So much foraging happening this time of year, wild food abounds! We have been eating nettles like crazy, also drying a good lot of it, same with the mint, fresh in teas and dishes and drying it on mass to keep us cozy in the winters to come. Also the dandelions have been sunny and singing out to be made into another stellar batch of that dynamite dandelion jelly I made last year! And just today a tiny stash of morel mushrooms from the woods out back started to trickle in to the kitchen!
With such a big crew of folks to both help forage and keep well fed, the wild hunting is such a treat for all of us.
Today I tried my hand at a couple firsts:
1) I made a cheese and nettle souffle, my virgin souffle, and it was lovely, golden and perfectly poof-ed and rich with nettles and a hint of sorrel.
2) I made two pretty darn nice looking loafs of caraway rye spelt bread.
I am the baker that hates making bread! But I am trying (halfheartedly at least) to get over that.. I say halfheartedly because I should-not, can-not eat so much bread… the wheat chews up my belly… yet I love it… I hate having it around because I eat it. So rather than buying bread with guilt, I am not baking bread with guilt! It’s funny my tag line from my old organic gluten free bakery used to be: wheat free, gluten free, guilt free. Now look at me! GUILTY. Oh well the salty caraway bread was perfectly pared with souffle, and along with a glorious green salad, it made for a great foragers feast.
I just got a lovely cook book from the library Mr Wilkinsons Vegatable’s It is stunning cook book porn for the gardener / graphic designer! The nettle chapter had me drooling and his souffle omelet got me geared up to finally bust out a real souffle. The books version is an easy and dreamy take… but I wanted to go all the way and beat the egg whites, scald the milk, make the roux… the whole thing. I leaned on old faithful “the joy of cooking” to guide me through the process. Souffle making is certainly worth the effort, I can’t think of a more glorious way to honor the deep dark iron abundance of the wild stinging nettle!
So, to make the souffle here is my abridged version… you might want to read up on more technical process tips if this reads to intuitively / loosey-goosey for you:
Separate 4 large room temperature farm fresh eggs (which is the only way I keep them fresh from the hen house)
In a pot of salted water boil a huge handful (careful they sting) of freshly picked nettle leaves, for about 4 minutes, strain and squeeze ALL the water out, set aside to drain even more then chop finely.
In a small pot your essentially going to make a roux… melt 3 Tbsp butter, add 3 Tbsp spelt flour and whisk and stir constantly for 2 minutes, add 1 cup of scalded milk or cream. Keep stirring now off of the heat. Season with S+P, a clove minced fresh garlic, a pinch of nutmeg, and a pinch of mustard powder. Add 3/4 cup grated sharp old cheese. Keep mixing.
Meanwhile in a stand mixer whip the 4 egg whites to stiff peaks.
Now in a large mixing bowl, combine the warm cheese roux, with the egg yokes, slowly 1 at a time, mixing well.
Then add the chopped nettles, and a handful of fresh ribbons of sorrel leafs.
Now slowly and mindfully fold in the egg whites until everything is just combined, and fluffy DO NOT OVER MIX!
Pour mixture into a well buttered souffle dish (something heavy and round with straight edges, I used a cast iron enameled pot and it was great)
Place into a 450 oven, then reduce heat to 350 and set timer to 25 minutes. Don’t open the oven, use the light to watch the mass poof and brown.
Once removed from the oven gawk over your masterpiece and then serve it quickly adored with more ribbons of sorrel leaves if you have them.
This was sooo good with a loaf of fresh from the oven caraway rye bread and a big pot of butter!