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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 SEPTEMBER?

Artichokes Figs
Haddock Guinea Fowl
Marrow Plums
Venison Mushrooms
We now say Goodbye to summer with a tear in our eye - or is it another rain drop - and enter into autumn. This season brings us some wonderful game, full flavoured veg, rich fruits and cold water fish – enjoy!

Simple Seasonal Recipes

Seasonal Recipes at a Glance

Recipe Archive
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Bass Baked in the Bag with Wild Mushrooms Recipe

Bass Baked in the Bag with Wild Mushrooms

Now have you ever been foraging for wild mushrooms? It is a fabulous way to spend the early morning, collecting a bounty of British best for your brunch or supper. Arm yourself with a good mushroom guide, a pair of gloves and a basket to gather the likes of penny buns, chanterelles and field mushrooms amongst many other varieties; from now until the first frost is the height of the wild mushroom season. This simple and sublime dish from Ben O'Donoghue uses the best of seasonal wild offerings. Bass Baked in the Bag with Wild Mushrooms
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  30 mins
Cooking Time:  20 mins
4 x 200g Wild sea bass fillets
200g Unsalted Butter
1 Bunch Thyme
400g Assorted wild mushrooms, (trompettes, chanterelle, girolle, cep etc)
1 Lemon, sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
50ml Vermouth
Steamed Spinach, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Cut 4 squares of kitchen foil big enough to make a parcel that will hold a fillet of fish.

2. Butter the centre of one half of each piece of foil; place a slice of lemon on the base and top each with a piece of fish.

3. Season with salt and pepper and place about 15g of butter and a sprig of thyme on top of the fish.

4. Clean the mushrooms and scatter a quarter into each parcel.

5. Fold over the other half of the foil and fold the outer edges in several times to make a good seal. Before closing the final edge, add a good slug of vermouth and seal.

6. Place the parcels into a roasting dish and heat on the hob over a medium heat, until the bags start to inflate. Transfer to the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes.

7. Remove the fish from the oven and snip the corner of each parcel with a pair of scissors. Pour the liquid into a small saucepan and bring to the boil.

8. Stir in the remaining butter and bubble until the sauce is reduced and thick.

9. Season with salt and pepper and a little juice from the reserved lemon. During this time the bass will be resting in the still mostly closed bag.

10. When the sauce is ready, open the bag and serve the fish on warmed dinner plates with some steamed spinach. Stir the mushrooms into the sauce and serve immediately with the fish.
It’s always best to prepare and eat your foraged wild mushrooms as soon as possible; discard any that appear overly soggy or have a musty odour to them, cut away any damaged or soiled parts of the mushroom and clean them with a brush or damp cloth - do not wash them as they will just soak up water like a sponge and become soggy and tasteless. If you do need to store them, keep them in a paper bag and use as soon as possible.
Californian Pinot Noir ...
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Chorizo and Artichoke Risotto Recipe

Chorizo and Artichoke Risotto

I love artichokes, simply steamed or grilled and covered in butter or served with aioli. Some people seem to be intimidated by this wonderful ingredient as it has a reputation for being difficult and timely to prepare, although, do not be put off by this, follow a few simple steps added after this recipe to prepare the prized heart. Once prepared and cooked you can always marinate your own artichokes that can then be added to salads, pizzas, pasta and risotto as with this winning recipe below. Chorizo and Artichoke Risotto
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  20 - 30 mins
1.2l Chicken stock (a good cube is fine)
50g Unsalted butter
5 Shallots , finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves , finely chopped
350g Arborio rice
200ml Dry white wine
70g Pack sliced chorizo , each slice cut into quarters
175g Marinated artichokes (in olive oil), drained and halved
50g Parmesan , grated (reserve 25g/1oz for the garnish)
Handful flatleaf parsley , finely chopped
1. Pour the chicken stock into a large pan and keep on the heat at a gentle simmer. Melt half the butter in a large, deep sided, heavy-based frying pan. Add shallots and garlic and cook until soft, but not brown, then tip in the rice and stir for 1 minute until the rice begins to turn translucent.

2. Pour in the wine and stir well, then add two handfuls of hot stock and stir until the rice has absorbed almost all of the liquid. Lower the heat and continue to add the stock, a couple of ladles at a time, only adding more when the rice has absorbed each additional of liquid. Continue until all the stock is used up - the risotto should be creamy and the rice tender. Add more stock if needed.

3. Meanwhile, throw the sliced chorizo into a small frying pan and fry until some fat has come out of the sausage. Reserve a few pieces for the garnish, then add the artichokes to the pan and stir to warm through. Remove risotto from the heat, then add chorizo and artichokes. Stir in remaining butter, 25g of parmesan and parsley.

