Spring Asparagus

Asparagus

Tender, juicy and full of flavour, the UK grows asparagus that is some of the best in the world. 

There is perhaps no greater ringing endorsement of spring than the bunches of asparagus that start popping up in farm shops around the country in late April.  Even the supermarkets get in on the act, and the miserable little South American tips are replaced by fat bundles of green spears emblazoned with the Union Jack.  But there is good reason to put in more than the usual effort when seeking out this British champion.  Asparagus contains natural sugars that start to deplete as soon as it is harvested; it is this troublesome characteristic that have led many to take the kitchen to the field, allowing them to cook it immediately over a portable stove.  Such effort is probably beyond most of us (unless you are growing your own), but with a little local research you can get close to this ideal. Continue reading

Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup

Nettle and Wild Garlic SoupThere’s an obvious factor that discourages most people from snacking on nettles, but be assured; once cooked, the sting has gone and all that remains is a pleasant spinach like vegetable rich in vitamins and taste.  Spring is the best time to pick nettles when the new growth has appeared, so they make an ideal pairing with the wild garlic that appears around the same time. Much of the wild garlic will be getting a little old now (try to avoid flowering plants), but if you reach through the large outer leaves you’ll find some small young leaves that are perfect. Continue reading

A Life in Food – Ingredients – Salted Anchovies

Salted Anchovy next to an anchovy in oil

An unhappy brown anchovy in oil next to it’s bigger, pinker salted Bay of Biscay cousin

Opinions on anchovies are pretty much polarised – either loved to the point of obsession, or reviled and grimace-inducing at the mere mention.  I fall firmly into the first camp, but I really believe that most people can enjoy anchovies at least as an ingredient to bring out the flavour of other foods. Continue reading