Here is my list of some of the best seasonally produce available in September.
The summer seems to be hanging on for a little while longer and in the kitchen, there are lots of salad crops and plenty of peas, beans, and courgettes to brighten our plates. This is the time of year for the arrival of the first game and foraged wild mushrooms, whose rich earthy flavours are perfect partners and the season for mussels, oysters, and scallops. Fruit is probably at its most varied with abundant apples, plums and pears and time to enjoy the last of the fresh raspberries, blueberries, peaches, and apricots. Finally, it is time to head to the hedgerows and go wild blackberry ( bramble ) pickling.
Vegetables and Salad
The last of the summer crops of salad ingredients such as radishes, beetroot, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, baby spinach, and salad leaves are still readily available. Broccoli, carrots, onions, fennel, globe artichokes, aubergines, and sweetcorn are all now in season.
The first autumn and winter vegetables are starting to be harvested, so look out for Brussels sprouts, celeriac, Butternut squash, turnips, leeks, Swiss chard, kale and cabbage, pumpkins and main crop potatoes. Basil, chives, coriander, oregano, mint, curly and flat parsley, rosemary, sage, sorrel, tarragon, thyme are all in season to add bags of flavour to your cooking.
Rabbit, pheasant, grouse, partridge, guinea fowl, wood pigeon, and wild duck are all in plentiful supply. Goose and venison are coming in season and older season lamb is now available.
Mussels, oysters, and scallops are now much better quality after the summer spawning. Available fish includes cod, haddock, coley, grey mullet, ling, pollock, mackerel, and sea bass. Also, in plentiful supply are crabs, salmon, and sardines.
Elderberries should you live near any should be abundant. Figs, plums, chestnuts, cobnuts, pears, and apples including Bramley cooking apples, are all coming into season, as are damsons, sloes, and greengages.
My last post gave away my secret for really crispy chicken and today to celebrate National BBQ Week ( it’s longer than a week but who cares when its sunny and you have an excuse BBQ every day ) the recipe I am sharing is for one of my personal favourites Jack Daniel’s and Black Treacle Rib Glaze.
A lot of my barbecue sauces simply use cups ( the American staple ) as most are American influenced or originally from American friends, it is just so convenient and easy. If you wish to change to metric or imperial, American cups are best converted to 240 millilitres, 16 tablespoons or 8 ½ imperial fluid ounces.
Combine the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and mix well. Over a medium heat simmer for twenty minutes then allow to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you make it a few days in advance the flavours will have more time to blend together. Remove the bay leaf, orange peel, and spices before use.
Allergens in this recipe depend on your choice of BBQ sauce and may include;
So, it is coming up to Christmas Day, your planning your festive feast, and you want to have a great, relaxed and stress-free day as possible. Over the next few days I’m going to do my best to help with some top tips, recipes to cover all the essentials and some menu suggestions and I’m thinking of soup, not a thick heart-warming, winter wonder, but something light, delicate and chilled as you need to leave room for all the Turkey, trimmings and the Christmas Pudding. This recipe can be made the day before, keep in the fridge overnight and served straight from the fridge. How is that for easy?
You have probably tried Gazpacho the rich, Spanish blend of tomato, day-old bread and good olive oil or Vichyssoise the classic cold combination of leeks, potatoes, chicken stock and cream, but my recipe today is Chilled Salmon, Dill, and Cucumber Soup. This is a lovely starter for a relaxed festive party or a fabulous light lunch, particularly with a nice glass of chilled Riesling or a crisp, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Remove the seeds from the cucumbers and reserve until later, then cut the cucumbers into half centimeter dice. Heat half of the butter in a medium-sized, frying pan and quickly sauté for two minutes. Lightly season and pour on the Pernod and remove from the heat and leave to chill. In a medium-sized pan bring the fish stock to a gentle simmer and remove from the heat. Heat the remaining half of the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the spring onions. Cook for five minutes without colouring then add the flour, cook out the flour for two minutes, over a gentle heat, stirring continuously to prevent sticking and browning. Add the hot stock, stirring all the time and bring up to the boil. Turn the heat down and add the salmon pieces, lemon zest, and cucumber seeds. Simmer over the lowest possible heat for fifteen minutes regularly stirring to prevent the soup sticking. Add the cream and cook for two or three more minutes.
