(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 saucy..it 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.




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 up..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)




Christmas, just a bit wilder (and less stressy – how good is that?)

There is no denying it, Christmas is poking its head around the corner, chestnuts are roasting, cider is mulling and we’re all starting to get that scared look. In a blink of a bleary eye December will be in full swing & stress levels will boing of the charts. There is a wild ally you need to get know about to get you through the chaos of December, whether you’re running late on your shopping, fighting lurgies, or swinging from the rafters having drunk all your sloe gin.

So take note good people, you might thank me for it (I’m expecting a full stocking this year) Now, we’re not herbalists at Forage, we’re greedy cooks who know something that tastes good when we see it, but as anyone who has the foraging bug will tell you it’s pretty nigh on impossible to not get a bit excited about the medicinal benefits of wild food when you get to know a bit about them

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin….a few years ago,  I saw someone was selling nettle seeds – yes nettle seeds. Oh how I mocked them, those fools; who on earth would buy nettle seeds?…little did I know that I was the dunce. I knew nettle leaves were quite frankly magical stuff, aside from making brilliant soups & pestos, they turn marmalade into something so good it should be a compulsory ingredient, and make spring cocktails that fizz with vitality. However, I didn’t have the foggiest idea about quite how marvellous nettle seeds were until I met a nettle seed eater. They didn’t knit their own wellies, everything about them was normal apart from being extremely calm (like horizontal) their secret? Tiny little nettle seeds. It turns out those people buying nettle seeds online were onto something, nettle seed is pretty amazing  – google its uses and you’ll find HUGE amounts of accounts of how it balances your adrenal gland (stressed? That’ll be adrenalin you’re living on) it acts as a natural stimulant giving run down souls much needed energy AND it helps keep your kidneys fighting fit (and lets face it that’s got to be a good thing in the month of office parties)

So there you have it, our recommendation for this most festive time of may not be around in the great outdoors right now but fortunately you can forage online for your seeds this year, I promise not to mock you, in fact I’ll doff my nettle twine cap to your wisdom & your fantastically chilled out Christmas.

Oh, and of course whilst you’re buying nettle seed you might want to take a sneak at our very own creations to help your Christmas go with a wild swing -quite frankly I think hiding in a locked room with a jar of wild chocolate mincemeat could be just as helpful as those stingers..

Crab Apple & Quince mincemeat with The Botanist gin



Wild Harvest Feast 2105

The air in early September is heavy with the scent of ripe fruit, late summer flowers and ripening nuts, and this year we are going to feast on the mellow fruitfulness of this most magical season.

On 5th September we’re heading to the utterly beautiful Llanvihangel Court in Monmouthshire for our first wild harvest feast, it’s a house that wraps its arms around you and surrounded by orchards of heaving fruit we couldn’t think of a more magical location to welcome the early mist filled days of autumn. No harvest feast would be complete without music and we’ve managed to lure the supremely talented Barrule Trio to play their intoxicating brand of folk after the meal.

We’ll be eating food from rambling gardens, heaving orchards, abundant hedgerows.. from fields, mountain and woodland – come and join us for very delicious end to the summer.

Tickets are £35 per person, and include a wild cocktail on arrival, wild canapés and a 3 course meal. To reserve your tickets send us a message via the contact us page and we’ll get back in touch with payment information


      wood pigeon, fresh hazelnut, whimberry & chickweed salad with damson verjus


           sorrel, sumac & feta fried butterbean salad with rosehip & chili vinaigrette

                                     main course

         vension with pears and dauphinoise potatoes with wild thyme infused cream.


        roasted grapes & stuffed vine leaves, with hazelnut & puy lentils with grape verjus


          evening primrose posset with mulberry compote


           damson vodka & honeysuckle jelly and ice cream

Eat spring? It would be rude not to…

We love spring here at Forage. Tender new growth is full of vitality & tonic like flavour, Inside unassuming buds and tiny flowers hide powerhouses of magical flavour – this really is the time to feast. From the moment the sap started rising we’ve been preparing a wild utterly delicious feast that will celebrate everything delicious about a wild spring. On the 2nd May we are going to be serving our finds at our Wild Spring Feast.

