Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Têtes De Violon~Fiddlehead Ferns~

When our Secret Garden awakes..The Scillas pop up first..and soon after..almost simultaneously..

The Fiddleheads pop up and start to unfurl~

I have a 3 day grace period to gather them and bring them in to use in the kitchen~

I pick many..and leave more than most..

I bring them in a clean them.. then steam them for 15 minutes..
Ice bath shock them..and use them the same day..
I made quiche this time..

The recipe is simple..
You favorite crust..blind baked..

I used 3 eggs..

Ap. 3/4 cup of milk
1 cup of grated cheese

I sautéed 3/4 of the prepped fiddleheads in bacon ,garlic , shallots and red peppers..
Mixed into the eggs and cheese and milk and poured into the blind baked crust w/ favored herbs..
Topped with the remaining fiddleheads.. and some more cheese..baked at 400 for almost 1 hr..

I love their name..I love their taste..and I love that I pick them~

A brief pleasure..that I look forward to every year~
I used a 6 inch springform pan that is perfect for 2 meals for Jacques and I.
We had a side of home made coleslaw and some small tomatoes..
A nice light meal.
I find they are beautiful!

You must pick them as soon as they pop up.. do not wait for their unfurling..that's when you enjoy taking their photos..They are green divas who love being the center of attraction in the Secret Garden.:)


  1. First time visitor and just wanted to compliment on your beautiful photography.

  2. I have never heard of fiddleheads! I don't think you can buy them here in Texas. How do they taste. I'm fascinated!

  3. M, I always think of you and fiddleheads. I saw a few last week. Gorgeous quiche. It is fun picking our food... I have morels on my blog that I picked from the woods.

  4. Ferns will always remind me of you :) I have still yet to taste one, though, and I am curious about the favor. Pretty quiche!

  5. I've never had fiddleheads, either. What do they taste like? Your quiche looks amazing. Gorgeous!

  6. The pics are just beautiful...I have only tasted them once...perhaps I really need to again after seeing how lovely yours look!

  7. Beautiful...I haven't had fiddleheads in a few years. This looks like a a very tasty way to enjoy them...a work of art...lucky Jacque!

    1. Hi please.
      This is kalidasan from india. Am grower and supplier of exotic vegetables and herbs. Am looking fiddleheads ferns seeds please.

  8. Fiddleheads, bring back lots of memories from Maine, are you from the New England states, never heard of them being grown in a garden, they are a swamp vegtable and you have to go looking for them. Loved your blog. Mary

  9. not only is your photography a treat, but your recipe's are the dessert.

  10. Lovely pics! I have never had them either!

  11. What a unique dish. I remember your past fiddlehead photos. Just beautiful!

  12. Thank you..I am trying to find a description for the taste..some say bitter..but these aren't.. they melt in your mouth..and taste like a green..maybe like parts of rapini or spinach leaves once cooked..:)

  13. Look at all this info:) Thanks Kathleen..

    Jean-Philippe St-Denis sits on the stoop outside of his restaurant, Kitchen Galerie, a Montreal spot where the kitchen is part of the dining room and the chefs are also the waiters. St-Denis has become the face of a generation redefining the city’s cuisine from opulence to local and rustic. He makes a broad declaration: “Simple food is the new food of Montreal.”

    It is simple, but that’s like brushing off sketches by Monet as merely scribbles. In this case, the ingredient list is short but exceptional. A generation of young chefs has turned to the fruits of their Quebec forests to create a new identity for the city. In fact, if you were to draw a family tree for Montreal cuisine it would include a Provencal grandparent and a locavore parent. Foraged foods are now the norm.

    Perhaps more of a symbol of Quebec than the fleur de lis is the unfurling leaves of ostrich and lady ferns, called the fiddleheads (or since Montreal is a Francophone city, the têtes de violon).

    “The fiddlehead is the first vegetable of the season. We buy as much as we can in the spring,” St-Denis says. As a testament to their gourmet value, the first crop can reach $10 a pound at the market.

    Ostrich fern fiddleheads are found in damp areas of the Great Lakes, the Appalachians, New England, Quebec and the Maritime Provinces forests. Wooded riverbanks are reliable and many foragers will canoe a section of a stream, beaching the boat when they find a wild garden of ferns.

    The unwritten ethic among fiddlehead foragers is to take three violin tops. A fern produces five to nine fronds per growing season, so harvesting more than three can jeopardize the plant’s survival.

    The measuring stick for fiddleheads is coinage. Pick a currency, but the head should be roughly the size of a silver dollar or a two-euro piece. Bigger than that and they start to toughen. By the end of the season, which is the end of May or early June depending on rainfall, the flavor becomes bitter, St-Denis says.

    Fiddleheads, above, sauteed with butter.

    The fern does present one culinary problem: it’s toxic. Though not nearly as bad as, say, fugu fish (which is lethal), raw fiddleheads can cause symptoms comparable to drinking water in a third-world country (nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal pain). This is easily avoidable if the fiddleheads are boiled or steamed thoroughly. Of course, completely unrolled fern leaves should be avoided entirely.

    “We boil it for about ten minutes,” St-Denis says. “It’s not a dish you want to serve al dente.” On the plant, fiddleheads are generally a pale green. By boiling the fiddleheads, not only is the toxicity neutralized, but the color becomes more vivid.

    “They are extremely versatile but also powerful by themselves,” St-Denis says. Fiddleheads have the flavor of asparagus on performance-enhancing drugs. And while asparagus can become soggy in the pot, fiddleheads retain their texture: the shoots are firm and crunchy while the infant leaf buds almost dissolve in the mouth.

    Boiled fiddlheads

    “You can make it with risotto but it’s best boiled then sautéed with butter and served on the side,” he advises. Match it with beef, pork or fish; the flavor complements all meats. Fiddleheads are also served on pasta with a touch of cream, parmesan and garlic. And, never straying too far from French influences, a splash of cognac is often added.

    St-Denis learned his technique in France, but found his cooking voice and a group of like-minded chefs while working at Leméac in Montreal.

    “We all started at Leméac and now we all have our own places,” St-Denis says. Leméac, a French-style bistro, is like some setting for a John Hughes movie about Montreal cuisine. It’s the kitchen where a group of peers, all 25-35-years-old, were instilled with a provincial pride of Quebec ingredients. “Instead of looking for exotic stuff we started using what was right here,” St-Denis says.

    “Fiddleheads are the classic Quebec dish for the spring,” he says. “But people are scared to cook them in the home because they don’t want to get sick. So they come to us. That’s what we do in Montreal,” he pauses and takes a drag from a cigarette. “We teach the customer how to eat.”

  14. Wonderful tutorial about fiddleheads! Thanks for taking the time to include it.

  15. That looks like a nice way to enjoy fiddleheads!