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food

Summer

Summer
Wow food lovers this summer with an impressive selection of fresh seasonal produce. Grilled mackerel with a beetroot & onion salad.... so evocative of the season, not to mention the abundance of summer berries!

Fruit

Redcurrants
offer a ruby red jewel-like sparkle to any dish. Their sharpness cuts through sweet or cloying desserts but they deserve more than to be used as a garnish. Try mixing with other summer berries on top of a pavlova or in a grown-up wine jelly.

Cherries
have a sublime aroma and intense sweetness, and for the sake of our desperately declining cherry orchards, do eat some British cherries when they are in season. We’re losing our cherry orchards at an alarming rate and the only way to save them is to eat more British cherries. Perfect bedfellows are rich ingredients such as chocolate, cream and alcohol; it's no surprise that perhaps the most iconic cherry dessert is the Black Forest Gâteau.

Rhubarb

delivers a sharp, acid bite which combines fantastically with orange, ginger or even strawberries. Custard or cream is a must with cooked rhubarb.

Strawberries
are naturally high in vitamins and minerals, low in calories, naturally sweet, and easy to prepare. Adventurous gourmets can sprinkle a few drops of balsamic vinegar or add a dusting of freshly ground black pepper over strawberries to enhance the flavour.

Tomatoes
are classic partners to cheese in sandwiches, they give a vitamin boost to a full cooked breakfast and they make any salad worth its salt. What’s more, if inspiration beckons this summer, try chopping ripe tomatoes with a hint of fresh basil and a pinch of salt. Serve this simplest of salsas with homemade burgers or on toasted bruscetta.

Vegetables

Broad Beans, Runner and Fine Beans (late summer)
are all delicious lightly steamed or blanched then dressed with a white wine vinaigrette and some roasted cherry tomatoes.

Beetroot and Turnips
are very under-rated vegetables. Try roasting thick beetroot chips and serving as a dipper for chunky hummus.

Broccoli and Purple Sprouting Broccoli (mid summer)
broccoli is sadly rarely used in salads, steam for 2 minutes then refresh before dressing in garlicky vinaigrette and sprinkling with crispy bacon.

Savoy and Pointed Cabbages
start mid summer and are tender and sweet so need careful treatment. To retain their nutrients and bright green colour, use them in crunchy salads or briefly steam then season generously with Maldon Salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Carrots
at this time of the year are often small enough and tender enough to eat whole, either raw as crudité or baked in olive oil, cumin and oregano. Make a little foil parcel and bake them outside on the grill.

Cauliflower florets
are brilliant raw dipped in to chunky guacamole with a kick of red chilli.

Courgettes
are abundant at this time of year and make the perfect side dish for simple meat or fish when sliced lengthwise, coated in well-seasoned olive oil with plenty of garlic and fresh thyme and baked, fried or grilled.

Fennel
is excellent for making soup, poaching or steaming. Braising it slowly brings out its sweetness and it becomes tender; excellent served with fish and chicken. Raw fennel, sliced finely and added to orange segments makes a delicious salad.

Onions and Spring Onions
can be the star of a meal. Onions slowly caramelised make a superb topping for flaky pastry. To perfect this tart, top with a little salty feta or goats' cheese and some dressed peppery rocket.

Peas
freshly podded are so sweet and green they make a real treat that should be carefully cooked to preserve their flavour and texture. Simply blanch them for 1 minute in boiling salted water to which a sprig of fresh mint has been added. Perhaps crush them lightly with a fork before serving alongside grilled fish fillets or slices of boiled ham hock.

New Potatoes
are typically cooked with mint and served with a little melted butter Jersey Royal Potatoes are the most prized new potatoes, and have their own protected designation of origin.

Spinach
is a powerhouse food that is packed with nutrients. It benefits eyesight, blood pressure, and Popeye was right – it strengthens muscles! Use young leaves in salads, or cooked in soup, lasagne, pizza toppings or casseroles. Spinach has a special affinity with fish, nutmeg and cream..

Sweetcorn (late summer)
is the perfect vegetable for this time of year. Its golden kernels shout summer sunshine. It is perfect grilled with seasoned butter and over the BBQ the caramelising of the kernels brings out the sweetness to its full.

Sweet Peppers
have a flesh that is juicy and robust enough to withstand fiery hot coals. Griddle the pepper halves, then drizzle with pesto and sprinkle over toasted breadcrumbs – a simple accompaniment to barbecued meats. Or, thread pepper pieces onto skewers with cubes of succulent pork or marinated chicken and offer them up to the coals.

Meat

Beef and Lamb
It’s BBQ time! Use oily marinades with loads of garlic and fresh herbs. Or try spicy rubs on your meat for a change. These go particularly well with more fatty cuts of lamb.

Fish

Crab
Cancer pagurus, is a nocturnal species of crab found in the North Sea and North Atlantic. Wonderfully rich and indulgent, potted buttery crab is one of the best ways of serving fresh local crab.

Crayfish
are generally suitable for the same treatment as large prawns or langoustines; adding to risottos, salads or soups. Simplicity is key with such sweet meat; eat cooked fresh crayfish with mayonnaise and a dash of lemon juice, or fry them in paprika, garlic and plenty of olive oil and stir into pasta.

Cod, Coley & Haddock (late summer)
are the perfect white fish. Succulent flakes of tender flesh lend themselves to poaching or baking. Try fish fillets topped with a Parmesan, breadcrumb and fresh herb topping, or baked rustically in a rich tomato and olive sauce.

Trout & Salmon
are delicious, adaptable fish that can be simply poached in wine with herbs. They blend well with yogurt and cream in pâtés and mousses, they can support stronger spicy flavours or are delicious pan-fried in butter with capers.

Herrings
are very high in long-chain omega 3 fatty acids as well as being a rich source of vitamin D. They are a robust flavoured fish that are traditionally coated in oatmeal and fried. However herrings are eaten in a wide variety of ways. Try them raw with chopped onion, as pickled rollmops with sour cream on rye bread, or baked with a sharp rhubarb stuffing.