Tag Archives: Fishmongers

June 2012; What’s in Season This Month


It’s us again back once more chatting about what’s in season, shopping, recipes, books, cooking, what’s happening, what’s on, where to go in Pimlico and London, and maybe a morsel of gossip.

June its our Favourite month and not just because of what is in season and available, you see  on the 14th of this month we will have been married for 39 years yes 39 years and is really doesn’t feel like it, here is a photo of us on that day just before we left for Mallorca.

Now that June is here and the sun is warm, our thoughts turn to lighter foods, picnics and barbeques, and out comes the salad bowl, do you think that there is anything better than fresh summer produce? Biting into a sweet strawberry or munching your way through a bag of glistening red cherries is as much a part of a British summer as sunburn and short shorts.

This month our very own British foodstuffs really begin to emerge, soft fruits, vegetables and seafood are abundant the asparagus is still good and the Jersey Royals are still as tasty as ever, our fishmongers will be selling a vegetable as well, Samphire is coming into its own and at this time of year we realise just how much we have missed those bright vivid green nodules of salty sweetness.

The wealth of June is just what we’ve been waiting for, the days grow longer, and it’s a joy to go shopping with the markets, shops, and supermarkets just overrunning with the best of British produce especially The first of the Kentish fruit so we say welcome to the strawberries and gooseberries and now’s the time to make the most of the young broad beans, peas and new potatoes, to be enjoyed with new season lamb and don’t forget June is also a good month for quail, beef and guinea fowl and there is lots of fish in season, including mackerel, plaice and lemon sole.

Look out for the fish and shellfish from Scottish and Western waters especially lobster and crab, monkfish is at its best, Salmon is relatively cheap now and sardines are terrific just grilled with a little seasoning and lemon.

Most butchers will by now supplying you with barbecue packs of meats, but beware there are a few unscrupulous butchers who just use the barbecue season as an excuse to get rid of inferior meat.

Fish and Seafood at Its Best This Month

Line-Caught Mackerel are getting bigger and it’s definitely the time to be eating flat fish, Lemon Sole and Plaice are especially succulent and plentiful at the moment. Don’t miss these wonderful fish this month you can find at your local fishmonger Black Bream, Cod, Crab, Haddock, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Whelks, and Whitebait.

Fruit at It’s Best This Month

Summer is beckoning us June asks us to luxuriate in the sumptuous range of produce it has to offer, Strawberries are reaching their best, with the earliest varieties from Hampshire and the Cheddar gorge available in the first couple of weeks and by the end of the month the Strawberries from Kent will be in full flow and the prices will plummet and Apricots, Cherries, and Gooseberries are worth looking out for.

Herbs This Insert Month

Basil, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Elderflower, Mint, Nasturtium, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sorrel, Tarragon, and Thyme are all available just keep your eyes peeled.

Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This Month

Beef, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Lamb, Mutton, Pork, Rabbit, Veal, Quail, and Wood Pigeon.

Vegetables at Their Best This Month

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Courgettes, Fennel, Jersey Royal New Potatoes, Lettuces and Salad Leaves, Mangetout, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Spinach, Spring Onions, Turnips and Watercress.

The Latest Grocery News,

News courtesy of Supermarket Watch June 2012 Bringing you the latest news on British products in the supermarkets and other items of interest about British food; here is the round-up for June.

  • Simon Cowell is set to indulge his love of food by producing a new ITV series offering amateur cooks the chance to see their recipe on the shelves of Marks and Spencer. Food Glorious Food claims to be the ‘biggest ever search for Britain’s best loved recipe’ and is going to be about home cooking, the best of British and the recipes your mum/granny have passed down. See foodgloriousfood.tv for more details.
  • Turkey consumption has soared by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Turkey breast steaks and mince are doing particularly well with steak volumes rising 24.7 percent year on year and mince up 22.4 percent. The cuts together account for nearly 50 percent of the turkey market.
  • Defra is supporting an EU proposal that could see the manufacture of some ready meals restricted to the geographical area where the recipes originated. The chair of UK Protected Food Name Association has said protection of dishes such as the Birmingham balti or Scouse (a Liverpudlian stew) would make a useful contribution to local food tourism.
  • On the subject of protected food name status, Scottish bakers have launched a campaign to gain PDO status for the Dundee Cake (a traditional fruit cake containing candied peel and almonds).
  • Retailer support for Red Tractor continues to grow with 70 percent of eligible own label products now carrying the label, up from 66 percent in 2011. Fresh milk and dairy has the highest percentage with 94, while fresh meat is the second largest category using the Red Tractor logo with 87 percent.
  • Olympic organisers have announced what will be available to consumers on site during The Games. The menu, described as ‘Best of British’ includes cod and chips, Dingley Dell hog roasted Red Tractor pork and farm assured scotch beef with Long Clawson Stilton pie, Irish mashed potato with Red Tractor Cream and British butter and onion gravy.
  • Aldi fresh meat sales have risen 91 percent after it launched an advert to promote the British provenance of its meats. Aldi’s new adverts carry the strapline ‘Like British meat?’ and show a range of fresh meat next to a Union Jack logo that reads 100 percent British.
  • Tesco fish counters are supporting Fish Friday on 22nd June. Tesco fish counters will donate 5 per cent of its sales to help raise funds for the Fishermen’s Mission Charity.
  • Budgens plans to increase the number of UK stores with fresh produce displays from 60 to 140. Budgens has been enjoying increased sales since introducing a new approach of using seasonal display tables to reinvigorate fresh produce in store with one store owner quoting “we sold over 200 bunches of asparagus in a week which is unheard of in our store”.
  • Morrisons has announced 60 per cent of all its new stores will be in the south of England. The new southern stores with stock more than 500 types of fresh produce and introduce more sophisticated items such as samphire, purple potatoes and fine wine. Chief Executive, Dalton Philips, commented ‘Morrisons is going to be food-focused, not generalists. Our new format allows us to see how we perform with different demographics, you always carry on tweaking the format, but we have an offer that really travels down south’.
  • Asda has teamed up with ex-Corrie star, Sean Wilson, to offer two Lancashire cheeses from his Saddleworth Cheese Co Company to consumers. How’s Yer Father and Mouth Almighty are now available in Asda North West stores and also available to purchase online.
  • EBLEX has launched a new report on the UK’s position in the global beef market. To read the ‘Balancing the Market’ report click here.
  • Rapeseed Oil is on the up! The industry has enjoyed increased rape plantings for the third year in a row, and increased production is said to be down to the growing perception it is seen as a healthy home-grown alternative to imported olive oil. Rapeseed oil also contains less saturated fat and more omega 3 than olive oil as well as containing vitamin E.
  • A potato widely associated with the Irish Famine in the 1840s has been revived by Glens of Antrim Potatoes, Northern Ireland. The Irish Lumper, was recently sampled by customers at Selfridges and Antrim Potatoes now have plans to bring it back to supermarkets nationwide as part of a new ‘Heritage range’.
  • A new raspberry variety has been launched to coincide with the royal celebrations. The Diamond Jubilee raspberry is a large berry, light in colour, with a good shelf life. The berry will be available this autumn in the supermarkets.
  • Muller insists it remains committed to sourcing milk for its yoghurts from Shropshire after announcing its milk operations would be merged with Robert Wiseman Dairies.
  • Exports of British pork to China are booming! Chinese farmers and food companies have placed orders for 2000 high quality British pigs (breeds include The Large White, Landrace and Duroc) to breed with their inferior quality domestic animals. China’s rapidly expanding urban middle class has developed a taste for pork and demand for the meat is soaring, pushing up British exports.
  • The NFU has launched a new campaign to educate the public about the contribution that the farming sector makes to Britain. The report reveals the agri-food sector contributed £85bn to the UK economy last year while helping to keep 3.5 million people in work. Moreover, the British food and drink industry has become the UK’s fourth largest exporting sector.

Seasonal foods at their best to look out for in the supermarkets this month:

  • Vegetables: Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, Garlic, Jersey Royal New Potatoes, Kohlrabi, Lettuces And Salad Leaves, Mangetout, Mushrooms (Cultivated), Mushrooms (Wild), New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Potatoes (Maincrop), Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Spinach, Spring Onions, Turnips And Watercress.
  • Fruit: Blueberries, Cherries, Elderflowers, Gooseberries, Greengages, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, and Tomatoes.
  • Herbs: Basil, Chervil, Chillies, Chives, Coriander, Dill, Elderflowers, Mint, Nasturtium, Oregano, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sage, Sorrel, Tarragon, Thyme and Wild Nettles.
  • Meat: Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Rabbit, Turkey, Venison (Roe Buck), And Wood Pigeon.
  • Fish: Cockles, Cod, Coley, Crab, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Herring, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Sea Bream, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Squid, Whelks And Whitebait.

Dates for Your Diary

21 to 24 June Taste of London, Regent’s Park, London

Right in the heart of the capital, some of the country’s best chefs and produce come together in a food fest that will tickle the taste buds and get the creative juices running. You will have the unique opportunity to dine from 40 of London’s top restaurants, try and buy from 200 top quality foods and drink producers and see the pros demonstrate their skills live on stage. 2011 will see the addition of ‘The Secret Garden’, an exclusive area where visitors will have the chance to take part in Q&A sessions with chefs while feasting on canapés and champagne. Website: Taste of London

Britain’s Biggest Beer Festival, 7th Aug 2012 to 12th Aug 2012

The Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court is Britain’s biggest beer festival, bringing together a wide range of British real ales, ciders, perries, and international beers. See GBBF  for more information. Location: Olympia, London

The Covent Garden Real Food Market, 2nd Aug 2012 to 9th Aug 2012

The very best produce for foodies and aspiring Masterchefs. On the East Piazza 11am – 7pm. See The Covent Garden Website. Location: East Piazza, Covent Garden, WC2E 8RF

London’s Royal Brompton Hospital, 27th Jul 2012 to 12th Aug 2012

The Royal Brompton Hospital in Sydney Street, London is passionate about seasonal, local British food and to celebrate Love British Food 2012 they will be teaming up with local suppliers to run a special market day. Contact: Email: m.duckett@rbht.nhs.uk

Location: Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NP

Great Ormond Street Hospital celebrates Love British Food 2012! 27th Jul 2012 to 12th Aug 2012

Great Ormond Street Hospital is joining the party and will be celebrating Love British Food 2012 this year! The hospital will be decorated in red, white, and blue for the patriotic celebrations!

Contact: michael.glynn@gosh.nhs.uk

Location: 58 Guildford Street, WC1N 3JH

LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

Tachbrook Street Market

Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1
Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm
Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico
Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish, bread and cakes.

Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its dynamic varied collection of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more.

Discover different stalls on different days it is an energetic market and we just love buying our fresh food at the market, fruit, vegetables, fish, and shellfish and this market is very close to us, and close enough to other shops such as; Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Rippon Cheese and some wonderful delis such as the Spanish Art Of Tapas, there are Italian delis, and Portuguese were we can pick up anything else for our cooking sessions.

It is also a superb lunch destination with loads of small specialist restaurants around and in the market itself something marvellous has happened it started last year when the market was refurbished and placed under the management of Westminster Artisans Ltd, Pimlico has welcomed the street food transformation and now you can by all the street food your heart desires from falafel to paella

Below you will see just what some of the stalls have to offer, we do hope to increase our list during the coming months and if you are a stallholder please email us with your details we welcome all the information we can get.

Our Local Greengrocer

John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

They only buy British produce when possible and in season, the family have had a stall on the market for 80 years now and they believe very strongly in supplying the best quality produce that is in season and at its best, they always seem to be the first to obtain the great British produce such as jersey royal potatoes, British asparagus, British soft fruits, when visiting look out for good sprouts, cauliflowers, leeks and Cox’s apples; English berries and lettuce are available in season.

In fact they have all the fruit, veg and herbs you might want and so much better than the local supermarket’s offerings.

Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week

Just Click on the links and a new tab/window will open

Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash, Samphire, Marsh Grass, Sea Asparagus

Fruit of the Week, Gooseberries

  

Local Butcher, Freeman’s (Family Butchers)

You can find them at: 117 Lupus Street, Pimlico SW1V 3EN Telephone: 0207 821 1418

Trading Hours: Open: Mon to Sat 7.30am to 5.30pm Closed: Sun and Bank holidays

John Freeman owner of Freeman’s butchers supply high quality meat to the local residents of Pimlico and Westminster indeed people travel from all over London to purchase their meat from this traditional high street butcher.

He says that they are passionate about their product and are committed to ensuring quality meat at the best possible price; we aim for excellence with the right product, right price, and right quality 100% of the time.

Their service level quality is kept up by constant staff development, and through customer feedback. John constantly has superb meat and can get almost anything you want if given enough notice

Local Butcher, P J Frankland (Specialist Game Dealer)

Hand made sausage makers, free range beef, lamb, pork, and poultry. Organic by request

You can find them at: 6, Jonathan Street, Vauxhall SE11 5NH Telephone: 0207 735 5627

Email: mjfranky@hotmail.com

Website: www.pjfranklandbutchers.co.uk

And on Tachbrook Street Market, Pimlico Mobile Telephone: 07872 665 445

Opening Hours; Thursday to Friday 8am to 6pm and Saturday 8am to 5pm

A traditional butchers and specialist game dealer, offering free range beef, lamb, pork and poultry, hand-made sausages and general groceries for the general public and commercial use (e.g. pubs and restaurants). If you are looking for butchers in Kennington, then look no further than the expertise on offer at P J Frankland and Sons Butchers, they are based locally and offer free local delivery.

 P. J. Frankland, Family Butcher 

Our Local Fishmonger, Jonathan Norris

You can find them at:

Victoria Park, 207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN

Telephone: 0208 525 8999

And on Tachbrook Street Market, Pitch 1317, Pimlico, London SW1

Telephone: 0779 907 3060

Opening Hours; Thurs – 8am – 5.30pm, Fri – 8am – 5.30pm, Sat – 8am – 5.30pm

Website: Jonathan Norris of Pimlico

If you take ramble through our local market on Tachbrook Street, SW1 you will probably see that our favourite fishmonger Jonathan Norris has on display (and what a display) all you might ever want from your fishmonger for sale at extremely affordable prices as well as other fish and shellfish that you don’t normally see on a market stall and furthermore you will see that the fish is caught from around the UK’s own shores with Scotland and Cornwall dominant.

Jon is so friendly and a real character and when you speak to him you notice at once that he’s enthusiastic about all things fish, and when you ask him about the fish he has available you become aware that from his response that there’s nothing he and his people don’t know about the produce they sell.

The fish is always in the best of condition, and as far as I can see always from sustainable sources. He explained to me after I asked him about it that “we take environmental issues very seriously and are continually striving to reduce the negative impact on our beautiful world wherever possible”. I got the feeling that he could even tell you what boat the catch came from.

To day he was showing amongst others live Crab, South coast Flounder, Cornish Octopus, Cornish Haddock, Cornish Hake, Hake is an under-rated fish, which is a shame because it has a subtle and delicious flavour, similar to cod. Best of all, it is environmentally sustainable, yet inexpensive. It is also easy to prepare as it has relatively few bones. Heating the fish fillets slowly in a cold pan prevents them from curling up during frying. This works really well for firm fish with thin skins, such as hake.

There was also some wonderful Gilthead Bream (see “My Catch of the Day” next week) Wild Scottish Sea Trout, Cornish Soles, Scottish Squid, Scottish Langoustines, Halibut, Herring, Lemon Sole, line caught Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Sea Bass, and Cornish Turbot as you will all know by now almost all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts.

Just look at the photos and see just how passionate Jon and his family and friends are about the produce they sell, oh we’re also recommending once again Jon’s Dressed Crab it’s a simple, healthy meal using a mixture of brown and white Crab meat and prawns so delicious with salad and a light dressing. I even to use for potted crab, it was superb!

 

Catch of the Day;

In The Balcony Garden

Nothing doing yet, they have finally installed the new windows and balcony doors it’s now up to us to finish it all off install some new staging put the trellis work back and start planting. We do expect that by mid July we ought to have some salads growing!

Recipe for the Month

Fishcakes are astoundingly easy to make at home and they taste yummy, so why not try these smoked haddock fishcakes with a nice runny poached egg and some sour dough bread

Serves / Makes:        6 fishcakes

Prep-Time:                15 minutes

Cook-Time:                10 minutes

You Will Need

  • 750 grams potatoes, diced
  • 750 grams frozen smoked haddock, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, it doesn’t have to be too fine
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • Seasoned flour for coating
  • Egg and fresh white breadcrumbs for coating (optional)

Method

  • Boil the potatoes for 10 to 12 minutes until tender, drain and put through a potato ricer (or mash),   and allow to cool.
  • Place the fish in a large frying pan and cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, drain and allow to cool, we like to use a microwave to cook the fish it’s so much easier and less smelly
  • Gently mix the potato, parsley, and fish together, season to taste and form into 6 fishcakes, coat with seasoned flour or egg and fresh white breadcrumbs.
  • To cook, heat the oil and shallow fry in 2 batches for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden.
  • Serve and Enjoy!

Notes We both like fishcakes and do not mind if they are made from Haddock, Cod, Pollack, Whiting, or Salmon; however Maureen does not like smoked haddock so these particular fishcakes are a treat for me. Fishcakes are so straightforward to prepare, why not try adding a bit of smoked salmon for additional indulgence.

We used to serve these for breakfast and light lunches at The Great Tree Hotel sometimes using smoked haddock but no matter what fish we used they were always a popular dish. We have served fishcakes as tea for the all families we have worked for, and they always wanted more, Lord Hanson loved them for breakfast as did quite a few of his guests.

Related articles

Whatt’s in Season This May


Well what a wet start to the month it seems it has been raining for the most of April and the start of May so officially we have a drought and here in London we have city wide hosepipe bans, but never mind the rain is doing some good somewhere!

As the weather gets warmer in May, and exquisite British produce can be found in plenty especially large, juicy spears of asparagus which are at their very best and cheap too, when I say asparagus I mean proper English asparagus, not that stuff from Peru or America, which is a bit wishy-washy not that I have anything against overseas asparagus but English is something special and I like the short period in which we can get it, and Jersey royals the new potatoes with attitude are mouth-watering sprinkled with sea salt flakes, black pepper and golden jersey butter melted and poured over them.

For us (Maureen and meself) May is the start of our summer and as the days get longer and warmer we look forward to barbeques, picnics and lunches in the garden and the parks here in London, we always look forward to the new season asparagus delicious served cold with a nice tasty vinaigrette, we take pleasure in the delicate and unsophisticated texture of sea trout lightly poached in white wine with herbs or pan-fried with butter, lemon and capers we also look forward to the new season parsley, carrots, raspberries and the first of the cherries.

I remember when we were at The Whitewell Hotel, The Willow Tree Restaurant and The Great Tree Hotel we always competed with other hotels and restaurants who would be the first to serve the first of British asparagus, strawberries and Jersey royal potatoes, at Whitewell we almost always won and the same can be said for the Willow Tree but down in Devon it was always a real competition with Gidleigh Park and I am glum to say they won more than we did, however it is still always nice to get the first of this seasons new fruit and veg with such glorious flavours.

May is indisputably the time for new vegetables, and at this time there are so many that get going at the end of April that are either just coming into season or are in full swing it seems we are bursting at the seams with seasonal luxury this month so you must try to mix and match sumptuous asparagus, tender peas and spicy watercress to make mouth-watering salads and soups.

There are not surprisingly, other vegetables that we can look forward to see this month; New Season Carrots, Mint, Wild Mushrooms, Nettles, Parsley, Radishes, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach and Watercress are all on offer outdoor grown salad leaves of all types come along, as do Radishes, Broad Beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Courgettes, all start to appear this month too, English tomatoes will start to become quite evident and get better as May fades into June.

The summer vegetables will be starting but the British fruit will still be a little limited, but the first of the strawberries will be appearing. We will also begin to find that the choice of meat and fish becoming more plentiful and that the farmhouse cheeses are at their best.


Fish and Seafood at Its Best This Month

May has been a bit of a challenge what with strong winds at the beginning of the month and now more winds this week netting and landing the catch has become a bit more difficult of a task for the day boats and the same can be said for Scotland joyfully, what’s being landed is truly top-quality produce.

Hake is plentiful and paying a visit to the Ajax Fishing boat will let you know just how they are doing.

Wild Black Bream is being landed along the South coast and as I try to tell everyone this is much, much better than the farmed bream on offer by some fishmongers and supermarkets, deal with it like bass and you will not be let down

There is some superb fresh fish about so keep a lookout for Sea bass, Turbot and Monkfish, Salmon, Sea Trout, River Trout are at their best, Dover sole and Lobster are coming back after their low season, and Cornish crab and other shellfish are simply superb.

Line-Caught Mackerel is luscious, tasty, and plentiful right now, we are seeing quite good sized fish, which makes for some superb dishes whether you’re eating at home with your family or cooking for a few friends.

The first sardines should soon be appearing at the fishmongers (for those in Pimlico look at the Cornish Chins) so get the barbecue out and start grilling, even though they have always been popular with the Spanish and Portuguese they have never really caught on in this country. We all eat them quite cheerfully while on holiday but it seems when we get back to our own patch, if they do not come in tins then we don’t seem to want to know them, it’s a shame really as when they are fresh they are very yummy. Drizzled with a good quality olive oil and grilled till the skin turns crispy, served with a salad of tossed leaves with a hint of lemon juice and some homemade crusty bread what could be better?

May is great for buying Brown Crab, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Langoustines, Sardines, Sea Bass, and Sea Trout.

A new online consumer guide to sustainable seafood has been launched today. The Good Fish Guide at www.goodfishguide.org.uk gives straightforward advice and cooking recipe ideas to make buying sustainable and varied seafood much simpler. The MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide has also been updated and now includes a credit card-sized guide to buying fish including top buying tips and questions to ask the fishmonger or at the fish counter.


Fruit at It’s Best This Month

Rhubarb and form abroad, melons such as Cantaloupe, Charentais and Gallia and cherries and apricots.

British Fruit coming in now are Strawberries from Kent, Devon, and Cornwall May customarily sees the beginning of the English strawberry season; we have always related them with much later in the year more like late June, July and August but we now get tasty early strawberries, another fruit that surprises me at this time of year is the cherry, imported of course but once these and strawberries appear in the shops then you instinctively know summer is just around the corner.

Late May also sees the first flush of summer berries, gooseberries, red currants, black currants and probably even raspberries, now that’s something to look forward to isn’t it?


Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This Month

All the regular visitors are available however it is the new season lamb you want to keep a lookout for and the outdoor reared pork, Welsh Black Beef is another that is beginning to show it on the butchers slab more and more.


Vegetables at Their Best This Month

Asparagus, spinach, radishes, spring greens and purple sprouting broccoli, cucumbers, primo cabbages and cauliflowers.

Vegetables just appearing are: Main crop carrots, new potatoes especially Jersey Royals, and those other tasty varieties such as those from Pembrokeshire, and Anglesey, new season turnips, young tender broad beans and tender sweet cucumbers, plus that tasty peppery arugula/rocket. It is probably your last chance to buy Leeks, parsnips and kale.

And don’t forget the herbs basil, chervil, chives; dill, elderflower, mint, nasturtium, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), and sorrel are all now becoming widely available.


Dates for Your Diary

  • 19 May – 27 July, Torch Relay – the torch will be passed around every part of Britain and will never be more than 5 miles away from 80 per cent of the population. To see when the torch is coming near you [click here].
  • 22 May, RHS Chelsea Flower Show  The world’s largest flower show returns to London for a horticultural festival offering modern, inventive gardens and trade stands offering new products for RHS members and the public alike
  • 2 June – 5 June 2012: Diamond Jubilee extended weekend.
  • 27 July – 12 August 2012: British Food Fortnight (the same dates as the Olympic Games).
  • 3 July – 8 July, RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, come and visit the stunningly creative gardens and floral displays at the world’s largest annual flower show. There will be artisan crafts and home-wares as well as gifts for the green-fingered in the Country Living Pavilion.
    Click here for details of the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show
  • The Olympiad concludes with the London Festival 2012, which runs from 21 June to 9 September
  • Country Living Christmas Fair London – 7 to 11 November 2012
    Come and meet more than 400 exhibitors for an inspirational shopping experience, in London’s Business Design Centre, in Islington. All you need to make the perfect country Christmas. Tickets available from June 2012. Click here for details


    LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

    Tachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish, bread and cakes.

    Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its dynamic varied collection of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more.

    Discover different stalls on different days it is an energetic market and we just love buying our fresh food at the market, fruit, vegetables, fish, and shellfish and this market is very close to us, and close enough to other shops such as; Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Rippon Cheese and some wonderful delis such as the Spanish Art Of Tapas, there are Italian delis, and Portuguese were we can pick up anything else for our cooking sessions.

    It is also a superb lunch destination with loads of small specialist restaurants around and in the market itself something marvellous has happened it started last year when the market was refurbished and placed under the management of Westminster Artisans Ltd, Pimlico has welcomed the street food transformation and now you can by all the street food your heart desires from falafel to paella

    Below you will see just what some of the stalls have to offer, we do hope to increase our list during the coming months and if you are a stallholder please email us with your details we welcome all the information we can get.


    LOCAL CARBOOT SALE, CAPITAL CARBOOT,

    PIMLICO ACADEMY, CHICHESTER STREET ENTRANCE, LUPUS STREET, LONDON, SW1V 3AT

    Central London’s only indoor and outdoor all year round carboot sale, as seen in Timeout, Elle, I-D, Le Cool, and Emerald Street

    Capital Carboot Sale runs every Sunday (except Easter, Christmas and New Year, please check availability during these times). Indoor stall holders should arrive at 9:30am if coming in a vehicle to unload. Unloading vehicles will not be allowed on site after 10:00am, outdoor stall holders without vehicles should arrive 10:15am, outdoor stall holders with vehicles to remain in the sale should arrive 10:45am. Early bird buyers entry is 10:15am (£5), Public entry is 11:30am until 3:30pm (£1).

    You can find them at The Pimlico Academy, Lupus Street (Please use the Chichester Street entrance) Pimlico, SW1V 3AT.

    The nearest tubes and trains are Pimlico (2 minutes walk) and Victoria (5 minutes walk), and on bus routes 360, C10, 24, 2, 36, 185, 436

    You can book a stall at http://www.capitalcarboot.com/ or 0845 0943 871

    Capital Carboot strongly advises buyers to use public transport when attending; parking is limited in the surrounding areas and a priority for local residents.

    If you like to find good genuine bargains then you have to head to Pimlico for the best of car boot sales, Capital Carboot is attracting a young crowd, several selling vintage fashion and collectables so get there early to bag the best deals. This London based car boot sale is so much better than your average London car boot sale, it was set up last year by ex-stylist and personal shopper Faye Marriott and the happening is further encouraged with Twitter and Facebook, an element not often found with carboot events, this means that there is a much younger gathering of people but don’t worry there is still plenty for the more traditional car-booters and there has been sightings of celebrities searching for that special bargain.

    Oh if you like the carboot on Facebook entry for buyers is free of charge check on Facebook for the password.

    You can now buy fresh fruit and veg here


    Our Local Greengrocer

    John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    imageThey only buy British produce when possible and in season, the family have had a stall on the market for 80 years now and they believe very strongly in supplying the best quality produce that is in season and at its best, they always seem to be the first to obtain the great British produce such as jersey royal potatoes, British asparagus, British soft fruits, when visiting look out for good sprouts, cauliflowers, leeks and cox’s apples; English berries and lettuce are available in season.

    In fact they have all the fruit, veg and herbs you might want and so much better than the local supermarket’s offerings.

    there were Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, British Asparagus, English Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Jersey Royal Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition. He has also obtained some of the finest tasting British Strawberries and Raspberries we have had in a long time

    100_1259100_1260

    Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week

    Spinach

    We like Spinach especially baby spinach which we use in our spring salads and I often have smoked haddock served on a bed of wilted spinach with a poached egg.

