Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wild Fennel

fennel blossoms, sometimes called pollen

Wild fennel plants grow abundantly as invasive weeds through out the city and country side in many parts of the world. Fennel is a tall growing perennial, with thick stalks, feathery leaves, and yellow flowers that grow in clusters called umbels. It looks very similar to dill and is in the same plant family. It's a good bet that there is a towering bush within a couple blocks of your home. Some people plant this as an herb or ornamental plant but for the most part it is considered a noxious weed. You might understand this if you have seen it taking over in California - in many areas fennel grows thick on roadsides and is littered across the golden hills. A friend of mine who lives in Olympia received a notice from the city demanding her to eradicate fennel from her yard or be fined. Of course I have been a weed advocate by planting this in my own garden to use as a herb, though have regulated it to one corner so I can keep a eye on it.

Invasive relentless weed to some; prized aromatic herb to others. Fennel pollen is sold dried for as much as $22 a ounce! Go pick yourself a paper bag full for a year's supply of these tiny golden flowers. The window to pick fennel blossoms is closing. Luckily those blossoms are turning into another fine product - fennel seeds. Most local plants have a mix of flowers and emerging seeds growing on them right now. Both can be used fresh or dried to add a subtle pleasing licorice flavor to foods. Tender fennel fronds are also another part of this plant that can be savored. Harvest the softest youngest leaves for the finest texture and flavor. The best time for the feathery fronds is in the spring when the plant emerges from its winter nap. Also stalks and fronds can be used for scenting foods or providing a cooking bed for meats or fish. Florence fennel differs from wild fennel because it is cultivated for the thick bulb vegetable that forms at the base of the plant. Except when very young wild fennel has tough stalks. Bronze fennel is another variety grown for its brown foliage.

To dry fennel pollen and seeds cut umbels from a plant and lay out to dry on a tray or in a basket for a few days to a week. When dry rub flowers or seeds off of stems. Store in an airtight container. When using fennel pollen crumble between fingers to release the scent.

Fennel is one of my favorite seasonings I find myself using again and again. It adds a depth of flavor to food that brings it to another level of deliciousness. The pleasing licorice flavor of wild fennel doesn't overpower, it layers on with other flavors to give richness and body to its subjects.

Use pollen or ground seeds as a rub for fish or meats. Try chicken stew with fennel, coriander seeds, and figs. Make fennel oil with the seeds. Sprinkle pollen on fresh mozzarella or ricotta with olive oil, and lemon zest. Add fronds to green salad or tuna salad. Stew lentils with tomatoes, chilies, and fennel seeds. Toast almonds with fennel seeds and pimenton.

the umbels between blossoms and seeds

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Week at Foraged and Found Edibles 8/27

An update from Jeremy two weeks in a row!-

"A few cold nights and alas some fall mushrooms have started. My favorite, the white chanterelle, seems to thrive in dry years and they are coming up in full force now. Lobsters are coming up under the duff in the devils club and vine maple. And even a few matsutake, enough to eat at home at least. Overall though it still too dry for a large flush of yellow chanterelles or kings. This week the huckleberries are at their best, so get enough to freeze for the winter. Hope for some moisture followed by even cooler nights and more mushrooms will come."

It is the best week to get stock up on huckleberries- ripe and sweet but still firm. As the season comes too an end in the next few weeks the berries get riper and therefore a little juicy.
We will be having a special on five pound baskets of huckleberries if you want to freeze or make jam.

At the market this weekend -

White Chanterelles
Golden Chanterelles
Chicken of the Woods

Friday, August 21, 2009

This Week at Foraged and Found Edibles 6/21

An update from Jeremy Faber, head forager and proprietor of Foraged and Found -

"it is august of course. up and down weather is what to expect this time of year. after a little spat of rain the little golden creatures of the underworld finally were coming up. well, at least in the wettest of places (in the mosses and salal), but alas here comes two of the hottest and windiest days of the year for the coast. heat is one thing, but wind is the real mushrooms killer. so what was coming up either got picked or dried out a bit in the weather. any way should see some cooler temps which will help, but without another significant rain it will delay any sizable crop once again. huckleberries are liking the weather though, in quantities and flavor. certainly an above average year for them. as for any other favorite fall mushrooms they are still sleeping, waiting for some cooler nights to come."

We will have at the farmer's markets this weekend -

limited quantities so come early!

