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Seasonal Recipes and What's in Season Guide

Seasonal Recipes

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

Whether you are cooking for yourself, the family or a dinner party the following recipes, gleened from friends, family and some celebrity chefs are sure to please - all Tried, Trusted and Enjoyed.

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What's in Season in DECEMBER?

Cauliflower Celery
Cranberries Goose
Red Cabbage Sprouts
Swede Turkey !
Gobble... gobble… Yes it’s that time already. Other than Turkey, Game Meat is fabulous right now, as are Winter Root Veg, Apples, Pears, Walnuts & Chestnuts. For a lighter option Sea Bass, Brill, Hake and Oysters are excellent too.

Simple Seasonal Recipes

Seasonal Recipes at a Glance

Recipe Archive
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Braised Red Cabbage Recipe

Braised Red Cabbage

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.
English White ...
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Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, Pancetta and Parsley Recipe

Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts, Pancetta and Parsley

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.
Delicious with Turkey or Goose, see Wines for both ...
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Cauliflower, Broccoli and Mature Cheddar Gratin Recipe

Cauliflower, Broccoli and Mature Cheddar Gratin

The mild, delicate flavour and firm texture of Cauliflower teams very well with melted cheese. Give good old fashioned cauliflower cheese a contemporary twist with this quick recipe for a simple supper or delicious side dish for ham and bacon joints. Cauliflower, Broccoli and Mature Cheddar Gratin
Serves:  2
Preparation Time:  10 - 15 mins
Cooking Time:  10 - 15 mins
250g broccoli , cut into florets
250g cauliflower , cut into florets
100g half-fat crème fraîche
50g mature cheddar , grated, plus extra to grill
a small bunch chives , chopped
1. Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Mix the crème fraîche, cheese and chives and toss with the veg.

2. Pile into 2 small ovenproof dishes and top with a handful more cheese. Grill until golden.
When buying Cauliflower choose those that have pure white heads without any blemishes. The outer green leaves should be crisp and the underside base should be white, indicating that it has been freshly picked.
Vouvray ...
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Chestnut, Bacon and Cranberry Stuffing Recipe

Chestnut, Bacon and Cranberry Stuffing

These deep scarlet, plump little berries have a tart flavour and are vitamin rich. Buy them fresh at this time of year to make your own cranberry sauce, pie, jelly or relish. Their natural sugars intensify when dried making them more palatable. The following recipe is a festive treat and will make a memorable stuffing for any bird. Chestnut, Bacon and Cranberry Stuffing
Serves:  8 - 10
Preparation Time:  35 mins
Cooking Time:  40 mins
100g dried cranberries
50ml ruby port
1 small onion , chopped
2 rashers unsmoked back bacon , cut into strips
50g butter
2 garlic cloves , chopped
450g sausage meat
140g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
140g peeled, cooked chestnuts , roughly chopped
1 medium egg , lightly beaten
1. Soak the cranberries in the port for an hour. Fry the onion and bacon gently in the butter, until the onion is tender and the bacon is cooked. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.

2. Cool slightly, and then mix with all the remaining ingredients, including the cranberries and port, adding enough egg to bind - I find it easiest to use my hands. Fry a knob of stuffing in a little butter, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

3. Use to stuff the neck cavity of your bird securing the flap over the stuffing with either a skewer or with a trussing needle and fine twine. Any extra stuffing can be placed in an ovenproof dish, covered with tinfoil and cooked in the oven for the last 30 minutes or so of cooking time.
Semi-dried and dried berries add colour, texture and flavour to muffins, biscuits, and fruit mincemeats. Try combining them with white chocolate for an indulgent treat, or sprinkle a few into breakfast muesli.
Delicious with Turkey or Goose, see Wines for both ...
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Chicken with Braised Celery and Cider Recipe

Chicken with Braised Celery and Cider

Tall, juicy and crunchy celery stalks add a good base flavour to stocks, soups and stews. You can also serve them as a crudités to scoop up dips, or with cheese. The recipe below is a simple dish that tastes fantastic; pairing braised celery with chicken it makes a fantastic winter warming dish. Chicken with Braised Celery and Cider
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  1hr 40 mins
small knob of butter
1 chicken , weighing about 2kg/4lb 8oz
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon , chopped
1 onion , finely chopped
2 carrots , diced
sprig thyme
2 celery hearts, quartered
150ml dry cider
300ml chicken stock
1. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Heat the butter in a large casserole dish and brown the chicken slowly on all sides; this should take a good 10-15 mins. (Be patient, it will pay off later.)

2. Take the chicken out of the dish, throw in the bacon and cook for 3-4 mins until starting to crisp, then add the onion, carrots and thyme and continue to cook for 4-5 mins until the vegetables soften.

3. Stir the celery into the dish, and then nestle the chicken amongst the veg, breast side down. Pour over the cider and stock, bring to a simmer, and then roast the chicken uncovered for 1 hr.

