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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 JANUARY?

Cabbage Cockles
Carrots Forced Rhubarb
Hare Lemons
Scallops Turbot
Make the most of delicious British Pears and Walnuts as they will soon disappear from our shelves. Root Vegetables, Squash, Maincrop Potatoes and Game are still wonderful at this time of year, so eat well!

Simple Seasonal Recipes

Seasonal Recipes at a Glance

Recipe Archive
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Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup) Recipe

Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)

I tried this dish first when I was a student and was an immediate fan – a thick, warming soup with the freshness of the greens, spice of the sausage and a smoky hint of paprika – a one pot winner. This recipe is the closest to the way my Portugese friend prepared Caldo Verde, courtesy of those hairy biker blokes. Caldo Verde (Portuguese Green Soup)
Serves:  6 - 8
Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
60ml/2¼fl oz olive oil
1 chorizo sausage (about 250g)
4 large potatoes peeled & chopped (the recipe states 6, although I find 4 plenty)
1.5 litres/2 pints 13fl oz good vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
1 medium dark green cabbage or large bunch of kale
Smoked paprika and olive oil, for dressing
1. Sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent.

2. Chop the sausage into small chunks and add to the onion.

3. Sweat the onions and sausage for a few more minutes and then add the diced potatoes. They will absorb all the flavour from the sausage.

4. Transfer the mixture to a large pan, add the stock, seasoning and bay leaves, and cook gently until the potatoes are soft.

5. Meanwhile, very finely chop the cabbage.

6. When the potatoes are ready, mash them into the broth to make a thick base.

7. Add as much cabbage as the broth will support.

8. Simmer for a few minutes.

9. Mix the smoked paprika with some olive oil to make a dressing, and swirl this into the soup.

10. Serve with good bread and enjoy.
When buying cabbage, there are so many varieties to choose from - look for fresh leaves with no sign of limpness, and heads which are firm and unbroken.
Vinho Verde or Douro Red ...
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Carrot and Garlic Salad Recipe

Carrot and Garlic Salad

I travelled around Russia and the Ukraine for a while with a Russian friend. I was fortunate enough to be hospitably invited to many of his friends homes for dinner and drinks. We usually ate very simply - lots of boiled potatoes with mounds of butter, spicy sausage or chicken and this carrot salad. It really is very good and is also very healthy, which is a bonus! Carrot and Garlic Salad
Serves:  4 as a side dish
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  As long as it takes to boil an egg
3 large carrots
3 garlic cloves
3-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise, or yogurt, or sour cream
1 hard-boiled egg
1/4 tsp sugar
pinch of salt
1. Peel and grate the carrots.

2. Peel and chop the garlic and then sprinkle with the salt and sugar. Use the back of a large heavy knife to crush the garlic into a paste – the salt and sugar will act as an abrasive.

3. Mix the carrots and garlic.

4. Add your choice of mayonnaise, sour cream or yoghurt and mix well.

5. Peel the egg, and cut it into half-rings.

6. Put the carrot-garlic mix in a salad bowl, decorate with egg slices, and serve.
When buying carrots, If the leaves are attached, they should be slightly damp with a fresh green colour. If you're planning to keep them for a few days, cut the leafy tops away. They'll keep for about 4-6 days in a cool dry cupboard.
White Colombard or Pacherenc Vic Bilh ...
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Cockle and Smoked Haddock Chowder Recipe

Cockle and Smoked Haddock Chowder

I’m sure we have all tried cockles, laced in vinegar and with a dash of sandy grit, which may have put you off. However, fresh cockles are actually quite a versatile, delicious, sweet and subtly fishy mollusc that can be used in pasta, risotto dishes, soups or cooked mariner as you would mussels. So ditch the vinegar and try this hearty chowder on a cold winters evening for a truly tasty treat. Cockle and Smoked Haddock Chowder
Serves:  4 – 6
Preparation Time:  25 minutes
Cooking Time:  35 minutes
2 sticks Celery, diced
2 medium Onions, diced
2 medium Carrots, diced
225g Potatoes, diced
2 Bay leaves
1.2 litres full cream milk
150ml dry sherry
1 pinch salt and fresh ground black pepper
450g natural smoked haddock, or cod, skinned
600g cockles, shelled, cleaned and ready to eat
2 tbsp Olive oil
150g streaky bacon lardons
50g butter, melted
1 small baguette, cut into slices
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1. Heat a large saucepan. Add the celery, onion, carrot, potatoes and bay leaves.

