Bannocks are a traditional May Day food, and Beltane cake may have been similar: a scone-like bread cooked on a griddle over the Beltane fire. Wild garlic is carpeting every woodland floor at the moment, and it makes a savoury and aromatic addition.
Wild garlic bannocks
Makes up to 20 bannocks
550g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
a good handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and dried
150ml buttermilk (or full fat milk with 3 tbsp of yoghurt stirred in)
1 You can cook these over a griddle on a fire or hob, or in the oven. If cooking in the oven, preheat it to 230C/Fan 210C/450F.
2 In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, then chop in the butter and rub it in with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Slice the wild garlic leaves and mix them in.
3 Beat the egg into the buttermilk (or milk and yoghurt) and then start mixing it into the dry mix to form a dough. Bring it together and knead it briefly on a floured surface, before rolling it out to about an inch in thickness (a little thinner if cooking on the griddle) and cut out rounds or squares from it.
4 Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 mins, or place onto a hot griddle and cook for around 5 mins on each side. Test one to check that it is cooked through. Serve the bannocks hot, split and buttered.
This is a wonderful way of using up any asparagus ends and offcuts, as they are full of flavour but the processing removes any stringiness and toughness.
450g asparagus spears or offcuts
1 clove of garlic, crushed
60ml extra virgin olive oil (plus a little extra for finishing)
75g finely grated Parmesan cheese
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
1 Steam the asparagus over boiling water for 8-10 mins, until it can be easily pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from the heat and leave the asparagus to cool.
2 Dry fry the hazelnuts over a high heat for a few minutes until the skins start to come away and the nuts become slightly toasted. Remove from the heat and tip into a clean tea towel then rub off any loose skins.
3 When nuts and asparagus are cool, tip them into a food processor with the garlic, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until everything is broken up and amalgamated but still has some texture. If the pesto is too thick, add a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and
a squeeze of lemon juice, to taste.
More of Lia Leendertz's Beltane menu in the May issue of The Simple Things.