Its nearly Christmas, and we at Wild Cornwall have been busy little elves baking, boiling, wrapping up delicious treats, shipping around the country and squirreling away cold weather harvests. What a time! One thing we wont be doing is worrying about our festive feast, because our foraged make-ahead main events can be prepared weeks in advance.
Wild Mushroom Nut Roast
150 g fresh stinging nettle leaves
250 g wild mushrooms, chicken of the wood, parasols and horse mushrooms are all rife at this time of year (but we wont tell if you buy from a shop, just go local)
150g chestnuts, harvested, boiled, peeled and roasted
150g hazelnuts, gathered, dried, shelled and roasted
2 young Alexanders stalks, peeled if necessary and finely chopped (use 1 celery stick if you cant find any)
100 g Gruyère cheese, finely rated
100g goat or blue cheese depending on how you swing
1 small onion
1 carrot, grated
50 g Wild Cornwall sundried tomatoes, diced
50ml white wine
150ml bouillon or homemade stock
1 free-range egg
1/2 tsp. dried sage
1 1/2 tbsp. freshly chopped curly parsley
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp Wild Cornwall Wild Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Blanch the nettles in a pan of boiling water, then drain well and squeeze out all the water. Chop finely and set aside.
- In your largest pan sauté the alexander stalks, onion and carrot in a knob of butter until just starting to sweat, then add the mushrooms.
- Pulse nuts in a food processor until finely chopped- not powdered.
- Tip the nuts into the pan along with the nettles, sundried tomatoes, egg, cheese, sage, parsley, garlic, wine, stock and seasoning, then mix everything together well.
- Grease a loaf tin with butter and pour in the mixture. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper to fit the loaf tin, grease it and lay it over the top to stop it burning.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour until the nut roast is cooked through. Turn it out onto a plate for slicing, or at this stage cool, wrap in cling film and either refrigerate for a week or freeze for up to three months.
Boozy Wild Christmas Cake with Drunken Sloes
We start preparing for our Christmas cakes at the end of the summer when fat dark sloes begin emerging in the hedgerows. We harvest, ‘blet’ in the freezer to release the natural sugars and then destone with an olive destoner and pop into a big mason jar of booze: gin, vodka and brandy are all fan favourites! Add a couple of big spoonfuls of sugar, shake and then leave to steep in a dark corner for a couple of months until they are nicely sozzled and ready for snacking! If you haven’t been storing boozy berries for months at a time then never fear, defrosted shop bought cherries will sub in. (Maybe just add a bit more booze during feeding!)
1 kg chopped mixed dried fruits, use any mix that inspires you, we preserve cherries and blackberries throughout the year to keep our store cupboards crammed with treats like these for when the time comes!
zest and juice 1 orange
zest and juice 1 lemon
150ml brandy, Sherry, whisky or rum (whatever you like!) plus extra for feeding
250g pack butter, softened
200g light soft brown sugar
175g plain flour
100g ground almonds or hazelnuts if you have any left over from autumn foraging
100g drunken sloes or defrosted black cherries
75g of Wild Cornwall Raw Wildflower Honey
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
100g flaked almonds
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
- In your largest pan, melt the butter with the booze, add the citrus zest and juice and tip in your dried fruits.
- On an exceptionally low heat allow these flavours to mingle and the buttery booze to plump up your dried fruits for 20 minutes or so. At this stage we often leave the mixture, off the heat, for hours at a time to really let it do its thing. The fragrance in your kitchen alone will make this step worthwhile.
- Preheat your oven to 150 degrees and line a 20cm cake tin with parchment.
- When the mixture is cool enough to guarantee you wont scramble your eggs, tip the rest of the ingredients into the pan and mix well. If you have used defrosted black cherries then fold these through after mixing to avoid breaking them up too much.
- Pop into your lined cake tin and wrap the sides in a few layers of newspaper if you have one to hand, this will help facilitate a nice slow cook.
- Bake for 2 hours, or until a skewer comes out clean and then leave to cool.
- Feed the top with a few generous tablespoons of brandy or rum before wrapping in cling film and leaving to mellow for up to 3 months with regular weekly feedings.