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EXTRA TOUCH

 

We eat with all our senses. It's not just about tasting, appearance does matter. In the age of Instagram, the layout of the plate is more important than ever. Often, presentation serves as motivation to try a dish. Since chefs are paying more attention to visual presentation and the unique experience of their dishes, flowers and wild plants are becoming increasingly popular. 

 

HOP

Foraging period

SHOOTS: SPRING

FLOWERS: SUMMER

ROOTS:  AUTUMN

 

We mainly associate hops with beer, but the young shoots are also a delicacy and look beautiful in different dishes. It grows on the edges of deciduous forests in nutrient-rich and moist soil, where sunlight can reach the plant. Hops are used for various health benefits, including relaxation, sleeplessness, anti-inflammatory and are said to have estrogenic effects.

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Pumpkin risotto garnished with hop shoots

The risotto is one of my favourite dishes to make on dull rainy days. It's easy to combine with all kinds of vegetables. I was surprised to find pumpkin in Cēsis in early spring, and noticed a few hop shoots sprouting on my walks. It wasn't enough for a full meal but perfect as a garnish. 

 

Course: Main course

Servings: 4

Calories: 450 kcal per serving

Cost: 1,5 € per serving

 

Ingredients

600 grams pumpkin or butternut squash
200 grams risotto rice
100 grams cottage cheese
15 grams butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 litre water
50 ml white wine
20 hop shoots, tips only
2 garlic cloves
1 onion
Pinch (or two) of pepper and salt
Parmesan, freshly grated

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  • Remove the seeds and fibres from the pumpkin or squash, cutting the flesh into large chunks. Place on a baking tray. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over two tablespoons of the olive oil and rub into the flesh. Bake the pumpkin until it is soft and shrivelled and has begun to brown at the edges.

  • Meanwhile, finely chop the onion and garlic. Melt the remaining tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Gently fry the onion and garlic. Add the rice and stir until the grains become coated with oil. Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed. Add water, just enough to cover the rice, and simmer, stirring, until the rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid. Continue to add more water as the previous addition is absorbed.

  • Meanwhile, Keep an eye on your pumpkin in the oven.

  • For the hop shoots, boil the water, add the hop shoots and cook until tender. Drain and fry them a few minutes in a pan with butter.

  • After twenty minutes, the rice will have been absorbed nearly all the water. Gently stir in the cottage cheese and roasted pumpkin. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Plate the risotto and serve with the hop shoots on top. Garnish with a little Parmesan.

Enjoy!

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SWEET VIOLET

Foraging period

SHOOTS: SPRING

ROOTS:  AUTUMN

 

The violet has a sweet delicious aromatic taste. It's been used for coughs since ancient times. It is also sweat-wicking, diuretic and can be consumed as a laxative. (It shouldn’t be used on a daily basis.)

 

​I asked the other residents at Rucka for a little hand. The look of my sandwiches was getting extremely boring. The same style over and over again… I needed new creative input for re-styling my sandwiches. Each of them got the same ingredients. Rye bread, cottage cheese, dandelion pesto, some herbs (Chickweed, Sorrel, Wood sorrel, Persian speedwell, Sweet violet, Bird vetch, Lichen) and extras to furnish their slice of bread. Separate from each other.

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