Friday, 26 March 2010

seasonal food

(as heard on FBI Radio)

As the seaons tick over and the weather gets cooler once again, there's a certain delight in seeing what fruits and vegetables have popped their heads up and are back on grocer shelves. Here are three seasonal finds and what to do with them.

Celeriac

This rather ugly root vegetable is actually a kind of celery (hence the name), but rather than the green bits, it's all about the bit below the ground. You'll see it in restaurants often as a puree, matched with beef, or pork, or as a soup. It has an earthy, nutty flavour with some of those fresh celery characteristics thrown in for good measure.

At home, use it instead of your regular potato mash: Peel, chop and par boil the pieces of celeriac. Add salt (celeriac loves salt), white pepper, butter, single cream and blitz it with a stick blender. The result is a silky, elegant mash that'll go well with anything from fish to beef and beyond.

Brussel Sprouts

These poor guys get such a bad rap from mothers and grandmothers who overboiled them and served up soppy, miserable lumps of faded greenery on the plate.

When they're new in season and small, they're fantastic when treated very lightly and of should only see the inside of the boiling pot for a few seconds. A great tip for any green veggie you want to blanch is to soak them in ice-water first and then stick them in the boiling water a few seconds. The ice-water reduces the extent to which the vegetable is cooked and helps to retain more nutrients and a brighter colour.

Core and blanch these babies, then toss them in a hot pan with butter, crushed garlic and a pinch of caraway seeds. Season with salt and pepper. You'll be converted.

Apples

Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, Royal Gala and Jonathon apples are all great at this time of the year - eat 'em raw to enjoy the best of the season, but you can always throw them into the pot and make a great homemade apple sauce for pork, or a quick dessert like this:

Peel and chop apples, pop them in a bowl and add a brown sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and a nob of soft butter. Mix.

Grab a sheet of puff pastry, cut into squares and fill each square with the apple mixture, fold them in half to form triangles. Glaze with a beaten egg and pop into a hot oven for 15 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Easy.

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