Category Archives: Balcony Gardening

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

Vegetable of the Week, Watercress


Watercress growing on our balcony

We have been growing watercress on our balcony without any problems as it is a quick-growing semi-aquatic plant that flourishes in a little alkaline water just look at the photo the pot you can see is watercress you just need to keep it damp.

And I will always remember when we were at the Willow Tree Restaurant going out everyday to the stream which ran through the property to pick watercress for that day’s service.

Watercress beats other salad leaves hands down, give all your salads a boost with the lively punch of watercress, you know what? Whizz it into a soup or add it to some parsley, tarragon, basil, and chives and make a chilled green sauce (Sauce Verte).
Watercress is a very fast growing semi-aquatic plant that thrives in a slightly alkaline water, with deep green leaves, and crisp, paler stems, watercress is connected to mustard and is one of the strongest tasting salad leaves to be had, Landcress is almost as strong.
It has a spicy, somewhat bitter, peppery taste and is very nutritious, containing large amounts of iron, calcium, vitamins A, C and E.

Uncooked watercress imparts a peppery yet silky tone to dishes and is also very good for you it is very rich in vitamins C, calcium, iron, and folic acid, it is also a cruciferous plant containing anti-cancer phytochemicals such as beta-carotene and flavonoids (See Cruciferous Vegetables List – Cancer Prevention and Cancer Fighting Veggies for more information.

The scientific name for watercress is “Nasturtium Officinale” and did you know that “Nasturtium” is Latin for “nose twister”, which is a reference to the plant’s pungency.

Ever since the Romans graced our beautiful British isles watercress has been cultivated, it was mentioned in Irish poetry since the 12th century and has been cultivated in southern England since the early 1800s.

Watercress was once trendy as a tea, freshly made with lemon and sugar, and it has been used all over Europe and Asia as a tonic for a variety of ills.

Buying Watercress, 

  • Watercress is available all year round but is at its best from April until September.
  • It’s sold in either bunches or in bags, and is so good combined in a salad with milder salad leaves.
  • Look for fresh crisp, dark vibrant green leaves, with no sign of yellowing or wilting.

Storing Watercress,

Watercress is awfully delicate but can be kept in first-rate condition for a 2 or 3 of days by refrigerating it stems-down in a glass or bowl of water, covered with a plastic bag.

Preparing and Cooking Watercress,

  • Use it in salads in place of the universal rocket, or try watercress and smoked salmon sandwich.
  • It is a timeless soup ingredient and when cooked has a much milder flavour, did I say that when we were at the Willow Tree Restaurant at Bolton-le-Sands we had all the watercress we needed as it grew wild in the stream that ran through the grounds.
  • Wash, shake or spin dry just before you’re about to use it, don’t forget that both the leaves and stems are suitable for eating, just trim off any tough roots.
  • We like a roast duck served with a salad of watercress, rocket, and orange segments.
  • Combine with potatoes in a soup, or use in tarts and omelette’s, use to make white bread sandwiches or as a garnish for cooked foods such as game.


September, What’s in Season This Month


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.

Well this is the time of year we should be reaping all the good weather produce, wonderful juicy tomatoes and soft fruits, sweetcorn should be coming in as well as new season vegetables like chard, cauliflowers carrots and kohlrabi, Pumpkin, Squash, Kale and Leeks and pickling onions should be at their best as well as damsons and Victoria plums.

It’s the start of the Mussel season, and Plaice and Haddock are very good as is farmed Salmon and Trout, all flatfish are in their prime now that the breeding season is over with until next year, Dover sole, Plaice, Dabs, Brill, and Flounder are chubby and full of flavour Skate and large Bass are in plentiful supply and the Grey Mullet is at its best.

The first of this month saw the start of the Partridge and Wild Duck season and they should be very good this year. The Glorious Twelfth in August saw the opening of the Grouse season and they should be at a good price now, and Venison and Pigeon are good too.

