Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Black Locust Flower Appetizers and Spreads

Black Locust Flower Butter
This is one of our favorite times of year because the stately black locust tree is in bloom.  As you drive up and down the highway in Vermont, you see these tall dark-wooded trees lining the road, all abloom with clusters of small white flowers.  The flowers themselves are wonderfully fragrant--smelling the way I imagine perfumeries try to make their potions smell. 

Yub Yub loves to eat the flowers, picking them one by one from their clusters like grapes.  We all love them in salads of every variety.  We do cook with them, but we are careful not to cook them to long and lose the texture and fragrance. 

This week I incorporated blossoms into several spreads, including...
  • Locust Blossom Butter:  Mix locust blossoms into softened butter--preferably a high quality, lightly salted butter
  • Honey Lavender Locust Blossom Butter:  Add honey and/or dried lavender blossoms to locust blossom butter
  • Locust Blossom Cream Cheese:  Mix locust blossoms and honey/maple syrup into cream cheese
  • Locus Blossom Goat Cheese: roll a fresh goat cheese log in locust blossoms until thoroughly coated
Black Locust trees only bloom for one to two weeks a year--usually the last week of May and first week of June.  Run out and gather some today!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Culinary Success: Lamb's Quarter Soup--a recipe

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best! Yub Yub loves to make soup.  She says she is a soup expert, and every time we introduce her to a new wild green she asks to make soup from it.  Other than eating them as she picks, it is the only way Yub Yub will eat leafy greens.  This is a recipe she and I devised for lamb's quarters.   Our good friend recently visited from Miami and couldn't get enough of this recipe.
1 pound lamb's quarters, rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt to taste

1)  Melt butter in sauce pan.
2)  Saute onion in butter for 5 minutes.
3)  Add lamb's quarters and cook until wilted.
4)  Add broth.  Stir.
5)  Blend until smooth.
6)  Heat through and add salt to taste.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Culinary Disaster: Nettle and Lamb's Quarter Risotto

I'm a fairly experienced cook, and I often create my own recipes.  Doing this with a newborn is a novel challenge, however.  Two weekends ago, I awoke with recipe dreams:  Japanese knotweed pie, dandelion black walnut muffins, wild greens soup (it was 45 degrees outside!), and nettle and lamb's quarter risotto.  Our garden, untended by my very pregnant and then newborn filled self, became a lamb's quarter field this spring.  This edible is so delicious, nutritious, and versatile, that we are utterly delighted to find ourselves flush with it.

 So I sent Yub Yub and Thag out to gather lamb's quarters and nettles and then I went to my risotto cookbook to look up recipes to shape my new recipe around.  I like to use tried and true recipes to give me ideas of quantities and cooking times.  This often works out quite nicely for me.  Not so this time. 

I made two major mistakes which are easily avoided.  I did not chop my nettles before adding them to the risotto.  This left huge clumps of greens that felt like sea weed in my mouth and needed to be chewed copiously to avoid choking!  Then, I added the greens too early.  The risotto rice was not yet fully cooked and needed a lot more liquid.  This meant my greens were overcooked and their flavor permeated the meal unpleasantly. What should have been a lovely nettle accented flavor became a heady, perfumy, overpowering nettle flavor. 

I had trouble finishing my plate.  Thag, whose palate is sturdier, valiantly finished the meal and ate leftovers during the week.
Here's a picture of my goopy mess.  I'll try another risotto soon and keep you updated.