    Bright with colour, taste and with lots of lovely vitamins, perfect young spinach leaves are to be had right now in the months of March, April, May and June. Spinach is available all year round, but the freshest, most tender spinach is mainly simply obtainable in the spring.

    The unique, slightly iron flavour of spinach makes it something of a ‘love it or hate it’ food

    Spinach is renowned for its nutritional virtues, and while it does contain high levels of iron and calcium, the occurrence of oxalic acid binds these minerals in a way that cannot be absorbed by the body, so you can pretty much forget the iron and calcium content in spinach but still Spinach is great for you Vitamins A and C are here in considerable amounts, as are several antioxidants and folic acid.

    Buying Spinach

    As you know Spinach has a high water content and so it shrinks to approximately a quarter of its size when cooked so take into consideration that you will need to buy lots of it, pick dark green, thin stemmed leaves with no signs of wilting or yellowing.

    Storing Spinach

    Keep it in a plastic bag in the salad/vegetable drawer of the fridge for three to four days

    Preparing and Cooking Spinach

    Give the leaves a good wash in a sinkful of tepid water to get rid of any traces of sand, dirt or grit (if bought from a farmers’ market) or those nasty sprayed on chemicals (if bought from a supermarket), change the water two or three times, drain, or do what we do dry it in a salad spinner and if the leaves are to be eaten raw cut out those thick stems.

    When cooking Spinach you can just steam it with just the water clinging to the leaves after washing, give it 5 to 10 minutes in a large saucepan.

    Sautéing and microwaving are also good cooking methods as is just wilting it for a salad we like to use hot bacon fat for spinach and bacon salad.

    Raw spinach is superb in salads and, as with watercress; it has a natural empathy with bacon.

    Spinach also teams up beautifully with smoked haddock and with cheese, particularly feta.

    In French cuisine, the term “à la Florentine” indicates dishes featuring spinach.


    Our Local Butcher, Freemans (Butchers) 117 Lupus Street

    Trading Hours: Open: Mon to Sat 7.30am – 5.30pm Closed: Sun and Bank holidays

    imageJohn Freeman owner of Freemans butchers supply high quality meat to the local residents of Pimlico and Westminster indeed people travel from all over London to purchase their meat from this traditional high street butcher.

    He says that they are passionate about their product and are committed to ensuring quality meat at the best possible price; we aim for excellence with the right product, right price, and right quality 100% of the time.

    Their service level quality is kept up by constant staff development, and through customer feedback.

    John constantly has superb meat and can get almost anything you want if given enough notice

    Butchers Choice

    Spring Lamb

    Available all year round.

    Best British Season Is; May, June, September, October, November

    Cheap imported lamb from New Zealand may be available all year round, but in season, British lamb is hard to beat.

    In May and June, lamb is at its most tender but as the season progresses the flavour develops.

    Spring lamb is fantastic for roasting simply with garlic and herbs; Autumn lamb is great when given a spicier, more adventurous treatment.

    Lamb is produced just about everywhere in Britain, and even though a good number of people believe the Welsh new season lamb is the best, I think that new season lamb from the Fylde and Morecambe Bay is superior.

    We get hold of our lamb and mutton from two or three suppliers and all of them know exactly where their lamb comes from and they continuously source from farmers where good animal welfare is a matter of principle and a way of life for the farmer.

    British lamb and mutton is produced to some of the highest welfare standards in the world no growth-promoting hormones are fed to sheep in the United Kingdom and any antibiotics are administered only under veterinary direction.

    Britain’s sheep industry is the envy of the world breeding from livestock and genetics from our native breeds are much sought after by farmers in other countries.

    British lamb and mutton travels less far from farm to shop so regardless of how carbon footprints are calculated it self-evidently has a lower carbon footprint.

    Choosing British lamb and mutton means supporting British farmers whose work helps to keep the British countryside the way we want it to be, no sheep essentially means no countryside

    Buying Lamb and Mutton

    Big supermarkets will source lamb from a number of different farms. Buying lamb from a good butcher’s shop or farmers’ market will give you the opportunity to ask about the source of the lamb, and then buy the same quality produce again if you like it. Look for firm, pinkish meat with creamy white fat.

    Storing Lamb and Mutton

    Lamb can be kept in the fridge for at least a couple of days – the larger the cut the longer the meat will keep. Freezing tends to have a drying effect on meat and so is best used for cuts that will be slow cooked in stews or casseroles, rather than dry-heat methods (grilling, roasting, frying).

    Preparing and Cooking Lamb and Mutton

    The cooking method will be dependent on the cut and recipe. Generally lamb benefits from slightly slower cooking with heat that is more moderate than you would use for beef.

    Trim excess external fat (or ask your butcher to do this) before use. Lamb cooked using dry-heat methods will be more flavourful if served slightly pink. Stews and casseroles will benefit from slow-cooking until no pink remains. When roasting larger cuts, allow the meat to stand for at least 15 minutes after cooking.


    Our Local Fishmonger, Jonathan Norris

    You can find them at:

    Victoria Park, 207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN

    Telephone: 0208 525 8999

    And on Tachbrook Street Market, Pitch 1317, Pimlico, London SW1

    Telephone: 0779 907 3060

    Opening Hours; Thurs – 8am – 5.30pm, Fri – 8am – 5.30pm, Sat – 8am – 5.30pm

    Website: Jonathan Norris of Pimlico

    imageJust take a meander through our local market on Tachbrook Street, and eventually you will come across our favourite fishmonger “Jonathan Norris” you will see what he has on display (and what a display) there is all you might ever want from your fishmonger for sale at a extremely affordable prices as well as other fish and shellfish that you don’t normally see on a market stall and furthermore you will notice that the fish is caught from around the UK’s own shores with Scotland and Cornwall dominant.

    Jon is so friendly and a real character and when you speak to him you notice at once that he’s enthusiastic about all things fish, and when you ask him about the fish he has available you become aware that from his response that there’s nothing he and his people don’t know about the produce they sell.

    The fish is always in the best of condition, and as far as I can see always from sustainable sources. He explained to me after I asked him about it that “we take environmental issues very seriously and are continually striving to reduce the negative impact on our beautiful world wherever possible”. I got the feeling that he could even tell you what boat the catch came from.

    This week Jon’s display was as usual a stunning menu of all the best the sea offers, his Wild Black Bream was simply the best we have seen in a long time and Brown Crab, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Langoustines, Sardines, Sea Bass, and Sea Trout along with Sea Urchins, live Lobster, Brill and Dover Soles made it very difficult for us to make a choice.

    There was Cornish Octopus, Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, and we chose for our meal this week some beautiful Cornish Whiting so simple to cook with just a little olive oil and butter cooked in the pan seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon and the served with those fantastic Jersey Royals and divine English asparagus.

    His best fish today was the Wild Salmon caught in the River Esk just superb

    We also bought a superb brown crab so we could make some really tasty sandwiches for lunch.

    100_1256

     100_1257

    100_1258

    Catch of the Day, Wild Salmon

    Just Click on this Link for the Catch of the Day!


    In The Balcony Garden

    Nothing doing on the balcony, 1st of June is the day set for when they come along to put our new windows in, it maybe that we will get some salads and herbs in this year?


    Recipes for The Month

    Roasted Leg of Spring Lamb with Sage and Thyme

    Sprigs of sage and thyme (you could use rosemary) are inserted into slits in the meat and then you just roast it in the oven what could be easier.

    What a glorious dish, more or less identical to the one Maureen and I used to have at the Bakery Restaurant on the Greek island of Spetses (This restaurant is on the top floor above one of the island’s more popular patisseries).

    We tried it at Wilton Lodge for a dinner party, which was a triumph, so much, so that in the winter/spring of 1992 at Norwood West, Palm Springs it became a great favourite.

    Serves / Makes:       4 to 6 servings

    Prep-Time:                12 minutes

    Cook-Time:               120 minutes

    You Will Need

  • 1 leg of lamb, 3 kilos with the bone in (1 pound of uncooked weight per person)
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt, we use the sea salt flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 fresh sprigs of sage (3 to 4 inches)
  • 8 fresh sprigs of thyme (3 to 4 inches)

    Method

    Pre-heat oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gasmark 5.

    Season the lamb with the salt and freshly ground black pepper, then rub with the olive oil.

    Score the meat lengthways with four parallel slits, on the top and bottom of the leg.

    Place a sprig of sage and a sprig of thyme in each cut, then place the lamb into to a roasting pan; we sometimes place some vegetables and potatoes underneath the lamb cover lightly with foil and cook for 30 minutes per 450 grams / per pound.

    If you like to serve your lamb quite pink, give it 30 minutes less cooking time, and make sure you baste the lamb at least 3 times while it is cooking.

    About 20 minutes before done, remove the foil if the meat hasn’t browned sufficiently.

    To tell if the lamb is cooked to your fancy, slot in a skewer right into the centre of the joint, remove it, and then push the flat of the skewer against the meat and as the juices runs out, you will see to what extent the meat is cooked.

    The pinker the juices, the rarer the meat, when it is cooked as you like it, remove it to a carving board and keep it in a warm place to rest for 30 minutes.

    Serve with new season vegetables and Jersey Royal potatoes and Enjoy!

    Blackened Cajun Salmon

    Succulent salmon cooked the Cajun way with oodles of flavour and colour a real pleasure to serve to family and guests.

    We love Cajun food and try to make it as authentic as we can, this was a dish we had at the Bayou Seafood Grille in Rancho Mirage and as I was making my notes at the table the chef came out with the recipe already written out for me, I’ve got to say that the food at the Bayou Seafood Grill is superb.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                15 minutes

    Cook-Time:               25 minutes

    You Will Need

  • 3 tablespoons, Cajun seasoning, see my recipe on MyDish
  • 4, salmon steaks, or fillets about 180 grams each

    For the Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove, garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 x 400 gram tin, chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons, freshly chopped coriander

    Method

    Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning on a plate; dip the salmon into the seasoning to coat both sides, set to one side.

    Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and fry the onion, chilli and garlic for about 5 minutes until softened, stir in the chilli powder, tomatoes and chopped coriander, cook gently for 10 minutes or so until the salsa has thickened and reduced season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

    Brush a griddle pan with the remaining oil, heat until smoking and cook the salmon for 3 to 4 minutes each side until golden and cooked.

    Serve and Enjoy, we like it with sautéed potatoes and a mixed salad!

    Notes

    Most new cooks think blackened means burned blackened actually refers to the spices becoming slightly charred and giving the cut of fish this smoky and spicy flavouring If you don’t have a griddle pan use a frying pan.

    Cajun Food originates from the French speaking Acadian or “Cajun” immigrants in the Acadiana region of Louisiana, USA.

    It is often called a country fare and locally grown food dominates with simple preparations. An authentic Cajun food meal is usually a three-pot affair, with the first pot being the main dish, the second to steamed rice, skillet cornbread, or some other grain dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful for that years crop.

    Cajun Food/Cuisine was developed out of necessity, the Acadian refugees, farmers reduced to nothing by the British expulsion, had to learn to live off the swampy land they lived in and quickly adapted to the French rustic cuisine with locally grown foods such as rice, crawfish (craw daddy’s), and sugar cane.

    The aromatic vegetables bell pepper, onion, and celery are called by some chefs the holy trinity of Creole and Cajun cuisines. Finely diced and combined in cooking, the method is similar to the use of the mirepoix in traditional French cuisine, which blends finely diced onion, celery, and carrot. Typical seasonings include parsley, bay leaf, green onions or scallions, and dried cayenne pepper.

    Baked Salmon with Spiced Herbs

    A delicious salmon dish that tastes as good as it looks, this fragrant fish just melts in your mouth!

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               15 minutes

    You Will Need

  • 4 (650 grams), salmon fillets
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 200 grams, tenderstem broccoli
  • 200 grams, trimmed asparagus

    Method

    Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

    Place the salmon fillets, skin-side down, on the prepared tray. Using a sharp knife, make 3 slits on top of the salmon.

    Put the lemon juice, chilli, garlic, sugar, fresh coriander, parsley, cumin and ground coriander in a small bowl and mix well. Spread the topping over the salmon and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until done to your liking.

    Meanwhile, steam the tenderstem broccoli and asparagus until tender.

    Serve the fish with the steamed vegetables and steamed basmati rice and Enjoy!


Catch of the Day, Sea Trout


Sea Trout-Salmon TroutCooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will be serving up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants.
It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer.
The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.


Maureen and I well, we just like fish and seafood for its versatility, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!


Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

Including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish

  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.

  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are the;

Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish.

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.
Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.
We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.
However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of there to-do list.
Anyway, enough of all that lets get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;


Our Catch of the Day is; Sea Trout

The wild sea trout, or salmon trout, isn’t at all like the low-cost and nondescript farmed trout which is sold in supermarkets and markets country wide.

clip_image001Sea trout is one of the finest fish caught in UK waters, and is available in good fishmongers

 

 

It is available all year round as a farmed fish, but the best months for wild sea trout are March, April, May, June, and the first part of July.

It is a wild fish with pink, tender flesh, more akin to salmon than trout and is wonderful when served with lemon.

The time it spends at sea simply implies that it is more like wild salmon in its colouring, taste and texture while it doesn’t have the extreme prices of wild salmon.

Sea trout are so called because they swim down from their home rivers to the sea to feed and fatten up before returning to the fresh water of the home river to spawn. The end result is a wonderful fish that can be cooked as salmon, either poached in wine with herbs, baked in foil, baked, or pan-fried in butter with capers and served with new potatoes, I like mine with a little anchovy butter and lemon.

If they can be likened to any fish it would the group of fish that includes the brown trout; it is a silvery grey with black or red spots and its pink flesh comes from its diet of shrimps and other crustaceans.

Sea trout is also a good source of omega-3, which is linked with the reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Buying Sea Trout

You can by Wild Sea Trout at some supermarket fish counters although it is more easily to be had from fishmongers and fresh fish market stalls.

A quantity of the most superb sea trout in the UK are to be found in Wales where they are known as sewin

Jon our fishmonger always has it when in season and prides himself on obtaining only the best.

Remember as with all fresh fish, they should be bright-eyed, red-gilled with a refreshing sea tang and a golden bronze sheen to the skin is as a rule a good sign.

Storing Sea Trout

If doable buy your sea trout on the day you plan to cook it, when you get it home unwrap it, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.

Keep it in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, keep fresh seafood no longer than two days before use.

For best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its freshest condition

If it’s you find it necessary to freeze fish, freeze it rapidly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Sea Trout

It’s not easy to make a terrible dish using good sea trout, ask your fishmonger to gut, clean, and / or fillet your sea trout.

Sea trout can be used as an alternative in any trout or salmon recipe.

My Favourite Recipe for Sea Trout

This recipe for Trout with crayfish and watercress sauce is from the Hairy Bikers I think it is just about the best recipe for this wonderful fish

Windows Live Tags: Trout,Catch of the Day,Fish,Salmon,Salmon Trout,Sewin,Sea Trout,Crayfish,Brown Trout,Wales,recipes,Hairy Bikers,omega-3,seafood,fishmonger,fishmongers
WordPress Tags: Trout,Catch of the Day,Fish,Salmon,Salmon Trout,Sewin,Sea Trout,Crayfish,Brown Trout,Wales,recipes,Hairy Bikers,omega-3,seafood,fishmonger,fishmongers

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Letter from Pimlico 2012 April, What’s in Season This Month


Dear All,

It’s just Maureen and myself again just letting you know about our recipes for this month, and what’s in season. And about what’s happening, what’s on, where to go in Pimlico and London.

When you do go shopping, you will be surprised at what buying British, locally and seasonally truly means, there’s nowt like fresh fruit and vegetables in their season its when they are at their very best, that also goes for meat, fish and game, you get something so wonderful when eating food as soon as it’s just been picked, it tastes better, it’s better for your wallet and it’s a healthier deal for the planet. Food produced locally, whether you have bought from a farmers’ market, local butcher, greengrocer, or fishmonger; it is much more likely to be a lot fresher and tastier than its supermarket counterpart.

Meat, fish and poultry produced with high regard for the animals concerned without the addition of growth hormones, permanent fabricated daylight, and all the other tricks producers use, then in your heart you know that the products you purchase from high-quality local traders in it’s proper season will without doubt be a far better quality to the intensively reared animals that are apt to have spent pathetic lives in hateful conditions.


April, is one of our favourite months, spring has been switched on the clocks have been put forward the days are getting longer and the sun is coming out to play a little more. This is the month when the kitchen rouses itself, we ourselves liven up, and it is also the annual point in time when keeping it uncomplicated means just that, so little needs to be done with the fresh crops of English foodstuffs. Therefore as the spring sun warms the soil, we can look forward to an abundance of wonderful ingredients coming into season over the next few weeks, the first herbs are appearing now, allowing us to add some fresher flavours to our food keep a look out for Wild Garlic, Chives, Sorrel, Radishes, and Rocket. Or instead of Rocket, try Watercress it works wonders in simple salads, sophisticated salads, with fish and with cheese.

Other foods that are good this week include; Wood Pigeon, John Dory, Hake, Wild Sea Trout, and Wild Salmon.

April’s fresh veggies in season include Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Spring Cabbage, Carrots, Dandelion, Wild Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Wild Mushrooms, Jersey Royal Potatoes, Radishes, Wild Sorrel, Spinach and Watercress New Potatoes, Broad Beans, Peas, Asparagus, And Cauliflowers will be fresh in season towards the end of British springtime.

By The End of April We Will Have the Real Superstars to Look Forward To; English Asparagus keep your eyes open for it, you see it only has a short 6 week season, so begin buying it as soon as you see it and I can’t say this enough, DON’T forget that those exquisite Jersey Royals will be making their yearly debut at the end of April.

Fish and Seafood, This April

A Seafood DisplayFishing has been improving with the better weather conditions, although the tides have been very big, which affects the practicality of netted catches especially obvious in smaller ports like Mevagissey and the crabbing port of Portloe.

The sea around our coasts especially the East coast starts to warm at this time of the year and so bestows better breeding conditions for several species of seafood, including our very own Edible Brown Crab which is in season now until October.

Now I’ll say this again and again White crab meat, picked from the claws, equals lobster for flavour and succulence and is just exquisite served modestly in a sandwich, a salad or as in the recipes below.

Prices have been stubbornly high this year for British crab and lobsters, as always you can get cheaper from somewhere else, though they will be of the Canadian or American kind and apart from being awfully small, they will have travelled numerous miles to reach your plate and even though they do taste good we think our own crab and lobster caught in British waters are the best in the world. West Country boats are starting to land more and you can count on prices coming down, and like I keep saying and will continue to do so, Cornish crab and lobster is so delicious its worth paying that bit more for a treat.

Sea trout is one of our coastal waters top fish and to be had in all good fishmongers until the commencement of July, It is a wild fish with coral pink, soft flesh, more like salmon than trout and is scrumptious served with lemon and anchovy butter.

Plenty of Bass, John Dory, Hake, and Pollack are being landed, and the Plaice are also very good at this time of year.

The first landings of Wild Black Bream have started, and whilst customary landings are two or three weeks off it looks like there is going to be plenty to go around, similar to last season.

All the usual suspects are to be had, Brown Crab, Cockles, Conger Eel, Spider Crab, John Dory, Lobster, Razor Clams, Salmon, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Whitebait, Winkles, and Wild Salmon are very good, so please support your local fishmonger and eat more Fish and Shellfish.

And once again I will say;

Keep your eye out for wild sea trout, which is superb at the moment, as is Monkfish, Halibut, Prawns, and Crab.

Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This April

The first of the new season lamb should now be coming through we have always looked forward to the spring lamb and we both think that new season lamb from the Fylde and Morecambe Bay is superior, although when we were at Lodge Hill Mr. F used to have between 10 to 20 sheep which he kept on the game farm and every spring we all helped with the lambing and when they were old enough all went to the butchers and some came back already for the freezer now you can’t get much organic and greener than that!



Vegetables at Their Best This April

As the spring sun warms the soil, we can look forward to an abundance of wonderful ingredients coming into season over the next few weeks, the first herbs are appearing now, allowing us to add some fresher flavours to our food look out for wild garlic, chives, sorrel and wild sorrel.
Leeks, wild mushrooms, Jersey Royal potatoes, radishes, spinach and watercress, broad beans, peas, asparagus, and cauliflowers will be fresh in season towards the end of British springtime.

  • Purple Sprouting Broccoli; just make certain it is very purple to make sure it is at its prime.
  • Spring Greens; check that they are English and very green, we always say that the spring greens from Cornwall are the best with those from Lancashire a close second.
  • Spring Onions; are really good at the moment just pick those with pale green tails.
  • English Carrots; are now beginning to make themselves known we like to buy the small ones in bunches along with their feathery tops.
  • British Watercress; it’s a sensation in uncomplicated salads; classy salads, with fish and with cheese, always try to avoid the plastic wrapped bunches.

    New Season Kale; kale is called a “super food” because it packs more nutrition per calorie than almost any other food. Unfortunately many people haven’t a clue how to prepare the stuff usually seen only as garnish, follow these simple instructions for delicious, tender, steamed kale:

  • Select dark green crisp leaves.
  • Wash kale in cold water to remove sand or dirt.
  • Fold the kale in half, lengthwise, hold the base of the stem and rip the leaves from the stem.
  • Chop leaves and add to a steamer basket and place in a pan of boiling water, filled just to the base of the basket, and cover.
  • Steam for about 4 to 5 minutes, then check for tenderness.
  • Kale cools rapidly, so enjoy immediately.
  • You can eat it plain, spritz it with soy sauce, sauté it with garlic and olive oil, or toss it into soups.
  • Use it in place of cooked spinach in your favourite recipes.

    Dates for Your Diary

    Exeter Festival of South West Food & Drink, From Friday, 13 April 2012 To Sunday, 15 April 2012

    The Festival is an annual event held in the courtyard of Exeter Castle and the surrounding Northernhay Gardens, right in the centre of Exeter. Taking place over three days, the Festival also includes two evening Festival after Dark Events featuring live music, chef demos, and a great atmosphere. Now in its 9th year, the 2011 festival attracted more than 15,000 visits, with people flocking to Exeter to indulge in top-notch South West food and drink, see national TV celebrities, to learn from the many cookery demonstrations and workshops and to enjoy family hands-on activities. 2012 promises even more!

    Lost and Forgotten’ Bar Menu at Corrigan’s Mayfair, London, From Monday, 02 April 2012 To Sunday, 13 May 2012

    From the 2nd April, Corrigan’s Mayfair will be serving a collection of lost and forgotten dishes, as part of the bar menu. Celebrating all things British, this informal approach gives you the chance to try long lost ingredients- or get acquainted with new ones. These plates lie midway between a starter and main course size, ideal for sharing or simply eating one after another. Choose from up to nine dishes, with Corrigan favourites such as Stargazy pie and new examples such as Wild Salmon, with nettle and anchovy puree. Choose from 3 dishes at £25, through to 9 dishes for £55. To reserve your place at the bar please call 020 7499 9943 or email reservations@corrigansmayfair.com quoting ‘Lost and Forgotten Bar Menu’ when booking

    London Coffee Festival, Brick Lane, Old Truman Brewery, From 27th April 2012 To 29th April 2012

    The current line up of exhibitors includes a wide range of artisan coffee roasters and independent coffee shops, industry suppliers and branded coffee chains. Exhibitors will showcase new products and unveil fresh innovations targeted to both industry insiders and the general public, with a focus on celebrating the coffee industry and promoting new development. Among those already confirmed are Allpress Espresso Roastery, Alpro Soya, Bean About Town, Caffé Fratelli, Costa Coffee, Delonghi, Joe & the Juice, La Cimbali, La Marzoccco, Matthew Algie, Mulmar, Rancilio, SEDA, Starbucks and Union Hand-Roasted.

    The Jubilee Party, 29 May 2012

    The Pimlico Road Association is proud its annual party will be held on May 29th and is renamed as the JUBILEE PARTY

    The SouthwestFest 2012, 22nd June – 4th August

    SouthWestFest is a festival that celebrates all that is great about SW1, organised by the community, for the community. Last year’s SouthWestFest brought together over 10,000 people, and with 2012’s Festival running for an unprecedented 6 weeks, it is set to be the biggest and best yet!

    Kicking off with the Pimlico Proms on Friday 22 June, the fun just keeps coming. On Saturday 23 June the much-loved Carnival Parade brings OlymPimlico to the streets of SW1, ending at the hugely popular Gala Day in St. George’s Square Gardens. Throughout the following 6 weeks there will also be stand-up comedy, Olympic It’s A Knock Out, a cruise down the Thames, an exhibition in association with Victoria BID, street theatre and more!

    Including, The Pimlico Proms at St. Georges Square Friday 22nd June Bring a picnic for an open-air concert with the acclaimed John Lewis Plc. Orchestra, plus special guests Chelsea Pensioners Choir, DreamArts, and Pimlico Academy.

    LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

    Tachbrook Street Market, Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm; Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico, Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    imageOpen every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish, bread and cakes.

    Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its dynamic varied collection of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more.

    Discover different stalls on different days it is an energetic market and we just love buying our fresh food at the market, fruit, vegetables, fish, and shellfish and this market is very close to us, and close enough to other shops such as; Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Rippon Cheese and some wonderful delis such as the Spanish Art Of Tapas, there are Italian delis, and Portuguese were we can pick up anything else for our cooking sessions.

    It is also a superb lunch destination with loads of small specialist restaurants around and in the market itself something marvellous has happened it started last year when the market was refurbished and placed under the management of Westminster Artisans Ltd, Pimlico has welcomed the street food transformation and now you can by all the street food your heart desires from falafel to paella

    Below you will see just what some of the stalls have to offer, we do hope to increase our list during the coming months and if you are a stallholder please email us with your details we welcome all the information we can get.



    LOCAL CARBOOT SALE, CAPITAL CARBOOT,

    PIMLICO ACADEMY, CHICHESTER STREET ENTRANCE, LUPUS STREET, LONDON, SW1V 3AT. Central London’s only indoor and outdoor all year round carboot sale, as seen in Timeout, Elle, I-D, Le Cool, and Emerald Street

    Capital Carboot Sale runs every Sunday (except Easter, Christmas and New Year, please check availability during these times). Indoor stall holders should arrive at 9:30am if coming in a vehicle to unload. Unloading vehicles will not be allowed on site after 10:00am, outdoor stall holders without vehicles should arrive 10:15am, outdoor stall holders with vehicles to remain in the sale should arrive 10:45am. Early bird buyers entry is 10:15am (£5), Public entry is 11:30am until 3:30pm (£1).

    You can find them at The Pimlico Academy, Lupus Street (Please use the Chichester Street entrance) Pimlico, SW1V 3AT. The nearest tubes and trains are Pimlico (2 minutes walk) and Victoria (5 minutes walk), and on bus routes 360, C10, 24, 2, 36, 185, 436

    You can book a stall at Capital Carboot or 0845 0943 871

    Capital Carboot strongly advises buyers to use public transport when attending; parking is limited in the surrounding areas and a priority for local residents.

    If you like to find good genuine bargains then you have to head to Pimlico for the best of car boot sales, Capital Carboot is attracting a young crowd, several selling vintage fashion and collectables so get there early to bag the best deals. This London based car boot sale is so much better than your average London car boot sale, it was set up last year by ex-stylist and personal shopper Faye Marriott and the happening is further encouraged with Twitter and Facebook, an element not often found with carboot events, this means that there is a much younger gathering of people but don’t worry there is still plenty for the more traditional car-booters and there has been sightings of celebrities searching for that special bargain.

    Oh if you like the carboot on their Facebook page, entry for buyers is free of charge.

    You can now buy fresh fruit and veg here

    image

    image

     



  • John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    imageThey only buy British produce when possible and in season, the family have had a stall on the market for 80 years now and they believe very strongly in supplying the best quality produce that is in season and at its best, they always seem to be the first to obtain the great British produce such as Jersey Royal potatoes, British Asparagus, British soft fruits, when visiting look out for good sprouts, cauliflowers, leeks and cox’s apples; English berries and lettuce are available in season.

