Crab Apple Catering’s new chef David Armstrong knows how to make a wild food treat to stun rather than sting your friends
The stinging nettle. It’s the short wearer’s nemesis and right up there with wasps and rain as bad things about a British summer. However, it only takes a bit of knowledge from wild food experts like Dorset Food & Drink member Crab Apple Catering to rehabilitate it as a force for culinary good. They are passionate about sourcing the best local ingredients whether it means “growing, brewing, hunting, foraging or rearing amazing food for anyone that enjoys stuffing their faces with tasty treats”, says new recruit chef David Armstrong. That desire to make exciting, delicious food extends to the last place you want to kick your football – the dreaded stinger patch.
“Some of the best things about my job are the simple things”, he adds. “I pass at least a dozen tasty ingredients, growing wild, on my way to work every day so when the opportunity to present a dish in this month’s issue came up I knew I had to do something special using something most people simply overlook… enter the humble stinging nettle.
“This is a great little recipe that gives you a ‘two for one’ product, an unusual alternative to elderflower cordial (try it in your G&T) and a new spin on Turkish Delight, with a little more… sting.”
“So what are you waiting for? Get the stinger on…”
For the cordial…
1kg caster sugar
40g citric acid
200g nettles (picked tips – get your gloves on!)
Place the sugar and water in a thick-bottomed pan and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves into a syrup, add the citric acid and dissolve then pour over the picked nettles. Allow this mix to cool to room temperature and infuse overnight.
Pass the mix through a fine muslin cloth and use as desired.
For the Delight…
1600g caster sugar
100ml nettle cordial
60g leaf gelatine (softened in cold water)
A splash of green food colouring (optional)
Place the sugar, cordial and water in a thick-bottomed pan and bring to a simmer. In a separate bowl, mix the cornflour and water then whisk into the mixture, simmering until it thickens and cooks out the Cornflour. At this point, the mix will become clearer and less cloudy.
Squeeze the excess water from the softened Gelatine, add to the pan, mix thoroughly until dissolved add the food colouring if required, then pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a lined tray or container (ideally 12” x 12”) and allow to cool completely at room temperature.
Once cool, refrigerate overnight before cutting into desired shapes, dusting with a 50/50 mix of icing sugar & cornflour.
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