Edible municipal gardening in Switzerland

August 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

An idea from Switzerland that could work well back home. Municipal planting in the North of England where I come from tends to take the form of highly coloured highly regimented and highly maintained beds of marigolds, begonias, lobelia and the like. I saw recently in both Champéry and Vevey, two towns in la Suisse Romande (French speaking Switzerland), examples of edible flower beds.

In Vevey these were straightforward ornamental vegetables, rainbow chard, sweetcorn and tomatoes.

In Champéry, a more imaginative approach was taken. Herbs and edible plants were displayed in planters which formed a trail through the village with a recipe for the relevant edible plant displayed next to it. The recipes were compiled into a handy little brochure available from the tourist office.

Here are 3 of the recipes from the leaflet which appealed to me, including one featuring comfrey. Normally all my recipes are tried and tested but these are new to me. I shall be giving them a go as soon as I’m back in my own kitchen and can forage for the ingredients.

A photo of the planter containing comfrey (Symphytum officinale or consoude in French) appears at the bottom of the post.

Recipe for comfrey tzatziki

For 4 people. This recipe makes sense as tzatiki is usually made with cucumber and both comfrey and it’s cousin borage are said to have a cucumber-like taste. Rather worryingly, the original recipe states that comfrey should be consumed in moderation because of the potentially liver damaging compounds it contains. You have been warned!

Ingredients

300g natural yoghurt, ideally Greek style
6-7 young comfrey leaves
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
5 mint leaves, ideally wild mint
salt and pepper

Chop the comfrey and mint finely and mix with the yoghurt and olive oil. Season to taste. Leave for 1 hour in the fridge and mix again before serving.

Recipe for little elderberry cakes

Makes about 25 little cakes. These sound as if they’ll turn out like madeleines – I hope so as madeleines are just about my favourite small cakes.

Ingredients

150g flour
150g caster sugar
40g ground almonds (ideally bitter almonds)
2 teaspoons baking powder
The grated rind and juice of half a lemon
150-200g ripe elderberries removed from the stalk
3 eggs lightly beaten with a fork
150g melted butter
125g natural yoghurt
2 tbsp orange flower water

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, ground almonds, baking powder, grated lemon rind and elderberries. Take care not to crush the berries. In a second smaller bowl, mix the eggs, melted butter, yoghurt, lemon juice and orange flower water. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix and allow to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Drop teaspoons of the mixture into prepared silicone moulds (I plan to use my silicone madeleine moulds, otherwise use patty tins). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 220 degrees C. Leave for a few minutes before unmoulding.

Recipe for Charentais melon and wild mint salsa with melon and muscat sorbet and raw ham from the Val d’Illiez

Serves 4 I would guess. This is one of the sketchier recipes in the leaflet so please alter it as you see fit. No ingredients or method are given for the sorbet syrup so please consult your usual cookbook to see how to make this.

Ingredients

2 Charentais melons
1/2 cucumber
1 dessertspoon icing sugar
125 ml sugar syrup
Small glass Pineau de Charentes or other sweet muscat wine
4 handfuls salad leaves
4 to 8 slices Val d’Illiez or other raw thinly ham

Peel and deseed the melon and cucumber, cut into small cubes and marinate overnight in the fridge with the chopped mint and the spoonful of icing sugar. Liquidise and set aside.

To make the sorbet, peel and deseed the second melon, cube and liquids then mix with the 125 ml chilled sugar syrup and the small glass of muscat wine. Churn in an ice cream maker or freeze in a shallow plastic container stirring the mix from time to time.

Serve the smoothy and the sorbet with a few dressed salad leaves (use a vinaigrette flavoured with chopped wild mint) and scatter over the strips of raw ham.

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