Steamed quince & wet walnut pudding

I launched Forage 6 years ago at the very first Abergavenny Christmas food & drink fair. – I’d been up all night icing wild cakes, tying up steamed puddings & labelling my very first jellies & sauces while rocking a poorly 6 month old Eloisa. In thick ice I slid off the hill with my car full of wares, my stall was outside in the cold  It was so cold I thought we’d sell nothing. We sold everything – and most of all we sold this pudding very, very quickly. I knew then that I was onto something making food from the ingredient’s most people left behind. Thanks to Abergavenny Food Festival& lots of kind customers Forage launched into the wild world…

Time goes fast, my kids are growing – they now make the pudding. She may now be 6 but Eloisa still looks like a cat that’s got the cream when she eats this…

cooking_054cooking_022If this pudding was a Sunday afternoon, it would be one with a wool blanket, roaring fire, port and a loyal dog at your feet.  a steamed pudding combining the deep flavours of quince with walnuts, rich duck eggs, nutmeg and rum. When it’s served with thick cream and quince and vanilla syrup, the pudding has a flavour that’s not a million miles away from egg nog – it’s a delicious way to celebrate those very special late autumn fruits and nuts, or even as an alternative to the traditional Christmas pudding.


200g fresh breadcrumbs
200g suet (vegetarian works fine in this recipe)
150g granulated sugar
45g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 grated nutmeg
3 duck eggs (or 4 hens eggs)
60ml whole milk
60ml rum or damson vodka
150g shelled wet (fresh) walnuts
200g peeled quinces chopped into small pieces ( taking care to leave out the gritty central area) – keep the skins and gritty centres to one side.
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod.

In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, suet, flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg, stir in the wet walnuts and quince
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk and rum (or damson vodka) together and slowly add this mixture to the dry ingredients and work the ingredients together until they form a thick consistency (don’t over work the mixture though).
Add the mixture to a large, well greased pudding basin, cover with clingfilm, a layer of parchment and kitchen foil and tightly tie the foil and parchment around the rim of the basin with butchers string. Place the basin in to a prepared steaming pan (you can use a normal saucepan with a tightly fitting lid and an upturned small plate inside to keep the basin off the bottom of the saucepan – add enough water to not go more than 1/2 way up the side of the pudding basin). Steam the pudding on a low heat for 4 hours.
If not serving straight away, pour  20ml more rum or damson vodka over the pudding and keep it in its cooking basin, in the fridge. To reheat, steam it again or 1 hour.

Whilst the pudding is steaming, place the quince remnants into another pan, cover them with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the juices through a jelly bag (or fine sieve if you don’t have one). Measure the juices, return them to the pan, and bring back to the boil. Then to every 100ml of juice, add 60g sugar. Add the vanilla seeds to the syrup and cook on a medium heat until the syrup is reduced by about 1/3. Pour the syrup into a jar to serve with the pudding.


Damson & Chocolate = Damn good cake.

There’s a bit of a theme happening…I may just like a bit of cake. But my oh my, wild cake is worth an extra large slice.

Damsons ripen as autumn days bring a desire for dense, sticky cakes and warming mugs of tea and the sour fruit just so happens to be a perfect ingredient in this sticky molten cake, which is equally delicious as a tea time treat or served with damson ice cream as a grown up dessert. Serves 10

2 eggs
1 kg damsons 200g sugar
150g dark chocolate (60% cocoa is ideal)
100g butter
50ml whole milk
375g self raising flour
100g cocoa powder
1 level tsp baking powder
150 ml cream

