Monday, August 27, 2007

Elderberry Pie and Green Walnuts

Would I make elderberry pie and crack green walnuts on my own? Nope. Too much bother for both items, thanks anyway. BUT I did do both last week.

James Ormsby is a chef in SF we've worked with for years. He's threatened to come down to the farm to cook with us (for us?) after walking our fields. Last week I received an email that the family he is currently private chef-ing for was away and he wanted to cook. I replied that he should stop teasing us and just get on his motorcycle and get down here. He arrived the following day.

Chef James and Mr. Chardgirl walked the fields: they brought home tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers, zuchetta rapicantes, elderberries, and green walnuts.

On the way home they stopped by Deep Roots Farm to pick up our raw milk share and visit the piglets we plan to bring home in 3 weeks when they are ready to be weaned.

Chef J. started by making an elderberry pie. All in all it was quite easy, EXCEPT the elderberry part: you have to remove the stems, there are lots and they are little. He used a fork and it was clear he was a professional. It was a fun endeavor while having a visitor, but not for daily life. Pie is quite easy for me: the food processor makes a quick crust, and as long as the filling isn't too time intensive, 'easy as pie' makes sense. Unless you're making elderberry pie!

Here's the basic elderberry pie recipe:

1 metal pie pan, enough dough for a 2 crust pie, 3 cups washed and stemmed elderberries, 1/2 cup flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar. Mix the washed elderberries with the flour and sugar, add to uncooked pie crust. Add pie crust top. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven (ours was at 400 degrees) and make sure it doesn't burn, but that the elderberries are all truly cooked through. The pie was delicious, by the way.

Elderberry Pie Photo Essay

James also made a little 'ice milk'. He took the whole milk he and Mr. Chardgirl picked up at Deep Roots Ranch (any whole milk will do!) and chopped lemon verbena and lime leaves (formerly known as 'kaffir', not a nice word to use!) and put them in 1 1/2 cups of milk with about a half cup of sugar, into a pyrex cup, then heated it in the microwave. Then we chilled that for about 3 hours while making the rest of the meal. After eating, we strained the chilled milk/herb mixture, and then put that in my little Donvier ice cream maker. Wow. This was a treat!

For dinner we had:

-grilled zucchettas (these are long skinny zucchini things; he halved each one lengthwise and marinated them in garlic/chile flake oil)

-grilled sausages (a few from Fatted Calf and a few from Boccalone, we're friends with both groups of folks)

-marinated roasted pepper salad

-heirloom tomato/basil salad (Chef J. said he's made it hundreds of times if not more, and rolled his eyes as I took photos, I got the sense he was 'over' basiled heirloom salad, but when it came time to eat it all of us enjoyed the salad)

-sunchokes braised in milk

-Wok-fried padron & friarelli peppers and immature serrano peppers. Salt is all you need.

while waiting for the zucchettas to marinate, the pie to cook and cool, the peppers to roast, and the coals to heat: we all cracked green walnuts. This is lots of labor for very little walnut meat. They do have a mildly nutty, only vaguely walnuty flavor, not at all bitter, and a delicate crunch. They were just very very tasty. Right now in mid/late August you can find green walnuts in abundance on trees. Chef J. decided they would be their own dish, a couple of us sprinkled them on the tomato salad.

Photo Essay of the Savory part of the meal


Robert Harris said...

Dear ChardGirl,
I have read on other sites that Elderberry seeds are poisonous but since you used the whole berries, this must be an untruth?

Robert Harris

Anita said...

If you want to sell elderflowers next year, let me know. :)

Also, a fantastic use of green walnuts -- if you get to them in June before the shells mature -- is making Nocino, a traditional Italian liqueur. It's very simple; the hardest part is waiting until the holiday season to drink it, when the bitterness subsides.

Lindy said...

Elderberry pie - brings back memories. This was my Dad's very favorite. My grandmother (his mother) always made it for him - my mother wouldn't do it :) Elderberries grew wild in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of MI - my Dad would pick and his mother did the rest.

Recipes: I never heard of zuchettas - sounds good. How does one make a garlic/chili flake oil?
Also - marinated roasted pepper salad and heirloom tomato/basil salad - need the how to on these also.

Everything sounded so good - some things I had never heard of but will look for at the next farmer's market I visit.

Thanks, Lindy

ChardGirl said...

Hello, Robert:

Yes, I should have mentioned that: elderberries are a tad toxic *if they're not cooked all the way*. But cooked they're fine. A truly old fashioned, wild food. The elderberry trees on our farm are basically weeds turned into trees. It was chefs that we sell to that visited our farm that pointed out we could harvest and sell the elderberries!


ChardGirl said...


I will post about the zucchettas and marinating, and photos, and tomato basil salad: all tonight! stay tuned.


RyanTJ said...

Do you sell elderberries in bulk? Dried or fresh? Please contact me.

SGolis said...

Elderberry pie when made right is a little slice of heaven. I grow elderberries and I am always looking for new pie recipes. Your recipe sounds very good. Thanks for sharing.