Eating seasonally and when possible locally, suggests eating food that is at its prime in terms of taste and nutritional contents, while at the same time cutting down on those food miles.
Every month, I hope to publish on my blog a guide to what’s in season the main points are going to be about fresh and locally produced (specifically British) foodstuffs and what we are producing ourselves on the balcony.
August trapped between two seasons, the earliest days can be somewhat the warmest time of the year, but by the month’s end, there’s a slight nip in the air.
In the kitchen it is a time of change too, as the first autumn root crops such as parsnips, carrots and kohlrabi, full of sweetness and flavour, start to appear in the shops.
This time is also a peak holiday month, you may be going on holiday yourself and in the United Kingdom if self catering you will be nicely surprised at the quality of the local foods, especially in Devon and Cornwall with products like clotted cream, fresh strawberries and Cornish crab.
Wild salmon and wild sea trout are at their peak just now, try baking them in foil having first slashed their skins and seasoned them well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, Lobster is also good as is Crab, and shrimp.
Fruit at Its Best
We are getting the second cropping of strawberries and Scottish raspberries, loganberries as well as honeydew melons and water melons. Just coming in are, Greengages, English plums and Discovery apples should be here by the end of the month look on the market stalls for Apricots, Raspberries, Plums, Apricots, Blackberries, Greengages, Redcurrants, Figs, Nectarines, Damsons, Loganberries, Melons.
Vegetables at Their Best
While Just Appearing Are The Main Crop Potatoes Such As, King Edward And Salad Potatoes Like, Charlotte, Pink Fir Apple And Belle De Fontenay, Radicchio, Runner Beans, New Season Parsnips, Onions And Outdoor Tomatoes.
Also keep and eye out For Artichoke, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Courgettes, Cucumber, Curly Lettuce, Fennel, French Beans, Iceburg Lettuce, Leeks, Curly Lettuce, Mangetout, Marrow, Onions, Peas, Peppers (Capsicum), Potatoes (Maincrop), Radishes, Red Cabbage, Rocket, Runner Beans, Savoy Cabbage, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Green Cabbage, Sweetcorn, and Watercress
Meat at Its Best
On Sonny’s Market Stall in Tachbrook Street
Our Local Celebrity Fishmonger Jon Norris has been getting in
Sea trout, or salmon trout, is a fish that combines the best features of the trout with its delicate and tender texture, and the salmon with its fine flavour and pinky flesh. Sea trout are so called because they swim to the sea to feed and fatten up before returning to the fresh water of the river to spawn. The result is a delicious fish that can be cooked as salmon, either poached in wine with herbs, baked in foil, baked covered in yogurt and cream, or pan-fried in butter with capers and served with new potatoes.
- 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.
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.
Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (ie 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.
My Recipe for August
A generous seafood spectacular of crab, clams, mussels, monkfish, calamari, shrimp, and tomatoes braised in a fennel perfumed stew, served with fresh crusty sourdough.
I first had this soup/stew at Cioppino’s restaurant in San Francisco, and this is the nearest recipe for that most superb dish
Cioppino is a hearty and flavourful seafood soup which is inimitably San Franciscan. The starting point of both the dish and the name came from the Italian fishermen in the early 1900’s, when Fisherman’s Wharf was still called Meigg’s Wharf. Someone would make the rounds of the moored fishing boats, calling out for donations to a communal, celebratory stew. One fisherman would toss a nice, fat fish into the bucket; another would drop in a succulent Dungeness crab, another some herbs and vegetables. The cry that encouraged each donation was: “Chip In! Chip In!” But coming from an Italian throat, this American slang had to end in a vowel. And the “in” was, of course “een”, and so “Chip-een-o” was born.
It’s been 100 years, the Italian fishermen are still here, and so is Cioppino, and I haven’t heard a better story.
Serves / Makes: 6 servings
Prep-Time: 15 minutes
Cook-Time: 1 ½ hours
You Will Need;
- 3 tablespoons, olive oil
- 50 grams, butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 leek, cut in half lengthways and sliced
- 2 sticks, celery, diced
- 1 head, fennel, chopped
- 4 cloves, crushed garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon, dried oregano
- 3 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon, saffron threads
- ¼ teaspoon, white pepper
- 1 tablespoon, fennel seeds
- 2 tins, chopped tomatoes (2 x 400g tins)
- 1 roasted red pepper, diced
- 400 mls, fish stock or clam juice
- 400 mls, white wine
- 1 teaspoon, Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon, Tabasco sauce or to taste
- ½ teaspoon, sea salt
- 6 or 12 crab claws or 1 Dungeness crab (about 800 grams), cracked and cleaned, we prefer the crab claws in the United Kingdom as it is so difficult to get Dungeness crab.
- 450 grams, halibut fillet or Monkfish, cut into 1 inch slices, monkfish is nice in this dish or you could use snapper.
- 250 grams, squid (calamari) cut into rings, use the tentacles as well
- 24 large prawns, peeled and de-veined
- 18 mussels in shell, scrubbed and cleaned
- 18 clams in shell, scrubbed and cleaned
- ½ bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Heat the oil and butter in a large pan over a medium heat and add the onions, leeks, celery, fennel, fennel seeds, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, white pepper, and saffron.
- Cook and stir until the onions and leeks are softened, add the tomatoes, fish stock or clam juice and wine bring it all to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt Worcester sauce and Tabasco sauce then add the mussels, clams, shrimp, and diced roasted pepper and bring back to the boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the crab and calamari, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the mussels and clams open, discarding any that do not open.
- Ladle into individual serving bowls top with the chopped parsley and serve hot in large shallow bowls alongside crusty sourdough bread, a mixed salad and a nice chilled white or rosé wine and don’t forget to also serve it with large bibs, crab shell crackers, an extra bowl for the shells, and finger bowls if you wish and enjoy!
You can vary the seafood according to the catch of the day, yours or your fishmonger’s