When the salmon is poached in the soup base remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the lemon juice then using a hand blender or food processor blitz the soup. Pass the soup through a very fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the cucumbers and Pernod. Finely chop the dill and add to the soup. Check the seasoning, remembering when chilled the seasoning will be less prominent. Cover and thoroughly chill. Serve in bowls garnished with a little more freshly chopped dill and some smoked salmon pate on toast.
Anyone of a certain age and living in the British Isles will share my experiences of Minestrone soup and see how far as a nation the British have come in terms of eating freshly made authentic cooking. My earliest memories are of a tomato ( ? ) soup with a few vegetables and broken spaghetti pieces, quite often made from a dried packet base. Twenty years ago, restaurants seemed to work on some mysterious unseen rota Monday Minestrone ( using the weekends leftover veg ! ), Tuesday Cream of Mushroom for their choice of soup of the day, fortunately for us all today chefs use seasonal produce and their knowledge and skills to bring us soups like Carrot and Coriander and recipes from around the world like Cantonese Crab and Sweetcorn or Patatas Riojanas from Spain.
At its best, a hearty, Italian classic, Minestrone is more of a stew of root vegetables and beans, sometimes with pasta or rice and with the addition of whatever other seasonal vegetables are available. It is the perfect lunchtime or supper course nourishing, filling and very tasty. Minestrone is like many Italian recipes everyone seems to have an authentic recipe and their own list of special ingredients, there isn’t even a clear picture if it is made with a vegetable or meat stock. Minestrone belongs to the style of cooking in Italy called “cucina povera” (literally “poor kitchen”) meaning dishes that have rustic, rural roots, as opposed to “cucina nobile” or the cooking style of the aristocracy and nobles. I love hearty style dishes and this type of recipe suits me down to the ground.
Minestrone has been served most certainly since Roman times and who am I to challenge a dish with such a pedigree, in fact even the name is a derivative of ‘ minestra ‘ or soup. Derived from the Latin ministrare , meaning “to administer”, the word reflects the fact that minestra was served out from a central bowl or pot by the figure of authority in the household. The major change from the Roman version would have been the addition of tomatoes sometime after their introduction to Europe in the mid-sixteenth century. Interestingly the ancient Romans believed in the health benefits of a sparse vegetarian diet of which soups such as Minestrone would have been a staple. This has given us the modern word ‘ frugal ‘ from the Latin fruges, the common name given to cereals, vegetables, and legumes.
If you want to be authentic then you should finish your Minestrone with small Bacon, Garlic and Parsley Dumplings and a great tip from an Italian friend of mine is to save your Parmesan rinds and add them to the simmering soup to add extra flavour, removing before you serve up the delicious soup. You can further enhance the following recipe stirring in two tablespoons of fresh pesto to make Minestrone alla Genovese.
100 ml good quality Olive Oil
1 large Leek, washed and sliced
2 large Onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 large Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Courgettes, thinly sliced
300 gr Green Beans, cut into 2 cm pieces
8 stalks Celery, thinly sliced
½ Green Cabbage such as Savoy, washed and ripped into pieces
454 gr tin Flageolet or Cannellini beans, strained
100 gr dried Macaroni or Pasta shapes
Sea salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large thick-bottomed saucepan, over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, carrots, celery and garlic. Gently cook for fifteen minutes without colouring, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the root vegetables sticking. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, purée and thyme and bring to the boil and simmer gently for thirty minutes.
Add the tinned beans, courgettes and pasta then simmer for an additional five minutes. Add the green beans and cabbage then continue to simmer until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving with bacon dumplings, Parmesan and finely chopped parsley.
4 oz smoked back bacon
1 oz finely chopped parsley
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 pinches of black pepper
In a blender pulse ingredients until a rough paste is formed. Oil fingers and form into small roughly shaped balls and place on baking tray. Lightly grill until cooked but not brown.