Well, we finally have cool mornings and darker nights again. But that summer was great! It’s given us an abundance of apples which we are using up in apple pies and crumbles and cakes both brambley and appley 🙂
Underground, overground, brambling free! The brambles of Wimbledon Common are we…
I don’t know if Wimbledon Common is a good source of brambles (blackberries) but many hedgerows are this time of year, and that means: fruity purple cakes. With chocolate chips. Just because.
Bramble Chocolate Chip Cakes
300g Doves Farm Gluten free Self Raising flour
100g caster sugar
a couple of handfuls of freshly picked brambles
about a third of a cup of soya milk
about a third of a cup of sunflower oil
100g of chocolate chips (we used Moo Free)
water to mix to a good thick batter – though you don’t want it too runny
Mix the flour, chocolate chips and sugar together (keep some chips back for sprinkling on top). Blend up the brambles with the soya milk and mix this in along with the oil, adding some water if the batter is too thick. It should be purple!
Divide between 12 cake or muffin cases. Place in a muffin tin if using paper ones; silicone reusable cases are better in many ways, not least of which is that the cakes will not stick to them like glue as gluten-free mixes are prone to do. Top with the remaining chips. Bake at 200C/400F for 15 to 20 minutes until well risen and browning. And slightly purpling!
Fruit crumble is a wonderfully frugal dish. You can use virtually any fruit (perhaps not banana!) and it’s a good way to use up items that might be passing their best. Summer brings luscious pink rhubarb, perfect for crumble. Autumn delivers apples and blackberries/brambles, also delicious. Here is a basic recipe for a combination of rhubarb and apples, adjust as you require:
2 or 3 apples, peeled and chopped (if you use eating apples you could reduce the sugar slightly)
4 or 5 sticks of rhubarb, chopped into chunks
4 tablespoons of sugar
Surprisingly, rose petals combine with rhubarb to give a beautiful flavour.
100g. flour (for a gluten-free version use Doves Farm gluten-free flour)
75g. vegetable margarine
optional additions: grated lemon rind, sunflower seeds, rolled oats.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the fruit in an ovenproof dish and top with the sugar. For the topping: rub the flour into the margarine until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the sugar and any other additions and place evenly over the filling. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about half an hour or until everything is bubbling: crispy on top, soft below. Lovely with custard or ice cream.
If you like this, you may also like our recipe for Apple Pie
Wild garlic grows on the edges of woodlands from March onwards and can be used for wonderful garlic flavour in many dishes. Also see wild garlic pesto
Ingredients to serve four people:
six large carrots, scraped and chopped
four sticks of celery, chopped
a good bunch of wild garlic leaves
a handful or two of cashew nuts depending how creamy you want it
salt to taste
Place carrots and celery in a pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and turn down to simmer for a few minutes. Add the wild garlic and cook for a few minutes more, until everything is tender. Pour into blender jug with nuts and salt. Blend and enjoy.
Tips: If your blender is not very strong, try soaking the cashews in water overnight to soften them. You can use 3 or 4 cloves of normal garlic in place of the wild garlic. Add a bunch of coriander for a popular classic!
Very simple, the main ingredient is free and surprisingly delicious! The flowers have a slightly bitter juiciness to them that is rather pleasant.
Gather as many freshly opened dandelion heads as you want small fritters. Give good shake outside in case of insects and wash and dry under cold water. Mix a pancake batter up: place a cupful or so of self raising flour into a bowl then gradually add soya milk (probably about half a cup) while whisking with a fork until you have a nice thick batter.
Heat a small amount of of veg oil (really just enough to coat the base of the pan) to a medium heat in a frying pan and then fry the fritters. I found it easiest to throw one flower at a time into the mix, coating it well with batter and then taking it out in a spoonful, and popping it all in the pan. They cook quite fast – once small holes begin to appear on the pancakes flip them over with a fork and cook the other side.
variants: this basic pancake mix can be used to house many different things – try chopped onion with other finely chopped vegetables (beetroot makes pink ones!) or make herby fritters.
Wild garlic grows wild in woodland areas – best harvested in April and May before the flowers are fully out, but still good then. Easily identifiable by their strong garlic scent! The leaves are good in soups, stews, sauces, anywhere you want a garlic flavour. The flowers are also good to add to cooking or fry into fritters.
For the pesto: gather a couple of bunches of wild garlic leaves, wash, place in blender with small bag of nuts or seeds such as pinenuts, brazils, cashews, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, gradually adding enough olive oil to blend smoothly as you go. Once blended, mix into pasta. Pictured served with salad and some sesame seeds stirred in.
variants: you can use traditional basil or other herbs instead of or as well as wild garlic adding lemon juice lessens the amount of oil needed other nice inclusions are nettles (yes really) and black pepper pesto is also nice mixed into boiled potatoes, in sandwiches, or diluted with vinegar/lemon juice and made into a salad dressing.
Don’t worry – they don’t sting when cooked! Nettles are very nutrient rich and of course – free! Don’t gather them beside a busy road where they will have been contaminated by traffic fumes. If you keep cutting them from springtime you get a regular supply of fresh leaves, though they can get a bit insect infested during the summer! Below are two recipes for soup:
Version 1 – a “cream of” style soup:
2 tablespoons of vegetable margarine or oil
2 tablespoons of white flour
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Freshly picked and washed young nettles (several good handfuls – picked with gloves and caution!)
2 cups soya milk (tesco value is cheap and organic too)
1 cup water or stock
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil or marg. for a few minutes then stir in the nettles (no need to chop or remove stalks) until they soften. Stir in the flour and gradually add the soya milk and water or stock, stirring all the time. Add seasonings and liquidise. Delicious…
Version 2 – a versatile recipe using potato to thicken, ingredient quantities are totally adjustable:
Do an onion and 5 garlic cloves in some oil, add half head of celery, 2 potatoes, cover with water, bring to boil and simmer til soft then add bowl of gathered nettles, some chives and parsley (optional – feel free to experiment with other herbs), stock cube, salt for a few minutes and blend.