place the damsons in a pan with a splash of water, cook them over a low heat until they are soft, stirring to ensure they dont stick to the bottom of the pan. When soft, press the damsons through a sieve and collect the damson puree in a heatproof pyrex or metal bowl, (you will need to push through 300g of damson puree)
Put the bowl over a pan of hot water and place this on a medium heat. Stir in the sugar, butter and 75g of the chocolate in to the sour puree. Once the ingredients have all melted, add the milk and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
Stir in the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder finally mixing in the 2 eggs, stirring until you have a smooth, thick batter.
Place the mixture in a lined large cake tin, wet your hands and dab your  fingers onto the top of the cake (this helps create a delicious top of your cake)
Place the cake in a low oven (120c) and cook for about 3 hours, or until a skewer comes clean out of the cake.
Once the cake is cooked and cooled, coat it with a silky ganache made with the remaining chocolate melted in a ban marie with the cream. Decorate the cake with nuts, berries or edible the last honeysuckles of the season. Serve with greek yoghurt, ice cream, or a steaming cup of tea after an afternoon crunching brown leaves under foot.10712982_664381107014359_4318064944304686918_n-2

‘it seems to me that we look at nature too much and live with her too little’

FORRAGING_048‘It seems to me that we look at nature too much and live too little with her’ I’ve just heard this Oscar Wilde quote on radio 4. His words set my hairs on edge. Was Oscar a forager? I’m not sure and to be honest I’m such an uncultured type I don’t even know what it connection to the wilds was (apart from lying on grass with a cigarette in his beautiful mouth) but he put his refined finger right on the button in this statement & in a way that’s utterly apt 130 years later. Lots of people in our country have nature disconnect – that’s a fact. Lots of us try and reconnect with nature by looking at her – we go for woodland walks, climb mountains, gaze at the stars but not many of us live with her. Our culture has become so distant from the notion that we belong to nature: in fact, since even before the days when  Oscar lay on grassy fields, we believed that nature belonged to us. We look on at nature with a distance gaze –  we have a relationship with nature by treating it as the ultimate commodity, controlling & often destroying it – even people who want to preserve nature often feel humans have such a negative impact on nature that we should leave her well alone & look on at the natural world as a precious place apart from human intervention.

Obviously preserving nature is far more preferable to destroying & poisoning it, but it can miss the point that Oscar made so beautifully. We should live with her – but we should really take that statement further – we are nature; we’re a part of her. To live life as part of nature we need to go further than going on a walk, building reserves, putting up fences, being fearful of ‘touching’. Ever since I gathered honeysuckle in the company of fellow foragers; bees and moths, eating the food that grows freely, of its own volition , my life in nature began. Gathering and eating the wild feels like drinking from a watering pool with other animals. We’re no more entitled to this food than the bee who is suckling nectar from honeysuckle, than the hedge dwelling birds nibbling on birch buds; or than the squirrels racing us for hazelnuts, but equally we’re no less entitled to it either. Wild, gathered food nourishes us in an incomparable way & it feed our bodies with nutrient dense food, and it feeds our souls in a way that no shopping trip can. We, the human species animal needs to be reintroduced to our native environment – we need to be rewilded. Foraging is a remarkably delicious way of connecting us back to the world we live in; changes our very view of the world we see around us; when you no longer see unkempt weedy verges, but lush larders your world view shifts in a powerfully liberating way.

What would happen if we all started to forage for our suppers? How could the world cope? I sit here writing on my hill that  flanked on the left by a plain of Herefordshire farmland – I can see on a clear day miles & miles of fields growing a handful of crops – potato’s, oil seed rape, wheat, apples and hops – huge fields of monoculture; dependant on a strict cycle of herbicides, pesticides, fungicides to ensure their crops yield well, and contracts can be met so we can be fed. To my right there are hills – too rough and undulating to grow crops on; in place of oil seed rape are thick hedgerows, pasture & woodland – full of crops; natures crops – herbs (weeds) fruit & nuts enough to feast on – nature thrives here and repays her inhabitants – insect, birds and mammals with food to feed us all – the 2 views from my hill make a statement as eloquent as Oscar could make that nature really can provide when she is allowed to flourish; and we will flourish if we live in her.



different soil, same stars.