    In fact they have all the fruit, veg and herbs you might want and so much better than the local supermarket’s offerings.

    On Saturday they had Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, English Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.

    image  image

     

     



    Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week Asparagus

    AsparagusEating the first succulent green spears of British grown asparagus dipped into a melted butter or a sumptuous boiled or poached egg reminds me that nothing beats the taste of seasonal food and the closer it is grown to where you live the fresher it will be.

    It took a long time for Maureen to acquire the taste for asparagus but since she has it has become difficult to stop her from having it with almost everything!  The English asparagus season officially starts on 1st May, but depending on the weather can start as early as mid-April the harvest lasts for approximately 6 weeks, until mid-June. Although asparagus was once only grown in certain areas of the United Kingdom, for example the Vale of Evesham, East Anglia, Kent, and London, it is now grown in most regions of the United Kingdom.

    It’s a grand accompaniment to seasonal meats and fish, steam, grill or roast it, add it to tarts or blend it into soups no matter which way you cook it you are going to be in for a scrumptious treat. British asparagus, with its intense, complex flavour, is considered by the British, at least to be the finest in the world. Its deep, verdant flavour is attributed in large part to Britain’s cool growing conditions.

    Traditionally only green asparagus has been grown here, but there are numerous types and varieties. Regardless of whether you’re buying Asparagus tips, the thin ‘sprue’ asparagus (Maureen’s favourite) or the huge ‘jumbo’ spears, always choose stems that are firm and thriving, rather than dry and wrinkly.

  • Avoid any stems that are discoloured, scarred or turning slimy at the tips
  • If you’re using whole spears, then make sure the buds are tightly furled.
  • If you’re making soup, though, you could also use the cheaper, loose-tipped spears you sometimes find on market stalls.

    English Asparagus is in my view the finest in the world and we had some last night. AKA ‘Grass’ in greengrocer terms it comes in lots of various grades and when really thin is very grass like, this is usually known as sprue and is much cheaper, this in no way means it tastes any less scrumptious than those thick jumbo stalks that tend to fetch the real money.

    Sprue makes the most magnificent creamy vegetable soup, served hot or even chilled. Without a doubt sprue is Maureen’s favourite grade especially for pickling in her special brine and that way we can have English asparagus for a lot longer than its short season.

    If you grow your own then I honestly envy you, and for those of us that do not, always look for crisp firm spears, asparagus benefits from cooking as soon as possible after picking, and if possible, it is best on the same day as picking.

    This is why asparagus from abroad can never be as good as our own home-grown crop. These delectable tender purple-green stalks sadly have a short season, so eat lots of it and enjoy the season while it is with us as it traditionally ends on 21st June, the longest day of the year. Asparagus should first be tied together in bundles, not too tightly; just tight enough to stop them falling out of the bundle then these should be plunged into sufficient boiling salted water so that they float. Return the water to the boil and boil gently for about 5 minutes (depending upon the thickness of the stalks) until just cooked (The Romans had a Saying “As Quick as Asparagus”) which just goes to show how quick it is to cook.

    Buying, Look for firm but tender stalks with good colour and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily tenderer; in fact thicker specimens are often better due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume.

    Storing, Once picked, asparagus rapidly loses flavour and tenderness, so it really is worth eating it on the day you buy it. If that isn’t possible, store asparagus in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around the bottom of the stalks and you can get away with keeping it for a couple of days.

    Preparing and Cooking, In spite of what you may have read or heard, it’s not necessary to buy an asparagus steamer, nor to bind the asparagus into a bundle and cook it upright in a pan.

  • For the best results, wash the stems thoroughly in a sink full of cold water.
  • Then trim the stalks and, if the lower part of the stem seems tough when sliced and eaten raw, lightly peel the bottom third of the stem.
  • Drop loose spears into a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender.
  • The cooking time varies according to the thickness of the stems but ranges between 3-5 minutes. Once it’s cooked, drain, and pat dry on kitchen paper.
  • If you’re serving it cold, you’ll get the best flavour if, rather than cooling under the cold tap, you spread the hot asparagus out to cool on some kitchen paper.
  • Traditionally matched with hollandaise sauce, asparagus picked just a day or so ago (try your nearest farmers’ market) requires minimal messing with.
  • Enjoy it with a drizzle of olive oil, a twist of black pepper and perhaps a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

    Roasted Asparagus

    A fantastic vegetable side dish, pepped up with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, we think is the perfect complement to roasted meat or poultry. With practically no preparation time or hard to find ingredients, this roasted asparagus recipe goes from the fridge to the table in less than twenty minutes.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 2 minutes

    Cook-Time: 20 minutes

    You Will Need

    455 grams, fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

    4, teaspoons, olive oil

    1, tablespoon, balsamic vinegar

    ½, teaspoon, salt

    ⅛, teaspoon, ground black pepper

    Method

    Preheat an oven to 425°F / 200°C / Gasmark 7. Line a large baking sheet with foil and arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the tray.

    Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus, toss it gently, and then roast it in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until it turns tender and lightly browned. Toss the roasted asparagus with the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper serve and enjoy!

    Our Local Butcher, Freemans (Butchers) 117 Lupus Street

    Trading Hours: Open: Mon to Sat 7.30am – 5.30pm Closed: Sun and Bank holidays

    imageJohn Freeman owner of Freemans butchers supply high quality meat to the local residents of Pimlico and Westminster indeed people travel from all over London to purchase their meat from this traditional high street butcher. He says that they are passionate about their product and are committed to ensuring quality meat at the best possible price; we aim for excellence with the right product, right price, and right quality 100% of the time.

    Their service level quality is kept up by constant staff development, and through customer feedback. John constantly has superb meat and can get almost anything you want if given enough notice

    This week we could see he had some excellent Beef Steaks, Chicken, Sausages, Spring Lamb (spring lamb is traditionally served with the Easter roast (The taste is milder than summer or autumn lamb and it is deliciously tender).

    The lamb is some of the best we have seen and his beef is well hung, Scottish and the steaks we had were absolutely great, the pork is outdoor reared and has a great taste with the fat to meat ratio spot on. The corn-fed chickens looked plump with a nice colour to them; this butcher is very proud of his offerings and has every right to be so. image

    Butchers Choice, Lamb

    New season lamb is available from April and through the summer months, but it is at its best in June. Lamb usually comes to market between 6 and 7 months old, with a dressed weight of between 36-50 pounds. The smallest lambs (sometimes called Paulliac Lamb), are sometimes less than 4 weeks old and weigh as little as 8 pounds.

    Lamb in the United Kingdom is still called lamb until it is 12 months old then it is known as mutton, I believe that mutton is a greatly unappreciated meat, cuts of mutton are similar to those of lamb, but the meat is darker in colour and much richer in flavour.

    When choosing lamb do not look for meat marbled with fat, this is not an indication of quality and tenderness as with beef. Better to look for lamb cuts with a thick, well shaped eye muscles in the loin and rib cuts, look for meat that is moist and bright, the colour depends on the age of the lamb ranging from pinkish rose to pale red, the fat should be waxy white.

    Mutton is significantly underrated in this country the cuts are similar to lamb, but tend to be larger, darker in colour with richer flavour Choose mutton of a rich red brown colour; avoid any grey meat with yellowy fat. Mutton lacks the mildness and tenderness of lamb and tends to have more fat.

    Definitions for Lamb, Hogget and Mutton differ significantly between countries, below are the common definitions

  • Baby lamb, a milk-fed lamb between six and eight weeks old
  • Spring lamb, a milk-fed lamb, usually three to five months old, born in late winter or early spring and sold usually before July 1st
  • Yearling lamb, a young sheep between 12 and 24 months old.
  • Milk-fed lamb, meat from an unweaned lamb, typically 4 to 6 weeks old and weighing 5.5 to 8 kg; this is almost unavailable in countries such as the USA and the UK, where it is considered uneconomic. The flavour and texture of milk-fed lamb when grilled (such as the tiny lamb chops known as chuletillas in Spain) or roasted (lechazo asado or cordero lechal asado) is generally thought to be finer than that of older lamb. The areas in northern Spain where this can be found include Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and León, and La Rioja. Milk-fed lambs (and kids) are especially prized for Easter in Greece, when they are roasted on a spit.
  • Hogget a young male sheep or maiden ewe having no more than two permanent incisors in wear
  • Mutton A female (ewe) or castrated male (wether) sheep having more than two permanent incisors in wear.
  • Salt marsh lamb the meat of sheep which graze on salt marsh in coastal estuaries that are washed by the tides and support a range of salt-tolerant grasses and herbs such as samphire, sparta grass, sorrel and sea lavender. Depending on where in the world the salt marsh is located, the nature of the plants may be subtly different. Salt marsh lamb has long been appreciated in France and is growing in popularity in the United Kingdom. Places where salt marsh lamb are reared in the United Kingdom include Harlech and the Gower Peninsula in Wales, the Somerset Levels and the Fylde and Morecambe Bay

    Although available, all year round, British Lamb and Mutton are seasonal products.

  • Spring lamb is available from early spring until the summer. It is very tender but does not have as much flavour as lamb later in the year as it has not had as much time to graze. It should be cooked simply spring lamb is fantastic for roasting simply with garlic and herbs.
  • Autumn lamb is available from the summer until December. It has had more time to graze and grow thus developing stronger flavours that can take spicier, more adventurous treatment
  • Lamb from Christmas until the following spring is called ‘hogget’, though few retailers and caterers use this term. Hogget has a pronounced flavour, which works well with seasonal root vegetables.
  • Mutton is at least two years old. Mutton is available year-round but is best, and most readily available, from October until March. It has a much stronger, gamier flavour than lamb. For hundreds of years, mutton was the staple meat of the British household, considered superior in texture and flavour to lamb. Changes in farming and cooking lead to mutton’s sudden decline and for the last fifty years mutton has almost disappeared from our shops and restaurants.
  • The Mutton Renaissance campaign was launched in 2004 by HRH the Prince of Wales to support British sheep farmers who were struggling to sell their older animals, and to get this delicious meat back on the nation’s plates.
  • Accompaniments That Go Well with Lamb and Mutton
  • Mint and rosemary spring to mind at once, but lamb is well-matched with many different ingredients including French mustard, tarragon, tomatoes, olive oil, aubergines, yoghurt, couscous, apricots, coriander and cumin.
  • Try baking with aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes, olives, and garlic for a Mediterranean twist or pot roast with root vegetables or butternut squash and red onions
  • Flavoured butters also work well with lamb steaks and chops make by simply softening butter and mixing through the grated rind of a lemon or lime, some thyme and rosemary, or try some chilli paste and a few leaves of freshly torn basil.
  • Slivers of garlic, sprigs of rosemary and/or anchovies can be pushed into slits cut in the meat. Why not try grating or grinding lemon rind, root ginger and garlic, or mint and rosemary, into a paste to fill the slits.
  • If roasting serve with mint sauce and red wine gravy for a yummy dish
  • While lamb doesn’t often feature in oriental cookery, it’s mouth-watering with soy sauce, ginger, or honey.
  • And finally, because of its seasonality and its mild flavour, new season lamb goes well with spring vegetables.

    Spring Lamb Cutlets with a Wild Garlic Crust

    If you go down to the woods today, it’s likely the smell of wild garlic (ramsons) will fill the air. This wild relative of the chive can be eaten in many ways, both raw and cooked – in soups, salads, or taking basil’s place in pesto. In this month’s recipe, it partners traditional rosemary to flavour some equally seasonal spring lamb.

     

    Serves / Makes:          2 servings

    Prep-Time:                  10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                 15 minutes

     

    You Will Need;

    4 small or 2 large lamb cutlets

    For the crust:

    50 grams, white bread, torn into chunks

    2 tablespoons, wild garlic leaves

    1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon fresh thyme

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Knob of butter

     

    Method;

    Pre-heat the oven to 220°c.

    Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan until foaming but not coloured and pan fry the cutlets for a few minutes on each side until browned.

    Meanwhile, in a small blender whizz the bread, garlic leaves, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper. Press the mixture onto each cutlet, and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

    Serve with new potatoes and buttered curly kale and Enjoy!

     

    Our Local Fishmonger, Jonathan Norris

    Victoria Park, 207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN

    Telephone: 0208 525 8999

    And on Tachbrook Street Market, Pitch 1317, Pimlico, London SW1

    Telephone: 0779 907 3060

    Opening Hours; Thurs – 8am – 5.30pm, Fri – 8am – 5.30pm, Sat – 8am – 5.30pm

    Website: Jonathan Norris of Pimlico

    Just take a walk through our local market on Tachbrook Street, and you will see that our favourite fishmonger Jonathan Norris has on display (and what a display) all you might ever want from your fishmonger for sale at a extremely affordable prices as well as other fish and shellfish that you don’t normally see on a market stall and furthermore you will see that the fish is caught from around the UK’s own shores with Scotland and Cornwall dominant.

    Jon is so friendly and a real character and when you speak to him you notice at once that he’s enthusiastic about all things fish, and when you ask him about the fish he has available you become aware that from his response that there’s nothing he and his people don’t know about the produce they sell.

    The fish is always in the best of condition, and as far as I can see always from sustainable sources. He explained to me after I asked him about it that “we take environmental issues very seriously and are continually striving to reduce the negative impact on our beautiful world wherever possible”. I got the feeling that he could even tell you what boat the catch came from.

    He was very busy again this week and yet again we see more and more people queuing up for his produce.

    Taking advantage of all that fishing in British waters can turn out, he had to offer Cornish Brill, Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab whole and dressed, Haddock, Cornish Hake steaks, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, grey Mullet, Lobster, Line Caught Mackerel, Monkfish, Cornish Octopus, there was Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, Prawns in the shell, there were Native Oysters, Rock Oysters, Cornish Scallops, wild Scottish Salmon, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting.

    Maureen bought Hake this week and believe me when I say it is superb why not try it just like we did “Roasted Hake Steaks with Prawns in Seasoned Butter” She also bought some sweet juicy Pollack we had that last night just lightly dusted with seasoned flour and lemon zest and pan-fried in olive oil with a little butter.

    And remember almost all Jon’s fish is sourced from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts and his prices are so reasonable you have got to give this gifted and extraordinary fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry, I promise, just see for yourselves with the pictures below!

    100_1250

     

     100_1251

     




    Catch of the Day, Crab (Edible Brown Crab)

    imageCooking fish is clear-cut, if you just follow a few basic rules and you will plate up dishes to contend with the best of restaurants. It is recommended that we eat at least three or more portions of fish a week, as the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer.

    Maureen and me self well, we just like fish and seafood for its handiness, simplicity of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

    Always ask for assistance when selecting your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out

    We just love the sweet succulent white meat of crab and the rich creaminess of the brown meat we use crab meat in sandwiches, potted on its own or with shrimps, which is one of our favourites (see recipe), I like it with linguine and chilli, we like it as crab cakes, or in salads, or else in burgers there are loads of ways to get pleasure from this the most handy of the sea’s treasure trove.

    White crab meat which comes from the claws is as good, or in our eyes even outclasses lobster for flavour and lusciousness and needs very little messing about with to make epicurean dishes for instance a Crab Salad or Crab and Chilli Linguine.

    Crabs are crustaceans from the Decapoda genus (which includes lobsters and prawns).

    Did you know that there are something like 4,500 species of crab, ranging in size from the teeny tiny pea crab to the Japanese spider crab with a leg span in excess of 2 meters?

    Crab is an excellent resource for trace minerals which include selenium, which can offset cancer damage as well as boost our resistance to viral and bacterial infections. It also has valuable amounts of B vitamins which includes 86% of Vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.

    The most commonly eaten crab in the United Kingdom is the common edible or brown crab that weighs up to 3kg and contains plenty of sweet, succulent flesh; female crabs have sweeter flesh than males. European Brown crab is available all year but at its best from April until November; it reaches 8 to 10 inches across and has heavy front claws with almost black pincers, a rusty red or brown shell, and red hairy legs mottled with white.

    Buying, Choose crabs that feel heavy and don’t have liquid moving around inside them. If you like, white meat, purchase a cock male) crab.

    When buying from your fishmonger it is better to buy the crab while it is still alive a crab will stay alive for several hours out of water however, the animal is delicate and won’t survive shocks or direct contact with ice. If it dies, you’ll have to cook it right away.

    If the legs have lost their rigidity or the abdominal membrane is soft and colourless, it’s time to throw the crab away!

    Storing, If you have bought live crabs they need to be refrigerated and cooked on the day of purchase.

    Cooked fresh crab meat will be okay in the fridge for 3 or 4 days and can be frozen if they haven’t been previously frozen.

    Preparing and Cooking, The RSPCA publishes detailed instructions on how to humanely cook crabs and other Crustaceans (dropping into boiling water is not recommended, some research suggests that crabs do feel pain).

  • Crabs react powerfully to being placed straight into boiling water by shooting their claws.
  • So it is considered on the whole most humane to place them in a freezer before cooking for at least 2 hours so they become comatose and die.
  • However, the method is only humane if done quickly in a large freezer at a temperature of -18 C so be sure to set your freezer temperature to its fast freeze setting.
  • Cook crabs by boiling for 20 minutes for crabs up to 1kg and 10 minutes per kg after that.
  • Once cooked and cool enough to handle, twist off the claws and legs.
  • Knock the underside of the body on the chopping board and push your thumbs on the crab’s back to prise the body section away from the shell.
  • Remove and discard the stomach sac (just behind the mouth) and the soft gills (dead man’s fingers), these are readily identifiable and will come away easily.
  • Use a teaspoon to scoop out the brown meat from inside the shell, not forgetting the crevices where the claws and legs join the body.
  • Crack the legs and claws with a rolling pin or nutcracker and prise out the white meat using a skewer.

    Our Favourite Crab Recipes;

    Crab Burgers, Our Best Ever

    Sweet juicy crabmeat with just a hint of hot pepper these crab burgers have a sincere crabimage taste that isn’t spoilt by fillers or over strong seasonings.

    We serve them on a bun with tartar sauce, Joes crab shack mustard sauce, or with a lemon-juice based salad dressing and a salad of mixed baby salad leaves.

    Serves / Makes:                                   6 servings

    Prep-Time:                                          10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                                         20 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    450 grams, white crabmeat

    One egg, lightly beaten

    ½-cup fresh homemade breadcrumbs (see notes)

    ¼-cup light mayonnaise, we use Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise

    2, tablespoons chopped chives

    1 tablespoon, Dijon mustard

    1 tablespoon, lemon juice

    1 teaspoon, celery seed

    1 teaspoon, onion powder

    ¼ teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper

    4 dashes, Tabasco, or to taste

    1-tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    2 teaspoons, unsalted butter

    METHOD

    Mix the crab, egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, chives, mustard, lemon juice, celery seed, onion powder, pepper, and Tabasco sauce in a large bowl.

    Form into six burgers; once again, we use the burger press from Lakeland.

    Heat the oil and butter in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until the butter stops foaming, cook the burgers until golden brown, about 3 minutes each side.

    Serve and Enjoy!

    NOTES

    This recipe works best with fresh white crabmeat but we have used frozen crabmeat.

    Fresh homemade breadcrumbs are a better rougher texture than bought dried breadcrumbs. They make a crispy crust and are not as prone to become as soggy as finely ground breadcrumbs.



    In The Balcony Garden

    Not a lot happening yet, we are still waiting word for when they are going to put the new windows in so realistically we cannot start anything on our balcony for this year. We will of course plants some salads and our herbs but that will be it for this year.



    Recipes for April;

    Apart from the recipes above here are a couple of recipes that we love to cook during the spring months the first 5 are links to dishes on MyDish the only website for storing your own recipes and finding others.

    Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto

    Chilled Asparagus Soup

    Crab and Leek Tart

    Greek Aromatic Lamb

    Poached Pollack in Red Pepper Sauce, from jcousins

    Asparagus with Quails Eggs and Prosciutto

    Tender char-grilled asparagus with crisp prosciutto ham, quail eggs, and an indulgent drizzle of truffle oil, a perfect dinner party starter

    Serves / Makes:          4 servings

    Prep-Time:                  10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                 15 minutes

     

    You Will Need

     

    350 grams, asparagus spears, trimmed

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Salt and pepper, to taste

    12 whole quail eggs

    4 slices prosciutto

    2 medium fresh plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    2 teaspoons lemon juice

    1 tablespoon truffle oil, for drizzling

     

    Method

    Peel the asparagus stalks, leaving the tips intact. Preheat a ridged griddle/grill pan and brush the asparagus with olive oil and cook turning, for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender and charred season lightly and put to one side until cold.

    Cook the quails eggs in boiling water for 2 minutes drain and plunge into cold water once cool peel and carefully halve the eggs.

    Grill the prosciutto slices until crisp and golden, leave to cool, and then break in half. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

    Arrange the asparagus, quails eggs and prosciutto slices on 4 serving plates, scatter over the diced tomatoes, and spoon over the dressing add a generous drizzle of truffle oil and Serve and Enjoy!

     

    Notes

    Out in Palm Springs this dish just seemed to develop when Lady H just wanted a nice light lunch when Lord H was in the UK, it soon became a very popular appetiser for dinner.

    Personally, I like to soft poach or soft boil a duck egg and then just prepare the asparagus and ham for dipping into the rich creamy duck egg yolk!!


    Potted Crab (Our Best Ever)

    Wonderfully rich and delicious, treat yourself with the perfect English tradition of potting seafood, combining the tender, sweet flesh of crab with sherry, herbs and lemon juice, its the same idea as potted shrimp, but making use of blissful crab meat using the most exceptional white claw meat and creamy brown meat, mixing them with spices and topping with the finest English, Welsh or Cornish butter.

     

    Serves / Makes:          2 large ramekins, 4 small ramekins

    Prep-Time:                  10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                 15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling time

     

    YOU WILL NEED

    150 grams, white crab meat

    150 grams, brown crab meat

    1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped

    2 tablespoons, dry sherry

    1 pinch, cayenne pepper

    1 pinch, ground mace

    1 pinch, freshly grated nutmeg

    150 grams, unsalted butter, cubed

    1½ teaspoons, anchovy essence

    1 teaspoon, lemon juice, plus extra if needed

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Extra butter for sealing the ramekins

     

    METHOD

    Start off by placing the chopped shallot, sherry, and spices in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, then boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced by at least half, it should only take about 2 minutes.

    Next, stir in the butter; when melted, turn the heat down, and simmer gently for 12 minutes, stirring from time to time, remove from the heat and allow to cool then using a sieve over a bowl, pour through the cooled spiced butter and set the bowl over another bowl filled with ice then, using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the butter becomes thick and creamy, but not hard.

    Now mix in the crab meat, anchovy essence, lemon juice, salt, and pepper spoon this mixture into ramekins, cover the surface with melted butter to seal off the air and cover with clingfilm, and chill for 2 hours.

    To serve remove the potted crab from the fridge about half an hour before serving we like to serve ours with a little mixed salad, toasted granary bread or melba toast.

    Serve and Enjoy

    NOTES

    This recipe for potted crab always makes me think of home and my grandma Walmsley she used to serve it almost every weekend when I was small. We used this recipe at Whitewell way back in 1971 and have been making it ever since, when we lived in Devon quite near to Brixham we used to get the most wonderful crab from the shop on the harbour and it was superb.

    Enhanced by Zemanta
  • March 2012, What’s in Season This Month


    There’s nowt like fresh fruit and vegetables in their season its when they are at their very best, that also goes for meat, fish and game, you get something so wonderful when eating food as soon as it’s just been picked, it tastes better, it’s better for your wallet and it’s a healthier deal for the planet.

    Food produced locally, whether you have bought from a farmers’ market, local butcher, greengrocer, or fishmonger; it is liable to be a lot fresher and tastier than its supermarket counterpart.

    Meat produced with high regard for the animals concerned, without the addition of growth hormones, permanent fabricated daylight, and all the other sleight of hand tricks the producers use, then in your heart you know that the dairy, meat, and fish you purchase from high-quality local traders in its proper season will without doubt be of a far better-quality.


    This is the start of our year even if it doesn’t feel like it, spring is almost here, in March, the weather starts to warm up (or so it should be doing), the time from now until about the middle of May is a tricky one for the shopper, grower, and greengrocer alike, winter vegetables are fading out whereas the spring veggies haven’t so far really got under way, however there is plenty of purple sprouting broccoli around so make use of it.


    The beginning of the purple sprouting broccoli season brings and gives us a much sought after addition to the winter vegetable enjoyment.

    Simply steamed or boiled, this vivacious cousin of broccoli can be used in the same way, it is leafier and deeper in colour than broccoli; it always adds vitality and crunch to vegetable dishes and it goes well with almost any fish or meat dish.

    Broccoli is a cruciferous plant, from the same genus as the cabbage, and is associated to the cauliflower; cruciferous foods are nowadays hailed as having a number of significant health benefits. Purple Sprouting Broccoli contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane, which is thought to help prevent cancer. Furthermore it could provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of caretenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre, and vitamin A.

    Did I mention that it tastes great just simply steamed and served with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon juice?

    As with the British asparagus season, the Jersey Royals season and the first of the British artichokes we always look forward to the first of the purple sprouting broccoli, in our opinion events like these are what makes British seasonal produce the finest in the world.


    Fruit at It’s Best This Month

    March sees the first of British rhubarb, and it is superb, but we are now seeing the last of our British apples and although we are still getting pears pretty soon they will be coming from further away. Citrus fruits are making their way from Spain and Sicily and there are of course lots of fruits around that do and have to come from far away, its just a matter of picking carefully where the fruit you choose does come from.

    Best of British now is;

    Apples, Forced Rhubarb, and Pears


    Vegetables at Their Best This Month

    In the spring month of March (yes it’s a spring month), Saint David’s day proclaims the month of March, and with St Patrick’s Day on the 17th, now is the time to think what we can be doing with all those tasty expected spring veggies, Lincolnshire starts to harvest carrots, beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese broccoli as do other regions of Britain, so make the most from the first bloom.

    We are seeing more and more spring vegetables in the markets and some supermarkets, so with excited expectation our thoughts are turning to lighter dishes as we see Chicory, Chives, Mint, Parsley, Radishes, Rosemary, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Thyme, and Watercress coming into their season, and Cornish Spring greens are also becoming more plentiful and are very tasty, jam packed full of flavour and sweetness, the two biggest enemies of cabbage are water and overcooking, the one thing you don’t want to do is boil it to death in a large saucepan of water. Simply remove any damaged outer leaves, cut it in quarters, removing the tough white ‘core’ in the middle, and slice it finely then you can either stir-fry it in a wok with oil, a little water and soy sauce or tip it into a saucepan with about 3 cm of boiling water and cook it fast for about 3 minutes, turning it over as you go. Drain it thoroughly, add a good chunk of butter, and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground white pepper. A small to medium size cabbage will easily serve 4.



    Leeks are fantastic in early spring, and we like to use them, not only as vegetables to go together with poultry, meat and fish, but in soups, salads and tarts for first courses, we also like to lightly braise baby leeks as a lovely light side dish.

    Don’t be afraid to buy them loose and covered with dirt the taste is much better than ones that have been washed and pre-packed.

    Just cut off the top half of the green leaves and remove the root and any damaged outer leaves, cut vertically down the leek almost to the base and wash thoroughly between the leaves with cold running water slice the leeks thickly and wash again then cook in a little butter and oil.

    They also make superb soups and we think they are very good in egg and cheese dishes.

    Tasty tender spring carrots are about to show up, you can get a good sized carrot enough to make a salad for under 15p which makes it a brilliant student buy. Even organic ones which generally have much more flavour are affordable. Use them raw and freshly grated or just slice them, toss them in a pan with a little oil and melted butter, season them with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cumin or coriander, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and let them cook very slowly in their own juices for about 20 minutes. They also make great soup and are a must for casseroles stews and stir-fries



    New season artichokes from Italy, Cyprus, and Egypt are making their first appearance on the shelves, together with the first of the tomatoes with taste from Sicily and the black volcanic soil of Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Fast on their heels will be new potatoes from around the Mediterranean, asparagus (we had some superb asparagus from John Bussey’s Stall at the weekend) from the Murcia and Valencia provinces in Spain, and strawberries from Huelva in Andalucia.

