There is a simple pleasure of collecting wild flowers in the middle of winter. The faint hints of white against the languid shades of bronze, tans and greens of long grasses and low lying vegetation; a kind remembrance of the vision of hope and life during the bleakest, most withered of days. The frenetic energy of life in town, slowly disperses, as we make our way to higher ground, inspiring stillness and a much needed moment of repose. I look up sometimes, at the solemn shades of the sky, the far off scent of smoke from a solitary farmhouse on the moors lingering delicately in the air. The wind remains unforgiving up here; most suiting, in this wild and untamed landscape. With laborious delirium, she howls, burning ears and biting fingers with her icy breath. Adamant, we remain on our path, in search of slumbering cottongrass, silvery-white heather and hiding moss.
The pilgrimage up to this bewitching, weather-beaten world, bestows a feeling of ethereality, a sort of sacredness that seems to replenish the soul and reawaken the spirit. Being here, in the moment, provides the allure of awareness, capturing, in essence, the expanses and depth of the self, a source of pure liberation and inspirational enrichment.
With spring still a fair future for us, the notion of its slow approach, with the onset of longer days, reassures and comforts. Persimmon and lemons, with their sunshine tones, provide a golden torch of promise for these prospects, particularly as we enter deep winter.
Gluten-free candied rosemary, goats milk + poppyseed pancakes
Although more akin to pikelets, these little pancakes are beautiful straight off the pan; fluffy, moist, slightly savoury. A lovely jam, or syrup would be the best way to eat them. To ensure that they do not become dry whilst cooking, the key is to ensure that you move very quickly; when the first side of the pancake is done, flip over and leave for only a few seconds, flip again, leave for a second, and flip one more time, ensure all is golden, then place on a warm plate.
The candied rosemary, bitter-sweet, can be eaten on its own if desired. It is used for decoration here and therefore is an optional addition; the rosemary sugar already provides the exact flavours of the candied herb.
Serves: approximately 8 mini pancakes
Cooking time: 15 minutes, plus overnight
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup + 2tbsp goats milk
1 tbsp ghee, melted + extra for frying
2 tbsp toasted poppyseeds
2 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tbsp rosemary sugar (recipe to follow)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Candied Rosemary (optional)
6 tbsp water
1 tsp orange blossom water
1-2 sprigs of rosemary, approximately 2-3 inches
3-4 tbsp caster sugar, for coating
whipped greek yoghurt
spiced persimmon and primofiori lemon curd (recipe to follow)
fruit and nuts of your choice
The candied rosemary is best made the night before. First, infuse the water with the orange blossom water in a small bowl. Then cover the rosemary stalks in the liquid for a few seconds after which you can coat the stalks in the sugar. Leave to dry overnight on a cooling rack.
When ready to make the pancakes, place all the ingredients into a bowl and mix only until everything is incorporated. Over a medium/low heat pour a small amount of ghee, or butter, into the pan. When ready, use a ladle to pour 1/8th of the batter into the pan. When the pancake is ready to be turned over (bubbles will begin to emerge on the top of the batter) flip over. Then, after a few seconds, flip back onto its other side (some of the batter may still be uncooked on one side, do not worry though), then, after a few more seconds, flip back, and leave for no more than 5 seconds (keep turning until the batter is cooked) and then place onto a warmed plate. Repeat, starting with adding more ghee to the pan.
What I adore most about this infused sugar, apart from its beautiful fragrance and its diversity of use, is that it can be used almost instantly. But when stored for a week in an airtight container, the flavours will enhance. I usually make it without the orange blossom water, however, it does make for a lovely addition, particularly if the sugar will be used shortly.
100g caster sugar
2 sprigs of rosemary, approximately 4-5 inches
1/4 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
In a coffee grinder, grind the rosemary finely and then place in an airtight jar with the sugar. Pour in the orange blossom water if desired. Use immediately, or else store for a week to strengthen flavour.
Spiced persimmon and primofiori lemon curd
This is rather a special curd; citrusy, honeyed, hints of spice and cedar forests. This curd complements the pancakes well, providing a sweet, creamy sharpness.
Makes: approximately 750g (4x250g jars)
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 mins
2 Spanish primofiori lemons (or any variety you may have)
2 kumquats, seeds removed
5 persimmons, pulped pureed
250g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten + 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp all-spice
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp gum mastic, ground finely (optional)
pinch of black pepper, ground
First, place the whole lemons on a griddle pan set on medium heat. Once the the lemons begin to sweat, turn over occasionally, until the fruit beings to charr in a few places. Take the lemons off the heat and grate the zest into a bowl. Cut the lemons in half and place back on the griddle, cut side down, and leave until charred and golden. Take the griddle off the heat and set aside. Juice the lemons in the bowl with the zest. Place the persimmon pulp into a blender with the lemon zest, juice and kumquats, black pepper, all-spice and gum mastic and blend until smooth. Stir the eggs into the smooth mixture and place into a pan over medium heat with the sugar and butter. Stir for 7-8 minutes, or until bubbling, and let it boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously, before turning off the heat and pouring the curd into sterilised sealable jars. When the curd is inside the jars and the lid is tightly closed, turn the jars upside down to create a vacuum seal. Leave until cool.
Store in a cool place and best used within 3 months.
Thank you for reading.