What’s Hot plus Five of the Best… Seasonal treats

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Birds of America

The Natural History Museums new homeware collection includes the Birds of America Coasters, £12, and the Louisiana Heron espresso set, £20 from nhm.org.uk

Wood fired oven

First launched in 2012, the Uuni wood fired oven is a portable, affordable and easy to use wood fired oven. Uuni 3 is the updated version; it runs on wood pellets, reaches 500c in 10mins and can cook a wood-fired pizza in 60 seconds

Uuni wood-fired oven, £199 from Cuckooland, For details visit cuckooland.com

Sparkenhoe Red Leicester

Paxton & Whitfield’s cheese of the month, Sparkenhoe Red Leicester is made with raw milk by the Leicestershire Hand made Cheese Co in Upton, south-west Leics. The recipe is an old one, discovered by owners David and Jo Clarke who started to make the cheese in 2005

For details, visit paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk


3412080899_2698cdf6eb_bFive of the best… Seasonal treats

Asparagus

The season begins 23 April and lasts until the end of June – a potential 68 days of asparagus treats. Use it wisely by  eating asparagus raw in salads, or boiled briefly and dowsed in melted butter or grilled with a little olive oil. Eating an asparagus spear in your fingers either in melted butter, or dipped into a soft-boiled egg is a glorious way to start the summer.

Health: asparagus promotes healthy bacteria in the gut, contains Vitamins K and C and acts as a mild diuretic

Peas

New season peas straight out of the pod are a spring and early summer treat. The tinier they are the sweeter they taste. Great accompaniment to spring lamb or excellent podded and sprinkled raw over a salad. Use the pods to flavour stock

Health: rich in vitamin A and vitamin B (particularly folic acid), calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Plus protein, fibre and lutein which has been shown to promote healthy vision. Peas also contain phytonutrients which have anti-inflammatory properties and can help in the prevention of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

Jersey Royals

Grown on Jersey for over 130 years, Jersey Royals are protected by a PDO – protection of designation of origin, ie Jersey Royals can only be grown on Jersey. Typically, they’re fertilized with seaweed harvested from the Jersey beaches and hand-lifted from April. Peak season is May when up to 1500 tonnes of  delicious wispy-skinned, waxy Jerseys are exported daily.

Health: source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins C and B and fibre

Samphire

There are two types of samphire: rock  and marsh. Shakespeare’s samphire collectors were after the rocky kind – nowadays  it’s the latter that you’re most likely to encounter in fishmongers and restaurants, where Marsh samphire’s strange,  prehistoric-looking succulent green shoots shed an almost incandescent green glow. Marsh samphire grows on shorelines and in marshy shallows. Crisp and salty, straight out of the sea, it makes a delicious breakfast, or wash under running water and boil it for a couple of minutes, no need to season, and serve with spring lamb.

Health: rich in dietary fibre, vitamins A, B and C. It also contains compounds called fucoidans, often found in sea vegetables, which can have anti-inflamatory and antioxidant effects

 

black-elderberry-elderflower-branch-road-whiteElderflower

The sweet-scented, creamy white flowers, of the elder make a great aromatic cordial. Gather the flowers as the buds are beginning to open, on a warm, dry day. To make about 2litres of cordial put about 25 elderflower heads in a bowl with the grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons. Pour over 1.5l of boiling water and leave overnight to infuse. Strain the liquid through muslin, pour into a saucepan and add 150ml of lemon juice, 1kg sugar and 1 heaped tsp of citric acid (opt). Heat gently, bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour into sterilized bottles

Health: antiseptic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Historically, elderflower has been used to help cure colds, flu and sinus infections. Can be used as a mouthwash. It is also believed to have diuretic and laxative properties and could ease constipation


photo credits: Asparagus:  niallkennedy via VisualHunt.com; Elderflower:  Visual Hunt