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Potted Crab (Our Best Ever)


Potted Crab, Our Best Ever

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

Serves / Makes: 2 large ramekins or 4 small ramekins

Prep-Time:         10 minutes

Cook-Time:        15 minutes plus 2 hours chilling time

You Will Need

  • 150 grams, white crab meat
  • 150 grams, brown crab meat
  • 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons, dry sherry
  • 1 small pinch, cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch, ground mace
  • 1 pinch, freshly grated nutmeg
  • 150 grams, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1½ teaspoons, anchovy essence
  • 1 teaspoon, lemon juice, plus extra if needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Extra butter for sealing the ramekins

Method

  1. Start off by placing the chopped shallot, sherry, and spices in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, then boil rapidly until the liquid has reduced by at least half, it should only take about 2 minutes.
  2. Next, stir in the butter; when melted, turn the heat down, and simmer gently for 12 minutes, stirring from time to time, remove from the heat and allow to cool then using a sieve over a bowl, pour through the cooled spiced butter and set the bowl over another bowl filled with ice then, using an electric hand whisk, whisk until the butter becomes thick and creamy, but not hard.
  3. Now mix in the crab meat, anchovy essence, lemon juice, salt, and pepper spoon this mixture into ramekins, cover the surface with melted butter to seal off the air and cover with clingfilm, and chill for 2 hours. To serve remove the potted crab from the fridge about half an hour before serving we like to serve ours with a little mixed salad, toasted granary bread or Melba toast, Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

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

Potted Crab, Our Best Ever

Catch of The Day, Wild Salmon


Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.

Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

  • White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.

Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.

We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.

However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of our Catch of the Day

Wild Salmon

In the United Kingdom North Atlantic Salmon is known as the King of Fish, and most people like salmon, even when they aren’t big fans of other fish varieties.

Its meaty texture, rich colour, and flavour make it an appealing idea for a main course substitute for the old standbys.

For many people it can be a bit off-putting when trying to decide what fish it is you would like or need, as well as how your selection will decide how you are going to cook it, or even how it will taste.

Hopefully this little essay will help clear up some of the mystification and assist you to make a better, more well-informed choice when buying your next salmon.

Oily fish, especially Salmon is rich in Omega 3 fats, protein, and vitamin D.

The omega fats help blood circulation and reduce blood pressure, which in turn help lessen the risk of a heart attack. They have also been known to help with depression and anxiety concerns.

Wild salmon just like its cousin the sea-trout have unique, pure flavours that are superb and they are not like the low-cost and nondescript-farmed salmon and trout, which is sold in supermarkets and markets countrywide.

A wild salmon is one whose creation is natural, ensuing from spawning in a natural fish habitat from parents spawned and reared in a natural fish habitat.

Salmon are in the Salmonidae family and they mainly live along the coast of both the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

While the excellence of farmed salmon is getting better all the time it can be really oily in taste especially.

Whereas a wild salmon will have swum the Atlantic and so will have solid muscles, much less fat and a diverse natural diet.

The colour of a wild salmon is a light pink this is because a wild salmon’s diet consists mainly of shellfish and it has a much more subtle flavour.

As I wrote earlier Wild Salmon is a tremendously nutritious food it is high in protein, and the “good fats.” However did you know that a 120 gram serving of wild salmon gives you a full day’s requirement of vitamin D?

It is one of a small number of foods that can make that statement and that same piece of salmon has more than half of the daily required B12, niacin, and selenium, as well as being a first-rate source of B6 and magnesium, and tinned salmon also contains huge amounts of calcium (because of the bones of the fish).

Buying Wild Salmon

Wild Salmon is sold at some supermarkets however it is more accessible from fishmongers, (Jon our fishmonger always has it when in season), and fresh fish market stalls.

As with all fish, fresh salmon will be bright-eyed and red-gilled with a fresh sea aroma and with a bronze lustre to the skin is as a rule a good sign.

The fundamental rule when buying fresh fish is to get it as fresh as is possible, we always say it is preferable to buy fish that has been frozen and recently thawed than to buy fresh fish that has been sitting for a few days.

Wild Salmon SteakSelect your cut either a whole fish, steak or filet, a whole salmon just can’t be bettered whilst serving a large group of friends and family, particularly when it comes to the cost.

Buying a whole salmon and cutting it into filets or steaks involves a bit more effort, but your fishmonger should be quite happy to do this for you.

Remember that you are spending a lot of money on this fish, so before you buy it, take the time to examine it, it’s always worth while to build up a good friendship with your local fishmonger, he really wants your custom and will be very helpful.

Storing Wild Salmon

  • As soon as you get home, unwrap, rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.
  • Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use.
  • For best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.
  • If it’s necessary to freeze fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.
  • It is not advisable to keep fish unfrozen for longer than a day or so, and if possible, it is best not to purchase fish until the day you plan to use it.
  • If you should come across a fantastic offer on salmon, you can freeze it safely by wrapping in a combination of cling film, foil, and zip bags.
  • It keeps well in the freezer for about 4 months, and keep nearly all of its texture and taste

Preparing and Cooking Wild Salmon

  • Salmon is one of the easier fish to prepare and cook it is quite robust and you can use a large range of cooking styles, including; steaming, baking, poaching, pan frying, roasting, or grilling.
  • When cooking salmon the key to success is to avoid overcooking, salmon and fish in general continues to cook even when removed from the heat so keep your eyes on it.
  • You will know when it is done that’s when the meat flakes gently when pierced with a fork, this is about 10 minutes cooking time for each inch of thickness, on or under the grill, 5 minutes each side.
  • It doesn’t have to be opaque all the way through to be cooked it will probably be dry if you wait that long.
  • Salmon works well with an extensive range of flavours, while the more fragile fish become overwhelmed with strong flavours, salmon stands up to a lot of sauces and marinades.

As with all fish, salmon goes well with citrus flavours, and while dill is probably the herb most frequently linked with salmon, just about any fresh herb you can think of tastes wonderful with it.

Given that salmon fishing starts in the spring and goes throughout the summer, just think of spring vegetables such as asparagus and mushrooms to go with salmon, continuing on to more or less any grouping of summer vegetables.

Below is a rough guide to cooking times these can be use for other fish with a similar texture

  • Bake, brush fish lightly with oil and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes
  • Poach, bring the poaching liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer add the fish, cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Pan Frying, preheat the over a medium heat, add cooking oil, the cook the salmon for five to six minutes per side.

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

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 daddys), 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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March 2012, What’s in Season This Month


There’s nowt like fresh fruit and vegetables in their season its when they are at their very best, that also goes for meat, fish and game, you get something so wonderful when eating food as soon as it’s just been picked, it tastes better, it’s better for your wallet and it’s a healthier deal for the planet.

Food produced locally, whether you have bought from a farmers’ market, local butcher, greengrocer, or fishmonger; it is liable to be a lot fresher and tastier than its supermarket counterpart.