Beans Runner and French, Chillies, Marrows, Peppers, Sweetcorn, Watercress, Tomatoes, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Egg Plants, Radicchio, Rocket (Arugula), Lettuces, and Globe Artichokes are superb. Moreover, just coming in are, Leeks, Pumpkins, New Season Parsnips, Brussels, and Fennel and whether you buy them in the shops or pick them in the woods and fields, a variety of different fungi are available from late summer onwards. Ceps and Chanterelles are among the most prized but other species such as parasol mushrooms and puffballs are well worth eating (you probably won’t find these in the shops, though). Plums (Especially Victoria), Greengages, Damsons and Discovery and Worcester eating apples as well as the superb cooking apple The Bramley Apple are appearing in the markets.

I have put two of our favourite recipes on the blog this month Tomato Soup this is because the Great British Tomato is now in full flow and those of you who grow your own will probably be having a glut and those who buy from the market stalls will find them coming down in price. And did I mention that it is the start of the British Mussel season and we just love the recipe for mussels I have include (see our recipes)

Fruit at Its Best

The hedgerows are abundant with boundless food, blackberries, damsons and elderberries, while the shops and markets are overflowing with juicy plums and ripe tomatoes (see our recipe for Tomato Soup). Apples, Bilberries, Blackberries, Blueberries, Damsons, Elderberries, Hazelnuts, Greengages, Loganberries, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, and Plums are truly outstanding this year

Vegetables at Their Best

Aubergines, Beetroot, Borlotti Beans, Calabrese, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Courgettes, Cucumber, Fennel, Garlic, Globe Artichokes, Horseradish, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lamb’s Lettuce, Onions, Pak Choi, Peppers, Rocket, Runner Beans, Salsify, Sorrel, Spinach, Squashes, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Watercress.

Meat at Its Best

There is plenty of game in season

so look out for Grouse, Partridge, Rabbit, Venison, Wood Pigeon, Autumn Lamb, Duck, Goose, are all at their most flavoursome now.

Fish and Seafood at Its Best

Whiting comes into season in September and should be readily available and of good quality this year, Whiting is a smaller fish from the Cod family and is of similar flavour; why not give it a try as it comes into season.

British mussels are in season throughout the autumn and winter months. The classic ‘Moules Mariniere’ is mussels quickly steamed in a mixture of white wine, shallots and herbs, and they can also be cooked in many other ways. Clean mussels thoroughly before cooking them, and discard any that have not opened.

Sea Bass and Black Bream are at the fishmongers as well as Brown Trout, Brill, Crab, Crayfish, Eels, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Native Oysters, Prawns, Rainbow Trout, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sprats, Squid, Turbot and Wild Salmon.

Local Shopping

On Sonny’s Stall in Tachbrook Street

Tachbrook Street Market (2)

They Are Showing Artichokes, Aubergines, Broad Beans, French Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Cabbages, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chard, Courgettes, Cucumber, Dandelion, Fennel, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Wild Mushrooms, Onions, Spring Onions, Peas, New Potatoes And The New King Edwards Are Really Tasty, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Squash, Swede, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress and it all looks as pretty as a picture but you must get there early are you will miss some of the new season items we missed the discovery apples just because I thought they would have plenty of them however, there were plenty of Blackberries, lovely plump juicy British Damsons just try making a jam from them and you will never buy jam again, also on the stall were Elderberries, Juicy Plums Apples, Bilberries, Blueberries, Greengages, Loganberries, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, And Plums, A true cornucopia of fruit, vegetables and salads.

Every day the stall is on we are constantly impressed in the way they really take pride in selling and displaying only the best quality produce and sadly that is something that one of the larger supermarkets can’t, won’t do, thank goodness for Sonny’s.

