Category Archives: News

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.

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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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The Latest Groceries News


The most recent news on British products in the supermarkets and other key bits and pieces of interest about British food; here is our summary for December.

Quote of the day:
Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good. – Thomas Sowell


clip_image001      Defra has announced a new Labelling Standards Code. The Country of Origin Labelling Code will strengthen the information provided by companies on the origin of their meat and dairy products. So far, the British Retail Consortium, the British Meat Processors Association, British Hospitality Association, Dairy UK, Food and Drink Federation and Business Services Association have all signed up to the principles of the code.

clip_image001[1]      British sprouts are in jeopardy! Directly as a result of the dry weather in July and August and the freshly freezing temperatures suppliers have become increasingly worried over the past year with some retailers already turning to emergency Dutch crops to comply with demand.

clip_image001[2]      The pork industry has gone from sinner to saint on country-of-origin labelling. Sausages and bacon now lead the way in clearer, easier to understand labelling. The prerequisite for clear labelling on all pork products will be put into practice from 1 January 2011, but 85 percent of product is already meeting standards

clip_image001[3]      Greengrocers are closing at the rate of 2 a week and are in danger of vanishing completely! Only 1,765 are left, down from almost 7,000 in 1997 so starting using your local shops today, or face losing them forever, remember if you do not use it you lose it!

clip_image001[4]      The Co-operative has given an undertaking to use 100% British wheat in its own brand sliced bread range, across all its stores in England. The move encompasses 10 lines across its premium Truly Irresistible range, standard and Simply Value ranges, and equates to in the region of 7.9 million loaves of bread a year.

clip_image001[5]      Non-native foods such as olives, chillies, and even tea are more and more being grown in the United Kingdom. Warmer temperatures, brought together with more exploratory British eating and growing practices, have created local need for exotic foods to be produced on our own shores.

clip_image001[6]      Despite the age of austerity, sales of organic food and drink have increased by 15.5% in the last month. 

clip_image001[7]      Sainsbury’s sales of Woodland eggs and chicken have paid for 300,000 trees to be planted this autumn by schoolchildren across the UK. Sainsbury’s donates 1p per dozen eggs sold and 2p per chicken sold to the Woodland Trust who have used the funds to send out ‘hedge and copse’ packs, containing trees for schoolchildren to plant.

clip_image001[8]      Sainsbury’s has announced plans to develop their speciality food selection, promising to take on over 500 butchery, fish, and deli counter staff in the New Year.

clip_image001[9]      Growers in Ireland have enjoyed such a plentiful potato crop that supplies are now being exported to mainland Europe for the first time in years.

clip_image001[10]      Morrisons and Sainsbury’s have launched new initiatives to support British farming. Morrisons’ farm in Scotland will showcase more sustainable agricultural methods. The aim is for the farm to demonstrate how sustainable farming methods can be commercially viable in the long term and aims to show farmers the benefits of using environmentally friendly methods.

clip_image001[11]      Sainsbury’s has pledged £40 million over the next three years for farming ‘development groups’. Part of the money will be paid directly to farmers as bonuses for adopting ‘good agricultural practice’ and the rest will be invested in improving infrastructure and efficiency, offering benefits such as vets bill payments and training courses.

clip_image001[12]      The cabbage is becoming increasingly popular thanks to the help of celebrity chefs Gordon Ramsay and Nigella Lawson. 500,000 more cabbages have been sold over the past 12 weeks compared to the same period last year.

clip_image001[13]      English vineyards are producing record harvests of English bubbly this year as sparking wine is set to account for more than half the country’s total production for the first time. The rapid increase in planting of champagne-variety grapes has pushed up the production of sparkling wine from 300, 00 bottles of a total 1.8m in 2000 to half of the total 3m bottle production last year.

clip_image001[14]      Consider the red sprout! A new variety of the Brussels sprout has been launched in Asda, which is a milder and sweeter version of the bitter-tasting Brussels sprout. Grown in Cambridgeshire and harvested between October and February, they can be served raw in salads or simply steamed like their green cousins.

clip_image001[15]      Morrisons has won gold in the retailer pre-packed category for its pork, oak-smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese sausage at the annual British Sausage week awards.

clip_image001[16]      M&S is to sell mince pies year-round due to shopper demand. Supermarket Morrisons have been stocking the festive treats through the summer for the last ten years. Now Marks & Spencer are planning to put the pies on shelves throughout the year after sales rocketed. A number of other chains are also though to be considering the move. Normally the savoury goodies are reserved for the weeks before Christmas. But this year Brits have been asking retailers to stock them from the end of August. Last year M&S sold 12million pies before December — over a third of its stock. And shoppers snapped up 2.4million in September alone. The pies have a shelf life of just three weeks so customers are buying them to eat, not saving them for the festive season. Nicola Brown, M&S Mince Pie Buyer, said: "Our customers don’t wait just for Christmas Day. They have become such a popular treat we are actually thinking about selling them all year round." The store said it will sell more than 40million mince pies in the run up to this Christmas.

clip_image001[17]      And hungry Brits are eating 119 mince pies every minute before December begins.

clip_image001[18]      Traditional mince pies contain mincemeat made from vine fruits and vegetable suet. New variations include puff pastry, all-butter, and chocolate mince pies.

clip_image001[19]      A Morrison’s spokeswoman said: "Due to customer demand, we have been selling mince pies all year round for the last ten years. “ During our peak festive period we sell an average of 30million mince pies. They are a quintessential British treat."

clip_image001[20]      Supermarket chain Lidl offers £4.99 lobster supermarket chain Lidl has begun offering cut-price lobsters for less than a fiver. "As they say in the retail trade, "when it’s gone, it’s gone", but you can expect our rivals to wage a lobster price war with us once they realise we have caught them on the hop." The pre-cooked, frozen product is targeted at shoppers in the run up to Christmas, a Lidl spokesman said. Tesco now has its own promotion on frozen lobsters, priced £6. A spokesman said: "We have promotions on a range of items, which change every week. In these difficult times we try to make our produce as affordable as possible." Lidl’s offer comes amid a trend of "credit crunch cuisine", with supermarkets enticing customers on a budget.

clip_image001[21]      The Feed Your Family for a Fiver campaign by Sainsbury’s has sparked huge sales boosts with each different recipe.

clip_image001[22]      Not to be outdone, Tesco has also worked out a weekly planner where a family of four can be fed healthily for £5 per day.

clip_image001[23]      Finally, it is good news for those travelling by train from Manchester. Travel food company, SSP, is to provide an alternative to Panini and Ciabatta in a new ‘Best of British On-the-Go’ kiosk due to open in Manchester’s Piccadilly railway station.


Look Out For In the Supermarkets This Month:

FRUIT;

Apples (Bramley’s, Russets, Spartan and Worcester), Chestnuts, Walnuts, Pears (Comice and Conference), Forced Rhubarb


VEGETABLES;

Artichoke, Aubergine, Beetroot, Broccoli, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chillies, Courgettes, Fennel, Garlic, Horseradish, Kale, Leeks, Marrow, Onions,  Peppers, Potatoes (Maincrop), Pumpkins, Radishes, Rocket, Sweet Corn, Turnips And Watercress.


HERBS AND STUFF;

Chestnuts, Chives, Mint, Parsley (Curly), Sage and Wild Mushrooms


MEAT;

Beef, Chicken, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Lamb, Partridge, Pork, Rabbit, Turkey, Venison, and Wood Pigeon


FISH;

Brill, Clams, Coley, Crab, Grey Mullet, Haddock, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Pilchard, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Scallops, Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Squid, Turbot And Winkles.


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