Summer, so sweet..
Summer abundance across the province.. green everywhere, flowers in bloom, berries asking to be picked, mushrooms popping up, roadside stands spilling over with corn.. The mosquitoes have even calmed down. The country is the place to be, in the kitchen or not..
The Wild Edibles..
I just love the elderberry (not quite ripe yet) but the flower even more with its characteristic aroma; it smells and tastes like candy. It's delicate, with floral, citrusy, fruity and tangy tea notes. I hate not being able to describe it better. It's delicious. I dry it for the tisane, I make syrup, I use it in jellies and sauces both savoury and sweet. Goes great with poutlry, cheese, fruity desserts.
This coveted wild edible puts us in the juice every year, the window for picking being so short, and the prime spots not always easy to get to.. Hours of peeling the little spears follow, which I put up for the year for a fun vegetable side. Then its time to harvest the pollen, which I use in crepes and savoury batters and bread, or as a umami rich seasoning. Cattails make a good vegetarian stock too.
Milkweed from sprout to flower: tasty at every stage.. As a vegetable, it needs to be well washed and cooked through. The perfumey flower makes a great addition to either salads or desserts, exceptional to flavour a granité, syrup or fruit preparation. Next come the fruit which is more of a vegetable (we call the cornichon) or pod, not so unlike okra.
Marine greens - always a high point of summer: Salty, Crisp, crunchy and Green, they are all delicious raw, or even better quickly blanched and dressed or wilted with garlic and olive oil/butter.
The real weeds.. The usual suspects below might not be so welcome in a garden, but in the wild, it's a different story. Readily available, for a longer time frame than most, and we find a use. In salads, in soups, pesto or for a sprightly garnish depending.. I put some pigweed up blanched sous-vide like I do with the sea spinach, but most are just enjoyed as is here and there all summer. Oxalis (surette) tastes lemony - it's great added to a mesclun or compound salad, or to garnish a fish dish. The heart shaped leaves are so pretty too. Orpin aka stonecrop/live-forever is a juicy, crunchy green and not bitter at all when picked in shady, humid conditions. This is a salad green and that's it. I don't need to say anything about mint and chives, which we have growing wild along the river. Daisy is one of my favourite weeds, the sprouts taste sweet and licoricey. The buds are good for capers, but I like to get at the sprouts first.
Such a pretty flower, and not much more than a sweet touch and child hood memories to sprinkle over your plate..
Not so wild, but we like them too...
The nasturtiums and bee balm, our garden herbs, chard and tomatoes, the first corn at the market, the beans and little roots, the favas and squash - as close to my heart as the wild stuff .. Tomato sauce and ratatouille season are around the corner.
Not like I don't have enough mustardy tasting greens in my arsenal with the wild greens, but I do love nasturtium. To make a salad sparkle, to cut the fat or richness of a tartare or tataki, to add clean bite to a salsa verde or aioli, not so unlike sea rocket.
First Quebec mushrooms.. Beautiful wine caps kicked off the season alongside the morels. The chanterelles are starting now, Lobster mushrooms and boletes too, soon a smorgasborg (fingers crossed)..
You should see all the fantastic dishes I'm making with these wild edibles.
If only I could think to take a picture during service!