Category Archives: Vegetable of the Week

June 2012; What’s in Season This Month


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish and Seafood at Its Best This Month

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

Fruit at It’s Best This Month

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

Herbs This Insert Month

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

Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This Month

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

Vegetables at Their Best This Month

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

The Latest Grocery News,

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

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

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

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

Dates for Your Diary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NP

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

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

Contact: michael.glynn@gosh.nhs.uk

Location: 58 Guildford Street, WC1N 3JH

LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

Tachbrook Street Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Local Greengrocer

John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

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

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

Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week

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

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

Fruit of the Week, Gooseberries

  

Local Butcher, Freeman’s (Family Butchers)

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

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

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

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

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

Local Butcher, P J Frankland (Specialist Game Dealer)

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

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

Email: mjfranky@hotmail.com

Website: www.pjfranklandbutchers.co.uk

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

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

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

 P. J. Frankland, Family Butcher 

Our Local Fishmonger, Jonathan Norris

You can find them at:

Victoria Park, 207 Victoria Park Road, E9 7JN

Telephone: 0208 525 8999

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

Telephone: 0779 907 3060

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

Website: Jonathan Norris of Pimlico

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Catch of the Day;

In The Balcony Garden

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

Recipe for the Month

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

Serves / Makes:        6 fishcakes

Prep-Time:                15 minutes

Cook-Time:                10 minutes

You Will Need

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

Method

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

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

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

Related articles

Vegetable of the Week, Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best British Season Is;

June, July, August, September, October

Buying Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

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

Storing Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

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

Preparing and Cooking Courgettes, Zucchini, Italian Squash

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

Recipes for Courgettes

Vegetable of the Week, Samphire, Marsh Grass, Sea Asparagus


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

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

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

Samphire, little nodules of sweet, salty, tasty flesh

Samphire or Salicorne (Latin) is also known as Glasswort, Marsh Grass, Sea Beans, and Sea Asparagus it is a sea vegetable which can be found growing in abundance on shorelines, marshy shallows and on salty mudflats and along with Sea Purslane is very popular with coastal foragers.

You can collect it for free along a number of beaches in the British Isles.

It is has a crisp texture and salty flavour and tastes of, well it tastes of the sea. Traditionally, it is a vegetable that is served with fish and good fishmongers will sell samphire starting around June until August.

Best British Season Is;

June to August although in some years that can be pushed to September

Buying Samphire, Marsh Grass, Sea Asparagus

Look for intense green fresh looking plants with no signs of drooping.

Storing Samphire, Marsh Grass, Sea Asparagus

Buy or pick samphire as you need it, it doesn’t keep very long.

If you have to store it wrap it tightly in clingfilm or better yet an airtight box and keep it in the salad/vegetable drawer in the fridge for no longer than a 3 days.

Preparing and Cooking Samphire, Marsh Grass, Sea Asparagus

As Samphire is a product of the sea make sure that you wash it completely under running water and don’t add salt to the cooking water it’s from the sea remember and is already salty enough.

We like serve it fresh in salads or steamed over a pan of boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes and serve it with loads of melted butter.

The flesh should be eaten leaving the stringy central core its quite fun just to suck of the meaty flesh from the core.

In general you’ll find samphire served with fish, but it also works amazingly well with tasty tender Spring Lamb.

Why not try making a scrumptious spring salad of warm steamed samphire and new potatoes tossed all together with olive oil, lemon juice, and freshly ground black pepper.

Why Not Try This Recipe from Dazdiggler on MyDish;

Sea Bass with A Sweet Chilli Emulsion and Samphire Grass

Related articles

Look for My Recipes on MyDish

Vegetable of the Week, Watercress


Watercress growing on our balcony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buying Watercress, 

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

Storing Watercress,

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

Preparing and Cooking Watercress,

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


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!


Vegetable of the Week, Asparagus


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

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

clip_image002[4]Anyway enough of all that lets get to the vegetable of the week!

Eating 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.

Best British Season Is; end of April. May and June

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.

Early records of asparagus crop growing trace it back to Greece some two thousand or so years ago. The Greeks understood that asparagus possessed medicinal properties and recommended it as a cure for toothaches.

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

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 Asparagus

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 Asparagus

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 Asparagus

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.
My Favourite Recipes for Asparagus;

Asparagus and Shrimp Risotto

Asparagus with An Herb Sauce

Asparagus and Bacon Quiche

Asparagus With Quails Eggs and Prosciutto

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