Spring forward
Spring and summer. We tend to lump them together as the good times, when the days get longer and warm clothing can go back in the wardrobe for a while. But in fact they’re seasons of surprising contrasts. March can come in like a lion and go out like a lamb – and by August, autumn has begun to get a hold again and the days are getting distinctly mellower. Food has to change to reflect that – you can still need shoring up against leftover wintry weather in early spring; by late summer, it can be too hot and oppressive to want anything more than a light salad. But of course, Mother Nature knows all that instinctively and tempers her produce accordingly.

In March and April, rhubarb starts to make its first forays into the world. In the tiny nine or so square miles that make up the Rhubarb Triangle in West Yorkshire the rhubarb is forced, in huge, dark, heated sheds, deprived of light so it rushes upwards, desperate for sunshine and literally creaking as it grows. The end result is gorgeous pale, tender stalks – a somewhat different kettle of rhubarb to the woodier outdoor version that’s appearing in the shops by April. 


They’re frothy, man 

As spring gives way to early summer, we start to get sea trout in the kitchen. It’s abundant of this coast at this time of year, and absolutely delicious. But it’s only around for a short time, so we grab it when we can. It’s amazing served as a tartare – you can find the recipe overleaf. Frothy white elderflowers start appearing at this time of year, too. Their exquisitely delicate, perfumed taste is like nothing else. I pick them and make elderflower cordial to drink and also to put in my Summer Berries with Elderflower Gratin – again, the recipe is overleaf. 



Late summer is a time of spectacular abundance. The veg patch is full to bursting – unless it’s a year like 2012, when the endless rain put paid to a few of our crops! Salad leaves, beans of all persuasions, fennel – and, of course, tomatoes, one of the  cornerstones of so many recipes. And the later soft fruits are appearing, with blackcurrants and raspberries replacing strawberries – and even the odd very early blackberry on the scene. It’s a time to wallow in the luxury of warmth and lusciousness – and use all those vitamin-packed fruits to build up your immune system before the onset of winter. 



Forced rhubarb 

I like to make the most of it, and it appears in one of the Pipe and Glass’s signature dishes – Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb Trifle with Ginger Wine-soaked Parkin Crumbs. This time of year, of course, is also about chocolate. You can read elsewhere in this issue of The Pantry about the Pipe’s now traditional huge Easter egg, a real labour of love for me – but Easter is also a great time to order another of our signature puddings, Five Reasons to Love Chocolate. Chocolate-lovers’ heaven, it comprises a brownie, sorbet, a mocha mousse, a white chocolate brûlée and – the bit that always causes diners to gasp – chocolate orange cones. Well, you need a little indulgence to counterbalance all that gorgeous healthy veg that’s around at this time of year – purple-sprouting broccoli, spring greens, asparagus, delicious Jersey Royals, watercress… 




PUBLISHED :April 2013
TAGS : SPRINGFOOD
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