Category Archives: Food Blogs

Our Daily Recipe, Boursin and Bacon on Rustic Bread

Boursin and Bacon on Rustic Bread

I’m not too sure, how this came about but we have been making it since the early 1980’s, our nephew Dan might remember as he was always saying “Go on Aunty Maureen, just one more Please.”

He really loved Boursin cheese and his mother (My Sister Jayne) wasn’t all that happy as we were introducing him to expensive foods that were hard to obtain in Rishton, Lancashire back then.

However, whatever year it was it makes a superb lunch or supper dish, served with a tomato salad, and a chilled Chardonnay.

Serves / Makes:         4 servings

Prep-Time:                10 minutes

Cook-Time:               5 minutes

You Will Need;

340 grams, Boursin cheese

8 slices, cooked bacon

8 slices bread, any type of rustic country bread such as Pan de Campagne

1 tablespoon butter, softened


Spread each of 4 slices of bread with 85 grams of Boursin cheese, cut each bacon slice in half lengthwise.

Place 2 pieces of bacon (4 halves) on top of each of the prepared slices of bread and cover each prepared half with another slice of bread.

Evenly butter the top of each sandwich, place each sandwich butter side down in a frying pan over a medium heat.

While the first side is grilling, butter the second side of bread, cook until golden and crusty, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Carefully turn and cook until second side is golden, about 1-2 minutes more.

Serve and Enjoy


Fruit of the Week; The Blackberry

Fruit is in general a fleshy seed, a connected part of a specific plant; it is natural and for the most part safe to eat and when raw is usually quite sweet.

In general each and every one of us will love fruit, though there will be those who don’t.

Fruit is also healthy and is something which has equally in content flavour and nutrients.

Anyway enough of all that lets get to the Fruit of the week!

The humble blackberry picked by the ton in my childhood along the hedgerows and lanes of my home in Lancashire, epitomises the glorious end of summer and the start of autumn I can still see in my minds eye all of my friends descending on Tottleworth lane with all sorts of containers ready to pick these plump red-black fruits of which maybe half of those picked made it back home, we kids were always covered in the dried juice of the blackberries we had crammed into our mouths tasting the stored up summer days in those plump tasty fruits, can anything else bring back so many happy memories than this soft fruit?

As I have said the blackberry season bridges the end of summer and the beginning of autumn and their use can be personalized as a result, during August, we like to enjoy blackberries simply served with a little sugar and a lot of cream, later we love deliciously comforting hot pies and puddings made by themselves or by mingling blackberries with the first apples of the season, to glorious effect, Maureen’s mother made the best blackberry pies ever.

Then there is the jam and jelly again made with blackberries alone or mixed with fruits such as apples (a marriage made in heaven).

Blackberries have been grown wild and cultivated across Asia, Europe, and the Americas for thousands of years.

Archaeological records prove that European people ate them as long ago as 10,000 BC.

All through World War One, the children in England were given time off school to collect blackberries for the making of juice that was sent to the soldiers at the front to help sustain health.

Today there are over 2,000 varieties all through the cooler regions of the world. Blackberries are more highly prized as food in Britain and Northern Europe than anywhere else in the world.

Blackberries are (sorry I just couldn’t help this) Jam-Packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C and ellagic acid, which might provide protection against cancer, their countless tiny seeds make them a good source of fibre.

And they also contain salicylates, which are a group of analgesics that include the active substance in aspirin.

They have also been declared a “Super-Food” see this link “Superfood of the week: blackberries

Best British Season Is; July, August, September, October.

Buying Blackberries, Well, wild berries have a depth of flavour hardly ever rivalled by cultivated varieties.

So for a fun day out foraging, take a container and a walking stick or an umbrella, no not for the rain but as a useful tool for hooking branches, and search out brambles near you, steer clear of roadside or polluted spots. Even in cities, you can find blackberries growing on scrubland, canal side paths and in wooded areas.

On the other hand try a farmers’ market or a farm (good blackberries aren’t widely available in supermarkets as they’re difficult to transport intact).

You must look for fat, dry, darkly coloured fruit that are neither too firm nor too soft when buying always make sure the bottom of the container is free from stains from soft and squishy berries.

Trust your sense of smell to help you measure quality and ripeness.

Storing Blackberries, Unless you are freezing them don’t, it’s an exceptional person indeed who can consider storing blackberries!

Fresh, they will not keep even overnight without losing taste and form, and that’s without thinking about in the most infamous marauder of the freshly picked blackberry; the Hunter-Gatherers own family.

As I have said they do freeze very well, though, making a surplus a nice predicament to have. It’s a good idea to get a few bags in the freezer to use with apples in puddings throughout the winter.

As with other soft fruit, spread them in a single layer on a tray and freeze them before putting in a container, or why not simmer them briefly and freeze or refrigerate the resulting purée for a couple of days the purée is yummylicious on ice cream.

If you really want or need to store them keep them dry and cool and eat within a couple of days.

Preparing and Cooking Blackberries, Wash carefully before use, blackberries fluctuates in sweetness so fiddle with the amount of sugar you add to recipes according to taste.

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 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:

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!


Location: 58 Guildford Street, WC1N 3JH


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



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)


  • 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, Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

The noun vegetable indicates an edible plant or part of a plant, but frequently rules out seeds and generally sweet fruit, this in general means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant.

