Category Archives: Herbs and Spices

Whatt’s in Season This May


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fish and Seafood at Its Best This Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fruit at It’s Best This Month

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

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

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


Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This Month

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


Vegetables at Their Best This Month

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

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

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


Dates for Your Diary

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


    LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

    Tachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

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

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

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

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

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

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

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


    LOCAL CARBOOT SALE, CAPITAL CARBOOT,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You can now buy fresh fruit and veg here


    Our Local Greengrocer

    John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

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

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

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

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    Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week

    Spinach

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

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

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

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

    Buying Spinach

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

    Storing Spinach

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

    Preparing and Cooking Spinach

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Our Local Butcher, Freemans (Butchers) 117 Lupus Street

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

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

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

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

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

    Butchers Choice

    Spring Lamb

    Available all year round.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Buying Lamb and Mutton

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

    Storing Lamb and Mutton

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

    Preparing and Cooking Lamb and Mutton

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

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


    Our Local Fishmonger, Jonathan Norris

    You can find them at:

    Victoria Park, 207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN

    Telephone: 0208 525 8999

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

    Telephone: 0779 907 3060

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

    Website: Jonathan Norris of Pimlico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Catch of the Day, Wild Salmon

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


    In The Balcony Garden

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


    Recipes for The Month

    Roasted Leg of Spring Lamb with Sage and Thyme

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

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

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

    Serves / Makes:       4 to 6 servings

    Prep-Time:                12 minutes

    Cook-Time:               120 minutes

    You Will Need

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

    Method

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Blackened Cajun Salmon

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

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

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                15 minutes

    Cook-Time:               25 minutes

    You Will Need

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

    For the Salsa

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

    Method

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

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

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

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

    Notes

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

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

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

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

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

    Baked Salmon with Spiced Herbs

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

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               15 minutes

    You Will Need

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

    Method

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

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

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

    Meanwhile, steam the tenderstem broccoli and asparagus until tender.

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


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


Dear All,

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Fish and Seafood, This April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And once again I will say;

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

Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This April

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


Vegetables at Their Best This April

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

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

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

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

    Dates for Your Diary

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Jubilee Party, 29 May 2012

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

    The SouthwestFest 2012, 22nd June – 4th August

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

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

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

    LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

    Tachbrook Street Market, Tachbrook Street, SW1

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

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

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

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

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

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


    LOCAL CARBOOT SALE, CAPITAL CARBOOT,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    You can now buy fresh fruit and veg here

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  • John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

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

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

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

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    Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week Asparagus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Roasted Asparagus

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

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 2 minutes

    Cook-Time: 20 minutes

    You Will Need

    455 grams, fresh asparagus, cleaned and trimmed

    4, teaspoons, olive oil

    1, tablespoon, balsamic vinegar

    ½, teaspoon, salt

    ⅛, teaspoon, ground black pepper

    Method

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

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

    Our Local Butcher, Freemans (Butchers) 117 Lupus Street

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

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

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

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

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

    Butchers Choice, Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Spring Lamb Cutlets with a Wild Garlic Crust

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

     

    Serves / Makes:          2 servings

    Prep-Time:                  10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                 15 minutes

     

    You Will Need;

    4 small or 2 large lamb cutlets

    For the crust:

    50 grams, white bread, torn into chunks

    2 tablespoons, wild garlic leaves

    1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon fresh thyme

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Knob of butter

     

    Method;

    Pre-heat the oven to 220°c.

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

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

    Serve with new potatoes and buttered curly kale and Enjoy!

     

    Our Local Fishmonger, Jonathan Norris

    Victoria Park, 207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN

    Telephone: 0208 525 8999

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

    Telephone: 0779 907 3060

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

    Website: Jonathan Norris of Pimlico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    Catch of the Day, Crab (Edible Brown Crab)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Our Favourite Crab Recipes;

    Crab Burgers, Our Best Ever

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

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

    Serves / Makes:                                   6 servings

    Prep-Time:                                          10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                                         20 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    450 grams, white crabmeat

    One egg, lightly beaten

    ½-cup fresh homemade breadcrumbs (see notes)

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

    2, tablespoons chopped chives

    1 tablespoon, Dijon mustard

    1 tablespoon, lemon juice

    1 teaspoon, celery seed

    1 teaspoon, onion powder

    ¼ teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper

    4 dashes, Tabasco, or to taste

    1-tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

    2 teaspoons, unsalted butter

    METHOD

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

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

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

    Serve and Enjoy!