Meat produced with high regard for the animals concerned, without the addition of growth hormones, permanent fabricated daylight, and all the other sleight of hand tricks the producers use, then in your heart you know that the dairy, meat, and fish you purchase from high-quality local traders in its proper season will without doubt be of a far better-quality.


This is the start of our year even if it doesn’t feel like it, spring is almost here, in March, the weather starts to warm up (or so it should be doing), the time from now until about the middle of May is a tricky one for the shopper, grower, and greengrocer alike, winter vegetables are fading out whereas the spring veggies haven’t so far really got under way, however there is plenty of purple sprouting broccoli around so make use of it.


The beginning of the purple sprouting broccoli season brings and gives us a much sought after addition to the winter vegetable enjoyment.

Simply steamed or boiled, this vivacious cousin of broccoli can be used in the same way, it is leafier and deeper in colour than broccoli; it always adds vitality and crunch to vegetable dishes and it goes well with almost any fish or meat dish.

Broccoli is a cruciferous plant, from the same genus as the cabbage, and is associated to the cauliflower; cruciferous foods are nowadays hailed as having a number of significant health benefits. Purple Sprouting Broccoli contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane, which is thought to help prevent cancer. Furthermore it could provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of caretenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre, and vitamin A.

Did I mention that it tastes great just simply steamed and served with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon juice?

As with the British asparagus season, the Jersey Royals season and the first of the British artichokes we always look forward to the first of the purple sprouting broccoli, in our opinion events like these are what makes British seasonal produce the finest in the world.


Fruit at It’s Best This Month

March sees the first of British rhubarb, and it is superb, but we are now seeing the last of our British apples and although we are still getting pears pretty soon they will be coming from further away. Citrus fruits are making their way from Spain and Sicily and there are of course lots of fruits around that do and have to come from far away, its just a matter of picking carefully where the fruit you choose does come from.

Best of British now is;

Apples, Forced Rhubarb, and Pears


Vegetables at Their Best This Month

In the spring month of March (yes it’s a spring month), Saint David’s day proclaims the month of March, and with St Patrick’s Day on the 17th, now is the time to think what we can be doing with all those tasty expected spring veggies, Lincolnshire starts to harvest carrots, beetroot, purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese broccoli as do other regions of Britain, so make the most from the first bloom.

We are seeing more and more spring vegetables in the markets and some supermarkets, so with excited expectation our thoughts are turning to lighter dishes as we see Chicory, Chives, Mint, Parsley, Radishes, Rosemary, Sorrel, Spring Greens, Thyme, and Watercress coming into their season, and Cornish Spring greens are also becoming more plentiful and are very tasty, jam packed full of flavour and sweetness, the two biggest enemies of cabbage are water and overcooking, the one thing you don’t want to do is boil it to death in a large saucepan of water. Simply remove any damaged outer leaves, cut it in quarters, removing the tough white ‘core’ in the middle, and slice it finely then you can either stir-fry it in a wok with oil, a little water and soy sauce or tip it into a saucepan with about 3 cm of boiling water and cook it fast for about 3 minutes, turning it over as you go. Drain it thoroughly, add a good chunk of butter, and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground white pepper. A small to medium size cabbage will easily serve 4.


Leeks are fantastic in early spring, and we like to use them, not only as vegetables to go together with poultry, meat and fish, but in soups, salads and tarts for first courses, we also like to lightly braise baby leeks as a lovely light side dish.

Don’t be afraid to buy them loose and covered with dirt the taste is much better than ones that have been washed and pre-packed.

Just cut off the top half of the green leaves and remove the root and any damaged outer leaves, cut vertically down the leek almost to the base and wash thoroughly between the leaves with cold running water slice the leeks thickly and wash again then cook in a little butter and oil.

They also make superb soups and we think they are very good in egg and cheese dishes.

Tasty tender spring carrots are about to show up, you can get a good sized carrot enough to make a salad for under 15p which makes it a brilliant student buy. Even organic ones which generally have much more flavour are affordable. Use them raw and freshly grated or just slice them, toss them in a pan with a little oil and melted butter, season them with salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cumin or coriander, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover the pan with a lid or a piece of foil and let them cook very slowly in their own juices for about 20 minutes. They also make great soup and are a must for casseroles stews and stir-fries


New season artichokes from Italy, Cyprus, and Egypt are making their first appearance on the shelves, together with the first of the tomatoes with taste from Sicily and the black volcanic soil of Tenerife and Fuerteventura. Fast on their heels will be new potatoes from around the Mediterranean, asparagus (we had some superb asparagus from John Bussey’s Stall at the weekend) from the Murcia and Valencia provinces in Spain, and strawberries from Huelva in Andalucia.

So keep your eyes peeled for;

Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (new), Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Salsify, Shallots, Spinach, Spring Greens, Swede and Turnips.


Herbs and Nuts This March

There are lots of herbs available including growing pots of herbs alas not all from the UK but in the main they are all good and from quite close. I do have one gripe though we grow some wonderful parsley in the UK and English parsley is available now so could someone please tell me why the big supermarkets are selling parsley frown in Turkey?

At their best in March are;

Chives, Coriander, Cultivated Mushrooms, and Wild Mushrooms, Parsley (Curly), and Truffles (Black)


Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best This Month

Beef, Chicken, Duck, and Pork are all very good and we are eagerly waiting for the first of British Spring Lamb, make the most of Rabbit this month wild rabbit meat, which is leaner and tastier than the farmed kind, has a wonderful delicate, gamey taste, very different from splendidly flavoured hare. Local Rabbit dishes reveal the fact that rabbit is very flexible and works well with those flavours used in chicken dishes, such as mustard and cream, tomato and herbs, and believe it or not chilli, I have had some superb rabbit dishes in Mexico.

Turkey, Venison, and Wood Pigeon are still good.


Fish and Seafood At Its Best This Month

Spring has sprung (sorry, couldn’t help that) and we are seeing a breath-taking range of seafood landed from around the Cornish coast, the one (and only) awful feature about the appearance of spring is that our beloved native mussels are off the seasonal menu until September we still have the rope grown imported mussels but they are not quite the same so, fill up on these juicy morsels while you can native oysters are now becoming more difficult to find and will soon be out of season however the pacific or rock oyster will always be a good substitute (just about) as they offer smaller portions with a more subtle taste.


Unusually the fishermen are still landing loads of mackerel and the season may go year round, large cod and Pollack are excellent at the moment we had some Pollack from Jon last week and it was fat, juicy, and sweet. We would also recommend the lemon sole, and what with the quite good Cornish lobster catches at the moment prices have been reduced, so now is the time to get lobster for that special meal.

With Mother’s Day approaching why not make your Mum, wife or girlfriend a really special seafood dish?

Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to say “thank you for everything”, and you can treat your Mum to some of the finest seafood in the world from the beautiful seas around this wonderful island of ours, our choice would be mussels at this moment in time they are fantastic

Cast Your Nets For;

Brill, Clams, Cockles, Cod, Conger Eel, Crab, Dabs, Dover Sole, Eel, Elvers, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Scottish Wild Salmon is back in season, Sardines, Scallops, Sea Bream, Sea Trout, Skate, Squid, Turbot, Whitebait, and Winkles.

The Latest Grocery News

  • Aldi has launched a new recruitment website for suppliers as it looks to boost the amount of British produce it offers in stores. The website (www.aldisuppliers.co.uk) provides information about Aldi’s long term relationships with existing British suppliers and provides potential suppliers with an online form to complete. Did you know…. about 48% of Aldi food is British and 100% of their fresh meat is British!
  • Asda is trial running gurnard fish fillets from the South West in over 100 of its stores in the wake of Hugh’s Fish Fight and in order to make the most of under-utilised species from the UK. Gurnard is a firm fleshed fish with a mild flavour.
  • Sainsbury’s has announced it is the UK’s first supermarket to use cage-free eggs in all of its own-label products.
  • But it’s not all good news on the egg front! After the battery egg ban came into force on 1st January, supermarkets are now concerned that food producers will not be able to afford the cost of ethical eggs in coming months. The ban has led to a shortage of both liquid and powered egg and therefore producers are seeing an increase in price. For example, a traditional ice cream manufacturer in Kent has been informed that the price he pays for egg yolk will rise by 70 per cent.
  • Morrisons is holding its first music and food festival at Harewood House, Leeds in July. MFest will feature X Factor winner Matt Cardle and TV chefs Aldo Zilli, Nigel Haworth, and Bryn Williams will all run cookery master classes for the event.
  • The first early crop of English asparagus arrived this month in Budgens stores – well before its usual mid-April and June season. The asparagus was produced as part of an English glass house crop from IVG White, part of Keelings Group with growers in Worcestershire and Cambridgeshire.
  • BPEX has published a ‘Baconologist’ Guide to bacon, giving a handy insight into the many cures and types of bacon and their suitability to different dishes. The Guide has been published to coincide with Bacon Connoisseurs Week (19 – 25 March). See http://www.lovepork.co.uk for more details.
  • The UK has become a net exporter of lamb for the first time in 50 years. The figures from 2011 show that sheep meat exports from the UK increased by 11 per cent, while imports fell 13 per cent during the same period.
  • Black Pudding is making a comeback! Through a combination of celebrity chef endorsement and economic austerity, the ‘blood sausage’ is enjoying a sales boom with some producers claiming a 25 per cent sales increase over the past year.
  • Pig industry and retailer representatives have refused to back down in the row over pig industry profitability. BPEX has criticised supermarkets for boosting profitability by increasing own-label ranges which can be sourced at lower input prices. BPEX says it is the moral responsibility of supermarkets to pursue a sustainable supply chain rather than short term profits. In response, a spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium has hit back stating that supermarkets are dedicated to a sustainable supply chain and pointing out that retailers are not the only destination for UK pork; food manufacturing, catering and government procurement are also important buyers, yet these seem to all escape public scrutiny.
  • The chairman of English Apples and Pears is calling for more Cameo apple growers in the UK. The chairman states ‘we have got a good proportion of the multiples stocking Cameo, and there’s potential to go wider, but we need to persuade people to grow. We don’t have the sufficient growers to supply the market for as long as we would like’.
  • Northern Ireland fresh vegetable packer, Sparky Pac, has launched a new brand focusing exclusively on local produce. Dig In features carrots, parsnips, Savoy cabbages, caulis and sweetheart cabbage but the brand will only be available on shop shelves when produce is in season. Dig In will not be available at any other times.
  • Finally, it has been revealed that of Britain’s 150 Biggest Grocery Brands, just 44 are now UK-owned. Of the 91 brands in the list that were created and developed in the UK, only 36 are British owned today.

    News courtesy of Supermarket Watch March 2012


    Seasonal foods at their best in the supermarkets:

    Vegetables: beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, chicory, cucumber, jersey royal new potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes (main crop), purple sprouting broccoli, rhubarb, rocket, salsify, shallots, spinach, spring onions and swede.

    Herbs: chives, coriander, dill, mushrooms (cultivated), parsley (curly), sorrel and wild nettles.

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

    Fish: cockles, crab, dab, dover sole, hake, john dory, lemon sole, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, salmon, scallops, sea trout, shrimp, skate, whitebait and winkles.


    Dates for Your Diary

    The 2012 British Asparagus Festival in the Vale of Evesham will take place from 23rd April until 17th June

    27th to the 29th of April Cheese and Wine Festival, the Southbank Centre, London

    27th July 12th August 2012, Love British Food 2012. Get ready to fly the union jack on plates as well as on your bunting!


    LOCAL SHOPPING, PIMLICO, WESTMINSTER, VICTORIA

    Tachbrook Street Market

    imageAddress: Tachbrook Street, SW1

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

    Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico, Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, And 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.

    image imageimage


    Capital Carboot Sale;

    imageCapital 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.

    You can now buy fresh fruit and veg here

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    Our Local Greengrocer,

    John Bussey’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

    imageThey only buy British produce on John Bussey’s stall 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.

    John’s stall was a picture it is wonderful to see such fresh produce full of energetic colours, especially the Rhubarb it really looked so vibrant and cooked up a treat when we made one of our favourite puddings, Maureen bought some blood oranges for me, they came from Sicily so not too far away and they were delicious, we also tried the asparagus and found it to be so full of flavour we could have sworn it was British, so what else was on offer?

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

    image image


    Vegetable/Fruit/Herb of the Week 

    Purple Sprouting Broccoli

    imageAvailable all year round. Best British Season Is; February, March, April

    Following a somewhat skeletal couple of months on the leafy vegetable front, the commencement of the purple sprouting broccoli season heralds a much wanted addition to the winter vegetable enjoyment. Merely steamed or boiled, this lively cousin of broccoli can be used in the same way. It is leafier and deeper in colour than Calabrese; it always adds vitality and crunch to vegetable dishes and it goes well with almost any fish or meat dish. As with the British asparagus season, the Jersey Royals season and the first of the British Artichokes we always look forward to the first of the purple sprouting broccoli, in our opinion events like these are what makes British seasonal produce the finest in the world.

    Purple sprouting broccoli was originally grown by the Romans; Broccoli has been grown in the United Kingdom since the 18th century, even though the purple sprouting type has only risen to celebrity in the last 20 years.

    Broccoli is a cruciferous plant, from the same genus as the cabbage, and is associated to the cauliflower; cruciferous foods are nowadays hailed as having a number of significant health benefits. Purple Sprouting Broccoli contains the phytochemical sulphoraphane, which is thought to help prevent cancer. Furthermore it could provide resistance against heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It is packed with vitamin C and is a good source of caretenoids, iron, folic acid, calcium, fibre, and vitamin A.

    Did I mention that it tastes great just simply steamed and served with melted butter and a squeeze of lemon juice?