I live on a lovely green hill covered in pastureland; when we came to view the tumbled down barn that is now our home, it wasn’t the building that swayed me; it wasn’t the breathtaking views that won my heart; it was the moment we walked down the lane on a rainy, warm afternoon squashing underfoot pineapple weed next to a store of sweet hay, the smell has never left me; it’s utterly influenced what I make & why I do it. Our hill smells & tastes of our hill; I’ve never found anywhere that tastes like it. It’s not because we have rare treasures that don’t grow anywhere else – we’re surround by usual suspects – birch, nettle, hawthorn & blackthorn blossoms in the spring; elderflower, meadowsweet & honeysuckle in the summer – plants you’d find in most rural & even urban backwaters. I’ve long been so in love with the hill I live on that it is easy to chant the ‘local is best’ mantra until it turns into a nationalistic cry. I’ve never quite known why my hill is as delicious to me as it is.

Then something happened. In mid June  I was invited off my safe, honeyed hill & journeyed north to the lovely Scottish island of Islay for a few days staying on the site of a malt scented distillery with 6 incredibly knowledgeable  foragers from around the world . It wasn’t far; I didn’t need a passport, but my travels were as life changing as any globe trotting  gap year student could boast.

Our hosts, the Botanist Gin make my favourite tipple. It’s made with 22  wild plants – most of them grow on my doorstep; but the gin doesn’t taste like it belongs on my hill..more like it’s a very welcome guest. Stepping off the tiny aircraft as we arrived on the Island, the scent of Islay was as delicious as home; but rather than sweet, it was peaty, cooling & ozone filled. Everything we ate that week tasted different -Islays elderflowers were less smokey; the shore hugging bedstraws more savoury, opening the fridge in the house we shared smelt intoxicating but alien; It all tasted so very good; my tastebuds usually soothed in homely  comfort were confronted by difference and are the better for it. The reason? because the very same plants that grow around me breath a different air; drink  a different rain, are battered by a different wind & seek food in different soil. The French winemakers know what it was that made my plants taste different to Islay – the Terroir. The Botanist belongs to Islay; my bottles & jars to the Black Mountains.

I’d spent a few incredible days with strangers from all around the world – sharing our food, drink, recipes, plant knowledge and ideas; flying home over the sea, looking across at the curved edged of the world; I revelled in the fact that although our own roots were deep in different lands;  it was just our soil, wind & rain that was different….and looking at the curve of the world I realised how very small it is & that we were all local.

So, now my view on food has change; air miles are very important & locally grown food should be the nirvana we all seek – but, embrace the other soils, the other rains, the other winds & enjoy the flavours that small producers create in other lands; because it  is indeed a very small wild world.







Mushroom & wild food weekend with Mark Williams

mega-fungi-layout-1024x690charcol burner        markwilliams

A few months ago I was offered the chance to forage in a beautiful woodland; the owner proudly told me of the wealth of mushrooms I could gather there. My face dropped a bit. You see, I forage plants; give me a tree, i’ll turn it into a cake; a nut & I’ll make it into a liqueur; a bud I’ll make a pickle, I am in my wild element amongst stuff that photosynthesises & is full of chlorophyll, but mushrooms have always been an elusive stanger to me. What a shame, that woodland would have to go untouched.

But I shall play in the woods! my wonderfully brilliant foraging friend (and a bit of a gigantic wild food hero) Mark Williams from Galloway Wild Foods has been lured by my puddings to come down for the weekend in October & it would be wrong of me to not share him, his fungi genius & his amazingly inspiring wild booze know how with you.

Mark is one of the most respected and inspiring wild food teachers in the known universe; he also is very brilliant at teaching in a clear, safe way – if you’re a fungi novice like me this is for you; but his knowledge is so wide that if you know already your agaric’s from your boletus he’ll give you a depth of knowledge you didn’t know went so far down. Marks website is a well thumbed mine of information for foragers – take a visit & you’ll see why I’m excited to be hosting him in the Black Mountains!

Mark & I are hosting what I think will be a pretty magical weekend; on Saturday we’ll be tip toeing in the woods finding the food he knows so well & we’ll all learn quite a huge amount about the mysterious mushrooms. On Sunday, we’re back on my turf & we’ll be leading a wild food / wild booze extravaganza. Cake and cocktails, and chocolate…

Tickets to this rare chance to learn from Mark are £75 for each day, but if you’d like to come on both days & have a wild (and slightly life changing) weekend then you can join us for both for £120. Never has just over a ton been so worth while.

Tickets for the Saturday & Sunday are available here: (Saturday) (Sunday)

If you want to come on both days, don’t book on the site, email me at to reserve your tickets (as I can apply your £30 discount)

See you in the woods!


Sweet woodruff crème caramels


This is the season of deep flavoured edible flowers – their herby flavours verge on savoury, but they  are the ultimate flavour adornment for a silky sweet woodruff crème caramel drizzled with birch or maple syrup. If Willow really was a whisp, this is what she would be dipping her silky fingers into.

3 springs of sweet woodruff, dried to release its vanilla flavour

300ml full fat milk

300ml single cream

4 large eggs

25g  sugar or birch sugar (Xylitol – available in most good food shops)

2 butter biscuits crushed with a few finely chopped rosemary leaves.

Birch sap or amber (dark) maple syrup

Warm the milk & cream in a pan, adding the sprigs of Sweet Woodruff & let its flavour infuse in the warm liquid for at least ½ hour. Whilst the Sweet woodruff is infusing, whisk together the eggs & sugar.

Whisk the milk into the egg & sugar mixture & pour into single ramekins or a shallow dish. Place the dish(es) into a larger oven proof container & fill the outside container with water. Place both in to an oven preheated to 150C & cook for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the custard has set.

Serve quenelles of the crème caramel with rosemary, violet, honeysuckle or white dead nettle flowers, sprinkle with the crushed rosemary biscuits & drizzle over the sap syrup. The version in the photo was made by our very good friend the lovely chef Marcus Bean, he added a crushed matcha honeycomb – it was bitter & heavenly.


(*Sweet Woodruff contains coumarin, which when dried releases a vanilla / tonka bean flavour. Coumain is best avoided by people on blood thinning medication or pregnant women)

(Birch sap syrup is extremely delicious, and easy to make. If you have a birch tree, you can tap its rising sap in the spring & reduce the trees nectar into a deep molasses like syrup – if you can’t get hold of birch sap syrup, it’s cousin Maple will work just as well- and you can forage for it in the warmth of your local shop)



Rowan bud & cherry blossom cake

Right now the sun is shining & cherry blossoms are suspended in trees like trapped pink clouds. Tomorrow the weather is due change its fickle tune and cold chills are predicted to storm across our hills, thug like knocking clouds from the trees and bringing my sun washed children back inside, begging for the fire to be lit. This is the cake to make in anticipation of tomorrows bad mooded weather. Reach up and grab a sprig of cherry blossom, and turn it into cake made for fairies. I made this cake on Friday night for a tiny but magical market I take my wares to in the lovely village of Grosmont, if you haven’t been come next time, it’s worth a drive. I thought I was a genius inventing milk cake but of course, I googled milk cake and discovered it’s a thing, just a thing I never knew about – anyway even if you are blossomless you need to make hot milk cake, it makes the best cake I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten quite a few. In fact you could swap blossoms & buds for any combination of wild treats – rose icing & elderflower batter is sounding quite tempting..

Rowan Buds have the most wonderful flavour of marzipan hidden in them, their flavour transfers magically into warm milk, turning it almost pistachio green – they are the perfect partner for bitter almond laced cherry blossoms.

Head inside, light the fire & eat cake until spring returns (without pink clouds)



Rowan Bud Milk Cake with cherry blossom icing

125 grams butter

1 ¼ cups unrefined sugar

2 cups of self raising flour

200ml milk

Handful of rowan buds

4 medium eggs

Gently heat a pan with the milk, add a table spoon of sugar & the rowan buds & leave to infuse for ½ hour

Cream the butter & sugar, adding in the eggs & flour in stages to reach a thick, smooth mix. Slowly blend in the rowan infused milk & stir until you have a smooth velvety batter.

Add a handful of cherry blossom petals & stir well.

Place the batter in a cake tin & cook at 200 degrees until golden.

