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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 APRIL?

Asparagus Crab
Jersey Royals Morels
Rosemary Sea Bass
Spinach Wood Pigeon
For a natural boost - eat your greens! Broccoli, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Watercress & Spring Onions are excellent at this time of year. And for a splash of colour, Rhubarb and Radishes are still great too.

Simple Seasonal Recipes

Seasonal Recipes at a Glance

Recipe Archive
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Buttered Jersey Royals with Parsley, Mint and Chives Recipe

Buttered Jersey Royals with Parsley, Mint and Chives

Oh the taste and wonderful aroma of freshly cooked new season jersey royals really is a pleasure to behold. Their firm waxy texture and subtle flavour make them well suited to salad dishes, or simply prepared as with the recipe below. I could happily eat a plateful on their own, or cold the next day, or perhaps sautéed, maybe even added to an omelette – you get the picture. Buttered Jersey Royals with Parsley, Mint and Chives
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  5 - 10 mins
Cooking Time:  20 mins
2 lb (900 g) Jersey Royal or mainland new potatoes
1 level tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 level tablespoons fresh chopped mint, plus a whole sprig
1 level tablespoon fresh snipped chives
1½ oz (40 g) butter
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
1. Wash, but don't scrape the potatoes as there are a lot of nutrients as well as flavour in the skins. Place the larger ones over the base of the saucepan and pop the smaller ones on top. Pour in enough boiling water to almost cover, add some salt and the sprig of mint. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Test them with a skewer, and remember they must be tender but still firm: overcooking really does spoil them. Alternatively, the potatoes can be steamed, sprinkling them with salt and tucking the mint in among them.

2. Meanwhile, mix the butter and herbs thoroughly together with some pepper.

3. Drain the cooked potatoes, add the herb butter, put the lid back on and swirl the pan around to get each one thoroughly coated.

4. Remove the lid and just savour the delicious aroma for a couple of seconds before you dish them out!
To keep jersey royals at their best, store them in a dark, dry and cool cupboard – not in the fridge. If you purchase them in plastic wrapping or a plastic bag, transfer them to a paper bag so they do not sweat.
Chablis or Friuli Pinot Bianco ...
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Chargrilled Asparagus with a Parmesan and Lemon Mint Butter Recipe

Chargrilled Asparagus with a Parmesan and Lemon Mint Butter

The short asparagus season is underway. Although you can buy imported asparagus throughout the year, nothing matches up to the sweet flavour and beautiful texture of new season British asparagus; popularly heralded as the best asparagus in the world. Asparagus is best served simply with either butter, warm hollandaise or lemon. For a tasty diversion from the norm, try this simple recipe. Chargrilled Asparagus with a Parmesan and Lemon Mint Butter
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  5 minutes
Cooking Time:  5 minutes
2 bundles of British asparagus
2 tbsp olive oil
125g unsalted butter
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
50g parmesan shavings
1. Trim the asparagus as necessary. Place on a baking sheet or in a bowl and toss with the oil; making sure all the asparagus is coated. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

2. Heat a griddle pan until hot. Add the asparagus and cook for approximately 2 minutes each side, until it is lightly charred. Remove and divide between 4 serving plates.

3. Melt the butter in a small pan on a low heat. Add the lemon juice and chopped mint leaves. Pour over the asparagus, season with sea salt and black pepper and sprinkle with the parmesan shavings.
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.
English Bacchus or New Zealand Sauvignon ...
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Crab and Asparagus Linguine with a Parsley and Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

Crab and Asparagus Linguine with a Parsley and Lemon Butter Sauce

Crab is a meal in one; with its delicious sweet white meat and deeply rich dark meat. I remember regularly visiting Leigh-on-sea on sunny Sunday afternoons with my parents and my mother buying a monster of a crab, taking it home and preparing it for us to eat. We would each have a little of the white and dark meat served with a hunk of buttered bread for our supper – superb. Crab can be used in a variety of dishes including pastas, salads, curries or cooked ‘oriental’ style with either ginger and spring onion or chilli and salt. Crab and Asparagus Linguine with a Parsley and Lemon Butter Sauce
Serves:  4 - 6
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  20 mins
300g dried linguine
1 tbsp olive oil
2 freshly dressed crabs (meat taken out of the shells)
1 bundle of British asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3cm lengths
100g of butter
3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 mild red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
50ml vegetable stock
1 lemon, juiced
1. Cook the linguine in plenty of boiling salted water for approximately 10-12 minutes. Drain the majority of the water and add the olive oil, stir through the pasta and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large sauté pan, add the onion and asparagus and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sweat over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes then add the chilli and garlic and cook for another minute.

