Friday, 9 May 2014

The Pot-belly Cook's Woodland Potato cakes

Although he didn't give me his secret recipe for "Green Smelly Cheese".  The Pot-belly Cook did pass over this little foraging gem, that Maya-Rose and myself made.

   The Pot-belly Cook's Woodland Potato Cakes

(Whilst all of the foraged ingredients in this recipe are relatively common place and easily identified - I can't stress how important it is to do a fair bit of research before you feel you are confident enough to go out and forage for yourself. )  


500g Mashed Potato
1 egg
200g Self Raising Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Foraged Herbs

Armed with my trusty book  The Wildflowers of Britain and Ireland by Charles Coates, I made my way to the foothills of the Peak District and went routing around and came up with these.
  1.   Nettle Heads,
  2.   Ramsons Flowes (white),
  3.   Ramson Leaves,
  4.   Dandelion Heads,
  5.   Cleavers,
  6.   Chervil .

There are a few common sense things to bear in mind though, 
  • Don't pick anything from the side of a road, path or verge that has a high passing traffic of dogs. 
  • If you don't like the look of it or are in anyway unsure - don't pick it - simples.  Take a photo and go away and research it.
  • Only pick the nettle heads (and do be careful because they do sting).  Never pick a head that has started to flower.
Here are a few more pointers to identify the above items.
I am assuming that most of you know how to identify a nettle, but for those who don't its quite easy.  The plant is usually a deep green with razor edged leaves with tiny hairs on them that grow in pairs up the stem. If you are still unsure, touch the topside of a leaf and if it stings you - it's a nettle!!click here to find out more about nettles

Ramsons or Wild Garlic is usually found in dark damp woodland areas and usually share their habitat with bluebells.  They have long fat leaves and carry a really heavy aroma of garlic.  They have white almost spherical flower heads which are also edible.  click here to find out more about Ramsons

Dandelions grow just about everywhere and are one of the most versatile of wild flowers - to the gardener they are a pain, but for the Pot-belly Cook and other adventurous tykes they are a real versatile food source - with all the plant from root to flower being edible. (please note that being edible is not the same as being tasty) click here to find out more about dandelions

Almost every child who has gone on a country walk would have at some point found a Cleaver, those long sprawling plants that just about stick to anything, especially brothers and sisters.  click here to find out more about cleavers.

Now for the foody part.

I gave everything a good rinse when I returned home and left it on the side to drain.  I then separated the dandelion heads and cut the petals just above the green base.  (Take a moment to go thought the petals to remove any green leaves and fine hairs.) 
  Add the rest of the herbs and chop finely.

In a large bowl, mix together the mash potato and 1 beaten egg,
add the chopped herbs and mix again, slowly add the self raising flour and baking powder until all the ingredients are combined well.

 Turn out onto a floured surface and gently need adding extra flour if necessary until it resembles a moist dough.

Place the dough onto a baking tray and gently stretch it out into the corners.  Using your fingertips, press down gently onto the surface to create an impression before drizzling olive oil, salt and pepper all over the surface. Place in a preheated oven at 160o fan and cook for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve - I had baked beans, sausage and egg but anything goes.    Let me know if you try to make it.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

To Belly or not to Belly? That is the question.

Over the weekend my attention has turned to the design of the front page and which fonts to use where.  Apparently using Comic Sans is classed as a huge No No amongst the graphic design "Hoy Polloi" (Ancient Greek for "the many".)   I personally think it worked really well in the HPM and really wanted to use it in the PBC - but then again I never studied at Uni' and am probably missing out on something blatantly obvious. At the moment though - the font I am using for the titles is not as important as the nagging doubt in my mind about the title of the book.  

The Pot-bellied Cook and the Three-legged Dog.  

Technically there is nothing wrong with it as the cook has a Pot-belly and the dog only has the legs.  However I think the use of the words "bellied" and "legged" - (whilst grammatically correct) don't look right on the front cover; or elsewhere in the book for that matter and may appear too daunting to encourage anyone to pick up the book for the first time.

I tossed the phrase back and forth in my mind until a slight fizzle of inspiration led me to change the title to a more childish:

The Pot-belly Cook and the Three-leggy Dog.

This is obviously an incorrect use of the English language but to me it feels  more inviting and memorable for a child due to it's quirkiness.

I would be interested to know what everybody else thinks.