Our Butcher has been getting in

Still no local butcher isn’t it sad that an area like Pimlico hasn’t a butcher to supply us with the meat we all would like to purchase locally, ok there is the supermarkets but I believe that an independent butcher serves a better quality and more locally sourced product than the supermarkets.

Our Local Fishmonger has been getting in

Tachbrook St. Market, Jon's Fish Stall

Anyway after Jon abandoned us for a couple of weeks, I understand he must have a holiday, we did miss his smiling face and some of the best fish in London nevertheless he has now returned to us with a picture perfect display of Wild Red Bream (try these filleted with lemongrass and chilli roasted ratatouille), Wild Black Bream, Dorset Crab, Cornish Squid, Wild Black Tiger Prawns, Sweet succulent Cockles of which I had a generous pint and at £5 you just can’t go wrong.

The Scottish Plaice Fillets which we had for dinner on Friday were superb so fat and sweet and I’ll bet Jon had his work cut out filleting more. There is also Scottish langoustines, British Lobster live and freshly boiled, the Irish Organic Salmon is plump and enjoyable and will be very tasty served up with the brilliant green Suffolk Samphire that Jon had in abundance when I wrote this however it was selling fast.

In addition we must not forget the Cornish Cod steaks and fillets, large Skate wings, South-East coast crab claws, Yellow Fin Tuna, Scottish Plaice truly delicious and plump, Scottish Scallops, Sea Bass, Cornish Dover Sole, Cornish Red Mullet, Sardines, magnificent line caught Mackerel, Scottish Brill and Turbot, Sprats, and some extremely flavoursome Hake.

Almost all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts and don’t forget Jon’s tips to buying fish;

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.

    In The Garden

    Keep on picking and enjoying your beans, cucumbers and courgettes, it’s also time to dig up those potatoes, carrots, beetroots and turnips. Once the foliage has died, unearth your onions and add them to your harvested pile of goodies.

    Finally, don’t despair about your unripe tomatoes – simply pick them and pop them in a brown bag to ripen on their own.

    Recipes for September

    Alfredo’s Steamed Mussels

    Plump fresh mussels in a tomato broth, an old favourite dish from Alfredo’s Restaurant in Morecambe this was and still is a favourite way to cook mussels, we first had it like this in 1972 in Cala Millor, Mallorca and then when we moved to Bolton-le-Sands and discovered Alfredo’s restaurant in Morecambe we found they did an almost identical dish and it is one of the most delightful ways to serve one of our favourite shellfish.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 20 minutes

    Cook-Time: 30 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

    4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped

    1 cup dry white wine

    1 ½ kilos, mussels, scrubbed and debearded (see notes)

    2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley

    METHOD;

    Warm the oil in a large pan with a tight-fitting lid over low heat add the garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes.

    Add the tomatoes, increase the heat to high and stir for 1 minute more pour in the wine and bring to a boil.

    Add the mussels, cover, and steam, occasionally giving the pan a vigorous shake, until all the mussels have opened, about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Discard any that do not open.

    Transfer the mussels to a serving bowl and spoon the broth over the mussels and sprinkle with parsley serve and enjoy with fresh crusty bread

    Notes

    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 calories. They are also excellent for your heart, containing the highest amount of omega3’s of any shellfish (this is the naturally occurring fatty acid that is believed to lower blood pressure). Mussels with fries or Moules frites are a distinctive Belgian dish, you get a big bowl of steamed mussels, broth, and a side of frites.

    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 enthusiastic about, 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.

    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.

    Mussels are at their best in cold weather, so their season is usually from October to March. When you see them in a fishmonger’s, a sign of freshness is that most of them are tightly closed: if there are a lot of open mussels don’t bother. 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.

    The ritual of cleaning and preparing 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.