    NOTES

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

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


    In The Balcony Garden

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


    Recipes for April;

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

    Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto

    Chilled Asparagus Soup

    Crab and Leek Tart

    Greek Aromatic Lamb

    Poached Pollack in Red Pepper Sauce, from jcousins

    Asparagus with Quails Eggs and Prosciutto

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

    Serves / Makes:          4 servings

    Prep-Time:                  10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                 15 minutes

     

    You Will Need

     

    350 grams, asparagus spears, trimmed

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Salt and pepper, to taste

    12 whole quail eggs

    4 slices prosciutto

    2 medium fresh plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and diced

    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    2 teaspoons lemon juice

    1 tablespoon truffle oil, for drizzling

     

    Method

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

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

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

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

     

    Notes

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

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


    Potted Crab (Our Best Ever)

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

     

    Serves / Makes:          2 large ramekins, 4 small ramekins

    Prep-Time:                  10 minutes

    Cook-Time:                 15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling time

     

    YOU WILL NEED

    150 grams, white crab meat

    150 grams, brown crab meat

    1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped

    2 tablespoons, dry sherry

    1 pinch, cayenne pepper

    1 pinch, ground mace

    1 pinch, freshly grated nutmeg

    150 grams, unsalted butter, cubed

    1½ teaspoons, anchovy essence

    1 teaspoon, lemon juice, plus extra if needed

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Extra butter for sealing the ramekins

     

    METHOD

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

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

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

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

    Serve and Enjoy

    NOTES

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

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  • May, What’s in Season This Month


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    BUYING

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

    STORING

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

    PREPARING AND COOKING

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


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

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


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


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

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


    Fruit at Its Best

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

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

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


    Vegetables at Their Best

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

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

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


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

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


    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Latest Grocery News for May 2011

    from Love British Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Local Shopping

    imageTachbrook Street Market

    Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

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

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

    Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

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


    imageOn Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

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

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


    Our Local Butcher Freemans (Butchers)

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

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


    Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

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

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

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

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

    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

     Fresh Whole Fish

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

    Fresh Fillets

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


    In The Garden;

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


    Recipes for Month

    My Crab Paté find it here on MyDish

    Spiced Tempura Asparagus with Asian Dipping Sauce and Cucumber Salad

    A tasty Summer treat with all the flavours of Asia

    Serves / Makes:      4 servings

    You Will Need;

    Vegetable oil for deep frying

    100 grams, self raising flour

    15 grams, paprika

    1 teaspoon, sea salt

    150ml, sparkling water

    16, asparagus spears

    For the Dipping Sauce

    150ml, light soy sauce

    20 grams, garlic, crushed

    10 grams, chopped red chilli pepper

    2 teaspoons, caster sugar

    For the Cucumber Salad

    1, Romano pepper seeded and cut into finger length strips

    100 grams, sugar snap peas

    10 grams, fresh coriander, roughly chopped

    1, cucumber cut into finger length strips

    Toasted sesame seeds to garnish

    Method;

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

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

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

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


    Spring Lamb Cutlets with a Wild Garlic & Herb Crust

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

    Serves / Makes:        4 servings

    Prep-Time:                 8 minutes

    Cook-Time:                15 minutes

    You Will Need

    4 small or 2 large lamb cutlets

    For the crust:

    50 grams, white bread, torn into chunks

    2 tablespoons, wild garlic leaves

    1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon fresh thyme

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Knob of butter

     

    Method

    Pre-heat the oven to 220°c.

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

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

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

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

    Notes

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

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