    Buying

    Purple Sprouting Broccoli is outstandingly tasty when young and tender, look out for darkly coloured heads/spears with crunchy stalks, and no more than 1cm in diameter, which snap cleanly when broken always pass up easily bent broccoli.

    Storing

    In an airtight bag in the fridge.

    Preparing and Cooking

    Split thicker stalks about halfway up so that they cook at the same time as the heads/spears.

    Steam, stir-fry or boil in a small amount of water, the tasty leaves are edible and so do not need to be removed.

    We like it just boiled in salted water, drained, and served warm with melted butter and lemon juice.


    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 supplies 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 he told me.

    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

    Beef, lamb, and pork is good this month and our local butcher Freemans has some ox-tails and beef brisket in that is just so tasty his fore-rib of beef looked just about perfectly hung and at under £14 per kilo is probably the cheapest in London you really must give the classically trained butcher a go and just to see a real traditional butcher shop is a treat.

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    Butchers Choice

    Rabbit

    I just love the flavour and versatility of rabbit wild or farmed although wild rabbit meat isimage leaner and tastier than the farmed kind, has a wonderful delicate, gamey taste, so much different from a superbly flavoured hare.

    So often overlooked as a dinner option, which is a shame as I have said the meat is lean yet tasty especially wild rabbit, which has a superb tantalizing, gamey flavour, and this understated flavour gives itself to a range of cooking techniques.

    Rabbit is available all year round in the UK Available all year round.

    Best Season Is; July, September, October, November, December

    Butchers are more likely to sell rabbit than supermarkets; try to avoid anything in excess of a kilo, as it can prove tough. The type of meat you can buy varies: ‘fryer’ is the leanest and tenderest; ‘roaster’, is a more mature rabbit, at its best when given a longer cooking time; last but not least there are the giblets, which are the organs of the animal. Take care when cooking rabbit, as the low fat content can make it dry if it’s not marinated beforehand, or basted during cooking.

    Regional dishes from around the world show the fact that rabbit is very flexible and works well with those flavours used in chicken dishes, such as mustard and cream, tomato and herbs, and believe it or not chilli, I have had some superb rabbit dishes in Mexico.

    Get hold of some rabbit and try one of the great classic recipes such as Braised Rabbit and Roast Rabbit with Rosemary or the recipe below although it isn’t one of mine it is a superb recipe and just the thing if this is your first time cooking rabbit.

    Buying

    Unlike a lot of Europe, rabbit is hardly ever seen in UK supermarkets although rabbit is back on the dinner table as sales of the game meat soar after being endorsed by celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Nigel Slater. And is becoming more commonly obtainable in butchers, supermarkets, try Waitrose for their excellent rabbit, and food markets.

    It is also available by mail order from a number of suppliers, such as Woldsway Foods Ltd or the Wild Meat Company.

    Select rabbits by size; they should be large enough to produce a sizeable amount of meat, wild rabbits larger than 1 kilo are liable to be tough, the younger, smaller rabbits will be more tender and suitable to faster cooking methods, for example roasting or barbecuing older rabbits will have more taste but can tougher so its better use these for braising, casseroling and in pies..

    Storing

    Fresh rabbit will keep in the fridge for several days (or longer if vacuum packed). I wouldn’t freeze rabbit as freezing can dry them out.

    Preparing and cooking

    To joint a rabbit, cut the hind quarters away from the body and separate the legs, halve the leg joints and cut the body (saddle) straight through the backbone into two or three portions, stopping at the rib cage, cut lengthways through the breastbone and divide the ribcage section in half.

    As rabbit meat is very lean, care should be taken to prevent it from drying out during cooking, marinating or barding (covering in a fat or wrapping in bacon) can help moisten the flesh during roasting or barbecuing.

    Casserole of Rabbit A Great heart-warming casserole with lovely taste of the forest

    Serves: 4. Cooking-Time: 1hrs 0 minutes not one of my recipes but a recipe from Team MyDish on of course MyDish Recipe Sharing Made Easy


    Our Local Fishmonger, Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

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

    Jon is so friendly and a real character and when you speak to him you notice at once that he’s enthusiastic about all things fish, and when you ask him about the fish he has available you become aware that from his response that there’s nothing he and his staff 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.


    Most all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon, and Scottish coasts and we are still recommending the crab, mussels, whiting, and Pollack.

    Jon put on show as usual with Cornish Brill, Clams including Razor Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab, Haddock, Cornish Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, grey Mullet, Lobster, Scottish Mackerel, rope grown Mussels from the Shetland Isles, Monkfish, Cornish Octopus, there was Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, Prawns in the shell, there were Native Oysters, Rock Oysters, Scallops from the Isle of Man, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting.

    Prices are so reasonable you have got to give this gifted and extraordinary fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry, I promise.

    image image image


    Catch of the Day

    Hake

    imageCatches of Northern hake, landed around the UK, are looking plentiful this season – so Seafish, the authority on seafood, is urging consumers to try this excellent whitefish.

    Hake, known as ‘Merluza’ in Spain, is a Spanish favourite and since the Spanish have the highest per capita consumption of seafood in Europe, they should know what they’re talking about.

    Hake used to be a familiar fish to Britons but seems to have fallen from favour at a time when availability is very good. We only spent £1.5 million on chilled hake in supermarkets in the past year, compared to £124 million on chilled cod (Nielsen retail figures for 52 weeks leading up to 16 April 2011).

    At its best from March to September, finer white flesh than cod and a much superior flavour, cook like cod.

    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.

    The numerous fish that come under the designation ‘Hake’ are deep-sea members of the cod family and are popular throughout Europe especially Spain and Portugal also very popular in America. Hake is quite a mild flavoured fish, with a white flaky texture and a finer taste that is more subtle than that of its larger cousin the cod.

    They are fished by bottom trawling with different mesh sizes for inshore and deep-water trawls. Ranging from 1kg to 5 kg and Hake has a soft, iron-grey skin and silvery belly. Also known as Cape Hake it is a sustainable fishery, as certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

    BUYING

    Many varieties of hake are caught in waters around the world, particularly in the Atlantic and North Pacific. It’s available both fresh and frozen, and is sold either as a whole fish, or gutted with the head intact, or as fillets and steaks. Some varieties of hake have been greatly affected by over fishing. A lot of hake is now imported from South Africa.

    Look for glistening pure white flesh that is free of signs of dryness, greyness, and browning. It should have a seawater fresh scent.

    STORING

    Refrigerate as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

    PREPARING AND COOKING

    Hake is a mildly flavoured fish. The flesh is quite soft, but firms up on cooking, and is worth trying. In France, hake is called ‘Saumon Blanc’ (which interprets as ‘white salmon’). Fillets require little preparation as the skin is soft, but checking for bones and pin-bones is necessary. It is popular in Spain and Portugal where it’s grilled, pan-fried, and baked. It takes robust flavours well, particularly tomatoes, garlic, chorizo, and paprika.

