Mint Lassi Master Recipe

Mint Lassi Master Recipe

Makes 16 oz

Enjoy a traditional East Indian drink that is refreshing, cooling, tart, and slightly salty. It’s also full of hydrating electrolytes. On hot summer days when I work in the gardens and sweat profusely, nothing feels more replenishing.

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Callaloo = Amaranth = ΒΛΗΤΑ

Callaloo = Amaranth: Just passed a store in Astoria Queens, NY where callaloo was for sale among other fresh produce. Love seeing wild greens as part of the food offerings in urban settings.

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Mayonnaise Master Recipe & All Its Herbal Variations

I find it extremely satisfying to blend up my own mayonnaise and I especially love to include the seasonal flavors of the field. Today's version is made with 3 tablespoons of wild bergamot leaves and 3 field garlic bulbets that have just emerged, making it even more delicious! I use whole eggs in this batch resulting in a lighter, thinner mayo. I am excited to share my master recipe here with you and hope that it will unleash your mayo-making talent. Please let me know how your mayonnaise turns out in the comments. 

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Wild Grape Leaves: Harvesting & Stuffing

There's an exciting bounty to be had in turning wild grape leaves into delicious, nutritious food. Typically used for wrapping around savory rice fillings, with or without ground meat, grape leaves can also be wrapped around other foods such as fish, meatloaf, and more. In our area we are lucky to have an abundance of wild grape vines that appreciate pruning, and in return they reward us with a substantial supply of leaves. Cultivated grapes grown without chemicals provide another great source for leaves; perhaps a grape grower in your area will kindly share some leaves from mid spring through early summer pruning (usually they throw these away). Cook them up fresh and preserve some by marinating, dry canning, freezing, or lacto-fermenting so you can enjoy them throughout the year. You'll find detailed instructions below.

Grape leaves fall into the category of “wrap cookery,” along with cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and other wild leaves. Essentially any leaf that is tasty and tender yet strong enough to wrap around food falls into this category.

Harvesting Tips for Grape Leaves

  • The best time to harvest grape leaves is from mid spring through early summer, when leaves are not too tough and leathery but large enough to effectively wrap around food.
  • Look for newer leaves that are lighter green and tender, found towards the tip of the vine.
  • The best size leaf to harvest is about the size of an average lady’s open hand, roughly measuring 5–6 inches wide; any smaller and they are too difficult to stuff; any larger and they tend to be too tough for eating. Also, choose intact leaves, minimizing ones with bug damage.
  • Remove the leaf stem completely or it can puncture the leaf when rolling or while in storage.
  • Store fresh grapes leaves as you would other leafy greens, such as kale or lettuce, by putting them into a plastic bag placed in the refrigerator, where they will keep for at least two weeks.
  • 1 lb of fresh grape leaves, appropriate for stuffing, equals approximately 200–225 leaves.]
 Wild Grape Leaf page from our book   Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook   by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender

Wild Grape Leaf page from our book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender

How to Stuff Grape Leaves

1. Spread grape leaf flat on a plate, unfolding any wrinkles. Face shiny side (the upper side of the leaf) down, with the stem remnant (leaf base) closest to you, and leaf tip pointing away from you. When using frozen or dry canned leaves, sprinkle them with a little water if they seem dry and brittle.

2. Place stuffing onto the lower center of the leaf, about an inch away from the leaf base.

·       If using a raw grain stuffing, use a heaping teaspoon per leaf.

·       If using a raw grain and meat stuffing, use a heaping teaspoon per leaf.

·       If using a raw meat stuffing, use a heaping tablespoon per leaf.

·       If using a cooked stuffing, use a heaping tablespoon per leaf.

3. Fold the leaf base (the edge closest to you) up over the stuffing and then fold the leaf sides toward the center, encasing the stuffing. Continue to roll toward the leaf tip, tucking the leaf sides into the center as you turn, rolling until the leaf tip is incorporated into the final cylindrical shape.

4. Stuffed grape leaves made with marinated leaves and a precooked filling may be eaten right away; ones made with raw filling and leaves need to be cooked and should be placed seam-side down in the cooking vessel to prevent them from unraveling. 

