Archive for the ‘Wild Food’ Category

‘The Hidden Leek’: Game Supper Club Special

This is how our menu is shaping up for the game supper club this Sunday 27th November.  11 guests will be eating wild for 7 courses!

Rabbit & squash canapes with aperetif

Seasonal vegetable broth, pheasant dumplings

Pigeon: confit leg & seared breast, winter greens

Leek study – griddled, crumbled, velouted

Homemade pappardelle with roast wild duck ragu

Damson sorbet

Venison wellington & hotpot, crisp potato, braised cabbage

Apple tart tatin, homemade vanilla ice-cream

Chocolate petit fours & tea/coffee

If you missed this time, we will also be including some game on our next supperclub – 10th & 11th December.


Damson Preserves – Making jelly, jam, sorbet…..

Odhran and I were very keen on making damson sorbet for our last supper club but nature cannot be hurried.  We had got a little ahead of ourselves as they weren’t ripe despite our constant checking.  We served blackberry sorbet and it was intense and yum! Damson, in some guise, will feature on our ‘Game Special’ at the end of the November.

Wild Damsons

Damsons are a small, wild plum – tart and tanniny, they produce a gorgeous purple and pink colours when cooked.  They make a delicious jam or jelly.  What’s even better is they are absolutely free.  Wild damson trees are common around the countryside.  When we were younger we took an annual trip to pick damsons from trees on a local farm.   My mother would spend the next few days trying to get through buckets of them, mostly making jam.

Wild Damson Harvest

This year I wanted to try out a few different recipes – I set about a bit of a damson-athon last weekend.  To prep the damsons you just need to pick out the leaves and any bad fruit, wash them and you’re ready to go.  I started with a jelly recipe as I wanted to get that into muslin to strain.  I ended up leaving it overnight, however to ensure I got as much juice as possible.

I was inspired by Skye Gyngell‘s damson jelly recipe, and sort of loosely based my experiments around it.

Damson Jelly – for 4 jars

4kg wild damsons, washed

2 apples, peeled & diced

2 lemons, juice of

750g sugar

In a very large, wide saucepan heat the damsons and apples with cold water – just enough to come up 1cm in the saucepan (about 300-400ml).  Bring to the boil, stirring often to prevent the base burning, and simmer for 20 minutes.  The damsons will soften, with the flesh separating from the stone.

Tip the hot fruit into a colander lined with a large piece of muslin and sitting over a large saucepan.  Allow the liquid to drip into the saucepan overnight.  This method is to ensure a nice clear jelly.

The next day heat the damson-laden liquid with lemon juice and sugar.  Bring to the boil and simmer.  Skim off any skum that rises to the top (but don’t discard it tastes yum! – eat with yoghurt and just on its own).  While the jelly is simmering you need to test for set every few minutes – place a spoonful of the jelly on a clean plate and put it in the fridge.  Once cooled, run your finger up to see if the jelly wrinkles.  If it doesn’t keep repeating the set test until it does.  This may take 10-15 minutes.

Jam Set Test

Once it’s set use a jug to pour the hot jelly into hot, sterilised jars.

Damson Cordial

Use the above method to make cordial but instead of continuing to simmer the damson jelly until set, just bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar and pour immediately into hot, sterilised bottles.  This will go towards a cocktail at the next supper club!  It’s also a delicious non-alcoholic drink and can be made sparkly by diluting 1:1 with sparkling water.

Damson Sorbet

Using the above method I made damson sorbet with the result but used less sugar. Take 1 Litre of the unsweetened damson liquid and add 225g sugar and the juice of 1 lemon – bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar, skim off any scum and remove from the heat. Allow to cool fully before freezing in an ice-cream machine or over a few hours in the freezer, whisking a few times during the freezing process.

Damson & Pear Jam – for 8 jars

If all that waiting around watching damson essence drip through a muslin bag isn’t your thing, you can still have jam!  It may not have the clarity and finesse of a jelly but does taste pretty great on toast!

5kg wild damsons

400ml water

10-12 small pears, peeled & finely diced

3kg sugar

Heat the damsons with the water and pear in a very large saucepan.  Simmer for 20 minutes until the flesh separates from the stone.  Over a another large saucepan or bowl ‘sieve’ the jam through a stainless steel colander or the top half of a large steamer. The juice will flow out leaving behind the stones and most of the skins.  Return the jam to the heat and add the sugar.  Simmer gently until setting point (as described above) – shouldn’t take too long 15 minutes or so.  Transfer boiling jam to hot, sterilised jars and seal immediately.  Label and store.

Grilled Mackerel with Damson dressing