    For a light, modern alternative to battered cod, try deep-frying hake fillets dipped in a light tempura batter.

    Fishermen from the provinces on the Bay of Biscay, especially the Basques, introduced this fish into Spanish gastronomy, as for example, hake in potato casserole (Galician style). Coated with flour, it can be cooked in a pan with a little olive oil and served with a green sauce with some clams, or poached in cider with tomatoes and green onions.

    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


    In The Balcony Garden

    Well we just might be able to get some salads, herbs, and some tomatoes in this year, they are making a start on our new windows at the beginning of April, and with a bit of luck ours should be done by May (hopefully).


    Recipes for The Month

    Casserole of Rabbit A Great heart-warming casserole with lovely taste of the forest

    Serves: 4. Cooking-Time: 1hrs 0 minutes not one of my recipes but a recipe from Team MyDish on of course MyDish Recipe Sharing Made Easy


    Pan-Fried Hake with Lemon and Parsley

    imageFancy giving cod a rest and trying a different fish for a change?

    This is a very popular recipe in Spain its quick and easy and just right for a light lunch or supper.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               12 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    2 tablespoons, seasoned plain flour

    2 tablespoons, lemon zest, finely grated

    10 grams, fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

    4 small fillets or steaks of hake about 80 to 90 grams each

    2 tablespoons, olive oil

    METHOD

    Mix together the seasoned flour, lemon zest and parsley, pat onto the fish on both sides well, shaking off any excess.

    Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat; cook the fish for 11 to 12 minutes turning occasionally. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with lemon wedges and seasonal vegetables.

    Serve and Enjoy!


    Ribble Valley Mutton Pot Roast

    imageIn the last few years, I have noticed what the chef’s are calling a return to the grass roots of British cuisine and seeing that a lot of mutton dishes abound I thought I would just add this one. I first came across it about 1969 when we had it on the menu at the Aspinall Arms at Mitton we only served it from about November until the spring lamb started coming in about March or April.

    Serves/Makes:         6 to 8 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 to 15 minutes plus 12 hours marinating time

    Cook-Time:               2 hours

    YOU WILL NEED

    1 boned and rolled mutton shoulder

    4 clove, garlic, crushed

    2 fresh rosemary sprigs

    5 teaspoons, fresh thyme leaves

    2 teaspoons rowan or redcurrant jelly

    1 glass of red wine

    1-tablespoon olive oil

    4 streaky bacon rashers, chopped

    12 ounces, chopped onions

    1 tablespoon, plain flour

    1 cup, mutton stock, made from the bones from the shoulder

    1-pound potatoes, a medium size, and cut into quarters

    4 large carrots, halved crosswise

    8 ounces wild or button mushrooms

    Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    METHOD

    Combine the mutton, garlic, rosemary, thyme, rowan or redcurrant jelly, and wine to make the marinade. Place the mutton in the marinade and turn the mutton over and over to coat evenly. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours but better still overnight.

    Heat the oven to 150c, 300f, gas mark 3.

    Remove the mutton from the marinade and reserve the marinade, dry the mutton off with some kitchen paper. Then heat the oil in Dutch oven or heavy casserole over a medium heat  add the mutton and cook until sealed, browned and  well caramelised  all over. Remove from the pan and add the bacon and onions and cook, stirring until golden, takes about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and add the marinade and stock. Return the mutton to the pan and cover, put into the oven to cook for 45 minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots cover, and return to the oven and cook for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.

    Remove the mutton and vegetables to a warmed dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Bring the pan juices to a boil and boil until reduced and thickened slightly add Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

    To serve carve the mutton into nice thick slices and surround with vegetables, pour over the sauce and serve. Serve and Enjoy!

    NOTES

    It’s sad that still we struggle for the most part in vain to find mutton in butcher’s shops and supermarkets; maybe we should start a campaign? What is the difference between mutton and lamb well mutton has a more intense, richer and has more depth of flavour than lamb and requires longer cooking times. It is extraordinarily well suited to roasting, stewing and braising although mutton can be available all year, the best meat is produced from October to March.

    This is because the sheep have access to nutritious summer and autumn grass and heather, and are able to put on fat before being slaughtered.

    Hebridean, Herdwick, Romney, Shetland, Southdown, and Welsh Mountain are just some breeds of sheep with an historical reputation for producing delicious mutton.


    Chicken with Leek & Mushroom Sauce

    One of my particular favourite meals the cognac, mushrooms, and leek add an elegant touch to the usual chicken breasts. And also at all times it went down a treat for the mid-week evening meals at Wilton Lodge and Norwood West, apart from for Lord H of course he couldn’t eat the leek although he liked the flavour I just used to serve it to him without the leek.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               30 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1¼ pounds total), trimmed

    Salt & freshly ground white pepper to taste

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

    ½ cup sliced leek, white only

    1 tablespoon, chopped fresh thyme

    Two cups, sliced mushrooms

    ¼ cup, Cognac

    1-cup, chicken stock

    2 teaspoons, plain flour

    Lemon juice, to taste

    1 tablespoon, chopped fresh parsley

    METHOD

    Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

    Heat 1½ teaspoons oil in a large frying pan over a medium to high heat, add the chicken, and sear until well browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover, and keep warm.

    Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining 1½ teaspoons of oil to the pan, and then add the leek and thyme. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, and add the mushrooms cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the cognac let the cognac flame if you want to show off a little and then cook for about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl, whisk the stock and flour in a small bowl, add to the pan and cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

    Return the mushroom mixture, chicken and any collected juices to the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.

    Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter, season the sauce with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, spoon over the chicken garnish with parsley and Serve and Enjoy!


    Hake with Peas and Asparagus

    image(Merluza con Guisantes y Esparrgos)

    I remember having this dish many, many years ago at a friend’s house and then in 1972 in the little fishing villages of Cala Bona and Calla Millor (not so small now though) on the island of Mallorca we had it again and again. This recipe is as original as it gets, modern versions differ somewhat but we like this better especially in June when we serve it with steamed Jersey Royal Potatoes.

    Serves / Makes:       4 servings

    Prep-Time:                10 minutes

    Cook-Time:               30 minutes

    YOU WILL NEED

    1 small onion

    1 small carrot

    1 sprig, parsley

    2 tablespoons, olive oil

    1 kilo, peas, frozen or fresh

    1 kilo, hake, cut into portions

    Salt and pepper to taste

    300mls, fish stock, if we have no fish stock we like to use Knorr vegetable gel stockpots

    12, cooked asparagus tips, we like to use the jumbo asparagus

    METHOD

    Chop the onion, carrot, and parsley and fry gently in a saucepan in oil, without browning. Add the peas and the hake, season, add the stock, and simmer for 30 minutes; put the asparagus tips in at the last moment, just to heat through.

    Serve the hake surrounded by the peas, with the asparagus tips on top and Enjoy!


    Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish

    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.