    So keep your eyes peeled for;

    Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (new), Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Salsify, Shallots, Spinach, Spring Greens, Swede and Turnips.


    Herbs and Nuts This March

    There are lots of herbs available including growing pots of herbs alas not all from the UK but in the main they are all good and from quite close. I do have one gripe though we grow some wonderful parsley in the UK and English parsley is available now so could someone please tell me why the big supermarkets are selling parsley frown in Turkey?

    At their best in March are;

    Chives, Coriander, Cultivated Mushrooms, and Wild Mushrooms, Parsley (Curly), and Truffles (Black)


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This Month

    Beef, Chicken, Duck, and Pork are all very good and we are eagerly waiting for the first of British Spring Lamb, make the most of Rabbit this month wild rabbit meat, which is leaner and tastier than the farmed kind, has a wonderful delicate, gamey taste, very different from splendidly flavoured hare. Local Rabbit dishes reveal the fact that rabbit is very flexible and works well with those flavours used in chicken dishes, such as mustard and cream, tomato and herbs, and believe it or not chilli, I have had some superb rabbit dishes in Mexico.

    Turkey, Venison, and Wood Pigeon are still good.


    Fish and Seafood At Its Best This Month

    Spring has sprung (sorry, couldn’t help that) and we are seeing a breath-taking range of seafood landed from around the Cornish coast, the one (and only) awful feature about the appearance of spring is that our beloved native mussels are off the seasonal menu until September we still have the rope grown imported mussels but they are not quite the same so, fill up on these juicy morsels while you can native oysters are now becoming more difficult to find and will soon be out of season however the pacific or rock oyster will always be a good substitute (just about) as they offer smaller portions with a more subtle taste.



    Unusually the fishermen are still landing loads of mackerel and the season may go year round, large cod and Pollack are excellent at the moment we had some Pollack from Jon last week and it was fat, juicy, and sweet. We would also recommend the lemon sole, and what with the quite good Cornish lobster catches at the moment prices have been reduced, so now is the time to get lobster for that special meal.

    With Mother’s Day approaching why not make your Mum, wife or girlfriend a really special seafood dish?

    Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to say “thank you for everything”, and you can treat your Mum to some of the finest seafood in the world from the beautiful seas around this wonderful island of ours, our choice would be mussels at this moment in time they are fantastic

    Cast Your Nets For;

    Brill, Clams, Cockles, Cod, Conger Eel, Crab, Dabs, Dover Sole, Eel, Elvers, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Scottish Wild Salmon is back in season, Sardines, Scallops, Sea Bream, Sea Trout, Skate, Squid, Turbot, Whitebait, and Winkles.

    The Latest Grocery News

  • Aldi has launched a new recruitment website for suppliers as it looks to boost the amount of British produce it offers in stores. The website (www.aldisuppliers.co.uk) provides information about Aldi’s long term relationships with existing British suppliers and provides potential suppliers with an online form to complete. Did you know…. about 48% of Aldi food is British and 100% of their fresh meat is British!
  • Asda is trial running gurnard fish fillets from the South West in over 100 of its stores in the wake of Hugh’s Fish Fight and in order to make the most of under-utilised species from the UK. Gurnard is a firm fleshed fish with a mild flavour.
  • Sainsbury’s has announced it is the UK’s first supermarket to use cage-free eggs in all of its own-label products.
  • But it’s not all good news on the egg front! After the battery egg ban came into force on 1st January, supermarkets are now concerned that food producers will not be able to afford the cost of ethical eggs in coming months. The ban has led to a shortage of both liquid and powered egg and therefore producers are seeing an increase in price. For example, a traditional ice cream manufacturer in Kent has been informed that the price he pays for egg yolk will rise by 70 per cent.
  • Morrisons is holding its first music and food festival at Harewood House, Leeds in July. MFest will feature X Factor winner Matt Cardle and TV chefs Aldo Zilli, Nigel Haworth, and Bryn Williams will all run cookery master classes for the event.
  • The first early crop of English asparagus arrived this month in Budgens stores – well before its usual mid-April and June season. The asparagus was produced as part of an English glass house crop from IVG White, part of Keelings Group with growers in Worcestershire and Cambridgeshire.
  • BPEX has published a ‘Baconologist’ Guide to bacon, giving a handy insight into the many cures and types of bacon and their suitability to different dishes. The Guide has been published to coincide with Bacon Connoisseurs Week (19 – 25 March). See http://www.lovepork.co.uk for more details.
  • The UK has become a net exporter of lamb for the first time in 50 years. The figures from 2011 show that sheep meat exports from the UK increased by 11 per cent, while imports fell 13 per cent during the same period.
  • Black Pudding is making a comeback! Through a combination of celebrity chef endorsement and economic austerity, the ‘blood sausage’ is enjoying a sales boom with some producers claiming a 25 per cent sales increase over the past year.
  • Pig industry and retailer representatives have refused to back down in the row over pig industry profitability. BPEX has criticised supermarkets for boosting profitability by increasing own-label ranges which can be sourced at lower input prices. BPEX says it is the moral responsibility of supermarkets to pursue a sustainable supply chain rather than short term profits. In response, a spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium has hit back stating that supermarkets are dedicated to a sustainable supply chain and pointing out that retailers are not the only destination for UK pork; food manufacturing, catering and government procurement are also important buyers, yet these seem to all escape public scrutiny.
  • The chairman of English Apples and Pears is calling for more Cameo apple growers in the UK. The chairman states ‘we have got a good proportion of the multiples stocking Cameo, and there’s potential to go wider, but we need to persuade people to grow. We don’t have the sufficient growers to supply the market for as long as we would like’.
  • Northern Ireland fresh vegetable packer, Sparky Pac, has launched a new brand focusing exclusively on local produce. Dig In features carrots, parsnips, Savoy cabbages, caulis and sweetheart cabbage but the brand will only be available on shop shelves when produce is in season. Dig In will not be available at any other times.
  • Finally, it has been revealed that of Britain’s 150 Biggest Grocery Brands, just 44 are now UK-owned. Of the 91 brands in the list that were created and developed in the UK, only 36 are British owned today.

    News courtesy of Supermarket Watch March 2012


    Seasonal foods at their best in the supermarkets:

    Vegetables: beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, cucumber, jersey royal new potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes (main crop), purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb, rocket, salsify, shallots, spinach, spring onions and swede.

    Herbs: chives, coriander, dill, mushrooms (cultivated), parsley (curly), sorrel and wild nettles.

    Meat: beef, chicken, pork, rabbit, turkey, and wood pigeon.

    Fish: cockles, crab, dab, dover sole, hake, john dory, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, salmon, scallops, sea trout, shrimp, skate, whitebait and winkles.


    Dates for Your Diary

    The 2012 British Asparagus Festival in the Vale of Evesham will take place from 23rd April until 17th June

    27th to the 29th of April Cheese and Wine Festival, the Southbank Centre, London

    27th July 12th August 2012, Love British Food 2012. Get ready to fly the union jack on plates as well as on your bunting!


    LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

    Tachbrook Street Market

    imageAddress: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico, Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, And 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish, bread and cakes.

    Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its dynamic varied collection of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more.

    Discover different stalls on different days it is an energetic market and we just love buying our fresh food at the market, fruit, vegetables, fish, and shellfish and this market is very close to us, and close enough to other shops such as; Tesco’s, Sainsbury’s, Rippon Cheese and some wonderful delis such as the Spanish Art Of Tapas, there are Italian delis, and Portuguese were we can pick up anything else for our cooking sessions.

    It is also a superb lunch destination with loads of small specialist restaurants around and in the market itself something marvellous has happened it started last year when the market was refurbished and placed under the management of Westminster Artisans Ltd, Pimlico has welcomed the street food transformation and now you can by all the street food your heart desires from falafel to paella

    Below you will see just what some of the stalls have to offer, we do hope to increase our list during the coming months and if you are a stallholder please email us with your details we welcome all the information we can get.

    image imageimage


    Capital Carboot Sale;

    imageCapital Carboot, Pimlico Academy, Chichester Street entrance, Lupus Street, London, SW1V 3AT

    Central London’s only indoor and outdoor all year round carboot sale, as seen in Timeout, Elle, I-D, Le Cool, and Emerald Street

    Capital Carboot Sale runs every Sunday (except Easter, Christmas and New Year, please check availability during these times). Indoor stall holders should arrive at 9:30am if coming in a vehicle to unload. Unloading vehicles will not be allowed on site after 10:00am, outdoor stall holders without vehicles should arrive 10:15am, outdoor stall holders with vehicles to remain in the sale should arrive 10:45am. Early bird buyers entry is 10:15am (£5), Public entry is 11:30am until 3:30pm (£1).

    You can find them at The Pimlico Academy, Lupus Street (Please use the Chichester Street entrance) Pimlico, SW1V 3AT.

    The nearest tubes and trains are Pimlico (2 minutes walk) and Victoria (5 minutes walk), and on bus routes 360, C10, 24, 2, 36, 185, 436

    You can book a stall at http://www.capitalcarboot.com/ or 0845 0943 871

    Capital Carboot strongly advises buyers to use public transport when attending; parking is limited in the surrounding areas and a priority for local residents.

    If you like to find good genuine bargains then you have to head to Pimlico for the best of car boot sales, Capital Carboot is attracting a young crowd, several selling vintage fashion and collectables so get there early to bag the best deals. This London based car boot sale is so much better than your average London car boot sale, it was set up last year by ex-stylist and personal shopper Faye Marriott and the happening is further encouraged with Twitter and Facebook, an element not often found with carboot events, this means that there is a much younger gathering of people but don’t worry there is still plenty for the more traditional car-booters and there has been sightings of celebrities searching for that special bargain.

    Oh if you like the carboot on Facebook entry for buyers is free of charge.

    You can now buy fresh fruit and veg here

    imageimageimage

       


    Our Local Greengrocer,

    John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    imageThey only buy British produce on John Bussey’s stall when possible and in season, the family have had a stall on the market for 80 years now and they believe very strongly in supplying the best quality produce that is in season and at its best, they always seem to be the first to obtain the great British produce such as jersey royal potatoes, British asparagus, British soft fruits, when visiting look out for good sprouts, cauliflowers, leeks and cox’s apples; English berries and lettuce are available in season.

    In fact they have all the fruit, veg and herbs you might want and so much better than the local supermarket’s offerings.

    John’s stall was a picture it is wonderful to see such fresh produce full of energetic colours, especially the Rhubarb it really looked so vibrant and cooked up a treat when we made one of our favourite puddings, Maureen bought some blood oranges for me, they came from Sicily so not too far away and they were delicious, we also tried the asparagus and found it to be so full of flavour we could have sworn it was British, so what else was on offer?

    Well there was Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, English Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.

    image image


    Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week 

    Purple Sprouting Broccoli

    imageAvailable all year round. Best British Season Is; February, March, April

    Following a somewhat skeletal couple of months on the leafy vegetable front, the commencement of the purple sprouting broccoli season heralds a much wanted addition to the winter vegetable enjoyment. Merely steamed or boiled, this lively cousin of broccoli can be used in the same way. It is leafier and deeper in colour than Calabrese; it always adds vitality and crunch to vegetable dishes and it goes well with almost any fish or meat dish. As with the British asparagus season, the Jersey Royals season and the first of the British Artichokes we always look forward to the first of the purple sprouting broccoli, in our opinion events like these are what makes British seasonal produce the finest in the world.

    Purple sprouting broccoli was originally grown by the Romans; Broccoli has been grown in the United Kingdom since the 18th century, even though the purple sprouting type has only risen to celebrity in the last 20 years.

    Broccoli is a cruciferous plant, from the same genus as the cabbage, and is associated to the cauliflower; cruciferous foods are nowadays hailed as having a number of significant health benefits. Purple Sprouting Broccoli contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane, which is thought to help prevent cancer. Furthermore it could provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of caretenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre, and vitamin A.

    Did I mention that it tastes great just simply steamed and served with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon juice?

    Buying

    Purple Sprouting Broccoli is outstandingly tasty when young and tender, look out for darkly coloured heads/spears with crunchy stalks, and no more than 1cm in diameter, which snap cleanly when broken always pass up easily bent broccoli.

    Storing

    In an airtight bag in the fridge.

    Preparing and Cooking

    Split thicker stalks about halfway up so that they cook at the same time as the heads/spears.

    Steam, stir-fry or boil in a small amount of water, the tasty leaves are edible and so do not need to be removed.

    We like it just boiled in salted water, drained, and served warm with melted butter and lemon juice.



    Our Local Butcher, Freemans (Butchers) 117 Lupus Street

    Trading Hours: Open: Mon to Sat 7.30am – 5.30pm Closed: Sun and Bank holidays

    imageJohn Freeman owner of Freemans butchers supplies high quality meat to the local residents of Pimlico and Westminster indeed people travel from all over London to purchase their meat from this traditional high street butcher.

    He says that they are passionate about their product and are committed to ensuring quality meat at the best possible price; we aim for excellence with the right product, right price, and right quality 100% of the time he told me.

    Their service level quality is kept up by constant staff development, and through customer feedback.

    John constantly has superb meat and can get almost anything you want if given enough notice

    Beef, lamb, and pork is good this month and our local butcher Freemans has some ox-tails and beef brisket in that is just so tasty his fore-rib of beef looked just about perfectly hung and at under £14 per kilo is probably the cheapest in London you really must give the classically trained butcher a go and just to see a real traditional butcher shop is a treat.

       imageimage


    Butchers Choice

    Rabbit

    I just love the flavour and versatility of rabbit wild or farmed although wild rabbit meat isimage leaner and tastier than the farmed kind, has a wonderful delicate, gamey taste, so much different from a superbly flavoured hare.

    So often overlooked as a dinner option, which is a shame as I have said the meat is lean yet tasty especially wild rabbit, which has a superb tantalizing, gamey flavour, and this understated flavour gives itself to a range of cooking techniques.

    Rabbit is available all year round in the UK Available all year round.

    Best Season Is; July, September, October, November, December

    Butchers are more likely to sell rabbit than supermarkets; try to avoid anything in excess of a kilo, as it can prove tough. The type of meat you can buy varies: ‘fryer’ is the leanest and tenderest; ‘roaster’, is a more mature rabbit, at its best when given a longer cooking time; last but not least there are the giblets, which are the organs of the animal. Take care when cooking rabbit, as the low fat content can make it dry if it’s not marinated beforehand, or basted during cooking.

    Regional dishes from around the world show the fact that rabbit is very flexible and works well with those flavours used in chicken dishes, such as mustard and cream, tomato and herbs, and believe it or not chilli, I have had some superb rabbit dishes in Mexico.

    Get hold of some rabbit and try one of the great classic recipes such as Braised Rabbit and Roast Rabbit with Rosemary or the recipe below although it isn’t one of mine it is a superb recipe and just the thing if this is your first time cooking rabbit.

    Buying

    Unlike a lot of Europe, rabbit is hardly ever seen in UK supermarkets although rabbit is back on the dinner table as sales of the game meat soar after being endorsed by celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater. And is becoming more commonly obtainable in butchers, supermarkets, try Waitrose for their excellent rabbit, and food markets.

    It is also available by mail order from a number of suppliers, such as Woldsway Foods Ltd or the Wild Meat Company.

    Select rabbits by size; they should be large enough to produce a sizeable amount of meat, wild rabbits larger than 1 kilo are liable to be tough, the younger, smaller rabbits will be more tender and suitable to faster cooking methods, for example roasting or barbecuing older rabbits will have more taste but can tougher so its better use these for braising, casseroling and in pies..

    Storing

    Fresh rabbit will keep in the fridge for several days (or longer if vacuum packed). I wouldn’t freeze rabbit as freezing can dry them out.

    Preparing and cooking

    To joint a rabbit, cut the hind quarters away from the body and separate the legs, halve the leg joints and cut the body (saddle) straight through the backbone into two or three portions, stopping at the rib cage, cut lengthways through the breastbone and divide the ribcage section in half.

    As rabbit meat is very lean, care should be taken to prevent it from drying out during cooking, marinating or barding (covering in a fat or wrapping in bacon) can help moisten the flesh during roasting or barbecuing.

    Casserole of Rabbit A Great heart-warming casserole with lovely taste of the forest

    Serves: 4. Cooking-Time: 1hrs 0 minutes not one of my recipes but a recipe from Team MyDish on of course MyDish Recipe Sharing Made Easy



    Our Local Fishmonger, Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

    Strolling through our local market on Tachbrook Street, SW1 you will probably see that imageour favourite fishmonger Jonathan Norris has on display (and what a display) all you might ever want from your fishmonger for sale at a extremely affordable prices as well as other fish and shellfish that you don’t normally see on a market stall and furthermore you will see that the fish is caught from around the UK’s own shores with Scotland and Cornwall dominant.

    Jon is so friendly and a real character and when you speak to him you notice at once that he’s enthusiastic about all things fish, and when you ask him about the fish he has available you become aware that from his response that there’s nothing he and his staff don’t know about the produce they sell.

    The fish is always in the best of condition, and as far as I can see always from sustainable sources. He explained to me after I asked him about it that “we take environmental issues very seriously and are continually striving to reduce the negative impact on our beautiful world wherever possible”. I got the feeling that he could even tell you what boat the catch came from.


    Most all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon, and Scottish coasts and we are still recommending the crab, mussels, whiting, and Pollack.

    Jon put on show as usual with Cornish Brill, Clams including Razor Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab, Haddock, Cornish Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, grey Mullet, Lobster, Scottish Mackerel, rope grown Mussels from the Shetland Isles, Monkfish, Cornish Octopus, there was Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, Prawns in the shell, there were Native Oysters, Rock Oysters, Scallops from the Isle of Man, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting.

    Prices are so reasonable you have got to give this gifted and extraordinary fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry, I promise.

    image image image


    Catch of the Day

    Hake

    imageCatches of Northern hake, landed around the UK, are looking plentiful this season – so Seafish, the authority on seafood, is urging consumers to try this excellent whitefish.

    Hake, known as ‘Merluza’ in Spain, is a Spanish favourite and since the Spanish have the highest per capita consumption of seafood in Europe, they should know what they’re talking about.

    Hake used to be a familiar fish to Britons but seems to have fallen from favour at a time when availability is very good. We only spent £1.5 million on chilled hake in supermarkets in the past year, compared to £124 million on chilled cod (Nielsen retail figures for 52 weeks leading up to 16 April 2011).

    At its best from March to September, finer white flesh than cod and a much superior flavour, cook like cod.

    Hake is an under-rated fish, which is a shame because it has a subtle and delicious flavour, similar to cod. Best of all, it is environmentally sustainable, yet inexpensive. It is also easy to prepare as it has relatively few bones.

    The numerous fish that come under the designation ‘Hake’ are deep-sea members of the cod family and are popular throughout Europe especially Spain and Portugal also very popular in America. Hake is quite a mild flavoured fish, with a white flaky texture and a finer taste that is more subtle than that of its larger cousin the cod.

    They are fished by bottom trawling with different mesh sizes for inshore and deep-water trawls. Ranging from 1kg to 5 kg and Hake has a soft, iron-grey skin and silvery belly. Also known as Cape Hake it is a sustainable fishery, as certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

    BUYING

    Many varieties of hake are caught in waters around the world, particularly in the Atlantic and North Pacific. It’s available both fresh and frozen, and is sold either as a whole fish, or gutted with the head intact, or as fillets and steaks. Some varieties of hake have been greatly affected by over fishing. A lot of hake is now imported from South Africa.

    Look for glistening pure white flesh that is free of signs of dryness, greyness, and browning. It should have a seawater fresh scent.

    STORING

    Refrigerate as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

    PREPARING AND COOKING

    Hake is a mildly flavoured fish. The flesh is quite soft, but firms up on cooking, and is worth trying. In France, hake is called ‘Saumon Blanc’ (which interprets as ‘white salmon’). Fillets require little preparation as the skin is soft, but checking for bones and pin-bones is necessary. It is popular in Spain and Portugal where it’s grilled, pan-fried, and baked. It takes robust flavours well, particularly tomatoes, garlic, chorizo, and paprika.

    For a light, modern alternative to battered cod, try deep-frying hake fillets dipped in a light tempura batter.

    Fishermen from the provinces on the Bay of Biscay, especially the Basques, introduced this fish into Spanish gastronomy, as for example, hake in potato casserole (Galician style). Coated with flour, it can be cooked in a pan with a little olive oil and served with a green sauce with some clams, or poached in cider with tomatoes and green onions.

    Heating the fish fillets slowly in a cold pan prevents them from curling up during frying. This works really well for firm fish with thin skins, such as hake


    In The Balcony Garden

    Well we just might be able to get some salads, herbs, and some tomatoes in this year, they are making a start on our new windows at the beginning of April, and with a bit of luck ours should be done by May (hopefully).


    Recipes for The Month

    Casserole of Rabbit A Great heart-warming casserole with lovely taste of the forest

    Serves: 4. Cooking-Time: 1hrs 0 minutes not one of my recipes but a recipe from Team MyDish on of course MyDish Recipe Sharing Made Easy



    Pan-Fried Hake with Lemon and Parsley

    imageFancy giving cod a rest and trying a different fish for a change?

    This is a very popular recipe in Spain its quick and easy and just right for a light lunch or supper.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               12 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    2 tablespoons, seasoned plain flour

    2 tablespoons, lemon zest, finely grated

    10 grams, fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

    4 small fillets or steaks of hake about 80 to 90 grams each

    2 tablespoons, olive oil

    METHOD

    Mix together the seasoned flour, lemon zest and parsley, pat onto the fish on both sides well, shaking off any excess.

    Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat; cook the fish for 11 to 12 minutes turning occasionally. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with lemon wedges and seasonal vegetables.

    Serve and Enjoy!


    Ribble Valley Mutton Pot Roast

    imageIn the last few years, I have noticed what the chef’s are calling a return to the grass roots of British cuisine and seeing that a lot of mutton dishes abound I thought I would just add this one. I first came across it about 1969 when we had it on the menu at the Aspinall Arms at Mitton we only served it from about November until the spring lamb started coming in about March or April.

    Serves/Makes:         6 to 8 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 to 15 minutes plus 12 hours marinating time

    Cook-Time:               2 hours

    YOU WILL NEED

    1 boned and rolled mutton shoulder

    4 clove, garlic, crushed

    2 fresh rosemary sprigs

    5 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves

    2 teaspoons rowan or redcurrant jelly

    1 glass of red wine

    1-tablespoon olive oil

    4 streaky bacon rashers, chopped

    12 ounces, chopped onions

    1 tablespoon, plain flour

    1 cup, mutton stock, made from the bones from the shoulder

    1-pound potatoes, a medium size, and cut into quarters

    4 large carrots, halved crosswise

    8 ounces wild or button mushrooms

    Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    METHOD

    Combine the mutton, garlic, rosemary, thyme, rowan or redcurrant jelly, and wine to make the marinade. Place the mutton in the marinade and turn the mutton over and over to coat evenly. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours but better still overnight.

    Heat the oven to 150c, 300f, gas mark 3.

    Remove the mutton from the marinade and reserve the marinade, dry the mutton off with some kitchen paper. Then heat the oil in Dutch oven or heavy casserole over a medium heat  add the mutton and cook until sealed, browned and  well caramelised  all over. Remove from the pan and add the bacon and onions and cook, stirring until golden, takes about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and add the marinade and stock. Return the mutton to the pan and cover, put into the oven to cook for 45 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots cover, and return to the oven and cook for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.

    Remove the mutton and vegetables to a warmed dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Bring the pan juices to a boil and boil until reduced and thickened slightly add Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

    To serve carve the mutton into nice thick slices and surround with vegetables, pour over the sauce and serve. Serve and Enjoy!

    NOTES

    It’s sad that still we struggle for the most part in vain to find mutton in butcher’s shops and supermarkets; maybe we should start a campaign? What is the difference between mutton and lamb well mutton has a more intense, richer and has more depth of flavour than lamb and requires longer cooking times. It is extraordinarily well suited to roasting, stewing and braising although mutton can be available all year, the best meat is produced from October to March.

    This is because the sheep have access to nutritious summer and autumn grass and heather, and are able to put on fat before being slaughtered.

    Hebridean, Herdwick, Romney, Shetland, Southdown, and Welsh Mountain are just some breeds of sheep with an historical reputation for producing delicious mutton.


    Chicken with Leek & Mushroom Sauce

    One of my particular favourite meals the cognac, mushrooms, and leek add an elegant touch to the usual chicken breasts. And also at all times it went down a treat for the mid-week evening meals at Wilton Lodge and Norwood West, apart from for Lord H of course he couldn’t eat the leek although he liked the flavour I just used to serve it to him without the leek.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               30 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1¼ pounds total), trimmed

    Salt & freshly ground white pepper to taste

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

    ½ cup sliced leek, white only

    1 tablespoon, chopped fresh thyme

    Two cups, sliced mushrooms

    ¼ cup, Cognac

    1-cup, chicken stock

    2 teaspoons, plain flour

    Lemon juice, to taste

    1 tablespoon, chopped fresh parsley

    METHOD

    Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

    Heat 1½ teaspoons oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the chicken, and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover, and keep warm.

    Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining 1½ teaspoons of oil to the pan, and then add the leek and thyme. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, and add the mushrooms cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the cognac let the cognac flame if you want to show off a little and then cook for about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl, whisk the stock and flour in a small bowl, add to the pan and cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

    Return the mushroom mixture, chicken and any collected juices to the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.

    Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter, season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, spoon over the chicken garnish with parsley and Serve and Enjoy!


    Hake with Peas and Asparagus

    image(Merluza con Guisantes y Esparrgos)

    I remember having this dish many, many years ago at a friend’s house and then in 1972 in the little fishing villages of Cala Bona and Calla Millor (not so small now though) on the island of Mallorca we had it again and again. This recipe is as original as it gets, modern versions differ somewhat but we like this better especially in June when we serve it with steamed Jersey Royal Potatoes.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               30 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    1 small onion

    1 small carrot

    1 sprig, parsley

    2 tablespoons, olive oil

    1 kilo, peas, frozen or fresh

    1 kilo, hake, cut into portions

    Salt and pepper to taste

    300mls, fish stock, if we have no fish stock we like to use Knorr vegetable gel stockpots

    12, cooked asparagus tips, we like to use the jumbo asparagus

    METHOD

    Chop the onion, carrot, and parsley and fry gently in a saucepan in oil, without browning. Add the peas and the hake, season, add the stock, and simmer for 30 minutes; put the asparagus tips in at the last moment, just to heat through.

    Serve the hake surrounded by the peas, with the asparagus tips on top and Enjoy!


    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish

    Fresh Whole Fish

    The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken

    The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure

    The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea

    Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.

    Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

    Fresh Fillets

    The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.

    The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.

    As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.

    Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams, and oysters)

    The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.



    Enhanced by Zemanta
  • January 2012, What’s in Season This Month


    Well I’m back (I Think), sorry I have not been around for the last few months, illness once again but I am hoping for a better year this year and hope that more and more readers will be drawn to this attempt at a sort of food blog.

    Yeah! Its 2012 the year of the London Olympics and I can say without doubt that here in London this year the food scene will be spectacular, just imagine all the visitors from around the world and all will be wanting to try all that foodies London has to offer and here in Pimlico we have some of the best there is.


    Here at Hide Tower it is all go for we are having all our windows replaced and the building itself is being given a good wash, yes we are have our windows replaced and Maureen and myself have chosen to have sliding windows/doors leading on to the balcony, yes its going to be noisy for a couple of months but by the time June is here we will have new windows and a new outlook from all our rooms.


    Once again I have changed things on this blog by including the sections; Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week, Butchers Choice, and Catch of the Day, I wanted to let you know about different foods other than just a couple of recipes, I am going to try to keep to a seasonal format so please let me know what you think.