    Tomato Soup

    Making Tomato Soup Making Tomato SoupMaking Tomato SoupMaking Tomato SoupMaking Tomato Soup

    Making Tomato Soup

    The best of times to make tomato soup with your home-grown tomatoes is when they are at their most ripe and juicy, about September it will be grand. Wherever we have lived and worked we always had home-grown tomatoes and invariably a glut of tomatoes this soup was developed when we were at The Great Tree Hotel where we also made our own Tomato Ketchup and Chutney. When Lord Hanson had a chill or was just feeling a little low this was the soup he always asked for he said it always cheered him up.

    Serves / Makes: 4 as a main course with bread

    Prep-Time: 30 minutes

    Cook-Time: 60 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    900 grams, vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped

    3 tablespoon, olive oil

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    2 celery sticks, chopped

    200 grams, carrots, chopped

    1 bay leaf

    1 large sprig, fresh thyme

    ½ teaspoon, sugar

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    200 mls, Passata

    500 mls, vegetable stock

    100 mls, single cream to finish

    METHOD;

    Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion for 5 to 8 minutes over a gentle heat until almost softened but not browned.

    Add the garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaf and thyme and cook for a further 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, making sure the vegetables don’t stick to the base of the pan.

    Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and season well with salt and pepper cook for a few minutes, then stir in the passata and vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

    Remove the bay leaf and thyme, and then blend the soup in a liquidizer or food processor (we used to and sometimes still put the soup through a mouli as sometimes the tomato seeds when over processed can be bitter), this will probably have to be done in two batches.

    Pour the soup into a clean saucepan, passing it through a sieve if you want it really smooth then stir in the cream and check the seasoning and pour into bowls top with finely shredded basil if required and serve with fresh crusty bread, and Enjoy! We used to add a splash of dry sherry when serving at dinner parties.

    Notes

    Any remaining soup will keep in the fridge for a few days or can be frozen in individual servings. When reheating, make sure it’s heated thoroughly but don’t boil it as this will ruin the taste and texture of the soup.

  • Our Diminutive Balcony Garden 2010


    Once again this year we have the same Honeysuckle, which was planted in 2006 along with the variegated Ivy both, are doing very well.

    One tub still contains the Geraniums that Maureen planted in 2006 and is one of the biggest geraniums I have seen in one of the large tubs is some mint that we planted in 2006.

    Sunday, 07 March 2010

    We started from seed this year some Black Eyed Susan (Susie Mixed) and Morning Glory (Heavenly Blue) and if we just had a bit more room we would be trying other things as well, but with the room we have got we are very satisfied with what we have been growing. Again this year we are growing our own salad leaves, radish and tomatoes we have some special toms this year all grown from seed and some peppers; Pepper (sweet) minimix), Pepper (Sweet) Orange Baby and Capsicum Prairie Fire F1.

    Sunday, 28 February 2010

    In the kitchen we sowed some herbs in a nice little herb planter. The herbs we sowed were Parsley (curled), Oregano, Basil (Genovese), Chives, Chervil (plain), Coriander. Our salad leaves this year will include, Rocket (Arugula) mixed, mixed spicy salad leaves, Lambs Lettuce and Pea Shoot, our radish this year will be a mixture of French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe, Sparkler, White Turnip and Pink Beauty. All these are from Mr. Fothergill’s collection and the salads are all from the collection of Mr. Fothergill’s seed mats a superb way to sow your seeds.

    We sowed five each of Morning Glory (Heavenly Blue), Tomato (Moneymaker), Tomato (Tumbling Red), and Tomato (Black Russian). We also sowed the herbs Parsley, Chervil, Coriander, Oregano, Chives, and Basil into the herb planter/pot on the kitchen windowsill.

    Sunday, 14 March 2010

    We sowed for growing outside Thyme, Parsley (Festival), Capsicum (Prairie Fire F1), Pepper (Sweet) Minimix, Pepper (Sweet) Orange Baby.

    Sunday, 11 April 2010

    Today we really got on with our planting, we set the grow bag up with three tomato plants one Black Russian and two Moneymaker plants. In two nice little hanging type baskets, we planted two tumbling tom red tomatoes and four black-eyed Susan plants. We also put two tumbling tom red tomatoes in a couple of pots to hang on the trellis.

