Fred catches up with comedy hero John Cleese.
Cooking with Wild Garlic
Wild garlic choux potatoes
• 175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened
• small handful wild garlic, shredded
• 110g/4oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
• 2 free-range eggs, beaten
• 175g/6oz mashed potato
• Summer harvest rapeseed oil , for frying
• For the choux potatoes, line a baking tray with cling film.
• Mix 110g/4oz of the butter in a bowl with the wild garlic until well combined. Spoon the mixture onto a piece of greaseproof paper and roll it up into a cylinder. Chill in the fridge until set.
• Heat the remaining 65g/2oz butter and 110ml/4fl oz water in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Stir in the flour and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture leaves the side of the pan.
• Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the mashed potato until well combined. Season with salt.
• Spoon the mixture onto the baking tray and chill in the fridge.
• Heat a deep-fat fryer to 170C/325. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
• Slice the chilled butter in rounds.
• Flour your hands lightly, then shape some of the potato mixture around a slice of butter to form a neat ball. Fry the choux ball for 2-3 minutes, or until golden-brown. Remove from the oil and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining butter slices and potato mixture.
Wild garlic potato cakes
• 800g/1lb 12oz floury potatoes, such as Dunbar Standards, peeled
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 100g/4oz wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
• about 2 tbsp summer harvest rapeseed oil
• To make the potato cakes, finely grate the potatoes into a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the chopped garlic leaves. In a heavy-based frying pan, heat one tablespoon of oil until it is just beginning to smoke. Press one quarter of the potato mixture into a 10cm/4in chefs' ring, add to the hot pan and cook over a medium heat until golden-brown. Remove from the ring and brown the other side. This should take 8-10 minutes in total. Repeat with remaining mixture to make four cakes altogether, adding more oil as needed, and placing them on a baking tray as they are cooked.
Wild Garlic soup
1. 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
2. 2 onions, finely diced
3. 4 large (about 800g) floury potatoes, diced
4. 600ml hot vegetable (or chicken) stock
5. About 100g stale rustic bread, such as sourdough or ciabatta, torn into pieces
6. 3-4 handfuls wild garlic, washed but whole
7. Extra-virgin olive oil (preferably a peppery one), to serve
8. 1 dried red chilli, crumbled, to serve (optional)
1. Gently heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned. Stir in the potatoes and a good pinch of sea salt, cover and reduce the heat to low. Sweat for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes start to look fluffy around the edges. Check they aren’t catching.
2. Add the stock to the pan, increase the heat slightly and bring the soup up to a simmer but don’t boil. Simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the potatoes are really soft. Add the bread pieces and mash them gently into the soup. You could purée the soup but I use a potato masher as this gives it more texture.
3. Check the seasoning and thickness of the soup. Remove from the heat and add the wild garlic to wilt, or line the soup bowls with the wild garlic and then pour in the soup. Put the extra-virgin olive oil and the chilli, if using, on the table for people to help themselves. You could also garnish the soup with a grated, crumbly cheese, such as Parmesan, Pecorino or even Lancashire
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