Tag Archives: fish

Cooking with the seasons – Summer*

Summer BerriesSummer is, of course, the best and easiest season in which to source fresh, locally grown produce.  However while supermarket shelves are heaving under the weight of fresh fruit and vegetables at this time of year, you need to be aware that many are still sourced from way beyond your direct area.  It’s quite possible that there are smaller, local producers selling many of the same products fresh from the fields and this is why I’m a fan of farm shops.  Seek them out and you will often be rewarded with the best fruit and veg money can buy and the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting traders in your own community.  

It may be that supermarket shopping is easier for you and that buying locally produced goods is less of a priority.  Whatever the case, Summertime gives us an enormous variety of fruit, veg, fish and meat which is at its best at this time of year.

SUMMER

Seasonal Vegetables

Artichoke, Asparagus, Aubergine, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Corn-on-the-cob, Courgettes (Zucchini), Fennel, Green beans, Green peas, Herbs (Basil, Chives, Dill, Fenugreek, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme), Jersey New Potatoes, Kiwi Fruit, Marrow (Squash), New Potatoes, Peppers, Rhadishes, Rocket, Runner beans, Salad ingredients, Sorrel, Spring Onions, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress

Seasonal Fruits

Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, Blackcurrants, Blueberries,   Cherries, Gooseberries, Elderflowers, Loganberries, Melons, Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Raspberries, Redcurrents, Red water melon, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries,

Seasonal Meat & Game

Lamb, Wood Pigeon

Seasonal Fish

Cod, Clams, Crab, Dover Sole, Grey mullet, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Pike, Pilchards (Sardines), Plaice, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, Scottish Squid, Sea Bass, Sea Trout, Trout

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*(Seasons and availability of produce obviously varies from country to country depending on geographical location.   This list is primarily based around location in the UK & western Europe).

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Robot fish

robot-fishI’ve said before that I’m interested in innovative new design and this morning in trawling (get the pun?!) through the news I came across this robot fish.

Designed by British scientists to be released into the sea off Northern Spain, they are equipped with chemical sensors to detect pollutants in the ocean.  They are 5 feet long and cost £20,000 ($29,000) each.

This is one of those articles where I found myself glancing at the date on the news page, just to be sure I wasn’t being taken in by an April Fools’ joke.  I must admit, I don’t understand why it has to look so convincingly like a new species of fish, despite the rather slim explanation that it is energy efficient – wouldn’t any plain lozenge shape be just as energy efficient?  I’m tempted to think that the scientists reasoned that if they were going to build this device, then why not get creative for once and tap into their usually hidden artistic side?  The trouble is, I wonder what will happen when it ends up in the nets of the local fishermen.  Will it be handed in, held to ransom or even sold to a private collector of art?

You can read the whole article at the REUTERS site here.

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Cooking with the seasons – Spring*

salad-bowl1To cook the best food you need to use the best ingredients, but this needn’t involve huge expense if you buy with the seasons.  Local produce is obviously the freshest and most cost effective but even food that has to be imported from elsewhere follows seasons when it is at its best, is more readily available and therefore cheaper. 

SPRING

Seasonal Vegetables 

Asparagus, Avocado pears, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Butter beans, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Chicory, Chives, Courgettes, Leeks, Mint, Mushrooms, New potatoes, Parsley, Peas (beginning in May), Peppers, Purple sprouting broccoli, Radishes,  Salads, Spinach, Spring greens, Turnips, Watercress

Seasonal Fruits

Apples, Apricots, Bananas, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes,Pears, Pineapples, Rhubarb

Seasonal Meat

Hare, Rabbit, Lamb

Seasonal Fish

Cockles, Crab, Lobster, Mackerel, Mussels, Oysters, Pollack, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Trout

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*(Seasons and availability of produce obviously varies from country to country depending on geographical location.   This list is primarily based around location in the UK & western Europe).

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Marinating

Making a marinadeIn our health conscious world, fat in meat has received a bad press and is largely shunned by the consuming public.  The fact of the matter is that fat is an essential element in good meat, providing both flavour and moistness.

If you’ve bought a very lean piece of meat you may need to be careful how you treat it and cook it if you want to avoid chewing on something akin to shoe leather!  One way to help tenderise it before cooking begins is by ‘marinating’ it.  Marinating breaks down some of the fibres in the meat and the more acid the marinade, and the longer you leave it, the greater the effect.  Just bear in mind that the process draws nutritious juices out of the meat so don’t throw the marinade away once you’ve used it!  Either baste the meat with it as you are cooking or make an accompanying sauce out of it.

A marinade is typically a combination of three elements:

  • an acid ingredient, such as wine, sherry or vinegar
  • oil – infused oils such as chilli, garlic etc., olive, walnut and sesame oils – which help to impart flavour and retain moisture
  • seasoning –  from basic salt and pepper, to herbs, to spices, to other ingredients like honey, lemon, good old ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

If you’re experimenting and making your own marinade just try to balance the three elements and use ingredients that are complimentary to the meat.  For instance, lamb and rosemary is a classic combination, pork works well with either sage or rosemary, and chicken with lemon and thyme.

The process is very simple: Put the meat in a shallow glass or pottery dish – not metal, because the acid ingredients may react with the metal and taint the food.  I find sturdy zip-lock bags very useful for marinating. Pour your marinade ingredients over the top and turn the meat a few times to coat.  (This is where a zip-lock bag comes in useful because you can just pop the whole lot in the bag, zip the top and toss the bag over and over a few times to thoroughly coat).   If using a dish, cover and then, whatever the container (including zip-lock) you need to put it in the fridge for the alloted time.  If your marinade doesn’t completely cover the meat, turn it every half hour or so.   Pork and poultry will take 2-4 hours happily in the fridge, red meat and game, 4-6 hours.

Marinating is not confined to meats.  Both fish and vegetables can be given the same treatment but bear in mind that fish, in particular, is a far more delicate meat and if you overdo the marinating time the whole lot could become mushy.  For fish and veg therefore I’d recommend just half an hour to an hour in the marinade.

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Cooking with the seasons – Winter

BroccoliSourcing seasonal food, particularly if it is grown in your area, means that you will be buying produce at its freshest and cheapest.  In Winter (UK), look for the following local and imported produce:

Seasonal Vegetables:

Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Brussel tops, Cabbage/greens, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac (celery root), Celery, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Red cabbage, Shallot, Swede (rutabaga, yellow turnip), Sweet potatoes

Seasonal Fruits & Nuts:

Apples, Brazil nuts, Chestnuts, Clementines, Cob nuts, Cox’s apples, Cranberries, Dried fruits, Hazlenuts, Lemons, Limes, Mandarins, Oranges, Pears, Pineapples, Satsumas, Walnuts

Meat / Fish and Poultry

Beef, Pork    /    Cod, Flounder, Hake, Halibut, Herrings, Mackerel, Mussels, Plaice, Skate, Sea bream, Sole, Sprats, Whiting    /    Chicken, Goose, Guinea fowl, Turkey.

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