Spring 2011 Special


Welcome to a special Spring 2011 edition of the Recipes4us.co.uk newsletter.  This edition replaces the usual March and April  issues, but I'll hopefully things will be back to normal in time for the May issue.






Florence Sandeman,



Find the best of UK produce online

UKFoodOnline.co.uk  Food shopping has never been easier !


Spring Cooking and Recipes



Spring cooking is the order of the day, so much of this newsletter is dedicated to recipes using ingredients which are in season now. Sorry if it's not spring where you are, but you can probably get some of the ingredients anyway,  so hopefully, there will be enough to keep you going until spring visits your part of the world .

Below are some of my favourite recipes to whet your appetite, plus some extra information about selected seasonal produce which I hope you will find both interesting and informative.


I've also set up a whole new section on the main website,  Spring Cooking & Recipes   which includes a collection of specially selected spring recipes including spring lamb, crab, mackerel, sea trout, wild salmon, asparagus, spring greens, new potatoes, cherries and rhubarb,  plus individual ingredient pages with additional information about new season ingredients.



Brown Crab: Season starts in April

Although you can buy crab throughout the year, they are at their best in spring when the meat is sweet and flavourful, making them excellent for more simple preparation such as in salads and sandwiches such as the one featured here. 


Crab, Avocado and Lime Sandwich


Makes 1


2 Thin slices white or Wholemeal Bread
100g/4oz Fresh Crab Meat (white or mixed white/brown)
1 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 teasp finely grated Lime Zest
1 teasp Fresh Lime Juice
Coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 Spring Onion, finely chopped
½ a small Avocado Pear, thinly sliced
Salt and Black Pepper


1. Combine crab meat, mayonnaise lime zest, lime juice, coriander, green onions in a bowl. Season to taste.

2. On one slice of bread place crab mixture and top with avocado slices and remaining bread slice.


> > > More information and recipes for Brown Crab


Morel Mushrooms: Season starts in April

Morel Mushrooms have always been a highly prized fungi. From the same family as truffles, they are found in moist areas, often around dying or dead Elm trees, Sycamore and Ash trees and are in season in the UK between April and July.


Morels Au Gratin



1. Melt the butter in a large frying pan, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium-high heat, stirring from time to time

2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the juices released by the mushrooms have evaporated.

3. Increase the heat to high, add the sherry, bring to the boil and continue to boil for 3-4 minutes until the sherry has reduced by about half.

4. Add the cream and boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring from time to time, until sauce thickens and coats the mushrooms. Preheat the grill to very high.

5. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a shallow heatproof baking dish, sprinkle the top evenly with the cheese and grill until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Serves 4
3 tbsp Butter
3 Shallots, finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
225g/8oz Fresh Morel Mushrooms, cleaned, dried and halved lengthways
120ml/4fl.oz. Medium Sweet Sherry
240ml/8fl.oz. Double Cream
50g/2oz Finely Grated Cheddar Cheese


> > > More information and recipes for Wild Morel Mushrooms



Wild Wood Pigeon: Season Starts in April

Wild pigeon is relatively cheap to buy,  making it ideal for a more unusual  mid-week supper.  Its  deep crimson colour is an indication of its depth of flavour, despite the fact it doesn't need to be hung some like other game birds. There are only two ways to cook wild pigeon: long and slow until very tender, or very quickly which produces quite rare flesh. Here's a long and slow recipe for you to try.

Wild Pigeon in Red Wine



1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan, add the bacon and fry over a medium high heat for 2 minutes.


2. Add the pigeons and brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.

3. Add the onions, carrots, herbs, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring from time to time  before adding the flour. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring.

4. Add the stock and the wine, bring to the boil stirring, then return the pigeons to the pan.  Reduce the heat, cover  and simmer very gently for 1½ hours, until the birds are tender.

Serves 4
100g/4oz Streaky Bacon,  diced
25g/1oz Butter

1 teasp Olive Oil

2 Whole Wood Pigeons, cleaned and gutted
2 large Onions,  chopped
4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 Bay Leaf
2-3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
Salt and Black pepper
25g/1oz Plain Flour
300ml/10fl.oz.  Meat Stock
120ml/4fl.oz. Red Wine


Wild Garlic: Season Starts in March

In season from March to May, wild garlic can be found in woodlands and hedgerows and is easily identified by its distinctive garlicky smell. It is also possible to grow your own wild garlic if you don’t have access to a local wood and I've seen plants for sale online.


Wild Garlic , Watercress and Leek Soup


Serves 4
50g/2oz Butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
75g/3oz Watercress, washed and coarsely chopped
450g/1lb Fresh Leeks, washed finely chopped
1 Large Potato, peeled and diced
900ml/30fl.oz. Fresh Vegetable Stock
180ml/6fl.oz Double Cream
Salt and Black Pepper
6 Wild Garlic Leaves, finely shredded


1. Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan, add the watercress, leeks and potatoes and sauté over a low to medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

2. Add the stock, bring back to simmering point and to cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

3. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little then transfer to a liquidiser and process until smooth.

