Manzanita berries are ripening all over California right now, but few know that they are not only edible, but are well worth your time to collect. The secret? Grind the dry, apple-like berries to make a sort of manzanita sugar.
It’s huckleberry season here in the West. And while my favorite way to eat hucks is in a bowl with cream, I also love huckleberry muffins. My version has a bit of a tang to it from sour cream.
I don’t eat a lot of sweet things, but I do have a soft spot for cookies. These I call “Bacchus Biscuits,” and they’re my take on a Greek fennel seed cookie. It’s like a shortbread cookie, not too sweet, with toasted fennel seeds in it. They last a while and are great as a quick snack.
There is a legend among a certain set of pastry chefs about the miraculous qualities of rendered bear fat in pastry. Well, it’s true. While these may be pretty classic buttermilk biscuits, they are the flakiest you will ever eat.
If you want to know what I am munching as I hit the road for a very long book tour, it’s these cookies. Acorn flour makes a damn good shortbread because shortbread doesn’t really need gluten to be good. These are nutty and sweet, with a hint of vanilla and maple.
Snowball cookies were my favorite Christmas cookie when I was growing up. My mum made them with regular walnuts, but my rendition of this classic cookie uses wild black walnuts, plus a little orange liqueur.
Buttermilk huckleberry cake. Even with frozen huckleberries, it’s as good as it looks. And I owe it all to Heidi Swanson, whose new vegetarian cookbook made even me take notice.
The more I work with wild nuts, the more I appreciate the ones you buy in the store. Shelling wild pine nuts is not the most exciting thing I’ve ever done, but I’m glad I did it.