3. Add the crab along with the vegetable stock and cook for a further 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the chopped parsley, chives and lemon juice then add the pasta and make sure all the ingredients are mixed together thoroughly. Season if necessary to taste and serve immediately.
When buying Crab, choose those that feel heavy and don't have liquid sloshing around inside them. When buying from a fishmonger it is better to buy a live crab to ensure freshness and the best of flavour. Cook a live crab by placing in a freezer for 30 mins before plunging it in to boiling water and cooking for 10-12 mins. You must remove the grey gills from inside the crabs body once cooked; these are called 'dead man's fingers' and should not be eaten under any circumstances.
Verdicchio Classico or Vermentino di Gallura ...
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Lamb Steaks with Feta, Tomato and Rosemary Recipe

Lamb Steaks with Feta, Tomato and Rosemary

Rosemary is an evergreen plant so is available all year round. However, at this time of year they begin to bush out and bloom small blue flowers which are fabulous used in sweet or savoury dishes. Traditionally served with lamb - as with this quick and simple recipe - rosemary is great with chicken, game, fish and bean dishes. Lamb Steaks with Feta, Tomato and Rosemary
Serves:  2
Preparation Time:  10 mins
Cooking Time:  10 mins
150ml hot chicken stock - fresh, cube or concentrate
100g couscous
2 lamb leg steaks, about 350g in total , trimmed
100g feta cheese , crumbled
10 cherry tomatoes , halved
1 sprig rosemary , needles finely chopped
A handful of flat-leaf parsley , chopped
½ lemon
1. Pour the stock over the couscous, cover and leave to swell.

2. Season the lamb, put on a baking sheet and then grill on a high heat for 3 minutes on each side.

3. Scatter the feta, tomato and rosemary over the lamb and grill for a few minutes until sizzling.

4. Mix the parsley into the couscous with a squeeze of lemon juice and serve with the lamb.
Use the tougher stems of Rosemary as a skewer for meat, seafood or vegetable kebabs; they add a delicious flavour and look very pretty. For the best results, make a
Santorini Assyrtiko white or red Xynomavro from Greece ...
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Morel and Tarragon Sauce Recipe

Morel and Tarragon Sauce

Morels are highly prized honeycombed mushrooms, with a delicious intense smoky flavour. They are available dried through out the year, although now is the time to buy them freshly harvested. A real treat and one which will cost you! Although the extra expense is so worth it. Morel and Tarragon Sauce
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 mins
Cooking Time:  15 mins
2 large shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
A good knob of butter
1tbsp Madeira
150g fresh morels, halved,
100ml chicken stock (a good cube will do)
300ml double cream
1tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat a grill, ribbed griddle pan or charcoal grill to maximum temperature.

2. In a saucepan gently cook the shallots and garlic in the butter until soft.

3. Add the morels and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes until they soften.

4. Remove the morels with a slotted spoon (don't worry about getting all the shallots off).

5. Add the Madeira and chicken stock to the pan and simmer until completely reduced.

6. Add the double cream, season lightly with salt and pepper and simmer until reduced by half and thickened.

7. Add the morels and tarragon and simmer for another minute or so.

Excellent with chicken or veal.
Fresh morels should be clean and (almost) dry to the touch. The aroma should be an earthy woodsy smell. It is best to brush off any dirt or grit on Morels rather than washing them, unless they are very dirty. Store in a Paper bag in the fridge, as plastic coverings cause the mushrooms to sweat and spoil.
Gevrey-Chambertin or Jura Vin Jaune ...
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Sea Bass with Sizzled Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onions Recipe

Sea Bass with Sizzled Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onions

Sea bass has become increasingly popular over the years, to meet demand fisheries have started to farm this prized fish. The white flesh of this fish is deliciously delicate and is best cooked simply. Keep the skin on when cooking as it has a wonderful flavour. The following recipe is simple, tasty and sure to impress – why not give it a try. Sea Bass with Sizzled Ginger, Chilli and Spring Onions
Serves:  6
Preparation Time:  10 - 15 mins
Cooking Time:  10 mins
6 x sea bass fillets, about 140g/5oz each, skin on and scaled
About 3 tbsp sunflower oil
Large knob of ginger, peeled and shredded into matchsticks
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 fat, fresh red chillies deseeded and thinly shredded
Bunch spring onion, shredded long-ways
1 tbsp soy sauce
1. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and then slash the skin 3 times. Heat a heavy-based frying pan and add 1 tbsp oil. Once hot, fry the fish, skin-side down, for 5 mins or until the skin is very crisp and golden. The fish will be almost cooked through. Turn over, cook for another 30 secs-1 min, then transfer to a serving plate and keep warm. You'll need to fry the fish in 2 batches.