4. Return the soup to the saucepan, stir in the cream and reheat gently.

5. Stir in the shredded wild garlic leaves, cook for 30 seconds only, and serve immediately.

> > > More information and recipes for  Wild Garlic



Wild Sea Trout: Season Starts in March

Also known as Ocean Trout, Sewin or Salmon Trout this much sought after wild fish has a bright pink-red flesh due to its diet of crustaceans. As the name implies, sea trout migrate to the sea, unlike the more common brown trout. The season runs from March to August.


Wild Sea Trout with Pistachio Butter


1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6 and butter a shallow ovenproof dish which is wide enough to take the fish in one layer.
2. Place the pistachios, basil and garlic cloves in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
3. Add the butter and lemon juice and continue to process until well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Place salmon in the prepared dish in single layer, pour the wine over the top and bake for about 10 minutes.
5. Remove the fish from the oven and divide the pistachio butter between the fish, spreading it to cover most of the top of each piece.
6. Return to the oven and continue baking for a further 5-8 minutes or until salmon filets are just opaque in the centre. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 
Prep and cooking time: 30 minutes


50g/2oz Unsalted Pistachio Nuts
10 fresh Basil Leaves
3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
100g/4oz Softened Butter
1 teasp Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper
4 Se Trout Cutlets or Fillets
180ml/6fl.oz. dry white wine

> > > More information and recipes for Wild Sea Trout




Jersey Royal New Potatoes: Season Starts in April

Jersey Royal Potatoes are famous for being the UK’s favourite new potato and are renowned for their unique taste, flavour, and delicate skins. Furthermore,  they are the only vegetable to have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, meaning they can only be grown on Jersey. They are a good source of vitamin C especially the skins and also contain vitamin B.


Mediterranean Jersey Royal Salad
courtesy www.jerseyroyals.co.uk


Serves 4 

700g (1 1/2lb) Jersey Royal potatoes, gently rubbed to remove flaky skin
1 red pepper, deseeded and halved
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and halved
3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
110g (4oz) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
50g (2oz) marinated black or green olives
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season
a few basil leaves, to garnish


1. Cook the Jersey Royals in boiling water until just tender - about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, grill the peppers, skin side up, until blackened - about 6 - 8 minutes. Cool, then peel them.

3. Mix together the sun-dried tomato paste and lemon juice in a large serving bowl. Drain the cooked Jersey Royals and add them to the bowl whilst they are still warm. Tear the peppers into the bowl and toss everything together gently until coated.

4. When the potatoes have cooled, add the feta cheese and olives, stirring gently to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve, scattered with the basil leaves.

Cook's tips:
Do not peel Jersey Royal potatoes - simply rub any flaky skin gently from the surface. Always put Jersey Royals into boiling water to seal in the flavour.

Adding the Jersey Royals to the dressing whilst they are warm means that they absorb the flavours as they cool.




24th April is Easter Day


Special Spring Easter Menu

Staying on the Spring season theme, below is a tasty Easter Menu which features current seasonal produce in all the courses. A fabulous Easter Sunday luncheon for family or friends.



Crab and Asparagus Salad


* * *


French Leg of Lamb


New Potato Dauphinois


Sautéed Spring Greens


Glazed Baby Carrots



* * *


Rhubarb Crumble


April Site Updates



What's in Season in  April


Click here to see what's in season this month, how to cook it and to find a UK Farmers' Market near you.




Weekday Menus



Click the picture to find this month's  weekday menus to help you plan your meals and shopping weeks ahead.  Each weekday has a main course, suggested vegetable accompaniments plus a dessert which have been planned to supply you with a balanced diet. It's also been designed so that you can interchange one day's menu with another in the same grouping. Most of the main courses are ready to serve in less than 40 minutes - great for working people.


Easter Teatime Treats


Indulge yourself, your family and your friends with some truly scrumptious teatime treats from traditional Easter cupcakes to American Easter Whoopie Pies (which are all the rave) to lavish layer cakes.  Below are 5 delicious recipes guaranteed to make your Easter tea special.

Coconut Passionfruit Cake Apricot Pecan Simnel Cake Easter Bunny Biscuits Chocolate Easter Cupcakes Easter Lemon Whoopie Pies


Click here to find lots of other Easter recipes plus general information about Easter food traditions.


   3 in 1 . . .

April 23rd is St. Georges Day

and Shakespeare's Birthday and . . .  



In case you are thinking this is a repeat from last year's April newsletter, then think again as the third of the 3 in 1 is (back to the spring seasonal food theme) English Native Oysters and now is your last chance to eat them at their best as the season finishes in April.