2. Pour in the milk and the sherry. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover with a tight fitting lid.

3. Increase the heat and simmer the vegetables gently until they are cooked through, skimming off the surface of the mixture as necessary.

4. Cut the smoked fish into bite-size chunks, add to the milk and vegetable mixture, together with the cockles, and then replace the lid and simmer gently for five to eight minutes.

5. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the lardons until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

6. Brush the baguette slices with butter on both sides and griddle or fry until golden.

7. Ladle the cockle chowder into bowls, garnish with crispy bacon and parsley and serve immediately with the croutons.
When buying molluscs, they should have a pleasant sea smell and be firmly closed. Store them at the bottom of your fridge in a large bowl covered with a damp cloth and use within 3 days.
Dry Fino Sherry or Chardonnay d'Oc ...
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Hare Casserole Recipe

Hare Casserole

The English Brown Hare is a delicious and lean meat that has a richer, gamier taste than wild rabbit and is very healthy. A decent sized hare can feed up to eight people, so it is also good for the pocket. Hare Casserole
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 minutes
Cooking Time:  2 hours
25 g butter
1 clove of garlic, crushed
4 hare portions
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
300 ml stock
300 ml red wine
3 tbsp freshly chopped mixed herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley.)
125 g button mushrooms
1 tbsp cornflour, blended with a little water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4.

2. Melt the butter in a pan, add the garlic and fry the hare portions on both sides, until golden.

3. Transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish with the carrots, onion, stock, wine and most of the herbs.

4. Cover and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

5. Stir in the mushrooms, blended cornflour and seasoning.

6. Cook for a further 1/2 hour.

7. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs before serving.
To joint a hare: cut the hind quarters away from the body and separate the legs. Halve the leg joints. Cut the body (saddle) horizontally through the backbone into two or three portions, stopping at the rib cage. Cut lengthways through the breastbone.
California Zinfandel or Barolo ...
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Rhubarb and Cardamon Fool Recipe

Rhubarb and Cardamon Fool

Rhubarb Fool is quite an old and well used recipe. Adding cardamons gives the dessert a sophisticated twist which works very well. Rhubarb and Cardamon Fool
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  45 minutes
450g rhubarb, trimmed & coarsely chopped
150g caster sugar
Grated rind & juice of 1 orange
3 cardamon pods
100ml double cream
100ml plain yoghurt
1. Preheat oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5.

2. Mix the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and zest together and place in an ovenproof dish. Add cardamon pods. Cover and bake for 30 -45 minutes or until completely soft.

3. Allow to cool completely.

4. Remove cardamon pods and purée fruit.

5. Whip the cream with the yoghurt until just holding (soft peaks.)

6. Carefully fold the purée in with the cream so you have a ripple effect.

7. Serve in chilled glasses.
When preparing rhubarb make sure you wash and remove all the leaf which can be toxic due to high levels of oxalic acid.
Muscat de Beaumes de Venise or Moscatel de Valencia ...
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Roast Pheasant with Lemon and Rosemary Recipe

Roast Pheasant with Lemon and Rosemary

This is a recipe courtesy of Mike Robinson. I tried it on New Years Eve and must say that it was delicious. I thought that two lemons may be a little over powering for the delicate taste of the pheasant, although found the balance of flavours worked perfectly and it was very easy to make. Roast Pheasant with Lemon and Rosemary
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  25 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
2 hen pheasants, young and tender
2 lemons, quartered
3-4 fresh rosemary stalks
sea salt and crushed black pepper
12-15 garlic cloves
100ml/3½fl oz extra virgin olive oil
125ml/4½fl oz white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Using a heavy, sharp knife or a pair of poultry or kitchen shears, cut the pheasants in half down the back, removing the backbone (feel for the bone, cut either side.) Discard the backbone, then chop the pheasants in half down the middle. Trim off any fat or bruised bits.

