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Eat the Seasons - November 2014

In season this month


Fruits, Nuts & Fungi
Apples, medlars, pears, quince, raspberries, chestnuts, horse mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, truffles, walnuts, wood blewits
Vegetables & Herbs

Artichoke, beetroot, Brussels tops, cabbages, cardoons, carrots, celeriac, celery, chard, chicory, endive, greens, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, salsify, swede, turnips, nettles, watercress

Meat & Game
Wild goose, grouse, hare, mallard, partridge, pheasant, rabbit, wood pigeon
Fish & Shellfish
Code, crab, lobster, mackerel, mussels, oysters, prawns, scallops, sea bass, sprats, squid, whiting

Going out of season
Grouse, Medlars, Quince, Swiss Chard, Wild Mushrooms

Every season has it’s pros and cons, and to make me feel better despite the the cold, dark mornings I have decided to write about two of my favourite things!! First of all, one of my absolute favourite delicacies, the most sublime of ingredients, English Truffles are in season from now until February, or even March with a bit of luck. By weight, truffles are one of the most expensive foods in the world, but not without good reason.  Truffles will infuse their odor and flavor to everything around them so it is really important to match them with the right ingredients.  Be careful never to bury the flavor of the truffle with strong flavours or overwhelming aromas.  Always try to use fresh truffles as soon as you can, and certainly within 3 days of purchase, and if your recipe calls for a peeled truffle make sure you save the peel to use in another recipe!  If like me you have a passion for these amazing little fungi you might like to think about going on a ‘Truffle & Mushroom Hunt’ with Melissa Waddingham, also know as “The Truffle & Mushroom Hunter”, it’s definitely on my bucket list! See truffleandmushroomhunter.com for more details.

 

There is more good news too; now the seas are cold scallops, muscles and oysters are going to be at their very best.  Native oysters will have been left on the sea beds to procreate over the summer, but from September they are ready to harvest and they will be around now until the end of Mach.  There are oyster fisheries all around Britain – particularly well-known beds lie off Essex, Kent, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, the west of Scotland and Ireland. Each region's produce differs in flavour so if you get the opportunity do try different ones to see which you prefer.  I hope you enjoy this month’s recipe!

Oysters Thermidor
Serve these seasonal treats in their shells with a cream sauce, and samphire alongside.
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 24 native oysters in their shells
  • 55g (2oz) Butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp vermouth
  • 140ml (4 ½ fl oz) chicken stock
  • 140ml (4 ½ fl oz) fish stock
  • 140ml (4 ½ fl oz) double cream
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard to taste
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 55g (2oz) parmesan, finely grated

 To serve

  • 200g (7oz) samphire

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200oc, 400of, gas mark 6.
  • Open the oysters carefully, retaining the juice.  Cover them with a clean cloth but do not refrigerate.
  • Melt the butter in a pan and add the shallot. Cook gently without colouring.
  • Add the vermouth, oyster juice and stocks.  Cook until the volume of liquid has reduced by two thirds.
  • Add the cream and cook until the volume has reduced by half.
  • Shuck the oysters, pry them from the shells and set aside.  Clean the deeper shells and lay them on a tray.  Put a little of the sauce in the base of each shell.  Lay an oyster in each shell and transfer to the oven for two minutes.  Preheat the grill to hot.
  • Stir the mustard into the remaining sauce.  Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the egg yolks, followed by the parsley and half of the parmesan.
  • Take the oysters out of the oven and pour a little sauce over each one.  Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top.
  • Cook the samphire in a pan of boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes, or until tender.  Drain well.
  • Meanwhile grill the oysters to glaze them.  Serve with the samphire.