We feature a rundown of seasonal produce in each edition of appetite and we’ll be adding to the list below regularly…
Brussels sprouts 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.
Goose 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.
Jerusalem artichokes 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.
Oysters 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.
Parsnips 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.
Seville oranges 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.
Celeriac 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.
Mussels 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.
Rhubarb 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.
Spring lamb 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.
Blood oranges 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!
Cockles 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!
Razor clams 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.
Spring greens 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.
Spring onions 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.
Our favourite free food of the season, gather it in wet woodland and serve the young, tender leaves in salad; or use it instead of or with basil in pesto. It’s great stirred through pasta with a little olive oil, lemon, salt and pine nuts; or use it instead of garlic bulbs in chicken Kiev. We like it stirred through warm potato salad, and we use it instead of watercress in a green quiche.
British asparagus 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; or drizzle with olive oil, throw in crushed garlic and a little lemon zest, and roast at 220C/Gas 7 for 15 mins; or sauté in a pan, add beaten eggs and cook to an omelette, best served drizzled with pesto (made with wild garlic if you still have it).
Jersey royals 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.
Sorrel 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.
Wild nettles More free food, wild nettles are bang in season in April. Add well-washed nettle leaves to a vegetable soup base; infuse in boiling water for a refreshing tea; or blanch leaves and blitz in a food processor with walnuts, parmesan, olive oil, shallots, sugar and salt (quantities to your taste) for a sublime pesto.
Radishes One of our favourite spring and summer vegetables and best eaten as they are fresh out of the garden, they’re also sublime pickled in a basic pickling solution; sliced and tossed through warm new potatoes with proscuttio, extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar; or in spaghetti with crab, lemon, chilli, parsley, butter and cream.
Asparagus Roast it! Drizzle with olive oil, throw in crushed garlic and a little lemon zest, and roast at 220C/Gas 7 for 15 mins
Radish 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 Rhubarb is still fantastic this month and is wonderful stewed in trifle or stirred into Greek yoghurt.
Watercress 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)
Wood pigeon 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. Alternatively, stuff with woody herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary, add crushed garlic, brown in a sauté pan, put in an oven tin with a glass of red wine and roast in the oven at 220C/Gas 7 for 20 mins, then rest for 10 mins and serve with fried bread.
Broad beans 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.
Crab 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.
Gooseberries 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.
Peas 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
Strawberries Serve with fresh ground black pepper (not sugar) to bring out the flavour. You’ll never look back!
Loganberries 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.
Mackerel The editor once took three kids mackerel fishing on one of those trips off Seahouses and they caught 58 of the blighters. Thank God for the freezer, she said, and for mackerel 58 ways, including paté, chargrilled and served with gooseberry compote, and in a salad with beetroot, apple and horseradish dressing.
Peaches The epitome of summer succulence, go back in time and treat your clan to proper peach melba, or halve, roast and serve with honey and crème fraîche for the taste of summer.
Runner beans 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.
One of our favourite vegetables for its seaside flavour and satisfying crunch, samphire lifts the most simple meal to the next level. Generally simmered and tossed in butter as an accompaniment to fish of all types, we love it with eggs (poached on toast or in an omelette); stir-fried with garlic, lemon, and parmesan; and with spaghetti and prawns or clams with lots of garlic, lemon zest and cream.
Spinach 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 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.
Blackberries 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.
Crab We love a crab sandwich on the beach, and dressed crab served with egg mayo. Use crab in fish cakes; sautée it with lots of garlic and lemon and serve with pasta tossed in cream and fresh tarragon; and stir into pea and lemon risotto and serve with a few drops of Tabasco.
Almost impossibly exotic, figs are also incredibly versatile. Divine roasted with honey and orange zest and served with Greek yoghurt and unsalted pistachio nuts.
Greengages 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.
We believe in keeping scallops simple, so just sauté with minced garlic and lemon for a sublime supper.
Arguably the UK’s best-loved berry, you might think you’ve run out of things to do with them. But have you cut out discs of white bread (rubbish shop-bought sliced is best), spread with Nutella, added a couple of strawberry slices, folded them over and then fried in butter yet? No? Do it and serve warm sprinkled with icing sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. You can thank us later…
Sweetcorn 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.
Tarragon 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.
All we want to eat in September are apples from the garden in all their home grown varieties. Core apples with an apple corer, fill centres with a mixture of muscovado sugar, raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon, top with a blob of butter, stand in a dish and bake for 20 mins or until cooked through. Serve with honey and vanilla ice cream.