Spread out on the plate is a marinated leaf I picked and preserved in spring. It awaits a precooked filling. Below is the jar the leaf was pulled out of. I placed a 100 or so grape leaves in this wide-mouth pint mason jar and covered them with a marinade made of olive oil, vinegar, and sea salt. FYI, leaves were first blanched before marinating. The jar, tightly covered, was kept in my refrigerator. I can't say for how long since I forgot to label the jar. Was it last spring or two springs ago? Note to self: label all concoctions. In any case the leaves are still in excellent condition and ready to be filled.

To stuff marinated grape leaves, choose a precooked stuffing such as the Grain Salads (p. 136), Grain Pilaf Variations (p.  138), or Bean Salads (p. 139). Naturally, part of the fun is to experiment and invent fillings to suit your fancy. Fill each grape leaf with a heaping tablespoon of stuffing and, if needed, refer to How to Stuff Grape Leaves above. Note: 3 cups of cooked stuffing fills about 32 grape leaves. The stuffing I made yesterday (pictured in the photo below) is a winter variation made with brown rice (soaked and cooked), parsley, almonds (soaked, dried, and lightly roasted), raisins, scallions, dried peppermint, olive oil, vinegar, sea salt and pepper.

Grape leaf with a heaping tablespoon of filling placed onto the lower center of the leaf, about an inch away from the leaf base, ready to be rolled. 

IMG_1274.JPG

All rolled up!

A plate full of stuffed grape leaves ready for the Valentine's day party. More will be served today at the neighborhood seed-sharing gathering. 

Fruit Mousse Pie

Fruit Mousse Pies are wonderful to serve during the holiday season. Very refreshing and perky, they balance the richness of a typical Thanksgiving meal. The recipe I share with you below comes from my book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook.

 Berry picking in late July — blackberries and red & purple raspberries. Most of these berries were made into a Fruit Coulis and then frozen. From the Fruit Coulis I then make Fruit Mousse Pie, among other tasty things. The pie you see below was made this past Friday from red raspberries I picked in July. 

Berry picking in late July — blackberries and red & purple raspberries. Most of these berries were made into a Fruit Coulis and then frozen. From the Fruit Coulis I then make Fruit Mousse Pie, among other tasty things. The pie you see below was made this past Friday from red raspberries I picked in July. 

Can you tell the difference between a blackberry and a black raspberry (see our images below)? Both are tasty and edible, so no toxic worries, yet it is still fun to know which plant you are harvesting/eating. 

 From the book   Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook   by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook    by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

Here I am holding the Raspberry Mousse Pie after it has set in the refrigerator for a few hours. Now it's ready for slicing. This version has elderberries which I froze in September and sprinkled on top. The crust is a raw pressed crust made from hazelnuts and dried apricots. 

 Raspberry Mousse Pie with Elderberries sprinkled on top — recipe from the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender

Raspberry Mousse Pie with Elderberries sprinkled on top — recipe from the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender

Sweet offerings: Raspberry Mousse Pie sprinkled with elderberries, homemade maple-sweetened whipped cream (from organically fed, grazed cows), house-made bittersweet organic chocolate covered black sour Morello cherries (whiskey infused), and American persimmons just picked from our tree = the dessert menu from this past Friday's dinner.

dessertEvan's2.jpeg
  From the book     Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook     by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender  .

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

Wildness Captured & Preserved in Sea Salt: Old School Bouillon

Wondering what to do with all those aromatic culinary herbs — wild or cultivated? Here's an ancient salting technique — a simple way to capture and preserve wild plants as they pass through the landscape. By mixing strongly flavored plants with each other, and also with milder ones, we can create intriguing taste combinations. Add a tablespoon or two of this savory condiment — think of it as a bouillon substitute — to flavor sauces, stews, soups, beans, and more. This recipe is an excerpt from the Relishes, Spreads, and Condiments chapter from my book Foraging & Feasting.

 From the book Foraging & Feasting by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

From the book Foraging & Feasting by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender.

Fruit Coulis

Fruit coulis pack serious flavor and nutrients. This is my favorite way to process berries and small fruits as they whirl through the landscape. The Fruit Coulis Master Recipe below is from my book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender. May it bring tasty nourishment into your life. 

Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies flavored w/ aniseed: flour-less; dairy free option

The making of a seriously decadent and tasty treat, featuring hazelnuts, or other wild nut of choice, and organic chocolate. Aniseeds lend a delicate flavor to the deep rich, fudge-like cookie — wild fennel seeds or green sweet cicely seeds can be used instead. This flour-less recipe can be made with delicious, luscious coconut oil rather than butter, if desired. 

Thank you to The Village Tea Room for the recipe inspiration.

 The cookie ingredients.

The cookie ingredients.

 Gently melting the butter and chocolate in a hot water bath — home-rigged double boiler (aka baine marie). Gentle means the heat of the water isn't touching the vessel that the butter and chocolate are in. Also keep water out of the vessel or textural issues ensue.

Gently melting the butter and chocolate in a hot water bath — home-rigged double boiler (aka baine marie). Gentle means the heat of the water isn't touching the vessel that the butter and chocolate are in. Also keep water out of the vessel or textural issues ensue.

 The cookie dough, well mixed and ready for scooping onto the baking sheet.

The cookie dough, well mixed and ready for scooping onto the baking sheet.

 Cookie dough scooped from a tablespoon onto the cookie sheet.

Cookie dough scooped from a tablespoon onto the cookie sheet.

 After baking, cookies are removed from the baking sheet with a spatula and left to cool on racks.

After baking, cookies are removed from the baking sheet with a spatula and left to cool on racks.

  The result: a pile of cookies that will disappear faster than lightening!

The result: a pile of cookies that will disappear faster than lightening!

Recipe:

  • 2 oz (4 tablespoons) grass-fed butter or virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat or granular maple sugar
  • 2 free range fertile eggs
  • 1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract
  • 8 oz bittersweet organic chocolate* chunks, dollops, or chips (to be melted)
  • 2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, finely ground
  • 7 oz bittersweet organic chocolate* chunks, dollops, or chips, chopped (not melted)
  • 2 cups chopped* hazelnut (preferably soaked and dried) or other nut of choice — I have used coconut, walnuts, cashew, green pumpkin seeds, almonds, singly or combined. FYI, coconut is does not need soaking and drying. 
  • 2 tablespoons aniseed (or sweet cicely seed), freshly ground

*Chocolate note: I suggest using 65-70% chocolate so it's more chocolate and less sweet. On a more extreme taste note, for those of us, like myself, who are eating very low sweet / starch, I have been known to use an organic 100% chocolate chip that produces a more intense, somewhat bitter cookie (this extreme not recommended for the average palate).

*The nuts need to be chopped / crushed into moderate size particles, so not finely ground, but not too coarsely chopped either. If making with coconut, use the shredded unsweetened dried version, not the larger flakes. If still not clear, let me know.

 

  1. Gently melt the 8 oz bittersweet chocolate chunks and butter in a hot water bath. Stir well and cool the mixture to room temperature. 
  2. Meanwhile beat eggs, Sucanat and vanilla in large bowl with a mixer until well incorporated and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chocolate-butter mixture to egg mixture and beat until well combined.
  4. In medium sized-bowl, mix the remaining dry ingredients: cocoa powder, sea salt, 7 oz chopped chocolate chunks, chopped nuts, and aniseed. Add to the egg/chocolate mixture and mix well.
  5.  Scoop cookie dough with a tablespoon onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 for 9 minutes. 
  7. Remove cookies from baking sheet with a spatula and cool on wire racks.
  8. Once fully cooled, store in tightly lidded containers in a cool place.

Makes 26 cookies

 

Stocks: The Craft of Beautiful Bone Broth & Vegetable Stock (wild or cultivated)

The following six pages devoted to stock-making — including vegetable stock (wild or cultivated) — are excerpts from my book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook. Many folks ask for this information. I want to share it and make it publicly available. Enjoy!

 From the book   Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender   (page 208).

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender (page 208).

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    (page 209).

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender (page 209).

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    (page 210).

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender (page 210).

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    (page 211).

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender (page 211).

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    (page 212).

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender (page 212).

  From the book    Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender    (page 213).

From the book Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi; illustrated by Wendy Hollender (page 213).