This is probably not new to any of you but I discovered ‘Foraged Flavor’ by Tama Matsuoka Wong this weekend while rambling through the gift shop at the Natural History Museum in NYC. I had heard a bit of buzz about it last year and sort of ignored it – having grown up with a summer home in the Catskills and having a Mother who was raised on a farm in the depression – I already knew a fair amount of what was edible in the field and on the forest floor (I’ve created a few salads over the past that only my more adventurous friends at the table would eat). What’s so great about this book and what was so unexpected is that it’s a cookbook, and a cookbook with recipes from Eddy Leroux of Daniel. How awesome! It’s really been a fun read and I’d love to find a field class that Tama is teaching since she lives in my area. I think it’s such a great idea to get out and explore the food that’s right outside your door.
One of the recipes that I’m looking forward to trying is Sheep Sorrel Risotto. You can find this stuff everywhere and it’s always been a personal favorite. It has a light, lemony flavor that is terrific used raw in a salad, but risotto had never occurred to me. Her recipe calls for mascarpone or cream and she uses chicken stock or broth – I’m not a fan of adding dairy to risotto (other than parmesan) and I usually use homemade veggie stock for my base – oh, and always white wine though some people do vermouth, so I’ll use my standard risotto recipe and tweak it to my own tastes.
My basic Risotto: Sauté onions or shallots in an olive oil butter combo until soft. Add the rice (and you need to base that on how many you’re feeding) and mix it around until everything is coated with the fat. Add a good glug of white wine and let it simmer away until almost gone. Add your stock a ladle at a time until the prior ladle full has been absorbed (make sure your stock is hot and ready to go before you do this). Keep adding stock until the rice is done (20/25 minutes – keep testing) and keep stirring – preferably with a glass of wine at your side. Dump a ton of Parmesan cheese into it and voila! Time to eat… If adding sorrel, wait until the rice is done and before you add the parm. Residual heat will cook the greens (hopefully). With mushrooms I sauté them before adding the rice. Peas or asparagus about a 1/4 or 1/2 way through cooking. Risotto is very accepting of other flavors – experiment.
Younger leaves are always better.
If they’re blossoming, which is the redish brown mass in the foreground, they’re really past their prime. Pretty though.
Foraged flavors is currently available on Amazon for $16.92 hardcover (I don’t Kindle) – hope you enjoy!