4. Season well and transfer to a large serving dish. Garnish with the reserved chorizo and parmesan.
When preparing artichokes remove and discard the tougher outer leaves. Slice off the very top end and snip off any sharp leaf tips. Snap the stalk off at the base and remove the tough fibres running into the base where possible. Gently prise open the leaves to gain access to the core of the flower. Pull out the central cone of thinner leaves to reveal the fibrous 'choke.' Carefully scrape this out with a teaspoon, leaving the heart in place. Rinse out the artichoke with water and a good squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discolouration.
Spanish Toro Red ...
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Curried Marrow Recipe

Curried Marrow

Marrow seems to have received a bad press in recent years. Maybe this is because of the memories of watery mashed marrow we may have tried as a child, or the endless varieties of stuffed marrow that we have had to endure rather than enjoy. Marrow actually makes a wonderful soup, is delicious baked, excellent sautéed, lovely added to mashed potatoes with some spring onions and butter, or as a tasty and filling curry it makes a healthy alternative to meat. Curried Marrow
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  20 mins
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Onion, sliced
1 large Tomato, peeled and chopped
1 Chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Turmeric
Salt and Pepper
675g/1½ lb Marrow, peeled and cubed
1 Red Pepper sliced
150ml/5fl.oz. of vegetable stock or water
A Bunch of coriander, chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and fry on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper and continue to fry for 2 minutes – add a little water if the mixture becomes too dry.

3. Add the marrow, tomato, red pepper and stock/water, mix well, cover and cook for 10 - 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.

4. Stir in the chopped coriander and serve with rice or a Naan.
When buying marrows go for the smaller examples, that are firm to the touch and heavy for their size. If you can fit them in, marrows are best kept refrigerated after purchase.
Alsace Pinot Gris ...
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Guinea Fowl with Mustard and Lemon Root Vegetables Recipe

Guinea Fowl with Mustard and Lemon Root Vegetables

Guinea Fowl is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to chicken. Although the taste is similar, guinea fowl has a richer gamier flavour which holds up well to marinating. These birds can dry out quickly, so try not to overcook them. Guinea Fowl with Mustard and Lemon Root Vegetables
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  1 hr 30 mins
1 Guinea fowl , about 1.5kg/3lb 5oz
1 Lemon
2 tbsp Grainy mustard
3 tbsp Olive oil
3-4 large Carrots
750g Floury potatoes
3-4 Large leeks
300ml White wine
8 Thin-sliced rashers of streaky bacon
1. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Wipe the guinea fowl and season all over with salt and pepper, place in a large roasting tray and pop in the oven. Finely grate the lemon zest and scrape into a large bowl. Add the mustard and oil and mix well. Halve the lemon and put it inside the bird.

2. Meanwhile, peel the carrots and potatoes, then cut them into thick chunks. Cut the leeks into 3-4 pieces, depending on their length. Add all the veggies to the bowl with the oil and mustard, and mix until well coated.

3. When the guinea fowl has been roasting for 30 mins, add the veggies around the bird and sprinkle with a little salt. Put the bacon over the bird and return to the oven for a further 45 mins.

4. Remove the bacon and splash the wine around the bird and over the veggies. Return to the oven for a further 15-20 mins, until the bird is coloured and the veggies are tender.
Despite popular belief, guinea fowl is not native to the UK and is usually farm reared rather than wild. Go for young free range birds instead of those that are intensively reared; the flavour and texture will be of a superior quality.
Premier Cru Chablis ...
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Pan-Fried Venison with Blackberry Sauce and Celeriac Mash Recipe

Pan-Fried Venison with Blackberry Sauce and Celeriac Mash

Venison is a very healthy meat, being low in fat and cholesterol and high in many vital nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and phosphorus. I am still surprised by the number of people I come across that have not eaten venison; many put off by the belief that is has a very strong, gamey taste. In fact, venison has a wonderful woody, almost fruity flavour that is truly fantastic. Because of the lack of fat in this meat it is good to cook it either quickly and serve medium-rare or slowly braised in a casserole or stew, so that it does not dry out. Pan-Fried Venison with Blackberry Sauce and Celeriac Mash
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 mins
Cooking Time:  15 mins
1 tbsp Olive oil
2 thick Venison steaks, or 4 medallions
1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
150ml Beef stock (a good cube, well diluted will be ok)
2 tbsp Redcurrant jelly
1 Garlic clove , crushed
85g fresh or frozen Blackberries
For the Celariac Mash:
1 Small Celeriac – peeled and chopped
3 Small Potatoes – peeled
A good knob of Butter
Salt & pepper
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, cook the venison for 5 mins, then turn over and cook for 3-5 mins more, depending on how rare you like it and the thickness of the meat (cook for 5-6 mins on each side for well done). Lift the meat from the pan and set aside to rest.

2. Add the balsamic vinegar to the pan, then pour in the stock, redcurrant jelly and garlic. Stir over quite a high heat to blend everything together, then add the blackberries and carry on cooking until they soften. Serve with the venison, celeriac mash (see below) and broccoli.

