Tag Archives: wild garlic

Semolina Bun Bread with Wild Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes


23rd April 2013

The Dan Lepard fan club knows that in his repertoire of awesome buns are some absolute treasures to which one returns time and time again. My favourite three are the legendary soft white bap, the top teacake and our eternal favourite, the BBQ semolina bun. Known in this house variously as the duvet bread or the pillow bread because of the scoring to the top, I make this bread over and over again. The recipe for the Semolina BBQ buns is still available on the Guardian website and I don’t change anything at all when I make it.

Today I made a double batch and made a duvet with one portion. With the second batch of dough I thought I would try something a bit different for me. When the dough had finished its first prove, I patted and gently rolled it out into a largish rectangle and spread it lightly with some wild garlic, grated pecorino cheese, ground almonds and olive oil made into a pesto-like sauce and a few sundried tomatoes. I rolled it up gently into a sausage shape and curved it into a ring. I set it on a sheet of baking parchment on a tray and put it inside a clean bin bag to prove. Before baking, I slashed small slashes in the top and brushed it with water and sprinkled fine semolina over it.

I baked it at 240º C (220º C Fan) for 15 minutes and then reduced the temperature to 200º C (180º C Fan) for another 15 minutes and then took it out of the oven and left it to cool and stop sizzling on a rack. The bottom was very crusty. If you don’t like crusty then bake it a bit cooler.

The trick with doing this is not to squash all the air out of the dough when patting it out to the rectangle, use the flat of your fingers to start the process off. When you use the pin, roll as gently as you can from the centre of the dough towards the corners to get a rectangular shape, and take your time. If the dough is pinging back a lot, walk away for five minutes and let it relax before you try again; try not to compress the dough too much, you are sort of stretching and fluffing it, rather than rolling and squashing. I am thinking about the way I pat out pizza dough rather than use a pin, though that is of course a different dough and more delicate than this.


My dearest old neighbour from where I used to live came round for lunch and we ate in the garden, yes really it was warm enough to eat outside!! We were accompanied by the sound of building work from two doors down, visits from some very large bumble bees, and the grumbles of small poodles, but you know what, it was glorious!


Brian had bought an entire box of aubergines for the sum of £2.75 at the weekend and even though he gave two-thirds of them away we still had lots left to cook, so it was more swooning and more olive oil and more Imam Bayildi for lunch today. I changed the spices slightly this time and left the onions chunkier, using allspice and a very new hot smoked paprika. We are still swooning… and I promise not to mention it again, but it is really very good indeed.

Woodland Walk in April

April is the month of showers and young shoots in England and once again the nettles and the wild garlic are overwriting the brown manuscript of faded winter leaf litter in vivid shades of green;  baby saplings are shooting from where the squirrels have planted forgotten acorns and hazels – and when the sun shines, muddy puddles glint and poodles dive in for a quick paddle.


We walked through the woodland at Ashton Court, passing by the new mountain bike trail along the deer park fence; it has weathered and is not as intrusive looking as it was when it was all raw and new and finally came out on this dusty path down the hill with a view to the sky and Dundry Hill in the distance.

The buzzards were busy carrying nesting material around, beautiful big birds outlined against the blue.  There was much rustling and squawking and the alarm calls of birds which I couldn’t quite identify; tall trees creaking and rubbing alarmingly against each other in the wind. We walked softly down the side of the hill and along the lower wall.

Wood pigeons flew out of hollow trees, wrens whirred and fizzed on their short flights from woodpile to streams, goldfinches bathed in the shallows and for a big city there are always surprises. We heard talking up in the air at one point and realised there were two people chatting in one of the ancient pollarded oaks that are cared for at Ashton Court. I took a picture of the tree they were in two years ago almost to the day. It is a miniature ecosystem in itself, with ferns and fungi and grass growing in its centre.

Pollarded Oak Ashton Court

Celandine and wild violets were a couple of the more common wildflowers that we recognised. I nibbled a blooming violet and it was gently sweet.

If you can identify nettles, then at this time of year you have a free source of the most wonderful healthy (and, dare I say it, fashionable)  green vegetable to add into your supper dishes. I saw a piece by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall about them the other day here in the Guardian. Brian’s Dad and Gran always ate nettles in the springtime and Brian says his Dad could pick them with his fingers the way he can – must be a special nettle picking gene!

Last year around this time I made nettle gnocchi and wrote about them in this post. I haven’t made them since, but I remember they were very good and I really should make them again!

 Yesterday we picked (that is the ‘royal we’ – Brian picked the most because he has asbestos fingers and I didn’t have any gloves, good excuse!)  the top four leaves of young nettles on our walk and I picked a bunch of wild garlic.

Both nettles and wild garlic are fairly easy to identify and I have written about the wild garlic on a page here. If you are unsure about any wild plants find someone who is confident about their identification skills and go out with them the first time. Better safe than sorry.

You could always borrow Zeb as he is expert at finding wild garlic.