2. Heat the remaining oil, and then fry the ginger, garlic and chillies for about 2 mins until golden. Take off the heat and toss in the spring onions. Splash the fish with a little soy sauce and spoon over the contents of the pan.
When buying Sea bass, as with all fish look for bright eyes, red gills and the fresh smell of the sea. Whole fish should look alive and be displayed over ice. If the spiny upper (doral) fin has not already been removed, ask your fishmonger to remove it for you as it can be very sharp. When purchasing fillets or steaks, avoid those that are skinned and precut; as it is difficult to be sure whether these are true sea bass.
Mosel Trocken Spatlese Riesling or Albarino, NW Spain ...
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Spinach and Potato Curry, Sag Aloo Recipe

Spinach and Potato Curry, Sag Aloo

The tender deep green leaves of spinach are high in iron, and are so quick and easy to cook. I love spinach quickly sautéed in butter and then served with some grated parmesan for a tasty side dish, or for a quick and nutritious low fat curry, try this recipe which is similar to sag aloo. If you do not have all of the spices, you could use 2 to 3 teaspoons of curry powder or garam masala instead. Spinach and Potato Curry, Sag Aloo
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  15 mins
Cooking Time:  25 mins
250g potatoes
200g fresh spinach leaves (or you can use chard, if you have some)
1 tin tomatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
1 or 2 small chillis, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of garam masala
½ pint of chicken or vegetable stock (a good cube is fine)
A small bunch of fresh coriander
1. Scrub/peel the potatoes and chop them into 1/2 inch chunks.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onion. Cook on a low heat until they become opaque.

3. Add the garlic, ginger & chilli and cook for another minute, stirring now and then.

4. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and stir well. Allow to cook for a minute. If the spices start to stick to the pan, add a splash of water and stir.

5. Add the potatoes, tomatoes and the stock to the pan and stir well. Turn up the heat and bring to a gentle boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover. Gently simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, until the potatoes are almost cooked.

6. Rinse the spinach thoroughly and add to the pan. Add the garam masala, stir and cover. Simmer for 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the potatoes fully cooked.

7. Chop the coriander and add to the curry. Stir and serve with rice or a naan bread or as a side dish for lamb, chicken or even sausages!
It is best to buy your spices from an Asian store; you will find you get much more for your money. A great way to keep your spices fresh is to store them in a masala daba – a large airtight tin which holds six small pots to store your favourite individual spices.
Alsace Riesling or South African Pinotage ...
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Warm Salad of Pigeon with Puy Lentils Recipe

Warm Salad of Pigeon with Puy Lentils

I remember as a young girl my uncles visiting laden with freshly shot game. I would refuse to eat rabbit, thought pheasant was ok, although pigeon – well I just could not eat enough of this wonderful bird. The rich gamey flavour of the dark meat is delicious. It is fantastic in game pies, stews or simply roasted. The breasts are best served pink and are delicious in salads. Try this tasty, earthy salad recipe from Nick Nairn, for a delicious treat. Warm Salad of Pigeon with Puy Lentils
Serves:  4
Preparation Time:  10 mins & overnight for soaking.
Cooking Time:  20 mins
50g (2 oz) Puy lentils, soaked overnight
140-175g (5-6 oz) Parsnip, thinly sliced lengthways (use a potato peeler)
Sunflower oil for deep frying, plus 1 tablespoon for the wood pigeon
4 Wood pigeon breasts, skinned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
140 - 175g (5-6 oz) Mixed salad leaves
3 Tablespoons of vinaigrette
1. Drain the lentils and put them in a saucepan with just enough boiling water to cover, place a lid on the pan and simmer them for eight to ten minutes or until tender. Drain the lentils again and put them in a bowl. Keep them warm until required.

2. Heat the oil to 190C/375F or until a bread cube turns golden in 20 seconds and rises to the surface. Deep-fry the thin parsnip slices until golden. Drain and leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper until required.

3. Season the skinned pigeon breasts with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan until it's hot. Drop in a tablespoon of sunflower oil and pan-fry the pigeon breasts for approximately two minutes each side. Allow them to rest in the pan in a warm place for at least 10 minutes.

4. In a large bowl, toss the salad leaves with the vinaigrette and the lentils. Slice the pigeon breasts thinly - about a dozen slices per breast (these should still be very pink inside) - and add them to the bowl of leaves. Carefully toss together with your hands and divide between four plates. Top each mound of leaves with a handful of fried parsnip shreds. Serve immediately before it all goes soggy!
When buying pigeon look for firm plump specimens. You can store pigeon in the fridge for up to two days. Don’t overcook this fine bird, as it will dry out and affect the flavour.
Chilean Pinot Noir or Chianti Classico ...
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