Forage for wild food and discover delicious edible plants growing everywhere—including your backyard—and how best to prepare them to highlight their unique flavors, with this seasonally organized field guide and cookbook.
While others have identified in the past which wild plants are edible, Tama Matsuoka Wong, the forager for Daniel, the flagship restaurant of renowned chef Daniel Boulud, and Eddy Leroux, its chef de cuisine, go two steps further, setting the bar much higher. First, they have carefully selected only the wild plants that are worth seeking out for their fabulous flavors. Second, after much taste-testing, they have figured out the best way to prepare each ingredient—a key in getting to know these exciting new foods. In Foraged Flavor, they reveal their seventy-one favorite plants, which are easy to identify and can be harvested sustainably across the country (including at farmers’ markets for those without access to nearby fields and forests). Tama helps readers uncover bright lemony oxalis growing in patches of their lawn or creeping jenny, with its unmistakable leaves and delicate green-pea flavor. Eddy then gives simple recipes to showcase the foraged finds, including Cardamine Cress with Fennel and Orange Vinaigrette; Braised Beef, Dandelion Leaves, and Clear Noodles; and Purslane Eggplant Caponata.
With twenty-five botanical illustrations, fifty color photographs of the plants, and tons of field- and kitchen-tested know-how, Foraged Flavor will be an indispensable guide for cooking enthusiasts.
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces (about ½ loaf) country bread, baguette, or other crusty bread, sliced 1 inch thick
1 small white onion, chopped
1 ounce (1 ¼ cups) tender chickweed greens or other wild green such as gallium or cress, plus more for serving
1 ½ ounces Gorgonzola or other tangy blue cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1. In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the bread, pressing down on the slices. Toast each side until lightly browned.
2. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add the chickweed and cook for a few minutes, or until tender and bright green.
3. Meanwhile, in a small pot, melt the Gorgonzola and cream over low heat.
4. Spoon equal portions of the chickweed on top of each bread slice and drizzle with the cheese sauce. Sprinkle with walnuts and a few raw sprigs of chickweed and serve.
Excerpted from Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong with Eddy Leroux; Foreword by Daniel Boulud Photographs by Thomas Schauer. Copyright © 2012 by Tama Matsuoka Wong with Eddy Leroux; Foreword by Daniel Boulud Photographs by Thomas Schauer. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Tama Matsuoka Wong
TAMA MATSUOKA WONG is the forager for restaurant Daniel in New York City and enjoys relationships with organizations that include the Audubon Society and Slow Food. After more than twenty-five years as a financial services lawyer, she launched Meadows and More, LLC, to connect experts in the field of meadow restoration, botany, and wildlife with people in the community. In 2007, she was named Steward of the Year by the New Jersey Forest Service. Visit her at www.MeadowsandMore.com.
About Eddy Leroux
EDDY LEROUX is the chef de cuisine at Daniel, the award-winning flagship restaurant of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud.
About Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud was raised in Lyons, France, on his family's farm. After working in the kitchens of some of the most prestigious chefs in Europe, including George Blanc, Michel Guerard, and Roger Verge, he came to the United States in 1980. In the ensuing decade, he dazzled New York with his work at the Polo Restaurant, Le Regence, and the world-renowned Le Cirque, before opening Restaurant Daniel. He has been voted Best Chef of the Year by his professional colleagues in the Chef in America Association and Best Chef in America by the James Beard Foundation. Restaurant Daniel was chosen by Bon Appetit, Gault Millau, and the International Herald Tribune as the best restaurant in the United States and was awarded four stars by The New York Times and five stars by the Mobil Travel Guide. He has appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, TVFN's Cook Book Kitchen, and PBS's Cuisine Rapide with Pierre Franey, and is consistently lauded in the press as one of the most exceptional French chefs cooking in America today. Restaurant Daniel opened in the spring of 1993 to immediate success and acclaim and is now a member of France's prestigious Relais and Chateau Association.
“Much more than a field guide with recipes, this is a fascinating introduction to the nearly lost art of foraging for wild edibles. Tama and Eddy are truly passionate in their approach; their enthusiasm is inspiring.”
—David Tanis, author of Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys
“I love any book that brings more plants into our world, and wild plants have the most special place in the kitchen. The combination of sound information and delectable recipes couldn’t be more enticing. A lovely book!”
—Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors
“This is a charming and informative introduction to harvesting and cooking with wild plants in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way. Eddy Leroux’s interesting and delicious recipes alone make the book a must-have.”
—Daniel Patterson, chef-owner of Coi
“Foraged Flavor is the perfect guide for the home cook to the bounty and beauty of what’s growing right there in your own backyard. Tama shares her enthusiasm for foraging and turns you on to harvesting from the ‘wild’ and Eddy's recipes turn the ‘wilderness’ into pure deliciousness.”
—Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, authors of Canal House Cooking
“Foraged Flavor isn’t just a collection of gourmet recipes for weeds and other unappreciated plants. . . . [It] matches the distinctive, variously nutty, tart, sour, hot, minty tastes of these wild herbs—for a weed, after all, is just a plant we don’t like—with their soul mates (ginger or mustard or pine nuts).”
—The New York Times
“Foraged Flavor is an unusual book in that it’s a joint effort between a forager (Wong) and a chef (Leroux), so in may ways, it provides the best of both worlds: information on the plants plus recipes that provide a sophisticated, culinary usage that go beyond teas and salads.”
“The book could be called Foraged Urban Flavor as I count only a handful of plants in the book that I can’t find growing wild in my own garden or within a short distance. . . . The ingredients are easy to source (even in my inner-city neighborhood) and the recipes are simple enough that someone like me could follow them.”
“In a few hours a truck would arrive at Ms. Wong’s house in rural Hunterdon County [New Jersey] to pick up bags of deadnettle, creeping jenny, chickweed, and other plants most people would step over or pull out. They will be delivered to Daniel, the three-Michelin-star Manhattan flagship of chef Daniel Boulud. Ms. Wong is the restaurant’s forager, relied on to help keep the menu diverse, unique, and flavorful. ‘With Tama, the level of trust is absolute,’ said Daniel’s chef de cuisine Eddy Leroux . . . The recipes [in Foraged Flavor] are largely simplified versions of dishes on the Daniel menu, such a pan-roasted wild turbot with pine needles and spring wild herb ravioli with Gorgonzola, which includes deadnettle, wild garlic mustard, chickweed, and dandelion.”
—The Wall Street Journal