Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

As someone who cooks a lot and eats out quite a bit too, it is unusual for me to come across an ingredient I have not seen or heard of before. These Fiddlehead Ferms that we found in Dean and Deluca were unlike anything I had seen before. Apparently they taste like a blend of asparagus, green bean and artichoke. They are the only edible fern, other types of fern can apparently cause cancer so I am not planning going out into the woodland and foraging for these any time soon! They look positively prehistoric and I am wondering when or if they will make it to the UK! If you have ever tried them, let me know!


David Hall said...

Hi Hannah

Never had them before but heard of them. Did you get any and if so, any good? Really interesting, I love a forest freebie and making the most of the ramsons at the moment.

By the way, I'm maing your ginger and clotted cream ice cream for a dining event I'm doing this Saturday. Serving it with my rich ginger cake - a MasterChef double whammy from the Hannah and Hall Show!


Magic Cochin said...

I'd love to try Fiddlehead Fern shoots. In Japan, Hida province, we had a noodle soup with 'forest herbs' which included tiny ferns - delicious!

Your NY foodie adventures sound fabulous!


Marina said...

Hi Hannah,

I really enjoy your blog (which is not surprising because I thought you were superb on Masterchef!) and the post about fiddleheads struck a chord, so I thought I'd say hello. I'm from the US and have had some memorable fiddlehead dishes; I now live in Scotland, and have seen some growing in the woods in early spring, but people always seem to think I'm crazy when I talk about cutting and cooking them...

I know somewhere I have some recipes that I jotted down from a cookbook that I believe was from someplace called the Fiddlehead Cafe (something like that, the place was in Alaska if memory serves!)--I'd be happy to track them down if you're curious. (You can swap asparagus in the recipes.)

All best,


Anonymous said...

We saw these at an open-air market in Ottowa while on holiday three years ago and I'd forgotten all about them until I saw your blog post! They do look unusual, don't they?

Marie said...

WE often ate fiddlehead greens back in Canada. They do taste quite similar to a green bean. We used to gather them wild in the early spring on the banks of the St John River when we lived in Fredericton, but then you can also buy them frozen as well. They are delightfully delicious, and taste all the better for having foraged for them for yourself!

Anonymous said...

Hannah, We loved seeing Masterchef and it is a delight to me to find your blog. In New Zealand these fiddlehead ferns (or something very like them) are called piko piko and are used in an emerging Maori gourmet cuisine. A friend of mine (a caterer) uses them for extra special dishes (they are expensive)and perhaps valued for presentation rather than taste? I haven't tasted one yet but imagine they would come somewhere between asparagus and samphire.
Warm regards to you

Hannah said...

David - good luck with the dinner - I would love a bowl of your rich ginger cake with my ice cream - can you post some!!!!

Celia - that soup sounds amazing - did you manage to snaffle the recipe from the chef by any chance?

Marina - I loved hearing about the Fiddlehead Cafe - how amazing that there is a whole cafe dedicated to them! I would love to have a recipe if you can find one and will happily post it up credited to you

Thanks Jeanette for your lovely holiday memories and Marie I am so jealous that you use to go and collect them yourself! That has to be the ultimate foraging expereince

Hi Stephanie - thank you for your post and glad that you have found the blog! I love the image of these ferns being cooked by mauris - pico pico is just a great name


LadiesoftheHouse said...

Fiddlehead ferns are served here in Alaska quite often.
I love your blog and visit whenever I can. Have a great week!

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Wow - we could have had these under F for Ferns!!
Dont know if Freddie would have liekd them - what are they like in consistency and texture?

Anonymous said...

Fiddleheads are fantastic! I grew up in the woods on the East Coast of Canada, and we had these every spring - generally gathered by my grandmother. They are so delicate, so... spring!

Steam them for a few minutes, until they are tender - but not too tender! You know the fluo green veggies get when they are cooked. Try one - they should be creamy and soft with ever the slightest hint of firm. Serve them with a dop of butter and salt and pepper. They are wonderful. To be more traditional, serve them with a little decanter of white or cider vinegar on the side, and sprinkle them with some just before you eat. They're good like this, but I prefer them without.