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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 FEBRUARY?

Brussel Tops Cauliflower
Celeriac Chicory
Hake P/S Broccoli
Shallots Wild Salmon
Spring is coming! So make the most of the winter root veg that will soon be ending. The game season has mostly finished, although you can still buy Hare, Rabbit, Duck and Venison – get it while you can!

Simple Seasonal Recipes

Seasonal Recipes at a Glance

Recipe Archive
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Brussel Tops with Oyster Sauce Recipe

Brussel Tops with Oyster Sauce

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.'
Alsace Riesling or Chilean Merlot ...
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Caramelised Chicory Recipe

Caramelised Chicory

You either Love or Hate Chicory. As a child my mother used to lightly boil it and serve it to us with lemon and olive oil - I remember pushing it around my plate with contempt. However, I now love this crunchy, slightly bitter little leaf. It can be served cold cut up into salads, or warm as a light lunch or side dish as with this recipe, courtesy of Sophie Grigson. Caramelised Chicory
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  1 hour
25g/1oz butter
4 heads chicory, trimmed and halved lengthways
2 tsp clear honey
½ large orange, juice only
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Rub half the butter thickly over the bottom of an ovenproof dish, then pack the chicory halves, in a single layer, into the dish. Drizzle over the honey and orange juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dot with the remaining butter.

3. Transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, for about an hour, turning and basting the chicory every 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on proceedings towards the end of the cooking time and take the dish out of the oven when the juices have reduced to a few spoonfuls of thick syrup and the chicory is looking suitably caramelised. Serve warm.
When buying Chicory, look for firm, crisp leaves with yellow tips and avoid those with green tips, as they will be more bitter.
Apremont, France or White Côtes du Rhône ...
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Caramelised Shallots Recipe

Caramelised Shallots

Shallots are milder and slightly sweeter than onions and are used quite widely in Asian and French cooking. They are great used in salads, salsas, stews and casseroles, or baked with your roast. The recipe below adds a wonderful sticky, sweetness to shallots and is a tasty side dish served with steak, lamb or chicken and some roasted seasonal veg. Caramelised Shallots
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  5-10 minutes
Cooking Time:  30 minutes
1 tbsp butter
200g shallots
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 tsp sugar
175ml red wine
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1. Heat the butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the shallots. Toss until they start to brown.

2. Add the rosemary and cook until the shallots are starting to caramelise.

3. Add the sugar and allow it to dissolve before adding the wine and vinegar.

4. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. When you are about to use, uncover and reduce liquid until shallots are shiny and have a syrupy glaze.
When buying shallots, look for those that are firm, with no soft spots, damp or mouldy patches.
Californian Zinfandel or Burgundy Macon Village White ...
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Cauliflower Cheese Recipe

Cauliflower Cheese

Yes, an old classic, served in many a restaurant or pub, yet seldomly cooked well. I find that cauliflower cheese is a top dish which is excellent served with meat, fish or on it's own. Get it right and this simple dish is a winner on anyones plate. Cauliflower Cheese
Serves:  4 - 6
Preparation Time:  10 - 15 minutes
Cooking Time:  20 minutes
1 large cauliflower, trimmed of outer leaves and cut into florets
300ml (½ pint) milk
110g (4oz) cheddar cheese, grated
3 tbsp plain flour
50g (2oz) butter
25g (1oz) fresh breadcrumbs
½ tsp mustard
a pinch of grated nutmeg
salt & black pepper
1. Trim the cauliflower and boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes or until just tender. Drain well and place in a flameproof dish.

2. Add the milk, flour and butter to a saucepan and heat, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth. Allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes.

3. Add three-quarters of the grated cheese, mustard, a pinch of nutmeg and seasoning.
Cook for further minute stirring well.

4. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower.

5. Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs together, sprinkle over the top and place under a hot grill until golden brown.

6. Serve immediately.
When buying cauliflower, choose those with pure white heads, no discolouration and crisp green outer leaves. The colour of the base is a good sign of how recently it was picked - the whiter, the fresher.
Red Alentejo, Portugal or Unoaked Australian Chardonnay ...
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Lemon and Parsley Fried Hake Fillets Recipe

Lemon and Parsley Fried Hake Fillets

Hake is a beautiful white fish that is similar to cod, although more subtle in flavour. The flesh may seem quite soft, although it does firm up when cooked. Most of our fished Hake goes to Spain, where it is extremely popular. Hake can be cooked in a number of ways; poached, added to fish stews and soups, deep fried (especially good in a tempura batter) or simply pan fried as with this recipe. Lemon and Parsley Fried Hake Fillets
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  5 - 10 minutes
Cooking Time:  8 minutes
2 tbsp seasoned plain flour
2 tbsp lemon zest, finely grated
1/2 x 20 g pack fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 small to medium hake fillets
2 tbsp olive oil
1. Mix together the seasoned flour, lemon zest and parsley.

