Thursday, 16 August 2012

Foraged Fruits



It's time to unleash your inner hunter-gatherer- you know it's there!






You may be lucky enough to have a garden where you grow your own fruit and veg, or apple trees. You may have a hedgerow nearby with blackberries growing, or a pick-your-own farm close by where you can forage happily (but alas- not for free!) Or you may just enjoy searching for the best and the freshest in the market. It's all part of the same pleasurable experience- finding fruit or vegetables, taking them and making them into something delicious.




























We are continuing our golden summer in Provence, staying in a gite with an overgrown and somewhat neglected potager where I have been spending many a happy hour foraging for raspberries, blackberries, fig, plums, tomatoes, herbs and even eggs from the bountiful hens who roam around all day. I've been foraging in the markets too of course and discovering new dishes with fennel, courgettes and olives.




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I began quite tentatively- a few raspberries from the overgrown patch, mixed in with watermelon, nectarine and grapes from the market to make a tartare aux fruits rouges- a red fruit salad. You could do the same with any colour of fruit, but I thought red looked pretty.

Then, with the tomatoes and fennel, I made barbecued trout, stuffed with fennel. The caramelized fennel was yum- and the leftovers mixed well with a green salad the next day.

I also found out that fennel, braised  on the hob with orange juice, salt and pepper until all the liquid has been absorbed is a total discovery. Try it! It's aniseed-y and fruity and salty all at once.


Emboldened by the abundance of hedgerow fruit in the lane outside, I collected blackberries to offer to my host for an evening's dinner- and she made a delicious blackberry sorbet with them. My contribution to the meal was a raspberry tart- made from a pastry case (see last blog for method), filled with vanilla custard (made a little thicker with the addition of cream, and some icing sugar to make it into a confectioner's custard) and topped with foraged raspberries. All together with some verrines of chopped grapes, mixed with verveine and fruit juice (or mint if you have no verveine)- this made a lovely platter of little desserts.

With the figs and plums I tried some little nibbles to go with aperitifs- sliced in two with a slice of brie or spread with cream cheese. Also a starter of figs, melon, saucisson and olives - tapas style:







My next plan is to make the figs into a fig tart like this one:


Twice already I have made a summer pudding - with blackberries, apples and raspberries: cook some apples, blackberries and raspberries (or whatever fruit you can find) in 1/2 pint of water and some sugar,  line a pudidng basin with white sandwich bread soaked in the juice of the fruit, fill the centre with the cooked fruit and add a lid of more juice-soaked slices. Cover with a plate and put some weight on top- some tins for example. Leave for 24 hours in the fridge and then turn out and serve with cream or cold custard.


I haven't started yet on the courgettes and melons- shall I save that for next time? I think I will- the hens need putting away for the night. I wonder if there are any eggs?












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