Tag Archives: Consommés

September, What’s in Season This Month

Eating seasonally and when possible locally, suggests eating food that is at its prime in terms of taste and nutritional contents, while at the same time cutting down on those food miles.

Every month, I hope to publish on my blog a guide to what’s in season the main points are going to be about fresh and locally produced (specifically British) foodstuffs and what we are producing ourselves on the balcony.

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

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

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

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

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

Fruit at Its Best

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

Vegetables at Their Best

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

Meat at Its Best

There is plenty of game in season

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

Fish and Seafood at Its Best

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

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

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

Local Shopping

On Sonny’s Stall in Tachbrook Street

Tachbrook Street Market (2)

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

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

Our Butcher has been getting in

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

Our Local Fishmonger has been getting in

Tachbrook St. Market, Jon's Fish Stall

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

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

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

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

Fresh Whole Fish

  • The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
  • The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
  • The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
  • Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
  • Oily fish like herring, mackerel and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.
    Fresh Fillets
  • The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
  • The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
  • As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
  • Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)

    The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.

    In The Garden

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

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

    Recipes for September

    Alfredo’s Steamed Mussels

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

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 20 minutes

    Cook-Time: 30 minutes


    1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

    4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

    6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped

    1 cup dry white wine

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

    2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley


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

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

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

    Discard any that do not open.

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


    Mussels are truly one of nature’s most delightful delicacies; they are extremely high in proteins, calcium and iron while being low in fat and calories. They are also excellent for your heart, containing the highest amount of omega3’s of any shellfish (this is the naturally occurring fatty acid that is believed to lower blood pressure). Mussels with fries or Moules frites are a distinctive Belgian dish, you get a big bowl of steamed mussels, broth, and a side of frites.

    Don’t be tricked by how upmarket they look, mussels are the definitive uncomplicated seafood. Clean them, sauté them, steam them and hey up you’ll have a dish everyone will be enthusiastic about, there are many ways to serve the mussels, but the most classic is Moules Mariniere the mussels are offered in a sauce of white wine, shallots, parsley, and butter.

    You can in addition find mussels served with sauces made with beer, or cream, or vegetable stock. For the greatest authenticity, use a shell to crack open the mussels, not your fork.

    Mussels are at their best in cold weather, so their season is usually from October to March. When you see them in a fishmonger’s, a sign of freshness is that most of them are tightly closed: if there are a lot of open mussels don’t bother. When buying mussels you need to allow at least 1 pint (570 ml) per person for a first course, and 1½ to 2 pints (about 1 litre) for a main course. That may seem a lot, but some will have to be discarded and, once they have been shelled, mussels are very small and light.

    The ritual of cleaning and preparing them sounds more bother than it actually is. When you get them home, plonk the mussels straightaway into a sinkful of cold water first of all throw out any that float to the top, then leave the cold tap running over them while you take a small knife and scrape off all the barnacles and pull off the little hairy beards. Discard any mussels that are broken, and any that are open and refuse to close tight when given a sharp tap with a knife. After you’ve cleaned each one, place it straight in another bowl of clean water.

    When they’re all in, swirl them around in three or four more changes of cold water to get rid of any lingering bits of grit or sand. Leave the cleaned mussels in cold water until you’re ready to cook them. As an extra safety precaution, always check mussels again after cooking this time discarding any whose shells haven’t opened.

    Tomato Soup

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

    Making Tomato Soup

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

    Serves / Makes: 4 as a main course with bread

    Prep-Time: 30 minutes

    Cook-Time: 60 minutes


    900 grams, vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped

    3 tablespoon, olive oil

    1 large onion, chopped

    2 garlic cloves, crushed

    2 celery sticks, chopped

    200 grams, carrots, chopped

    1 bay leaf

    1 large sprig, fresh thyme

    ½ teaspoon, sugar

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    200 mls, Passata

    500 mls, vegetable stock

    100 mls, single cream to finish


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

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

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

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

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


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

  • Oxtail Soup

    One of the much-loved soups of the Great British public, and memories of when the local butcher’s shop sold oxtails inexpensively.

    This soup is one of our favourite soups and the one I always used in the hotels, for Mr. and Mrs. Finken at Lodge Hill as well as for lord and Lady Hanson.

    To make this soup a real winner for a dinner party replace 1 pint of the stock with red wine and near the finish add 3 tablespoon of a good port.