    We then sowed mixed radish (a mix of French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe, Sparkler, White Turnip, and Pink Beauty, lambs lettuce, mixed rocket, and pea shoots which we are really looking forward to harvesting in a few weeks time.

    We tidied up the mint as it was taking over the honeysuckle pot and planted a couple of morning glory plants that we had grown from seed. Later this week we shall be sowing our herbs.

    Monday, 12 April 2010

    Today I got on with planting out the peppers, thyme, parsley and sage we are keeping the Prairie Fire chilli peppers indoors on the window sill along with one each of Pepper (sweet) minimix), Pepper (Sweet) Orange Baby and we have left one Orange Baby out on the balcony in a good size pot hanging on the wall trellis.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    The tomato plants are doing really well I do like these Grow rings that we got some of our herb seeds haven’t germinated yet but we live in hope!

    The Black-Eyed Susan’s are doing well as are the Tumbling Tom Tomatoes and it looks like we shall be able to pick some rocket at the weekend. We are both really enjoying our little garden and we have decided that next year we are going to try a potato sack or barrel.

    Balcony 11-04-2010 (1) Balcony 11-04-2010 (2) Balcony 11-04-2010 (6)

    Technorati Tags: ,,

    Our Diminutive Balcony Garden 2010


    Once again this year we have the same Honeysuckle, which was planted in 2006 along with the variegated Ivy both, are doing very well.

    One tub still contains the Geraniums that Maureen planted in 2006 and is one of the biggest geraniums I have seen in one of the large tubs is some mint that we planted in 2006.

    Sunday, 07 March 2010

    We started from seed this year some Black Eyed Susan (Susie Mixed) and Morning Glory (Heavenly Blue) and if we just had a bit more room we would be trying other things as well, but with the room we have got we are very satisfied with what we have been growing. Again this year we are growing our own salad leaves, radish and tomatoes we have some special toms this year all grown from seed and some peppers; Pepper (sweet) minimix), Pepper (Sweet) Orange Baby and Capsicum Prairie Fire F1.

    Sunday, 28 February 2010

    In the kitchen we sowed some herbs in a nice little herb planter. The herbs we sowed were Parsley (curled), Oregano, Basil (Genovese), Chives, Chervil (plain), Coriander. Our salad leaves this year will include, Rocket (Arugula) mixed, mixed spicy salad leaves, Lambs Lettuce and Pea Shoot, our radish this year will be a mixture of French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe, Sparkler, White Turnip and Pink Beauty. All these are from Mr. Fothergill’s collection and the salads are all from the collection of Mr. Fothergill’s seed mats a superb way to sow your seeds.

    We sowed five each of Morning Glory (Heavenly Blue), Tomato (Moneymaker), Tomato (Tumbling Red), and Tomato (Black Russian). We also sowed the herbs Parsley, Chervil, Coriander, Oregano, Chives, and Basil into the herb planter/pot on the kitchen windowsill.

    Sunday, 14 March 2010

    We sowed for growing outside Thyme, Parsley (Festival), Capsicum (Prairie Fire F1), Pepper (Sweet) Minimix, Pepper (Sweet) Orange Baby.

    Sunday, 11 April 2010

    Today we really got on with our planting, we set the grow bag up with three tomato plants one Black Russian and two Moneymaker plants. In two nice little hanging type baskets, we planted two tumbling tom red tomatoes and four black-eyed Susan plants. We also put two tumbling tom red tomatoes in a couple of pots to hang on the trellis.

    We then sowed mixed radish (a mix of French Breakfast, Scarlet Globe, Sparkler, White Turnip, and Pink Beauty, lambs lettuce, mixed rocket, and pea shoots which we are really looking forward to harvesting in a few weeks time.