2. Pat onto the fish on both sides well, shaking off any excess.

3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat.

4. Cook the fish for approximately 8 minutes turning halfway.

5. Drain on kitchen paper before serving with lemon wedges and seasonal vegetables.
When buying Hake fillets look for a bright, clear, moist, glistening appearance. The surface of the fish should be smooth and even, without any gaps.
Menetou Salon, Loire or New Zealand Sauvignon ...
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Mildly Spiced Celeriac Chips Recipe

Mildly Spiced Celeriac Chips

Celeriac is a very versatile root vegetable which is often overlooked. It has a subtle celery flavour with a delicious nuttiness that goes very well with game. Celeriac can be eaten raw, or cooked in much the same way as you would a potato; boiled and mashed with a little butter and milk, thinly sliced and cooked 'dauphinoise', or chipped and baked as with this tasty, simple recipe. Mildly Spiced Celeriac Chips
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  30-35 minutes
2 medium celeriac (0.9kg/2lb total weight)
3 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
2 tsp mild curry powder
1. Peel the celeriac, slicing off the top and bottom and sweeping down the sides with a heavy, sharp knife to remove the tough skin. Cut the celeriac into thumb-thick slices and then into fat chips.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, throw in the chips and blanch (boil rapidly, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes). Drain the chips well and put back into the dry saucepan. Add the oil, curry powder and sea salt. Toss until well coated.

3. Spread the chips over a large heavy baking sheet, leaving plenty of space (you may need 2 sheets). They take 30-35 minutes to cook at 230C/gas mark 8/fan 210C oven.
When buying Celeriac, choose those that are firm and small to medium sized, as the larger ones can be a little 'woody.' Store in the fridge for up to a week.
Italian Prosecco or Red Rioja ...
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Purple Sprouting Broccoli With Garlic and Sesame Recipe

Purple Sprouting Broccoli With Garlic and Sesame

Purple Sprouting Broccoli is a delicious as a side dish or even as the main ingredient with Pasta or in a gratin dish. Personally, I love it steamed and then coated in some butter and a squeeze of lemon, or cooked with a little oriental influence as with the recipe below. Purple Sprouting Broccoli With Garlic and Sesame
Serves:  4 - 6
Preparation Time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  10 - 15 minutes
450g purple sprouting broccoli
2 tbsp groundnut oil or vegetable oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and very finely sliced
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1. Trim off any hard ends from the broccoli stalks as well as any very coarse leaves.

2. Bring a large quantity of salted water to the boil in a large saucepan and plunge in the broccoli. With the lid on, quickly bring the water back to the boil, then remove the lid and briskly simmer the broccoli for about 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

3. Meanwhile, heat both oils in the pan over a medium heat. Fry the garlic for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the slices are light golden.

4. Add the broccoli and fry it for 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently, until the stalks are piping hot and imbued with the garlicky oil.

5. Serve immediately with the sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.
When buying Purple Sprouting Broccoli, cook it as soon as you can as it looses its texture after 3 to 4 days when stored in the fridge. You can blanch your broccoli up to 8 hours before cooking, just lightly boil and then plunge it in some ice cold water, drain thoroughly and store in the fridge until cooking.
German Sylvaner White or Languedoc Viognier ...
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Wild Salmon Teriyaki Recipe

Wild Salmon Teriyaki

Salmon is a delicious and versatile fish that can be prepared and cooked in a multitude of ways. Wild Salmon is a deeper pink in colour and less fatty than the farmed variety; I also find that the taste is so much better and worth that little extra. The flavour of Salmon holds well with sauces and spices, so if you want to try something a little different, this recipe is for you. Wild Salmon Teriyaki
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 minutes + 1 hour to marinade
Cooking Time:  15 minutes
4 wild salmon fillets (about 6oz each)
50ml soy sauce
50ml Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine) or sherry
2 tbsp clear honey
2 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger root, peeled & grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped, to garnish
1. Place the soy sauce, mirin, honey, garlic and ginger in a small saucepan.

2. Bring to boil and slowly simmer until the sauce has reduced by roughly half and has achieved a syrupy consistency, around 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

3. Pour the sauce into a shallow dish, add in the salmon fillets, cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

4. Remove the marinated salmon, setting them to one side, pour the teriyaki sauce into a pan and bring to the boil.

5. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick griddle pan until hot. Griddle the salmon fillets for 2 minute per side, brushing with a little of the hot teriyaki sauce as it cooks to glaze it.

6. Remove the salmon and allow to rest before pouring over the rest of the teriyaki sauce.

7. Serve topped with some chopped spring onion, accompanied with plain boiled/steamed rice and some steamed greens – delicious.
To add a little spice to this recipe, try adding 1 or 2 chopped deseeded chillis or a half teaspoon of dry chilli flakes to the sauce before cooking.
Merlot Rosé or Southern French Rosé ...
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