Monday, 16 May 2016

Seasonal Inspiration

Our local shops have started to fill with the best fruit and vegetables of the season - and they just happen to be some of my favourites! We have the first Jersey Royal potatoes of the year, along with asparagus, watercress, radish and on the roadside stalls of our valley, we have the Tamar Valley strawberries - the earliest and sweetest ones in the UK.

I grabbed a selection of these over the weekend - a bundle of asparagus, a paper bag full of baby jersey royals and a couple of punnets of strawberries. They were a perfect addition to our weekend meals.

There is something about the flavour of Jersey Royals that's so distinctive, it's a special earthy flavour that's very difficult to describe but needless to say I love it! I usually buy my Jersey Royals covered in the sandy mud of Jersey and scrub then off under cold running water, but this weekend I cheated and bought them all nice and clean - it felt wrong not going through the ritual of cleaning them but at least my hands stayed nice and warm for once!

The first ones of the season I like to just boiled whole, with the new sprigs of mint from the garden, and then tossed them in butter and parsley. But they are also excellent halved, boiled and then sauteed until crispy - serve with a little lemon zest and sea salt flakes.

The asparagus I treated just like I did the potatoes - snap of the tough ends, a quick few minutes in boiling water and then tossed in butter with a little salt and pepper - perfect. However, after the first ones of the season I get more creative add them to salads, serving with poached eggs and even baking them.

If it was possible to make this photograph 'scratch and sniff' I would do so! The scents at the stall and in the car of the punnets of these strawberries was amazing! A really rich, heady sweet strawberry smell. Because we have to traverse loads of winding lanes on the way back to our cottage, I held on and balanced the punnets all the way - just so you don't worry I wasn't doing the driving! - and I was able to inhale the aroma all the way home!

Again simplicity was the key with these. But I did add a little something. Having halved them all I made up a simple dressing for them. In a small bowl measure a shot or two of rum - either spiced or white - to it add a couple of teaspoons of light brown sugar, a few chopped mint leaves and a pinch of vanilla powder (you can add a little vanilla essence if you don't have the powder) mix and pour over the strawberries. Cover the bowl and leave for a hour or so before serving with some thick pouring cream - preferably jersey double cream - well if your going to celebrate the best of seasonal British produce then why not go the whole hog!

And finally my pots of herbs are leaping into life around our kitchen door. The mint and chives are the first to show with all the others putting on new growth. I have been picking chives, mint and oregano to add to meals and have made up my first batch of herb flavoured butter.

Have  a great start to your week - and look out for seasonal stuff!
Love Lizx