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Seasonal Recipe Archive

Seasonal Recipes

Simple, straight forward recipes that are easy to prepare, using seasonal ingredients, tried, trusted and brought to you by the Essex Gourmet Food and Drink Guide...

The following recipes have been archived throughout the year from our seasonal recipe feature. You can search the archive by month or enter a specific ingredient or dish name, to find a recipe that is sure to please - Tried, Trusted & Enjoyed.

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Aubergines are firm fleshy fruits, although they are used as a vegetable and are fabulous grilled or baked. The flesh when cooked becomes soft and succulent. They are widely used in Asian, Spanish and Greek dishes and are very good in curries. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to salt aubergines as modern varieties are a great deal less bitter than they used to be. This recipe is one of my favourites and although it looks complex it is quite simple to prepare. Asian Aubergine and Pork Hotpot
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   15 mins
Cooking Time:   1 hour 20 mins
3 tbsp Sunflower oil
750g of skinless pork belly, cut into large chunks
2 Aubergines, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp Dark muscovado sugar
5 Star anise
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Large Onion, chopped
2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
A very large knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely sliced or grated
1 Red chilli, deseeded and sliced
1 Bunch coriander, leaves and stalks separated, stalks finely chopped
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1. Pre heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in an ovenproof sauté pan and brown the meat well (you may have to do this in batches), then scoop out of the pan.

3. Add the rest of the oil and the aubergine, brown on all sides, and then scoop out and add to the pork.

4. Tip the sugar into the pan and leave to caramelise slightly, then return the pork and aubergine to the pan with the star anise and cinnamon, coating it all in the sticky caramel.

5. Add the onions, ginger, garlic and half of the chilli, and cook for a few mins with the pork.

6. Add the coriander stalks and splash in the fish sauce and enough water (or stock if you prefer) to come to about a third of the way up, or half way up if you want more sauce.

7. Cover and place the dish, undisturbed, in the oven for 1 hr, then remove from the oven and add the lime juice and more fish sauce to taste.

8. Stir through half the coriander leaves and the remaining chilli, and scatter over the rest of the coriander.

You should have a hotpot of tender meat with soft aubergines all in a punchy little sauce. Fabulous served simply with steamed or boiled rice.
When buying Aubergines, look for glossy, smooth and unblemished skin and weighty, firm flesh. Store in the fridge for around 4-6 days.
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Broccoli is such a fabulously versatile vegetable; you can bake it with cheese or pasta, stir fry it with some oyster sauce, steam it and smother it in butter and pepper or cut it up fresh in salads or with a dip. Try the recipe below it is a real winner. Asian Style Broccoli Salad
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   5 mins
Cooking Time:   40 mins
1 tbsp Soy sauce
1 tbsp Rice vinegar
1 tbsp Sesame oil
1tbsp Honey
1 large Head of broccoli
1 tbsp Sesame seeds
Pinch of white pepper
1. Whisk the soy sauce, vinegar, oil and honey in a large bowl until blended. Add a pinch of white pepper and more soy to taste if required.

2. Steam the broccoli florets for five minutes or until tender. Set to one side to cool.

3. In a heavy pan, add the sesame seeds and stir over a medium heat until golden. Transfer the seeds to a clean dish to cool.

4. Stir in the broccoli and half the sesame seeds to the bowl containing the vinegar and oil mixture. Leave to marinate at room temperature for a minimum of half an hour, stirring occasionally.

5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli to a serving dish and then pour over the dressing.

6. Sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds and serve with fish, chicken, noodles or rice.
When buying Broccoli, look for a firm texture and vibrant deep green flowers without any signs of yellowing. Store in an airtight bag in the fridge.
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I included an Asparagus recipe last month, although cannot resist offering another to celebrate the new season British asparagus, after all, it is popularly heralded as the best asparagus in the world and the season is so short. This month I have chosen the absolute classic of asparagus with hollandaise sauce – it is a classic for a reason you know. This is Mark Hix's recipe and works a treat. Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   15 mins
Cooking Time:   10 mins
1kg medium asparagus
Salt
For the hollandaise
40ml white wine vinegar
40ml water
1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
A few sprigs of tarragon
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
200g unsalted butter
3 small egg yolks
Freshly ground white pepper
1. For the hollandaise, put the wine vinegar, water, shallot, herbs and peppercorns into a small pan and reduce the liquid by boiling for a few minutes until there is no more than a dessertspoonful. Strain the liquor through a sieve and leave to cool.

2. To clarify the butter, melt it slowly in a pan, then simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat, leave to cool a little, then pour off the clarified butter that has separated form the whey; discard the whey. (Clarifying helps to keep the hollandaise thick.)

3. Put the egg yolks and half of the vinegar reduction in a small heatproof bowl (or double boiler). Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk, using a hand-held electric beater, until the mixture begins to thicken and become frothy. Slowly trickle in the butter, whisking continuously. If the butter is added too quickly, the sauce will separate.

4. When you've added two-thirds of the butter, taste the sauce and add a little more, or all, of the remaining vinegar reduction. Then add the rest of the butter. The sauce shouldn't be too vinegary, but the vinegar should just cut the oiliness of the butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm, but not hot, place until needed. If necessary, the hollandaise can be reheated over a bowl of hot water and lightly whisked again before serving.
For the asparagus, bring a pan of well-salted water to the boil. Trim off the tough ends of the asparagus, then add to the pan. Cook in gently simmering salted water for 4-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and arrange on warm plates.

Either spoon the hollandaise sauce over the tips of just-cooked asparagus, or serve separately in small bowls. Eat with your fingers; it tastes much better.
When buying asparagus look for firm green stems and tight, crisp tips. To store asparagus, Trim the ends and stand them upright in a jar with about an inch of water in the bottom. Cover with a loose or perforated plastic bag and store spears in the refrigerator for up to two days.
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Wild rabbit is a very low fat meat that has a subtle gamey flavour. Many people liken it to chicken, although I remember my Mother trying to kid my brother and I that rabbit was chicken and apart from the obvious shape difference, the flavour is richer and the meat much darker. I am now a great fan of rabbit meat – it took a while. The recipe below is simple one pot dish that is excellent served with some crusty bread. Baked Rabbit with Green Olives and Lemon
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   20 mins
Cooking Time:   1 hour 30 mins
1 rabbit , jointed into 6-8 pieces (ask the butcher to do this)
olive oil
1 onion , finely chopped
2 garlic cloves , crushed
4 tbsp chopped parsley
oregano or marjoram, finely chopped to make 1 tbsp
1 lemon , zested and juiced
a handful of green olives , pitted or whole
3 potatoes , cut into chunks
300ml white wine
1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Brown the rabbit pieces in a little olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole then remove.

2. Tip in a little more oil, add the onion and fry over a low heat for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the garlic, 2 tbsp parsley and the oregano or marjoram. Cook until an aromatic paste, then return the rabbit to the casserole.

4. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, the olives, potatoes and wine. Bring to the boil and season well.

5. Cover with a lid and bake for 1 hour, remove the lid and bake for a further 30 minutes to reduce the sauce a little. Stir in the remaining parsley.
When buying wild rabbit go for those under the 1kg, as although you may have less meat it will be more tender and succulent. For larger beast, make sure you cook them slowly as their meat may be a little tough.
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Courgettes are versatile, tender and delicately flavoured baby marrows harvested before they develop. They have a high water content and are great cooked in tempura batter or thinly sliced lengthways, griddled and rolled around some tasty morsels as a canapé. The recipe below is a delicious, easily prepared week day side dish that packs both flavour and a vitamin punch. Baked Ratatouille
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   15 mins
Cooking Time:   1 hour
1 Large aubergine
4 Small courgettes or 2 large
2 Red or yellow peppers
4 Large ripe tomatoes
2 Medium onions
3 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
5 Tbsp olive oil
A few sprigs of thyme
3 Tbsp red wine
1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F = 200 degrees C or Gas mark 6

2. Chop all of the vegetables into bite size chunks:

a. Cut the aubergine in half lengthways. Slice in half lengthways again and then across into 1.5cm chunks. Cut off the courgettes ends, then across into 1.5cm slices.
b. Cut around the stalk of the peppers, then cut into 3 pieces. Cut away any membrane, then chop into bite-size chunks.
c. Cut the tomatoes in half and then quarter.
d. Peel the onions, cut in half and then quarter.