Blue Mountain Huckleberries
Lobster Mushrooms

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It was all about Succotash

"It was all about succotash. He said that succotash was made with lima beans and she said that
succotash was made with string beans, and there you are."
-origin unknown

The definition and understanding of succotash depends on from where and when you are.
The word succotash is derived from the Narragansett Indian word msakwitash meaning fragments or boiled corn. From this dish of Native American origin, succotash was born into, and survived centuries of interpretation and localization.

The poor man's staple of corn and beans that was popular during the Great Depression, had its roots in colonial adaptation, which had its roots in first peoples' wild food sources.
In every step people utilized what they had and made of it what they knew, depending on the times. The Holly Grove Farm puts it well - "each version of succotash may tell a story......What ever the case may be, it is a plate of cultural anthropology, a taste of history." They go on to give a recipe for Creole succotash with okra.

The only essential ingredient of succotash is fresh corn cut off the cob, and beans (green, dried shell, lima) cooked along with other "fragments" - old recipes usually included onions, salt pork or bear fat, and possibly squash or other meat. In The Story of Corn by Betty Harper Fussel, Zuni succotash is described thickened with ground sunflower seeds or pinon nuts, and in Native Harvests by Barrie Kavasch succotash is simmered with nut butter. During the Great Depression succotash was commonly topped with pastry and baked into a pie. We even have an insipid version found in every American grocery store freezer. Other evolutions- dried corn, sweet or hot peppers, cream, maple syrup, fresh peas, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, summer squash, leeks, fresh herbs, even curry and coconut, and of course, mushrooms.

My personal story of succotash involves wild mushrooms. I find myself coming back again and again to this basic formula - corn, sweet onions, mushrooms. The standard bean component has been replaced or augmented with mushrooms. In some ways wild mushrooms are woven into the story of my whole life and with the question - Why wild mushroom succotash? - you would get an answer years long.

Whether okra or lima beans or green beans or mushrooms, "there you are" sustaining yourself with what is fresh, locally available, and preferred by your taste buds or cultural conventions, eating a dish that connects you to our collective evolving history.

Use the recipe below as a guideline to make your own variations of, or rather evolutions on, the succotash theme. Meaty lobster mushrooms are great substitutes for chanterelles. Yesterday I made a version with lobsters, cippollinis, corn and purlsane tossed in at the end (no beans). Thick purslane leaves hold up nicely in warm dishes.

This recipe is from The Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar 2009.

Summer Chanterelle Succotash

The chanterelles of late summer are smaller, firmer and drier than the fall harvest, and this recipe takes advantage of those qualities, along with other delicious bounty found in the farmers market during August. Serve this atop grilled salmon or a juicy pork chop. Or with fresh cooked shell beans, such as cranberry, tossed in the mix.

1 pound fresh cippollini or Walla Walla or other sweet onion
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
3 ears sweet corn
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ lb small chanterelles, cleaned, and halved if big
½ lb romano green beans, cut on diagonal in thirds, and blanched in salted water
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, zest and juice
½ cup basil, slivered

Heat oven to 325˚F. Cut onions into medium wedges and place in baking dish. Toss wedges with 1 tsp salt, a few grindings of pepper and olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Meanwhile, cut corn off cob and scrape the cob with a knife or spoon to get the all the corn milk left behind. In a large skillet heat 2 T butter over medium high heat. Add chanterelles, 1 tsp salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Sauté until tender and liquid has evaporated. Turn heat down to medium and add corn, continue cooking until heated through. Add romano beans, baked onions with all their juices, the lemon zest, half the lemon juice and the remaining butter. Heat through for a few minutes. Turn off heat and add tomatoes and basil. Taste and adjust seasonings and lemon juice.

Friday, August 14, 2009

This Week at Foraged and Found Edibles 6/14

Chanterelles have returned. Lobsters mushrooms are on too. Ahh, it is so nice to have shrooms again. I encourage you to enjoy the summer peak mushroom crop while it lasts; the summer shrooms are firmer, smaller and brighter before the autumn rains. Late summer lobster and chanterelle mushrooms are great combined with, another late summer favorite, fresh corn. Corn chowder with chanterelles is a richer version of the classic soup, or try a warm salad of lobster mushrooms and purslane with corn viniagrette.