    Serves/Makes:          4

    Prep-Time:                 20 minutes

    Cook-Time:                4 hours

    You Will Need;

    1 oxtail

    2 carrots diced

    1 turnip diced

    1 onion diced

    4 tablespoons dripping or oil

    1 tablespoon seasoned flour

    6, peppercorns

    2 sprigs, fresh thyme

    3 tablespoons parsley chopped finely

    1 bay leaf

    4 pints water or beef stock


    Joint the oxtail and blanch it (put it into a saucepan with a pinch of salt, cover with cold water, and bring to the boil.

    Strain off the water, put the joints into cold water for a minute, and then wipe them with a cloth.

    Season the tablespoon of flour with salt and pepper, and coat the joints of oxtail with it, I find it best to place the seasoned flour into a plastic food bag and then add the oxtail and give it all a good shake.

    Melt the dripping or oil in a saucepan, and brown the joints well, turning them over so that all sides are browned. Add the stock or water and bring to a boil, boil gently for about 30 minutes, skimming off the scum as it rises.

    Tie up the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, and parsley in a piece of muslin.

    Pour off any excess fat, add the herb and spice parcel and diced vegetables, season with salt & pepper and simmer for three and a half hours, then strain off the stock.

    Set aside the pieces of oxtail, rub the vegetables through a sieve or you can use a blender, skim off any fat from the stock, and add the vegetable puree to it. Put in a saucepan; if the soup seems a little thin remove some of the soup let cool slightly and whisk in a tablespoon of flour whisk this into the simmering soup and let simmer until the flour has cooked in and thickened the soup, serve hot.


    Scotch Broth

    Traditionally Scotch broth is a bit of everything thrown into the pot and is quite a substantial soup. In bygone days, Scots would eat this as a main meal in modern times; many Scottish households still serve Scotch broth as a main meal of the day rather than a first course. Ingredients can be exchanged depending on your personal liking, it’s best made the day before to let the complete flavour to marinate through.

    My granny Glen sometimes used to call it barley broth and always had a pan of broth on the go, I can even see in my mind the big black cast iron soup pan.

    Even though a classic Scottish soup I think every household had their own recipe, this recipe is a blend of granny Glen’s and my mother’s.

    I can remember being sent to the greengrocer for a fresh broth or soup mix this consisted of all the vegetable ingredients and a bunch of fresh thyme it changed almost weekly depending on what veg was available. This was in the days when the greengrocer and maybe his wife did some vegetable preparation and even boiled beetroots. Moreover, this was before convenience foods and supermarkets became popular.

    Nowadays in the winter months, we make enough to last for a whole weeks worth of lunches and along with homemade wholemeal or crusty granary bread, it really sticks to your ribs, which is just what you want on a winter’s day. Oh, the barley we use isn’t pearl barley we think pot barley (see note) it is so much better with more flavour a creamier texture and very traditional in Scotland.

    Serves/Makes:          10 to 12 servings

    Prep-Time:                 10 to 12 minutes

    Cook-Time:                90 minutes or there about

    You Will Need;

    2 pounds of neck of mutton or lamb

    4 ounces pot barley or if you must pearl barley, soaked overnight

    3 ounces split green peas, (soaked overnight) or you can use fresh or frozen peas added near the end of cooking

    2 tablespoons of cooking oil or to be more authentic beef dripping or lard

    1 large onion, peeled and chopped

    1 large leek, chopped

    4 turnips, peeled and chopped

    1 small Swede, peeled and chopped

    3 carrots, peeled and chopped

    1 small bunch of fresh thyme, strip the leaves from the stalks we only want the leaves

    2 tablespoon, chopped parsley

    1 small cabbage, this is optional, but we like to use a small January king

    6 pints of water, you might need more to let the finished broth down if you think it is too thick


    Heat over a medium flame heat the lard or cooking oil and add the chopped onion and leek, once softened not browned add the water and the lamb bring to a boil, and skim off any fat from the top. After boiling for about 30 minutes add the soaked barley and peas bring back to a boil reduce the heat and simmer for another 30 minutes add the remaining vegetables and thyme leaves and season to taste and cook a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. If used, remove the bone, strip off the meat, and return to the pan discard the bone, add the parsley as a garnish before serving.

    Pot barley is different from pearl barley this is the whole grain is a good source of protein, fibre and niacin (vitamin B3), as well as the trace minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It wants soaking overnight or for at least eight hours, just cover with boiling water, and leave to soak drain the following day. The soaking makes the barley more eatable and cuts down the cooking time.

    Quote of the Day:
    Commerce is the great civilizer. We exchange ideas when we exchange fabrics.
    –Robert Green Ingersoll

    Lancashire Pea and Ham Soup

    Lancashire Pea and Ham Soup (1) Once again, delightful memories of childhood, this soup was a winter staple at our house and this recipe has been passed down for at least 4 generations.

