Sunday, 27 May 2012

Summer Outdoor Barbeque Flavours

The Kentish summer appears to have commenced at last, so what better time to keep an eye out for some wild summer bbq flavours, at these three Kentish summer outdoor BBQ spots.

Pegwell Bay
Pegwell Bay (park and relax on the open green park by the Viking ship), it's shoreline, and the old hovercraft port are full of Alexanders and wild fennel.

Use the fern fronds to stuff fish with before bbq'ing

cut the thicker fennel stems (they aren't as thick and 'bulb like' as their cultivated cousins) at the base, oil them, and grill them on the barbie, crisp but aromatic.

Joss Bay
Joss Bay (surf beach) - who needs to drive to Cornwall for surfing, beaches, and BBQ's.

The path down to the beach has banks full of "really wild" wild rocket - the smell is unmistakable when rubbed - for a free summer salad leaf to go with your beach side barbeque

Teston open park and car-park area along the Medway between Teston and Wateringbury - they have now gravel pathed the Medway all the way from Maidstone to Wateringbury, so enjoy an evening stroll - keep an eye out for the kingfishers.

By the old stone Teston bridge, lookout for patches of wild water mint - perfect for shredding into iced Mojitos, or yoghurty dips


Sunday, 20 May 2012

Wild Oysters & Marsh Samphire

So, if you consider the "R in the month" proverb about foraging for shell fish, then the end of April (...and first couple of weeks of May if it's been cold...well....rules are there to be broken) is the only time of the year where you can still eat the foraged oysters before the water gets too warm and they begin breeding, and when the samphire is fresh and succulent.

Down here in Kent, both are enjoy this bounty that would cost you a packet at Noma.

 Tip 1:-  make sure you follow the tide out, and know when low Tide is.  the biggest Oysters are where they are always in the water - i.e. at or towards the low tide mark.

Tip 2: take a screwdriver or crow bar, as they attach themselves to the rocks with a vice like grip

Tip 3:- Marsh Samphire grows in the muddy area of the high tide line, keeping it's feet in the water, and getting a fresh drenching from the high tide twice daily.

take your wellies, and a pair of scissors - make sure you snip off the tender stems, but don't uproot the little stems, their roots are short and easily disturbed.

And here's the results.

 Tip 4:-  When shucking oysters, make sure your holding hand is in a thick towel, or paid of oven gloves.  using a shucking knife or screw-driver, carefully insert into the apex hinge of the shell to break the hinge, don't try and prize it open from the mouth won't work, the shell will crack, and you'll probably stab yourself!

Wrap the oysters in little strips of parma ham, sautee them in garlic butter, then grill briefly to crispen the ham

simmer the samphire in rolling boiling salted water for 2 minutes, then dress with pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice

serve with fresh crusty bread and the pan juices from the oysters....and nice glass of cider or white wine.  Tj@TheNook

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Wild herbs on the Pilgrim's Way...

All along the north downs way's sunny south facing route, keep your eye out for patches of wild herbs.

between the A229 and Boxley, where the north downs and the "pilgrims way" intermingle, you'll find patches of wild Marjoram - the wild cousin of cultivated Oregano - the smell when rubbed is unmistakeable as the warm heady smell of herby pizza sauce

perfect to go with the wild garlic also still in season for making homemade pizza and pasta sauces.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The first Kentish Samphire of summer

An inch or two high, but already bursting with juicy savoury flavours of the sea.
All along the Kent coast wherever the chalk cliffs give way to gentle marshy river mouths you'll find 'Glasswort' stood defiant as Canute along the high tide line.

Having just enjoyed (at a price) a crab and samphire salad in a london restaurant this weekend, this is one wild vegetable where the cost of buying vs the reward for wet feet and a muddy boots is significantly in favour of the forager.

probably leave it another week until it's 4-6 inches high, so can carefully snip off useful lengths without uprooting it, as it's shallow rooted in the mud, and all too easily comes away if you try and pull at it.

Looking forward to seafood salad, and also including them in little tarts/quiches to add colour and seasoning.