    We tidied up the mint as it was taking over the honeysuckle pot and planted a couple of morning glory plants that we had grown from seed. Later this week we shall be sowing our herbs.

    Monday, 12 April 2010

    Today I got on with planting out the peppers, thyme, parsley and sage we are keeping the Prairie Fire chilli peppers indoors on the window sill along with one each of Pepper (sweet) minimix), Pepper (Sweet) Orange Baby and we have left one Orange Baby out on the balcony in a good size pot hanging on the wall trellis.

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    The tomato plants are doing really well I do like these Grow rings that we got some of our herb seeds haven’t germinated yet but we live in hope!

    The Black-Eyed Susan’s are doing well as are the Tumbling Tom Tomatoes and it looks like we shall be able to pick some rocket at the weekend. We are both really enjoying our little garden and we have decided that next year we are going to try a potato sack or barrel.

    Balcony 11-04-2010 (1) Balcony 11-04-2010 (2) Balcony 11-04-2010 (6)

    Technorati Tags: ,,

    Our Diminutive Balcony Garden


    This year we have the same Honeysuckle which was planted in 2006 along with the variegated Ivy both are doing very well. One tub still contains the Geraniums that Maureen planted in 2006 and in one of the large tubs is some mint. We are now growing our own salad leaves and radish and if we just had a bit more room we would be trying other things as well, but with the room we have got we are very satisfied with what we have been growing.

    Japanese Honeysuckle Prolific (Lonicera Japonica Halls Prolific)

    clip_image002As its name suggests, this is an especially vigorous and free-flowering variety with masses of sweetly scented, tubular flowers from April to August, opening pure white and ageing to yellow. The handsome, dark green leaves are retained all year and in hot summers, the flowers may be followed by small purple-black berries. It looks lovely scrambling over an old boundary wall or growing through a robust, mature tree, or in our case up the wall and trellis work

    Garden care: Cut back established plants after flowering, removing a third of the flowering shoots. Apply a generous 5-7cm (2-3in) mulch of well-rotted compost or manure around the base of the plant in early spring.

    Ivy Common (Hedera Helix Oro Di Bogliasco)

    clip_image002[4]A handsome ivy with lustrous, three-lobed, dark green leaves splashed with golden yellow. It is a self-clinging, evergreen climber suitable for brightening or covering a shady wall or as groundcover, although it will lose its variegation if grown in deep shade. Mature plants bear spherical green flowers in autumn.

    Garden care: Keep moist during the winter months. Plants may be pruned at any time of the year to keep within bounds.

    Tomato and salad Crop This Year

    clip_image002[6]This year we are using for our large toms a variety called Turbo Elegance which is a grafted stock, they arrived from Dobies in April as plug plants and are doing very well.

    A vigorous growing variety, producing good trusses of standard size tomatoes of fine colour and delicious flavour.

    clip_image004As well as Tomato Tumbler F1 Plants

    This trailing British bred variety is ideal for hanging baskets and containers on the patio, producing up to 4kg (9 lb) of delicious fruit in a single season. This amazing tomato tumbler can be sown later than most and harvested before others are available. Bred for patio pots and hanging baskets, the plants cascade over the sides. We did start with three plants but I broke one planting out and a gust of wind one day sent the second plant flying onto the balcony floor we couldn’t save it so we only have the one plant up on the trellis we have had 750 grams off of it so far so not too bad really.

    Our salad leaves have been marvellous we have been harvesting them on a daily basis for 7 weeks now and they include, Rocket (Arugula) mixed, mixed spicy salad leaves, salad bowl red and green mixed, and radish French breakfast 3. All these are from Mr. Fothergill’s collection and the salads are all from the collection of Mr. Fothergill’s seed mats a superb way to sow your seeds. Today we have just sown some Lambs lettuce, Mizuna, Mustard Oriental red, Lettuce Salad bowl mixed and Watercress Aqua.

               
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