    There is a lot of history to pea soup and not just in Lancashire, The traditional English pea soup was made with dried peas, and its greeny-brown colour was so similar to the dense smog that dominated London in the winter (until as late as the 1960s), that the smog became known as a ‘pea-souper’. In Bleak House, Dickens referred to the fog as the ‘London Particular’, and the name has been used for both fog and soup ever since.

    Dried peas are a healthy and nutritious low-cost vegetable. They make an excellent meal extender and when puréed, they form the base of many dishes from the traditional pea soup to the more unusual vegetable pâtés and fritters.

    Soak and cook more dried peas than necessary. They can be refrigerated or frozen all set to serve as a vegetable or added to casseroles, pies, and soups. It is a little less trouble to make the soup with split peas, which have no skins, and here there is a selection of green or yellow. While there is no difference in the taste, the latter give the soup a pleasing golden colour.

    Serves/Makes: 10 servings

    Prep-Time: 10 minutes

    Cook-Time: 2 hours

    You Will Need;

    1 pound, marrowfat peas (dried)

    8 cups, ham stock, if at all possible homemade (see below)

    2 ribs of celery, chopped

    2 medium carrots, chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    3 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves (1 teaspoon dried)

    ½-teaspoon cracked black pepper

    ½-teaspoon sea salt

    ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

    2 cups diced ham, preferably from the ham hock you have just used to make the stock


    Soak the peas as directed on the packet (or see notes) then in a large soup pan add the peas, water celery, carrots, onion, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes now reduce the heat to slow simmer cover the pan and cook 45 to 60 minutes until the peas are tender.

    Add the parsley and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes until thick now you can puree the peas in a blender or pass through a sieve or just leave as is if you like a chunky soup. Fine-tune the seasoning, add the diced ham, and serve with a swirl of cream or a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top.

    A Few Notes about Dried Peas Soaking Dried Peas;

    Overnight Method, Put 1 cup / 200grams / 7 ounces dried peas into a large bowl with 3 cups / 700ml / 1¼ pints tepid water. Do not add any salt.

    Quick soak Method, Put 1 cup / 200grams / 7 ounces dried peas into a large saucepan with 3 cups / 700ml / 1¼ pints water. Bring to the boil and continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat. Cover pan and leave to stand for one hour.


    Cooking dried peas, on the stove drain the water from the soaked peas and move peas to a large saucepan. Cover with plenty of fresh water, cover and bring slowly to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to a simmer cook for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. The longer the soaking time, the shorter the cooking time. If necessary add salt during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

    In a slow cooker, proceed as above, adding to the slow cooker after boiling rapidly on the stove for 10 minutes.

    In the microwave, soak 225g (½ lb) dried peas overnight. Drain peas then transfer to a 2 litre (3½ pt) glass bowl. Add sufficient boiling water to come 1.25cm (½") above peas. Cover and stand bowl on glass plate in case water boils over. Cook on full power for 30 minutes, checking water level after 20 minutes. Top up with boiling water if necessary. Keep covered and leave to stand for 10 minutes. 650-watt microwave.

    Store dried peas at room temperature in a covered container for up to one year. Canned peas should be stored in a cool dry place and should be used within one year.

    Soaked or cooked dried peas can be kept in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Cooked dried peas can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.

    Ham Stock

    Ham stock is simple to make and it’s incredibly useful for enriching sauces and soups. Ham stock is very gelatinous and after being left in the fridge overnight, it will turn to meat jelly. Ooh scrumptious meat jellies.

    Serves/Makes: 4 to 5 pints

    Prep-Time: 10 minutes plus overnight soaking

    Cook-Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

    Tags: Stocks, Bouillons, Ham, Ham Hock

    You Will Need;

    1 ham hock, about 2 pounds (900 grams) in weight

    6 pints water (3.5 litres)

    2 carrots, peeled and chopped

    2 onions, peeled and chopped

    1 head of celery, washed and chopped

    12 black peppercorns

    1 bay leaf


    Do not whatsoever add salt it does not need it.

    To start the stock, cover the ham hock with cold water and soak overnight.

    Drain off the soaking water, and cover the ham hock with the measured cold water, bring to the boil and skim off any scum, then add the carrots, onions and celery, leave simmer gently (we call this ticking over) for about 30 minutes, then add the peppercorns and bay leaf, lightly simmer 2 hours until the ham is cooked through.

    Watch it carefully; you do not want the stock to reduce too much, strain off the stock, Put the ham to one side, and discard the vegetables and flavourings the ham you can use foe soups, sandwiches and even salads for pea and ham soup you will need about 3 pints.

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