Forgotton Feast Friday: Spruced-Up Weekend Recipes
Yay! The weekend has arrived! Something about this week has me feeling beat, and I'm definitely ready to relax. How about winding down with an herbaceous, citrusy spruce beer? Maybe with some garlic and pine butter-topped "crashed" potatoes at dinner?
In Wednesday's post, I mentioned that the aroma of coniferous plants does wonders for your immune system, promoting a sense of invigoration, warmth, and well-being. As well as being a great asset to your arsenal of herbal remedies, however, the flavor profiles of some common coniferous trees and shrubs also make them wonderful cooking herbs. Consuming the needles is a delicious way to increase your intake of vitamins A, C, B vitamins, and iron, as well as antioxidants. In fact, pine needles contain 5x as much vitamin C per serving than lemons!
Many of my readers are probably familiar with the taste of roasted pine nuts, which typically come from California and Nevada, but if you're feeling creative and adventurous, you can also cook with the young needles, or even the bark! Pine and fir are both described as having an herbaceous and citrusy flavor. Fir is the sweeter of the two, with the flavor even being compared to that of tangerines. Pine is more aromatic, like rosemary, and comparably earthy. Spruce is reminiscent of orange peel; bright, slightly floral, and fresh. The use of conifers in cooking isn't new. In fact, it had been eaten to combat scurvy since the 1500's! But it is becoming increasingly trendy. You can find recipes for pine and spruce ranging from soups and salad to ice cream, and even flavorful salts! We won't go crazy today, though... We'll keep it simple with our butter and our beer!
Garlic & Pine Butter Crashed Potato
8 small red potatoes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temp.)
2 medium garlic cloves
1 1/2 tsp fresh, finely chopped pine needles
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Boil potatoes in water until tender enough to mash.
In the meantime, press the garlic cloves through a garlic press, or mince and then crush with fork. (Tip: Crushing garlic makes it more flavorful than simply cutting it up!) Then, put the garlic in a small bowl. Add the butter and chopped rosemary and mix well.
Once the potatoes are tender, lightly oil a baking sheet and place your potatoes on the sheet. Press your potatoes down with the bottom of a drinking glass until the tops are split and they look slightly squished. Top with your herb butter and cracked black pepper to taste. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
(Northern Brewer has a great selection of beer-brewing products here: www.northernbrewer.com)
4 oz. hops
4 oz. fresh spruce tips
17 gallon of water
2 gallons of molasses
1 cup brewer's yeast
Boil your hops and your spruce tips for half an hour in 1 gallon of water. Afterward, remove the boiled plant matter with a strainer and add the rest of your water (warm) and molasses. Pour it all in a clean cask and add your brewer's yeast. Let it age for a week before drinking, adding a tablespoon of molasses to each bottle before consuming. Enjoy!