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May A Year of Seasonal Cookery

Kathy Cockcroft – The Learning Place


A Year of Seasonal Cookery - May We hope you are enjoying reading our e-books. This time we are going to be looking at the month of May. 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; there is plenty going in May. May 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 Vegetables are starting to get more colourful and interesting. The heavy roots, with their long cooking time have been banished back to the autumn and have been replaced with new potatoes and crunchy and crisp green vegetables. Try some of the recipes suggested to use some of the seasonal goodies May has to offer. 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. See the Asparagus and Cheese Tart recipe which can be found in the course folder (May recipes). Cucumber Cucumber is now beginning to have some real flavour. Fantastic with fish for a fresh salad.

New Potatoes

Buy these loose if possible, gently wash to remove dirt, keep the skin as it’s full of flavour.

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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.

Radishes Radishes are 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.

Seasonal Fruit The use of British fruits is still quite restricted in May as the exciting soft summer fruits still need to absorb the beautiful British sunshine to improve their texture and sweet tastes. However strawberries are making their debut and the tart taste of the gooseberry is also at its best. Bramley Apples 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.

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Apricots 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. The flesh should feel moderately firm with some give. See recipe for lunchbox energy bars which can be found in the course folder (May recipes). Bananas Although not grown in this country the bananas coming from overseas are at their best over the next few months.

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. See recipe for Gooseberry fool which can be found in the course folder (May recipes). 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.

Fish and Seafood in season during May This month we are including some tasty recipes using fish. Why not try the recipe for the salmon fingers which is always a sure-fire hit with children? If getting to a fishmongers is not an option for you the supermarkets do a good range of fish and have even included a range of lower price cuts that are also very good for fish pies and the salmon finger recipe. 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. 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. 18/06/2013

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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.

Mackerel Fresh mackerel is usually sold whole with or without the head on. It can be grilled, fried, barbecued or poached and is perfect for stuffing and ovenbaking.

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.

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. Crawfish Usually heavier and coarser than lobster, and because it has no claws, the meat is in the tail.

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.

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Oysters One of the world's ultimate luxury foods, oysters don't look much from the outside (the shells are rough and grey), but the flesh of these molluscs is wonderfully succulent and delicately flavoured, varying in colour from pale grey to beige, surrounded by a clear juice.

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).

This month’s video showcase Make sure you have some headphones handy and watch some of the experts in May’s video showcase.

Gardening Tip May is one of the busiest months in the kitchen garden and allotment plots. The soil is warm and everything should be growing well. Unfortunately the weeds are growing well too so there is no time to relax. Beware of late frosts!

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May ebook  

A workbook to accompany our online course A Year of Seasonal Cookery.

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