Best of Hunger and Thirst 2013
Porcini shortbread: In the middle of winter, one of the few wild products I have to work with are the dried porcini I have in my pantry. I don't just like to cook with wild foods, there is a certain part of me that needs to play around with recipes, which is how you explain something like cookies with mushrooms in them. The porcini add a grounded element to this recipe, and keep them from being too sweet.
Raspberry leaf goat cheese custard: This has become one of my go-to desserts. I'm pretty well known for not enjoying sweets, but this custard is awesome. Here, it is tamed by the slightly bitter taste of tea made from fermented raspberry leaves. But this recipe takes well to all sorts of wild ingredients, from herbs to flowers like elder to fruit.
Leaf litter caramel: Last winter, I get inspired by Magnus Nilsson's recipe for potatoes roasted in decaying leaves from the forest floor. Not having much else to play with at the time, I started cooking with fallen leaves, too. I made a nice leaf broth to go with trout. Eventually, the leaves made it into caramel, where their slight bitterness and wood-taste make for a highly complex caramel sauce.
Double pine quesadillas: These aren't quesadillas of the cheese-in-tortilla variety. They are a cheesy Salvadoran sweet muffin. Here, I made a mini version, offset by a double dose of pine.
Instant mushroom gravy: I grew up in a household that made heavy use of instant gravy, the kind that comes in the little paper pouch. I've become a bit of a gravy snob in my old age, insisting that it must be made from meat drippings. However, once I discovered that I could use powdered dried porcini to make a gravy in minutes, I saw use for an instant gravy. This recipe is also vegan, in case you are serving vegetarians or people with dairy allergies.
Wild mustard as broccoli rabe: I've been eating wild mustards in one form or another for years. It wasn't until last spring that I really discovered how to best take advantage of the these wild invasives. I became particularly fond of using one species just before it flowered, as most would broccoli rabe. At that age, it is tender and relatively mild, but still possesses enough punch to make it really fantastic to eat.
Elderflower buttermilk sherbet: I'm not really a fan of the taste of elderberries, but I am nuts about elderflowers. I'm really picky about how my elderflower cordial is made, to keep it from tasting like lemonade with flower notes. Once I have a good supply of elderflower cordial, it goes straight into this recipe. The delicate flavor of the elderflower is perfection with the pleasant tang of buttermilk. It is the perfect dessert for a hot summer day.
Porcini with garlic miso butter: Hands down, no contest, this is the single best thing I made last year. It's taken me several years to come up with a recipe to take advantage of fresh porcini, which are a different animal than dried. Here, I was inspired by my friend Kat's roasted garlic miso butter chicken. If you have fresh porcini, I highly recommend you make this recipe.
Purslane potato salad: I think I took this recipe to every party I attended last summer. The lemony crunch of purslane matches perfectly with creamy boiled red potatoes. There's also a secret ingredient in the light, olive oil-based dressing. This is the perfect dish to introduce people to wild foods.
Porcini hot chocolate: Every time I open a jar of my dried porcini, I'm punched in the nose by the unmistakable scent of chocolate. To my mind, porcini pair perfectly with chocolate, making a drink that is rich and intense.