All photos copyright: Marte Marie Forsberg
Whilst scrolling through Instagram, I came across the wonderful Marte Marie Forsberg, a food writer and photographer whose visual storytelling has inspired me to want to get back into the kitchen and cook for my family. The timing in discovering her sumptuous recipes could not be better!
Marte was born and raised off the coast of Norway where her mother taught her the arts of resourcefulness, learning to garden, forage and cook. After achieving two degrees, one in Fashion Design and the other in Middle Eastern Studies, she has turned her talents to photography, combining this with her passion for food and design. Her visual storytelling is inspirational, showing the rolling meadows and charming villages of Dorset and Wiltshire at their very best. I could not have been more excited to see that many of the photographs had been taken at Pythouse where my family and I were lucky enough to move last year.
Last year Marte published her first recipe book, The Cottage Kitchen, where her pared back aesthetic of Scandinavian chic mixed with English antiques and homely clutter is so beautifully shown. We asked her to share some of her favourite spring recipes: something healthy, something foraged, something to share with family for a big feast and something treaty. This is what she has sent us.
Nettle and Potato Soup (Serves 4)
2 tablespoons salted butter
1 medium leek, cleaned well and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
60g small spring potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 to 2 teaspoon fennel seeds, coarsely ground
1L vegetable stock
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
200ml plus one tablespoon water
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
40g fresh early spring nettles, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sour cream, for serving
1 scallion, trimmed and sliced, for garnish
Olive oil, for drizzling
In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leek, celery, potatoes, shallots, garlic, and fennel seeds. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. The potatoes will still be quite hard.
In a separate medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm the stock. Add the the stock to the vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
In a small bowl, stir together the flour and water, or shake it in a liquid-tight container until completely dissolved. Add the flour mixture to the soup and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the nettled and cook for 2 to 3 minutes before whizzing it all together with an immersion blender (or working in batches in a regular blender).
Serve warm topped with a spoonful of sour cream, sliced scallions, a drizzle of olive oil, and pepper.
TIP: Make sure to use only early spring nettles, before they have bloomed and gone coarse, as the older nettles will not yield the same fresh flavour.
Wild Garlic Pesto (Makes 500ml)
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
40g pecorino, grated
40g Parmesan, grated
100g fresh spinach, washed well and drained
50g wild garlic leaves
60g pine nuts
50ml olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sea salt
In a blender, blend together the pepper, pecorino, Parmesan, spinach, garlic leaves, pine nuts, oil, red pepper flakes, and salt until it reaches a creamy consistency. If storing, sterilise 1 or 2 jars, depending on the size of the jars. Pour the pesto into the jar(s) and refrigerate. This is best consumed on the day it's made, although it will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week
Easter Star Anise Leg of Lamb (Serves 6)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the meat
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
9 whole star anise
1 garlic head, plus 10 cloves, halved
2 to 3 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 to 3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 dried bay leaves
1.8kg leg of lamb, on the bone
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon salted butter
120ml white wine, plus more for basting
Preheat the over to 120°C / 250°F.
In a large Dutch oven or an ovenproof dish, with a lid, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion, carrot and 4 star anise and cook, stirring, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the halved garlic head, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables and herbs to a plate. Save any liquid for stock and wipe the pot clean.
Liberally massage the lamb with oil and season with salt and pepper. Using a sharp knife, make 20 small cuts into the meat. Break the remaining star anise into small pieces. Insert half a garlic clove into each cut, followed by a piece of anise.
Place the Dutch oven over high heat and melt the butter. Add the lamb and cook until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes, making sure to turn it so all sides are browned. Transfer the meat to a plate. Add the wine to the pot and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the vegetables to the pot and set the leg of lamb on top. Cover tightly and place in the over.
Roast, basting every 30 minutes or so with the remaining wine and the sauce forming in the bottom of the Dutch oven, until the meat is falling off the bone, 4 to 5 hours. Transfer the lamb to a plate or cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter; discard the thyme and rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves. Arrange the lamb on top of the vegetables. Tent with foil to keep warm.
Pour any remaining liquid from the bottom of the Dutch oven into a medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half, 4 to 6 minutes. Strain the gravy and serve alongside the meat and vegetables.
Primrose and Passion Fruit Eton Mess (Serves 6-8 / 12 Meringues)
4 medium egg whites
200g caster sugar
300g Clotted Cream
300g whipped cream
100g fresh passion fruit flesh, or if unavailable, store-bought passion fruit coulis
1/2 cup toasted pistachios
Handful of fresh primrose flowers
Preheat the over to 100°C / 210°F. Line 1 or 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric hand mixer until soft peaks form, 5 to 6 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar until it's incorporated. Continue to beat the whites until the mixture is thick and holds stiff peaks, 4 to 10 minutes.
Spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet. Aim to form twelve 8- to 10-centimetre / 3- to 4-inch disks, keeping in mind that the diameter will enlarge as the meringues bake. The disks don't have to be perfect. (A tip for keeping the paper in place while spooning out the meringue is to add a tiny dollop of the meringue mixture underneath each corner of the paper.)
Bake the meringues until they are crisp on the outside and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the humidity. Let cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
To assemble, break the meringues into 2 or 3 pieces and layer them in small tumblers or bowls. Top with clotted cream and passion fruit coulis, and sprinkle with the toasted pistachios and fresh primroses.
TIP: The meringues can easily be made in advance, and when completely cooled, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Hoping this gives you a little inspiration and joy during these testing times.