Blue mountain huckleberries are also at their peak and here for the second week. Out of hand, on your granola, or baked in a dessert, these are undeniably the king of huckleberries. Speaking of hands my favorite way to really savor the essence that is huckleberry is to eat a whole juicy handful at a time - a purple burst of deep tangy sweetness.

Also we will begin selling the 2010 Illustrated Wild Foods Recipe Calendar tomorrow!

See you this weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eek! The Zucchini Are Coming!!

Great, grand, abundant, ample, enormous- all words that can be used to describe the vegetable with humongous possibility many gardeners are graced/laden with this time of year. A few days ago (August 8th) was National Zucchini Day, formally known as Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day. I love this idea - after the sun goes down the zucchini people come out, creeping around the neighborhood with their hefty organic baggage, who are either exacerbated at what more to do with their bounty or just excited to play Secret Summer Squash Santa.

I remember a fellow cook telling me he didn't like summer squash (" boring, plebeian, nothing special"). I was shocked and felt pains for all the zucchini he may have neglected in his life. I quickly expressed my love for this most versatile vegetable and explained my favorite ways to enjoy summer squash.
Grilled, fried, fritters, pickled, raw.... And there is so much variety possible under the summer squash leaf umbrella - in addition to the common green zucchini and yellow crooknecks, there are multiple colors in all shapes and sizes -bright yellow, creamy yellow, dark green, speckled green, minty green, patty pans, ridged, bumped, round, crooked. I don't recommend growing this many types or you will be forced to play Squash Santa, but you can always find a large variety at the farmer's market. My personal favorite varieties are the flavorful costata romanesca, a green-speckled striped ridged Italian heirloom variety, and the little fine-textured pale green tromboncino pictured below. I tried to grow the costata romanesca zuke this year but I think my baby was switched at the nursery- I got a green eight ball variety instead.
Ideas for the Summer Squash Glut

These have been my standbys year after year....

Grilled- See my recipe from a couple weeks ago for Grilled Zucchini with Red Huckleberries and Feta

Fried- Try zucchini fries- battered or dry, oven-baked or fried.

Fritters- Turkish zucchini cakes with dill and served with yogurt sauce. Check out this recipe for Kabak Mucveri. This is a good way to use the bigger squashes.

Pickled- Every where you look on the interweb for zuke pickle recipes you run into Judy Rogers' awesome version for Zuni Cafe Zucchini Pickles. Check it out here. Another fun spicy version is here.

Raw- Use a mix of small to medium multi-colored summer squashes. This is a beautiful display of summer squash's pleasing colors and silhouettes. Shave squash thin on a mandoline and toss with lemon, olive oil, salt, and a fresh herb. Good herb pairings - basil, mint, tarragon, chives, fennel pollen. Try on top of grilled bread with fresh mozzarella.

Soup- Chilled green zucchini soup thickened with potato and topped with yogurt. See recipe below.

Eggy- Like my grandma used to make - a little sliced onion with zucchini cooked soft and soupy and eggs stirred in at the end. Recipe below.

Spread- An easy Tunisian dish-boil whole zucchini til soft, mash, drain excess liquid, and mix with harissa, garlic, lemon, caraway, coriander and olive oil. Yum. Yum yum on fresh pita with feta cheese.

Curry- Made this for the first time the other day- I think it will be a new standby- coconut turmeric lemongrass curry with summer squash and cherry tomatoes. Just make a favorite curry sauce, drop in squash and cook til tender. Remove from heat and stir in cherry tomatoes. I served mine with quinoa and a plethora of aromatic herbs and lettuce on the side.

Soft Zucchini and Eggs

This sounds simple, and it is easy to make, but for just a few ingredients it is so tasty and satisfying. I like this as a quick lunch. My grandma would make this as a side dish with dinner. My partner says this is his favorite breakfast.
I have never measured anything out when i make this- the technique is the most important part. The soft wet texture of the dish is best with "zucchini style" summer squash- the green or yellow straight tube varieties.

butter, a couple pats
onion, about a half, sliced thin
2-3 medium zucchini, sliced thick(1/3 -1/2 inch)
2-4 eggs, beaten
basil, optional

Heat frying pan (nonstick is nice because of the eggs but not necessary) over medium high heat. Add butter, onions and zucchini. Stir about and season with salt and pepper. Turn down heat to medium to keep vegetables from browning. Cook until zukes are tender, soft and vegetables release liquid. If not that much liquid comes out add a water to cover bottom of pan by about a half inch. I aim for a mix of textures- some of the zuke pieces to be just turning soft and some to be on the mushy side.
Add eggs and stir until they begin to set. Pull off heat and continue stirring until eggs turn to soft curds. Stir in optional basil and enjoy.