3. Transfer all chopped vegetable to large baking pan. Ad your chopped garlic.

4. Remove the thyme leaves from the stalks, by just stripping downwards and add to the pan.

5. Drizzle over the olive oil and the wine and mix everything together (your hands are the best tool for this job) and place the baking pan at a medium-high level in your preheated oven.

6. Stir once after half an hour to ensure that the edges of the vegetable do not blacken.

Serve simply with some crusty bread, or as a side dish to chicken, meat or sausages. Delicious.
When buying courgettes, go for the smaller younger specimins that feel heavy and firm and have a glossy appearance – they will have more flavour.
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Mmmm, those plump yellow kernels bursting with fresh juiciness - sweetcorn, or corn on the cob is fabulous fresh from the field. The fresher the better, as it will start to toughen the longer it is left. I usually steam or boil it and eat it with seasoning and lots of butter, however, this recipe from Bill Granger is a fabulous flavour combination and very simple. Barbecued Whole Corn with Coriander and Lime Butter
Serves:  6
Preparation Time:   15 mins
Cooking Time:   20 mins
6 corn on the cob
1 tbsp Olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper
100g Butter, softened
1 red chilli, finely diced
2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 lime, grated zest
1. Pull back the husk of each corn, but take care to leave them attached. Clean the corns and remove the silk.

2. Brush the corn with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Replace the husks and tie the ends in place with kitchen string.

3. Barbecue, over hot coals for 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

4. While the corn is cooking, put the butter, chilli, coriander and lime zest in a bowl and beat to blend everything together.

5. Shape the butter into a cylinder about 4cm diameter. Roll in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed (alternatively, you can serve it straight from the bowl if preferred).

6. When the corn is tender and charred on the outside, take the cobs off the barbecue and serve with the lime butter.
Buy sweetcorn that is still in its husk, it will keep longer that way. The husk should be green in colour and a snug fit.
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The tightly packed vibrantly coloured red cabbage makes an excellent winter side dish; slow cooked and served with pork or game meat. The following recipe is an excellent accompaniment to roast goose or duck for a fabulously flavoured festive feast. Braised Red Cabbage
Serves:  6 - 8
Preparation Time:   15 mins
Cooking Time:   1 to 1 1/2 hours
1 medium red cabbage, quartered, cored and sliced
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
80g/3oz dried cranberries
2 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 tsp ground cinnamon
25g/1oz demerara sugar
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/3325F/Gas 3.

2. Mix the cabbage with the rest of the ingredients and put in an ovenproof dish.

3. Season well and cover with foil.

4. Bake in the oven for 60-90 minutes until the cabbage is tender and juicy. Mix the ingredients together 2-3 times during cooking.

You can Allow this dish to cool and store in the fridge and reheat when needed.
When buying red cabbage look for those that look bright, have crispy leaves without any small ‘insect’ holes in them and feel heavy for their size.
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Brill is a flat fish that is closely related to the turbot and megrim. This fish alters it’s skin colour to fit in with it’s envitonment, so often has a sand and pebble like look to it. Brills delicious subtle flavours and soft texture are best suited to simple cooking. It can be poached, steamed, fried, seared or grilled, then served with a simple sauce, as with this fresh and simple recipe below. Brill with Lettuce and Pea Broth
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   10 min
Cooking Time:   30 mins
3 shallots, finely sliced
1tbsp butter
1tbsp olive oil
100ml dry white wine
250ml chicken or vegetable stock
300g green peas, frozen
sea salt and pepper
½tsp sugar
half iceberg lettuce
4 white fish fillets (such as brill) ~
1tbsp butter
1tbsp chopped parsley
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a saucepan, and gently cook the shallots until soft, for about 10 minutes. Cook the peas in salted, simmering water for 5 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.

