foraging

Wildflower-Infused Vinegar

Infusing vinegars is easy. All you need is a jar, some vinegar, and one or more of your favorite herbs, flowers or spices. Here, beside the house, we've got whole hedges of wild rose (Northeastern rose or Rosa Nitida), and there are thickets of blooming elderflower down by the river. Why look further. A month from now we'll have a deliciously floral vinegar to use in salad dressings and other sauces all through the winter. You can also infuse vinegar with herbs like thyme, rosemary, tarragon, oregano or sage. If you have nasturtium, that tastes great too. Some people use plain vinegar but I prefer white wine or apple cider vinegar, which have a smoother finish and more depth of flavor. Don't discard the pickled flowers. Those are tasty too.

What would you use to infuse your vinegar?

Ingredients

• 2 cups loosely packed wild roses (20-25 heads) or elderflowers (6-8 large heads) • 4 cups white wine or apple cider vinegar

Clean the flowers and remove any insects. Put them in a sterilized jar and fill with the vinegar. Store in a cool, dark place with a lid for at least a month before using. At this point you can strain out the flowers/herbs. Will keep for over a year in a cool, dark place.

Chanterelles and Turnips with Garlic Butter and Creamy Polenta

As you may have noticed, wild mushrooms are starting to pop out. One of the tastiest 'shrooms you can find on Cape Breton Island is the Chanterelle (mushroom ID info here). All of mine were foraged after a nice day of rain. Let's hope we get some more of that! I usually prepare my mushrooms in a simple way; sautéed in butter and garlic. Wine (in this case pear wine) is added and reduced to concentrate the flavors. I threw in some turnips, because they too taste great with garlic and butter. Make sure to top this dish with the freshest, leafiest thyme you can get.

Enjoy!

Will serve 4 people

Chanterelles and Turnips

• 2 cups chanterelles • 2 medium-sized turnips, thinly sliced • 4 tablespoons butter • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped • 1/4 cup white wine • couple sprigs of thyme • salt + ground black pepper

In a pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Sautée the turnips and chanterelles for 2-3 minutes. Add half of the garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, and wine. Reduce until the liquid is almost gone. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and swirl in the rest of the butter and garlic. Serve on polenta.

Creamy Polenta

• 1 cup cornmeal • 3 cups chicken or mushroom stock • 1/4 cup cream • 1/2 cup parmesan, asiago or aged cheddar • a pinch of salt

Bring the stock to a simmer and add the cornmeal. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 10-20 minutes, depending if the cornmeal is fine or coarse. Remove from heat, add the cream and cheese. Season with salt.