Gosh this year is marching on a pace! Blossom is well and truly on display here, with the magnolias and fruit trees shedding their prettiness already, making way for lush greenery. I am very aware that I’ve been somewhat slack in the food post department of late (sorry!) so am rectifying that now with a bumper ‘end of April, all of May’ one.
As ever, seasonal and local are buzzwords here at Nicholas and White, we are very fortunate to live in a beautiful county with access to fantastic local produce and suppliers of the aforementioned deliciousness who are both friendly and knowledgeable. We are lucky enough to have a bustling monthly Farmers Market, greengrocers, farm shops, a local micro brewery in ‘Hopping Mad’ (which Mr N is very fond of), artisan breadmaker in ‘Amazing Grains’ and three great delicatessens. Several of our local pubs are also very proud of the local provenance of their dishes and beverages and advertise it as such accordingly. Do actively seek out your local suppliers (try bigbarn.co.uk for local to you info) and make full use of them, there is nothing better or tastier than enjoying high quality, local produce and doing your bit for your local economy.
Moving along to seasonal delights….Traditionally, Spring was known as the ‘Hunger Gap’ as it was historically a time for planting rather than harvesting crops, of reaching the tail end of the pickles and preserves that had been made from the summer gluts and stored up for use over the winter months, but, climatic changes *read unpredictable weather* and air freighting have changed how we farm and feed ourselves. The veggies below are what are traditionally available to us at this time of year, but we do obviously have other veg that are grown and available year round here in the UK, and of course courtesy of the supermarkets you can eat whatever you fancy pretty much year round! In terms of meat and fish, lamb is at its best now, along with brown trout, herring, plaice, langoustine and Atlantic cod to name a few (see our foodie post back in Nov ‘13 for full pdf of MSC fish calendar).
Asparagus – loves being a bread substitute for dippy eggs and soldiers, butter, hollandaise, parma ham, shellfish, salmon, parmesan. Steam, boil, roast, griddle, anything goes!
Beetroot – loves apple, feta, watercress, carrots, lentils – delicious grated raw over salad leaves and lightly dressed, juiced with apple and ginger, you can eat the leaves too, just treat as you would spinach or chard.
Spring Greens – lovely steamed or lightly sautéed with garlic and butter, use as you would cabbage.
Wild Garlic – smaller and more delicate that ‘normal’ bulb garlic, think chive like in flavour, leaves are tasty in soup, mixed through mashed spuds, in salads – if you don’t have anywhere local (wild garlic favours woodlands) to forage, try your greengrocers.
Early carrots – smaller and more delicate in flavour than main crop variety, so don’t overcook. The green frilly fronds can be used like you would parsley.
Chard – loves eggs, chilli, spices, sausages, parmesan, nuts and cream. Great in quiches and omelettes, added to curries in place of spinach, gratins, stir fried…
Jersey Royals – as a Jersey Girl, the only way to eat these beautiful gems for me personally is swimming in Jersey butter with some salt and pepper, a seaview and a cold, crisp glass of white!
New Potatoes – self explanatory really, smaller that the main crop variety, a good scrub, a sprig of mint and butter are all these need.
Leeks and Spring Onions – very happily married with any cheese, lovely with eggs, lentils, crème fraiche, lamb, mint, coriander… gently pan fried and put on toast with some cheese under the grill and you have a simple but delicious speedy treat.
Purple Sprouting Broccoli – to keep the colour, stir fry or griddle as boiling/ steaming leeches the colour but most importantly, not the taste.
Early or Forced Rhubarb – loves vanilla, pork, ginger, duck, mackerel, chilli, cream, oats, crumble topping: a favourite here in the Nicholas house (well, 4 out of 5 love it!) as a compote on porridge, in crumble, with pork (Jamie O has a fab recipe for it), made into cordial. It also freezes well (uncooked).
So, what’s for supper then? Happy eating, promise not to leave it so long next time! Mrs N x
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