Peach, feta, proscuitto and rocket salad

We’ve enjoyed a gloriously hot and sunny weekend here, it made a very nice change. Yesterday after coming back from our local market with lots of seasonal fruit and veg at it’s best, we enjoyed a salad in the garden for lunch. Now any close friends and family of mine will be thinking “did she really just say salad and enjoy in the same sentence?” I’m not really a salad eater, I want to be but I just find them bland and boring. This salad was different. Every mouthful was different yet equally delicious. There is sweet (peaches), salty (feta and proscuitto), peppery flavour (from the rocket) and all topped off with the acidic tang of balsamic vinegar. This salad was inspired by a recipe on a food blog I follow (Gourmet chick) for proscuitto and squashed peach salad. I used standard peaches, added feta (as I had some that needed using in the fridge) and my dressing was simply a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Peach, feta, proscuitto and rocket salad
serves 2

1 bag of rocket
2 ripe peaches
50g feta
2 slices of proscuitto
Balsamic vinegar

  • Heat a griddle pan over a high heat.
  • Cut the peaches in to wedges. Put the peach wedges in a small bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Griddle the peach pieces until slightly charred (minute or so each side was all I needed).
  • Remove from the griddle pan and let the peaches cool slightly whilst you put together the rest of the salad.
  • Put the rocket in a bowl. Crumble over the feta. Tear the procuitto into small strips and add to the salad.
  • Add the peaches and finally drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

I’m linking this up to July’s Simple and in Season blogging event at Fabulicious Food!

My favorite ingredients – Skye Gyngell

Asparagus, cherries, fish and shellfish, olive oil, leaves, citrus, pulses & grains, tomatoes, nuts, vinegar, garlic, game, apples, cheese, honey and chocolate. These are Skye Gyngell’s favorite ingredients and the titles of the chapters in her second book. The book is beautifully written and illustrated with stunning photography throughout.

In this book Skye writes about her love of cooking fresh, seasonal food. It’s all about welcoming seasonal in to her cooking when the ingredients are at their best and her passion for seasonality and food in general is evident throughout.

In each chapter she shares her love of that particular food, memories and lots of useful advice on buying and cooking with these ingredients to really show them off at their best. There are also a collection of recipes in each chapter, many of which are part of her restaurants repertoire. Some of the recipes are straight forward. Others are more complex but I have no doubt that all are achievable for the right occasion by an enthusiastic home cook. Examples include slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with red wine vinegar, goat’s cheese souffle with lemon thyme and chocolate panna cotta with warm berries and honey.

This book is more than a collection of recipes to simply be recreated in kitchens all around the country. It is an inspiring book that will fill you with passion to eat seasonally, be more creative in the kitchen and to really get the best flavours out of the ingredients you buy.

Thanks to Quadrille publishing for sending me this book to review.
First published 2008 in hardback
Now available in paper back £14.99
ISBN: 978 184400 822 3

Whats in season – January

Happy new year!

My first post of 2010 is a whats in season guide to January. January is the heart of the winter months. It’s cold and often snowy so comforting pies and stews are often on the menu. Christmas has led most of us to over indulging and the new year for many brings new years resolutions to eat healthy, lose weight or to eat more seasonally. So I figured today I would continue my whats in season series and also sit down with new and old favorite cook books to plan some comforting, seasonal and healthy meals for the next month.

I compiled this list using:
Eat the seasons
The river cottage year, Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall
River cottage seasonal guide – The Guardian
What’s in season?


January

Vegetables: Beetroot, Brussels sprouts, Brussels tops, cabbage (red, white and various greens), carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chicory, greens (spring and winter), Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, shallots, swede, turnip

Fruit: apples, pears, forced rhubarb, mandarins, oranges, satsumas, tangerines, Seville orange, blood oranges, pomegranate

Fish: cockles, cod, crab, mackerel, mussels, oysters, pollack, salmon, scallops, whiting

Game: Duck, hare, partridge, pheasant, venison

Christmas pudding challenge

A few weeks back I saw a competition posted on the UKFBA website. The competition was to come up with an alternative way of using a Christmas pudding. The competition is being run by Mathew Walker who have been making Christmas puddings in Derbyshire since 1899. Mathew Walker generously sent all bloggers wanting to enter the competition a 100g taster Christmas pudding and a full size (454g) Christmas pudding.