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  • June, What’s in Season This Month


    Our Favourite month and not just because of what is in season and available on the 14th of this month we will have been married for 38 years yes 38 years and is really doesn’t imagefeel like it, here is a photo of us on that day just before we left for Mallorca.

    Now 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 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.

    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 right now and sardines are terrific just grilled with a little seasoning and lemon.


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


    It’s time to fill your basket with herbs and tender young veggies our diminutive balcony garden is now giving us a steady supply of Rocket, Baby Salad Leaves, Mint and Parsley.

    imageimageimage

    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. Apricots, cherries, and gooseberries are worth looking out for.


    Fruit at Its Best

    Apricots, cherries, Strawberries, and gooseberries


    Vegetables at Their Best

    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.

    Herbs: Basil, Chervil, Chives, Dill, Elderflower, Mint, Nasturtium, Parsley (Curly), Parsley (Flat-Leaf), Rosemary, Sorrel, Tarragon, and Thyme.


    Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

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


    Fish and Seafood at Its Best

    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.

    Cod, Crab, Haddock, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bream, 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.


    Dates for your diary:

    11-12 June, Nigel’s Fantastic Food Show, Ewood Park, Blackburn

    Nigel Haworth is returning for a second year to host a two day foodie’s extravaganza. The Fantastic Food Show promises to be an example of real northern hospitality, which means you’ll be leaving with a smile on your face!

    The Cookery Theatre is the place to go to pick up handy tips with the likes of Simon Rimmer and Nigel himself showing what they’re made of.

    There are plenty of local producers keen to answer your questions and show off what they’ve got, so if the cupboard are looking a bit bare, this is a great place to stock up.

    Website: Nigel’s Fantastic Food Show


    16 – 19 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


    On Sonny’s Stall, Tachbrook Street Market;

    imageAsparagus, broad beans, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, new potatoes, peas, radishes, rocket, sorrel, spring onions, watercress along with the most tasty fruits such as Cherries, elderflowers, gooseberries, redcurrants, rhubarb, strawberries, and Raspberries.

     

     

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    imageOur Local Butchers Freeman’s have been getting in;

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

     

     


    Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris, Tachbrook Street Market Has Been Getting In;

    imageAnother great display from Jon including a small shark, 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 wild Scottish Sea Trout, Cornish Dover Sole, Scottish Squid, Scottishimage Langoustines, Halibut, Herring, Lemon Sole, line caught Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Sea Bass, and Cornish Turbot as you will all know by now most 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 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.

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    image

    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.


    Recipes for June

    We bought some Hake from Jon as it is a while since we had some and his looked very fresh and tasty, here are two of my favourite recipes for Hake.


    Hake with Peas and Asparagus (Merluza con Guisantes y Esparrgos)

    Fancy giving cod a rest and trying a different fish for a change?

    I remember having this dish many, many years ago at a friend’s house and then in 1972 in the little fishing villages of Cala Bona and Calla Millor (not so small now though) on the island of Mallorca we had it again and again. This recipe is as original as it gets, modern versions differ somewhat but we like this better especially in June when we serve it with steamed Jersey Royal Potatoes.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 10 minutes

    Cook-Time: 30 minutes


    You Will Need

    1 small onion

    1 small carrot

    1 sprig, parsley

    2 tablespoons, olive oil

    1 kilo, peas, frozen or fresh

    1 kilo, hake, cut into portions

    Salt and pepper to taste

    300mls, fish or vegetable stock, if we have no fish stock we like to use Knorr vegetable gel stockpots

    12, cooked asparagus tips, we like to use the jumbo asparagus


    Method

    Chop the onion, carrot, and parsley and fry gently in a saucepan in oil, without browning. Add the peas and the hake, season, add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes; put the asparagus tips in at the last moment, just to heat through.

    Serve the hake surrounded by the peas, with the asparagus tips on top and Enjoy!


    Pan-Fried Hake with Lemon and Parsley

    This is a very popular recipe in Spain its quick and easy and just right for a light lunch or supper.

    Serves / Makes: 4 servings

    Prep-Time: 10 minutes

    Cook-Time: 12 minutes


    You Will Need

    2 tablespoons, seasoned plain flour

    2 tablespoons, lemon zest, finely grated

    10 grams, fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

    4 small fillets or steaks of hake about 80 to 90 grams each

    2 tablespoons, olive oil


    Method

    Mix together the seasoned flour, lemon zest and parsley, pat onto the fish on both sides well, shaking off any excess. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat; cook the fish for 11 to 12 minutes turning occasionally. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with lemon wedges and seasonal vegetables.

    Enjoy!


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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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    Potted, Meat, Fish, and Shellfish


    A colleague asked what ever happened to potted salmon, potted shrimp, and potted beef?

    Well that is certainly a tough question to answer and one that we had been talking about quite recently, when we found that we could only obtain Morecambe bay potted shrimps online, Maureen loves Morecambe Bay potted shrimp especially from Baxters and I adore potted crab and potted ham and yes my friend you are right potted meats are very hard to find.
    We now make our own, and we are not alone in thinking that chefs today must start putting them on their menus once again below is a quote from Michael Smith found in his book “Fine English Cookery
    “The great British skill of potting meat and fish seems to have been for the most part forgotten by most of today’s chefs. Well made potted foods are national dishes of which we should be justly proud.” (Michael Smith, Fine English Cookery).

    Maureen and I have been making, serving and eating potted meats and fish for most of our working lives, potted beef, potted shrimps, potted salmon and potted game are national treasures and the meat and fish pastes we see in the shops and supermarkets no matter how bland are all based on the cooking technique we call potting and it is such a disgrace that this form of cooking is/has been forgotten by our leading chefs.

    There was a minute, about 15 years ago, when potted meats and fish should/could have made a comeback, contemporary British cooking had rejected the so-called “Nouvelle Cuisine” both chefs and their customers were responding quite angrily in opposition to daft combinations associated with miniscule portions and astronomical prices.

    Rustic, homemade, home cooked and other descriptions started being used and it was thought that a return to good British culinary practices was making a return, what happened?
    Nothing and we blame the experimental chefs with their scientific attitude, in some ways it was fusion cuisine, we could blame Jamie and his continental influence, it was sous-vide (to me that was just a way to get “Boil-in-the-Bag” a respectable image), water baths and other new equipment, the modern chef and the celebrity chef/cook was too busy trying to find new producers or crafting new dishes that took 20 minutes or less to prepare to look back in time to a period of good honest simple cooking.

    If they had looked back to that period of time when chef’s like Albert and Michel Roux were setting up La Gavroche, when John Tovey of Miller Howe was being his brilliant self, or even further back to Elizabeth David and Isabella Mary Beeton they would have found vanished parts of our very own repertoire such as: Pâtés, Terrines, Mousses, Rillettes and of course Potting meat, which when you think about it is the cooking cousin of Rillettes.