4. Turn the chicken the right way up and give it 30 mins more, by which point the legs should be coming away. Carefully lift the chicken from the dish. Check the seasoning of the vegetables and serve with the chicken.
When buying celery look for firm, tightly formed stalks that are evenly shaped and have bright green leaves. The darker green examples will have a stronger flavour than the lighter shades of green/white.
Dry Vintage Cider or Chablis ...
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Green Pesto Turkey Salad with Pine Nuts and Iceberg Recipe

Green Pesto Turkey Salad with Pine Nuts and Iceberg

Its turkey time again already and no doubt on Christmas day the majority of us will have our dining tables straining under the weight of this big bird. If you do have any leftovers, forget the turkey sandwiches… turkey curry… turkey pie… etc and try this recipe from Phil Vickery – it looks and tastes superb. Green Pesto Turkey Salad with Pine Nuts and Iceberg
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  None
150ml mayonnaise
3 tbsp readymade green pesto
2 tsp fresh chives, chopped
2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
15g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp cold water
salt and freshly ground black pepper
350g cooked British turkey, roughly chopped
100g roasted red peppers from a jar, sliced
1 small iceberg lettuce, roughly chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
25g pine nuts, toasted
French bread and lemon or lime to serve
1. Place the mayonnaise in a jug with the pesto, chives, parsley, spring onions and half the Parmesan cheese. Whisk in the vinegar and water to make a loose dressing and season to taste.

2. Toss together the chopped turkey, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and pine nuts in a serving bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

3. To serve, pile onto plates and serve with crusty French bread and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
Buy your Turkey from a trusted source to ensure high quality meat – a good butcher, farm shop or producer – they will be able to tell you about the traceability of your bird; where it came from and how it was reared.
Vermentino from Sardinia ...
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Roast Goose with Prune and Chestnut Stuffing Recipe

Roast Goose with Prune and Chestnut Stuffing

To me the highlight of any Christmas feast is goose – the rich succulent meat and delicious crispy skin is superb. Whether you choose to eat your goose on Christmas day or Boxing Day, try this delicious recipe for a sweet and savoury stuffed roast goose for a grand feast, courtesy of the British Goose Producers Association. Roast Goose with Prune and Chestnut Stuffing
Serves:  10
Preparation Time:  20 mins + 1 hour soaking time
Cooking Time:  3 to 4 hours
450g/1lb prunes, pitted
240ml/8fl oz port
1kg/2.25lb fresh chestnuts
30g/1oz butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
6 stalks celery, chopped
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

5.4kg/12lb oven-ready goose with giblets
cooking oil or butter
1. Soak the prunes for one hour in the port.

2. Meanwhile prepare the chestnuts. Make a slit in the top of each one with a sharp knife. Put them in boiling water and simmer for ten minutes. Remove a few at a time with a slotted spoon. Wearing clean rubber gloves, slip off the outer and inner skins. Place the chestnuts in a large bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook without browning until the onion has softened.

4. Add the chestnuts and prunes with the port they have been soaking in and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

5. Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper.

1. Remove the giblets and cook them in at least 2-3l/4-6 pint of water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3-4 hours then strain and thicken the stock to make the gravy.

2. Stuff the goose with the prune and chestnut stuffing, or as an alternative fill the body cavity with leek tops and chopped apple and cook the stuffing separately in a dish.

3. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

4. Prick the skin and rub salt and pepper all over it, then brush with cooking oil or butter. Cover the legs with spare fat taken from the inside of the goose.

5. Line a large, deep meat tin with foil so you can make a parcel of the goose. Place the goose on a trivet or rack in the meat tin, breast side up. If a trivet is not available, place the goose on the foil in the tin. Wrap the goose in foil, making sure there is double protection over the legs.

6. Place the goose in the oven, allowing 15 minutes per 0.45kg/1lb plus 20 minutes, thus 3½ hours for 12lb goose.

7. After the first hour baste the goose and make sure the legs are still covered and that the skin is not burning.

8. For the last half to three-quarters of an hour of cooking uncover the breast to brown, and baste again.

9. Lift the goose on to a carving dish to rest for approximately 20 minutes before carving. Keep covered.
When buying goose look for plump birds with pale skin and a good layer of fat – this will ensure that the bird is meaty and will be succulent and moist when cooked. For premium quality and flavour buy an organic or free range bird from a trusted source.
Claret, especialy Margaux ...
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Root Vegetable Mash Recipe

Root Vegetable Mash

The bulbous Swede may not be the most attractive of vegetables and can be a little tough to peel, although make that small effort and you have a sweet nutty addition to stews and casseroles or a tasty side dish, either roasted or mashed. The following recipe is a simple, peel it and boil it dish that tastes great and is one of my favourite veg dishes to serve with a roast chicken or duck dinner. Root Vegetable Mash
Serves:  6 - 8
Preparation Time:  10 mins
Cooking Time:  20 mins
½ Swede
2 parsnips
3 to 4 medium sized carrots
1 onion
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
Few sprigs of thyme
Large knob of butter
Salt & pepper
1. Peel and chop the Swede, parsnips, carrots and onions to roughly the same size (no need to be too precise) Remove the skin from the Garlic.

2. Add the chopped ingredients to a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and a few sprigs of thyme and bring to the boil.

3. Cover and simmer on a medium heat for 20minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

4. Drain all of the water (you can save this to add to your gravy) add a large knob of butter to the pan and season well with salt and pepper.

5. Mash all ingredients with a potato masher until coarsely mashed.
When buying Swede look for smooth unblemished kin and a firm texture. The smaller Swedes are usually sweeter and tenderer than the larger examples.
Delicious with Turkey or Goose, see Wines for both ...
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