So I started to think of recipes using Christmas pudding, specifically leftover Christmas pudding (yes, I believe it does happen in some households!). I wanted to create something simple that could be used as a desert on boxing day. The final recipe I settled on was to replace meringue with Christmas pudding in a twist on the traditional Eton mess – a Christmas mess!

I still wanted there to be a mixture of textures as well as flavour so I decided to include broken up pieces of brandy snaps in the cream mixture. The hardest part was deciding what fruit to put in it. Cherry’s soaked in kirsch? cranberry sauce? mandarin segments? I think all would work well. In the end though I found a tub of pears in cranberry juice which left them a beautiful pink/red colour. The dish tasted delicious. all the flavours blended together well (helped by the Christmas pudding being so delicious and flavourful) and I enjoyed the mixture of textures. The brandy flavour in the Christmas pudding infused through all the cream making it all lovely and as my boyfriend called it “Christmas in a glass”.A Christmas mess is the ideal desert for boxing day. Its quick and simple to prepare (exactly what you need after all the preparation and cooking on Christmas day), uses up any leftover Christmas pudding, includes many of the traditional flavours of Christmas and tastes fantastic. Leftover Christmas pudding can be included cold or reheated (and then cooled slightly before adding to the cream). You could heat by frying lightly or in a microwave. The quantities are a bit vague allowing you to customise the recipe to your families tastes.

Christmas Mess
Serves 4

200g leftover Christmas pudding (or as much as you have/like).
400ml double cream or whipping cream
4-6 brandy snaps
Tub of pears in cranberry juice (tinned pears in natural juice would also work or any fruit of your choice)
Icing sugar and coco powder for dusting.

  • In a large bowl softly whip the cream until it is thick and soft.
  • Gently stir in most of the bits of brandy snap and all the Christmas pudding.
  • Put a layer of pears in the bottom of 4 glass dessert bowls (I used wine glasses).
  • Spoon the cream mixture on top.
  • Decorate the tops with the reserved brandy snap shards.
  • Dust with icing sugar and coco powder.
  • Serve.

June – Whats in season?

The weather it the UK is glorious sunshine at the moment and it really feels like the start of summer. We’ve eaten most of our meals outside for the last few days as well which is a very plesant change. The variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in season now in the UK is rapidly increasing. The pictures are of the few vegetables and herbs I’ve chosen to grow in my small back garden. These were taken a week ago and alread the mangtout are twice as tall!

Sources used to put this list together:

Sainsbury’s Magazine May (& there 2009 recipe calendar).
Eat the seasons
What’s in season?
River cottage seasonal guide – The Guardian

June

Vegetables: Asparagus, Aubergines, Beetroot, broad beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Fennel, Globe artichokes, Green beans, Jersey Royals, Kohlarabi, Lettuce, Mangtout, Mint, Parsley, Peas, Pea shoots, Peppers, Radishes, Runner beans, Rocket, Salad leaves, Samphire, Tomatoes, Watercress,

Fruit: Cherries, Elderflowers, Gooseberries, Passion fruit, Raspberries, Redcurrents, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries.

Seafood: Crab, Cuttlefish, Dover sole, Grey mullet, Hake, Lemon sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sea bream, Whitebait

Meat: Duck, Welsh Lamb

May – Whats in season?

So it’s May already, the months seem to be flying by. The amount of seasonal vegetables available are rapidly increasing and the short lived asparagus season is well under way. I have also made a start on growing a small amount of my own vegetables and herbs which are starting to appear.