In a non-biological sense, the consequence of this word is in the main founded on culinary and cultural belief therefore, the use of the word is to some extent random and skewed. For example, some people believe mushrooms to be vegetables even though they are not biologically plants; they are fungi while others consider them a separate food category.

Anyway enough of all that let’s get to the vegetable of the week!

Here in the United Kingdom we often just use courgettes to make a very insipid ratatouille or use it in some appalling way to make a vegetarian dish, please try to avoid doing this to a poor vegetable that is just trying to please you.

The courgette is a delightful tender vegetable with a clean tantalizing flavour and although it wasn’t eaten very much in Europe before the 20th century it is believed to have been developed from the squash and squash have been cultivated in the Americas for more the 5 thousand years, today the courgette is very popular in Mexico and Japan and modern European cuisine would not be the same without the courgette.

And just like the aubergine, the courgette was brought to the interest of the British in the mid-twentieth century thanks to the writings of Elizabeth David.

Courgettes are in the same family as watermelons, gherkins, and cucumbers.

Courgettes are more often than not marrows harvested when very young, even though the older fruit of a number of kinds of squash may well also be sold as courgettes.

Best British Season Is;

June, July, August, September, October

Buying Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

You are going to be looking for the smaller, younger, firm, heavy courgettes they have more flavour, only buy those with unblemished bright glossy skins.

Storing Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

They do not keep for long so it is best to use them as soon as possible however they will keep for 3 to 5 days in the salad drawer of a fridge.

Preparing and Cooking Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

  • Wash well and trim both ends.
  • The courgette is a versatile ingredient which you can bake, fry, steam or stew according to the recipe you are using
  • Courgette flowers are often to be found on the menus of many French and Italian restaurants.
  • Smaller flowers are sometimes dipped in a tempura batter and deep fried, the larger flowers are typically stuffed with tomatoes and herbs or goat’s cheese.

Recipes for Courgettes

Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve 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 shellfish for its handiness, 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

  • White 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; 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 their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;

Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Best UK Season Is; May, June, July, August, September, October. With its shining, silver belly, and sparkling blue-grey stripes, the mackerel is a remarkable fish, almost flamboyant.

A great summertime favourite in Devon and Cornwall, Tony the head barman at the Bowd Inn used to go beach casting in Sidmouth in his time off and brought freshly caught mackerel back almost daily, Mmm Happy days.

Did you know that the mackerel is Britain’s only bona fide tropical inshore species, a close relative of the tuna so why not use it instead of Tuna for some of your recipes?

Mackerel isn’t a daintily flavoured fish and its intensity doesn’t always offer itself well to a straightforward ‘lemon and herbs’ pairing. Nonetheless given the right care, it is an incredibly moist, aromatic fish that makes a reasonably priced and very nourishing meal.

The mackerel is sea fish that swims in extremely great shoals, the species “Scomber scombrus” is a common fish in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, a number of other varieties are found in the Indo-Pacific and are an essential food source in Thailand and the Philippines.

Mackerel has been a dependably popular fish throughout European history the Romans used mackerel to make garum, a fermented fish sauce similar to those indispensable to Thai and Vietnamese cooking today.

Records show that the mackerel has been extensively consumed in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, according to his diary; Samuel Pepys breakfasted on mackerel on 30th May 1660 and in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) features the recipe Fennel Sauce for Mackerel.

Health professionals advocate eating at least one serving of oily fish, such as mackerel, each week, Mackerel is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin B12.

I myself believe that Mackerel is a frequently under valued fish, you know we are very lucky in this country to be surrounded by the sea, and have access to a truly plentiful supply of this species and with careful management of this fishery there’s no reason this shouldn’t keep on being so.
In fact thousands of tonnes of Mackerel are landed in British ports every year and what makes it even better to know is that Mackerel is fished in a controlled and sustainable way.
Plus and this is a big plus it’s flavoursome, inexpensive and has immense health benefits (rich in Omega 3s), just what the doctor ordered really!

Buying Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Look for mackerel with glossy bodies and brilliant eyes. They should have a firm feeling and be rigid; fresh mackerel won’t droop if held horizontally by the head, the freshest fish are liable to be found in good fishmongers or markets, subsequent to buying your mackerel be sure to keep it cool until you get home, when shopping for fish fresh or frozen we always use an insulated bag with 2 or 3 of those ice inserts.

Storing Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Oily fish go off faster than white fish and mackerel is best eaten on the day you buy it or if kept chilled the day after, you can also freeze it very successfully. Put your fish and/or shellfish in the fridge as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

When you bring it back from the fishmonger, unwrap, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container. Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use, for best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.

If it’s necessary to freeze the fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Catch of the Day, Mackerel

  • Ask your fishmonger to gut the fish, and then when you have got it back home wash under cold running water and pat dry before cooking.
  • Grilling (Broiling), Baking, Barbecuing, or Pan Frying are superb cooking methods we like ours simply Baked or Pan-Fried.
  • To check if your Mackerel is cooked, just slit the fish at it’s thickest part with a small knife, the flesh should appear just opaque but still moist.
  • Owing to mackerel’s richness, cream or butter based sauces are best avoided.
  • Spices work well, as does matching with something sharp, Gooseberry or Rhubarb sauces are traditional accompaniments, or you could try cooking it with other citrus flavours such as grapefruit or oranges.

Try my recipe and Others on MyDish

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