On the menu this year we’ll be eating:  beech leaves, wood sorrel, wild boar, pine tips, rhubarb, cherry blossom , primrose flowers, ladysmock, jack by the hedge, wild garlic, hawthorn, pennywort, horseradish, bittercress, dandelion, nettle, violet flowers, primrose leaves, blackcurrant leaves, ground elder, cleavers, hogweed shoots, wild leeks and tulip petals..

wild canapés and cocktails on arrival

Trout served with rhubarb, apple, flowering currant flowers, angelica, mint and pine

Wild gazpacho served in freshly picked tulip petals

Wild boar (or griddled fresh halloumi) served with wild garlic pesto, hogweed shoots, asparagus, and charred wild leeks

blackcurrant leaf sorbet

Birch sap syrup crème caramel, primrose curd & violet cream pavlova

Tickets to the Wild Spring Feast are on sale now. £35 per person including canapés, cocktails and 3 courses. If you would like to book tickets for the event please contact us on 01873 860347 or via our contact us page.

hocus pocus, it’s hawberry ketchup


Look in any rural cookery compendium & you’ll doubtlessly come across a recipe for Hawberry Jelly, or if you’re lucky Hawberry Brandy. You might even have the same battered about book that we found our first Hawberry Ketchup recipe in. It was good, it had potential and when we added lots of fresh ginger and twist after twist of pepper, it became something else. We drizzle it on cheese on toast, burgers, sausages, scrambled eggs, ham and cheese; it makes the simplest of food capable of turning tastebuds into party animals.

Hawberrys are wild little red jewels that poke out from lichen clad ancient Hawthorn trees from late August onwards. Hawthorn trees grow everywhere, in the deepest countryside to city gardens. Legends say they are magical trees, they certainly are packed full of health benefits & just as importantly, delicious flavour. Hawberry Ketchup is so fruity that it makes the bottom of your jaw tingle. Not many foods can do that can they? But then, it is a bit magical..

scarred hands & syrupy sauces

10801557_686055461513590_383910437255703365_n 10291218_686054501513686_3101747260606364161_nMention rosehips to anyone over a certain age & the likely hood is that they scratched themselves on many a thorny stem gathering the vitamin C rich fruit as part of the Ministry of Foods efforts to keep Britain healthy during rationing. Mention rosehips to todays entrepreneurial children in the Golden Valley & they could well proudly show you the same scarred hands – for these children know where to find the sweetest, tiniest and plumpest hips, and once they’ve squirreled away their hauls to make jellies, chutneys and syrups, the excess fruits are sold to Forage (under our ‘picking for pocket money’ scheme) and here they are turned into our rather lovely Rosehip & Horseradish dipping sauce. The tang of Horseradish is a perfect allie for sweet rosehip syrup, enhanced all the more by sour, sour sumac from our friend Niña’s spreading giant of a tree. Our tangy version of rosehip syrup is utterly at home drizzled on beef, goats cheese, beetroot, mackerel, salmon & crayfish. So, thanks to the nimble (slightly scarred) fingers of todays young foragers, the rosehip picking baby boomers are once again supping on rosehip syrup… but this time on crème fraiche rather than off a spoon..

