We feature a rundown of seasonal produce in each edition of appetite and we’ll be adding to the list below regularly…
Definitely not just for Christmas, sprouts are still at their best at this time of year. Stir fry with beef and oyster sauce, or sauté in butter with anchovy fillets, lemon juice and flat-leaf parsley.
Not just for Christmas, goose is rich, buttery and a sublime Sunday roast alternative. Use Sunday leftovers in a stir fry, or dedicate your goose to a cassoulet.
These strange-looking, nobbly tubers are much under-rated. Like potatoes, serve with or without skins roasted, baked, sautéed or in a mixed mash. Unlike potatoes, eat them raw (thinly sliced) in salads or lightly stir-fried. The flavour is sweet and nutty, and celeriac purée is the ultimate comfort supper.
Naturally, we recommend Lindisfarne oysters (order online at www.lindisfarneoysters.co.uk) fresh with lemon or drizzled with cream and parmesan and grilled until golden.
At their sweetest in winter, this is prime parsnip season. Select smaller ones to avoid woodiness and roast with honey and thyme or make a soup seasoned with curry powder.
The arrival of this, the king of oranges, which is in season for just six weeks from the end of December to the start of February, heralds Appetite HQ’s marmalade-making season. But don’t restrict yourself to toast topping – Seville orange and honey cake is a zesty winter warmer.
Another strange-looking, nobly root (see Jerusalem artichokes, above…), celeriac is stunning roasted in the oven, when its nutty flavour comes to the fore. Alternatively, mash it, make soup with it, or serve in steaks topped with capers.
Enjoy the last of the UK season the traditional way, steamed in garlic, shallots, white wine and parsley. If you can get hold of really big ones, remove one half of the shell, drain away any liquid, top with breadcrumbs pulsed in a food processor with parmesan cheese, tarragon and parsley and a dot of butter, and warm under a hot grill.
Purple sprouting broccoli
Delicious and pretty, this adds flavour and colour to your winter table. Finely slice and stir fry in groundnut oil with garlic, grated fresh ginger, fresh red chillies, soy sauce and sesame seeds.
At this time of year, forced rhubarb brings with it a welcome hint of spring to come. Stew it lightly with caster sugar or vanilla sugar, layer in glass bowls with whipped cream, and serve garnished with broken amaretti biscuits.
Warm up February with spring lamb in a Welsh cawl – a traditional farmhouse soup or stew of lamb with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swede and leeks in a comforting broth.
Found throughout British waters in March, these little beauties are among the most delicious fruits of the sea. Grill and serve with salt, lemon and parsley, or enjoy them at their best at The Old Boathouse, Amble, where they are sublime.
Wonderful in stir-fries, soups and stews and fabulous cooked in boiling water for 5 mins with frozen peas, drained then tossed in butter and wholegrain or Dijon mustard.
Our favourite free food of the season, gather it in wet woodland and serve young, tender leaves in salad, use instead of or with basil in pesto, and stir through pasta with a little olive oil, lemon, salt and pine nuts. Delicious!
Just making it into this edition’s In Crowd, the British asparagus season officially begins around April 23, St. George’s Day. Snap tender stalks where they break naturally, grill or boil lightly and serve with butter, lemon juice and salt.
Was there ever a more sublime potato? We think not. Eat them while you can, scrubbed (never peeled), boiled whole and served with salt and lots of butter.
Bitter sorrel leaves are at their best wilted in butter and served with salmon, lemon sole, crab and lobster. Good also with chicken or in a tortilla. Blanch any leaves which are overly sharp.
Roast it! Drizzle with olive oil, throw in crushed garlic and a little lemon zest, and roast at 220C/Gas 7 for 15 mins
Pretty in pink and the peppery star of the salad bowl, serve on top of sourdough slices spread with butter seasoned with fresh chives and anchovies
Rhubarb is still fantastic this month and is wonderful stewed in trifle or stirred into Greek yoghurt.
Loaded with health-giving properties and delicious too, make a pesto by blitzing watercress with extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan, garlic and toasted pine nuts (quantities to suit your taste)
Wear gloves to harvest, boil to remove the sting and use as you would spinach in soup and smoothies.
Renowned as the tastiest wild pigeon, now is the time for young, tender birds roasted with Chinese five spice, orange zest, Demerara sugar and dry white wine.