    Just have a browse through old recipe books and you’ll find ways of potting every kind of meat and fish, from kippers, salmon, and shellfish to beef, pork, ham, and chicken, and from rabbit to venison.
    Potted meats and fish are likely to be more or less rich, both from rendered fat or butter; than Rillettes, also they have more diverse seasonings than would be used in France, Spain, and Italy.
    Mace is the most usual spice used, although cayenne, ginger, nutmeg and black or white pepper is commonly used as well.

    Potted foods were meant to be used as stored foods pretty much like the meat pastes of today and when I was learning my craft they were frequently made from leftovers you can make potted meat from any leftover roast. Just chop the meat and mix with melted butter, cayenne, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and mace with a little nutmeg, set into a dish with a few herbs or a bay leaf on top, this is my take on Rillettes, an uplifting meal they should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge although why keep them in the fridge just eat them with some toast, homemade relish and some salad.

    So I say bring back our potted meats, fish and seafood, bring back our terrines, mousses and pastes they make a great starters, snacks and sandwich fillers and what’s more they are kind to your pocket and it is beginning to happen!
    Michel Roux serves a beautiful Classic duck foie gras terrine at La Gavroche, Mike Robinson owner of the highly acclaimed Pot Kiln Pub and Restaurant in Yattendon, Berkshire  makes a delightful potted venison and other brave chefs  and establishments such as “The Walrus and The Carpenter” 45 Monument Street, London serve a tasty potted beef at under a fiver.
    Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a great advocate of potting and making terrines and even Jamie has got back on track with a recipe for “Old-fashioned potted crab” although I can’t see a lot of differences between that recipe and a traditional recipe that we use, having said that it is wonderful to see that other chefs across the land are now serving potted meat, fish and shellfish in their restaurants, pubs and bistros.

    Below and on MyDish you will find recipes from myself and others for potted meat, fish and shellfish recipes and served with crusty bread, toast, and some salads and chutneys you will be able to serve up to friends and families a amazingly flavoursome meal.

    On MyDish you will find recipes for;

    Potted Beef and Potted Crab below are recipes from Jo Pratt and myself.

    Jo Pratt’s Potted Prawns and Crab

    These little pots of juicy prawns and sweet crabmeat in a delicate, dill-flavoured butter are perfect for a beach picnic. Spread over some rye or crusty bread for a light, tasty nibble, so says Jo Pratt from the Mail online and we have just got to agree with her and you do not need to change any of this recipe it is as tasty as it is scrumptious!

    Serves / Makes: 2 servings
    Prep-Time:  10 minutes plus 1 hour to chill
    YOU WILL NEED
    75 grams, unsalted butter
    100 grams, cooked and peeled small Atlantic prawns
    100 grams, white crabmeat (preferably fresh but tinned is fine)
    1 teaspoon chopped dill
    Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
    Sea salt
    Cayenne pepper
    Rye or crusty brown bread
    METHOD
    Gently melt the butter in a saucepan and pour into a jug for all the milky solids to sink to the bottom.
    Mix together the prawns, crab, dill and lemon zest and season with salt and a shake of cayenne pepper. Divide between a couple of small pots or ramekins and pack down really well with the back of a spoon. Pour over the clear (clarified) butter to just cover the mixture, leaving behind the milky solids. Chill in the fridge for about 45 minutes to set the butter.
    Cover each pot with cling-film and pack in a cool bag with your chosen bread. Don’t forget some napkins and a couple of knives to scoop out, spread the potted prawns, and crab on to the bread Serve and Enjoy!
    NOTES
    Read more see Jo Pratt on the Mail Online
    Jo Pratt is a regular face on Market Kitchen cooking delicious no-fuss recipes.
    Jo graduated in July 1995 from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA honours degree in Home Economics. She went on to work with Gary Rhodes at the BBC Good Food Show in November 1996, before becoming the main home economist for all his series and books.
    Jo has worked with many other celebrity chefs including Ainsley Harriot, Anthony Worrall Thompson, Jamie Oliver, Tony Tobin, and Brian Turner on various television, demonstrations, and photography projects.
    Readers of Elle magazine will be familiar with her monthly food column, Elle’s Kitchen. She co-wrote The Nation’s Favourite Food in 2003, and provided the recipes for dishes voted for by the British public to accompany the eponymous titled TV series. This year, Jo published her new book In the Mood for Food.

    Potted Shrimp

    Sweet succulent brown shrimp enveloped in a seasoned butter encapsulating a revered stylishness that is simply wonderful for a summery starter or light lunch.

    Coming from Lancashire we have always had Morecambe bay potted shrimps, and when we were at the Willow Tree restaurant at Bolton-le-Sands just outside Morecambe we always used to serve Baxters of Morecambe potted shrimps. After a couple of years and we were moving down to the Great Tree Hotel, Chagford, Devon this was about 1979, I cheekily asked for their recipe, they refused of course but with a little persistence I was able to obtain this recipe not the original but close enough and it quickly became very popular with the patrons at the Great Tree Hotel.
    At Baxters they have been producing Morecambe bay potted shrimps since 1799 and are extremely proud to be the oldest and most traditional such company in the country let alone Morecambe. They pride themselves on quality and their potted shrimps have achieved the highest accolade with the granting of royal warrant in the 1970’s which they retain to this day based on a totally unique recipe which has been handed down through the family for seven generations.

    Serves / Makes: 6 servings
    Prep-Time:  15 minutes
    Cook-Time:  5 minutes
    YOU WILL NEED
    170 grams unsalted butter
    1 teaspoon, ground black pepper
    ½ teaspoon, ground mace
    ½ teaspoon, ground cayenne pepper
    1 small bay leaf
    500 grams, peeled brown shrimps
    Wholemeal brown bread, to serve
    3 lemons cut into wedges
    METHOD
    In a saucepan melt the butter then add the ground black pepper, mace, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf allow the butter to cool until it is just warm, remove the bay leaf.
    Place the shrimp equally into 6 ramekins cover with the spiced butter and a little salt place into the fridge and chill until set.
    Toast the bread and serve warm with the potted shrimp and a wedge of lemon and enjoy!
    NOTES
    Potted shrimps, old fashioned and buttery are eternally associated with Morecambe bay in Lancashire, where shrimps are potted to this day. The main season for them is from August bank holiday (the last Monday in August) to Christmas and it is the peeling that makes potting shrimps so labour intensive thus expensive.
    Morecambe bay brown shrimps are celebrated for their delicate taste and unique texture; they have been caught by local fishermen for hundreds of years. Even though the fishing methods have changed, with the horse and cart being replaced by the tractor, locals still follow the same traditional recipes that have been passed down in their families. Locally caught shrimps, boiled in butter with a secret combination of spices until they are tender they are then sealed with butter and packed into pots, they can be eaten either warm or cold.

    Guinea Fowl Normandé


    This exquisite, classic dish isn’t as rich and fattening as it sounds and it is terrifically yummy, we get our guinea fowl from Sainsbury’s when they have them on special offer at less than £5 per bird.

