Time to make Whoopie!
Sorry about the title. I couldn’t resist! I’m talking about baked goods…honest! To be exact, I’m talking about the baked goods pictured below. Dense, squidgey, soft chocolate sponge cakes sandwiched together with a filling that has been nicknamed Blackberry Crack by my sister. That colour is from super concentrated blackberries and they give the icing a flavour unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. Unless that is, you’ve bought one from me at a farmers’ market or sampled one of them atHouse of Koko in Chapel Allerton (Opposite Lidl). Did I mention that they also happen to be Gluten Free? As do ALL my other baked goods? I challenge you to be able to taste the difference!
A month ago, my life was so so different. I was looking forward to doing my first ever market stall at Oakwood Farmer’s Market, I had been given a regular stall at both Baildon Farmer’s Market and Kirkstall Abbey Deli Market (beginning in August too) and I was looking forward to my first ever accessible wild food walk that would be easier for both wheelchair and pram users.
Little did I know how bonkers a month it would become! 2 wild food walks, 3 farmer’s markets, one fateful meeting with the wonderful Shanshan Zhu of House of Koko and one trip to Scotland later, one stall at the Chapel Allerton Arts Festivalyesterday and I am making masses of whoopie pies and my Msitu products are being stocked in a cafe! I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. So if you’ve been wondering why there hasn’t been a basket case video or blog post in over a month, that would be why!
One of my favourite things about doing the markets so far is the people. I have gotten the chance to meet so many lovely people,including loads who have been on my mailing list for years and followed my journey thus far, but hadn’t as yet made it to one of my events. Thank you all so much for coming by and saying hello!
If you’d like to come and have a little chat, ask me for advice about wild foods or maybe get me to ID something for you (all I ask in exchange is that you buy some cake!) then come find me at one of my market gigs. In September, Peter will be at Baildon Market on the 26th (I will be running a wild food walk on the same day. Mad? Moi? Probably!) and Kirkstall Deli Market on the 27th. In October, we will be back at Oakwood Farmer’s Market on the 17th, Baildon Farmer’s Market on the 24th (Peter will be there while I do a wild food walk) and Kirkstall Deli Market on the 31st of October and 1st November. I will be selling my foraged wild preserves and glutenfree cakes and savouries.
And if you’d like to keep on top of what it is I’m up to, please do check out my Facebook page for Msitu: Wild Food & Natural Skincare. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to view it and it’s constantly being updated with new info, foraging tips and ideas of what you can be doing with your foraging finds.
Going back to foraging…the mushroom season has really kicked off now in Leeds and I’ve been picking oodles of amazing things pretty much every day! From Blackberries to Ceps, Burnet Rose Hips to Saffron Milk Caps. And don’t get me started on all the amazing Fairy Ring Champignons! But the challenge with all this bounty isn’t in the picking, it’s in the preserving.
Mushroom powders are super easy to make and an excellent way to preserve your wild mushroom finds. They taste amazing sprinkled into soups and casseroles, stirred into pasta sauces, kneaded into breads or mixed with cream cheese to make quick mushroom pates. All you need to do to make them is thinly slice your mushrooms, string them up and hang them in your kitchen to dry (provided they’re worm free) or pop into a dehydrator for faster results. Once they’re crispy dry, grind them into a powder in a spice mill or cofffee grinder and store in a glass jar until needed.
Now for a recipe! I thought you might like to try and make some Cheese, Cep (or any other mushroom!) and Chilli Pakoras. I’ve selected really big and mild chillies for this so that the gentle heat is offset by the cooling cheese. If you are more of a spicy lightweight than me, feel free to substitute those sweet red or yellow pointed peppers. They would work really well too. And if you’re bonkers, why not try using hot and spicy chillies? This is one of the most devilishly moreish things I have ever made. Do let me know what you think if you do try them for yourself!
Chilli, Cheese & Wild Mushroom Pakoras
12 large and mild green chillies
1 cup Gram Flour
Oil for deep frying
2 balls of mozarella, smushed
1 block of feta cheese, crumbled
1tsp porcini (or any other wild mushroom) powder
Leaves and flowers from 4 sprigs of dried wild marjoram, crumbled.
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Mix all the ingredients for the filling together and set aside.
Add water to your gram flour, bit by bit, until you have a fairly thick batter. If it goes lumpy, use a stick blender to mix it before adding more water or it might end up too watery. It needs to be thick enough to coat the pakoras or the filling will burst through when it starts to cook.
Cut your chillies in half and remove the seeds and veins.
Put your filling into a piping bag.
Pipe a line of the filling into each chilli half. Press down lightly so it adheres properly.
Heat your oil until a drop of the batter rises rapidly when dropped into the oil. Coat your chillies one at a time in the batter before gently sliding them into your oil.
Fry until golden brown before removing them from the oil and leaving to cool on some kitchen paper.
Serve with a delicious dip! In my case, I used one of my upcoming flavours from the Msitu range which is a cherry plum, lemongrass and ginger dipping sauce.
Enjoy and Happy Foraging!