    At the beginning of the year, we are starting to crave for fruit other than apples and pears, its time to look out for the first early forced rhubarb. It’s still really the season for root vegetables and cabbages of all types and whilst we are waiting for the new season lamb we can still enjoy the last of the game, and while fish is plentiful, some boats have hit really bad weather so expect some fish prices to be a little high.

    The weather has been freezing or miserable, many of us are thinking they should be on a diet or a detox cure after the Christmas excesses, and no-one’s got any money so it must be time to make soup it’s easy, it’s quick, it’s nourishing and it’s cheap.

    Why spend money on expensive supermarket ready-prepared products when you can make a large panful yourself in less than 20 minutes with fresh vegetables bought on the market? Make enough to feed the family and have some left over for the freezer. 

    British winter fruit and veg is not just for Christmas; feast on it especially after a sharp frost and don’t forget spring is not long in coming!

    Cheshire and Stilton cheeses are at their best this time of year, Kale, Spinach, Leeks, Swedes, Celeriac, Cabbage, Turnips are at their peak and just coming in are Winter cabbages, new carrots and the first of the early forced rhubarb.

    Cauliflowers from Cornwall make a tasty cauliflower cheese and the leeks from Lancashire are simply great for those soups and casseroles.

    Mussels, Crabs, Oysters and Lobsters are really delicious now and I find that British beef is very good value Maureen and I have just had Braised Beef and Onions made with a jolly good bit of shin.

    I can’t emphasise enough that the winter months are the time to enjoy British root vegetables and stores of local fruit and being harvested this month are leeks, green cabbages, parsnips, turnips, sprouts, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, mushrooms and forced rhubarb.



    Fruit at Its Best

    Apples, Cranberries, Passion Fruit, Pears, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Clementine’s, Satsuma’s, and Tangerines, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Truffles (Black And White), and Walnuts.



    Vegetables at Their Best

    The humble carrot is best in January as are Bay Leaves, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Curly Kale, Fennel, Leeks, Parsnips, Potatoes, Red Cabbage, Swede, and Turnips.



    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

    Beef, Duck, Goose, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Ham, Hare, Lamb, Partridge, Pheasant, Pork, Rabbit, Turkey, Venison, And Wood Pigeon.



    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    Brill, Clams, Cockles, Coley, Conger Eel, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Plaice, Sea Bream, Skate, Turbot And Winkles



    The Latest Grocery News for January, Sourced From Love British Food

    • The Women’s Institute has launched its own food range! Hoping to create ‘the closest thing to homemade’ the range includes jams, chutneys, biscuits, and flour. See wifoods.co.uk
    • Speciality birds such as pheasant, partridge, and wild guinea fowl have become the fastest growing meats on sale in the UK as more Brits seek roast dinner alternatives. Tesco has seen demand soar by a staggering 100 per cent in the last six months. And Morrisons has joined the game and is stocking pheasant and partridge for the first time!
    • ASDA has announced that its fresh Chosen by You sliced bread reaches the shelves in five hours from when its team of bakers begin mixing the dough, which is said to be 19 hours faster than other UK supermarkets.
    • The British egg industry has launched an attack on the government for not doing enough to protect domestic producers against competition from illegal imported eggs. The uproar comes after the Food and Farming Minister said the UK would not impose a unilateral trade ban on shell eggs and liquid egg products from EU states that were not fully compliant with the EU-wide ban on ‘battery’ cages which comes into effect on 1 Jan 2012.
    • Meanwhile, British Lion Eggs will be launching a ‘Think outside the Box’ campaign next year to encourage consumers to make more of eggs in main meals and buy packs of 12. The”British Lion Eggs Recipes” website will launch in January and feature a collection of recipes which together use up 12 eggs.
    • After decades of being off the shelves, mutton is back in supermarkets! Waitrose is now selling Duchy Originals mutton chops, rib and shoulder joints.
    • The British Leafy Salads Association is launching a national grow your own salad scheme for primary schools in spring 2012. The project will complement the National Curriculum and is targeted at the young parent demographic, aiming to reinforce to schoolchildren and their parents where their food comes from
    • The Tesco online website now features dedicated ‘counters’ offering a selection of specialised products – from a cheese counter to a fishmonger to a butcher. See this link. Although other retailers already offer fresh food online, Tesco is the first supermarket to do so on this scale.
    • Whisky exports are booming! Scotch exports have increased to nearly £3bn in 9 months to September – a 23 percent rise since the same period last year!
    • The Happy Egg Co owner has launched a new brand of eggs – Posh Birds. The range is available from Tesco and comprises duck and quail eggs. Aside from flagging up the eggs’ free range and free to fly credentials, Posh Birds packs also carry information about the breed of bird behind the eggs.
    • Finally, it has been revealed that The Department of Work and Pensions only source 11 percent of their food from UK producers. And government standards as a whole regarding eggs, coffee, and milk in the public procurement sector are lower than those at McDonalds! So lots of work for Love British Food to do in 2012!



    Local Shopping

    imageTachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’.

    Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more.

    Discover different stalls on different days.



    imageJohn Bussey’s Fruit & Veg Stall, Tachbrook Street Market

    What a pleasure it is to see such fresh produce full of vibrant colours this week was no disappointment with what was on offer.

    There was Apples, Gala, English Russets, Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, English Raspberries, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, and some fantastic pumpkins and squashes and you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.

    image image image

    Pick of The Stall

    imageBrussels-Sprouts;

    The Best British Season Is; November, December, January, February

    Brussels sprouts are a somewhat discordant food, while most people who claim they hate them they have probably been scarred by encounters with nasty overcooked sprouts in their influential years.

    When prepared with a little care, sprouts are a superbly pleasing vegetable with a delicious, fresh, green flavour and just the right amount of crunch. They can be served purely as a side vegetable maybe with some chopped chestnuts or a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds, added to casseroles or sliced and stir-fried take a crack at cooking them with beef, spring onions and oyster sauce.

    Several sources trace sprouts back to ancient China whilst others claim they originated much later and were grown in the area around Brussels in the thirteenth century. It is known that they were not introduced to France and England until late in the eighteenth century.

    Today they are eaten in North America and Australia but remain a much more common sight on dining tables in Northern Europe, and Britain in particular.

    Brussels are a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fibre.

    Buying

    Look for firm, dense sprouts with green unwithered leaves the base end discolours quickly after harvesting and will often be slightly yellowish brown but should not be dark.

    Fresh sprouts have no odour or a delicate smell those sold on the stalk are likely to stay in better condition for longer choose small, evenly-sized sprouts for ease of cooking.

    Storing

    Sprouts should be kept cool at all times and eaten before the leaves discolour or they develop a strong smell.

    Preparing and Cooking

    Soak in lukewarm water for 10 minutes to draw out any insects in the leaves, then rinse under running water. Trim the ends but not right up to the base or the leaves will fall off during cooking. Remove any tired looking outer leaves some cooks recommend cutting crosses in the bases but this seems pointless.

    Simmer uncovered in an equal volume of salted water (alternatively steam or slice and stir-fry). Overcooked and undercooked sprouts are unpleasant so it’s important to check for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the stem end and removing the sprouts when they’re just tender (typically between 6 and 12 minutes when simmering; the repellent sulphurous cabbage smell is an indication of overcooking).

    Drain, return to the hot pan, and shake for a few seconds to remove excess water serve immediately (the flavour suffers if sprouts are kept warm for long).

    Try tossing hot cooked buttered sprouts with some finely chopped rosemary, crispy pancetta, and crumbled chestnuts. Season well with pepper.

    Brussels sprouts must be served immediately as the flavour suffers if kept warm for too long this is probably another reason for their bad press.



    imageOur Local Butchers, Freemans (Butchers) 117 Lupus Street

    As well as the customary cuts of meat on offer at Freeman’s they also had some exceptional beef we had a fantastic piece of brisket for pot-roast, also on show was some truly fine oxtail and at £6 a kilo you just can’t go wrong.

    We had some excellent pork loin chops at a much more attractive price and quality than is offered by the supermarkets.

    Butchers Choice;

    Guinea Fowl; Best Season Is; September, October, November, December, January, February,

    imageThe domestic Guinea Fowl is still found in the wild where it forages in large flocks and is considered a fine game bird. It is mainly kept for food, as its eggs and meat are very good to eat. Sometimes called Pintade, Guinea Fowl is a family of birds originating from Africa, related to other game birds such as the pheasants, turkeys and partridges, and having a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guinea fowl?

    Here in the UK, they were usually known as “Gleanies” the young (called “keets”) are very small at birth and are kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure.

    The cooked flesh of guinea fowl resembles chicken in texture, with a flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey.

    Guinea fowl makes a great alternative to chicken for a warming dinner on an autumn night. It has a lovely flavour that is slightly gamey but very subtle much less gamier than pheasant or grouse, it can be magnificent when cooked simply.

    Guinea fowl are an important food throughout much of Africa, south of the Sahara, and are found in every region of the world. France, Belgium, and Italy are amongst the largest producers in Europe.

    Guinea fowl are hardy birds that forage for food and so are often farmed in free range or semi wild facilities where they also perform a valuable pest control function. They have an acute awareness of predators and so are valued for their role as a ‘watchdog’, alerting farmers to any henhouse intrusions. It is reported that they have the ability to distinguish between farmers’ family members and strangers.

    Guinea fowl meat is high in protein and low in cholesterol. It is a good source of vitamin B6, selenium, and niacin.

    Buying

    Look for free-range guinea fowl, rather than intensively-reared birds. Many butchers sell free-range guinea fowl imported from France Guinea fowl eggs are excellent and worth buying if you see some.

    Storing

    With giblets removed, a whole guinea fowl will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

    Preparing and Cooking

    Guinea fowl is prepared in much the same way as chicken as it is generally a smaller bird, cooking methods that help retain moistness are recommended, pot roasting or casseroling.

    Barding or regular basting is advisable when roasting guinea fowl, legs, and wings are also excellent if marinated for a few hours before grilling.



    Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

    imageAfter a short Christmas break Jon is back and I think the people queuing up for his produce are getting longer and its no wonder as this week he had on offer some outstanding plump succulent Cornish Pollock on his stall, you had your choice of steaks and fillets.

    His display as usual was a perfect representation of all that our British waters can offer us with Brill, Clams including sweet plump Razor Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, Lobster, Scottish Mackerel, Mussels, Monkfish, Native Oysters, Cornish Octopus, Plaice so plump and sweet, Prawns, Rock Oysters, Scallops from the Isle of Man, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting,

    Most all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts;

    More news about Jonathan Norris;

    Developing from his Pimlico market stall, Jon set up his permanent fishmongers in Victoria Park Village in 2009.

    Filling a fish-shaped gap in the area’s rapidly increasing gourmet food scene, Jonathan Norris now inspires visits from further a field than this East London enclave.

    The low-hanging awning, chalkboard displays and ceramic tiles symbolize a stylish admiration of tradition. However, the produce at Jonathan Norris is far more forward-thinking than the simple cod and haddock you might find at the local fish and chip shop. Jon gets pleasure from urging us to try new produce and along with the sea bass and red mullet, their particularly fresh octopus, squid and sea urchins are all big news. Jon prides himself on the quality and sustainability of his fish, and deliveries come direct every day from the West Coast and Scotland.

    The store also stocks smoked fish, artisan sauces and cookery books.

    If it’s a fish supper you’re after then Jonathan Norris is the place to go, our supper on Saturday was mussels and the one we had from Jon were superbly fat and sweet with loads of flavour you just can’t go wrong with a big dish of fresh mussels.

    image

    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

     Fresh Whole Fish

    1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
    2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
    3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
    4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
    5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

    Fresh Fillets

    1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
    2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
    3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
    4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
    5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.

    Catch of the Day

    Brill, Best Season Is; June, July, August, September, October, November, December, January,

    However, February Is When Brill Is At Its Sweetest.

    image image

    Brill is a high-quality pleasant tasting flatfish firmly linked with turbot, it is a fish found in waters from Iceland through to the Mediterranean and Black Sea, from Southern Norway, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean, some of the most excellent are landed on British shores.

    Brill has a smooth, dark brown skin with deep white speckling and as with other flatfish; its underside is a creamy-white.

    Fishermen have been providing brill to coastal European countries for 300 years or more records show that Brill was being sold in London’s Billingsgate Market in the early 1700’s.

    Comparable to Turbot in having succulent, slightly sweet flesh, it benefits from being easier to prepare and a little less costly than its more famous cousin.

    They feed on crustaceans and small fish living near the sea bed.

    Throughout late spring (spawning season), the fillets can be slight and moist so it is wise to stay away from them, the best time to buy brill is from June to February.

    Buying
    A 1½ kilo fish will yield four fairly sized fillets, avoid small, immature fish (less than 1kilo), and choose thicker fish with bright, un-sunken eyes.

    Storing
    Refrigerate as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

    Preparing and Cooking

    Brill is typically gutted upon landing so if you buy it whole you just need to cook it whole or fillet and cook it, your fishmonger will fillet it for you if you ask nicely.

    Fillets of Brill are usually sold skinned; pin bones are usually removed during filleting.

    Cook Brill as you would a Halibut, or Turbot:

    To cook it whole, trim away the fins, head and blood-line, then grill, bake or roast. It is exceptionally good when cooked on the bone, by grilling, frying, or baking, like with any white fish, cook until the flesh is just opaque, firm to the touch, and easy to flake.

    The firmness and sweet taste of Brill make it a first-rate fish for pan-frying or grilling, serving with butter plain or flavoured a squeeze of lemon, capers, and subtle herbs.

    It can be poached and served cold with a mayonnaise or cook it similar to Turbot the flesh should be compact and slightly creamy, I find it superb steamed or poached served with a Beurre blanc, or steamed with clams, garlic, herbs and white wine.



    Recipes for January 2012 all My recipes Are Available on MyDish.Co.UK

    imageAlfredo’s Steamed Mussels, An Old Favourite From Alfredo’s Restaurant In Morecambe, Plump Fresh Mussels In A Tomato Broth, Flavoured With Garlic, Fennel And Wine. This was and still is one of our preferred ways to cook mussels, we first had it in this way in 1973 while on our honeymoon in Cala Millor, Mallorca When we went to live and work at The Willow Tree Restaurant in Bolton-le-Sands we found that Alfredo’s restaurant in Morecambe offered a similar dish and it is one of the most delicious ways to serve one of our much-loved shellfish, there are of course many more ways to cook this delectable offering of the seas bounty and we have included plenty of them in our collection of recipes.


    imageCrab and Shrimp Tian, For an impressive seafood starter try this sumptuous, crab and shrimp tian, ideally made with fresh-picked crab and the freshest of small pink shrimps. This recipe became a firm favourite in Palm Springs although the tiny shrimp we used was called shrimp meat and the crab meat we used came from Stone Crab Claws.


    imageBraised Steak and Onions, This is real comfort food and so tasty, based on an old family recipe we really enjoy making this one. Our version of braised steak was originally an old family recipe I remember my mother cooking it and I think she learnt from her father, my grandfather, during the second world war he served in Burma with the R.A.S.C. and was a driver and cook. However, at that time, the mode of transporting supplies was mainly done by mules and they had to use a lot of local ingredients. In any case, he got a taste for spicy foods over there and brought one or two ideas back with him. Like I said this is our version it’s not better than the original it is just that we are using some different ingredients which we think creates a deep aromatic flavour and is just about perfect served with mashed potatoes and vegetables


    imageTurbot with Shellfish, Very simple way to cook the best fish in the sea, with a few of his mates! This recipe is one I have yet to try it comes from Martyn Lewis who is a fishmonger and ex-chef from Brighton on MyDish and sounds like it could become a firm favourite.

                  


    July, What’s in Season This Month


    To us July means long warm lazy days spent outside having picnics or barbecues, not had much luck this July with the picnics or barbecues however the variety, and quality of the fresh food available, from home grown produce to the imported foods are simply the best.

    The salad leaves such as lamb’s lettuce, lollo rosso, oak leaf lettuce, curly endive and frisee, are wonderful simply served with a little lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, or do as we do mix extra virgin olive oil with a little walnut or hazelnut oil for an extra special taste.


    Berries are in season along with strawberries, loganberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, tayberries, melon and peaches, and blackberries make their first appearance,

    Sweetcorn, broccoli, beetroot, and courgettes come into season as well as summer cabbage, spring cabbage, new potatoes, broad beans, fennel, the first outdoor French beans, tomatoes, watercress, new cauliflower, carrots, lettuce, cucumber.

    Seafood lovers can enjoy fresh, seasonal scallops.


    Fruit at Its Best

    Apricots, Bilberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Gooseberries, Greengages, Loganberries, Peaches, Raspberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Tomatoes And Whitecurrants.


    Vegetables at Their Best

    Artichoke, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Chillies, Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Lettuces And Salad Leaves, Mangetout, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Potatoes (Maincrop), Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Spring Onions, Turnips And Watercress.

    Herbs: Basil, Chives, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sage, Sorrel, Tarragon, And Thyme.


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

    Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Rabbit, and Wood Pigeon.


    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Whelks And Whitebait.


    The Latest Grocery News for July 2011

    • Consumers will have to be told where most of their meat comes from under new EU food labelling rules. The European Parliament has approved new food labelling laws designed to help consumers make more informed choices. Beef already had country-of-origin labelling but this is now being extended to poultry, pork and lamb. The new system will be implemented over the next 5 years. But consumers hoping to see country of origin marked on dairy produce and on processed meat such as sausages and ready meals will have to wait as EU ministers rejected including these in the new rules. So you still don’t know if that British banger, Cottage Pie or ice cream really is British.
    • Sainsbury’s gave away 6 tonnes of sustainable fish this month as part of its Switch the Fish initiative. Sainsbury’s offered free portions of 6 alternative sustainable fish species to shoppers asking for cod, haddock, tuna, salmon or prawns at its fish counters. Rainbow trout emerged the UK’s favourite ‘alternative fish’!
    • Londis has pledged to get its British strawberries on shelf nation-wide just 36 hours after picking – a commitment that beats the large supermarket chains by 12 hours!
    • Asda is claiming it stocks over 6,000 local products in partnership with more than 600 suppliers. The supermarket says it is working with some of the smallest UK suppliers to give them the opportunity to grow their businesses and at the same time increase the amount of local products available in its 400 stores.
    • An array of celebrity chefs – including Jamie Oliver, Aldo Zilli and Raymond Blanc – have all signed up to a new campaign to promote British pork. A new recipe book, ‘Choose It and Use It’, has been launched featuring the chefs’ pork, ham and sausage recipes and encouraging shoppers to buy Red Tractor-assured British pork.
    • England’s vineyards have grown 75 per cent to more than 1,300 hectares in the last 7 years.
    • The Women’s Institute is gearing up to launch its first range of WI-branded food! The range will include the obligatory jams and baked goods and cakes all ‘home-grown with British produce’
    • Asda is stocking a new premium East Anglian potato, Norfolk Peer, from Heygate Farms, which is said to be ‘smaller and tastier’ than other new potatoes.
    • A quarter of all British pigs are now being reared to Freedom Food standards. The rise in Freedom Food pigs and pork products highlights the demand for higher-welfare pork products, even in economically hard times.
    • Sainsbury’s has announced increased prices to its pig farmers will continue until the end of August at 3p extra per kilo. Sainsbury’s originally stated they would review their commitment once DAPP reached £1.50 per kilo but when the DAPP reached this figure earlier this month Sainsbury’s decided to continue its support.
    • UK pear growers will soon be tapping into the premium market for Sweet Sensation pears. AG Thames, a supplier of top fruit to the multiples, is creating the first UK orchard for Sweet Sensation in Kent and produce is hoped to hit retailer’s shelves by next year. Sweet Sensation pears have been sold in small quantities in the UK for several years, but have always previously been imported from the Netherlands and Belgium.
    • Trade talks have officially opened up the lucrative Chinese market to pork exports. Pork prices are currently at a record high in China and there’s a fantastic opportunity to improve the returns from selling all parts of the pig, which is much-needed as pig prices in the UK still lag behind the cost of production. China has also lifted the ban on British poultry exports but the beef and lamb sector are still waiting to gain direct access to the Chinese market.
    • Worthington’s Ale has been certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme. Worthington’s ales are made using 100 per cent British barley sourced from Red Tractor-certified suppliers!
    • Welsh MEP, John Bufton, has hit out against the EU’s labelling rules which prevent meat under the age of 24 months being labelled as ‘Welsh’ despite Scottish farmers being able to use country of origin labels on meat of any age. The disparity in the labelling rules is the result of the wording of Wales and Scotland’s applications for Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) scheme.
    • Red Lion Foods, which has raised £400,000 for Help for Heroes and other charities, has admitted it cannot guarantee its products are from the UK despite its patriotic packaging. A typical package of Red Lion ham reads ‘Support our UK Forces. Purchase this ham” on the front but on the back reads ‘cooked and packed in the UK using pork from the EU and South America’. Make sure you read the fine print labels!

      Dates for Your Diary:

      British Food Fortnight 17th September – 2nd October 2011, British Food Fortnight is the biggest national celebration of the diverse and delicious range of food that Britain produces.

       


      Local Shopping

      Tachbrook Street Market

      imageAddress: Tachbrook Street, SW1

      Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

      Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

      Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

      Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.

       


      On Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

      imageOn this stall they have it all, Artichoke, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Chillies, Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, French Beans, Garlic, Kohlrabi, Lettuces And Salad Leaves, Mangetout, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Potatoes (Maincrop), Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Spring Onions, Turnips And Watercress.

      Herbs: Basil, Chives, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sage, Sorrel, Tarragon, and Thyme.

      Be prepared on sunny days to have to wait your turn, although they can move pretty fast when they have to.

      imageimage

       


      Freeman’s of Lupus Street, Our Local Butchers have been getting in

      imageSome outstanding chicken with a superb texture and colour and it’s at the right price too!

      Chicken is the definitive healthy convenience food; it cooks up fast and is an excellent source of protein to help keep you feeling full. We like boneless, skinless chicken breasts because they’re a real diet bargain at 140 calories and 3 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving. But don’t rule out dark meat, while it’s slightly higher in fat and calories (174 calories and 8 grams of fat per 3-ounce serving), it has a richer flavour and stays moister than white meat, plus, there’s more iron and almost twice the zinc, not bad for a small increment in calories.

       


      Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market Has Been Getting In

      imageMost all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts, and there’s a great selection of fish being landed at local Cornish ports of Looe and Newlyn on the south coast and Newquay on the north coast at the moment.

      Jon’s stall was a picture, not only did we see Line-Caught Mackerel direct Cornwall, there was also some superb quality Bass, Brill, Monkfish, lovely large fish which remain it seems are in great demand and don’t forget those silver jewels of the west coast the Sardine fantastic on the BBQ or under the grill.

      Silver Mullet, in season now, is jam packed with flavour and Bass, Hake, Haddock, and Pollack all remain in season, We can’t recommend the Wild Black Bream highly enough, it’s fantastic! And the Gurnard is a really tasty, underrated fish, why not give it a try? At the moment Crab is exceptionally flavoursome and it would be near the top of our list from all the shellfish Jon has to offer at this time of year, his Lobsters are also fantastic, and don’t forget Jon’s smoked fish offerings you can’t go wrong.

      imageimage

    • Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

      Fresh Whole Fish

      1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
      2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
      3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
      4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
      5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

      Fresh Fillets

      1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
      2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
      3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
      4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
      5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.

       


      In The Garden

      Nothing this month except for greenfly

       


      Recipes for July,

      Our recipes for summer can be found at MyDish just click on the links;

      Molly’s Egg and Bacon Salad, Bacon and eggs are not just for breakfast, try them this way for a starter or brunch its a very tasty dish

      Californian Cioppino, A generous seafood spectacular of crab, clams, mussels, monkfish, calamari, shrimp, and tomatoes braised in a fennel perfumed stew, served with fresh crusty sourdough

      Lamb Steaks with Rosemary and Redcurrant Glaze

      Mmm Lamb and rosemary! The redcurrant glaze tastes so good. Good idea for the BBQ as well.

    June, What’s in Season This Month


    Our Favourite month and not just because of what is in season and available on the 14th of this month we will have been married for 38 years yes 38 years and is really doesn’t imagefeel like it, here is a photo of us on that day just before we left for Mallorca.

    Now June is here and the sun is warm, our thoughts turn to lighter foods, picnics and barbeques, and out comes the salad bowl, do you think that there is anything better than fresh summer produce? Biting into a sweet strawberry or munching your way through a bag of glistening red cherries is as much a part of a British summer as sunburn and short shorts.

     


    This month our own British foodstuffs really begin to emerge, soft fruits, vegetables and seafood are abundant the asparagus is still good and the Jersey Royals are still as tasty as ever.

    The wealth of June is just what we’ve been waiting for, the days grow longer, and it’s a joy to go shopping with the markets, shops, and supermarkets just overrunning with the best of British produce especially The first of the Kentish fruit so we say welcome to the strawberries and gooseberries and now’s the time to make the most of the young broad beans, peas and new potatoes, to be enjoyed with new season lamb and don’t forget June is also a good month for quail, beef and guinea fowl and there is lots of fish in season, including mackerel, plaice and lemon sole. Look out for the fish and shellfish from Scottish and Western waters especially lobster and crab, monkfish is at its best, Salmon is relatively cheap right now and sardines are terrific just grilled with a little seasoning and lemon.


    Most butchers will by now supplying you with barbeque packs of meats, but beware there are a few unscrupulous butchers who just use the barbeque season as an excuse to get rid of inferior meat.


    It’s time to fill your basket with herbs and tender young veggies our diminutive balcony garden is now giving us a steady supply of Rocket, Baby Salad Leaves, Mint and Parsley.

    imageimageimage

    Summer is beckoning us June asks us to luxuriate in the sumptuous range of produce it has to offer, Strawberries are reaching their best, with the earliest varieties from Hampshire and the Cheddar gorge available in the first couple of weeks and by the end of the month the strawberries from Kent will be in full flow and the prices will plummet. Apricots, cherries, and gooseberries are worth looking out for.


    Fruit at Its Best

    Apricots, cherries, Strawberries, and gooseberries


    Vegetables at Their Best

    Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Courgettes, Fennel, Jersey Royal New Potatoes, Lettuces and Salad Leaves, Mangetout, New Potatoes, Onions, Peas, Radishes, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Spinach, Spring Onions, Turnips and Watercress.

    Herbs: Basil, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Elderflower, Mint, Nasturtium, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sorrel, Tarragon, and Thyme.


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

    Beef, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Lamb, Mutton, Pork, Rabbit, Veal, Quail, and Wood Pigeon.


    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    Line-Caught Mackerel are getting bigger and it’s definitely the time to be eating flat fish, Lemon Sole and Plaice are especially succulent and plentiful at the moment.

    Cod, Crab, Haddock, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bream, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Whelks, and Whitebait.


    Local Shopping

    imageTachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.


    Dates for your diary:

    11-12 June, Nigel’s Fantastic Food Show, Ewood Park, Blackburn

    Nigel Haworth is returning for a second year to host a two day foodie’s extravaganza. The Fantastic Food Show promises to be an example of real northern hospitality, which means you’ll be leaving with a smile on your face!

    The Cookery Theatre is the place to go to pick up handy tips with the likes of Simon Rimmer and Nigel himself showing what they’re made of.

    There are plenty of local producers keen to answer your questions and show off what they’ve got, so if the cupboard are looking a bit bare, this is a great place to stock up.

    Website: Nigel’s Fantastic Food Show


    16 – 19 June, Taste of London, Regent’s Park, London.

    Right in the heart of the capital, some of the country’s best chefs and produce come together in a food fest that will tickle the taste buds and get the creative juices running. You will have the unique opportunity to dine from 40 of London’s top restaurants, try and buy from 200 top quality foods and drink producers and see the pros demonstrate their skills live on stage. 2011 will see the addition of ‘The Secret Garden’, an exclusive area where visitors will have the chance to take part in Q&A sessions with chefs while feasting on canapés and champagne. 

