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June A Year of Seasonal Cookery

Kathy Cockcroft – The Learning Place


A Year of Seasonal Cookery - June We hope you are enjoying reading our e-books. This time we are going to be looking at the month of June. As well as simply reading the content, there will also be links to web sites and videos for you to watch. We hope you enjoy working through this book; hopefully the sun is shining and we can enjoy lots of BBQs and tasty salads. June May is usually the time when the weather starts warming up, enjoy juicy peas and broad beans, sweet and sharp orange and lemons, succulent spring lamb and make the most of the short but sublime British asparagus season. Seasonal Vegetables June is the start of the summer celebration of food the spring has been building towards. The fresh fruit and vegetables are coming in rapid succession of each other; some of them are only around briefly so we have to use them to now to enjoy them at their best. Although we live in an age where most ingredients are available throughout the year from all around the world, they are never quite as tasty. Knowing something has been grown and nurtured in this beautiful country also comforts us as we know the ingredients haven't travelled for days and we are eating them at their peak. Asparagus British asparagus, with its intense, complex flavour, is considered - by the British, at least - to be the finest in the world. Its deep, verdant flavour is attributed in large part to Britain’s cool growing conditions. Avoid any stems that are discoloured, scarred or turning slimy at the tips. If you're using whole spears, then make sure the buds are tightly furled. If you're making soup, though, you could also use the cheaper, loose-tipped spears you sometimes find on market stalls Aubergine This should be brought when firm, smooth, and glossy, with bright green stalks. A fresh aubergine should feel fairly heavy. Aubergine is often found baked in a Greek moussaka or Provençale ratatouille.

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Courgette Choose small courgettes that are firm to touch with a glossy, unblemished skin. Avoid soft, squishy courgettes. Courgettes do not need peeling. Slice off each end and prepare as the recipe directs. It's best not to boil, as they will become mushy and lose their flavour. See recipe for Morroccan lamb tagine which can be found in the course folder (June recipes). Fennel If possible, go for the smaller, young bulbs, as they are more tender. They should look white, with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. The feathery green tops should be fresh and bright, with no yellowing. When eaten raw, the texture is crisp and the flavour is quite assertive and anisseedy. Cooked, it's softer and more mellow.

Globe artichoke Go for specimens with tightly packed, crisp green or purple leaves with a slight bloom. Fresh ones should feel heavy for their size, and the leaves should 'squeak' when the bud is gently squeezed. These are great barbequed, in tarts or risottos.

Watercress

Go for crisp, dark green leaves, with no sign of yellowing or wilting.

New potatoes Buy these loose, if possible, gently wash to remove dirt, but not the skin as its full of flavour.

Peas The first crop is just appearing and may still be quite expensive. A small handful of raw fresh peas thrown into a salad is wonderful.

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Radishes Full of crunch and flavour, shred into a salad or eat whole as snacks.

Greens and cabbages Full of iron and goodness, spinach, spring cabbage and spring greens arrive in the supermarkets and markets this month.

Lettuce Lettuces need to be really fresh to taste good, so avoid any that show any signs of wilting (though the outer leaves of the crisp varieties often reveal fresher leaves beneath when removed) or yellowing

Peppers Look for glossy, firm, evenly coloured peppers, with no soft patches. Watch the video demonstrating how to make Stuffed Peppers which can be found in the June Video Showcase.

Tomatoes – Vegetable or Fruit? Scientifically speaking, a tomato is definitely a fruit. As far as cooking is concerned, some things which are strictly fruits may be called 'vegetables' because they are used in savoury rather than sweet cooking. The tomato, though technically a fruit, is often used as a vegetable, and a bean pod is also technically a fruit. The term 'vegetable' is more generally used of other edible parts of plants, such as cabbage leaves, celery stalks, and potato tubers, which are not strictly the fruit of the plant from which they come. Tomatoes are easy to grow at home, especially the smaller tumbling varieties. Go for firm tomatoes with wrinkle-free skins and a noticeable tomato smell. Tomatoes have the best, sweetest flavour if they've been allowed to ripen on the vine before they've been picked but, if you buy under ripe tomatoes, you can redden them by keeping them in a brown paper bag at room temperature, or on a windowsill. See recipe for Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs which can be found in the course folder (June recipes). 25/06/2013

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June is a good time to start harvesting the tomatoes you started to grow in April. The plants if cared for well should produce fruit for you right the way through the summer. Watch the video explaining how

to Harvest your own home grown tomatoes which can be found in the June Video Showcase. Seasonal Fruit Bramley Apple Look for firm fruit, with no blemishes, bruising or wrinkles. Don't be fooled by a very shiny skin - many apples are waxed to make them look good. And don't discard an apple with dry brown patches ('scald') - it's just the result of overexposure to sunlight and won't affect the quality. See our recipe for Apple Pie which can be found in the course folder (June recipes). Apricots The flesh should feel moderately firm with some give. An apricot's colour is not always a reliable guide to flavour, but steer clear of very pale varieties, and always avoid wrinkled or blemished skins.

