Displaying items by tag: spring
As the weather is getting warmer and the nights are drawing out I start to get excited about summer, having fresh garden produce and forgetting about cooking warming winter soups and stews. Discover the difference that a few fresh herbs can make to your spring salads by either adding them into the salad, providing a nice contrast to the crunchy leaves of lettuce, or blitzing them into a simple vinaigrette dressing. As herbs begin to shoot in spring, or I’m lucky enough to find some that have over-wintered well, I spruce up even the plainest of salads with a few sprigs of fresh herbs. Be brave and experiment with different herbs adding vitality, texture and flavour to your meals. Make the bulk of the salad with mild flavour leaves such as Cos, Romaine, Little Gem or Lollo Rosso. Lovage – use the leaves sparingly as they add a very strong savoury flavour when raw. The first stems of spring provide the most delicate flavour. Try rubbing the salad bowl with bruised leaves to impart a milder flavour. Chives – the snipped stalks add a delicate onion (or garlicky if using Chinese chives) flavour. Hard boiled eggs, crumbled crisp bacon, watercress, steamed Jersey Royals, raw or steamed freshly podded peas all contrast well with chives and will liven up a leaf salad. Chickweed – or hip weed as I call it, now grown commercially for the restaurant trade and used in both salads and garnishes. Full of vitamin C and tastes slightly grassy, throw this in in abundance as it’s delicate, mild flavoured and if from your garden, free! Winter purslane – sometimes called Miners lettuce and grows rapidly in the spring. Add the narrow early leaves or the curious stem-wrapping leaves for a cool, mild flavour also providing a succulent and juicy texture into a leaf salad. It’s also very nice wilted as in the spinach recipe. Chervil – use the stem and leaf chopped into salads to add a subtle aniseed flavour. It complements eggs, fish and cucumber particularly well. Crab, goats curd and chervil is a favourite combination of mine.
Head Chef Stuart Drane, formerly of Aurora in Ipswich and more recently Chef Lecturer at Suffolk New College, has taken up the reigns at the Suffolk Food Hall, heading up the brigade in the Cookhouse. I was invited to try the new Spring menu and after a heatwave weekend, the day I went was freezing cold and wet. So I was quite happy to see a slow cooked featherblade beef with roasted root vegetables and roast potatoes on the daily specials and ordered that for my lunch, preceeded by three very crispy and tasty fishcakes with homemade tartare sauce. The new slightly shorter Spring menu offers a very good element of mix and match menu items, and had it been warmer I would have easily been tempted by the Suffolk Gold Rarebit with a side salad. As I took Mr SuffolkFoodie I got to dip into his roasted tomato soup which had dollops of mascarpone, grated Parmesan and olive oil dotted across the surface, and also tried his Shepherds pie, which was rather delicious as it was made from slow cooked shoulder of lamb rather than the traditional minced lamb. Portions are very generous, and being conscious of the amount of food I've eaten recently judging for the Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, decided that sharing a dessert would be the healthy option. I saw some fantastic ice cream sundaes being delivered to other tables, but couldn't resist the sound of the vanilla cheesecake with burnt orange caramel and orange sorbet. The sorbet packed a punch of flavour against the creamy cheesecake and the contrasting burnt caramel flavours and was easily big enough to share. The garden centre and farm shop proved to be a good chance to walk off some of the lunch, but as always, with the next meal in mind I managed to leave with a whole oxtail to cook for the weekend. And that was delicious too!
- roasted tomato soup with mascarpone, Parmesan and olive oil
- crispy fishcakes with tartare sauce
- slow cooked featherblade with roasted root vegetables and roast potatoes
- lamb shoulder shepherd's pie
- vanilla cheesecake with burnt orange caramel and orange sorbet
What to do on a weekend as miserable as this except cook? Last Sunday I went to Brick Lane and only had a fiver, although you can get a good meal for that I wanted to try more than one, so I was looking for the best bargains. I had two crispy filo pastry 'cigars' stuffed with feta and spinach for a £1 from one stall, and a box of four Vietnamese spring rolls for £3 from another. That left £1 for a juice. As I was watching the lady make the spring rolls to order - they soak the paper in water, fill them with salad and satay sauce and roll up - I decided to try it myself, so have been to buy a pack of the papers.This is the quickest, easiest, cheapest, healthiest snack I have had in a long time. I used peanut butter with soy, honey and lime to make the satay sauce, and the sweet chili sauce that most of us have now for dipping. My spring rolls were not as good looking as hers, but tasted the same! if you can't get the papers let me know and i'll send you some.
Fancy taking your doggie out with you for a cup of tea or light lunch? Try The Animal Health Trust cafe in Newmarket which is open daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm. Their homemade soups, quiches, salads and cakes are all very good. The courtyard is also delightful on a sunny day, with ride-on toys provided for the kids.
Crepes, frites et saucissons, et j'avais mange toutes!
Went into the new 'Polish' shop in Bury just to see what they had. Came out with some Cherry ciders and a piece of smoked pork. The very helpful lady isn't Polish but Lithuanian, and speaks five languages but not English, so have a look round and point at what you want.
Granola - a toasted muesli, nice with fresh fruit and yoghurt for a vegetarian breakfast, this is a very adaptable recipe using any grains, seeds and nuts that you fancy.
- 12 oz / 300g rolled oats, wheat flakes, rolled barley or any other rolled grains
- 4oz / 100g chopped hazelnuts, pecans, almonds or any other nuts
- 2oz/50g pumpkin, flax, sunflower seeds or seeds of your choice
- 2oz/50g desiccated coconut
- 4 fl oz Hill Farm rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
- 4 fl oz Suffolk honey
- 6oz/150g raisins or sultanas
Preheat the oven to 130c/Gas 2 ( a cool setting)
Place the rolled oats in a bowl and mix in the nuts, seeds and coconut. ( not the raisins yet!) Stir well.
Warm the honey and oil together in a small pan and pour onto the dry mixture.
Coat all the nuts, oats, seeds etc in the honey and oil.
Spread the mixture onto a baking tin and place in the oven for 40 mins. You will need to move the granola around a little from time to time to ensure that it crisps all over.
Remove from the oven and mix in the raisins. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container. where it will keep for several weeks.