Thursday, 19 June 2008

May The Best Sting Win

This weekend is the start of officially the most dangerous food competition in the United Kingdom; The World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships. I've mentioned in a previous post my first experience with a nettle as a naked 7 year old lad. If anybody had asked me and my Calamine Lotion covered body back then what I would think of such a competition, I would have certainly continued to cry. Now, I love them. Not enough to enter a nettle eating competition mind. I'll leave that to the pro's.

In celebration of our delicious and common wild herb, I've made a little tart that would certainly make a good discussion point at any dinner party. They look pretty and taste delicious. If you are lucky whilst out picking nettles, you will find lots of wild garlic or ‘ramsons’ in woodland at this time of the year, distinctive by their white flowers and mild garlic smell. Experiment with the cheese. Try and get hold of a Cornish Yarg, a cheese which has been matured wrapped in nettle leaves. And if you still can't get your head around the fact you are eating something that might sting you if not prepared properly, use spinach instead.

Nettle, Wild Garlic and Egg Tart
Makes 4 individual tarts or one large tart

For the pastry
100g plain flour
100g wholemeal flour
100g butter or margarine
Pinch of salt
Water

250g nettles
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 handful of wild garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
100g cheddar cheese
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
Half tsp mace
Salt and pepper
4 eggs

1 – In a large bowl or food processor, combine the pastry ingredients with a little water until you achieve a stiff dough. Wrap in cling-film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, GM4.
2 – With rubber gloves on, wash the nettles thoroughly, picking over the leaves and ensuring that any tough stalks are removed. Place into a saucepan on a medium heat and allow to wilt for 2-3 minutes, stirring now and again.
3 – Drain the nettles in a colander or sieve, allow to cool then squeeze out the water, roughly chop then set aside.
4 – Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the shallot and garlic. Soften without colouring, and then stir in the chopped nettles, cheese, yoghurt, mace and seasoning. Take off the heat and combine to a loose paste.
5 – Roll out the pastry and line your tart cases, pricking a few holes with a fork. Trim off any excess then allow to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes, before lining with baking parchment and filling with baking beans. Blind bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes, remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes.
6 – Fill the cooked tart cases with the nettle mixture making a dent in the middle with a spoon for the egg to sit. Break the eggs individually into a cup then gently pour into the tart. Sprinkle with a little finely grated cheese and a grinding of black pepper.
7 – Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Serve whilst still hot with a simple salad.

18 comments:

Magic Cochin said...

Those little tartlets look very very good! I was amazed the first time I tasted nettles - nettle soup, it tasted like fresh peas and broccoli combined. We inflicted it on friends just to see their reaction!

Celia

Jeena said...

I have never tried nettles before which seems a shame in a way because they are everywhere.

I remember your other post about nettles. :-)

Lisa said...

I'm fascinated by this recipe. I've never cooked with nettles, ever. I think I could be converted with these lovely tarts.

Aimée said...

I remember your nettle story, poor you. Lovely tart, I'd be up for the challenge. Also the competition sounds interesting--much better than the hot-dog eating ones over here.

Jan said...

What an interesting combination. It looks fabulous.

Wendy said...

Lovely! Will keep this on file till next year. There are still plenty of young nettles in the shady parts of the woods but my local the wild garlic patch is past its best now. :(

Holler said...

Rubber gloves on for picking those nettles! I can just see you going along with your marigolds on!
The tarlets look tasty David :)

Helen said...

Those tarts are beautiful! I still haven't got around to trying nettles but I usually see recipes for soups. I love the eggs on top too and wild garlic - yum! For these tarts I will forgive you for calling me Wendy in your last comment - tee hee. Don't worry, I love Wendy's blog so I took it as a compliment!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

I got stung by stinging nettles in Ireland! Man, that hurt! But I never would have thought to eat them...is there a non-stinging version? I have heard of nettles, but I always thought about my experience in Ireland and just stayed away!

Cynthia said...

I was joking the other day with my Brit-born best friend as we were watching yet another one of those activities where people hurt themselves in the name of fun games and sports and now you are here telling me about the World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships. What is it with you people, are you suckers for punishment? :D

Coffee & Vanilla said...

I must try finally nettle one day... As a child I remember feeding ducks while on holidays with it... but I never tried myself :)

Have a nice weekend David!

Petra Barran said...

You're never going to believe this Dave, but my friend Jo Carter is the world female champ at this very sport! They'll be there in Weymouth this w/e, swelling up their fingers with swathes of nettles and going green in the mouth...bright green. I'll let you know how she does!

XXX

Matin said...

They look wonderful.
Thanks for sharing:-)
X M

GBVC said...

David - I really love this recipe. We enjoyed trying out nettles - I will save this one for when we next get the urge!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, aren't those tarts lovely. They would make the perfect brunch item. And how excited would guest be when they find out that there's nettles in them? I don't need to have any Calamine lotion just in case, do I? ;)

Antonia said...

Such pretty tarts indeed. I've never cooked with or even eaten nettles... These really do inspire me to give them a try. Gloves at the ready!!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Wow! You can really eat them?! That's amazing. Can I hold you liable if I suffer serious stings whilst picking the ones in my garden tomorrow?!
Pigx

maybelles parents said...

Oh, this looks wonderful. i used nettles this year in patitsio. this year I made baked eggs in asparagus and ramp puree. But I didn't put it in the crust.