May 20, 2009

nettles, more than just a weed

in my attempts to clean up the garden, i noticed that the poor peonies were being attacked by nettles. i did remember to use gloves, but then i moved along the peony bed and put my bare knee on them, painfull. it seems that the new growth has a more bitter sting than late summer growth, could be my imagination as well. (and now that i've educated myself more on nettles, i know that baby nettles aren't as bad as the full grown)

i had quite a pile of nettles when i remembered that mami (our belated grandmother) used to gather nettles in early summer and make nettle pancakes, and also dry nettles to use later in the year. traditionally nettles are used to treat asthma, rheumatishm and kidney stones. it is a diuretic, it contains iron, calsium, vitamin c and protein. nettles can be used in cooking in anything you'd use spinach in. i decided to make pancakes.

i started by picking out the real weeds and rinsing the nettles, then boiling them for 5mins, cooling in the very coldest tapwater (i would have used icewater but tapwater at the schack is approx +5C at this time of year), squeezing out excess water

after squeezing the water out, you end up with bright green blob of goodness, which you chop up fine

the batter takes 6 dl room temperature milk (any milk will do), 2 eggs, 2 to 3 dl plain flour, white pepper and salt to taste (i omit salt since i cut using it wherever possible), 2 tbs melted butter (or your favourite fat in liquid form, i would not used olive oil, though). the amount of nettles in this batch was 1,5 dl. mix 2 dl milk with the eggs, start adding the flour little by little while whisking constantly, slowly adding rest of the milk, all this to avoid big lumps. when all the other incredients are mixed, add the butter and chopped nettles. the batter should be thicker than for crepes but thinner than for american type pancakes.

i like using this ancient cast iron pan, it's well seasoned and i rarely get those first batch disasters. you just need to be patient to let it warm up slowly to medium hot. you can use any size pan, cast iron or teflon or anything else. teflon has the benefit that you don't have to use any fat. this batch made close to 50 silver dollar pancake -size pancakes. i find it easiest to use this kind of pan, and faster. if using this pan, 2 to 3 tbs of batter is sufficent, fry until top sets and bottom is lightly browned.

as with spinach pancakes, i serve the pancakes with lingonberry jam

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