Wonderful with cucumber and red onion dressed with lemon and mint vinaigrette, or cooked, crushed and spread on sourdough, and drizzled with rapeseed oil and salt. Or whiz blanched broad beans and peas in a food processor with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice for a gorgeous green hummus.
North Sea crab is sublime and wonderful right now in salads, chowder and fish cakes. Always use both the white and brown meat for their complementary texture and taste.
Refreshingly zingy and tart, gooseberries are the kings of crumbles, tarts, jams and smoothies. Make a compote and stir into elderflower cordial with a little fresh ginger to put a spring in your step.
Sautée shelled garden peas in butter with diced onion, blanch in vegetable stock, blitz with a stick blender and add lots of fresh mint for the best mushy peas ever
Serve with fresh ground black pepper (not sugar) to bring out the flavour. You’ll never look back!
This blackberry/raspberry hybrid is in season earlier than the blackberry and is a fine precursor to its darker cousin in jam, pies, crumbles and fruit syrup. Sublime in sherry trifle and a fine partner for game and duck.
Abundant in the North Sea at this time of year, have fun fishing for mackerel on one of the boats off Seahouses, then bake, grill, barbecue or pan-fry your catch. Mackerel is rich and well matched with a piquant partner such as gooseberry or rhubarb.
Griddle them: Stone and quarter, brush with olive oil, add black pepper and cook 2-3 mins each side on a hot griddle or barbecue until caramelised. Serve with green salad, blue cheese, prosciutto and a little balsamic vinegar.
Fry them: Sweat halved garlic cloves in olive oil, add trimmed young runner beans and red bell pepper flakes and stir fry until the beans begin to brown. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground black pepper and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
The ultimate fast food, stir through hot pasta with freshly grated parmesan and olive oil, enjoy in an omelette with ricotta, or sauté with anchovies for a sublime pairing.
Wild rabbit is leaner and tastier than the farmed variety, with a subtle gamey flavour. It’s lean, so marinate it or wrap it in bacon to moisten it during roasting or barbecuing. Alternatively, braise it in stock and ale, or use instead of chicken in paella. Or stew: Toss pieces in seasoned flour and brown in butter over a high heat. Add chopped onions, celery and carrots and soften. Add a couple of prunes, fresh thyme and a bay leaf and transfer all to a casserole dish. Cover with pale ale or chicken stock, replace lid and simmer for about 45 mins. Simmer rapidly to thicken before serving.
The most deeply flavoured of our summer berries and free in abundance in woodland, harvest and freeze berries whole (washed and thoroughly dried) to keep you going all winter in pies and crumbles. Sublime with game, blackberries are fantastic paired with roast grouse and pheasant.
Dressed: Serve fresh dressed crab the traditional way, along with homemade egg mayonnaise, chopped fresh parsley and a dollop of mayo on the side.
These delicate, aromatic little plums are best eaten raw or made into a fool with crème fraîche or Greek yoghurt. Pair with vanilla and almond in a sponge, and with vanilla in jam.
Barbecue: Remove husks and threads, brush all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and barbecue or grill until golden brown. Serve with a sprinkle of grated fresh parmesan.
Sole food: Sear sole fillets in a greased griddle pan, cover to keep warm and set aside. Pour equal quantities of white wine and fish stock into a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half, remove from heat, stir in a large knob of butter and fresh tarragon leaves, pour over the fish and serve.
We love foraging for our food, and blackberries are somehow especially magical, their plump, inky flesh promising the last and most intense of summer’s flavours. We harvest them and freeze to enjoy in pies and crumbles all winter long, or combine with apples for pies which celebrate the return of autumn.
A cultivated variety of the hazelnut, this large oval nut, traditionally grown in the south of England, is at its best now. The kernels are white and milky with a fresh, nutty flavour and can be eaten as they are, on salads or in pasta, or roasted with salt.
At their best in September, a bowl of stewed damsons with thick double cream is one of the tastes of the season. Too tart to eat raw, they are wonderful stewed, in pies, tarts and fools, and are brilliant for jam.
Generally flown in from the Med, you can get British-grown figs, particularly after a hot summer like the one we’ve just had. Enjoy fresh and naked or drizzled with honey, thyme and pistachios and roasted then topped with a dollop of crème fraîche.
Best eaten as God intended them – freshly shucked and served with zap of lemon and a dash of Tabasco. Our region’s own Lindisfarne oysters are among the best in the world.