We made a risotto with the wild garlic and the nettles that we picked which I will post about next.

Wild Garlic Season

For Mitchdafish

In the Wild Food section (see the black menu bar at the top of the blog) I’ve created an information page about Wild Garlic; it also gives links to various posts I wrote last year about this wonderful plant.  I hope it is helpful. Please let me know if there is anything else I can add to it. You can click here to go straight to the page.

Wild garlic makes the most wonderful pesto by the way. I whizzed some together recently with a mixture of basil leaves, fresh garlic leaves, Millstone sheep’s milk cheese from North Wootton Dairy (Bristol Slow Food Market),  pine nuts and olive oil.

Use it in sandwiches and on pasta, stir it into anything that you think might benefit. Just delicious!

What are your favourite garlic recipes? I have fond memories of picking olives in Crete and eating cold lentils strewn with fresh chopped garlic at lunchtime. I had to drop that habit when I came back to England though as no one would speak to me!

North Wooton Dairy Millstone Sheeps Cheese

North Wootton Dairy Millstone Sheeps Cheese

Potato Masala Dosa with Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic LeavesIn the woods the wild garlic is growing once again and we picked some the other day making delicious pesto with it. We had pasta with mushrooms and garlic pesto, and then used up the leftovers in a yellow pea soup  one lunchtime.

Today I collected another handful and added it to the mix for the spicy potato masala for my second attempt at scratch making dosas. I spent a wonderful day recently with Gill the Painter in her kitchen and we made dosa together as it was pancake day. Gill is an expert cook as some of you probably know!

I came home full of enthusiasm and motivation and rooted around in my garage and found much to my surprise that I had most of the ingredients sitting in a box.  Last year I had a conversation with Max Artist, (who has an alter ego called Max Cake Baker and Caterer)  about dosa making and he had recommended Vahchef’s YouTube videos. I remember watching them and I must have gone out and bought the dals, and then…ahem… not done it. Maybe I got distracted, who knows?

Dosa is a name that covers a whole range of pan cooked goodies made from a fermented batter.  There are thin crispy ones  – some completely enormous and shaped like cones or fans called paper dosa – then there are lacy ones with chunks of onions – rava dosa – thick soft ones – kerala dosa,  dosa made with rice, with lentils or dal, and ones made with wheat. There are green dosa, there are dosa eaten with fresh coconut chutney, with sambal, with mutton curry. Getting hungry yet?

They are a staple in southern India, eaten at home for breakfast and for supper,  and they are just great! For the recipes and instructions read on…

Continue reading

PPS Wild garlic in The Observer today…

Just a quickie for those of you still picking wild garlic around the country

Nigel Slater in The Observer today has recipes for wild garlic, nettles and dandelions.

His roast lamb with wild garlic butter sounds particularly delicious!

But it might have to wait till another time…..

…..for a quick lunch today, wild garlic pesto, yoghurt (labneh)  cheese, grilled chorizo, penne pasta all on the table in twenty minutes.  Not quite pot noodle but almost as quick!

Wild garlic pesto made with wild garlic, olive oil, sunflowerseeds and a bit of grated cheddar –

Edible plants no. 2 – Wild garlic


Allium ursinum currently growing in a damp woodland near you.  Also known as ramsons.  As you can see the flowers still haven’t opened as it’s been a bit dry lately.

wild garlic

Wild garlic as it first appears before flowering

I picked some in the woods yesterday,  in my guise as ye olde wise woman of Bristle, and many people stopped and asked if I was picking mushrooms.

‘No my lovers’ said I, ‘Yer be ramsons’.

‘Oh yes we could smell the garlic, but how do you know which one it is?’   
In reply ye olde wise one handed them a leaf from her basket and said, ‘Here try for yourself.’

‘What are you going to do with it?’

Treat it like chives or garlic, chop it up, make it into pesto, add it into scrambled eggs. ‘  (For an olde wise one I am not very good at punctuating dialogue, so I’ll stop right there)

allium ursinumStrong while they are raw, the taste is very mild when they are cooked.  Pick the small leaves and the flower buds and keep them in a cardboard punnet in the fridge, sprinkled with a bit of water. They should keep a day that way.  If you can’t bend down to grab some, then Riverford Organic Vegetable boxes have them too in the next week or so. I bet there are loads of recipes around.

Ulrike and Lynne have both been baking with these:  Ulrike made ciabatta rolls and Lynne a country loaf – the ingredient of the day!  I joined in the following day :  Here are my wild garlic ciabatta buns and the recipe for them courtesy of Baker Süpke in Thuringen, Germany.

Wikipedia says : Ramsons (Allium ursinum) (also known as buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, sremuš or bear’s garlic) is a wild relative of chives. The Latin name owes to the brown bear‘s taste for the bulbs and habit of digging up the ground to get at them; they are also a favorite of wild boar.

They also make a lovely alternative to garlic in many other dishes as here : Potato Masala Dosa with Wild Garlic