Chilled Humongous Zucchini and Potato Soup With Yogurt

This is great dish to rid yourself of huge zucchini. Honestly, it might taste a nip better with the younger sweeter sizes but it is still delicious with the big ones and a nice alternative to the ubiquitous zucchini bread. This makes a lot- share or freeze for later use.
During 'Heat Wave 2009' a couple weeks ago I made this in the morning coolness and brought the vat to an after-the-hot-hot-sun-goes-down-late-night-BBQ. All I wanted to eat that week was chilled soup. There is only a little bit of potato in here to give it that pleasing thick grainy texture. The cucumber is optional but helps lighten the soup, and very convenient if you have excess of those too. And this is actually really good hot or cold.

Olive oil
1 large or two medium onions, sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 humongous zucchini, halve and remove any big hard seeds, sliced thin
1-2 cucumbers, peeled(unless soft skin variety), large seeds removed, and sliced thin, optional
5 -6 scallions, green and white part separated and chopped
a few handfuls of herbs- parsley, dill, and mint, chopped
plain yogurt- flavor with herbs if desired

In a large pot saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender. Add zucchini, optional cucumber, and white part of scallions. Stir and push down into liquid. Just cover by 1 inch with water and bring to a boil for a couple minutes. Remove from heat. Residual heat will continue to cook vegetables. Stir in half of the chopped herbs. Let cool to room temperature. If desired place in a ice water bath to speed up this process.
Once cool, puree soup with green scallion tops, remaining herbs, and a glug of olive oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and herbs and consistency with water if needed. Chill until cold.
Serve with a swirl of yogurt and lemon wedges.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Calendar hot off the press!

Here a few pictures of the press check for the calendar. I went to look at the first run off the press to make sure the color match and color intensity are what we are looking for. The bright green needed a little more saturation to make it pop off the page. In the end Emily's artwork looked vibrant and still held all the nuances in her watercolor and line work.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This Week at Foraged and Found Edibles 6/8

We are back! We will be at all our regular markets this weekend- University District, Ballard and West Seattle.

Lobster mushrooms are here! These rich and meaty mushrooms are one of my overall favorites. Lobster mushrooms are an interesting phenomenon. One mushroom colonizes another turning into a delicious bright orange red edible. Get to the market early for these beauties.

Also sea beans are still available but it is their last week at the markets.

The hot sun has been quickly ripening the huckleberries and we may have blue mountain huckleberries this weekend. If not this weekend, next for sure. These big juicy hucks rival blueberries with a deep and tangy flavor that is delectable in any berry dessert.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

2010 Wild Foods Recipe Calendar on it's way!

Calendar this, calendar that.....My friends and family are pretty tired of me talking about the calendar. Maybe now that it is almost here I can zip up about it for a few. First though, I need to share with all of you that it is printing this week! Emily Counts and I have been diligently working to polish the writing and artwork till it is shiny and perfect before it goes on the presses. We are proud of and pleased with the final work. Thanks so much to Phyllis Counts(Em's mom) for all her precision graphic work and Lisa Gordanier for her editing prowess.

The 2010 The Wild Foods Recipe Calendar will be available August 15 at the Foraged and Found Booth at Seattle Farmers Markets. Soon after it will be also available at many local grocery stores and boutiques. In Seattle Whole Foods and PCC markets will be carrying it. You will also be able to find it at Eat Local on Queen Anne, Kobo at Higo and Kobo Capitol Hill. In Portland look for it at Pasta Works, Food Front, New Seasons, and Whole Foods. Also Pharmaca stores nationwide. You can directly purchase it online at our Etsy store. The retail price is only $13 this year- thanks for all the support last year that makes this possible.

My friend Matty Harper from Dreamlets is working on our website for the calendar that should prove to be style-y and cool. This will have a updated list of stores it is available at. Also some launch parties and calendar dinners are in the works too so keep posted.

And to kick us off to a good start, earlier this week I also got a nice write up by Angela Garbes on the Seattle Weekly food blog Voracious with a sea bean recipe and sneak peak of a page from the new calendar.