2014-05-18 Wild Herb workshop-in te kitchen 02 2014-05-18

JW3 London has a beautiful, well equipped demonstration kitchen so after foraging the wild garlic we reconvened at JW3 HQ and made Wild Garlic Pesto (edited recipe below). I wanted the participants to have something to take home with them so each person got a jar of the pesto they just made but we also demonstrated how the pesto can be used to flavour a risotto dish and a simple and seemingly ambitious soufflé.

At the end of the workshop we enjoyed the fruit of our labour and a lovely lunch together.

Wild Herb workshop-lunch 2014-05-18

These are the recipes we learnt on the day:

Wild Herb Pesto:

Makes aprox 0.5 l


2 large bunches Wild Garlic (Ramson)
1 bunch Stinging Nettles
100g Walnuts
50g Parmesan Cheese (optional)
2-3 Garlic cloves
150ml Olive Oil
Salt to taste


  1. Heat the oven to 150˚c. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until golden, shaking after five and seven minutes to make sure they brown evenly and don’t burn. You can also do that in a dry pan on a medium heat but I prefer using the oven.
  2. Once the Walnuts are browns place them, along with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, then season to taste. You could also make your paste the traditional way, using a pestle and mortar.
  3. Sterilise your storage jar and pour the pesto into it. Cover with a little extra olive oil and seal. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks. Alternatively, pour the pesto into ice-cube trays and freeze, then transfer the frozen cubes to a bag and keep in the freezer to use when needed.

White Risotto with Wild Herb Pesto:

Based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver

Serves 6


1 liter Stock (I used vegetable, made from a stock cube as it was the most practical way at the demo)
2tbsp Olive Oil
a knob of Butter (aprox 25g)
1 large Onion
2 cloves Garlic
1/2 head of Celery
400g Risotto Rice
350ml Dry White Wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
50g Butter
50g Parmesan Cheese
a handful of toasted Pine Nuts to decorate (or use some of the toasted walnuts you used to make the pesto)


  1. Heat the stock and Finely chop the onion, celery and garlic.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion, garlic and celery and cook on a medium heat very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.
  3. The rice will start to fry so keep stirring it. After a minute it will start looking a little translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring.
  4. Once the wine has cooked into the rice add the first ladle of stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn the heat down to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly and unevenly. As the rice cooks it will soak up the stock, so keep adding ladlefulls of stock, one at a time while stirring it in to develop the starch. Continue doing that for about 15 minutes, until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. If you run out of stock, add some boiling water.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the 50g butter and parmesan. Place a lid over the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This will turn the risotto creamy and oozy like it should be. Check seasoning and amend if necessary.
  6. Divide the risotto between your plates and top with a generous dollop of the wild herb pesto. Decorate with some wild garlic flowers (if available) and the toasted nuts and drizzle some olive oil.

Wild Herb Soufflé:

Makes 8 individual soufflés


For the Béchamel Sauce:
20g butter
1tbsp plain flour
150ml Milk
Salt to taste

For the Soufflé:
350g Nettle tops, washed and blanched. Finally chopped
100g Wild Garlic leaf, washed and finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp wild herb pesto
150ml béchamel sauce
10 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped (optional)
8 mushrooms (optional, use any verity you like), shallow fried and roughly chopped
4 medium eggs (yolks and whites separated)
35g hard strong cheese (like parmesan, optional), grated, plus a little for lining the ramekins
Melted butter – enough to line the ramekins
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the béchamel sauce: In a medium-sized saucepan melt the butter, then add the flour and a pinch of salt, and stir well using a wooden spoon. Let the butter and flour cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Start adding the milk, a bit at a time, constantly stirring to dissolve the flour mix without leaving lumps. Cook over a medium heat, constantly stirring, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of custard. Leave to cool slightly and start preparing the soufflé
  2. Roughly chop the mushrooms and fry with a little oil until cooked. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Heat the oven to 220°C. Brush the inside of the ramekins with melted butter and coat with a little grated cheese. Divide the sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms equally between the ramekins, placing a little in the bottom of each.
  4. Beat the egg yolks and stir them into the béchamel sauce (make sure it’s cool enough so the yolks don’t cook and become lumpy in the sauce), then mix in the nettles, wild garlic and pesto. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold the nettle mixture into the egg whites and scrape into the ramekins, filling them to the top. Level off with a knife and run your fingertip around the very edge of each ramekin to make a groove in the mix (helps it rise evenly). Sprinkle over a bit of grated cheese.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes and serve immediately.



Hawthorn Ketchup 20/10/2013

Filed under: foraging — foraginglondon @ 14:00

The Hawthorn trees in our are are laden with ripe fruit and we managed to pick around 2kg in a few foraging trips.

After a successful attempt last year, we decided to make another batch of Hawthorn Ketchup. We followed a recipe by Pam Corbin, found in the Preserves: River cottage Handbook No.2 book and tweaked it a little to adjust the taste, as the Hawthorns were a little bitter in flavour.

It is worth noting that there is not much flesh on the Hawthorn fruit and in comparison to the amount of work put in, the quantity of ketchup is not huge, especially if you LOVE ketchup and also plan on giving it away as gifts. A way to increase your ketchup quantity and also reduce the amount of sugar you use is to add some crabapples or regular cooking apples if you can get your hands on some. I haven’t tried it in this recipe yet, but I will next time I make the ketchup and report back.