    Website: Taste of London


    On Sonny’s Stall, Tachbrook Street Market;

    imageAsparagus, broad beans, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, new potatoes, peas, radishes, rocket, sorrel, spring onions, watercress along with the most tasty fruits such as Cherries, elderflowers, gooseberries, redcurrants, rhubarb, strawberries, and Raspberries.

     

     

    imageimageimage100_0186

     

     

     

     


    imageOur Local Butchers Freeman’s have been getting in;

    Beef, Guinea Fowl, Lamb, Pork, Rabbit, Veal, Quail, and Wood Pigeon.

     

     


    Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris, Tachbrook Street Market Has Been Getting In;

    imageAnother great display from Jon including a small shark, to day he was showing amongst others live Crab, South coast Flounder, Cornish Octopus, Cornish Haddock, Cornish Hake, Hake is an under-rated fish, which is a shame because it has a subtle and delicious flavour, similar to cod. Best of all, it is environmentally sustainable, yet inexpensive. It is also easy to prepare as it has relatively few bones. Heating the fish fillets slowly in a cold pan prevents them from curling up during frying. This works really well for firm fish with thin skins, such as hake.

    There was also wild Scottish Sea Trout, Cornish Dover Sole, Scottish Squid, Scottishimage Langoustines, Halibut, Herring, Lemon Sole, line caught Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Sea Bass, and Cornish Turbot as you will all know by now most all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts, just look at the photos and see just how passionate Jon and his family and friends are about the produce they sell, oh we’re also recommending Jon’s Dressed Crab it’s a simple, healthy meal using a mixture of brown and white Crab meat and prawns so delicious with salad and a light dressing.

     100_0191

    image

    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

    Fresh Whole Fish

    1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
    2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
    3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
    4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
    5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

    Fresh Fillets

    1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
    2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
    3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
    4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
    5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.


    Recipes for June

    We bought some Hake from Jon as it is a while since we had some and his looked very fresh and tasty, here are two of my favourite recipes for Hake.



    Hake with Peas and Asparagus (Merluza con Guisantes y Esparrgos)

    Fancy giving cod a rest and trying a different fish for a change?

    I remember having this dish many, many years ago at a friend’s house and then in 1972 in the little fishing villages of Cala Bona and Calla Millor (not so small now though) on the island of Mallorca we had it again and again. This recipe is as original as it gets, modern versions differ somewhat but we like this better especially in June when we serve it with steamed Jersey Royal Potatoes.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 10 minutes

    Cook-Time: 30 minutes


    You Will Need

    1 small onion

    1 small carrot

    1 sprig, parsley

    2 tablespoons, olive oil

    1 kilo, peas, frozen or fresh

    1 kilo, hake, cut into portions

    Salt and pepper to taste

    300mls, fish or vegetable stock, if we have no fish stock we like to use Knorr vegetable gel stockpots

    12, cooked asparagus tips, we like to use the jumbo asparagus


    Method

    Chop the onion, carrot, and parsley and fry gently in a saucepan in oil, without browning. Add the peas and the hake, season, add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes; put the asparagus tips in at the last moment, just to heat through.

    Serve the hake surrounded by the peas, with the asparagus tips on top and Enjoy!


    Pan-Fried Hake with Lemon and Parsley

    This is a very popular recipe in Spain its quick and easy and just right for a light lunch or supper.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 10 minutes

    Cook-Time: 12 minutes


    You Will Need

    2 tablespoons, seasoned plain flour

    2 tablespoons, lemon zest, finely grated

    10 grams, fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

    4 small fillets or steaks of hake about 80 to 90 grams each

    2 tablespoons, olive oil


    Method

    Mix together the seasoned flour, lemon zest and parsley, pat onto the fish on both sides well, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat; cook the fish for 11 to 12 minutes turning occasionally. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with lemon wedges and seasonal vegetables.

    Enjoy!


    Enhanced by Zemanta

     

    May, What’s in Season This Month


    Well, I’m late again my apologies to one and all, I did think about not putting a blog up for May as it is so late however one or two have asked for a May blog so here it is.


    As the weather gets warmer in May, beautiful British produce can be found in abundance especially large, juicy spears of asparagus which are at their very best and cheap too, when I say asparagus I mean proper English asparagus, not that stuff from Peru or America, which is a bit wishy-washy not that I have anything against overseas asparagus but English is something special and I like the short period in which we can get it, and Jersey royals the new potatoes with attitude are mouth-watering sprinkled with sea salt flakes, black pepper and golden Jersey butter melted and poured over them.


    The English asparagus season officially starts on 1st May, but depending on the weather can start as early as mid-April the harvest lasts for approximately 6 weeks, until mid-June. Although asparagus was once only grown in certain areas of the United Kingdom, such as the Vale of Evesham, East Anglia, Kent, and London, it is now grown in most of the United Kingdom. It’s a great accompaniment to seasonal meats and fish, steam, grill or roast it, add it to tarts or blend it into soups no matter which way you cook it you are going to be in for a tasty treat.

    British asparagus, with its deep, intricate flavour, is considered by the British, at least to be the best in the world. Its profound, lush flavour is ascribed in large part to Britain’s cool growing conditions. Traditionally only green asparagus has been grown here, but there are several types and varieties, in any case  whether you’re buying tips thin ‘sprue’ asparagus or extra-large ‘jumbo’ spears, always choose stems that are firm and lush, rather than dry and wrinkly.

    Avoid any stems that are discoloured, scarred or turning slimy at the tips. If you’re using whole spears, then make sure the buds are tightly rolled. If you’re making soup, though, you could also use the cheaper, loose-tipped spears you sometimes find on market stalls.

    Regardless of what you may have read or heard, it’s not necessary to buy an asparagus steamer, nor to tie the asparagus into a bundle and cook it upright in a pan. For the best results, wash the stems thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. Then trim the stalks and, if the lower part of the stem seems tough when sliced and eaten raw, lightly peel the bottom third of the stem. Drop loose spears into a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender.

    The cooking time varies according to the thickness of the stems but ranges between 3 to 5 minutes; the Roman’s use to have a saying similar to “In a New York Minute” it was “Quick as Asparagus”. Once it’s cooked, drain, and pat dry on kitchen paper. If you’re serving it cold, you’ll get the best flavour if, rather than cooling under the cold tap, you spread the hot asparagus out to cool on some kitchen paper.

    Conventionally coordinated with hollandaise sauce, asparagus picked just a day or so ago (try your nearest farmers’ market) needs no messing with. Enjoy it with a mizzle of olive oil, a twist of black pepper and perhaps a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

    Earliest records of asparagus cultivation trace it back to Greece some 2,500 years ago. The Greeks believed that asparagus possessed medicinal properties and recommended it as a cure for toothaches. It was highly prized by the Romans who grew it in high-walled courtyards. Asparagus has been grown in England since the sixteenth century (it is not widely cultivated anywhere else in the UK) and during the nineteenth century it caught on in North America and China

    Asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable. It also a source of fibre, potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione, a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties

    BUYING

    Look for firm but tender stalks with good colour and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily tenderer; in fact thicker specimens are often better due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume.

    STORING

    Once picked, asparagus rapidly loses flavour and tenderness, so it really is worth eating it on the day you buy it. If that isn’t possible, store asparagus in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around the bottom of the stalks and you can get away with keeping it for a couple of days.

    PREPARING AND COOKING

    Wash in cold water and remove the bottom ends of the stalks (with fresh asparagus they will snap off cleanly). Boil or steam quickly until just tender, around 4 to 7 minutes depending on thickness.


    For us (Maureen and meself) May is the start of our summer and as the days get longer and warmer we look forward to barbeques, picnics and lunches in the garden and the parks here in London, we always look forward to the new season asparagus delicious served cold with a nice tasty vinaigrette or a velvety, opulent Hollandaise sauce, we take pleasure in the delicate and unsophisticated texture of sea trout lightly poached in white wine with herbs or pan-fried with butter, lemon and capers we also  look forward to the new season parsley, carrots, raspberries and the first of the cherries.

    I remember when we were at The Whitewell Hotel, The Willow Tree Restaurant and The Great Tree Hotel we always competed with other hotels and restaurants who would be the first to serve the first of British asparagus, strawberries and jersey royal potatoes, at Whitewell we almost always won and the same can be said for the Willow Tree but down in Devon it was always a real competition with Gidleigh Park and I am miserable to say they won more than we did, however it is still always nice to get the first of this seasons new fruit and veg with such magnificent flavours.


    May is unquestionably the time for new vegetables, and at this time there are so many that get going at the end of April that are either just coming into season or are in full swing it seems we are bursting at the seams with seasonal luxury this month so you must try to mix and match sumptuous asparagus, tender peas and spicy watercress to make mouth-watering salads and soups.


    There are not surprisingly, other vegetables that we can look forward to see this month; New Season Carrots, Mint, Wild Mushrooms, Nettles, Parsley, Radishes, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach and Watercress are all on offer outdoor grown salad leaves of all types come along, as do Radishes, Broad Beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Courgettes, all start to appear this month too, English tomatoes will start to become quite evident and get better as May fades into June.

    The summer vegetables will be starting but the British fruit will still be a little limited, but the first of the strawberries will be appearing. We will also begin to find that the choice of meat and fish becoming more plentiful and that the farmhouse cheeses are at their best.



    Fruit at Its Best

    Rhubarb and form abroad, melons such as Cantaloupe, Charentais and Gallia and cherries and apricots.

    British Fruit coming in now are Strawberries from Kent, Devon, and Cornwall May customarily sees the beginning of the English strawberry season; we have always related them with much later in the year more like late June, July and August but we now get tasty early strawberries, another fruit that surprises me at this time of year is the cherry, imported of course but once these and strawberries appear in the shops then you instinctively know summer is just around the corner.

    Late May also sees the first flush of summer berries, gooseberries, red currants, black currants and probably even raspberries, now that’s something to look forward to isn’t it?



    Vegetables at Their Best

    Asparagus, spinach, radishes, spring greens and purple sprouting broccoli, cucumbers, primo cabbages and cauliflowers.

    Vegetables just appearing are: Main crop carrots, new potatoes especially Jersey Royals, and those other tasty varieties such as those from Pembrokeshire, and Anglesey, new season turnips, young tender broad beans and tender sweet cucumbers, plus that tasty peppery arugula/rocket. It is probably your last chance to buy Leeks, parsnips and kale.

    And don’t forget the herbs basil, chervil, chives; dill, elderflower, mint, nasturtium, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), and sorrel are all now becoming widely available.



    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

    All the usual suspects are available but it is the new season lamb you want to keep a lookout for and the outdoor reared pork, Welsh Black Beef is another that id beginning to show itself more and more.



    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    After particular beautiful Cornish weather in April which as always is excellent for catching and landing fish and seafood, May is and has been more of a challenge what with strong winds at the beginning of the month and now more winds this week netting and landing the catch has become a bit more difficult of a task for the boats and the same can be said for Scotland joyfully, what’s being landed is really superior produce.

    For all that wonderful fresh fish look for Sea bass, Turbot and Monkfish, Salmon, Sea Trout, River Trout are at their best, Dover sole and Lobster are coming back after their low season, and Cornish crab and other shellfish are simply superb.

    Line-Caught Mackerel is luscious, tasty, and plentiful right now, we are seeing reasonable sized fish, which makes for some lovely dishes whether you’re eating at home with your family or cooking for a few friends too.

    The first sardines should soon be appearing at the fishmongers (for those in Pimlico look at the Cornish Chins) so get the barbecue out and start grilling, even though they have always been popular with the Spanish and Portuguese they have never really caught on in this country. We all eat them quite cheerfully while on holiday but it seems when we get back to our own patch, if they do not come in tins then we don’t seem to want to know them, it’s a shame really as when they are fresh they are very yummy. Drizzled with a good quality olive oil and grilled till the skin turns crispy, served with a salad of tossed leaves with a hint of lemon juice and some homemade crusty bread what could be better?

    May is great for buying Brown Crab, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Langoustines, Sardines, Sea Bass, and Sea Trout.

    A new online consumer guide to sustainable seafood has been launched today. The Good Fish Guide at www.goodfishguide.org.uk gives straightforward advice and cooking recipe ideas to make buying sustainable and varied seafood much simpler. The MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide has also been updated and now includes a credit card-sized guide to buying fish including top buying tips and questions to ask the fishmonger or at the fish counter.

    The Latest Grocery News for May 2011

    from Love British Food

    1. Mandatory rules for country of origin labelling are one step closer! The EU Committee for Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety has voted unanimously for country of origin labelling for all meat, poultry, dairy products, fresh fruit, and vegetables with a country of origin. Members also backed country of origin labelling for meat, poultry, and fish when used as an ingredient in processed foods. The decision will now be taken back to European Parliament in July where members must back a plenary vote.
    2. Tesco has started to import Black Angus beef from America, a direct competitor to Aberdeen Angus. British farmers produce 64 per cent of the beef we eat. Most of the rest comes from Ireland, but also increasingly Brazil and now, for the first time in many years, the USA. British farmers fear this increased competition will undercut their beef on price and shoppers will move away from British! Don’t let this be the case – buy British today!
    3. Waitrose has become the first supermarket to commit to offering English only cherries for the key window of the UK season – five weeks at the height of the summer. They will begin selling cherries from May with imported produce from N. America, Turkey, and Spain. Imported cherries will then be phased out for the five week 100 per cent English season and then in August, as the English season draws to a close, it will be English topped up with imported fruit.
    4. Look forward to a bumper strawberry crop! The warm weather has brought crops out 2 weeks earlier than usual and is predicted to be the best harvest in 20 years. As a result the number of strawberries imported from countries like Spain has been reduced by 50 per cent. Tesco has pledged to sell predominately English strawberries from the month of May.
    5. Get your English aubergines now! The Yorkshire grown aubergines, supplied by English Village Salads Ltd, have come into season and will be available in supermarkets now until November.
    6. Tesco has met the local target it set itself back in 2006 this month. The supermarket has broken its £1bn barrier for sales of locally sourced products.
    7. Asda is exclusively stocking the branded Cornish Crystal potatoes this year. The Cornish new potatoes have already hit supermarket shelves, making them one of the earliest UK mainland potatoes currently being sold.
    8. Volume sales of English apples have risen by 6 per cent this year and could grow by a further 50 per cent on the back of recent strong support for the industry by the multiples.
    9. Harvey Nichols has announced it will be holding summer dining events to take urbanites out of the city and closer to traditionally produced foods. The Hand Picked by Harvey Nichols events include tours, culinary master-classes, communal lunches, and activities showcasing ethical fishing and traditional pig rearing.
    10. East of England Co-operative has launched a new ‘Sourced Locally’ brand in-store. 200 stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have been using shelf barkers to highlight food miles for some time but they are now broadening the marketing so all local foods are flagged up under the Sourced Locally brand.
    11. A new study by The People’s Trust for Endangered Species has found that nearly half of England’s traditional apple, pear, and cherry orchards have been abandoned or are being neglected. The loss severely threatens rare, historic varieties of fruit such as Sheep’s Snout and Slack my Girdle apples.
    12. Finally, planning applications are in place for at least six rabbit battery farms across the UK. Britain eats 3,000 tonnes of rabbit meat each year, virtually all of it imported, however many have concerns about the increased traffic and the animal welfare rights. Some state “They are moving away from battery farming in chickens, so it seems like a retrograde step”.

    Seasonal foods at their best to look out for in the supermarkets this month:

    Vegetables: asparagus, aubergine, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, jersey royal new potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuces and salad leaves, new potatoes, onions, peas, potatoes (main crop), radishes, rhubarb, rocket, samphire, spinach, spring onions, watercress and wild nettles.

    Fruit: cherries, elderflowers, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes.

    Herbs: basil, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, elderflowers, mint, mushrooms (cultivated), mushrooms (wild), nasturtium, oregano, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), rosemary, sage, sorrel and tarragon.

    Meat: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, turkey, and wood pigeon.

    Fish: Cockles, Cod, Coley, Conger Eel, Crab, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, sea trout, shrimp, whelks and whitebait.



    Local Shopping

    imageTachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.



    imageOn Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    Sonny’s stall once again was a picture it is great to see such fresh produce full of lively colours, especially the Rhubarb it really looked vibrant and cooked up a treat when we made one of our favourite puddings so what else was on offer?

    Well there were Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, British Asparagus, English Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Jersey Royal Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition. He has also obtained some of the finest tasting British Strawberries and Raspberries we have had in a long time



    Our Local Butcher Freemans (Butchers)

    1image17 Lupus street, sw1v 3en 020 7821 1414),

    Are displaying and ordering; The lamb is some of the best we have seen and his beef is well hung, the pork is outdoor reared and has a great taste with the fat to meat ratio spot on, we chose this week to have a small pork loin joint just for the two of us and at £4.25 for the joint we had a good 4 meals from it, The corn-fed chickens looked plump with a nice colour to them; this butcher is very proud of his offerings and has every right to be so.


    Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

    imageMost all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts

    Jon’s display was as usual a stunning menu of all the best the sea can offer, his Wild Black Bream was simply the best we have seen in a long time and Brown Crab, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Langoustines, Sardines, Sea Bass, and Sea Trout along with Sea Urchins, live Lobster, Brill and Dover Soles and the line caught Mackerel made it very difficult for us to make a choice.

    There was Cornish Octopus, Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, and we chose for our meal this week some beautiful Cornish Whiting so simple to cook with just a little olive oil and butter cooked in the pan seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon and the served with those fantastic Jersey Royals and divine English asparagus.

    We also bought a superb brown crab so we could make my Crab Paté you can find my recipe on MyDish just click on this link Crab Paté

    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

     Fresh Whole Fish

    1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
    2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
    3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
    4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
    5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

    Fresh Fillets

    1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
    2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
    3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
    4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
    5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.


    In The Garden;

    We are not growing a lot this year because of the upcoming work on our windows, we have put in some mixed spicy salad and of course our much-loved Rocket (Arugula) and they are all coming along nicely, as well as our favourite herbs of Parsley, Sage, Mint, and Thyme.



    Recipes for Month

    My Crab Paté find it here on MyDish

    Spiced Tempura Asparagus with Asian Dipping Sauce and Cucumber Salad

    A tasty Summer treat with all the flavours of Asia

    Serves / Makes:      4 servings

    You Will Need;

    Vegetable oil for deep frying

    100 grams, self raising flour

    15 grams, paprika

    1 teaspoon, sea salt

    150ml, sparkling water

    16, asparagus spears

    For the Dipping Sauce

    150ml, light soy sauce

    20 grams, garlic, crushed

    10 grams, chopped red chilli pepper

    2 teaspoons, caster sugar

    For the Cucumber Salad

    1, Romano pepper seeded and cut into finger length strips

    100 grams, sugar snap peas

    10 grams, fresh coriander, roughly chopped

    1, cucumber cut into finger length strips

    Toasted sesame seeds to garnish

    Method;

    Put the salad ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, using another bowl mix the dipping sauce ingredients and put to one side.

    Heat the oil in a large deep pan or fryer to 180°C

    Whisk together the flour, paprika and salt with enough sparkling water to make a batter, dip the asparagus spears into the batter until well coated, shake of the excess and place in batches into the hot oil, deep fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

    Place the warm tempura asparagus over a mound of the cucumber salad sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and along with the dipping sauce serve and Enjoy!


    Spring Lamb Cutlets with a Wild Garlic & Herb Crust

    Have you ever made a recipe that smelled so good while it was cooking that you had to leave the kitchen because you wanted to try it before it was done? That’s what happens in our house when I make this delicious dish of lamb with fresh herbs, and it’s a very simple recipe to follow.

    Serves / Makes:        4 servings

    Prep-Time:                 8 minutes

    Cook-Time:                15 minutes

    You Will Need

    4 small or 2 large lamb cutlets

    For the crust:

    50 grams, white bread, torn into chunks

    2 tablespoons, wild garlic leaves

    1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon fresh thyme

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Knob of butter

     

    Method

    Pre-heat the oven to 220°c.

    Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan until foaming but not coloured and pan fry the cutlets for a few minutes on each side until browned.

    Meanwhile, in a small blender whizz the bread, garlic leaves, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper.

    Press the mixture onto each cutlet, and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

    Serve with Jersey Royal potatoes or new potatoes and buttered primo cabbage and Enjoy!

    Notes

    If you go down to the woods today, it’s likely the smell of wild garlic (ramsons) will fill the air. This wild relative of the chive can be eaten in many ways, both raw and cooked – in soups, salads, or taking basil’s place in pesto. In this month’s recipe it partners traditional rosemary to flavour some equally seasonal spring lamb

    Enhanced by Zemanta

    April, What’s in Season This Month


    April, one of our favourite months spring has been switched on the clocks have been put forward the days are getting longer and the sun is coming out to play a little more.

    This is the month when the kitchen rouses itself, we ourselves liven up, and it is also the annual point in time when keeping it uncomplicated means just that, so little needs to be done with the fresh crops of English foodstuffs.

    It depends on what the weather is like if the commencement to this brand new season is sluggish, however you can be sure that fresh young carrots and tender spinach will be in the shops about the middle of April.

    Furthermore by the end of April we will have the real celebrities to look forward to; English Asparagus keep your eyes open for it in this country it only has a short 6 week season, so begin buying it as soon as you see it and don’t forget that those exquisite Jersey Royals will be making their yearly debut at the end of April.


    The first of the new season lamb should now be coming through we have always looked forward to the spring lamb and we both think that new season lamb from the Fylde and Morecambe Bay is superior, although when we were at Lodge Hill Mr. F used to have between 10 to 20 sheep which he kept on the game farm and every spring  we all helped with the lambing and when they were old enough all went to the butchers and some came back already for the freezer now you can’t get much organic and greener than that!



    New season lamb is available from April and through the summer months, but it is at its best in June.

    Lamb usually comes to market between 6 and 7 months old, with a dressed weight of between 36-50 pounds. The smallest lambs (sometimes called Paulliac Lamb), are sometimes less than 4 weeks old and weigh as little as 8 pounds.

    Lamb in the United Kingdom is still called lamb until it is 12 months old then it is known as mutton, I believe that mutton is a greatly unappreciated meat, cuts of mutton are similar to those of lamb, but the meat is darker in colour and much richer in flavour.

    When choosing lamb do not look for meat marbled with fat, this is not an indication of quality and tenderness as with beef. Better to look for lamb cuts with a thick, well shaped eye muscles in the loin and rib cuts, look for meat that is moist and bright, the colour depends on the age of the lamb ranging from pinkish rose to pale red, the fat should be waxy white.

    Mutton is significantly underrated in this country the cuts are similar to lamb, but tend to be larger, darker in colour with richer flavour Choose mutton of a rich red brown colour; avoid any grey meat with yellowy fat. Mutton lacks the mildness and tenderness of lamb and tends to have more fat.



    Definitions for lamb, hogget and mutton differ significantly between countries, below are the common definitions

    1. Baby lamb, a milk-fed lamb between six and eight weeks old
    2. Spring lamb, a milk-fed lamb, usually three to five months old, born in late winter or early spring and sold usually before July 1st
    3. Yearling lamb, a young sheep between 12 and 24 months old.
    4. Milk-fed lamb, meat from an unweaned lamb, typically 4 to 6 weeks old and weighing 5.5 to 8 kg; this is almost unavailable in countries such as the UK and the USA, where it is considered uneconomic. The flavour and texture of milk-fed lamb when grilled (such as the tiny lamb chops known as chuletillas in Spain) or roasted (lechazo asado or cordero lechal asado) is generally thought to be finer than that of older lamb. The areas in northern Spain where this can be found include Asturias, Cantabria, Castile and León, and La Rioja. Milk-fed lambs (and kids) are especially prized for Easter in Greece, when they are roasted on a spit.
    5. Hogget a young male sheep or maiden ewe having no more than two permanent incisors in wear
    6. Mutton A female (ewe) or castrated male (wether) sheep having more than two permanent incisors in wear.
    7. Salt marsh lamb the meat of sheep which graze on salt marsh in coastal estuaries that are washed by the tides and support a range of salt-tolerant grasses and herbs such as samphire, sparta grass, sorrel and sea lavender. Depending on where in the world the salt marsh is located, the nature of the plants may be subtly different. Salt marsh lamb has long been appreciated in France and is growing in popularity in the United Kingdom. Places where salt marsh lamb are reared in the United Kingdom include Harlech and the Gower Peninsula in Wales, the Somerset Levels and the Fylde coast and Morecambe Bay.


    Although available, all year round, British lamb and mutton are seasonal products.

    • Spring lamb is available from early spring until the summer. It is very tender but does not have as much flavour as lamb later in the year as it has not had as much time to graze. It should be cooked simply spring lamb is fantastic for roasting simply with garlic and herbs, why not try some of these recipes;
    • Autumn lamb is available from the summer until December. It has had more time to graze and grow thus developing stronger flavours that can take spicier, more adventurous treatment
    • Lamb from Christmas until the following spring is called ‘hogget’, though few retailers and caterers use this term. Hogget has a pronounced flavour, which works well with seasonal root vegetables.
    • Mutton is at least two years old. Mutton is available year-round but is best, and most readily available, from October until March. It has a much stronger, gamier flavour than lamb. For hundreds of years, mutton was the staple meat of the British household, considered superior in texture and flavour to lamb. Changes in farming and cooking lead to mutton’s sudden decline and for the last fifty years mutton has almost disappeared from our shops and restaurants.
    • The Mutton Renaissance campaign was launched in 2004 by HRH the Prince of Wales to support British sheep farmers who were struggling to sell their older animals, and to get this delicious meat back on the nation’s plates.

    Accompaniments That Go Well with Lamb and Mutton

    Mint and rosemary spring to mind at once, but lamb is well-matched with many different ingredients including French mustard, tarragon, tomatoes, olive oil, aubergines, yoghurt, couscous, apricots, coriander and cumin.

    Try baking with aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes, olives, and garlic for a Mediterranean twist or pot roast with root vegetables or butternut squash and red onions

    Flavoured butters also work well with lamb steaks and chops make by simply softening butter and mixing through the grated rind of a lemon or lime, some thyme and rosemary, or try some chilli paste and a few leaves of freshly torn basil.

    Slivers of garlic, sprigs of rosemary and/or anchovies can be pushed into slits cut in the meat. Why not try grating or grinding lemon rind, root ginger and garlic, or mint and rosemary, into a paste to fill the slits.

    If roasting serve with mint sauce and red wine gravy for a yummy dish

    While lamb doesn’t often feature in oriental cookery, however, it’s mouth-watering with soy sauce, ginger, or honey.

    And finally, because of its seasonality and its mild flavour, new season lamb goes well with spring vegetables.



    And don’t forget to keep an eye out for wild sea trout, which is brilliant just now, as is Monkfish, Halibut, Prawns, and Crab are all very good now, please try to avoid Turbot, Brill, Dover, and Lemon sole as they are all spawning now, so leave them alone and take advantage of the new season shellfish, April is the time for buying Brown Crab, Cockles, Conger Eel, Crab, John Dory, Lobster, Razor Clams, Salmon, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Whitebait, Winkles. And Wild Salmon


    As the spring sun warms the soil, we can look forward to an abundance of wonderful ingredients coming into season over the next few weeks, the first herbs are appearing now, allowing us to add some fresher flavours to our food look out for wild garlic, chives, sorrel and wild sorrel.

    Leeks, wild mushrooms, Jersey Royal potatoes, radishes, spinach and watercress, broad beans, peas, asparagus, and cauliflowers will be fresh in season towards the end of British springtime.