A ray of sunshine on a cold day

Wild rub rub Maysfield brewery stout & beef silverside

Wild rub rub Maysfield brewery stout & beef silverside

It’s freezing outside. Jack Frost has moved in and the meadows have glistened all day in a shimmer of ice crystals. But inside the house you’d be forgiven for thinking it is the height of summer – no, we’re not strutting around in Havaianas & shorts with the heating on full blast, it’s certainly not balmy in the house. Summer is however, definitely in the air. Meadowsweet pollen to be precise is in the air, and it is dusting its sweet scent on everything in the kitchen as if in an act of defiance to Jack & his frosting outside – if you’ve walked past a billowing Meadowsweet bloom on a warm summers day you’ll know the intoxicating smell I’m breathing in..vanilla, almond and warmth. The reason Meadowsweet pollen is wafting around like a whisp is because today I’m blending a new batch of Wild Herb Rub – Wild Herb Rub is our homage to the smell & flavour of drying hay – we race against harvesting tractors to gather a blend of red clover flowers, meadowsweet, wild marjoram & sorrel seeds, dry them in the summer sun (the children’s climbing frame makes an excellent drying rack) & blend them with other herbs until the smell of drying hay is just so.

Why do we do this? Well it’s pretty lovely gathering flowers in a meadow on a warm mid

t that’s not the reason. The reason is this; we think that meat is best flavoured with the very same flavours it has been eating – and well cared for, outdoor reared British meat will of grazed on the flavours and the herbs crammed into wild herb rub. It makes a simply cooked piece of meat taste even more like itself – and on these cold winter days, a slowly braised piece of silverside flavoured with a ray of sunshine gives everyone a warm glow inside.



I’ll get my goat…

 Goat meat is eaten by 70% of the worlds population, yet in Britain until now it has been somewhat kept as a niche meat  but alongside its gamey counterparts, goat is experiencing a long awaited revival. One of our favourite ways to cook goat is slowly infusing it with North African promise…spices, almonds, apricots and fennel turn the gruffest of billies into a comfort blanket of a meal….

Rub a leg of young goat meat with a mixture of 2 tsp of  rose el hanout (you can use other Ras el Hanouts, just look for ones with an anise flavour), olive oil and a pinch of salt & leave to marinade for a couple of hours. Place the meat on top of thick slices of fennel bulb in a casserole, add a wine glass of water and cover with a lid. Cook in a low oven (110 – 120c) for 3 hours, remove from the oven (deeply inhaling the amazing smells – a sign of things to come!) add a handful of ground almonds and dried apricots to the liquor, cover again and return to the oven for another couple of hours. Serve with a good bread to mop up the juices and a salad or green beans.

Like the sound of eating goat? You’ll love the sound of Cabrito Goat Company, they supply goat meat to the food industry, rearing young billy kids on a farm in Somerset, they buy unwanted male kids from goat milk farms across the UK – these billies would otherwise be killed soon after birth. Instead they have a delicious time grazing in meadowland before they are slaughtered. We like them a lot.








Pontack is a legendary sauce made with cider vinegar, elderberries and spices. Use it like a wild worcestershire sauce or as you’d use a balsamic vinegar. All our customers have their own ways of using it, from splashing it over tofu to marinating squirrels with it…here are a couple of our favourites:

For hunters….haunch of venison marinated in pontack sauce
rub 2 tbsp of Pontack into a haunch of venison, leave in a casserole over night and then add a wine glass of good red wine, 2 bay leaves and 8 juniper berries. Cover the venison in a very fatty bacon (thinly sliced lardo – cured back fat, is ideal) Seal the casserole with a tight lid and cook slowly (120c)  for hours.. and hours. Occasionally check there is enough liquid and baste the venison well. Serve with a buttery potato and chestnut mash and irony greens.
(If you like this you’ll love deglazing the pan of any dark meat especially liver with a splash of pontack)

For gatherers…Home made coleslaw with a pontack and honey dressing
good coleslaw is one of life’s simple pleasures. The flavours of pontack pair amazingly with sweet carrots, onions and cabbage.
To make the dressing, pour a tablespoon of honey and 2 of pontack with twice the amount of good olive oil and a pinch of salt into a jam jar, seal and shake well. Finely shred equal amounts of carrots and cabbage and add a finely chopped red onion. Mix in a tablespoon of lightly toasted cumin seeds, and a handful of sultanas; stir through the dressing, leave for a while for the flavours to take hold and tuck in!