Once cooled, pour over a loose icing paste (made with either lemon juice or cherry liqueur) & scatter liberally with blossoms.



(Pukka) Polenta & Primrose Cake.

I have a thing with polenta. Not a good thing I may add.  The moment I discovered it & I also learnt I had an issue with it. It was Jamie Olivers fault. He was young, he was probably in Italy and he had a wooden scrubbed table in front of him. Now as you can imagine I’m no prude when it comes to tableware – I’ve eaten of far worse things than scrubbed tables – it wasn’t the table that made my stomach turn just a bit, it was the runny grobbles that  Jamie slopped onto the table, with a well in the middle to be filled with an extremely tasty I’m sure stew of some sort. The table eating didn’t bother me, the stew looked could’ve been a winner, if it wasn’t for the bright yellow guck. Polenta & me spent 15 years having a wide birth from each other, with occasional stomach churning recollections of the scrubbed table.

But the other day I tried making a cake with some leftover Primrose Curd. It’s an apple, egg, butter,lemon & primrose mix & I had high hopes for my cake. My first attempt with wheat flour looked like a WI prize winner. but within moments deflated into a wet batter. I mourned the loss of my cake & my kids ate it with a distaste I haven’t seen since Polentagate.  However, behind the stodge was a gorgeous flavour. Fortunatly perhaps because Primrose & Polenta both start with the same letter (seriously it doesn’t get much more sophisticated than that in my head) I thought once more about Polenta & wondered if it was time to put aside my fear of the corny grain – perhaps this grain might be less slop, more substance in my cake?

Well, knock me over with a feather. A trip to the shop & a bake later and I am utterly in love with Polenta. gloopy it is not. It is my best friend of the week, it makes the loveliest gluten free cake (yes a lovely gluten free cake) and it turns out to like being scattered with primrose flowers – which is lucky because look all around you, they are everywhere at the moment. So here you have it.  It’s been the star of my market stall for the last couple of weeks. Men & women have been going weak kneed over it & polenta is out of stock in the fair counties of Herefordshire & Monmouthshire. Polenta really is nice, in cake; in utterly gorgeous cake – good enough to adorn Jamie Olivers scrubbed table.

Primrose & Polenta Cake

Peel & chop 3 cooking apples (you’ll want 450g of apple), squeeze over the juice of 1 lemon slowly cook them until they are soft & pulpy, melt in 125 g butter &  dissolve in 200g sugar- take off the heat & allow to cool enough to mix in 4 beaten eggs. Stir the mixture together until it is smooth. Stir into the mixture 1 tsp of baking powder (look for Rice Flour on the ingredients if you’re wanting to make a properly gluten free cake – baking powder often has wheat flour in it) & then stir in 500g polenta & 2 tablespoons of yoghurt.  Now leave it for 1 hour to let the polenta grains absorb the liquid (you’ll thank me for this bit) If it’s very stiff once the grains have absorbed the liquid add glug of milk to loosen the batter. Then place the mix in a cake tin, wet the top of the cake and pat it down with your fingers (don’t ask me why this is important, but it is) put your cake into your oven preheated to 180 or whatever temperature you make your best cakes in. (oven temperature, not the temperature of your kitchen, although if that helps don’t let me stop you.) cook your cake until you can stick a knife in & it comes out clean.

Once cooled, drizzle your cake with icing sugar glaze (I use lemon juice in mine for sharpness) & scatter the top of your cake with Primose flowers. I freeze petals & crumble them over the cake – but it would look just as nice with whole petals – the only thing that doesn’t work is an earwig stuck in the icing. (a downside to using freshly picked flowers is how many earwigs you get to know)

Pukka. Primrose. Polenta. Innit.




My buddy, Birch.