    Vegetables at Their Best

    1. Purple Sprouting Broccoli; just make certain it is very purple to make sure it is at its prime.
    2. Spring Greens; check that they are English and very green, we always say that the spring greens from Cornwall are the best with those from Lancashire a close second.
    3. Spring Onions; are really good at the moment just pick those with pale green tails.
    4. English Carrots; are now beginning to make themselves known we like to buy the small ones in bunches along with their feathery tops.
    5. British Watercress; it’s a sensation in uncomplicated salads; classy salads, with fish and with cheese, always try to avoid the plastic wrapped bunches.
    6. New Season Kale; kale is called a "super food" because it packs more nutrition per calorie than almost any other food. Unfortunately many people haven’t a clue how to prepare the stuff usually seen only as garnish, follow these simple instructions for delicious, tender, steamed kale:
    • Select dark green crisp leaves.
    • Wash kale in cold water to remove sand or dirt.
    • Fold the kale in half, lengthwise, hold the base of the stem and rip the leaves from the stem.
    • Chop leaves and add to a steamer basket and place in a pan of boiling water, filled just to the base of the basket, and cover.
    • Steam for about 4 to 5 minutes, then check for tenderness.
    • Kale cools rapidly, so enjoy immediately.
    • You can eat it plain, spritz it with soy sauce, sauté it with garlic and olive oil, or toss it into soups.
    • Use it in place of cooked spinach in your favourite recipes.


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

    As we said new season lamb is now available and is absolutely fantastic but it will be at its very best in June, Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Wood Pigeon are still all very good.



    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    Fishing has been improving with the better weather conditions, although the tides have been very big, which affects the practicality of netted catches especially obvious in smaller ports like Looe.

    Lobster prices have been mulishly high this year for our own British caught lobsters, as ever, you can get cheaper from elsewhere, although they will be of the Canadian or American type and apart from being in general awfully small, they will have travelled countless miles to reach your plate.

    The West Country boats are starting to land more and you can expect prices to start to come down, having said all that, Cornish Lobster is scrumptious and worth paying that bit more for as an indulgence.

    Plenty of Bass and Pollack are being landed, but the Plaice are also terrific at this time of year and the first landings of Wild Black Bream have started, while regular landings are a couple of weeks off it looks like we are going to have plenty to go around.

    All the usual suspects, Brown Crab, Cockles, Conger Eel, Crab, John Dory, Lobster, Razor Clams, Salmon, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Shrimp, Whitebait, Winkles, and Wild Salmon are very good, so please support your local fishmonger and eat fish.

    The Latest Grocery News for insert month 2011

    • Pig farmers are demanding a fair price for British Pork and are urging national retailers to sign up to a voluntary labelling initiative. With rising cereal prices and increased fuel costs, farmers are losing money on every pig produced. So far Morrison’s has been praised for their commitment to the supply chain but the industry is urging Tesco and Asda to follow suit in selling British produce rather than relying on cheap imports, which are often produced under far less stringent animal welfare conditions.
    • Asda has pledged to work with its suppliers to ensure none of its products will contain egg from battery cages as of next year. All eggs in shell sold by Asda are British, making it relatively easy to verify which rearing systems they come from, but products using liquid egg can be trickier, given EU cross-border trade. Sainsbury’s has also pledged that all suppliers will be legally required to use non-battery eggs by 2012.
    • KFC is set to become the first fast-food chain to be certified by the Red Tractor assurance scheme. KFC already source their chicken-on-the-bone products from Red Tractor certified British suppliers, but the company itself has until now not been certified.
    • The Cornish Pastie has been give ‘protected geographical indication’ status by the European Commission; joining the 42 other British protected products such as Melton Mowbray pork pies and Arbroath Smokies.
    • Sainsbury’s has teamed up with Ladies in Beef to help promote the new ‘Great British Beef Week’ which runs from 29-30 April. The retailer will offer on-pack promotions during this time.
    • When buying British make sure you read the small print as almost a fifth of foods labelled as ‘local’ on sale are making the claim falsely, a study by The Local Government Regulation has revealed. Examples include ‘Welsh lamb’ from New Zealand, ‘Somerset butter’ from Scotland, and ‘Devon ham’ from Denmark. Restaurants have the highest incidence of false claims with 19 per cent, while manufacturers had the fewest with 11 per cent.
    • Asda and Defra are working with key players in the UK dairy industry to create a new milk roadmap. Dairy 2020 will build on the work of the Dairy Supply Chain Forum’s Milk Roadmap – the industry’s environmental sustainability strategy – but will also include social and economic sustainability.
    • Finally, according to a Tesco survey French food is still the fastest growing cuisine in the UK, with a recent 27 per cent increase in French ready meal sales. Chinese cuisine is close behind in second place with British cuisine in third. So come on everyone, buy British!


    Dates for Your Diary:

    Spring 2011 – Pimlico Food Festival at Tachbrook Street Market



    Local Shopping

    Tachbrook Street Market (2)Tachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.

    imageimageimage

     

     

     

     


    imageOn Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    Sonny’s stall once again was a picture it is great to see such fresh produce full of lively colours, especially the Rhubarb it really looked vibrant and cooked up a treat when we made one of our favourite puddings so what else was on offer?

    Well there were Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, English Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.

    imageimage

     

     

     

     


    imageOur Local Butchers have been getting in

    The lamb is some of the best we have seen and his beef is well hung, Scottish and the steaks we had were absolutely great, the pork is outdoor reared and has a great taste with the fat to meat ratio spot on.

    The corn-fed chickens looked plump with a nice colour to them; this butcher is very proud of his offerings and has every right to be so.


    imageOur Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market.

    Once more Jon has brought to market an incredible selection of fish and shellfish including some rope grown mussels from the Shetlands (see below)

    He was very busy again this week and yet again we see more and more people queuing up for his produce.

    Taking advantage of all that fishing in British waters can turn out, he had to offer Cornish Brill, Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab whole and dressed, Haddock, Cornish Hake steaks, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, grey Mullet, Lobster, Line Caught Mackerel, Monkfish, Cornish Octopus, there was Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, Prawns in the shell, there were Native Oysters, Rock Oysters, Cornish Scallops, wild Scottish Salmon, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting.

    And remember almost all Jon’s fish is sourced from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts and his prices are so reasonable you have got to give this gifted and extraordinary fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry, I promise, just see for yourselves with the pictures below!

    imageimage

     

     

     

     


    image

    Mussels are truly one of nature’s most delightful delicacies; they are extremely high in proteins, calcium, and iron while being low in fat and they are low in calories they contain a number of vitamins and minerals and are easily digested, not to mention they are decidedly inexpensive and good value for money.

    They are also excellent for your heart, containing the highest amount of omega-3 of any shellfish (this is the naturally occurring fatty acid that is believed to lower blood pressure).

    The protecting shells of the blue mussel are smooth, glossy, and dark blue or navy in colour, whilst the juicy meat contained within may range from a bright orange to a pale cream.

    The difference in colour of the meat has nothing to do with a difference in taste, although some do say that the orange meat is fleshier and tastier.

    The orange meat is found in the shell of a mature female mussel, whilst the pale cream meat mussels are males or immature females.

    Mussels can grow in the wild or as is most popular nowadays, due to a huge demand and consumption, they can also be cultured or farmed.

    BUYING

    Look for bright, clean, tightly closed unbroken shells. Fresh mussels smell briny-fresh, not ‘fishy’. When buying mussels you need to allow at least 1 pint (570 ml) per person for a first course, and 1½ to 2 pints (about 1 litre) for a main course. That may seem a lot, but some will have to be discarded and, once they have been shelled, mussels are very small and light.

    STORING

    Best eaten within a day of buying

    PREPARING AND COOKING

    Don’t be tricked by how upmarket they look, mussels are the definitive uncomplicated seafood. Clean them, sauté them, steam them and hey up you’ll have a dish everyone will be wowed there are many ways to serve the mussels, but the most classic is Moules Mariniere the mussels are offered in a sauce of white wine, shallots, parsley, and butter.

    The ritual of cleaning and To Prepare them sounds more bother than it actually is. When you get them home, plonk the mussels straightaway into a sinkful of cold water, first of all throw out any that float to the top, then leave the cold tap running over them while you take a small knife and scrape off all the barnacles and pull off the little hairy beards. Discard any mussels that are broken, and any that are open and refuse to close tight when given a sharp tap with a knife. After you’ve cleaned each one, place it straight in another bowl of clean water.

    When they’re all in, swirl them around in three or four more changes of cold water to get rid of any lingering bits of grit or sand. Leave the cleaned mussels in cold water until you’re ready to cook them. As an extra safety precaution, always check mussels again after cooking this time discarding any whose shells haven’t opened.

    You can in addition find mussels served with sauces made with beer, or cream, or vegetable stock.

    For the greatest authenticity, use a shell to crack open the mussels, not your fork.

    Did I say that they are very good for you an 85 gram portion of cooked blue mussels contain 20 grams of protein and only 147 calories; it is rich in iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, zinc and vitamins C and B12. Mussels are low in fat, only containing 0.7 grams of saturated fat in an 85 gram portion. They are, though an extremely rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in oily fish and other foods but are not produced by the body. The consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids helps prevent cardiovascular and heart disease and is an important part of a healthy diet, promoting a healthy brain as well as a healthy body. Mussels in fact contain higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids than any other shellfish.

    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

     Fresh Whole Fish

    1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
    2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
    3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
    4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
    5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

    Fresh Fillets

    1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
    2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
    3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
    4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
    5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.


    In The Garden

    Not a lot happening yet, we are still waiting word for when they are going to put the new windows in so realistically we cannot start anything on our balcony for this year. We will of course plants some salads and our herbs but that will be it for this year.



    Recipes for April

    Potted Crab

    Push the boat out with the respected English custom of potting seafood, combine the tender, sweet flesh of crab with sherry, herbs and lemon juice, its same idea as potted shrimp, but used for delectable crab meat using the most superb white claw meat and creamy brown meat, mixing with spices then topping it with the finest English, Welsh or Cornish butter.

    Serves / Makes:        2 large ramekins, 4 small ramekins

    Prep-Time:                 10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling



    You Will Need

    150 grams, white crab meat

    150 grams, brown crab meat

    1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped

    2 tablespoons, dry sherry

    1 pinch, cayenne pepper

    1 pinch, ground mace

    1 pinch, freshly grated nutmeg

    150 grams, unsalted butter, cubed

    1 ½ teaspoons, anchovy essence

    1 teaspoon, lemon juice, plus extra if needed

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Extra butter for sealing the ramekins



    Method

    Start off by placing the chopped shallot, sherry, and spices in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, then boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced by at least half, it should only take about 2 minutes.

    Next, stir in the butter; when melted, turn the heat down, and simmer gently for 12 minutes, stirring from time to time, remove from the heat and allow to cool then using a sieve over a bowl, pour through the cooled spiced butter and set the bowl over another bowl filled with ice then, using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the butter becomes thick and creamy, but not hard.

    Now mix in the crab meat, anchovy essence, lemon juice, salt, and pepper spoon this mixture into ramekins, cover the surface with melted butter to seal off the air and cover with cling film, and chill for 2 hours.

    To serve remove the potted crab from the fridge about half an hour before serving we like to serve ours with a little mixed salad, toasted granary bread or melba toast.



    Greek Aromatic Roast Lamb


    What a magnificent dish, more or less identical to the one Maureen and I used to have at the Bakery Restaurant on the Greek island of Spetses (This restaurant is on the top floor above one of the island’s more popular patisseries). We tried it at Wilton Lodge for a dinner party, which was a triumph, so much, so that in the winter/spring of 1992 at Norwood West, Palm Springs it was a great favourite.

    Serves / Makes:        8 servings

    Prep-Time:                 4 hours to 24 hours

    Cook-Time:                2 hours



    You Will Need

    2 kilograms, leg of lamb,

    1.2 kilos, potatoes, about 4 to 6 ounce each, we use a variety called Lady Balfour, available from Sainsbury’s or Desiree

    1 whole, lemon,

    2 tablespoons, honey, preferably Greek

    2 tablespoons, olive oil,

    30 grams, butter,

    2 sprigs, fresh rosemary,

    1 sprig, fresh thyme,

    1 sprig, oregano, I like to use the Greek or Italian dried oregano



    Method

    Put the leg of lamb into a large roasting pan. Bruise the leaves of the sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and oregano and sprinkle them over the meat, add plenty of pepper and 1 tablespoon of honey. Rub the mixture into the meat with your hands then rub half a lemon over the joint, squeezing the juice on to the meat as you do so. Do not add any salt. Leave to marinate for 4 to 24 hours. 

    Peel and quarter the potatoes, then arrange them in a single layer round the lamb.

    Squeeze lemon juice over the potatoes, use at least half a lemon, or up to one and a half lemons for a strong lemony flavour.

    Carefully pour ¼ pint of water into a corner of the roasting pan, then sprinkle over the potatoes and lamb about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, at least 1 teaspoon each fresh chopped thyme and oregano, and some salt and pepper.

    Drizzle on 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons of honey and 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then dot with 1 oz of butter.

    Bake at 425°f/220°c/gas mark 6 for a further 1 to 1 to 1¼ hours

    The ingredients will become golden and will caramelize to a rich brown in places.

    Lift the meat and turn the potatoes occasionally, and if necessary, add a little boiling water to the pan to prevent drying out.

    Serve and Enjoy!



    Thyme Steamed Mussels

    A quick, easy, flavoursome and attractive dish, the bacon and leeks truly enhance the mussels.

    I have already mentioned that we both have a weakness for mussels and that I would be including our favourite ways of serving them and once again this recipe is no exception.

    In the 1970’s when we served fresh mussels at the Willow Tree Restaurant, Bolton-le-Sands, this was the dish that got the most praise and using the freshest mussels from Morecambe Bay, the thyme which grew in the garden and serving it with the watercress that grew in the stream that ran through the property it was no wonder it got the praise it did. Now when we decide to have mussels for a meal we do have a little difficulty in choosing which recipe to use, Maureen has her favourite and I have mine, oh what a hard life we lead‼

    Serves / Makes:        2 main course servings, or 4 starters

    Prep-Time:                 8 minutes

    Cook-Time:                10 minutes



    YOU WILL NEED;

    1 kilo, fresh mussels

    6 rashers, smoked streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces

    2 baby leeks, sliced on the diagonal

    30 grams, butter

    1 red onion, peeled and chopped

    3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

    250mls, white wine

    4 sprigs fresh thyme

    250mls, double cream

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    20 grams, freshly chopped parsley, we sometimes use coriander or a favourite herb to use is chervil



    METHOD;

    Wash the mussels in a colander to remove any dirt or grime. Pick through the mussels and remove the beard Discard any which does not close when tapped.

    Heat half the butter in a pan, and then sizzle the bacon for 3 to 4 minutes until starting to brown.

    Add the leeks, onion, and garlic and, then sweat everything together for 4 to 5 minutes until soft.

    Turn the heat up high, add the mussels’ thyme and wine, then cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until the mussels until the mussels begin to open.

    Add the cream, seasoning and parsley, stirring the ingredients with a spoon heat through making sure all the mussels is open Discard any that remains closed.

    Spoon the mussels and the other bits into a dish, then place the pan back on the heat and boil the juices for 1 min with the rest of the butter.

    Divide the mussels between two bowls if serving as a main course 4 bowls for a starter and pour the sauce left in the pan over them.

    Serve with crusty bread to mop up all the juices and Enjoy!


    Enhanced by Zemanta

    March, What’s in Season This Month


    In March, the weather starts to warm up (or so it should be doing), the time from now until about the middle of May is a tricky one for the shopper, grower, and greengrocer, winter vegetables are fading out whereas the spring veggies haven’t so far really got under way, however there is plenty of purple sprouting broccoli around so make use of it. The commencement of the purple sprouting broccoli season heralds a much wanted addition to the winter vegetable enjoyment.

    Merely steamed or boiled, this lively cousin of broccoli can be used in the same way it is leafier and deeper in colour than Calabrese; it always adds vitality and crunch to vegetable dishes and it goes well with almost any fish or meat dish. Broccoli is a cruciferous plant, from the same genus as the cabbage, and is associated to the cauliflower; cruciferous foods are nowadays hailed as having a number of significant health benefits. Purple Sprouting Broccoli contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane, which is thought to help prevent cancer. Furthermore it could provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of caretenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre, and vitamin A.

    Did I mention that it tastes great just simply steamed and served with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon juice?

    As with the British asparagus season, the Jersey Royals season and the first of the British Artichokes we always look forward to the first of the purple sprouting broccoli, in our opinion events like these are what makes British seasonal produce the finest in the world.


    Even so we are seeing more and more spring vegetables in the markets and some supermarkets earlier than in the past (Climate Change?), so with excited expectation our thoughts are turning to lighter dishes as we see Chicory, Chives, Mint, Parsley, Radishes, Rosemary, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Thyme, and Watercress coming into their season, and Cornish Spring greens are also becoming more plentiful and are very tasty jam packed full of flavour and very sweet, the two biggest enemies of cabbage are water and overcooking, the one thing you don’t want to do is boil it to death in a large saucepan of water. Simply remove any damaged outer leaves, cut it in quarters, removing the tough white ‘core’ in the middle, and slice it finely then you can either stir-fry it in a wok with oil, a little water and soy sauce or tip it into a saucepan with about 3 cm boiling water and cook it fast for about 3 minutes, turning it over as you go. Drain it thoroughly, add a good chunk of butter, and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. A small to medium size cabbage will easily serve four persons.

    In the spring month of March (yes it’s a spring month), Saint David’s day proclaims the month of March, and with St Patrick’s Day on the 17th, now is the time to think what we can be doing with all those tasty expected spring veggies, Lincolnshire starts to harvest carrots, beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese broccoli as do other regions of Britain, so make the most from the first bloom.


    New season’s artichokes from Italy, Cyprus, and Egypt are making their first appearance on the shelves, together with the first of the tomatoes with taste from Sicily and the black volcanic soil of Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Fast on their heels will be new potatoes from around the Mediterranean, asparagus from the Murcia and Valencia provinces in Spain, and strawberries from Huelva in Andalucia.


    Leeks are good in early spring, and we like to use them, not only as vegetables to go together with poultry, meat and fish, but in soups, salads and tarts for first courses we like to lightly braise baby leeks as a lovely light side dish.

    Don’t be afraid to buy them loose and covered with dirt the taste is much better than ones that have been washed and pre-packed.

    Just cut off the top half of the green leaves and remove the root and any damaged outer leaves, cut vertically down the leek almost to the base and wash thoroughly between the leaves with cold running water slice the leeks thickly and wash again then cook in a little butter and oil. They also make superb soups and we think they are very good in egg and cheese dishes.


    Tasty tender spring carrots, you can get a good sized carrot enough to make a salad for under 15p which makes it a brilliant student buy. Even organic ones which generally have much more flavour are affordable. Use them raw and freshly grated or just slice them, toss them in a pan with a little oil and melted butter, season them with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cumin or coriander, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and let them cook very slowly in their own juices for about 20 minutes. They also make great soup and are a must for casseroles stews and stir-fries

    The one (and only) awful feature about the appearance of spring is that our beloved native mussels are off the seasonal menu until September we still have the rope grown imported mussels but they are not quite the same so, fill up on these juicy morsels while you can native oysters are now becoming more difficult to find and will soon be out of season however the pacific or rock oyster will always be a good substitute (just about) as they offer smaller portions with a more subtle taste.


    Fish And Shellfish At Their Best This Month Are:

    Brill, Clams, Cockles, Cod, Conger Eel, Crab, Dabs, Dover Sole, Eel, Elvers, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Scottish Wild Salmon is back in season, Sardines, Scallops, Sea Bream, Sea Trout, Skate, Squid, Turbot, Whitebait, and Winkles.


    Vegetables At Their Best This Month Are:

    Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (new), Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Salsify, Shallots, Spinach, Spring Greens, Swede and Turnips.


    Fruit At Their Best This Month Are:

    Apples, Forced Rhubarb, Pears


    Meat, Poultry, and Game This Month;

    Beef, Chicken, Duck, and Pork are all very good and we are eagerly waiting for the first of British Spring Lamb, make the most of Rabbit this month wild rabbit meat, which is leaner and tastier than the farmed kind, has a wonderful delicate, gamey taste, very different from splendidly flavoured hare. Local Rabbit dishes reveal the fact that rabbit is very flexible and works well with those flavours used in chicken dishes, such as mustard and cream, tomato and herbs, and believe it or not chilli, I have had some superb rabbit dishes in Mexico, Turkey, Venison and Wood Pigeon are still good.


    The Latest Grocery News for March 2011

    Bringing you the hottest news on products in the high street, markets, corner stores, supermarkets and other major items of interest about British food; here is our analysis of what we think is of interest.

    clip_image001 Following on from channel 4’s fish fight campaign sales of sustainable fish species such as Atlantic Pollock or Coley have risen. Sainsbury’s say sales of Pollack have jumped 167 per cent and Waitrose state an increase of 163 per cent on Dover sole. The campaign has even encouraged Waitrose to start new fish selections like Sprats and Welsh flounder.


    clip_image001[4] Asda and Tesco’s have been criticised for rejecting home produced pork and chicken in support of cheap imports. An NFU Scotland investigation found that Practically all’ Asda’s bacon is imported, as are their gammon and bacon joints, while its value range of pork chops is a mix of French and German. A recent 3 for £10 offer in Tesco was on Dutch chicken and pork and no British bacon appeared to be had. In contrast Morrisons was found to continue to demonstrate a substantial allegiance to Scottish and British produce.


    clip_image001[5] Sainsbury’s is gearing up for a major push on regional foods. New signage, such as local images and claims about the products and number of farms involved, has been rolled out to stores in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales this month, with plans for Devon and Cornwall to follow in the next few months. Sainsbury’s currently sells about 3,000 regional lines.


    clip_image001[8] Tesco has started a new website about the local foods it sells in an attempt to boost online sales of locally sourced products. The site will display all Tesco’s suppliers within 50 miles of your nearest store and gives you the choice to change this to either 30 or 100 miles. The site what’s more permits you to propose a supplier as well as letting producers put themselves forward as probable suppliers. Click here to visit the site.

    clip_image001[9] A group of 40 Yorkshire based farmers are launching the first ever regional frozen pea brand, Yorkshire Peas


    clip_image001[10] Blueberries have overtaken raspberries as the UK’s second favourite fresh berry. Strawberries remain the UK’s best-selling fresh berries, but shoppers bought 11.4 per cent more blueberries last year than previous while volume sales of raspberries fell 12.9 per cent.


    clip_image001[11] The British Beekeeper’s Association fear we may lose all our bees within a decade if we are not careful. Honey bees are essential for the pollination of nuts and berries and play varying roles in pollinating apples, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers, tomatoes, and broad beans.


    clip_image001[12] US cereal maker Kellogg has said that it will support the development of sustainable palm oil by purchasing GreenPalm certificates to offset all of its palm oil use.


    clip_image001[13] Last but not least elevated worldwide wheat costs are a massive expenditure for farmers using wheat-based grain to feed their animals. If the meats on the shelves are a few pennies more please don’t be tempted to switch to a low-priced imported substitute. Join in supporting our farming industry and buy British!



    Seasonal foods at their best to look out for in the supermarkets

    Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (Maincrop), Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Salsify, Shallots, Spinach, Swede and Turnips

    Apples and Pears

    Chives, Coriander, Mushrooms (Cultivated), and Parsley (Curly)

    Beef, Chicken, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Pork, Rabbit, Turkey

    Brill, Clams, Cockles, Conger Eel, Crab, Dab, Dover Sole, Eel, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Oysters, Salmon, Scallops, Shrimp, Skate, Turbot, Whitebait and Winkles



    Dates for Your Diary:

    Spring 2011 – Pimlico Food Festival at Tachbrook Street Market

    23rd April to 21st June 2011 – British Asparagus Festival,

    The town of Evesham is launching the world’s, first-ever Asparapancake Race as a prelude to the British Asparagus Festival which runs from 23rd April to 21st June. Evesham will host the race at 11am on Shrove Tuesday and participants, including Gus the Asparagus Man, will all be sporting green in tribute to this special vegetable. Local celebrity chef, Felice Tocchini, will be cooking up the pancakes for the race which will incorporate – you’ve guessed it – asparagus.

    12 – 13 March, World of Women Festival, Southbank centre, London

    Listen to Fatima Ali and Harriet Boatemaa, two cocoa farmers from Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana (which owns Divine Chocolate); speak at the World of Women Festival (WOW) at the Southbank Centre in London. Fatima Ali at 29 is the youngest person ever to be voted onto Kuapa Kokoo’s National Executive, while Harriet Boatemaa, at 27, has aspirations to be the co-operative President so she can inspire other young people to stay in villages and farm rather than migrate to the city in search of non-existent jobs.

    18 – 27 March, Dine on Deeside, towns and village across Deeside.

    This is a new foodie event which celebrates passion for regional cuisine. Royal Deeside and the Cairngorms produce is some of the finest quality in the UK and chefs from towns and villages across this beautiful area (including Ballater, Braemar, Banchory and Aboyne) will be serving up seasonal spring menus of everything from rustic bistro to fine dining. Special menus in cafes, restaurants, hotels, and bars will be on offer in price bands – – up to £10; £11 to £20; £21 to £30 and over £30

    18 – 20 March, Cheese and Wine Festival, the Southbank Centre, London

    This gastronomic delight of an event is now in its third year and is going from strength to strength. The weekend will host a whole array of cheese and wine specialists giving talks and demonstrations including Patricia Michelson founder of La Fromagerie, the Guardian’s wine writer Fiona Beckett, French Chef and Baker Richard Bertinet, renowned restaurateurs’ such as Henry Harris from Racine, Luisa Welch and John Quilter; and specialist premium suppliers such as Vintage Roots, Casa Leal and Auswineonline. Don’t miss it!


    Local Shopping

    image

    Tachbrook Street Market Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’.

    Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.


    image

    On Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    Sonny’s stall this week again was a picture it is great to see such fresh produce full of lively colours, especially the Rhubarb it really looked vibrant and cooked up a treat when we made one of our favourite puddings so what else was on offer?

    Well there were Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, English Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.


    image

    Our Local Butchers have been getting in

    Beef, lamb, and pork is good this month and our local butcher Freemans has some ox-tails and beef brisket in that is just so tasty his fore-rib of beef looked just about perfectly hung and at under £14 per kilo is probably the cheapest in London you really must give the classically trained butcher a go and just to see a real traditional butcher shop is a treat.

    His special offer this week was corn-fed chicken leg portions at half price and very tasty they were too.


    image

    Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

    Once again Jon has brought to market a fantastic array of fish and shellfish including some plump tasty razor clams (see below)

    Every time we go to his stall we see more and more people queuing up for his wares and this week was no exception especially as he had plainly been taking advantage of all that fishing in British waters can produce.

    He put on good show as usual with Cornish Brill, Clams including Razor Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab, Haddock, Cornish Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, grey Mullet, Lobster, Scottish Mackerel, rope grown Mussels from the Shetland Isles, Monkfish, Cornish Octopus, there was Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, Prawns in the shell, there were Native Oysters, Rock Oysters, Scallops from the Isle of Man, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting.

    And remember almost all Jon’s fish is sourced from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts and his prices are so reasonable you have got to give this gifted and extraordinary fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry, I promise.


    Razor Clams

    Clams, Razor ShellFor the most part people couldn’t describe a razor clam, as they can be tricky to find, but like the name suggests they are shaped like an old-fashioned cut-throat razor and when we were small and went to Wales on holiday I can remember my father warning us to be careful not to cut ourselves on the razor sharp shells of this strange looking creature.

    This extraordinary mollusc lives nestled in the sand and is collected by hand. The razor clam can reach 25 cm (10 inches) in length and is usually six times longer than it is wide, the Atlantic razor clam is sharp enough to cut skin, while other variety have an oval shape.

    They are extremely easy to cook and have a superbly rich flavour the only way I can describe it is as a fusion of cockles and scallops that’s sweet and salty all at once, which means with a little seasoning of some lemon juice and maybe a splash of Tabasco they are simply superb.

    Buying, Most likely to be found January and early summer, I mainly see them on the stall of my local fishmonger Jon Norris and the one place I see them all year round although infrequently is in oriental supermarkets.

    They will usually be sold in bunches of half a dozen or so, and must be alive, this is easy to check Many of the clams will have extended themselves beyond the reach of their shells and will retract when picked up and they should smell of the seaside but not be pungently fishy.