Gooseberries Early in the season they are bright green, with a veined effect on the skin, and quite hard and tart - they are best for cooking with, in particular to make the classic English pudding, gooseberry fool.

Strawberries To enjoy strawberries at their fragrant, juicy and flavourful best it's worth holding out for the British season - if you want to eat them super-ripe, pick-your-own is best.

Raspberries As raspberries are very delicate, try not to wash them unless absolutely necessary. Just pick off any bits of stalk or leaf. If they must be washed don't put them directly under the flow of the tap, as they'll disintegrate. Gently pat them dry with kitchen paper. Watermelon Ripe melons should sound hollow when shaken or slapped, and feel heavy for their size. The rind should be dull and shouldn't give much when pressed. Look for symmetrical melons and avoid those with cracked, spotted or bruised rinds. As they're often so big, melons are frequently sold halved or quartered, as well as whole. If buying cut melon, look for brightly coloured flesh and black (rather than small white) seeds. Avoid flesh that looks dry or grainy. 25/06/2013

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Fish and Seafood in season during June Sea bass The secret to successful sea bass is to not overcook it. Whichever cooking methods you choose, your sea bass will be cooked when its flesh becomes opaque yet is still moist on the inside. Most sea bass should be cooked as skinless fillets, steaks, or chunks, as the skin is tough and strong tasting. Sea bream A firm-fleshed white fish. It has succulent flesh that's ideal for grilling, baking and frying. Red snapper or sea bass make good substitutes.

Dover Sole This delicate fleshed fish has a subtle taste and is best cooked simply with a little butter and lemon. It needs care when cooking as it is easy to overcook it and loose its flavour. It has many pin bones in it – so needs care when eaten.

Turbot A fairly expensive flat sea fish with good flavoured firm flesh. The fillets are good for poaching or grilling and can be served with sauces such as parsley or hollandaise.

Salmon The king of fish! Very often farmed these days, however, salmon is very versatile and easy to prepare. See Crunchy Salmon Fishcakes with tomato sauce. Trout Trout is relatively inexpensive with a sweet, succulent flesh that is fantastic grilled or poached.

Herring Herring is perhaps best cooked in white wine or light vinegar - the acid flavours suit the rich flesh. Also good scored, brushed with butter and grilled.

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Kippers These are smoked herrings that have been split and put into brine before smoking.

Crab A crustacean that has its skeleton on the outside protecting a soft, flavoursome flesh. There are many varieties of crabs. The most commonly eaten crab in the UK is the common edible or brown crab that weighs up to 3kg and contains plenty of sweet, succulent flesh. Female crabs have sweeter flesh than males. See recipe for Crab Salad which can be found in the course folder (June recipes). Crawfish Usually heavier and coarser than lobster, and because it has no claws, the meat is in the tail. Watch Gordon Ramsey make a Fresh Crayfish Salad which can be found in the June Video Showcase.

Lobster For practicality, a freshly cooked lobster, already split in half, cleaned and ready to eat, is the easiest option. Look for cooked lobster with a brightly coloured shell, and a tail that is tightly curled under the body - that means that it was live when it was cooked.

Prawns Fresh prawns, whether raw or cooked, should smell fresh and clean, not fishy, and should look moist. Avoid any that look dry or that have broken or cracked shells. Prawns can be bought raw or cooked. They can be used in the same way and in the same kind of dishes, though cooked prawns can be eaten cold as they are. When raw, they are blue-grey in colour (and are sometimes called green prawns). Dublin Bay Prawns These aren’t actually a prawn at all, but a small lobster fished off the northwest coast of Scotland. It's also known as langoustine. These are slightly more expensive but are worth it for they are very tasty.

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Chicken dishes Chicken is always a firm favourite throughout the year but have you ever thought about the benefits of jointing a fresh chicken? By jointing a chicken you can get so much more from it, as you can divide it into different meal choices. Try the breasts in a curry, use herbs and spices to make the drumsticks an interesting picnic choice and the thighs are great roasted and served with a crisp green salad. Watch the video in June’s video showcase that demonstrates How to Joint a Chicken and then have a go at making the Raj Chicken and Egg Curry (the recipe can be found in June’s recipe folder). This month’s video showcase Make sure you have some headphones handy and watch some of the experts in June’s video showcase.

Jobs for June     

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Hoe borders regularly to keep down weeds Pinch out side-shoots on tomatoes Harvest lettuce, radish, other salads and early potatoes Be water-wise, especially in drought-affected areas Shade greenhouses to keep them cool and prevent scorch

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June ebook  

A workbook designed to accompany our online course - A Year of Seasonal Cookery

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