Hawthorn ketchup Recipe makes 1 x 300ml bottle
Original recipe by Pam Corbin, with my tweaks and additions


500gr haws

300ml cider vinegar or white wine vinegar (I used our home made cider vinegar, which is quite mild so I added 1/3cup white, spiced vinegar)

Peel of one orange, fresh (optional)

1 small onion

170g sugar

1/2tsp salt

ground black pepper to taste



I didn’t bother stripping the haws from the stalks as the original recipe says, I just removed any thick ‘branch’ bits and leaves. Everything is pushed through a food mill anyway.

Put the Haws into a large pan and add the vinegar and the same amount of water (300ml).  If you are using apples to bulk up your quantities, add them now, cores, peel and all and add some more water. If you have and orange, peel it and just pop the peel into the water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30min, until the haw’s skin has split and the flesh softens and turns from yellow to a muted red-brown. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, chop the onion into large chunks and fry in a little oil until soft and golden.

Push the cooked fruit through a sieve or pass through a food mill (remove the orange peel) to remove the stones and skins (and if using, apple cores and skin).

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Passing the cooked haws through the food mill

Returned the fruity mixture the a cleaned-out pan. Add the fried onion, sugar, salt and pepper and heat gently, stirring until dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 5min, then check the seasoning and adjust to taste.

At this point, because I didn’t remove the stalks and because some stones passed through the food mill, I poured the mixture into a high powered blender and processed it so it was nice and smooth. You can also use a hand-held blending stick to do that in the pan.

Pour into a sterilised bottle and tap the bottle gently on your work surface to remove any air bubbles. Seal with a vinegar proof cap. Use within 12 months.

2013-10-18 16.11.21



Autumn foraging and RHS talk 18/10/2013

October brought with it some beautiful clear days  which were just perfect for foraging late blackberries, Hawthorn and Rosehip.

October is also the end of harvest season and the Royal Horticultural Society invited Foraging London to speak at the RHS London Harvest Festival. At the festival, alongside the vegetable growing competition display (see images below) there was a ‘wild food’ area, where the RHS invited Yun Hider, Claudio Bincoletto and yours truly to display and talk about foraging.

In my 30min slot I explained how we came to foraging, what and where we forage and what we do with the fruit and herbs we forage. It was great to inspire people to look beyond the supermarket and explore their local parks for some food.

Here are some pictures from the festival:

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After the talks there was a ‘Late’ event. There was booze, folk music and a special performance by the London Vegetable Orchestra:

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The festival was an inspiring event and hopefully we will be invited back next year.


Sharing the knowledge at the RHS London Harvest Festival 07/10/2013

Exciting times are upon us. Foraging London has been invited to speak at the RHS London Harvest Festival, 8-9 October. Shira will be giving a 30min talk about urban foraging around 16:00 on both days. If you are around, come say hi.

There is also a ‘Late’ event on 8 October, with original cocktails and all things harvest.

Besides that, We have been out foraging, collecting late Blackberries and Hawthorn. It’s a bumper crop this year so why not go out and collect some where you are?  The Elderberry is coming to the end of it’s season but you may find some ripe, fruiting trees on Hampstead Heath and higher places in London.

The Rosehip and Sloe berries are looking beautiful too, but will be picked later in the month.

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Hawthorn Ketchup recipe coming soon.


What? No Rice?! 30/07/2013

Filed under: foraging — foraginglondon @ 13:22

Again the recipient of this. A great alternative to rice, yet equally nice and healthy

My gutsy kitchen

Risotto is one of my favourite foods. I love making it, adding the stock and mixing the  rice in anticipation for that moment when the rice is just right; not hard but not ‘rice pudding’ soft. I also love the diversity or Risotto. You can create such great flavour combinations and experimenting is really fun. It can be a light starter or a meal in a bowl, depends on the size and creaminess.

The thing is, rice isn’t one of the allowed foods on the SCD diet.

I found recipes using cauliflower a rice substitute, but felt the cauli’s flavour was too strong and not to J’s taste, so I decided to try celeriac instead. Turns out, celeriac has a great savoury flavour which isn’t overpowering. It’s widely grown in the UK and seams to be in season all year round. We used it as plain rice for an indian style dish…

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Don’t waste your food, make quiche!

Filed under: foraging — foraginglondon @ 13:20

As one of the recipients of this recipe I can strongly recommend it. No more soagy and stodgy out crust. Instead yummy flavour some peppers. It was light yet filling at the same time. My only point is that this uses a lot of peppers, so either combine with other veg (not sure if this is possible) or make if you have a glut of peppers to hand.

My gutsy kitchen

Last week I was introduced to a great organisation called Feeding the 5000. It’s a UK based organisation, working worldwide to fight food waste. J and I spent the afternoon in central London, helping them distribute perfectly good peppers and cherry tomatoes that were rejected by the supermarkets for not being ‘perfect’ enough to go on their shelves.


The cleaver thing is that the Feeding the 5K guys didn’t just give away the vegetables. To anyone who would stop and listen to our shpiel, we gave out a bag with lots of veg which included a recipe for Gezpacho soup by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. We asked them to maybe make the gezpacho and invite friends over to enjoy their soup, and in the ‘pop-up’ restaurant spirit maybe ask them for a donation to the organisation and sign up to the no-food-waste pledge.

This activity really brought to…

View original post 541 more words


Talking about foraging on tow paths on BBC London 94.9FM Radio 29/04/2013

Filed under: foraging,london — foraginglondon @ 23:18
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Interview on BBC London 94.9 about foraging on canal tow paths


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