Recent unearthed items has shown that theatre goers during the times of Shakespeare would snack on native oysters (amongst other things) whilst watching the performances.  Although they are currently considered a luxury food, native oysters used to be a cheap food eaten by the working classes.

Today, oyster connoisseurs tend to eat our expensive native specimens raw, just laced with lemon and pepper or Tabasco, however for those of us who are a little more squeamish (including me) they can also be steamed then grilled,  baked or deep-fried.


The recipe I've chosen dates back to Shakespearean times when it was widely eaten by the masses. It has the added advantage that not many oysters are used,  making it a little more economical for our times.




Other Food Celebrations in April


4th Cordon Bleu Day

8th Empanada Day

11th - 15th  Allergy Week

14th National Pecan Day

19th National Garlic Day

26th -2nd May National Bread Week

30th Raisin Day



Steak and Oyster Pie
Serves Two   

Cooking and Pre Time - 2 hours


450g/1lb  Braising Steak, cut into 2.4cm/1-inch cubes
Plain Flour

Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
1 large Onion, sliced
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Large Carrot, diced
225g/8oz Button Mushrooms
1 teasp Dried Mixed Herbs
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
Salt and Pepper
300ml/10fl.oz. Beef Stock
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
8 Oysters
300g/11oz Puff Pastry




1. Toss the beef in the flour and  shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a large saucepan until very hot then fry the coated beef in batches to brown on all sides. Transfer the meat with a slotted spoon to a large plate and set aside.


2. Reheat the oil in the saucepan, adding a little more if necessary,  then add the onion, garlic and carrot and sauté over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.


3. Raise the heat to high, add the mushrooms and fry for a further  3-4 minutes, stirring freom time to time, until the mushrooms and browned. 


4. Return the meat to the pan together with the herbs, tomato paste, salt, pepper, stock and Worcestershire sauce, mix well and bring to the boil stirring, then reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer for at least 1½ hours. The longer the better. 


5. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6. At the end of the cooking time, if the liquid hasn’t reduced, remove the meat and vegetables, bring the liquor to the boil and boil hard until there is just enough liquid to coat the meat.


6. Return the meat and vegetables to the pan, stir well then transfer to a pie dish. Place the whole oysters on top of the meat evenly space apart.


7. Roll the pastry out thinly on a floured work surface, large enough to cover the top of the pie dish,  then bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is well risen and golden brown.



The Kitchen Garden



Spring is the traditional time to sow outdoor vegetable seeds and there's still plenty of time to plan your plot, buy your seed and sow both outdoor hardy veggies and the more tender veggies such as tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes and peppers indoors to get them off to a good start.


Indeed, the "unforeseen circumstances" which prevented me from doing the February and March newsletters, have also prevented me from doing any gardening. However, nature has her way, and despite the later start, I am sure things will catch up throughout the season.


For more herb and vegetable growing instructions visit our growing herbs and vegetables section  or for more detailed information on growing fruit as well as herbs and vegetables,  plus lots of in-depth gardening articles,  visit our sister site  www.pots2plots.com

Garden Experiment 2011

This year I am going to try another vegetable which I've never grown before. Well, I say vegetable however it's better described as a salad crop although officially it's classed as a herb, namely watercress.

I have grown land cress before and whilst quite tasty, I found it to be a little coarse, so when I came across this cultivar of watercress, I just had to buy some seed to see if it will be more delicate as promised in the blurb.


Under normal circumstances, true watercress grows  in shallow water. The instructions for the variety I've purchased - Watercress: Aqua - suggests it is sown in pots and that the pots are stood permanently in trays of water. It also recommends growing in a shady place which suits me down to the ground as parts of my little plot doesn't get that much sun. I'm looking forward to try this especially as shop bought watercress seems to go yellow quite quickly.

April in the Kitchen Garden



Sowing is still the order of the day but unlike March, April is a time when you can sow the majority of vegetable and herb seeds outdoors unless there is an unusually long cold snap.



Continue to sow Aubergines, Capsicums (Sweet peppers), Chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary,  sage,    sweet basil,  thyme,  tomatoes.


Start thinning out seeds which were sown in pots or trays last month once they  are about 12mm/1/2" tall.. Don't delay too long as crowded plants not only fight for light, making them grow tall and spindly, but they are also more prone to damping off disease




Continue to sow Broad beans, Brussels sprouts, dill, summer cabbage, carrots, turnips cauliflowers, Kohl Rabi, Leeks, peas, lettuce, marjoram, parsnips,  radish, spinach, spring onions


Start thinning out seeds which were sown last month but in order to prevent large gaps occurring, only thin to half the final distance.



Next Newsletter due out 1st week in May  - to unsubscribe click here

To change your email address write to admin@recipes4us.co.uk clearly stating your old and new email address