Outside our kitchen are a dozen birch trees. Before I became a forager I thought that they were utterly worthless and should be replaced by useful trees; apples, plums…you know the kind. I used to think that there was no point in planting a tree that didn’t produce things. What a complete wally I was. Quite when I realised how amazing Birch trees are is a bit of a mystery, but all I know is that they are quite magical & that I’m still finding out why they should be grown in every garden – and for that matter, on every street.. OK, so they are bit straggly and unmanicured looking, but bear with me – this is the tree for you, I promise you.
Birches are known as pioneer trees; remember the images of trees growing through the abandoned streets of Chernobyl? They were Birch trees. Look down the side of a dual carriage way, on the sidings of railway lines – chances are you’ll be whizzing past Birch. They creep into neglected spaces in the blink of an eye, there they are. Its ability to grow in hostile places isn’t fluke – it’s because Birch trees have a canny knack of seeking out nutrients others don’t notice. If Birch were a type of person they’d be the wiry but strong type, who eats like a bird yet has the energy of a Amazonian; they’d be the kind of person who takes very little but gives a lot – an awful lot; this to be precise is what they give.
Here is the caveat bit. What follows are a list of attributes *some* people believe to be true – lots of amazing research is going on into proving the value of Birch, but for the moment, read what I’m writing, but I can’t say it’s gospel as lots of it isn’t proven by clinical trials (you might just have to be a synthetic medicine made by big fat Pharma to do that..)

Birch trees are one of those clever trees that produce a drink – in the early spring, before the buds start opening birch trees will suck up huge amounts of magical water from the ground (ok not magical but nearly) this water is crammed full of goodies – you can buy birch water all over the place now (it’s the new, old coconut water you know) it contains a special sugar – Xylitol, which actually helps prevent cavities (how brilliant is that?), saponins (which lower cholesterol) compounds that detoxify your liver, and kidneys, it’s got salicylate in it (natures original & best aspirin), anti-inflammatories and anti bacterial properties. A sip of birch water will restore all of your hair / turn greys into shimmering golden locks. (OK I fibbed about that one, just a bit)’s bonkers and brilliant – and don’t even get me started on its buds, its leaves, its bark, and even the fungi that grows on it…Birch it’s your buddy.
So how do you tap into this elixir? Well it’s as easy as pie – when sap is rising you can tap birch trees just like those good folks in Canada do with Maple – a spile & a bucket or, you can do what I do, with less pretty looking kit, but just as effective.
You’ll need – a collection of empty freezer proof bottles all fitting the same lid, a drill, a length of brewing tube & if you’re on a windy hill, some bungie cords. Oh, and as much space in your freezer as you can get away with without causing marital ructions
The sap tapping season is short – it’s a bit like waiting for an avocado to ripen; as soon as you get a sniff of spring in the air, start checking for sap rising – you’ll know sap is rising by breaking the end of a twig every few days..if a bead of sap forms at the end of the twig you’ve stuck lucky. The tapping window is only a few weeks & if it gets cold, the sap might stop for a while.

So the bead of sap has appeared, you’re ready to go – this is my way of tapping & storing sap – give it a go & let me know how your hair loss reversal is going..

– drill a hole a tiny bit smaller than the diameter of the tube into the lid of your bottle, and next to that a little hole for air to escape.
-insert the tube into the whole on the lid, secure onto your bottle.
– drill the same sized hole at a slight upward angle about 7 cms into the tree (you are about to fall in love with it) – swoon with delight as when you as you put out your drill bit, sap gushes out of the tree – you have turned on your tap of wonders.
push the tubing into the hole in your tree (give her a hug, you know you want to)
Watch as sap drips into the bottle. Amazing. Now you might have a slow drip (water torture style) or a leaky tap (the washer is going) they all give a different flow – you can try to get better flow but I stick with my first drill unless it’s not producing anything.
– Now prepare for feeling like you’ve got a new born – every few hours your bottle could fill up, so go out with an empty & a spare lid when you check on the bottle. When it’s nearly full, replace it with an empty container & secure the lid on your full bottle.
Now at this point you can guzzle your water, but I have other plans…
If you want to keep your water, I’d recommend freezing it until you want a birchy beverage.
Keep collecting your sap until just as soon as it started, the sap stops running. Remove your tube & say thanks to your tree.
What you do next is up for debate – people traditionally plug the hole in the tree with a piece of hard, but I have a friend who is a tree surgeon and he told me not to – the sap is full of coagulants and anti fungals (of course – did I not mention those?) so I leave my holes, they go a bit gunky (like a scab) and heal themselves without the risk of bacterias being introduced via the plug. Do as you wish – I’m just a leaf licker, not a tree surgeon.

Now, here is the fun bit. If you want to make Birch Syrup and YOU SHOULD, thaw the first third of the bottles of water – taste it, it is SO sweet – sugar thaws at a lower temperature than water, so you’ve already concentrated the amount of sugar by 3 x – you can do this again at least once, and then put the water back in the freezer to drink later.
Put your sweet nectar into a wide pan, place on a low heat and reduce the liquid until it turns caramel (keep an eye on it towards the end – a reduce syrup is amazing, a burnt pan is not.) Your house will smell like a toffee factory, your taste buds will not of ever tasted anything like it – bitter, sweet, malty, deep – just amazing.
Drizzle it on a crème caramel, crumble on cocoa nibs, add a violet and crushed butter biscuit & that pointless Birch tree suddenly becomes just a bit useful & ever so delicious.

A wild canapé you say? I should coco.

We’re just over a week before Christmas & this is definitely the time for feasting on the good stuff. This is the time of year when our pots become very useful if you’re planning on conjouring up a few canapes to delight your guests with (or to hide away from your in laws & eat in a locked room) So if you have one of our little bottles or pots in your cupboard, dust it down, and dress it’s time for Forage to party.

Jam & Cheese – We have a thing for Carmarthenshire made Mouldy Mabel cheese; it’s probably the closest thing you can get to Roquefort, just Welsh (which has to be a good thing) We stock up on Mabel on a regular basis from our brilliant Abergvenny Cheesemonger Marches Deli and thanks to them we eat her all year, but at Christmas she comes into her own in a filo pastry cup, or on a buttermilk biscuit & joined with our Sloe & Crab apple jelly (which has generous flavouring of vanilla & star anise) Mabel is transformed into the fairy at the top of the tree..(of course you can use any other jelly – when we’re not eating our own, love straight up crab apple jelly)

Sprout canapes. Yes sprout canapes.

Sprouts are a bit marmite – I think too many of us have had to endure over cooked balls of death as children. But low, they can bring joy & magic at Christmastide. Sprouts are part of that wonderful cabbage / mustard family & the little raw leaves taste peppery and horseradishy – making them ideal cups for smoked fish, earthy beetroot and goats cheese. I am lucky enough to have a local smoker Black Mountains Smokery who does amazing things to trout & I simply break up little pieces of oak smoked trout & pop them into the little leaves, and then drizzle them with our Rosehip & Horseradish dipping sauce ( you could use a chilli jam from someone like The Preservation Society  instead). I promise you’ll love forget all your bad sprout moments in a mouthful.

Chorizo & chocolate

Our Damson & Chocolate sauce is rather essential in our house at Christmas. A couple of spoonfuls stirred into cream with toasted oats & a drizzle of whisky makes a pudding so indulgent it should be harder to make. Dolloped onto chorizo it makes an incredibly delicious mouthful – if you can get hold of Trealy Farms spreadable chorizo so much the better..spread the chorizo on sourdough, and adorn with the wild sauce. Ding Dong, your Christmases have all come at once. (If you don’t have our sauce you can use honey – just as delicious, just less chocolaty)

Stilton & Syrup

Christmas wouldn’t be right without Stilton. In fact it probably wouldn’t be worth having without it. We love the blue veined good stuff. Once upon a time I ate a mincepie loaded with stilton & I was forever ruined. Now I can’t get through a December day without a mouthful of stilton drizzled in our Spiced Rosehip Syrup. Laden with winter flavours, this is Christmas in a mouthful – medicine never tasted so good. (If you don’t have our syrup, and you should make an orangey syrup & infuse with a bag of mulling spices – it’ll turn you into a cocktail guru in one bottle as well)