For the Mash:
1. Cook the Celeriac and potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain and mash with butter and plenty of seasoning.
Go for park (free-range) or wild venison over farmed. The strength of flavour and fat content in venison can vary depending on the age of the animal, its feed and how the meat has been handled. Buying from a farmers' market or trusted butcher will enable you to ask what to expect and also pick up some valuable cooking tips.
Chilean Syrah ...
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Plum and Almond Crumble Slice Recipe

Plum and Almond Crumble Slice

September to me is synonymous with ripe juicy plums and greengages. I remember the anticlimax of returning to school after the long summer holidays and looking forward to picking the fruits from the trees I passed on my daily trudge – superb. The many varieties and colours of plums can range from sumptuously sweet to bitingly sharp; Early River, Early Laxton and the good old Victoria Plum are fabulous varieties. This recipe courtesy of Jane Hornby makes a fabulous dessert of indulgent slice to enjoy with a cup of tea. Plum and Almond Crumble Slice
Serves:  Cuts into 16 Slices
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  1 hr 5 mins + time for cooling
250g pack Butter (this must be very cold)
225g Caster sugar
300g Ground almonds
140g Plain flour , plus 25g/1oz
2 Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking powder
approx 6 Plums , stoned and cut into sixths
50g Flaked almonds
1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter and line a 20 x 30cm baking tin with baking paper. Put the butter, sugar and ground almonds into a food processor, then pulse until the mixture resembles very rough breadcrumbs. Spoon out half the mix into a bowl and set aside.

2. Add 140g flour into the mix in the processor and whizz until it just forms a dough. Tip into the tin and press down with the back of a spoon. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden. Leave to cool for 10 mins.

3. To make the filling, put the remaining butter and the sugar and almond mix back into the processor, saving a few tbsp for the topping. Add the eggs, the 25g flour, cinnamon and baking powder and whizz to a soft batter. Spread over the base.

4. Top with the plum pieces and a little extra caster sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 20 mins, then sprinkle with the remaining crumble mix and flaked almonds. Cook for another 20 mins or until golden. Leave to cool in the tin before slicing.
When buying Plums, look for those that have smooth, unbruised skin, a chalky bloom, and firm flesh that gives a little when it's gently squeezed. Keep unripe plums at room temperature to ripen. Ripe plums can be refrigerated for a few days. Plums freeze well; halve and remove the stones first so that their flavour is not impaired.
German Beerenauslese Riesling ...
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Smoked Haddock Chowder Recipe

Smoked Haddock Chowder

Haddock has a mild flavoursome, moderate- to firm-textured flesh that is low in fat. It is similar to cod in flavour and consistency, although the meat is softer and does not respond as well to salting. Like cod, haddock is a versatile fish that suits almost any style of cooking, such as baking, poaching, sautéing, grilling, and roasting. Also like Cod, Haddock has been depleted over the years due to over fishing, so please ensure that you buy from sustainable stock. Smoked Haddock Chowder
Serves:  6
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  25 mins
3 Leeks , sliced
1 Onion , sliced
3 Medium potatoes , diced
400ml Milk
Vegetable stock , fresh, cubes or concentrate, made up to 400ml
500g Skinless smoked haddock fillet, cut into bite-sized pieces
200g Cooked, peeled prawns
1 Small bunch parsley , roughly chopped
1. Cook the leek and onion in a large pot with a knob of butter for about 5 minutes until they start to soften. Add the potatoes, milk and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook gently for about 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

2. Drop in the haddock and prawns and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes to cook the haddock and heat the prawns. Season, add the chopped parsley, and serve in deep bowls with crusty bread.
When buying Haddock go for fillets that are stark white and fresh-smelling, unmarked and glistening, without signs of dryness or browning. For smoked Haddock, look for traditionally smoked fish from a good fishmonger or seafood supplier, and steer clear of the bright yellow dyed variety that has ‘essence of smoke’ added to it.
Portuguese Dao Branco ...
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Sticky Cinnamon Figs Recipe

Sticky Cinnamon Figs

My first introduction to figs were the dried variety laid out at Christmas time. They were chewy and packed full of seeds that would stick in between your teeth – not great. However the fresh fig is an all together different experience; the sublime, honeyed flesh is both lusciously sweet and terribly moreish. They make a wonderful starter served with prosciutto; an excellent main course baked or grilled and served with game; or a tempting dessert, like this very simple recipe below. Sticky Cinnamon Figs
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  5 mins
Cooking Time:  5 mins
8 Ripe figs
Large knob of butter
4 tbsp Clear honey
Handful shelled pistachio nuts or almonds
1 tsp Ground cinnamon or mixed spice
Mascarpone or Greek yogurt, to serve
2 tbsp of Armagnac or brandy
1. Heat grill to medium high. Cut a deep cross in the top of each fig then ease the top apart like a flower. Sit the figs in a baking dish and drop a small piece of the butter into the centre of each fruit. Drizzle the honey and brandy/armagnac over the figs, then sprinkle with the nuts and spice.

2. Grill for 5 mins until figs are softened and the honey, butter and brandy make a sticky sauce in the bottom of the dish. Serve warm, with dollops of mascarpone or yogurt.
When buying Figs, look for those that are plump and feel soft (but not too liquid) with no bruising or splits. At the peak of their ripeness they will have a light, fuzzy bloom. Figs will smell sour if they are past their best. Figs perish quite quickly and should ideally be eaten on the day of purchase, however they will keep in the fridge for a day or two.
Tawny Port ...
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