Sources used to put this list together:

Sainsbury’s Magazine May (& there 2009 recipe calendar).
Eat the seasons
River cottage seasonal guide – The Guardian

May

Vegetables: Asparagus, Beetroot, broad beans, Carrots, cauliflower, Fennel, Jersey Royals, Lettuce, Mint, Parsley, Pea shoots, Radishes, Rocket, Spinach, Spring greens, Spring onions, Watercress, Wild garlic

Fruit: Cherries, raspberries, Rhubarb, early strawberries (passion fruit)

Seafood: Cod, Crab, Dover sole, Gurnard, Haddock, Herring, Lemon sole, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Sea bass, Sea bream, Sea trout

Meat: Duck, Lamb

For those of you who like to follow the seasons you have to visit Mostly Eating for a really attractive and informative guide to spring free to download. It includes all the details of whats in season and lots of great tips on what to do with it all.

Enjoy!

April – Whats in season?

Before I move on to April I thought I would briefly review how I did for March. I tried several new foods (and to my surprise liked them all!). They included purple sprouting broccoli, watercress and pineapple (I’d had it from a tin or an a pizza before and not liked it but this weekend we had it fresh and I really liked). We also ate a lot of leeks which are in season. It wasn’t a total success as we did it some veg that weren’t in season (mainly courgettes and aubergines) but I do feel I’m getting more informed and making seasonal choices where possible.So its officially spring now! I’m really looking forward to the difference in cooking from winter to spring and all the veg starting to come in to season. I already blogged about my chicken, lemon and pea risotto but this dish for me was fresh and zesty and spring like. I’m looking forward to cooking more dishes like this over the coming months.

Sources used to put this list together:

Sainsbury’s Magazine April (& there 2009 recipe calendar)
Eat the seasons

April

Vegetables: Asparagus, Broccoli, Carrots, Jersey Royals, Kale, Leeks, Mint, Morels, Parsley, Pea shoots, Purple sprouting broccoli, Radishes, Rocket, Rosemary, Spinach, Spring greens, Spring onions, Tarragon, Watercress, Wild garlic

Fruit: Rhubarb (passion fruit, bananas, kiwis, pineapple)

Seafood: Clams, Cockles, Cod, Coley, Crab, Dover sole, Haddock, Mackerel, Monkfish, Oysters, Pollack, Salmon, Scallops, Sea bass, Sea trout

Meat: Spring lamb

There is certainly a lot of seafood in season and that is an area where I only eat a small range so needs expanding. Vegetable wise leeks and purple sprouting broccoli will be on my shopping list again and I’m determined to get some spinach in to our diet this month. But I am particularly looking forward to Jersey royals and asparagus. I still want to try rhubarb (we now have a rhubarb plant in the garden but that won’t produce any for us to eat for 2 years) and of course lamb will be on the menu at some point this month hopefully.

March – what’s in season?

I think most of us would agree that to some extent we all cook and eat seasonally. Soups, stews and casseroles feature heavily on the menu in both restaurants and homes around the country in winter, where as in summer we all crave something lighter. I have decided to make an effort to take this further and at the start of each month look in to what is in season that month and try to incorporate seasonal food in to my meal planning. I hope this will not only lead to cheaper, more nutritious and tasty food but also encourage me to try different things. So I won’t waffle on about the benefits of eating seasonally as there are many good books and websites out there that can explain it better than me.

Sites I have used to put this list together:

River cottage seasonal guide – The Guardian
Eat the seasons

March

Vegetables: Purple sprouting broccoli, cabbages, chicory, spring and winter greens, cauliflower, celeriac, spring onions and leeks

Fruit: forced rhubarb, watercress, nettles, (bananas, blood oranges, kiwi fruits, lemons, oranges, pineapple, pomegranates)

Seafood: cockles, wild salmon, crab, pollack, oysters, sea trout, hake, john dory, lemon sole, mussels

Meat: Hare

I have to say I’m not feeling that inspired by this months offerings but I am determined to try purple sprouting broccoli this year (I don’t like normal broccoli but I will give it a try anyway). Leek will be on the menu as it has been regularly all winter and I will also try getting some watercress and possibly rhubarb in to our diet this month. With this in mind I’ll be off to look through some cookbooks for further inspiration!