Inspired by a friend's delicious home foraged, homemade blackberry jam gifted to me a year ago, I decided to go out on a spot of urban foraging myself.
During the week, I waited for lunchtime before going down into the car park, alerted the security guard as to what I was up to (so that he knew what the random girl on CCTV scuffling around the bushes was doing), and filled a plastic up of delicious blackberries from the brambles growing wild and in abundance. I did this twice in one week, each time coming back with an armful of bramble scratches, fingers stinging from nettles and a 1kg bag of berries fresh off the bush.
The first thing of course I tried was jam. I'd never made jam before, so I don't feel too bad that my first batch overcooked and it turned into a very delicious-but-not-jammy blackberry toffee. (For the record, my second attempt was perfect).
The other thing I did with these blackberries was to bake some into a custard tart. This recipe is really, really easy, especially as it uses store bought pastry. One day I'll make my own puff pastry from scratch. But this is not that day. In any case, this was so, so delicious, and even better for knowing I'd picked the berries myself and that they hadn't gone to waste.
-1 puff pastry
-1tbsp plain flour
-150ml double cream
-2 large eggs
1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C, and grease an 8" tart tin
2) Either roll out your puff pastry to a couple of mm thickness and line your tin with it, or if you've bought ready rolled the just go ahead and line your tin with the pastry straight away
3) Prick some holes in the bottom of your pastry with a fork and evenly sprinkle the plain flour on the bottom to soak up excess berry juice
4) Evenly scatter the berries on the bottom of the pastry, and pop in the oven for 15 minutes
5) Lightly whisk the eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla together, take the pastry and berries out of the oven and pour the custard mixture straight in
6) Pop the whole thing back into the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the custard is set and browning
7) The hardest bit: wait until completely cold as the custard will set firmly for easy cutting. Then serve!