- Sufficient fancy-ass crusty white bread (french loaf or pain du campagne or bruschetta bread) for a slice each per diner.
- Single or double cream. Delia Smith says soured cream will curdle if boiled, so use fresh cream.
- Mushrooms - chestnut or exotic woodland varieties, or little field mushrooms, or a mix as preferred.
- Salt and pepper.
- Stinging-nettle tops - a plastic shopping bagful will feed about 20 people.
- Dry white wine - about a cupful.
- First, pick your stinging nettles. You want to wear heavy gardening gloves for this bit, and thick trousers and long sleeves. You want the only top whorls of young, fresh growth - not the older leaves. And try to find tall ones that dogs won't have peed on.
- Switch to rubber gloves and wash the leaves thoroughly. Pick out all the more fibrous stems.
- Toast the slices of bread on each side until golden. Keep warm. In medieval meals, "sops" (stale bread used to soak up juices) were a staple.
- Wash and dice the mushrooms. Set aside.
- Slice the leek finely and fry gently in lots of butter until soft.
- Add wine to the leek.
- Add nettles to the leek. They will collapse down as they cook, just as fresh spinach does: a huge panful will reduce in a couple of minutes. And they will stop being painful to touch at this point!
- In a separate frying pan, start frying the mushrooms in yet more butter, gently.
- Salt and pepper the greens. Add cream and bring to a simmer, for about 3 minutes.
- Before anything is reduced to mush, plate up a slice of bread each, topped with butter-fried mushrooms, topped by a slop of creamy nettles. Serve it forth. Yum.
|The "subtlety" or "conceit" - a display piece in which the food is made to look like something it is not. In this case, sugar and marzipan made to look like a snow-scene. Sadly, I cannot take credit for this gorgeous artistic creation!|