STYLE

Foraged foods such as puffballs excellent in omelettes or grilled

09/10/2012 09:00 EDT | Updated 11/10/2012 05:12 EST
Interest in foraged foods started among chefs and foodies. Now that more foraged foods are readily available, interest among the public is growing too. Here are some recipes to try using wild foods.

Giant Puffball

These mushrooms can measure more than 30 cm (12 inches) across and are found in old orchards, on the edge of hardwood bush, in pastures, etc. Tap gently to see if it seems tight or soft. If it is soft, leave it. When you choose one, slice it in half. If it appears yellow or green inside, it's no good. If it is firm and white, wipe the outside surface with a damp cloth and slice it into 4-cm (1 1/2-inch) slices with a bread knife.

Pan-fried Giant Puffball

Puffballs consume an inordinate amount of butter when cooking. Heat a large frying pan to a medium sizzle with at least 30 ml (2 tbsp) of butter evenly melted around the pan. Lay in a slice (about 20 cm/8 inches in diameter) or two smaller pieces of puffball and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, taking care not to let it stick or burn. Lift out the puffball with a large egg or pancake flipper with one hand and with the other drop another 15 ml (1 tbsp) of butter in the pan and let it melt. Flip uncooked side down in the pan and, after 1 or 2 minutes, reduce heat and let cook slowly. The puffball slice will eventually reduce to about half of its original thickness. When it does, it's done. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Grilled Puffball

Drizzle a slice of puffball with olive oil and powdered garlic. Place on the barbecue and cook over medium heat, flipping once after a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan or cheddar.

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Puffball Omelette

4 eggs

30 ml (2 tbsp) milk

5 ml (1 tsp) basil (fresh or dried)

Puffball slice

1 shallot

15 ml (1 tbsp) butter

Salt and pepper, to taste

In a bowl, combine eggs, milk and basil.

Peel and discard skin from a slice of puffball. Dice into 2.5-cm (1-inch) cubes. Saute with shallot in butter.

Beat egg mixture well and add sauteed puffball. Pour into a pan and cook, covered, until eggs are done the way you like them. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Jonathan Forbes, Forbes Wild Foods.

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Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke) Frites

Jerusalem artichoke is actually the tuber of a species of sunflower. Although best after the first hard frost, they will soon be appearing in the markets. Select ones that have the least bumps

Wash and peel roots. Cut into thin fries (julienne), dry with a paper towel, brush with olive oil and bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper or whatever herbs you have on hand.

Source: Jonathan Forbes, Forbes Wild Foods.

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Elderberry Pie

Dark blue/purple elderberries are ready in many areas now and available in some farmers markets. The red elderberry is not edible except by crows and robins. Wear an apron and expect to dye your hands blue. Elderberries are very low in sugar and not great to eat on their own. They're also full of seeds that do not soften when cooked, giving your pie a crunchy texture.

750 ml (3 cups) washed elderberries.

150 ml (2/3 cup) sugar

10 ml (2 tsp) lemon juice

10 ml (2 tsp) flour

1 pie shell (purchased or homemade)

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

In a bowl, combine ingredients. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for 35 minutes. Serve hot or cold with fresh cream or ice cream.

Source: Jonathan Forbes, Forbes Wild Foods.

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Whitefish With Lobster Mushroom Sauce

Lobster mushrooms are not actually mushrooms themselves but a mould that grows over other types of mushrooms. They are often an irregular shape and the colour of a cooked lobster shell.

250 ml (1 cup) basic white sauce

1 chopped shallot

250 ml (1 cup) fresh lobster mushrooms chopped in 2.5-cm (1-inch) pieces OR reconstitute 125 ml (1/2 cup) dried lobster mushrooms in lukewarm water or white wine

Butter, softened

Whitefish fillets (enough for 2 people)

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

To white sauce, add shallot and lobster mushroom pieces. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Rub a shallow casserole dish with butter and lay in whitefish fillets. Cover with heated lobster mushroom sauce and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with wild rice.

Makes 2 servings.

Source: Jonathan Forbes of Forbes Wild Foods.

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St. Lawrence Salad

This versatile salad can take many forms depending on the ingredients you choose. Use enough of the basic ingredients to make about four servings.

Lettuce — baby, micro, seedling and sprout; bitter, sweet and spicy mustard greens

Fresh roots — carrots, parsnips, Jerusalem artichoke, parsley, beets, celeriac

Nuts — toasted and salted walnuts or beech nuts

Tree fruit — pears, apples, plums, cherries or peaches

Dressing

175 ml (3/4 cup) first-cold-pressed extra-virgin oil (olive oil usually, but there are others)

50 ml (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar

5 ml (1 heaping tsp) Dijon-style or favourite mustard

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced through a rasp into the oil

1 or 2 shallots, diced very fine

Honey, to taste

Salt, to taste

Wash greens and combine (tasting for balance between the sweet ones and the heftier flavours of mustards).

Peel roots and shave into long, extremely thin strips; submerge in a bowl of ice water to encourage them to curl and crisp.

In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients with a fork.

Wedge or thinly slice fruit and immediately toss with a tiny bit of the dressing to prevent discolouring.

Mix all ingredients together and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Brad Long, owner/chef of Café Belong, Toronto (www.cafebelong.ca)

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Summer Relish

This relish is excellent as an accompaniment to any grilled or seared fish and is particularly good with yellow perch, but try it on anything. "The hard part is finding the best ingredients and the easiest part is to do as little as possible to them," says chef Brad Long.

125 g (1/4 lb) butter

7 ml (1/2 tbsp) red onion diced into 5-mm (1/4-inch) pieces

15 ml (1 tbsp) pickled milkweed pods or capers

12 cloves roasted or braised garlic

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) pureed fresh hot pepper (jalapeno, serrano or, if brave, scotch bonnet), optional

Juice of 1 lemon

60 ml (4 tbsp) diced multicoloured tomatoes diced into 5-mm (1/4-inch) pieces (with skin on but seeds removed)

24 whole leaves of Italian parsley

24 small basil leaves or torn large leaves

Salt, to taste

Boil butter until bubbling has subsided and the solids begin to brown but before they burn. Pass through a fine chinois or strainer to stop browning and remove solids.

Assemble remaining ingredients.

In a saucepan, bring brown butter back to a simmer and add onion, milkweed pods, garlic, hot pepper if using, and lemon juice just to warm. Quickly toss, add tomato, parsley and basil leaves at the last second. Season with salt, toss again and remove from heat.

Makes 4 servings as a garnish.

Source: Brad Long, owner/chef of Café Belong, Toronto (www.cafebelong.ca).

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