Winter is coming to its end hopefully faster and faster then we realize. Its time to open the windows and let the sunshine in.
We went out for foraging. Love being out in nature – and love the idea of collecting food from outdoors, from woods, from coast… for free. This time i joined my friend Mike (and the Syndicate Kitchen) to grab some great stuff for their pop up event – and also for my dinner table.
It was still January – but we are in Brighton so the weather is quite warm – temperature not going under 0 so already lot of stuff going on outside. We visited the beach around the marina hunting for Alexander and its friends.
Found some great stuff, like sea beet, rock samphire, sea leek, nettle and of course Mr. Alexander. I was planning some great cooking in my head but not for a whole futball team – so keep it in your mind, get just as much u need. No point to fill your bag then let the plants get rotten at the back of your fridge. Plz – get only the amount u need and respect the nature.
I took some fresh sea beet leaves – u can eat them raw like salad or even cook them like you would cook spinach. Blanch them fast or chuck in a stir fry.
I made a fresh green pesto out of it to serve my hungarian gnocchi (dödölle) with. Pine nut for ‘pinesake’ and grated some of that rice&almond fermented vegan block i got from GreenPig. (pretty much one of the best vegan dish i made recently)
The Alexander was the star of the day – anyway. Its crazy that it grows everywhere (kindof) and still so little people know about it – luckily. I love it – since we had a great dish at 64 degrees – i keep dreaming about it. Stunning vegetable. If u ask me to describe the flavour… for me its a mix of fennel and celery. Aniseedy, fresh, earthy, deep.
So i was cooking the Alexander with miso butter emulsion, garnished with dödölle – hungarian style gnocchi as i mentioned before.
Dödölle is an awesome stuff to be fair – cause u use such a little amount of flour (no eggs!) compairing the amount of potatoes (old startchy ones!) and u also cook out the raw flour so it means u dont need to cook it in water but u can pan-fry straight away. To make it golden crispy outside while stays creamy mushy inside. Also better make it a day ahead – makes it much more easier to handle…. Well… it wasnt a day before in my case but i did wake up early morning to prepair the dumplings. U can check it out here in my little footnote clip:
Very delicious stuff. If u make – u make enough and its easy to freeze – no issues. So i ve done the gnocchi in the morning and everything was prepared for dinner to make it fast and easy.
Never forget one thing – i dont always follow this rule but u should – always wash properly everything u foraged. Hopefully not because of chemichals and car gas but most likely cause of dogs. Yeah – dogs love to pee everywhere. So wash. And keep washing.
Every part of the Alexander is edible. The leaves young and fresh – edible raw to spice up your salad. The stem is very aromatic – the most gorgeous part of the plant (and also most unique) needs to be cooked somehow. I guess u can boil it for a couple of minutes – i ve never done that but i prefer cook in a pan with butter. Just like i would do always if i could.
Everything else in the video is pretty straight forward – only one thing i want to mention – is about the ‘potato water’ – Im using in the video to make the miso butter emulsion. So this water is full of flavour, i kept some of it when i was cooking the potato crisp with bay leaves at the beginning to make the dödölle. After u will cook your potatoes innit and u will need to use to make your mash cause of all the starch it has. Obviously if u dont have this – the recipe still works! Just use water or vegetable stock or any other liquid u love (imagine how great would be with vermouth NOMNOM). U just need something to create emulsion – u already got the fatty part (butter) to do so.
footnote: Alexander got a root as well obviously. Looking a bit like black salsify cause its black outside but white inside. I took only one root for curiosity – the only recipe i found with this part was a cream soup while using the same way as it would be a parsnip. Well – i roasted it whole.
And the result was a bit crazy. The flavour was huge. HUGE. Not just strong – but VERY F’CKING STRONG as i got a slice in my mouth. Overall conclusion – a creamy soup could work maybe with some potato innit – but using as a seasoning (like horseradish) can be banging AMAZING.
Also i know its all about the GREAT ALEXANDER – but there are places where u can not find it. The rest of the recipe still working fine, u can use cauliflower, parsnip instead with the miso emulsion.
tipp: my big favourite — just roast some beautiful squash in the oven – pick off the flesh with a fork (so u dont need to bother peeling it at all). The natural sweetness will come out heavenly with the saltiness of the fermented soybean puree. Just simply works.
footnote: dont forget the miso is pretty salty! so u dont really need other seasoning around.