Beetroot Beetroot is sublime roasted with honey or with garlic and thyme, and for a show-stopping risotto, stir roast beetroot (half of it puréed, half in small pieces) through a basic risotto recipe at the end of cooking, and serve with soured cream and dill.
Blackberries Now is the time for the king of berries. Superb in a crumble with the new season’s apples, you also can’t beat a blackberry pavlova or homemade blackberry jam. And they freeze brilliantly!
Chestnuts Incredibly versatile, chestnuts add hitherto unknown depths to a host of dishes, from pasta (add chestnut chunks to sausage pasta sauce), to soups and risottos (add chestnut purée to parsnip soup or mushroom risotto), and desserts (add purée to chocolate torte and chocolate truffles).
Cobnuts 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.
Damsons 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.
Figs 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.
To prepare, remove the toughest the outer leaves, snap the stalk off at the base and remove the tough fibres left. Prise open the leaves and pull out the central cone of thinner leaves to reveal the inedible fibrous ‘choke’ and scrape this out with a teaspoon, leaving the prized heart in place. Rinse out the artichoke with water with a good squeeze of lemon juice and steam. Then pull off each leaf and dip in melted butter or mayo, scraping your teeth along the leaf to remove the tender bit and discarding the rest. It sounds complicated, but it’s worth it!
Lamb Autumn lamb has a distinctive depth of flavour and is delicious studded with rosemary, roasted and served with onion sauce and mint sauce. Or rub with olive and anchovy tapenade, sprinkle with crushed coriander seeds, and stud with slivers of garlic before roasting.
Oysters We love oysters from the fish quay at North Shields or from Lindisfarne Oysters (buy them online), served raw with a squeeze of lemon and a pint of Guinness. Grilling or poaching works wonderfully, as does stirring them through seafood pasta.
Venison 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.
Wood pigeon These unassuming birds serve up the most wonderful autumn flavours. Sear all over in hot butter and oil, then roast at 200C/ Gas 6 for 20 mins or so on a bed of very thinly sliced potatoes, whole unpeeled garlic cloves and woody herbs like thyme and rosemary. Serve with red wine jus.
Celeriac is delightful simply mashed, roast or as celeriac champ (mash half and half potatoes and celeriac with garlic, double cream, butter and spring onion and serve with more butter).
Girolles 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.
This magic little root veg has a sweet, nutty flavour and is cooked and served as you would potatoes. Scrub, don’t peel, and roast, sauté, bake, boil or steam. Gorgeous with lemon roast chicken and just about anything else.
Mussels Good for you and easy to source sustainably, steam mussels in a shallot broth with garlic and fresh parsley and serve with chips and mayo, just like the Belgians.
Partridge 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.
Pumpkin 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.
Kale A superb winter vegetable staple, there is little you can’t do with this deep green brassica. It likes to be sautéed with garlic and is superb in soups, particularly with butter beans or in a minestrone-style. And our favourite – roasted until crisp in the oven with lots of olive oil and sea salt. Gorgeous!
Abundant off the North East coast, mackerel is the most flavoursome and versatile of fish. Chargrill it simply and serve with pickled beets, or magic up a peppered mackerel and potato hash with a poached egg for breakfast. Sublime!
We’re overrun with them in the Appetite garden and we like to sautée them lightly in lots of butter and olive oil with garlic, sliced almonds and lemon and serve alongside roast lamb.
Squash 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.
Sweetcorn 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.
Clementines 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 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.
Kale So good for you, and super-versatile, we favour the Hollywood favourite – baked crispy kale. Just toss in a little sunflower oil, Chinese five spice, soft light brown sugar and sesame seeds, spread on a baking tray, apply masses of sea salt, and roast at 200C/Gas 6 for 5 mins or until crisp.
Parsnips 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.
Rabbit 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.
Scallops UK scallops are superb now; succulent and flavoursome, they always feel like an indulgent treat. Sautée in butter, minced garlic, white wine, lemon juice and double cream for a highly indulgent treat.
Walnuts 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.
Why do people only love them or hate them? They’re the king of veg, and one of the few you can grow in your garden at this time of year. Trim, halve and sear in butter with bacon lardons and garlic for a sublime side dish.
Cranberries 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.
Chestnuts 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!
Pomegranates 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.
These beauties have a high level of pectin, which makes them perfect for jams and jellies. Wash and core (as you would an apple) and bake for 50 mins or poach and serve warm with double cream.
Turkey 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.