With every passing day now, the signs of Spring grow bolder. Around me, the fields and hedgerows are rapidly greening, and the first of the year’s flowers are out.
On my walk this morning, I couldn’t fail to notice the blackthorn blossom finally in full bloom, promising its sour fruits in the months ahead. At the kerbside, wild chervil, nettles, and even some wild garlic are all thriving. Dandelions are in abundance everywhere. And my favourite brambling spots are lush with green-purple leaves. Nature’s larder is coming to life again.
Given my admittedly greedy nature, I can’t help but start to think of foraging some of these goodies and combining them with the seasonal harvests from my own garden. I’m not usually stuck for ideas as to what to cook with them, but I’m always on the lookout for fresh inspiration – and to that end, my cookbook library continues to grow every year.
A short while ago, I was sent Rosehips on a Kitchen Table: Seasonal Recipes for Foragers and Foodies by Carolyn Caldicott. It’s an unassuming book compared to many recipe books out there these days – small format, and only 128 pages, probably half of which are (good) photographs. It’s not ground-breaking in any sense – you’ll find the kind of recipes you’ve no doubt seen elsewhere, such as wild garlic pesto, nettle soup, rosehip syrup, gooseberry and elderflower fool, and so on. Nonetheless, there are some more original ideas, too – chilli and lime ice cream caught my eye, as did broad bean and cumin purée with chicory (a touch of Ottolenghi, perhaps), courgette and banana cake, and parsnip gnocchi. Only one recipe made my toes curl, but I really shouldn’t knock it before I’ve tried it – so if anyone wants to have a go at strawberry, rhubarb, and spinach salad and report back, please let me know.
In short, it’s a solid, homely little book, with lots of tasty-looking, one-page, straightforward recipes. It won’t set the culinary world on fire, but if you’re new to seasonal cooking and foraging, you could do an awful lot worse than to make this your first purchase.
I am grateful to Aurum Publishing for a review copy. Rosehips on a Kitchen Table is published by Frances Lincoln Limited, RRP £9.99.