The Urbane Forager

Spring Recipes

Please send in your seasonal recipes for foraged food. They will be added as soon as we are able.

Stinging Nettle Soup (from the London Forager)

Stinging Nettles are the most plenteous forage in London. Pick them in early Spring when they are light green and skinny. Use gloves or, if you don't mind looking ridiculous, plastic bags.
2 large handfuls of nettles, roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, diced
½ a leek
1 ½ pints veg stock
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot
½ a fresh chilli
1 lemon
A good dose of black pepper
Put the potatoes on boil. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, wilt the nettles in garlicky olive oil for a few minutes, squeezing the lemon in halfway through. Set aside.
Next, in another pan, soften the leek and shallot in butter with the chilli. Add the should-be-done-by-now potatoes in with the leeks and co. and fry gently for a couple of minutes. When you get the calling, throw in the nettles and, a quick stir later, the boiling stock. Plenty of black pepper will enliven. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes - blend - then serve. The soup will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or can be frozen.

Stinging Nettle Quiche (from the London Forager)

Two handfuls of springtime stinging nettles
A few spring onions, chopped
1 clove of garlic
Salt, pepper, olive oil
150g grated cheddar cheese
3 eggs
250ml single cream or milk
Pack of shortcrust pastry mix
8” flan tray
If you're comfortable making your own pastry base, go for it. This recipe takes the lazy option, using ready-mix but best results are achieved by doing it the hard way, baking the casing blind etc.
Start by preparing the filling. Into a large bowl, crack the eggs and pour the cream or milk. Add a large handful of grated cheddar, plus pinches of salt and pepper, and whisk.
Next, rinse the nettles, remove any woody stalks and chop roughly. In a large frying pan, melt a nob of butter with a drizzle of olive oil and gently fry the garlic and spring onions for two minutes. Add the nettles and fry for a further minute or so, then cover the pan and reduce to a very low heat for a further 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Cover and set aside.
Now roll the pastry to fit an 8" flan or quiche tray (lightly greased). Sprinkle a very thin layer of cheddar on the bottom to mitigate the perennial risk of a soggy base.
Take the cooled-down nettles and spring onions and give them a squeeze by hand to remove excess moisture, before laying them in the pastry case. Wake up the egg/cheese/cream mix with a few whooshes of a fork and pour on top.
Put in a pre-heated (180 degree) oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Ransom Quiche

  • 5 eggs
  • large handful of wild garlic or ransoms
  • handful of grated cheddar cheese
  • splash of milk
  • handful of spinach 
  • a couple of rashers of bacon
  • small onion
  • pack of ready made short crust pastry

Sweat the chopped onions, add the maybe bacon and fry till crispy.
Mix the eggs, cheese, milk and roughly-chopped wild garlic (or Ransom) - and season to taste.
Roll out the pastry and put into a pastry case.
Sprinkle the (optional) bacon & onion on the pastry and tip in the cheese mix.
Cook in oven on a medium heat for 40 mins or so.

Ginger Beer

I know that these are not all strictly foraged ingredients, but the main idea is to have fun making a tasy drink. This recipe, for everyone’s picnic favourite, is simplicity itself and it’s ready in just a couple of days...
2 Lemons
1.5 oz Root Ginger (Smashed up)
1 oz Cream of Tartar
2.5 lb Sugar
2 Gallons of Water
0.5 oz (one sachet) Yeast
First add the yeast to luke warm water and a teaspoon of sugar into a jam jar and cover with a filter paper or cloth. This mixture will soon begin to froth up.
Peel and squeeze the lemons into a bucket and add the smashed ginger, cream of tartar & sugar. Boil about half of the water and pour it (carefully) into the bucket and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
Add the rest of the cold water and wait until the mixture has cooled down to just about warm, and then add the frothing yeast mixture and stir well.
Leave the mixture overnight, covered with a cloth.
Next day, sieve or filter off the solid ingredients and bottle the liquid immediately (use strong bottles or they may burst, the force is strong in this one). I used recycled sparking water bottles, but any kind that has had fizzy drink in previously should be good enough. Screw the lids down well and leave in a cool dark place.
It will be ready to drink in a couple of days.

the Urbane Foragers - Delicious Elderflower Champagne
(English Fizz for the pedants and EU)

2 lemons, sliced
7 Large Elderflower heads
500g sugar
6L water
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Large container
Filter paper or muslin (I used a sieve and jelly bag)

First fully dissolve the sugar in a pint of boiling water. Then pour the solution into your container and add 5 litres of cold water, followed by the lemon slices (squeezed as you go), Elderflowers and vinegar.
Cover the mixture and leave for 48 hours, stirring occasionally. When ready, filter the mixture (I used a sieve, jelly bag & funnel)
into strong bottles (plastic or glass, but able to withstand pressure as for Ginger Beer above), close firmly, and leave.
It is a good idea to release some of the air occasionally to prevent explosions. The champagne will be ready in about two weeks. It is alleged to improve with time, but nobody has managed to leave it that long yet...
It's totally delicious!

Elderflower Cordial

An easy to make summer classic.
3 lemons, sliced
10 Elderflower heads
500g sugar
3L water
1 Large bowl or saucepan
Filter paper or muslin
Put the sugar in the container and pour over a pint of boiling water. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Then add the remaining 2 litres of cold water and a leave until cold.
Add the sliced lemons, giving each a good squeeze and then add the elderflower heads.
Leave for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Pour through the muslin or filter paper into bottles.
Refrigerated it will keep for a few weeks. Frozen (in plastic bottles) it will last a lot longer.

Spring traditionally  turns into Summer once the Elderflowers bloom!
Summer Recipes...

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