Wild meat is leaner and tougher than farmed, so slow cooked is generally the way to go. Mrs Beeton marinades 4 venison steaks in 300ml red wine, 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp red wine vinegar, then sears floured steaks before casseroling with onions, vegetables, stock and a little of the marinade.
Wild mushrooms are all wonderful at this time of year, and girolles are among our favourites. Pan fry with smoked bacon and stir through fresh pasta, or use them to add a deep, peppery kick to mushroom risotto.
So good for you and easy to source sustainably, steam in a shallot broth with garlic and fresh parsley and serve with chips and mayonnaise, just as the Belgians do.
The UK’s native grey partridge has tender flesh which is full of flavour. Include in game pie, or roast it topped with a rasher of bacon and fresh sage, served with bread sauce and roast veg.
Avoid the big ones grown for Hallowe’en and choose instead a smaller, succulent eating version to pack flavour and texture into risotto or curry. Super in soup with sage, thyme or warming ginger.
Squash and pumpkin flesh is great roasted with garlic and sage, perfect in a Moroccan tagine. Also superb in a rich, hearty soup topped with fried bacon lardons.
English sweetcorn on the cob is a sublime treat in October, when it is at its best. Eat it at its purest, boiled and slathered in butter and black pepper.
Bake a whole candied clementine into your Christmas pud, preserve in brandy for a lovely gift, or simply display with their stalks and leaves intact in your festive fruit bowl.
Goose is superb throughout November and December, when it frequently appears on the Appetite Christmas table. Stuff it with goose liver stuffing and roast, using the fat as a base for gravy and for crisp roast potatoes.
This humble root vegetable is the workhorse of the kitchen, gorgeous roasted with honey or parmesan, superb in a soup with garlic, potato and Stilton, and sublime with potato in a rosti.
Lean, wild rabbit is subtly gamey and works nicely with anything you would usually serve with chicken, such as tomato-based sauces with rosemary and olives, or mustard and cream.
UK scallops are superb now; succulent and flavoursome, they always feel like an indulgent treat. Mix crushed hazelnuts into butter, heat in a pan and sautée scallops until golden.
At the heart of your Christmas nut bowl, all you need is a pair of nut crackers and a healthy appetite. Roast them in butter with salt and honey, or pickle them to enjoy all winter long.
Cranberries are lower in sugar than other berry fruits and their tartness is a fantastic partner for dishes sweet and sour. Apart from the must-have cranberry sauce, bake them into soda bread and use in chutneys. To make cranberry sauce, boil up 150g light brown sugar with 150ml fresh orange juice, add 375g cranberries and the finely grated zest of a large clementine and simmer for 5-7 mins.
Eat them roasted from a street vendor for a true taste of Christmas, or pick them up from the ground and feast on them when walking in the park. At home, shell them, peel them, roast or boil and mash. Gorgeous…
With their ruby red, pearl-like seeds, pomegranates are super-Christmassy. They seem exotic, but they do grow in the UK. Use the seeds in Middle Eastern cooking or add to salads and hot porridge.
More flavoursome and leaner than chicken, it’s a mystery why we only eat it once a year. It’s also the gift that keeps on giving over Christmas, providing meat for sandwiches, curries, ragu and more long after Christmas Day.
Delicious sliced razor thin in stir fry, duck pancakes, miso ramen, or stir fried with pork, ginger and soy, early spring onions are at their best now.
Second only to Seville’s exquisite marmalade oranges, blood oranges are at their zesty best now. Make a tart of sweet shortcrust pastry filled with egg custard and topped with slices sprinkled with demerara sugar and browned with a blow torch. Sublime!
This traditional seaside snack is so much more than a pint pot full at the beach. Savour in fish stew with saffron, cayenne pepper and tomatoes, or serve in Valentine Warner’s amazing lamb and cockles recipe – it sounds weird, but it is out of this world!
British asparagus is sublime and short in season. Blanch, sprinkle with salt and dip in boiled duck egg, serve on a pea pancake with poached egg and hollandaise, or griddle and serve with balsamic and shaved Parmesan.
Now sprouting in woodlands all over the region (you will smell it before you see it) harvest the young, palest green leaves and use raw in salad, sauté in butter for a side dish, and whiz into pesto with pine nuts and best olive oil. The finest free food you will taste!