A Spring Dinner Party
The season is upon us now and we are getting so excited for the grand re-opening of the Wild Café! Hosting Wild Feast Nights on balmy evenings, surrounded by the cooing of pigeons in a candlelit glen, is the absolute highlight of our year.
We would love it if you could all come and experience the Wild Cornwall magic, but places are limited, and for those up-country folk who cant quite face the drive down, we’ve shared some of our favourite spring dinner party recipes, for hosting the best outdoor banquets at home!
The first of the wild foods to emerge on the forager’s calendar is wild garlic, long awaited, much anticipated and spanning a painfully short season. We have a thousand and one recipes for wild garlic, and a few tricks up our sleeves for preserving the verdant leaves for staggered use throughout the year. Many of our best loved products have feature wild garlic on the ingredients list, such as the Hunter’s BBQ Sauce and Hedgerow Burger Relish, but to truly celebrate this plant in all its garlicy glory you need to enjoy it unadulterated, and fresh as nature intended.
Wild garlic pesto is an absolute staple for any spring dinner party, it is famously difficult to make shelf stable so whip up huge batches now, freeze what you can but most importantly feast upon it whilst it is still here!
Spring Wild Garlic Pesto (Serves 8)
- 200g wild garlic
- 100g basil leaves (you can leave these out but it will be PUNCHY)
- 100g Parmesan
- 100g pine nuts or linseeds or hazelnuts if you prefer
- 250ml Wild Cornwall Lemon Verbena Sunflower Oil
- Wash and blitz the wild garlic leaves in the food processor
- Toast the pine nuts or whatever nut/seed combo you are using. This is especially important for linseeds as they will make a slimy egg if you don’t thoroughly toast. (I’ve been there and it was a mistake I wont make again!)
- Toss the basil, seeds/nuts and parmesan into the mixer and pulse until desired consistency.
- Salt to taste
This pesto can be used on bruschetta and topped with silky strong cheeses, marbled through pastry and bread dough and baked or stirred through simple, fresh pasta dishes. Our favourite way is tossed through orecchiette with sun blush tomatoes and creamy avocado.
Heavy food is best avoided for an elegant dinner party; instead serve multiple smaller dishes and allow people to graze at leisure. This style of dining is a great excuse to ask your guests to bring a side, and the overall look is always fantastic with a variety of colourful fresh delicacies to choose from.
We would never lay on a spread without a brimming bowl of roasted new potatoes, scattered thickly with fragrant Countryside Herb Mix and seasoned with one of our herbaceous sea salts. Spring greens such as dandelion leaves, lambs lettuce, hawthorn shoots and cow parsley make for wonderful seasonal salads but to truly make them pop you need a glorious dressing that was designed to shine.
We recommend pairing delicate herbs and leaves with a simple dressing made from our sweet and floral Elderflower Apple Cider Vinegar, and making a bolder, richer dressing from our Basil or Rosemary Sunflower Oils for stronger flavoured salads featuring cheese. Our all time favourite Rose and Strawberry Red Wine Vinegar is an absolute winner on every salad we have tried it on, but is arguably best used as a marinade for finely sliced red onions and then tossed through some simple strong leaves like wild rocket and a little shaved parmesan.
The end of covid restrictions means a return to the style of lazy grazing we so love at Wild Cornwall, breaking bread the real way with luxurious sharing platters designed to be enjoyed slowly (and with wine!) We recommend laying on a generous cheeseboard, with wild nuts, berries, Pickled CornishOnes and foraged biscuits such as these delightful, protein filled, nettle seed crackers!
Nettle Seed Biscuits for Cheese (serves 8)
- 50g sesame seeds
- 50g ground linseeds
- 50g sunflower seeds
- 50g pumpkin seeds
- 20g chia seeds
- 50g buckwheat/chestnut/rye flour
- 3 tbsp dried nettle seeds
- Pinch of xantham gum
- 40ml Wild Cornwall Rosemary Sunflower Oil
- 100ml boiling water
- 1 tsp. granulated garlic powder
- 1 tsp Wild Cornwall Flaky Sea Salt
- Preheat oven to 150C and line two large baking sheets with greaseproof
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well
- Split the mixture in half and place one half on each lined baking sheet. Place another piece of greaseproof on top (sandwiching the mixture between) and roll out the mix evenly
- Remove the top layer of parchment, repeat with the second batch of mixture and bake for around 1 hour until they are completely cooked and dried.
- Leave to cool before breaking into bite sized brittle
There is no more spectacular finale to a meal than an impressive seasonal pavlova, you can serve these individually or opt for a towering, magnificent centrepiece. I love this dish so much because of how easily it is tailored to the seasons.
In summer I flavour my cream with vanilla-y meadowsweet blossom and stuff the meringues with rich dark cherries. Autumn pavlovas feature intense sea buckthorn caramel lashed over baked spiced apples and pecan brittle; and in winter mulled pears and blackberries nestle amid the soft cream and are drizzled with a bay scented molasses made from our Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar. All these seasonal dinner party showstoppers make the turning of the year a joy, but no season is ever as eagerly anticipated as the Spring, and this is my favourite masterpiece of all.
Show Stopping Springtime Pavlova (serves 8)
- 4 egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
- 100g powdered sugar (grind your own from caster sugar, it tastes much better)
- 1 tablespoon Wild Cornwall Elderflower Apple Cider Vinegar
- 400ml double cream, whipped
- 1kg of strawberries, red currents and wild spring fruits
- Wild Cornwall Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar.
- Elderflowers, violets, primroses, mint sprigs to decorate
- Heat the oven to 80 degrees Celsius, and line a large baking tray with greaseproof
- Beat your egg whites and the Elderflower Apple Cider vinegar (to stabilise the foam) in a scrupulously clean bowl until they form stiff, fragrant peaks.
- Add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time, beating between each addition, until glossy.
- Gently fold in the icing sugar until you have large gentle pillows
- Flop the elderflower-y whites onto your baking tray and arrange into a large nest, then bake for 3 hours or until it sounds hollow when tapped.
- Whilst baking, marinade the strawberries in Wild Cornwall Blackberry Balsamic Vinegar.
- Once the meringue has cooled remove from the baking parchment and fill with the softly whipped cream, berries and a drizzle of the fruity marinade.
- Decorate lavishly with elderflowers, violets, primroses and sprigs of mint.