2. Add the white wine to the shallots and bring to the boil, stirring. Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper and sugar, and bring to the boil. Separate the leaves of the lettuce and tear them in half. Add the leaves and peas to the broth. Simmer and cover for 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan and fry the fish, skinside down, until it is almost cooked, turning briefly to do the other side. Season well. Ladle the wilted lettuce, peas and broth into four warmed shallow bowls, and top with the fish. Scatter with parsley and serve.
When buying brill, look for red, alive-looking gills and bright skin. The white fillets should glisten and smell fresh of the sea.
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If, like me, your love for brussel sprouts is beginning to wane at this time of year, then eat the tops of this tasty vegetable instead. These dark green leaves have a savoy cabbage like quality to them with a robust flavour and only a subtle taste of sprouts. As it is the Chinese New Year festivities, why not try them with an oriental twist as with this recipe courtesy of Anthony W T. Brussel Tops with Oyster Sauce
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:   10 - 15 minutes
Cooking Time:   10 minutes
450g/1lb brussel tops, chopped (you could also use a mixture of green veg such as broccoli, chard or pak choi)
2tsp sesame oil
2 tsp groundnut or vegetable oil
2.5cm/1in piece root ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 small chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
55ml/3 tbsp oyster sauce
55ml/3 tbsp Chinese rice wine (mirin) or dry sherry
55ml/3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp clear honey
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and then add the brussel tops and blanch for 5 - 6 minutes, or, until wilted and tender. Drain well and place on a warm serving dish. Keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, heat the sesame and the groundnut or vegetable oil in a small frying pan.

3. Add the ginger, chilli and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, then add the oyster sauce, mirin or sherry, soy and honey and heat through. Pour over the brussel tops and serve at once.
When preparing brussel tops, tear the leaves from the stalk and wash them. Discard any hard outer leaves as they may be a little 'woody.'
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Love them or hate them what is a Christmas Dinner without good old Brussels Sprouts… let alone the bubble and squeak breakfast on Boxing Day. Personally, I love the sweet, nutty taste of Brussels – just don’t overcook them! To jazz up our little green friends try this simple recipe – it is a real winner. Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, Pancetta and Parsley
Serves:  8
Preparation Time:   15 - 20 mins
Cooking Time:   15 mins
1kg/2¼lb Brussels sprouts
1 tbsp vegetable oil
250g/9oz pancetta, rind removed and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
2 tbsp butter
250g vacuum-packed chestnuts
60ml/2fl oz marsala
1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1. Slice the bottoms off each of the Brussels sprouts, cutting a cross onto the base of them as you go.

2. Place the Brussels sprouts into a large saucepan of salted boiling water. Cook the Brussels sprouts for five minutes, or until they are tender but still retain a bit of bite.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and drain the excess water from the Brussels sprouts.

4. Heat the oil in a large clean saucepan. Add the pancetta cubes to the pan and cook until they are crisp and golden-brown in colour, but not cooked to the point of having dried out.

5. Add the butter and the chestnuts to the pancetta saucepan and with a wooden spoon or spatula, press down on them to break them up into pieces. Once the chestnuts have been warmed through, turn the heat up and add the marsala to the pan. Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.

6. Add the sprouts and half the parsley to the saucepan and mix well. Season the Brussels sprouts with freshly ground black pepper.

7. To serve, place the Brussels sprouts onto a warmed serving plate and sprinkle the remaining chopped parsley over the top.
When buying Brussels Sprouts look for plump, bright green examples with tightly packed leaves – the smaller the sprout the sweeter they will be. If you can buy them still attached to their long stalk – they will keep for longer.
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