    Waitrose also have some very nice guinea fowl on their meat counter, more expensive but theirs is free range from the Loire valley. Your local butcher should be able to get guinea fowl for you and there are lots of on-line suppliers of game birds.

    This was always a popular item on the menu at the Great Tree Hotel we used to get our Guinea fowl from a local supplier and my young chefs were always please that he always brought them to us dressed, I suppose all young commis chefs dislike the job of dressing birds I know I did.

    In later years Lord Hanson, Nigel Lawson and William Waldegrave, and many others also liked this dish.

    Serves / Makes:      2 servings

    Prep-Time:               10 minutes

    Cook-Time:              60 minutes

    You Will Need

    2 guinea fowl weighing 800 grams (1 and 3/4 lbs.) each

    1-teaspoon salt

    1 pinch white pepper

    3 tablespoons oil

    ½ cup shelled walnuts

    ½-teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

    1 cup, cider

    1 cup, soured cream

    6 tablespoon Calvados

    2 thin rashers streaky bacon

    450 grams, Bramley apples

    3 tablespoons, butter

    1-teaspoon sugar

    Method

    Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gasmark 6.

    Wash and dry the guinea fowl, then rub well with salt and pepper, brown quickly in oil in a flameproof casserole, and remove from the pan and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.

    Put the walnuts and thyme into the pan and fry, stirring, for 1 minute before slowly adding the cider, soured cream, and Calvados, you can let the calvados flame its only the alcohol that burns off.

    Lay the guinea fowl in the sauce, covering the breasts with 1 bacon rasher each, cover, and put in the oven for 45 minutes.

    Peel, core and slice the apples, melt the butter, and fry the apple slices gently for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with sugar.

    Brown the guinea fowl on a oven tray in the oven for 10 minutes, and reduce the sauce, cut the guinea fowl in halves (we always remove the breastbone, back bone), serve with the sauce, garnished with apple slices and enjoy!

    Notes

    The domestic Guinea Fowl is still found in the wild where it forages in large flocks and is considered a fine game bird. It is mainly kept for food, as its eggs and meat are very good to eat. Sometimes called Pintade, Guinea Fowl are a family of birds originating from Africa, related to other game birds such as the pheasants, turkeys and partridges, and having a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guinea fowl?

    Here in the UK, they were usually known as "Gleanies” the young (called "keets") are very small at birth and are kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure the cooked flesh of guinea fowl resembles chicken in texture, with a flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey it makes a great alternative to chicken for a warming dinner on an autumn night, with a lovely flavour that is slightly gamey but very subtle much less gamier than pheasant or grouse, it can be magnificent when cooked simply. Guinea fowl meat is high in protein and low in cholesterol. It is a good source of vitamin B6, selenium, and niacin.

    Guinea fowl are an important food throughout much of Africa, south of the Sahara, and are found in every region of the world. France, Belgium, and Italy are amongst the largest producers in Europe they are hardy birds that forage for food and so are often farmed in free range or semi wild facilities where they perform a valuable pest control function. They have an acute awareness of predators and so are valued for their role as a ‘watchdog’, alerting farmers to any henhouse intrusions. It is reported that they have the ability to distinguish between farmers’ family members and strangers.

    Buying Guinea Fowl;

    Available all year round

    The Best Season Is; September, October, November, December, January, February

    Look for free-range guinea fowl, rather than the intensively reared birds, many butchers sell free-range guinea fowl imported from France and if you ever see them the eggs are excellent and worth buying.

    Storing Guinea Fowl 

    With giblets removed, a whole guinea fowl will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

    Preparing And Cooking Guinea Fowl

    Guinea fowl is prepared in much the same way as chicken as it is generally a smaller bird, cooking methods that help retain moistness are recommended, pot roasting or casseroling.

    Barding or regular basting is prudent when roasting guinea fowl, legs and wings are also excellent if marinated for a few hours before grilling.

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    Classic Roast Turkey and all the Trimmings


    Keep Christmas straightforward this year, with this timeless recipe a succulent golden roasted turkey with all the trimmings.

    We just find it irresistible at anytime a moist, tender roast turkey and this recipe is the one I have used since I began roasting turkeys professionally way back in about 1968. At The Whitewell Hotel on the 2 weeks run up to Christmas we used to roast 2 to 3 turkeys a day and probably 6 on Christmas day at the Willow Tree restaurant we roasted 6 to 7 each day for the first 3 weeks of December and always had a perfect roast turkey with a golden crispy skin moist tender meat which was very flavoursome.

    Serves / Makes: 6 to 8 servings

    Prep-Time: 15 minutes

    Cook-Time: 3 hours 20 minutes to cook, plus 30 minutes resting

    You Will Need

  • 1 x 5 kilogram fresh turkey, we prefer the Bronze because its meat has a darker colour with a much gamier flavour
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 50 grams, goose fat
  • 6 onions, quartered
  • 1 large bunch of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme

    For The Gravy

  • Turkey, giblets and neck
  • 1 carrot, quartered lengthways
  • 1 stick celery
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 25 grams, flour
  • 1 small glass white wine

    Method

    Remove the turkey from the fridge 2 to 3 hours before you want to cook it, and allow it to reach room temperature.

    Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

    Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time at 20 minutes per 500 grams (so a 5kg turkey will take 3 hours 20 minutes) to make the turkey easier to carve just remove the wishbone with a boning knife remove and reserve the giblets

    Rinse the turkey under cold water, and then pat dry with kitchen towel, season inside the turkey with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then put in the lemon quarters.

    Grease the tin with some of the goose fat, then place the onions and herb sprigs over the bottom, place the turkey on top, then rub the bird with the remaining goose fat and season with sea salt.

    Cover the breast of the turkey with foil and cook in the oven for the calculated cooking time, occasionally basting with the juices.

    About half an hour before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil and return the turkey to the oven to brown the skin.

    At this time make the stock for the gravy by boiling the giblets, neck, vegetables, and bouquet garni.

    Check that the turkey is cooked through by pushing a skewer into the thickest parts of the thighs if the juices are still pink and not clear, return to the oven for a further 15 minutes before testing again.

    Remove the turkey to a large serving dish and cover tightly with buttered foil, leave to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes. The reason for doing this is that resting the bird allows its juices to rise to the surface, making the turkey more juicy to eat and easier to carve.

    While the turkey is resting make the gravy, add enough flour to the roasting pan to take up the fat and drippings and make a roux.

    Add the wine to the pan and make sure to scrape up all the drippings all the flavour is in the bottom of the pan, transfer to a saucepan.

    Add about 500ml of the stock to the saucepan with the bouquet garni and bring to the boil, then simmer until the gravy is reduced you may need to add more stock if the liquid is too thick.

    Season to taste, remove the bouquet garni, and serve in a gravy boat along with the turkey.

    We like to serve the turkey on a dish surrounded by chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon and stuffing balls and sometimes a bread sauce and cranberry jelly.

    Notes

    Using goose fat is the best way to get a crispy finish to both your Christmas bird and roast potatoes.

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