    Storing, It is always best to use bivalves the day you purchase them but if you need to keep them, wrap razor clams in a damp tea towel and leave them in the fridge. It is an error to soak all clams and cockles overnight as you can drown them.
    Preparing and Cooking, It’s best to give them a quick wash first under cold running water then lay them on a baking or roasting tray and give them a very quick go under a hot grill for a minute or so This should jolt open the shells as soon as they open remove them from under the grill.

    As soon as they are cool enough to handle, take out the long, white, meaty clam. The digger (the dark bit at one end) needs to be cut off, as it is always gritty. You might also slice the clam open lengthways to check for sand.

    Once they are clean, the clams can to go back under the grill, back in their shells and with another two minutes of cooking and they should be ready.

    • As I said before, razor clams love a simple seasoning a classic recipe, popular in France and Spain, is to serve them plainly grilled, in the shells, with sizzling garlic butter spooned over at the last minute.
    • Salsa Verde or Aioli set off all clams beautifully.
    • If you don’t feel like grilling the clams, try steaming them open in a covered pan just add a bunch of razors, a tablespoon of olive oil and about half a glass of dry white wine or cider for tender clams in a mariniere style sauce within two minutes.
    • Cooking in water seasoned with salt and pepper takes about 10 minutes for 30 or so razor clams (enough for 2 people).
    • Cook in boiling water, and then finish in a frying pan with cream, garlic, and chives and serve with tagliatelle or rice.

    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

    Fresh Whole Fish

    1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
    2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
    3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
    4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
    5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

    Fresh Fillets

    1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
    2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
    3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
    4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
    5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.


    In The Garden

    Nothing happening on our little balcony garden at the moment, although we are still cutting Parsley, Thyme, Rosemary and Sage, it will soon be time to have a good clean down and sow our salads, radish and spring onion seeds outside and tomato seeds inside.


    Recipe for March

    Rhubarb Sponge Pudding

    Perfect for a Sunday lunch served with rich, smooth, velvety custard or thick Jersey cream, Maureen can’t remember when she first made this it was probably at home in Longridge when she was small, Maureen says “ I have been making for a long time and John calls it real comfort food and always asks for it when the new season rhubarb appears”.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings, Prep-Time: 15 minutes, Cook-Time: 45 minutes

    You Will Need

    1. 100 grams soft butter
    2. 100 grams caster sugar
    3. 2 large eggs
    4. 100 grams self-raising flour, sifted
    5. 500 grams ripe rhubarb stalks
    6. 100 grams, extra caster sugar

    Method

    • Heat the oven to 180°C/ 360°F/gas mark 4.
    • Beat the butter and caster sugar in a bowl until light and creamy add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Gently fold in the sifted flour until you have a batter of dropping consistency.
    • Cut the rhubarb stalks into 2cm lengths; discarding any, leaves arrange loosely in a buttered one-litre pie or baking dish and scatter with the 100 grams of extra caster sugar.
    • Spoon the batter mixture on top of the fruit in clumps then smooth out the clumps to cover the rhubarb bake for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden.
    • Serve with rich cream or with velvety smooth custard and enjoy



    Notes

    The outlandishly coloured vegetable that thinks it’s a fruit. Rhubarb makes deliciously comforting puddings but its sharpness works extremely well with meat and oily fish dishes (the duck recipe below is a resounding success). Forced rhubarb (grown in the dark) has yellowish leaves and usually appears in January. The field-grown variety replaces it around April and is less tender but often more flavourful. Rhubarb was used as a medicine in ancient China. It was brought to Europe by Marco Polo and has been eaten as a food since the eighteenth century. Rhubarb is a good source of fibre and contains moderate levels of vitamin C and calcium. Studies have linked the fibre from rhubarb in the diet with reduced cholesterol levels. When buying choose crisp, firm, plump stalks with good colour. When kept in the fridge, fresh rhubarb will stay in reasonable condition for 1-2 weeks. Raw and cooked rhubarb freeze well. To prepare, wash and trim both ends of the stalks, and discard the poisonous leaves. Rhubarb, in particular the later field-grown variety, is very tart and requires considerable sweetening.

    As with other relatively acidic foods it is recommended that it’s not cooked using aluminium pots



    Enhanced by Zemanta

    February, What’s in Season This Month


    February the shortest month and the only month with fewer than 30 days, so we have to pack a lot in, within a short space of time, at the start of every month we plan and see what’s available, where it comes from and then we somewhat plan our menus around the information we have, not that we stick firmly to them, cooking is too much fun for that and when shopping in the markets and smaller stores you always seem to find something that the mainstream shops and supermarkets don’t have.
    I have to say though that February is not one the finest of months for the cook although this year we have been blessed and had a good sharp frost that means that the Brussels sprouts are very sweet and the cabbages, kale, carrots, and parsnips are good.

    All the winter root crops are still going strong and this is the month for early winter cauliflower, leeks are really flourishing now, so turn them into
    creamy soups or blanch them and serve in salads, turnips, protected spinach, swede, celeriac, chard, forced rhubarb, and carrots potatoes, apples, and pears are still available and mushrooms are available most of the year, so that all important date this month the 14th St. Valentine’s day you will be able to cook up a very romantic meal with some superb ingredients.


    I think that this is the time of year for all those delightful roasts, slow cooked, rich warming casseroles with lots of perfect floury potatoes like Maris Piper and King Edwards, along with rich earthy root vegetables and sweet onions


    Also don’t forget to look out for savoy and green cabbages, which should be coming in now these come in all shapes and sizes at this time of year, the pointed spring cabbages are particularly sweet, while dimpled savoy cabbage leaves are ideal for stuffing.

    This weekend we had the first of the British greens from Tesco’s and they are superb jam packed full of flavour and very sweet.


    The fishing has been quite good this last couple of weeks and although somewhat scarce cod is at its best this time of year as is Hake, Pollack, Whiting, and Pouting.

    You know we must start using these four fish a lot more they are all cousins to the cod and haddock plus they are full of flavour and much more affordable so come on be bold and give them a try.


    Mussels are affordable, delicious, and provide a superb meal for all the family, and although not as inexpensive as mussels, the halibut is a majestic fish and outstanding pan fried, poached or baked; the same can be said for brill and turbot.


    Beef, lamb and pork is good this month and our local butcher has some ox-tail and beef brisket in that is just so tasty we have already cooked a beef pot-roast and slow braised ox-tail, just have a look at my recipe for beef pot-roast.


    Fresh wild game is just about finished for the season now but hare is still in season and wild venison is still good as are rabbit. What is more guinea fowl is widely available, this petite bird is related to the chicken, and its slightly gamey but tantalizing flavour makes it an exciting alternative it’s smaller so all through cooking, keep it moist, in addition why not try a delicious goose this month they really are a flavoursome bird.


    Fruit at Its Best
    Apples, Forced Rhubarb, Pears


    Vegetables at Their Best

    Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (Maincrop), Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Salsify, Shallots, Spinach, Swede and Turnips


    Herbs, nuts etc. this month;

    Chestnuts, Chives, Coriander, Mushrooms (Cultivated), and Wild Mushrooms, Parsley (Curly) Truffles (Black)


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

    Beef, Chicken, Duck, Goose, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Hare, Mallard, Partridge, Pork, Rabbit, Turkey, Venison And Wood Pigeon,


    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    Brill, Clams, Cockles, Cod, Conger Eel, Crab, Dab, Dover Sole, Eel, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Plaice, Scallops, Sea Bream, Skate, Squid, Turbot And Winkles.


    Look out for our very own native oysters they are in season and at their very best now, delicately flavoured with a taste that compares to the sea itself they are just about the most sought after oyster in the world, I also suggest that you look for farmed Pacific (rock) oysters which have an altogether subtler taste at this time of year again they are in their prime and a lot easier on the pocket.
    Oysters are regarded as a special treat but restaurateur Ben Wright, who runs the Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm, argues: “Oysters are for us all to enjoy and we should dispel the mystery that surrounds them”.
    Is it true you should only eat them if there is a letter “r” in the month, between September and April?
    “It’s true of native oysters which can’t be harvested in the summer spawning period, Pacific’s are all year round,” says Ben. How should you eat them? “Add lemon juice and let the oyster speak for itself. Pacific’s stand up better to cooking and are great deep-fried in breadcrumbs.”
    Try them grilled with Parmesan, in beef and oyster pie or fried in cornflour and served in a buttered baguette (The Original Po’boy Sandwich). They are high in protein, low in fat and contain testosterone-boosting zinc, hence their aphrodisiac reputation.
    Pick those with undamaged shells and a pleasant smell. They should be tightly closed or should snap shut when tapped. If not the oyster is dead and should not be eaten. Store live oysters in the fridge wrapped in a damp tea towel and eat as soon as possible.
    To open (or shuck) an oyster, use a knife with a short, thick blade and wear protective gloves. Insert at the hinge and twist, sliding the blade up to cut the muscle that keeps the shell shut.


    The Latest Grocery News for February 2011

    Sales of sustainable seafood soar in UK supermarkets;
    Consumers are favouring Coley, Dab, Mussels, Squid, and Sardines over the staple Salmon, Cod, and Tuna following the programmes on television, which highlighted the wasteful use of “discard” in fishing practices while encouraging shoppers to take the pressure off popular fish stocks by being more adventurous in what they eat.
    The cook and Guardian writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, credited with boosting demand for higher-welfare chicken three years ago, has taken the lead in the new campaign. Programmes from fellow chef Jamie Oliver have shown consumers new ways of cooking less popular species such as Mussels, Squid, and Trout.
    Sainsbury’s said sales of “by catch” from its fresh fish counter had been “promising” overall, while sales of Pollack had leapt by 167% week on week. It said customers had responded well to the fish featured in Jamie Oliver’s programmes with sales of British and MSC-certified mackerel up 60% and mussels up 16%.
    Sales of its sustainable “line and pole caught” canned tuna increased by 17% over the last week, while sales of organic salmon grew by 16% and normal salmon sales remained unchanged.
    Tesco, the UK’s biggest fish retailer, said it had seen an increase in sales of between 25 and 45% for fresh sardines, coley, brown crab, sprats, and whiting in the week since the first programmes. It said in a statement: “We sell around 40 species of fish on our fresh counters and our staff are trained to advise customers on trying new varieties. Sales of fresh cod, herring, mussels, mackerel, and canned tuna also increased compared to last week.”
    But the supermarket was singled out by Fearnley-Whittingstall for misleading labelling on its canned tuna, leading the company to pledge to catch 100% of its own-brand canned tuna using the “pole and line” method. Tesco last week came fifth out of the major supermarkets in a 2011 league table of sustainable tuna, compiled by Greenpeace.
    Waitrose said sales of seafood overall were up by 15% – with most of this increase being attributed to species that have traditionally been less popular. Sales of frozen coley were up by 36%, frozen mackerel up 31% and Dover sole up 163%. A spokeswoman for Waitrose said: “There has also been strong demand for dabs, which we sell frozen. This week we are launching sprats (a fish that has almost been forgotten by UK consumers) and are looking at introducing dabs and coley on our service counters over the coming weeks. We are also introducing Welsh flounder – a species commonly discarded.”
    Ally Dingwall, aquaculture and fisheries manager at Sainsbury’s said: “Fish Fight has had a direct impact on consumer behaviour. It’s encouraging to see a positive shift towards less popular and by catch fish, and if we can establish continued demand, fishermen will land and sell more of these species, and it may potentially become targeted species. In the last week, our fish sales have risen across the board: from fresh to counter to frozen fish.”
    Asda reported “really strong sales across the whole of the fish category in the last week, up 10% on the previous week” with particular growth in the sales of products included in Jamie Oliver’s recipes. Sales of trout fillets, for example, rose by 56%, whole sardines 66% and whole mackerel up by 115%.
    Marks & Spencer said it had ordered in over a third more stock than it did for its peak Christmas week. Richard Luney, M&S fish expert, commented: “We had our biggest ever week in the history of M&S on fish sales last week, sales were up 25% versus this time last year. One of the key highlights was on our line–caught tuna that had a record week – so the importance of avoiding purse seined [a large net that catches entire schools of fish] fishing methods obviously really hit home.”
    As part of the Fish Fight campaign, consumers have been urged to add their signatures to a letter to the European fisheries minister, Maria Damanaki, calling for the elimination of discards to be elevated to a top priority in the forthcoming review of the European common fisheries policy. Even before the programmes were aired, the letter attracted over 35,000 signatories but this has now risen to well over 500,000. Today, Fearnley-Whittingstall urged consumers: “Please keep spreading the word. Half a million supporters today – less than a week after our shows went out! I wonder if a million sign-ups is a crazy dream.


    School children cook in Clarence House kitchens for the first time,

    For the first time, lunch in Clarence House was cooked by school children today. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall invited the winning schools from last year’s British Food Fortnight School Challenge to Clarence House to cook their chosen dishes for lunch. And with a special twist, Her Royal Highness invited the BBC’s Hairy Biker chefs, Dave Myers & Simon King, to work with the children to help them prepare their meal.
    The competition was held last year as part of the national food promotion, British Food Fortnight. Inspired by the Hairy Bikers’ ‘Mums Know Best’ television programme, secondary schools were challenged to design and cook a meal based on recipes that would have been used in their school’s part of the country by previous generations.
    The winners, Northfield Academy near Aberdeen and Greencroft Business & Enterprise Community School in Durham, travelled to London to cook their winning dishes: Cock-A-Leekie Soup, Rabbit Pie, and Cranachan with Petticoat Tails.
    The lunch, which was attended by leading supporters of the national food promotion, commemorated the 10th anniversary of British Food Fortnight and the event’s plans for 2012 when it will run at the same time as the London Olympics making sure that British food is number one when the eyes of the world are upon us.
    Jake Mossom, from Greencroft Business & Enterprise School said: “How many people can say they have cooked for royalty? To come to Clarence House to cook a meal is a dream come true – I will never forget it. It has been such fun learning about recipes that used to be cooked by previous generations and has really made me appreciate all the wonderful local ingredients there are. And Her Royal Highness said it was delicious!”


    Retailers urged to follow Asda on pork;

    THE National Pig Association (NPA) has praised Asda for ‘leading the way’ in helping pig farmers during the current crisis period.
    The Leeds-based retailer has agreed to pay an additional 8p/kg for its Asda Pork Link members.
    The NPA welcomed the move as ‘good start’ but is urging he retailer to extend the price increase to all its pig meat suppliers and has urged other retailers to follow suit.
    “The NPA is pleased to see Asda leading the way in addressing the current pig farmer profitability crisis. This is a good start and NPA will be working with Asda to ensure that the full 8p goes directly to ALL producers supplying Asda,” NPA chairman Stewart Houston said.
    “We trust that Asda’s initiative will encourage others to follow suit quickly so that very soon the price paid to producers will increase significantly to reflect the true production cost of high welfare, British pigs for Red Tractor pork, bacon, ham, and sausages.”
    He said the NPA was also pleased with Asda’s commitment to review their sourcing policy with a view to including more high welfare, assured British pork, and pork products on their key lines. Mr Houston said he hoped the moved would take Asda ‘to the levels of their competitors’ in its sourcing policy.
    Asda stores chief executive and President Andy Clarke said: “We understand it’s a difficult time for pig farmers and we hope the feed price supplement being offered to our Pork Link members will help ease some of the pressure.”
    High feed costs and competition from cheap imports, compounded by the recent German dioxin crisis, mean UK producers are currently losing more than £21 per pig, while the industry as a whole lost £27 million in 2010, according to levy body BPEX.
    Earlier this week NFU Scotland named and shamed Asda and Tesco as the worst offenders among the major retailers for ‘shunning home produced pork and chicken in favour of cheap imports’. An NFUS investigation of supermarket shelves found that ‘virtually all’ Asda’s bacon was imported, as were gammon and bacon joints, while its value range of pork chops were a mix of French and German.
    Tesco’s ‘3 for £10’ offer was on Dutch chicken and pork and ‘no British bacon appeared available’, while fresh pork shelves, despite carrying a ‘Specially Selected Scotch’ banner, were stocked with Dutch, French and Northern Irish product, NFUS said.
    “At the very time when we need UK supermarkets to stand by UK producers, this quick look at the shelves has found Tesco and Asda appearing to shun producers here while making the most of the opportunities presented by the collapse in prices seen in Europe,” NFUS president Jim McLaren said.
    In contrast, Morrisons ‘continued to demonstrate a considerable commitment to Scottish and British produce’, NFUS said.


    Asda Told To Change Price Guarantee Advertising;

    Asda has been ordered to change its “misleading” price guarantee adverts following complaints from rival supermarkets.
    The retailer’s original price guarantee advertising promised to refund customers the difference during their next shop if they found groceries cheaper at the other major supermarket chains.
    However, Tesco and Morrisons complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the ads were misleading as they suggested that Asda was generally cheaper than its main competitors, despite the including groceries and non-food items which they claim were excluded from the price comparison.
    Asda responded to the complaints by insisting that their methodology for comparing prices between the retailers was robust, accurate and supported by Clearcast, which approves ads before they go on TV.
    But the ASA upheld, or partly upheld, four of the nine complaints against the Walmart-owned retailer, after ruling that it failed to make it clear that the price guarantee did not apply to non-grocery products that appeared prominently in the ads.
    A statement from the advertising watchdog said: “We told Asda to ensure their ads did not suggest their price guarantee applied to all items, including non-grocery items and items that were specifically excluded, or that their savings claims referred to shopping generally rather than specific items, if that was not the case.”
    The ASA ruled that the five adverts involving the Asda Price Guarantee tagline must not appear again in their current form.
    Asda said it was satisfied with the outcome and remains committed to the Asda Price Guarantee and its recently launched 10 per cent cheaper price promise.


    Local Shopping

    Tachbrook Street Market (2)Tachbrook Street Market
    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1
    Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm
    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico
    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436
    Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.


    Dates for your diary:

    Spring 2011 – Pimlico Food Festival


    imageOn Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market
    Sonny’s stall this week was a picture it is great to see such fresh produce full of lively colours, what was on offer? Well there were Apples Cox’s from Kent to be exact, English Sonny's Fruit and Veg StallBraeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, English Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Sonny's Fruit and Veg StallParsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.
    Our Local Butchers have been getting in
    imageBeef, lamb, and pork is good this month and our local butcher Freemans has some ox-tails and beef brisket in that is just so tasty his fore-rib of beef looked just about perfectly hung and at under £14 per kilo is probably the cheapest in London you really must give the classically trained butcher a go and just to see a real traditional butcher shop is a treat.
    At Alhayat we bought some British veal chops at under £9 a kilo and they were very tasty and their Scottish lamb is fantastic.
    imageOur Local Fishmonger
    Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market;
    You have your choice of steaks and fillets and we had 2 large thick fillet pieces for under £6.00 so along with the sweet rough brown shrimps we also bought our Saturday night Fishmonger, Jon Norris (5)special, dinner was less than £10.00
    His display as usual was a picture with Cornish Brill, Clams including sweet plump Razor Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, and a whole Cod one of the biggest I had seen for a while, Crab, Haddock, Cornish Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, grey Mullet, Lobster,Fishmonger, Jon Norris (5) Scottish Mackerel, Mussels, Monkfish, Cornish Octopus, there was Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, Prawns in the shell we bought a pint of them and they were so sweet and succulent we both wished we had purchased more, there were Native Oysters, Rock Oysters, Scallops from the Isle of Man, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting, and Fishmonger, Jon Norris (8)some of the biggest Whelks (Buckies) that I have seen in many a year
    Almost all Jon’s fish is sourced from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts and his prices are so reasonable you have got to give this gifted and extraordinary fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry, I promise.Smile

    Recipes for February
    Roasted Fillets of Pollack with Brown Shrimps (1) [1600x1200]Roasted Fillets of Pollack with Brown Shrimps
    When we were at the Great Tree Hotel our fishmonger used to ring early every morning letting me know what the local catch was and the prices and during February, March and April Pollack was always plentiful and this was one of the ways we cooked it. It was especially popular with our French guests, we still cook it today but now just for the 2 of us, and sometimes I use cod, haddock or whiting if the Pollack isn’t available.
    Serves / Makes:        2 servings
    Prep-Time:                 60 minutes
    Cook-Time:                8 minutes
    You Will Need
    For the Pollack
    2 x 200 gram fillets, Pollack, use the thickest part
    1 teaspoon, sea salt
    2 tablespoons, olive oil for frying/roasting
    15 grams, plain flour for dusting
    2 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves
    Zest of ½ a lemon, finely shredded
    For The Shrimps
    200 grams, brown shrimps, cooked and peeled
    100 grams unsalted butter
    ¼ teaspoon, ground white pepper
    ¼ teaspoon, ground mace
    ¼ teaspoon, ground cayenne pepper
    1 small bay leaf
    ½ tablespoon, lemon juice
    1 tablespoon each of finely chopped fresh chives and curly parsley
    Method
    Roasted Fillets of Pollack with Brown Shrimps (8)Place the Pollack fillets on a plate and sprinkle with the salt, chill uncovered for at least 1 hour, this will draw out the excess moisture and make the fish a little firmer, brush off the excess salt and pat dry with kitchen paper and chill.
    Preheat the oven to 220°C/400°F/Gasmark 7. Put the flour and thyme into a shallow dish or plate, season with salt and pepper and stir to mix, add the fish, and coat well shaking off the excess flour. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat, add the fish skin side down and cook for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp the skin, transfer to a roasting tin, skin side down, scatter with the lemon zest and roast for 5 to 8 minutes or until just cooked through.
    While the Pollack is roasting prepare the shrimps by melting the butter in a frying pan then add the ground white pepper, mace, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf allow the butter to cool until it is just warm, remove the bay leaf. Bring back to a medium heat until foaming and add the shrimps mix well to coat the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes now add the lemon juice and herbs.
    By this time the Pollack should be cooked place the pollock onto 2 plates and pour the shrimps and foaming butter over the Pollack fillets, serve, and Enjoy!
    Notes
    Pollock or Pollack is one more of those fish which is frequently disregarded by consumers in this country, who instead plump for Cod or Haddock.
    Our Celtic cousins across the Channel take another view stop at any fish restaurant in Brittany and ‘Lieu Jaune’ (Pollock) will habitually be the daily special or main attraction on the menu.
    The worth that the French place on Pollack is reflected by the price they are will charge, conventionally Pollock have been caught either by inshore fishermen using hand lines around the rocks or as a extra catch by fishermen fishing for cod and other round fish type. Nevertheless, improved access to the French market has resulted in increasingly rising prices paid at first auction for Pollock. As a consequence, local fishermen are fishing for Pollock with hand lines and gill nets, fishing in their preferred locale;
    In reaction to mounting prices and the ever-increasing price placed on line caught fish, talks are presently being held about the labelling of Pollock in the same way that line caught Bass are labelled (see www.linecaught.org.uk ) providing “line-to-plate” traceability.
    Another good reason to try Pollack is that around 90% of the Pollock landed in the UK is caught off the south west coast and landed into Cornish Ports landings are steady at just over 1000 tonnes per annum and the stock levels are said to be ‘stable’ by ICES Fisheries Scientists.
    Pollack is available most of the year but more plentiful in the first and second quarters of the year, with 60% of the annual catch being taken in February, March and April.


    Beef Pot Roast with Vegetables
    BrisketAn inexpensive, satisfying, and oh-so-rich feast roasted in the pot and once assembled it needs little attention this dish makes its own gravy while it cooks. Furthermore it is so delicious the next day when used for leftovers, seeing that the flavours mature with time.
    Lord and Lady Hanson enjoyed a good beef pot roast especially when made with the wine they were going to have with the meal and we still enjoy this beef pot roast above all in the winter months when you can just put it in the oven and leave it for 2 or 3 hours while you just chill out and wait for a very unique dish.
    Serves / Makes:        6 servings
    Prep-Time:                 30 minutes
    Cook-Time:                3 hours
    You Will Need
    1 ½ to 2 kilos rolled brisket
    2 tablespoons, olive, or vegetable oil
    6 shallots, peeled and left whole, or 1 large onion, roughly chopped
    2 large carrot cut into 5cm/2inch chunks
    4 celery stalks, cut into 5cm/2inch chunks
    300 grams, swede, cut into 5cm/2inch chunks
    300 grams, potatoes, cut into 5cm/2inch chunks
    6 regular or 1 large Portobello mushroom, cut into 1 inch chunks
    200mls vegetable stock, we sometimes use the Knorr gel stocks
    100mls, good red wine
    1 tablespoon, Worcestershire sauce
    2 tablespoons, tomato purée
    1 bay leaf
    3 sprigs fresh thyme
    Beurre Manié made with 1 tablespoon flour and 25 grams softened butter
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Method
    Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300F° / gas mark 2.
    Heat the oil over a high heat in a large oven-proof casserole and brown the meat on all sides. Place on a plate. Add the shallots or onion, carrot and celery to the casserole and fry until beginning to go brown at the edges, about 5 minutes. Place the meat on top of the vegetables and add the swede, potatoes, and mushrooms.
    Make up the stock, add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée and pour over the roast add the bay leaf and thyme, salt and pepper and bring to the boil, Secure with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 2½ to 3 hours.
    After the cooking time, drain off the liquid, arrange the meat and vegetables on a serving platter, and keep warm. Make the Beurre Manié by mixing the butter and flour to a paste. Bring the liquid to the boil and whisk in the Beurre Manié to thicken the sauce taste for seasoning and serve with the pot roast.
    Serve and Enjoy!
    Notes
  • Moist heat is a must
  • Instead of wine and stock, you can use just wine, beer, ale, stout or all stock it all depends on you.
  • The cuts of meat used for pot roast have less fat than steaks and long, slow cooking with liquid (also called braising) tenderizes the meat fibres.
  • Whether the pot roast is cooked on the stove, in the oven or in the crock-pot, you may brown the meat first on all sides. This improves the flavour and appearance of the meat.
  • The high heat used during browning caramelizes the sugars and proteins in the meat, which results in a rich flavour.
  • If the recipe doesn’t call for browning, you don’t have to worry about it.
  • Season the meat before browning for best flavour.
  • Common cuts used for pot roast include: chuck, brisket, top round and bottom round
  • Did you know that Sauerbraten is a famous German variety of pot roast and that our own Lancashire Hotpot is a type of pot roast?
    Beurre Manié (French “kneaded butter”), is a dough, made up of equal parts of soft butter and flour, it is used to thicken soups and sauces. By kneading the flour and butter together, the resulting paste/dough is a good thickener. When the Beurre Manié is whisked into a hot or warm liquid, the butter melts, releasing the flour particles without creating lumps.
    Beurre Manié should not be confused with roux, which is also a thickener made of equal parts of butter and flour, but which is cooked before use. Unused Beurre Manié can be stored in a covered dish or jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
    Start with 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon of softened butter, Work the butter and flour together by hand, once the flour is incorporated into the butter your Beurre Manié is finished and prepared to add to your stews, soups, and sauces, remember though to just add it a little at a time, making sure that it is stirred well in.
  • Roast pheasant with savoy cabbage, pancetta and chestnut recipe (telegraph.co.uk)
  • Chefsopinion

    Real Food & Real Opinions

    WordPress.com

    WordPress.com is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

    Life in the Foothills

    Life...And What I Make of It!

    Brooklyn Locavore

    One Brooklynite's adventure of eating, cooking and living local. Food, farms, recipes and resources from a tiny Brooklyn kitchen

    GreenGinger

    Pursuing the abundance of a closer walk with Christ

    Planting A Seed

    Healthy, plant-strong living

    Bangers & Mash

    Family food adventures - because it's fun to play with your food

    The Beach House France

    a unique seafront home for rent in Brittany

    Life with Lizzi

    Is there life after cupcakes?

    A Lot On Your Plate

    A budget friendly blog (now an official website) that gives creative & practical tips, recipes, and more, to help inspire, organize, & simplify your life!

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 27 other followers

    %d bloggers like this: