Recipe Revamps

Recipe Revamps, Soups

Wild Japanese Knotweed and Berry Soup: A Colorful Bowl of Flavor

Japanese Knotweed (fallopia japonica) is an invasive plant that looks like asparagus, tastes like rhubarb, and will march across your property like an army. The most effective way to keep this plant from taking over is to eat it as fast as it grows.

When the tiny spears emerge in late March, the stalks are tender and delicious for about three weeks. After that they are woody and unpalatable. Like rhubarb, uncooked knotweed freezes beautifully, so harvest in abundance while you can and enjoy it all year round.

Recipes involving Japanese knotweed and rhubarb often call for sugar. Not this recipe. In fact, sugar would ruin it. The berries give this soup a beautiful color.

Serves 10-12 people

Foraged Ingredient:
4 cups Japanse knotweed, peeled  
1 cups apples, peeled and cored
1 cup pears, peeled and cored
4 cups berries, mixed or choose one kind of berry
1.5 cups raisins

1-2 Days Before:
Harvest flexible stalks that are about the size of asparagus                                                      
Peel the thin outer skin from each stalk and discard
Chop the stalks into half inch pieces, refrigerate until ready to use                                                             
1-2 Hours Before:
Peel and core apples and pears, cut into quarters
Put apples and pears into large soup pot                 
Add berries and knotweed pieces to soup pot
Cover ingredients with water                                                                                        
Bring water to a boil 
Reduce heat and simmer 
Serve hot immediately or chill and serve cold    

Shopping List:
*Note: it's fun to forage for wild fruit, but the soup is just as tasty when prepared with items sold in the market
Foraged Items:
Japanese knotweed
*Wild berries, like blueberries, mulberries, if you find them
*Wild apples/pears if you find them
Market Items:                                                                                                                                
Berries of your choice, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
Raisins – golden or dark
Knife for peeling and cutting knotweed and fruit
Soup pot                                                                                                                                  

Beverages, Recipe Revamps

Pine Needle Tea: A Fragrant Winter Warm Up

Pine trees are truly magical. You find them growing in urban, suburban and rural environments, yet their familiar presence is quite often overlooked.

                                           Pine Needle Tea is the perfect winter treat

                                           Pine Needle Tea is the perfect winter treat

I grew up playing outdoors in all seasons. Building snow shelters, finding foraged foods, following animal tracks, and sledding all kept me busy and engaged.

Winters with light fluffy snow are magical. Winters with wet dense snow or sleet that encases every surface in ice are the ones where I really feel the cold. As I got older and more focused on honing my skills, I began to appreciate just how many foraged foods are there to take the chill out of winter.

The mature leaves of the pine tree are called needles. They are easy to harvest. You only need a few. Pluck a handful of pine needles nearest the trunk, where they are highest in Vitamin C. You'll need about 10 pine needles per cup.

Once you get home and you drop the fragrant needles in water that has come to a boil, it's a full sensory experience. The warmth and the aroma feel like a hug. The light, sweet flavor feels comforting on the tongue and all the way to the tummy.

1-2 Hours Before
Gather 10 pine needles per cup of tea, put in a container to carry home
10 Minutes Before
Bring a pot or kettle of water to a boil.
5 Minutes Before
Chop pine needles.
Use a strainer and large pot or tea ball/tea bags for individual cups
Put pine needles in the large pot or tea balls, tea bags, cheesecloth
When water is boiling, turn off heat and remove from stove top.
Pour the water over the pine needles.
2 Minutes Before
Taste the mixture. Let it steep longer for a stronger taste.
Strain or remove the pine needles from the water.
Drink as is or add sweetener of your choice.

Shopping List
Foraged Items:
Pine needles growing nearest the trunk

Tea bags, tea balls, cheesecloth, gauze
Tea kettle or large saucepan
Tea pot, mugs or cups
Honey, sugar or any sweetener

Entrees, Recipe Revamps

Baked Pasta with Morels: A Great Variation On Mac + Cheese

                                                 Morels and angel hair pasta make a great variation on the mac and cheese theme

                                                 Morels and angel hair pasta make a great variation on the mac and cheese theme

Winter 2011 was the  last time winter had such a fierce grip. That following spring I found more wild morel mushrooms than I ever have before or since. I never understood why people get so passionate about morels. When harvested and eaten fresh, morels are pleasant enough. But morels that have been dehydrated and then rehydrated have a rich, intense flavor that awakens every sensory experience. Now I understand why some mushroom lovers find eating morels more satisfying than sex.

Dried  morels can be stored for years in air tight containers out of direct light.

Dried  morels can be stored for years in air tight containers out of direct light.

Dried morels can be stored for years if you keep them in an air tight container and  in a dark place, like the back of your pantry shelf.

This recipe has few ingredients because I like to let the morel be the star of the dish. You can certainly add any vegetables, spices or other ingredients that you want.    

1 cup dehydrated morel mushrooms
liquid to cover morels, cream, broth, or water
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped garlic
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup hard cheese, like cheddar, shredded
8 oz angel hair pasta
Cooking oil, butter, or a combination 
2 Hours Before:
Soak morels in the liquid of your choice
30 Minutes Before:
Chop onions and garlic
Shred cheese 
20 Minutes Before
Sauté onions, then sauté garlic
Remove morels from liquid, drain, but save liquid 
Put pasta water on to boil
10 Minutes Before
Chop morels
Beat eggs with saved liquid 
Add morels, eggs and liquid to onions and garlic, stir thoroughly over low heat
5 Minutes Before
Drain pasta and add to the other ingredients, stir thoroughly over low heat
Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, cover, turn off heat, let cheese melt

Shopping List
Dried morels if you do not have them
Angel hair pasta 
Hard cheese, like cheddar 
Cream or broth  

Cooling oil and/or butter 
Skillet, preferably cast iron 
Large pot for boiling pasta 
Cheese grater