March on into spring, hibernation is over.

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It’s been a few months since I tended my blog, well here I am dusting off the cob webs and flexing my typing fingers.
My hibernation is over, the first signs of spring are starting to show and for me it’s an awakening of the senses and out of the doldrums.
I’m sure you’ll all agree it’s been a frightful winter, and for some it’s not over yet. A winter that will be imbedded into our memory, but one we’d all rather forget. I won’t dwell on it too much but the effects from a culinary perspective will be with us for the rest of the year.

With vast areas of prime arable land under water planting is already behind schedule and land that had been prepared for sowing has had all it’s nutrients stripped and washed away. Early new potatoes will be very scarce and it will inhibit preparation for salads and soft fruits.
We will have to source our home grown products wisely as some will be poor quality and in the commercial kitchen we will have to rely heavily on imported goods for economy and consistency.

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So what have we got to look forward to you might ask?  Well, whilst the first ribbons of spring sun are streaming through my window. We start planning our seasonal menu changes and as the seasonal bounty starts to widen, we are still restricted but it starts now……

Fish:
Local mussels are still good till the end of the month, Cockles are plentiful too.
Our classic dish “Local Mussels in Welsh Cider and Leeks” remains a top seller, but is beaten hands down by our seasonal chowder which contains all of what is good from the sea at this time of year. White fish is best at this time of year Cod, Hake, Pollack and Haddock. We have some Megrim sole from the south coast starting to appear and Cornish Monkfish also, prices are still firm but will ease with supply.

Kings Head Chowder:

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Kings Head Mussels in Welsh cider and leeks:

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Meat:
Welsh Hoggit lamb is flavourful and good value, this is lamb that has spent two seasons on the hill or with us, on Gower the marsh. Good for pot roasting, casseroles and curries and not forgetting a good old fashioned Cawl to make the most of all the seasonal root veg and providing nutritional sustenance at this time of year.
Early lambing will start April/May for new season lamb but prices are always extreme until late June.

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Traditional Cawl:

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Welsh Beef:
A Good alround staple although slightly lacking in flavour after a winter on dried feeds, will benefit from some time on the pasture. Some hardier breeds such as longhorn will have been out all winter. Again this time of year warming hearty casseroles and pies with a mighty Sunday  roast to round the week will pay suitable homage to a great British institution.

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Kings Head roast Welsh beef:

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Pork:
A good value alrounder but always buy British and wherever possible seek out a local supply from your butcher or better still direct from the supplier at a farmer’s market, although more expensive you will be rewarded. Try not to be tempted by the pile it high sell it cheap supermarket deals. Hearty sausage casseroles, slow shoulder roasts with perhaps a mid-week grill of chops or Gammon and eggs are always a winner with a flavoursome reward.

I always find this time of year a good time to experiment with home curing and have enjoyed success with some home cured bacon and pancetta, which is awesome for flavouring your casseroles and chowders.

Vegetables:

Again with your vegetables stick to the seasons, just a 2 min search on the internet will tell you all you need to know about what’s available and good now. Buying local is always good but slightly inhibiting at this time of year. Root veg is abundant and good, Savoy cabbage and Leeks are excellent too. My pick of the season but slightly harder to come buy are Jerusalem Artichokes and available now and are British despite the name. Kale and Cauliflower are also available but quality has been affected by the weather.

So as we March on into spring we look towards St Davids day to celebrate in Wales the coming of spring.

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St Davids day soup.

Leek potato and Bacon

I made this soup in work the other day using my own dry cured bacon and it was fab.

Serves 4-6

25g butter
3 rashers of dry cured Welsh streaky bacon, chopped
400g of trimmed washed leeks
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
150 ml of double cream
4 rashers of dry cured Welsh streak bacon to serve. Cooked and chopped.
Chopped chives

1. Melt the butter in a suitable large saucepan. Then fry the 3 rashers of chopped streaky bacon and onion, until soft and lightly coloured. Add the potatoes and Leeks, stir well, turn down the heat and cover with a lid. Cook for a further 5 mins, stirring occasionly and ensuring that the mixture doesn’t catch.

2. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 mins, until everything is cooked through and soft. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Blend carefully in small batches, pass and return to the pan, pour in the cream and stir well. Bring back upto temperature but don’t boil, check the seasoning. Serve scattered with cooked streaky, some chopped chives and eat with warm crusty bread with a good dollop of Welsh butter.

Enjoy!

Andy

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One comment

  1. […] Check out Andy’s blog here for his culinary insight into Spring https://fullerflavour.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/march-on-into-spring-hibernation-is-over/ […]

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