2. Place the pheasants in a large bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add the lemon quarters to the bowl. Bruise the rosemary stalks with your hands and add them to the bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Lightly crush the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife or with your hands, but don't peel them. Add them to the bowl. Pour over the olive oil and the white wine. Mix well and leave the pheasant to marinate for about 20 minutes.

4. Heat a heavy-based frying pan (don't add oil).

5. When the pan is hot, remove the pheasant pieces from the marinade and sear them, skin-side down, to colour. Turn the pieces and brown the other side. Do this in batches so that you don't crowd the pan.

6. When the pieces are browned, place them in a roasting dish. Pour over the white wine and the marinade from the bowl.

7. Place the pheasant in the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, until tender and cooked through (the juices will run clear when the thigh is pierced with a skewer). Remove from the oven and rest for 10-15 minutes.

8. When rested, cut the pheasant into serving pieces and pile onto a large plate. Pour the pan juices over the top and spoon over the lemon, rosemary and garlic.

9. Serve with boiled potatoes and a green salad or good bread.
When buying lemons, choose ones that are heavy for their size, with unblemished smooth, firm skin. Store them in the fridge for up to three weeks.
Chilean Merlot or Australian Shiraz ...
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Scallops and Chorizo Recipe

Scallops and Chorizo

This is a simple dish that can be served as a starter or main course. The soft, sweet scallops are complimented by the spicy, meaty chorizo sausage, to provide a Surf 'n' Turf dish with a difference. Scallops and Chorizo
Serves:  4 for main course or 8 as a starter
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  Less than 5 minutes
110g chorizo sausage
400g small scallops (halve them to make 2 thinner discs if they are very fat)
Juice of ½ lemon
4 x 15ml tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1. Thinly slice the chorizo into rounds no thicker than 3mm.

2. Heat a heavy-based pan on the hob and when hot, dry-fry the chorizo rounds until crisped on either side (the chorizo will give out plenty of its own oil); this should take no more than 2 minutes.

3. Remove the chorizo with a slatted spoon to a bowl and fry the scallops in the chorizo oil for about 1 minute a side.

4. Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let bubble for a few seconds before arranging on a serving plate and sprinkling with lots of parsley.

5. Serve with a vegetable side dish as a main or some salad leaves as a starter.
When buying scallops, look for those that are plump, firm and moist with a sweet aroma to ensure freshness.
Navarra Rosado or Alsace Pinot Gris ...
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Simple Pan Fried Turbot Recipe

Simple Pan Fried Turbot

Turbot is a wonderful fish with a delicious delicate flavour all of its own. The fillets are firm and white. I like to bake Turbot, simply with some olive oil and rosemary, steam it with some spring onions and ginger, poach it in a good stock with wine, lemon and herbs or quickly pan fry it as with the recipe below. Simple Pan Fried Turbot
Serves:  2 - 4
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  5 minutes
2 Turbot fillets
25 g Flour
6 Tbsp Olive oil
25 g Butter
1 Medium tomato , peeled and diced
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 Tbsp Parsley , chopped
Salt and pepper
1. Start by seasoning the fillets with salt and pepper on both sides. Flour them on both sides and shake off any excess.

2. Place the frying pan on a medium-high heat and allow to warm through. Once hot, add the oil and the fillets. Let them fry for 1.5 to 2 minutes on each side, depending on their size and thickness. When cooked remove them from the pan.

3. Discard the oil and wipe out the frying pan with some paper towel.

4. Place the butter into the frying pan, stir it in and let it foam. When the foam subsides and the butter turns brown add the tomato, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Give the pan a quick shake and take it off the heat.

5. Place the fillets onto a serving plate. Add the chopped parsley into the pan and stir it in well. Spoon it over top of the pan-fried fillets. Serve it with potatoes, vegetables, pasta, rice, or any other side dish that you desire.
When buying Turbot, go for a middle sized fish weighing about 2.5 - 3.5kg for the finest fillets. As with all fish, try to buy those that have clear bulging eyes and deep black pupils, firm lustrous skin with tight scales, bright red gills and a pleasant sea smell to ensure freshness.
White Burgundy -Puligny Montrachet ...
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